Things to do in New York City in December

New York City is a fascinating city, and it’s everything you’ve seen in the movies and more. I’ve seen NYC in summer and in winter, and now I can tell you some of my favourite things to do in New York City in December.

TIP: If you’re planning a trip to NYC, make sure to read what mistakes to avoid when in New York. I am sure you want to save some dollars on your trips.

I am a summer person and travelling to cold destinations isn’t my idea of a holiday, but NYC is different, and the entire city is an attraction in itself. So basically you have a huge city to discover, no matter the season of the year you decide to visit New York City, but there are some special places and things to see in New York City in December.

I have to warn you, it can get cold, and I recommend wearing comfortable winter shoes and a coat, a scarf, hat, gloves, and to stop for a hot chocolate every couple of hours.

These are my top recommendations for things to do in New York City in December.

Visit the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center

Things to do in New York City in December

The Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree is probably one of the most famous Christmas trees on the planet, so expect this place to be crowded. It gets even more crowded in the evening and as you get closer to Christmas.

The ice rink beneath the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre is where everyone wants to skate, and you can wait for hours to get in.

How much does it cost to skate at the Rockefeller Centre ice rink?

Adults $25, Children $15, skate rental $13 (but you can bring your own skates). During the holidays, the price is raised to $28. During peak season, the price to skate is $33.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is open daily from 8:30 am until midnight and will remain open till April.

Skate at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Bryan Park gets transform during winter and has another popular ice rink. This place is also called Manhattan’s winter wonderland. The Ice rink from Bryant Park is New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink. You can bring your own skates or you can rent. The prices for skate renting range between $18 and $33 depending on the day you go.

Around the ice rink, you can admire and shop around from the holiday shops, serve some holiday drinks or snacks.

Admire the 5th Avenue shops’ Christmas decoration

The shops from 5th Avenue are famous worldwide. Many TV serials feature them, mention them, and celebrities shop there. Actually, everybody shops there. People from all around the world come to admire their windows, which are always gorgeous.

They seem to be in some sort of Christmas competition as most of them have gorgeous Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, outdoor decorations… It’ like a fairy tale land. My favourites decorations are the ones from Saks, Cartier and Tiffany’s.

Saks has an entire light shop on their building, with music and everything. People gather to stare every evening. It starts at 8 pm, and it lasts for a couple of minutes and then it starts all over again.

Wonder at the houses decorated for Christmas in Dyker Heights

Dyker Heights is a famous area from Brooklyn, New York City in which people take Christmas decorations very seriously.

I have never seen so many houses decorated for Christmas holidays and nor did I see such beautiful decorations. It’s like stepping into a Christmas wonderland. Dyker Heights isn’t close to Manhattan, and a try by subway will take around 1h, but it’s so worth it, especially if you love Christmas.

I recommend dressing for a cold and windy evening because it tends to get windy around there. I walked around for almost 2h, and started walking back just after my fingers were completely frozen and I couldn’t use them. But don’t be like me. Bring hot tea, if possible.

You will not be the only one, as many come and walk around the streets in Dyker Heights. I walked around the 10th and 13th Avenue and 82th and 86th Streets. Around here was the greatest crowds.

Visit the Christmas tree from the New York Stock Exchange

Visit the Christmas tree from the New York Stock Exchange

The Christmas tree from the New York Stock Exchange is one of NYC’s oldest traditions. Each year, the tree is lit on the beginning of December, and a special event takes places here, at 11 Wall Street.

Visit Washington Square Park

Did you know that they put a Christmas tree under the Washington Square Arch ever since 1924?

Visit Washington Square Park

This is another remarkable landmark to check out, especially during Christmas, when there will be this beautiful Christmas tree.

See a Broadway or Christmas Show

Visiting New York City without seeing a Broadway show is inconceivable for some, but I always travel on a budget, and I feel that the tickets for most Broadway shows are just too much. But, as always, this is a matter of priorities.

In December, a lot of special holiday shows happen, and it’s pretty cold outside, so it might be a good idea to go and see one or two shows.

I recommend keeping an eye on the TodayTix website/app, where you can find discounted tickets for almost all shows.

You can choose between the legendary Radio City Rockettes or a non-related holiday show. Don’t worry, because whatever you choose, I’m sure it will be great. I wanted to see the Rockettes but decided to see Mean Girls instead, and it was brilliant.

See a Broadway or Christmas Show

TIP: You can participate in the daily Hamilton lottery. If you win, you will pay only $10 for a ticket.

Buy a Christmas gift from the many Christmas markets in NYC

You might not be in Europe, where many of the famous Christmas markets are, but New York City has a few Christmas markets as well. Find mulled wine, decorations, gifts, sweets and a lot more at the many NYC Christmas markets.

Here’s the list of the Christmas markets:

  • Union Square Holiday Market
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market
  • Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park 
  • Artists and Fleas at Chelsea Market
  • Grand Central Holiday Fair

Of course, there are many other Christmas stuff and things to do in New York City in December, but these are some of my favourites. Are you planning a December visit to New York City?

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog,

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