Holiday Things To Do In NYC: Can’t-Miss Sights & Activities For The Season

Mon, Dec 01, 2014

In New York For The Holidays? Make It Memorable!

New York City is an enchanting place during the holidays. Any New York lover knows that there is nothing quite like the smell of the winter chill in the air mixed with the incredible scent of the hot glazed nuts offered by the street vendors. And the charm of the city during the holidays is no secret, thanks to movies like Home Alone 2 and Elf which are set in Manhattan during the season. From the dazzling window displays to the iconic skating rinks, New York City engulfs itself in holiday cheer. And because many consider this the most wonderful time of the year, locals and tourists alike flock to the hot spots for their dose of that special feeling. To help you get in on the festivities, we’ve come up with a sort of “holidays in New York bucket list” of the best sights and activities you just can’t miss. The holidays are just around the corner, so sit back, relax, and prepare to get in the holiday spirit!

NYC’s Holiday Lights & Window Displays

From after Thanksgiving through the New Year, famous shopping streets such as Fifth Avenue are transformed into extravagant rows of ornate window and lighting displays. From traditional bows and snowflakes to modern feathers and gemstones (and everything in between), the stores, restaurants, and hotels are all decked-out in dazzling displays. Beware though, the weekends and early evenings will be the busiest time for taking a stroll down holiday lane, so plan accordingly. Although the displays can be seen throughout the day, the night is truly the most magical time.

new york city christmas

A few of the hottest spots:

  • Macy’s in Herald Square is known for their two iconic window displays. The first is set on Broadway between 34th & 35th Streets, while the second is along 34th Street. Although the windows change each year, they always depict the popular stories “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Yes, Virginia.”
  • Toward the Upper East Side, Bloomingdale’s (Lexington Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets) is not only another noteworthy shopping destination, but it always offers playful and interesting window displays. These displays are known for integrating modern technology into the mix, which is fun for family members of all ages. If you’re with the family, be sure to stop over at Dylan's Candy Bar nearby on Third Avenue and 60th Street for a holiday treat. With three floors of sweets, it’s enough to make Willy Wonka jealous, and children happier than, well, a kid in a candy store.
  • A reflection of store itself, Barney’s New York (Madison Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets) always offers contemporary and nontraditional holiday displays.
  • Head along Fifth Avenue for couture displays that are sure to impress.  As extravagant as they are intricate, you won’t be disappointed with the window displays found here. Bergdorf Goodman (Fifth Avenue between 58th and 57th Streets) always stuns with their blend of elaborate gowns, breathtaking lights, and holiday decorations. Saks Fifth Avenue (Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets) tailors their window display to the “child at heart,” while Lord & Taylor (Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets) features traditional holiday displays.

Finding Skating Rinks In New York City

rockefeller christmas treeNew York offers pop-up skating rinks throughout the city during the winter months. As soon as the first frost hits (usually early November) through to the end of February, these rinks are open from late morning to night. During the holiday season, be prepared for long lines and crowded rinks, but don’t let it discourage you. Ice skating in New York City is as much a part of American holiday tradition as is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Need help finding a place to take part in the tradition? Try these famous rinks:  

  • The Rink at Rockefeller Center - 30 Rock’s angel statues, shops, and ice skating rink are famous around the world, making Rockefeller Center the top bucket list item to visit during the holidays. Did we mention the giant tree? How can you not check it out if you’re in town for the holidays?
  • Bryant Park Skating Rink - Bryant Park is only a stone’s throw from Times Square, and offers more than just skating. Overlooking the rink is Celsius, Bryant Park’s pop-up, two-floor, holiday themed bar. While you’re there, be sure to take a stroll around the Bryant Park Market for delicious hot chocolate and unique gift ideas. The best thing? This famous Midtown location offers free admission to the rink with the cost of skate rental!

Best Holiday Bar in New York

Have you ever wondered what the inside of Christmas tree looked like? Head to Rolfe’s German Restaurant in Murray Hill and you won’t have to wonder any longer. The restaurant is decorated in garland and other festive holiday décor and offers mulled wine and eggnog during the holiday season. It’s the perfect to beat the cool winter temperatures.

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Tags: Visit New York: Planning Your Trip, Things To Do In NYC, Holidays In New York