10 Kid-Friendly Things to Do in New York City During Christmas
I am so excited to welcome my friend Heidi from Wandering Thespian today on the blog! Heidi is a blogger and travel planner specializing in New York city and surrounding areas. Today, she is sharing with us 10 kid-friendly activities that you can do while in New York City during Christmas! Be sure to leave her a comment letting her know how much you enjoyed her post! And while you are at it, follow her on social media!
1. The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
Clearly I had to put this first on the list. The Radio City Rockettes are classic New York, and their Christmas Spectacular is classic New York Christmas. There’s literally nothing more “Christmassy” than this in NYC. 36 of New York’s finest dance their hearts out for 90 minutes in one of the most impressive and simultaneously adorable performances you’ll ever see. Among their most famous pieces are the Dancing Santas and the Wooden Soldiers that will have you completely in awe of their precision. Each of their iconic dances is intertwined in a story that is updated every year, and towards the end of the show is one of the most incredible live nativity scenes you’ll ever see... complete with real animals! The show is entertaining and lively, but also short and sweet so your kiddos will stay interested the entire time. This is a NYC Christmas must see that you’ll be disappointed if you miss.
Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020
Cost: $35 - $425 perI ticket depending on date and seats chosen
Hours: 3 – 6 shows per day depending on date, check their calendar online
2. Ice Skating in Rockefeller Plaza, Bryant Park, or Central Park
Especially for those of you who don’t live in the north, ice-skating is not only a fun winter activity but it’s something that’ll be a brand new experience for your kids. While Rockefeller Plaza is the most magical during the holiday season, the rink at Bryant Park is a little more kid-friendly. Along with stakes you can also rent skate aids (almost like little skating walkers) for itty bitties to use to help them balance on the ice as well as helmets. The Central Park rink is the most cost-effective, but be aware that it is the most removed skating location of the three and that spectators also have a fee for entering the rink area. You can’t go wrong with any of these skating locations, it just depends on the particular experience you are looking for. In the order of what’s most “Christmassy,” I’d go with Rockefeller Plaza first, then Bryant Park, and then Central Park. In the order of what’s most kid-friendly I’d go with Bryant Park, then Central Park, then Rockefeller Plaza. Have fun, and be careful! The ice is slippery!
Address: 5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, New York, NY 10020
Cost: Children under 11 and seniors - $15, Adults standard - $25 / holiday - $27 / peak -
$32, Skate rental - $12
Hours: 8:30am – midnight daily. Skate sessions are 1 1⁄2 hours each.
***Hours and rates may change during holiday season***
Address: Bryant Park Cost: Admission – free, Skate rental - $20,
Hours: 8:00am – 10:00pm daily, weather permitting
Address: Enter Central Park at 59th and 6th Avenue, or 59th and 5th Avenue
Cost: CASH ONLY Monday – Thursday kids 11 and under - $6 / adults - $12 / seniors - $5,
Friday – Sunday & Holidays – kids $6 / adults - $19 / seniors - $9, Skate rental - $9,
Spectator - $5
Hours: Opens at 10:00am daily and closing time varies
3. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Alright, so this isn’t necessarily something to do, but more of something to see. Even if you’ve never been to New York, I guarantee you know what the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is. Heck... if you’ve seen Elf, you’ve seen the tree. Remember when Buddy takes Jovie on a tour around the city to look at all of the trees, and she brings him to Rockefeller Center to see the biggest tree around and it’s all kinds of magical? Just wait until you see it in real life! And if you’re lucky, it’ll be snowing like it was when I saw it. PURE. MAGIC. The tree lighting ceremony took place this year already, but just seeing it light up at night is more than enough. It’s gorgeous.
Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
4. FAO Schwarz
While the gloriously famous location on 5th Avenue (if you’ve seen Home Alone or Big you know the store well) permanently closed its doors a few years ago, this 2017 holiday season you and your wee ones can experience a piece of FAO Schwarz at the 5th Avenue at 58th Street Bergdorf Goodman location in their pop up shop on the 7th floor. Take the kids to experience the magic that is toy shopping in New York City at Christmastime at this pop up store while we await the new permanent location of our beloved FAO!
Address: 754 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
Cost: Free unless you make a purchase
Hours: Bergdorf Goodman store hours through December 31st
5. American Girl Store
This is perfect if you’re traveling with young girls. Boys may not love it so much, but I’m telling you I went as an adult and I had a field day so I know your girls will, too! Not only can you shop ‘til you drop for the most incredible dolls and every accessory you can imagine, this store is also an experience. You can have holiday tea with your American Girl doll that includes tasty treats and fun crafts. Santa makes an appearance to the store. TheAmerican Girl at Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular begins with seeing the show at RadioCity Hall, meeting a real Rockette, and concludes with dinner at the American Girl Café. At the American Girl Salon, girls and dolls alike can get their hair done, their ears pierced, manicures, a lovely scrub and facial, and the dolls can even be fit for their own hearing aid. The American Girl Café offers brunch, afternoon tea, lunch, and dinner on a regular basis to which all dolls are welcome. There’s a doll hospital if your American Girl is in need of some extra attention. Your doll will be well taken care of, and shipped back to you when she is all fixed up. You can even create a one of a kind doll with a one of a kind wardrobe made right there in the store that you can take home with you. Even if you’re not planning on making a purchase, it’s fun just to walk around and experience the excitement!
