Whether it’s images of serene, snow-laden Central Park or whimsical scenes found in movies like Serendipity or When Harry Met Sally, New York City during the holidays is an exciting, romantic, and magical place. We’ve partnered with NYC-based travel blogger Sher from Sher She Goes to discover some of the can’t miss things to do in New York City this holiday season!

Fun & Festive Things to Do in New York City This Holiday Season!

Vacation time is notoriously scarce, so deciding what to do during your time in the Big Apple can easily become overwhelming. Blending classic favorites with under-the-radar gems, we’ve created a New Yorker-approved list of the best things to do this season – keep reading for more!

1. Go Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

Subway Station – Rockefeller Center (B, D, F, M trains)

Admission – From $15 (children) and $25 (adults)

Though many recommend Bryant Park’s holiday market (more on this later!) as New York’s premier ice skating venue, nothing beats ice skating in New York’s famous Rockefeller Center. General admission tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, but fortunately the rink opens at 8:30 in the morning and doesn’t close until midnight!

Plus, once you’ve finished skating in the shadow of New York’s most iconic (and largest!) Christmas tree, you’re already in a prime location to enjoy the best of midtown Manhattan’s dining, shopping, and entertainment scenes!

Find hotels near Bryant Park here.

2. Head to Brooklyn for the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Subway Station – 71st Street (D); 86th Street (R)

Admission – Free!

Every neighborhood seems to have that one house where the residents go all out for holiday decorations – a giant inflatable Santa Claus, loudspeaker-enhanced Christmas carols, and maybe a few motion-activated elves for good measure. Well, imagine a neighborhood where every house displays this level of Christmas decoration extravagance, and you’ve imagined yourself in New York’s Dyker Heights, located in southern Brooklyn. Dyker Heights residents feature their electric and stunning decorations (and allow guests to take pictures in front of them, too!) until 9:00 each evening from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve!

Find hotels near Brooklyn here.

3. Hop Around New York’s Many Holiday Markets

Subway Station – Columbus Circle (A, B, C, D, 1); Bryant Park (B, D, F, M); Union Square (L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6)

Admission – Free!

Beloved by both locals and tourists, New York’s holiday markets provide a uniquely fun shopping experience in New York’s premier parks. Each market has hundreds of booths featuring one-of-a-kind clothing, gifts, and food vendors, and the setting is perfect for romantic dates, family outings, and casual strolls alike!

The Columbus Circle (adjacent to Central Park) and Union Square Holiday Markets close on Christmas Eve, but the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (which also features the aforementioned 17,000 square-foot ice skating rink) runs through January 2nd!

Find hotels near Union Square here.

4. Go Window (or Real!) Shopping at Bergdorf Goodman’s

Subway Station – 5th Avenue / 59th Street (N, R, W); 5th Avenue / 53rd Street (E, M); 57th Street (F)

Admission – Free!

Located on the corner of 58th Street and Manhattan’s famed Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman’s is synonymous with New York’s luxury shopping scene. The folks from Bergdorf embrace this reputation wholeheartedly with their celebrated holiday windows, a series of opulent window displays featuring designs customized around an annual theme. 2017 is a particularly special year for Bergdorf Goodman’s as the department store celebrates 125 years on Fifth Avenue by paying homage to some of New York’s most celebrated organizations including the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Philharmonic, the New York Botanical Garden, and plenty more. Plus, when top-shelf displays are right next to world-class shopping, what’s not to love?!

Find hotels near the Upper East Side here.

5. Check Out the New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

Admission – From $10 (children) and $23 (adults)

Occupying 250 acres just north of Fordham University in The Bronx, the New York Botanical Gardens are a beautiful preserve showcasing that New York is more than a skyscraper-filled concrete jungle. Each year between Thanksgiving and mid-January, the Botanical Gardens display its Holiday Train Show, a genuine marvel of human focus, ingenuity, and craftsmanship that can impress adults as easily as it fascinates children! Trains made entirely from natural materials (including bark, minerals, and leaves) are shuttled through miniature models recreating some of New York’s most famous landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Yankee Stadium!

Find hotels near Washington Heights here.

6. Treat Yourself to a Schnitzel at Rolf’s German Restaurant

Subway Station – 23 Street (6)

Admission – Depends on how hungry you are!

