Best Things to Do in New York City for The Holidays

Wow, it’s already that time of the year again where everyone displays bright colorful lights outside of their homes, put up trees and decorate it with ornaments and stars, and gather together for the joyful festivities that are happening for these holidays in December. For the past years since I’ve been in my senior year of high school, I’ve always made a day trip to New York City with my friends at least once during the holidays.

My friends and I made it a tradition every year to see the BIG Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center. It did get pretty much repetitive since it was always the same so I can’t wait to switch it up this year, in all honesty. However, that is not to say you shouldn’t! New York City is one of the best places that brings that holiday spirit to life. If you’re visiting New York City (NYC) this month, I have shared some places to see/things you can do to feel festive while you’re exploring the city, specifically in Manhattan.

Visit Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is the ‘center’ of all things holiday.  It is a large complex consisting of commercial buildings between the 48th and 51st streets in NYC. Every year especially at the end of November, the city decides to put up the main symbol of the place, which is the Christmas Tree. This Christmas Tree stands at 94 feet with 50,000 lights on it. It sounds insane, doesn’t it? Wait until you see it in person. Besides the lights, you can see the display of the Christmas Angels, which are wired sculptures, that are placed by the entrance surrounding the Channel Gardens fountains.

See the Lord & Taylor Window Displays

Near the Rockefeller Center, you’ll find the Lord & Taylor Holiday Windows. On 5th Avenue, these window displays are joyous to look at. It’s like a museum exhibit after all, holiday style. Lord & Taylor usually partners up with Hallmark Channel to create these series of windows. Each window has a different theme and usually change by the year. You will also see hundreds of lights all aligned through the moss hanging above and on the walls.

Watch the Macy’s Holiday Light Show

Also in Saks Fifth Avenue, this amazing light show up gets everyone turning their backs and catching their attention. It is on every 15 minutes and it’s wonderful to watch. You’ll see so much lights switching before your eyes and the Christmas music is an added bonus to make the experience worth remembering.


Go to 230 Fifth, go under a heated igloo, and enjoy a couple drinks.

230 Fifth is a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of skyscrapers including the Empire State Building. Around the holidays, you’ll see the Empire State Building lit in Christmas colors (green & red) from afar on the rooftop. Along that rooftop, during the holidays, the bar likes to set up inflatable heated “igloos” for you to hangout inside and you can grab a cozy red robe to keep you warm throughout. It does get pretty crowded and full in those igloos so it’s best to try to get there early! When I went here last year, we didn’t get to enjoy the igloos but we hung out inside, which is also cozy and relaxing, and displays a lovely scenery of the skyscrapers as well from outside.




Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral

When Christmas is near and you’re a Roman Catholic that attends the church for a mass every year, go try to attend it at the massive and beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Fifth Avenue. It is a landmark of New York City and this Gothic English architectural church has been around since 1878. You can even pick up a Christmas item from their gift shop such as an ornament, Christmas card, figurine, book, glitter dome, or advent item from there.

The Oculus

This place is a beautiful stop to make by the One World Station (in the World Trade Center). The Oculus was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, where on the outside it’s supposed to represent a child’s hand with a dove. This impressive architecture is impressive to look at from the inside too, but during the holidays, you’ll be sure to see some Christmas decor inside. You can hangout and shop here as there are a lot of retailers around.

Other Things to Do

And… here are more things you can do/see in the city!

  • Go ice skating in Bryant Park or Wollman Rink in Central Park
  • See a show of the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and look at the giant red ornaments from across
  • Get handmade gifts at Union Square Holiday Market
Grab your friends and enjoy the holidays with them around the city!

Want to save on some attractions in New York City? Try CityPASS!

The best way to do top tourist things in a city you’re exploring while saving (because paying for admission fees in each attraction ADDS UP!) is using a company that sells discounted tickets. I’ve personally used CityPASS in the past a few times and it always turned out to be a great experience and made me feel blessed to save.

Out of the several destinations they cover, New York City is luckily one of those destinations! What kind of benefits can you get out of using CityPASS?

  • Save up to 50% in ticket sales compared to box office prices
  • Skip main entrance ticket lines at attractions
  • Have the eligibility to redeem vouchers within 6 months of purchase
  • Visit attractions at any available time at any order (the ticket is valid for 9 days)

If you’re interested in using CityPASS, click here to start purchasing so you can enjoy a nice activity-filled trip!


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