What’s the one place that you think of that really puts you in the Christmas spirit? For a lot of us, myself included, I always think of sitting at home by a fire looking at my beautiful Christmas tree all lit up with maybe a few presents underneath, if I’ve managed to not be lazy and actually wrap a few. But besides home there’s always one place that will always put me in the Christmas spirit, no matter what kind of mood I’m in, and that’s New York City! There’s just something about the hustle and bustle and all of the Christmas decorations that always seems to put me in the Christmas spirit!
Last year, Chris and I took a long weekend trip to New York City with one of my best friends Kayla who first introduced me to NYC in college. I never got around to recapping our trip, especially since when I actually had time to start recapping our trip, Christmas had already passed. Since the Christmas season is officially in full swing in some parts of the world, and it will be here in the United States on Friday, I thought that I’d kick off my New York City posts by telling y’all about Christmas in New York City and some recommendations for your next trip!
See the tree at Rockefeller Center
This is probably the most iconic Christmas thing to do in New York City. The tree at Rockefeller Center is featured in every single Christmas movie that’s set in NYC, from Elf to Home Alone 2, the huge and stately fir tree always makes an appearance. And when you see the tree in person, it’s easy to see why. It’s just so huge and beautifully decorated, it’s hard not to be happy and in the Christmas spirit when you see it!
My Suggestion: Obviously, everybody loves to see the tree all lit up at night time, but my suggestion is to also stop by Rockefeller first thing in the morning to see the tree. Yes, the tree won’t be all lit up, but it won’t be nearly as crowded either, and you can get some pretty fantastic pictures in front of it!
Ice Skate At Rockefeller Center
During the winter there are multiple places to ice skate all over New York City, but with a backdrop of the iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree, there’s no better place for a true winter activity! During our first December trip to NYC we ice skated at Rockefeller and we loved it so much!
My suggestion: Make a skating reservation and go first thing in the morning. The ice skating rinks can get very crowded the later in the day that you go, which if you’re a southerner like me and not very stable on ice skates can be kind of scary with all the New Yorkers whizzing by you, and you’ll have longer lines to wait in. By making a reservation and going first thing in the morning, you miss a lot of the crowds, and you’re guaranteed skate time! Plus, if you’re having the true New York City experience, you’ll be walking a lot during your trip, which means that your feet will be hurting later on in the day, which means they will hurt when you ice skate! Trust me, it happened to us last year!
See all the window displays on 5th Avenue
I’ll be the first to disagree with those people that say that window shopping can be just as much fun as real shopping, because let’s face it, it’s always more fun to actually bring home something tangible from a shopping spree. Well almost always. The only time that I view window shopping as more fun than regular shopping is if it involves seeing all of the Christmas displays up and down 5th Avenue! 5th Avenue is home to all of the high end designer stores, and those designers go all out with their window displays for the holiday season. Saks literally has displays that move and glitter and light up! It’s crazy! I don’t know about all of you, but I’ never going to be able to afford all of those designer stores, but it’s so much fun to see all the beautiful displays at Christmas!
My suggestion: Walk down 5th Avenue first thing in the morning after seeing the tree. Again, all of the crowds won’t be out and you can really take in all of the amazing work that went into those beautiful displays!
See The Rockettes Show
Again, an iconic Christmas activity around Rockefeller Center! The Rockettes have been thrilling audiences for almost 100 years with their high kicks and perfectly in sync dance moves, and there’s nothing like seeing them live in New York City. Not only do they perform their iconic dance numbers that they’ve been performing for decades, but they also tell the story of the birth of Jesus, which I think is pretty incredible in this day and age.
My recommendation: If you have your heart set on seeing multiple Broadway plays while in New York City, but also want to see The Rockettes, try to catch one of their afternoon performances. There will be time to see two in one day!
See the light show at Saks 5th Avenue
Besides coming back to Rockefeller Center at night to see the tree all lit up, you’ll also want to come back to see the light show at Saks 5th Avenue. Located directly across the street from Rockefeller Center, Saks 5th Avenue rivals the Rockefeller Christmas tree when it comes to lights! Every 15 minutes, the whole of Saks 5th Avenue lights up for an amazing light show set to Christmas music of course! It’s something that’s not to be missed!
Besides Rockefeller Center, another place that’s featured quite often in Christmas movies set in New York City is the Macy’s store at Herald Square. Boasting 11 stories and taking up one full city block, Macy’s is filled to the brim with all things Christmas and some great window displays as well. That might sound just like all the stores on 5th Avenue, but Macy’s does have one thing that those stores don’t have, and that’s Santa Clause! But Macy’s doesn’t stop there; they also have a full-fledged Santaland as well! Macy’s will without a doubt put you in the Christmas spirit!
My recommendation: Be prepared to stand in line to see Santaland, even if you don’t want to see Santa Clause. We wanted to just walk through the last time we were there, and there was a line to even get into Santaland.
Visit Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a beautiful park located smack dab in the middle of New York City that is perfect for catching some sun or a movie during the summer. During fashion week, Bryant Park transforms itself into fashion central, and during Christmas it transforms itself into its own little Christmas Market. Complete with a beautifully decorated tree, an ice skating rink, and tons of little shops, Bryant Park is another place not to miss during the Christmas season in NYC!
My recommendation: Check out Bryant Park in the evening. The tree is so beautiful all lit up, it’s fun to watch all of the ice skaters, and there’s some of the stands sell food and drinks. It’s the perfect place to be all bundled up, sip some hot chocolate, and get all the Christmas feels!
Now these are just the specific Christmas activities that I could think of, but I feel like no matter what street I’m walking down in New York City in December, there’s lights and Christmas decorations and Christmas trees on every corner and around every turn. It’s truly a beautiful city, but it definitely goes all out for the Christmas season! I’m linking up with these Wanderful Women from some Wanderful Wednesday- Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World!
Have you ever visited New York City during Christmas? Are there any other Christmas activities that you do in New York City?
Other New York City Posts
Five Favorite Things About NYC
6 Things I Learned While Visiting New York City