It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’m getting a lot of questions about my favorite things to do during the holiday season in New York City. While there are literally hundreds of amazing food, fun, and entertainment options to explore when in the city, here are my six favorite things to do during the holidays.
1. Rockefeller Center
This is the obvious choice for people visiting the city during the holidays. For many, it’s the reason they came. Even though it’s packed with tourists, Rockefeller Center is still a fun and classic choice for Christmas festivities. From the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting and ice skating at The Rink, to Top of the Rock and giant Christmas decor, there is a lot to see and do in this area.
2. Bryant Park
Head over to Bryant Park to check out Winter Village, which is normally less crowded but just as festive as Rockefeller Center. At Bryant Park’s Winter Village, you can go ice skating, grab some delicious holiday treats, or shop for unique gifts from a variety of artisans. The vibe is more relaxed than many of the other holiday sites in Manhattan. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the fountain when it’s frozen.
3. The NY Public Library
The NY Public Library is right next to Bryant Park so this is a combo you don’t want to miss. While mostly focusing on Christmas, the library is home to decor that celebrates a variety of faiths. It’s also a warm place to hide from the wind and crowds while checking out free exhibits or grabbing a snack or gift in the library’s cafe or shop. The NY Public Library is one of the most beautiful buildings in NYC year round and it certainly can’t be missed during the holiday season.
4. Greenwich Village
Picturesque with way less tourists, Greenwich Village has a magical yet relaxed feeling throughout the holidays. This historic neighborhood is filled with independent restaurants, shops, and bars as well as live theatre and music. If you want to get away from the large crowds, go explore Greenwich Village for a few hours and see how real New Yorkers celebrate the holidays.
5. Central Park
Just about every Christmas movie you have ever seen features a scene from Central Park during the holiday season and with great reason. Central Park is breathtakingly beautiful during the holidays. Just be sure to grab a map if you are not familiar with the park. Bethesda Terrace and Fountain which overlooks the lake in New York City’s Central Park are exceptionally stunning. A lot of people head to Central Park for a part of their trip but don’t take the time to truly explore all that it has to offer. If you have the time, you can easily spend an entire day exploring this winter wonderland.
There are many parts of Brooklyn that are worth crossing over the bridge for. Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and Carroll Gardens are just a few of my favorites. While the holiday decor may not be as intense as what you will see in Midtown, it’s still beautiful and you can take your time viewing it without simultaneously avoiding walking into millions of people. The bridge itself is stunning and a morning walk across the bridge is a great way to start the day. You’ll be busy for hours at the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. If nothing else, go for the views. The Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers some of the best views in all five boroughs.