9 Must-See Family-Friendly Holiday Attractions In New York CityT
he holidays in New York City are truly magical. From life-size ornaments adorning the city to the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the city that never sleeps sure knows how to celebrate the holidays. New York City offers tourists and locals alike unique opportunities to get in on the holiday spirit, and this year, bring the magic to life for your little ones! We’ve curated a list of the best family-friendly holiday events around the city—check it out!
If you’re in the Brooklyn area, plan to make a stop by the famous Dyker Heights neighborhood to see some of the most spectacular and over-the-top holiday light displays in New York. In fact, the area is so well-known for its annual Christmas-lights bonanza, it’s often referred to as “Dyker Lights.” The stunning displays attract over 100,000 visitors each holiday season and is truly a magical experience during the holidays. Plan to either stroll through the displays or take one of the many heated bus tours through the area. (Psst: The best displays are from 11th to 13th Avenues and from 83rd to 86th Streets.)
There’s nothing like lacing up your skates and gliding on an ice rink in the Big Apple! There are several open ice rinks located throughout the city at this time of year, but by far the most popular option is The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Located near our home, Radio City Music Hall, this ice rink is the center of the holiday festivities—enjoy tasty holiday treats like hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts from nearby vendors and catch tunes from local carolers. Because there are only 150 people allowed on the ice at once, prepare for long lines! Prefer to skate on a rink that’s less crowded? Try the Wollman Rink in Central Park and the Bank of America Winter Village Rink at Bryant Park (free admission!).
The beloved department store turns 13,000 square feet into a winter wonderland each year to celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus and his friendly elves. With caroling snowmen, reindeer, decorative lights and festive christmas decor, your little jingle bells will feel like they’re entering the North Pole! Macy’s Santaland is located on the 8th floor of the flagship store in Herald Square (on 34th St., between Broadway and 7th Ave.).
Plan to head to the Union Square Holiday Market for your holiday shopping this year! The international market features unique, handmade and one-of-a-kind gift options from over 150 artisans and crafters around the world. There’s even fun events specifically for the kiddos—like pottery workshops and family scavenger hunts! While you’re shopping, be sure to grab some tasty treats from local NYC restaurants and food trucks featuring a variety of cultural cuisine. The market is open now through December 24th from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closes at 7 p.m. on Sundays!).
Kick off the holiday season with tasty treats from Serendipity! This New York City favorite is a perfect place to refuel (and stay warm!) between shopping trips in the city. This year, Serendipity 3 is celebrating Santa’s 30th Anniversary in the Christmas Spectacular with Peanut Butter and Frrrozen Hot Chocolate! Serendipity will donate $1 of each sale of the holiday treat from now until January 2nd to the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to brightening the lives of children facing obstacles. Be sure to stop in and enjoy this deliciousness for a good cause!
Throughout the holiday season, you’ll find elaborate holiday window displays from the world’s top retailers along the famed street. Be sure to check out Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Land of 1,000 Lights”-themed windows that include a brilliant 10-story-tall theatrical light show on the front façade of the building (611 Fifth Ave. between 49th and 50th Sts.) and Lord & Taylor’s “Enchanted Forest” animated windows that depict scenes of a winter wonderland filled with 34 hand-sculpted whimsical woodland creatures (424 5th Ave. at 39th St.). A few other choice locations?! Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows depict lush locals, unexpected landscapes and verdant gardens with their “Destination Extraordinary”-theme (754 Fifth Ave. at 58th St.); Tiffany & Co.’s “Tiffany New York Christmas” windows capture the magical charm of the city than never sleeps (727 Fifth Ave. between 56th and 57th Sts.); Bloomingdale’s collaborated with visual artists to create chandeliers which personify their artistic definition of the word “light” (59th St. and Lexington Ave.) and Macy’s six windows celebrate the spirit of the season: believe, celebrate, together, giving, love and magic (34th St. between Broadway and Seventh Ave.).
Bundle up the kids and head into the Bronx to see the 25th annual Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. This one-of-a-kind experience features a model replica of New York City made completely from plants and other natural materials. Your kids will love watching minature trains zip through iconic NYC landmarks (there’s over 150 in the exhibit!) like the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center and our home, Radio City Music Hall. This year the exhibit was expanded to nearly a half-mile of track including a replica of famed Coney Island!
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is the perfect place to spend an evening out with the family during the holiday season. Whether you explore the food and artisanal boutiques for one-of-a-kind presents or do a few laps on the free-admission skating rink, this attraction is sure to get your kiddos in the yuletide spirit.
The world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a must-see during the holiday season, especially for your little elves! Each year hundreds of thousands of people visit Rockefeller Center to see the iconic Christmas tree that has largely become the symbol for the holidays in New York City. This year, the tree is a 94-foot Norway Spruce from Oneonta, New York and is covered with more than 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and topped with a Swarovski star with 25,000 crystals and one million facets. It’s quite the beauty!