i’ve rounded up all of our favorite things to do over the holidays in NYC, since this time of year is truly so magical and so many of you have been inquiring! i’ve also included some tips for getting around and staying warm, since so many of the activities are outside and sometimes keeping mittens on a child can feel impossible (wait- just mine?! shoot!) anyway, hope this is helpful! and if i missed anything, be sure to share in the comments…
to start off–
we love thanksgiving in the city! if you’re wanting to do the macy’s thanksgiving day parade and wanting a front row spot for you and your group, it’s best to arrive before 5AM (we have friends that go between 4 and 4:30AM to ensure they get a good spot) and have heard that the east side of the street is best along central park west. you don’t have all the late time crowds pushing in on you, since they close off the street by 6:45AM and people can no longer cross central park west.
something we have done in the past is make a reservation for breakfast at landmarc in the time warner building at columbus circle which has incredible views of the parade below. it’s a bit of a warmer option, if you aren’t up for the full experience of standing and waiting outside in the cold for several hours. ;)
we have also loved seeing the balloons being blown up the afternoon and evening before the parade at the american museum of natural history (although in my opinion, this event has gotten so crowded over the last few years, sometimes it feels worse than the actual parade the following day!)
CHRISTMAS IN NYC!
a few of our favorite things to do over the holidays in the city….
— if you have little ones, go see peter and the wolf at the guggenheim museum. we go every year and it’s truly our favorite. it’s only about a half hour long, with live music and actors, with the stage set in central park. my kids talk about it all year long.
— we love walking down 5th avenue and seeing all of the beautiful window displays (especially the windows at bergdorfs). here is a helpful interactive map! of the best route to take.
— in addition to seeing all the decorated windows down 5th avenue, we like doing a christmas tree crawl and seeing many of the trees decorated for christmas around the city. the tree at rockefeller center of course, bryant park, washington square park, madison square park, lincoln square… we love the origami christmas tree at the american museum of natural history, and the one at the metropolitan museum of art always makes me cry.
— in addition to a christmas tree crawl around the city, there are so many great santas to visit around the city as well, you might as well do a santa crawl. we’ve enjoyed visiting santa at santaland at macy’s (the set up and experience is pretty fun), but tend to go back every year to the santa at the plaza hotel (he is so sweet and the lines never seem to be terrible). ABC carpet and home has the most magical st. nick who we saw several years ago when eleanor was a baby (remember these photos?!) but be prepared to wait several hours because he’s only there a few days a week though so check the schedule here. haven’t been able to find any info on whether he will be back this year.
— my kids have also loved the holiday train show at grand central (there’s also a big one at the botanical gardens) as well as the gingerbread extravaganza at the le parker meridien hotel in midtown. (if you go, you can grab a burger at the hidden burger joint also in the hotel lobby, one of our family’s favorites.) here are some old photos when E and S were practically babies loving the train show!
— as far as treats go around the holidays in NYC, you can’t go wrong. there are so many good ones. it’s always a fun time of year to grab a frozen hot chocolate with friends at serendipity. i also love an excuse to eat the homemade marshmallow on top of the hot chocolate at city bakery (you’ll want to split their hot chocolate though, it is SO rich!). city bakery also happens to be so close to dough doughnuts, which is a great spot to grab a good donut in the winter. the dolce de leche is my favorite.
— and speaking of great treats, if you visit the holiday markets around the city (so many good ones! union square park, bryant park, etc), you must try the nutella stuffed churros at the columbus circle holiday market. i maybe walked down there this weekend to see if the market was set up yet because i can’t wait much longer for my churro (it wasn’t, sadly), but i’m looking forward to visiting multiple times once it’s up!
— we have loved seeing the radio city christmas spectacular with the rockettes each year (i just bought tickets last night for our family in a few weeks!) as it’s seriously one of the most magical shows out there. a little tip, if you get seats in the front half section of the theatre, the snow will fall on you at the end and it is our favorite part, for sure.
— chelsea market is a fun place to visit during the holidays, the lights are beautiful! another spot that we have yet to visit but i’m determined to get to this year are all the holiday lights in dyker heights, brooklyn. i hear it’s amazing and every year we try to go but somehow don’t make it out. this year! this year!
— there is a live nativity on christmas eve at the church of the heavenly rest on 92nd and 5th avenue. we’ve had friends participate in years past and hear it’s something else.
— we love the puppet shows at the marionette theater in central park! they do a holiday puppet show each year, details here.
— ice skating in new york city is also a fun thing to do this time of year. you can skate in central park, bryant park, and rockefeller center. there’s also a darling smaller ice rink outside the standard hotel downtown.
— josh and i loved the big band holiday concert last year at jazz at lincoln center. they also have a webop family holiday jazz jam this year on december 9th if that’s something your kids might be into! and of course, the nutcracker takes place at lincoln center every year with the new york city ballet, which is always a magical show, as well.
— on christmas eve, there’s caroling where all are welcome to join in under the washington square arch around 5pm!
as for staying warm while enjoying all of the fun things happening around the city, we often put merino wool layers on underneath all of our kids clothing. that helps so much when it gets really cold out. i think polarn o. pyret makes some really great options when it comes to warm outer wear for kids (we are major fans of their snowsuits) and we also love the down jackets by patagonia. i’ll bring gloves, mittens and hats with us for the kids, and eventually my kids will ask for them even if we left the apartment with them not wanting any. we have used down stroller sleeping bags (called footmuffs) for our stroller seats in years past and they are life savers. especially since we do so much walking in this city and are outside for long stretches of time. you can always hop into a shop or store though for a few minutes to get warm if your little ones need it! and lots of hot chocolate breaks every couple of hours always seem to help me. ;)
by the way, if you’re traveling around NYC with a stroller, HERE is a map we made showing all the working subway elevators (so you only have to carry it up and down the subway stairs maybe half the time!) and HERE is a big guide we made that should help you with navigating the city (taxis, subways, groceries, food and broadway shows).
(last two photos by katie rain.)
if i missed anything you love to do in the winter in the city, please share it in the comments below! HAPPY HOLIDAYS FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!