By Candice Shaffer of Brickell City Centre, NEMA Chicago, Algin Management, and The Lindley

The sidewalks have already had a dusting of snow, the tree-lined streets are covered in twinkle lights, and there’s that distinctive smell of street vendors roasting nuts on almost every corner. This all signals one of New York City’s most magical seasons: the holidays.

Things for Families to Do Over Christmas in NYC

From St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the new real estate being developed around the city in buildings like 200 Amsterdam on the West Side and 25 Park Row downtown, stay aware of your surroundings since walking down the snowy sidewalks of Manhattan is a feast for the eyes, mind, and heart putting you in the mood for this most celebrated of seasons.

Here are some fun things to do with your family during Christmas in NYC.

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(Window) Shopping

People come from all over the globe to not only experience all of the holiday cultural events New York City provides but the singular shopping the city affords. Merely walking down Fifth Avenue will put you in the spirit of the season. This is thanks to the myriad window displays themed for this time of year. Don’t forget to stop into one of these iconic stores to stock up on presents for loved ones.

Start your shopping a little south of Central Park. Gaze at the mesmerizing windows of Bergdorf Goodman and head south. Once you arrive in Rockefeller Center, visit the recently reopened FAO Schwarz, where the kids can pick out something special.

And, yes, the giant piano from the movie “Big” played with a pianist’s adroit feet is there. Maybe you’ll hear a rousing rendition of “Jingle Bells.” At night, Fifth Avenue comes to life! Since Saks Fifth Avenue not only has its windows decorated but has a light show as well!

Tree Peeping

After viewing the magnificent light show at Saks, turn around to see one of NYC’s most iconic holiday scenes. For the past 80 years, the Rockefeller Christmas has been NYC’s de facto center of the holiday season.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa and stand mesmerized at the 75-foot tall Norwegian spruce with over 50,000 twinkling lights. It’s a magical display as tourists and locals gather to enjoy its splendor. All while Salvation Army volunteers dance and ring their signature bells. Don’t forget it’s the season for giving.

Ice Skating

Right under the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is the ice skating rink. Nothing is more fun for the family than to strap on a pair of blades and head out on the ice. Whether a hanging-on-the-wall novice or a triple-axle athlete, enjoy the crisp air against your face as “All I Want For Christmas is You” pumps from the speakers.

But the Rock Center rink isn’t the only one in the city. There’s the Wollman Rink in Central Park, a rink in Bryant Park, and even the Standard hotel has a small patch of ice to skate on downtown.


After a solid day of outing and about, treat your family to what New York City is known best for its entertainment. You could see one of the many shows, such as the famous The Music Man on Broadway, or hit up what’s arguably the most popular seasonal extravaganza in the world at the Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular.

With dozens of tap-dancing Rockettes and a living nativity — as in real animals — this is a must-see for kids of all ages. And there are plenty of concerts and performances around the city.


Post-show noshing isn’t just a tradition in NYC but compulsory. And this is the city for great food and giving your family a unique holiday experience. Sit in the Rock Center Café, which is situated on the same level as the famous rink. Or have a whimsical winter fantasy of a meal at the Russian Tea Room.

A little further downtown is where every local knows they’ll be entreated to a singular holiday adventure — Rolphs is a German restaurant and bar decorated so ornately during the holidays that it feels like you are walking into a Christmas tree.

Things for Families to Do Over Christmas in NYC

What could be more truly Christmas than eating a dish of Rolphs’ famous schnitzel under the elaborate ornaments hanging pendulously from the ceiling covered in Christmas lights and pine?

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