Although located in an incredibly posh neighborhood near Gramercy Park, Rolf’s German Restaurant – with its hunting trophies and expansive mirrors – seems like it’s pulled right from an Oktoberfest scene where all that matters is good food, good friends, and good cheer. Rolf’s creates a mystical environment during the holidays, decorating its ceilings and walls with so many ornaments, lights, evergreen firs, and pine cones that it’s impossible to tell what the restaurant normally looks like. By the way, the menu – featuring German classics such as Schnitzel and Bratwurst – isn’t too shabby, either!

Find hotels near Gramercy Park here.

7. Catch the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Admission – From $67

Originally founded in St. Louis (fun trivia fact!), the Rockettes have been performing in Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall for 85 consecutive years. Known for their glistening smiles, precision dancing, and (of course) perfectly synchronized leg-kicks, the Rockettes put their endurance to the test each year, performing five daily shows seven days a week throughout the entire holiday season.

Though the extended leg-kick ending sequence is a timeless tradition, each year the Rockettes add new Christmas Spectacular wrinkles that have seen them dress as snow, rag dolls, and even toy soldiers!

Find hotels near Midtown here.

8. Follow That Up with Dessert at Milk & Cookies Bakery

Subway Station – Christopher Street (1, 2, 3)

Admission – Depends on your sweet tooth!

Known for its festive holiday-themed concoctions, Milk & Cookies Bakery – already one of New York’s most famous bakeries throughout the year – turns into an absolute cannot-miss each holiday season. The menu expands far beyond cookies and features delights including make-your-own ice cream sandwiches, fresh gelato, and cupcakes with cookie dough centers. With its West Village location (in one of Manhattan’s hippest neighborhoods), Milk & Cookies is the perfect destination for dates, trips with your parents or children, and everything in between!

Find hotels near Tribeca here.

9. See The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center

Subway Station – 66th Street / Lincoln Center (1)

Admission – From $78

Set amid 16 beautifully-designed acres on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts likely features America’s densest collection of world-class artistic talent. Venues include David Geffen Hall (home of the New York Philharmonic), the Metropolitan Opera House, and Alice Tully Hall (concert hall for The Juilliard School). For a classic holiday experience, however, head to the David H. Koch Theater to see the New York City Ballet perform George Balanchine’ stunning choreography set against Tchaikovsky’s brilliant score in The Nutcracker. Like the Rockettes with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the New York City Ballet performs The Nutcracker annually between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, but the company always throws in a few surprises to keep the production fresh and exciting!

Find hotels near the Upper West Side here.

10. Have Afternoon Tea in The Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court

Subway Station – 5th Avenue / 59th Street (N, R, W); 5th Avenue / 53rd Street (E, M); 57th Street (F)

Admission – Depends on how thirsty you are!

Made famous nationally by the beloved children’s book character Eloise, The Plaza Hotel has long been among New York’s most treasured landmarks. This becomes especially true during the holidays, when The Plaza spares no expense promoting its shopping, culinary, and charitable activities. Though afternoon tea is served daily in the Palm Court, the Plaza really steps up its game around holiday season – special tea packages include the New Yorker Tea (highlighted by bagels with lox), the Champagne Tea (thyme roasted prime rib and sandwiches), and, of course, the Children’s Eloise Tea (house made turkey and deviled organic egg)!

11. All Aboard the Holiday Nostalgia Train

Subway Station – 2nd Avenue (F)

Admission – $2.75 each way

Five times every Sunday through New Year’s Day, those sleepily waiting for a typical “F” train at Manhattan’s Second Avenue Station will board a pleasant surprise – the Holiday Nostalgia Train, a subway made from cars that were used from the 1930s through the 1970s. Adorned with wreaths, manual ceiling fans, and padded seats, these vintage subway cars offer – along with fantastic photograph opportunities – a surprisingly luxurious ride. Plus, with many of this list’s attractions (including Rockefeller Center, Bergdorf Goodman’s and the Plaza Hotel) lying along the F line, the Holiday Nostalgia Train gets you where you need to go, anyway! Choo Choo!

Find hotels in Downtown New York here.

Sher Jordan is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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