Address: 609 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Cost: Free unless you make a purchase
Hours: 10:00am – 7:00pm Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 9:00pm Saturday, 9:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, Holiday hours may vary – check the website
6. Plaza Hotel Eloise Tea
I absolutely ADORE Eloise! Eloise at Christmastime has been a favorite holiday movie of mine forever. In the movie, we are introduced to Eloise, a spunky six-year-old girl who lives with her Nanny at The Plaza. She takes us on all of her Christmas misadventures around the hotel, and at the end she comes to the realization of what Christmas is actually all about. It’s precious. Lucky for Eloise fans out there, The Plaza has created an entire Eloise themed experience that anyone can enjoy. If you’re feeling a bit luxurious, have a stay in the Eloise Suite, decorated by designer Betsey Johnson. Celebrate a birthday or other private event with a special tea in the Eloise Shop where you can also purchase some fun Eloise merch. An Eloise themed tea is also available at The Palm Court. It’s rather perfect if you ask me!
Address: 768 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
Cost: You can go to the shop and have a look around for no charge, but if you’re interested
in events or buying merchandise it’s best to check out the website before you go.
Hours: Website isn’t clear on hours. Call (212) 546-5457 for more information in that
7. Carriage Ride Through Central Park
This could be a little on the pricey side depending on how many people you are travelling with, but such a fun way to see Central Park with little ones without having to walk long distances (especially when it’s cold outside). Just a tip... there’s a food hall on the concourse level of The Plaza, which is very close to where the carriages depart. You may consider grabbing a snack to take along with you and plan your carriage ride at a time when you know little bits are starting to grow weary from the day’s adventures. It’ll give them a bit of a rest and recharge their energy for the rest of the day. Make sure to book a reservation. You cannot just walk up to a carriage and hop on in. Reservations can be booked on the website, and then present your ticket to the next available driver at the time of your ride. I would reserve a carriage plenty in advance because they tend to book up quickly especially around holiday season.
Address: Central Park South at the corner of 59th and 6th Ave.
Cost: 15 – 20 minutes $54.08 per carriage, 45 – 50 minutes $118.97 per carriage (Note:
Each carriage seats up to 4 adults, or two adults and three children under 12)
Hours: 10:00am – 11:00pm daily, be aware that 5:00pm – 6:30pm there is a driver shift
change so there are typically less carriages available at that time.
8. Macy’s Santaland
Ok so this is THE place to take the kiddos in NYC for Christmas. Santaland is a 13,000 square foot area in Macy’s Herald Square that is decorated to look like the North Pole complete with caroling snowmen, reindeer, oversized gingerbread men, igloos, ice sculptures, Christmas trees, trains, Santa’s toy workshop, and it all ends with the kids meeting the big guy in red and receiving a special gift to remember their encounter by. Here’s another Elf reference for you... remember when Buddy decorates the department store like the North Pole? It’s like that only WAY better. Don’t forget to go online and make your reservation. The brand new reservation system has been put in place to help keep the lines down. But even while waiting in line in Santaland, there’s so much magic to behold! You can even write a letter to Santa. For every letter that is written, Macy’s donates $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation up to $1 million. Now that’s the spirit of giving!
Address: 8th floor of Macy’s Herald Square – 151 W 34th Street, New York, NY 10001
Cost: Admission is free, professional photos with Santa are available for purchase with
packages starting at $20.99
Hours: Exact hours are unclear, but you will see which time slots are available for pictures
with Santa when you book your reservation online. Call the store at (212) 494-4495 for
9. The Nutcracker
Experience the genius that is George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker accompanied by the familiar music of Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. It’s something they will never forget. In the story, a young girl is given the gift of a nutcracker doll that comes to life as the clock strikes midnight. She helps her nutcracker prince win the battle against the evil mouse king and his minions, and the nutcracker prince whisks her off to the land of sweets where she is greeted by its residents in a magical whirlwind. The Nutcracker is a classic story told at Christmastime, and no one tells it better than the New York City Ballet. Plus, any time you get to see the likes of Megan Fairchild, Tiler Peck, or Sara Mearns dance is an incredible treat.
Address: 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023
Cost: $75 - $255 before taxes and fees depending on where you choose to sit
Hours: Showtimes 7:00pm Tuesday – Thursday, 8:00pm Friday and Saturday, 2:00pm
matinee Saturday, 1:00pm and 5:00pm on Sunday. Show runs 1 hr 58 mins.
10. 5th Avenue Windows: Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s,
Tiffany & Co.
Last, but certainly not least, are those famously decorated department store windows that you absolutely MUST see during Christmas. I’ve named a few for you that have the best of the best. Each year their windows have a different theme and some even include animatronics, videos, and lasers. You can take pictures or video of them all, and your little ones will be absolutely fascinated by all of the sights. The best part? You don’t even have to go during store hours. The window displays are up 24/7. It doesn’t get much more New York than that!
Macy’s Herald Square
Address: 151 W 34th Street, New York, NY 10001
Saks 5th Avenue
Address: 611 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Address: 1000 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Address: 754 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
Address: 660 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10173
Tiffany & Co.
Address: 727 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10022