The holidays are a magical time of year. Christmas trees and sparkly lights, meet and greets with Santa, hot chocolate, sugar cookies, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas on repeat are some of the things that make this time of the year so special. New York City is already a popular travel destination and the center of many Hallmark movies and classics like Home Alone 2. But during the holiday season, millions of people flock to New York in December and early January specifically to celebrate Christmas. If you’re planning a trip to New York City during the holidays, in this episode, I’m sharing Christmas things to do in NYC with a baby. This guide can also double as things to do in NYC in December.
This New York City travel guide intentionally focuses on Midtown Manhattan, so avoid inconveniences like the subway and Uber. That means bundle your mini me nice and warm with a winter hat, scarf and glove beanie or a fleece hat and mitten winter set because you’ll be walking quite a bit. Also, at the end, I share a cost breakdown of how much a day in New York City costs.
Listen to the episode here:
Speaking of New York City, I’m speaking at a Women’s Travel Fest about launching an attention-grabbing travel podcast. Leave this workshop with a simple tech setup, a list of episodes you’re excited to produce, and a marketing plan that boosts discoverability from Day 1. Purchase tickets to Women’s Travel Fest and plan a fun weekend in New York City March 2023.
New York City Christmas Trip
Table of Contents
Winter Village at Bryant Park
Visit this European-inspired open-air market daily until 8 pm for shopping, delicious food, and treats.
At the holiday shops, find candles, lanterns, Vermont maple syrup, hot sauces, jewelry, ornaments, pottery, art, clothing, and more.
A big reason why Bryant Park was on our list of things to do in NYC during the holidays was because of all the food options. Whether you’re looking for something small to snack on or an actual meal, there’s something for everyone here, like donuts, crepes, sandwiches, waffles, fried pickles, empanadas, baos, s’mores, and more.
I love the variety of cultural foods that reflect New York City’s diversity.
I recommend stopping at Casa Toscana for their Nutella donuts and hot chocolate. Those donuts covered in powdered sugar melt in your mouth, they are so delicious!
As expected, Bryant Park is very popular and crowded. Exercise patience navigating with a stroller. Also, not all entrances and exits are accessible with strollers, so be mindful when entering and exiting the park.
Stroll Fifth Avenue
While Fifth Avenue has a lot of shopping options, and some stores have Christmas window displays, it may be too crowded for comfort when traveling with a baby, so walk on 6th Avenue instead.
When traveling with a baby, the name of the game is safety and ease, right?
Fifth Avenue was too chaotic and overwhelming for us, especially as we walked closer to Rockefeller Center.
Since we only saw a few holiday window displays, we’d skip Fifth Ave altogether.
But if you want to see the festive window displays, check out the light show at Saks Fifth Avenue, right across the street from the Rockefeller Center.
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Visiting the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a quintessential New York holiday experience.
In 1931, workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money together to buy a Christmas tree. The men decorated the 20-foot tree with handmade and homemade garlands.
Rockefeller Center made the Christmas Tree an annual tradition and held the very first tree lighting ceremony in 1933. They added ice skating in 1936. Admission was $0.99 and $0.49 to rent skates. By 1951 NBC televised the lighting of the tree for the first time.
The 2022 Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center stands 82 feet tall. There are more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights on the tree, and the star at the top weighs approximately 900 pounds.
I’ve seen the tree many times, and it’s truly a sight to see.
Avoid the evening crowds by visiting the tree in the morning or early afternoon.
The tree is lit daily from 6 am to 12 am. On Christmas Day, it is lit for 24 hours, and on New Year’s Eve, from 6 am to 9 pm.
While you’re here, make your way to the Top of the Rock, an indoor and outdoor observation deck set 70 floors above the Rockefeller Center for 360-degree views of New York City.
While we chose not to get up close and personal with the Rockefeller Christmas tree this year, we found a lesser-known one not too far away.
Lotte New York Palace Hotel
The Palace’s Christmas tree is nowhere near as big as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, but it’s still grand. It is beautifully decorated, and since the courtyard is less crowded, here’s where you can get holiday photos with your little ones.
The courtyard is also studded with giant presents, ornaments, and nutcrackers.
By this time, Baby K was looking a little cold, so we decided to go inside the luxury hotel to warm him up and plan our next stop.
Fun Fact: Across from the historic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, this 55-story iconic hotel is a Gossip Girl filming location.
Radio City Music Hall
Next, head to Radio City Music Hall, where you’ll find oversized candy canes and bright red ornaments.
This is also where you can experience the Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes.
Heading to Eight Avenue, stroll through Times Square where in a few weeks, millions of people will watch the ball drop. Visit the M&M’s Store, Disney, or the Hershey Store.
Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair
The last stop is Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, the city’s longest-running indoor Christmas fair that features artisan goods like holiday keepsakes, home décor, and self-care products.
Across from the fair, on the other side of Vanderbilt Hall, grab a glass of wine at City Winery.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Lower Level Dining Concourse before our train ride home.
One-Day NYC at Christmas Cost Breakdown
- (2) Round-trip train tickets to NYC – $59
- Parking at train station – $20
- North Face winter hat – $40.55
- (2) Small hot chocolates and (2) donuts at Bryant Park – $25
- (2) Hot sandwiches and drinks at Grand Central Terminal – $20
- Total Costs: $164.54
Listen to the episode here:
Regardless if you are planning a New York City family vacation, a weekend New York City Christmas trip, or a day trip, I hope you enjoyed this episode, and you’re ready to create fabulous memories with your loved ones.
What are your favorite Christmas things to do in NYC? What are your favorite New York family holiday traditions?
Share your recommendations by leaving a comment with your thoughts below.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Danielle Desir Corbett paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries, including her favorites, Iceland, China, and Bermuda. Go here to learn Danielle’s incredible story, from struggling financially and in debt to finding creative ways to earn more and live on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast, where Danielle shares how you can creatively travel more and build wealth regardless of your current financial situation. Reach out to Danielle by contacting: thethoughtcard (at) gmail (dot) com.