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The 9 Best Places to Go in New York City for Holiday Cheer

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Despite celebrating Christmas every year, I come from a family that is decidedly un-Christmasy. So for many years, I scoffed at red cups, turned my nose up at holly, and maneuvered my way around Christmas-themed playlists—but when I moved to New York, which in some areas rivals the North Pole this time of year, I found myself surrounded by such cheer that I eventually gave into the holly jolly holiday merriment. Here are 9 holiday-decked places to visit in New York to take in all the Christmas cheer the city has to offer:

Photo by angelocesare

The Tree at Rockefeller Plaza

One of the quintessential New York Christmas attractions is the tree at 30 Rock. This year's, a Norway spruce from Gardiner, New York, is the 83rd Rockefeller Center tree and it will remain lit through January 7th. While you’re in the neighborhood, go ice skating or check out some of the surrounding shops. Just be aware that there will be crowds; the tree is visited by half a million people every day, according to its website.

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The Rockettes Winter Spectacular

For the past 85 years, the Winter Spectacular has been a mainstay of the City, with 36 Rockettes kicking in line (that's 72 legs!) in the holiday-themed show. Because the show includes animals like camels, sheep, and donkeys, rumor has it that at some points during the day you can see them on their daily walks down 51st Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Pop-Up Holiday Bars

New York loves it’s pop-ups (cough, cough) and one of the benefits is all the holiday-themed bars that appear during the holidays. In the East Village, Mace is now calling itself Miracle on Ninth Street and Boilermaker is Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack—both are delightfully kitschy.

The window displays on Fifth Avenue.
The window displays on Fifth Avenue. Photo by Chris Ford

5th Avenue Window Displays

Another thing this city takes very seriously are its window displays. Last year at Barneys, I watched a live ice skater perform in a window. This year is no different, with midtown stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Henri Bendel putting on a show.

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Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Gardens

Remember loving train kits as a kid? This is like that—but a thousand times better. The train at the Botanical Gardens runs on a half-mile track through recognizable New York City attractions like the Statue of Liberty. It's perfect for the little ones, but we couldn't help but be in awe ourselves.

Washington Square Park Christmas Tree

A little smaller but just as cheerful as the Rockefeller Center tree is the one at Washington Square Park. Visit it at night for the full twinkle effect or go on Christmas Eve for caroling. Also, Humans of New York spends a lot of time in Washington Square Park so prepare a weepy-but-inspiring holiday story to share.

Union Square Holiday Market

In Union Square (and several other spots around the city including Columbus Circle and Grand Central Station), is a holiday market featuring over 150 small business selling handmade products and food. Grab a hot a hot chocolate and browse for gifts!

Ice Skating in Bryant Park

This time of year, the Bryant Park's grassy lawn that hosts movies and yoga in the summer turns into an ice skating rink. Around its perimeter are holiday shops and a small restaurant that serves drinks and hot chocolate—whatever helps you warm up faster and get back on the ice.

Food52 Holiday Market

Hailed New York’s “Hottest, Best-Ever Attraction” (by Food52’s editors), the Food52 Holiday Market is—in all seriousness—filled with cheer, happiness, and joyful Food52 employees. It also has really amazing presents.

What are your favorite things do to during Christmastime in New York? Tell us in the comments below!


Our magical menu genie will plan your holiay feast for you.

Tags: holiday market, christmas in new york, christmas tree