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!
Holiday Lights Tour
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.).
Union Square Holiday Market
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 9 p.m. (closes at 8 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 the Christmas Spectacular with Snow Frrrozen Hot White Chocolate; topped with a snow-filled mountain of whipped cream with sprinkling of fairy dust and mini white chocolate chips, a sugar holly branch and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Fifth Avenue Holiday Window Displays
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 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed windows that include detailed vignettes of the beloved fairytale (611 Fifth Ave. between 49th and 50th Sts.) and Lord & Taylor’s “The Best and Brightest”-themed animated windows where they’ve been transformed into a whimsical journey, as seen through the lens of enchanted snow globes (424 5th Ave. at 39th St.). A few other choice locations?! Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday windows capture the appreciation for the visual arts, history, film and music with their “To New York With Love” theme (754 Fifth Ave. at 58th St.); Tiffany & Co. captures the magical charm of the holiday season with their window displays featuring a perennial favorite—the Tiffany Blue Box (727 Fifth Ave. between 56th and 57th Sts.); Bloomingdale’s teamed up with 20th Century Fox Film’’s The Greatest Showman for a tribute to big-top visionary P.T. Barnum (59th St. and Lexington Ave.) and Macy’s six windows are representations of mood boards; depicting the joy of sharing holiday season festivities with those we love (34th St. between Broadway and Seventh Ave.).
Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show
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 miniature trains zip through iconic NYC landmarks (including new re-creations of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and St. Bartholomew’s Church!) all rendered using natural materials such as bark and leaves. This year’s exhibit showcases Midtown Manhattan’s iconic skyscrapers and other architectural wonders; and a light-filled finale adds an extra touch of Christmas magic to this popular holiday attraction.
Winter Village at Bryant Park
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.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
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 75-foot tall Norway Spruce from State College, PA is approximately 80 years old and weighs 12 tons! It’s adorned with 50,000 multi-colored LED twinkling lights on five miles of wire, and topped with a Swarovski star with 25,000 crystals and one million facets. What a beauty!