There's no city in the world that puts on a holiday display quite like New York. From the beautiful Rockefeller Christmas tree to the holiday markets that dot the city, New York puts on a dazzling show during the festive season.
Stroll the city streets and get lost window shopping on Fifth Avenue where department store windows are decorated to the nines or stop by Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. With so much to do during the winter months, New York is the perfect place to get you in the holiday spirit. So whether you're in town for a quick weekend getaway or a longer trip, there's plenty to take in during the holiday season in New York City.
Here's our list of the top attractions to check out.
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
No trip to New York City during the holidays would be complete without stopping by the famed Rockefeller Christmas tree. Towering above the iconic ice skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza, the tree has been a holiday fixture since the first unveiling in 1933. Dotted with bright lights, the tree is topped with an artfully-decorated Swarovski crystal star that changes annually.
Shop the Holiday Markets
Spread out across the city you'll find plenty of festive markets selling artisan goods, delicious small bites, and plenty of hot chocolate. There's the Winter Village in Bryant Park that has a lodge where holiday shoppers can warm up with a cocktail and a meal, the Union Square Holiday Market that has nearly 80 shops, the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Terminal with over 60 shops and 35 places to grab a bite, and the Holiday Market at Columbus Circle (don't forget to check out the shops in the Columbus Circle terminal), to name a few.
Stroll the Department Store Windows
Go window shopping down Fifth Avenue, checking out the splendid window displays in department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Macy's, and Bloomingdales. Each year, the displays get more and more elaborate with plenty of animatronics and luxury goods. Pro tip: Start uptown at Tiffany & Co. making your way down to Macy's, where you can pop in to meet with Santa.
Take in a Show
Seeing a Broadway show is a must any time of year but during the holiday season there are plenty of tickets that will get you in the spirit. From the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall to New York City Ballet's famed The Nutcracker, there are plenty of shows from late November to early January that you shouldn't miss. There's also Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Madison Square Garden and A Christmas Carol at the Merchants House that are perfect for kids.
While the rink in Rockefeller Center gets all of the attention, there are a number of skating rinks across the city that are worth checking out—long lines not included. There's The Rink at Bryant Park's Winter Village that's perfect for an afternoon of winter fun and shopping (Bryant Park's Winter Village is one of the most famous holiday markets), or take in the views of Central Park while skating around at Wollman Rink. Further downtown there's the rink at Brookfield Place, across the World Trade Center that offers beautiful views of the Hudson River and Jersey City. Wherever you decide to go, make sure to cap off your experience with a tasty hot chocolate to warm yourself up.
Indulge in a Decadent Hot Chocolate
Made famous by the romantic comedy Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, Serendipity 3 serves up an over-the-top hot chocolate that will warm you to your core. Their "Frrrozen Hot Chocolate" is world famous for being a dreamy treat and is a must-try when visiting the Big Apple during the holiday season. If you're looking for something a little more luxe, the shop serves up the most expensive sundae in the world (as per the Guinness Book of World Records). The $1,000 treat comes with three scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, drizzled with the world's most expensive chocolate, covered with rare Chuao chocolate, and topped with 23k gold leaf for that extra fancy touch. Plan ahead if you'd like this decadent treat as it's available by appointment only.
Watch the Ball Drop in Style on New Year's Eve
The festivities don’t die down after Christmas Day has passed as the city is one of the most celebrated destinations to visit to ring in the New Year. For those looking to celebrate in style, American Express is hosting a black-tie affair for card members at R Lounge with unbeatable views of the ball drop—without having to brace the cold weather. Pop singer Betty Who will also perform exclusively for American Express guests. Tickets are $1,750 per person, but don’t wait too long to buy as events like this usually book up quick.