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The 12 Top Places to Visit During the Holiday Season in New York

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Planning to be in New York City this Christmas holiday season and wondering what you should see, do, shop and dine? As native New Yorkers, we’re sharing our tips on the best ways to spend the Christmas holiday season in New York City (NYC) this year, including where to shop and dine, and what to see and do.

planning to be in New York City this Christmas holiday season?

With the mercury dropping into the teens, picturesque snowflakes drifting lazily through the sky, and snowmen dotting parks all over the city, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! New York City is a magical place, but it sparkles even more during the holiday season.

The 12 top places to visit during the Christmas holiday season in New York City (NYC).
The 12 top places to visit during the Christmas holiday season in New York City (NYC).

Stores decorate their windows and Christmas tree lots appear on busy corners. There are several special new things to see and do in the city this year.

Bars and restaurants offer holiday-inspired cocktails and festive dishes. Holiday Markets appear up all over the city, providing procrastinators plenty of great gift-buying options right up until Christmas Eve (we’re partial to the one in Bryant Park).

The 12 top places to visit during the Christmas holiday season in New York City (NYC).
The 12 top places to visit during the Christmas holiday season in New York City (NYC).

And if you have little ones to entertain, the choices are amazing. Planning a trip to New York City during the holiday season? Or hosting more people for dinner than your apartment can hold? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how you should spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What you should see, where you should eat, and even how you can grab a last-minute gift. We wish you a very merry Christmas!

12 best things to do and see in New York (NYC) this Christmas holiday season

1. Macy’s

Though it may sound silly, there really is no place to spend the holidays quite like the flagship Herald Square Macy’s. It has everything you could ever need or want inside its hallowed halls, and also – it’s tradition. It’s where to shop during the Christmas holiday season in NYC if you want to kick it Old School. December 24th is your last chance to grab any gifts you might have forgotten, and it’s also your last chance to schedule a visit with Santa – Christmas Eve is his final day in New York, before he heads home to the North Pole for the rest of the year. We love that you can opt for your littles to see a Santa of color if you like – representation matters, after all.

2. Rockefeller Center

After your Macy’s visit, head uptown to the iconic Rockefeller Center. You can pick up even more presents, skate a few loops around the rink, and of course – take one last look at the Christmas Tree, which will be taken down the first week in January. And since you’re in the neighborhood, you may as well take a stroll up Fifth Avenue and see the windows at Saks and Bergdorf’s while you’re at it. There’s no better way to get in the spirit of things.

3. The Nutcracker

Once you’ve finished your shopping and your skating, it’s time for a show! And what could be better than the New York City Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker? Loved by children and adults alike, George Balanchine’s ballet is a beloved holiday tradition that you will remember for years to come.

4. A Christmas Carol

Of course, you could instead choose a matinee of A Christmas Carol, which arrived this fall in a new Broadway production. Jefferson Mays stars in this version of the classic tale, which reimagines the Christmas Carol story as a one man show.

If you'll be in New York City this Christmas holiday season, our NYC resident tips on what you should see and do, and where to shop and dine.
If you’ll be in New York City this Christmas holiday season, our NYC resident tips on what you should see and do, and where to shop and dine.

5. Vic’s

After you finish with the day’s festivities, it’s time for Christmas Eve dinner. This is one of the most important meals of the year, and you want to choose the right restaurant. That’s why we have a few suggestions. Classic Italian restaurant, Vic’s, is already accepting reservations for the big meal. Menu highlights include a Cacio e Pepe, a mushroom ravioli, and a roast chicken with broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes. Vic’s is a much-loved holiday destination, and we expect great things out of this year’s meal.

6.  LittleMäd

Only on Christmas Eve, Little Mäd offers a feast of seven sea creatures. Specially curated by Chef Sol Han for the occasion, guests will be able to indulge in a decadent and celebratory 5-course pre-fixe menu. Delicacies include octopus arancini, scallop crudo, tuna mille feuille, blue crystal prawns, a half lobster, and many other delights. $135/person, with an optional $65 wine pairing.

7. Daniel

Although the main dining room is already booked, you can still snag a table in the Daniel lounge for Christmas Eve. This year, they’ll be serving a festive five-course menu with elevated versions of your favorite holiday dishes – and you already know they’ll be superb. $475/person, with an optional $305 wine pairing.

8. The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

Now it’s Christmas Day. You’ve already opened your presents and eaten the leftover Christmas cookies, and you’re looking for ways to entertain yourself. How about catching a performance with The Radio City Rockettes?  The Christmas Spectacular is ninety minutes long, and the perfect way to inject some dazzling holiday cheer into your afternoon. The curtain goes up at 11 am, 2 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:30 pm and even 10 pm, so you have lots of opportunities to make this part of your Christmas memories.

9. Harlem Gospel Choir

Also on Christmas Day, the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir will grace Sony Hall with an unforgettable performance. There can be no more magical way to spend the afternoon. And if you’d rather stay cozy at home, you can instead buy tickets to the livestream, letting you enjoy this unbelievable show from the comfort of your couch.

10.  The Mark

After some celebratory music and dance, it’s time for Christmas dinner. The Mark is always a favorite destination for holidays, and Christmas is no exception. This year, there will be a special pre-fixe menu, with options like tuna tartare, butternut squash soup, Faroe Island salmon, roasted lamb loin, citrus pavlova, butterscotch pudding, and a Buche de Noel. And much more. Celebrations can be paradoxically tiring, and we know you’ll want to wrap up the holiday with a luxurious and relaxing meal. $208/peron.

11. Benoit

Alain Ducasse’s Midtown bistro will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, from 12 pm to 8:30 pm. They’re offering a three-course feast: to start, oysters, sea bream, or carrot soup; followed by a choice between ravioli, stuffed guinea fowl, filet mignon, and olive oil confit cod; and for dessert, warm brioche, Mont Blanc, and a chocolate tart.  $95/person.

12. Wallsé

Our final suggestion for the best things to see and do and where to shop and dine in New York City during the holiday season is one of our favorites. Join Chef Gutenbrunner for a four-course tasting menu, offered on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Austrian restaurant will serve foie gras terrine, chestnut soup, warm smoked salmon, creamy spaetzle, black sea bass, sirloin steak, warm apple strudel, black forest cake, Christmas cookies, and many other European delights.  Make your reservation now. $160/ person.

what to see and do in NYC during the Christmas holiday season

If you’ll be in New York City this Christmas holiday season, those are some of our NYC resident tips on what you should see and do, and where to shop and dine this year. Welcome to New York, dear reader!

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