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Christmas in New York: 5 Places You Have to Visit

The most magical time of the year is upon us, and there’s nowhere better to celebrate than New York City!

The first time I spent Christmas in New York was in 2017, and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I thought all the stereotypical Hallmark movies were a dramatic romanticization of the city during the holidays, but I was so wrong. Not to be cheesy, but walking down the streets of New York on Christmas Day was one of the most magical things I have ever experienced. My family and I spent Christmas in New York City again last year, and it definitely did not let us down. I truly believe this trip should be on everyone’s bucket list — it is an absolute dream!

If you ever find yourself in New York during the holiday season, be sure to stop by these spots! They are all pretty touristy but have been must-sees during my trips.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Rockefeller ice rink and Christmas tree in New York
Elizabeth Tait

This one is probably a given, but are you really in New York for the holidays if you don’t go by the Rockefeller Christmas Tree? This 75ft Christmas tree is breathtakingly beautiful, nestled in between the city buildings all decorated for the holidays. There’s even an ice rink right next to the tree where you can go ice skating in the heart of Rockefeller Center.

It gets extremely crowded here during peak hours, so if you’re staying overnight, I highly recommend going in the early morning hours to get some great pictures and enjoy the calm Christmas ambiance without massive crowds. Walking through NYC before most people were awake to Rockefeller Center from my hotel through all the Christmas lights and decorations was probably my favorite part of my trip and is honestly one of my “core memories.”

Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall Christmas in New York
Elizabeth Tait

Although I haven’t personally been to the show, the Christmas Spectacular is the perfect holiday festivity if you’re looking to just sit, relax, and enjoy a joyful show. The Rockettes are a long-time icon of Christmas in the city, and you surely won’t be disappointed by their performance. The hall is also perfectly decorated for the holidays!

Saks Fifth Avenue
SAKS Christmas display in New York
Elizabeth Tait

Even if you’re not looking to shop, Saks Fifth Avenue has inarguably the best window displays for the holidays. If you’re looking to just take a stroll through the city and admire some Christmas window displays and decor, this is the perfect place! At night, they also have a continual light show that draws crowds every time it starts.

Schmackary’s Cookies
Schmackary\'s cookies in New York
Elizabeth Tait

What’s Christmas without cookies? Schmackary’s, located in Hell’s Kitchen, has, in my opinion, some of the best cookies in New York. Even when it’s not the holidays, I never go to NYC without picking up some Schmackary’s cookies. During the holidays, they have some festive flavors as well like Dirty Peppermint, Eggnog, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Sugar Cookie Crunch, and more!

Christmas Ornaments
Christmas ornaments in New York
Elizabeth Tait

Right by Radio City Music Hall is one of the most popular photo places during the holidays in NYC. This is the perfect spot to take some pictures to remember your trip — some of my favorite photos from my trip were taken here!

There is truly an endless amount of places in New York City that are worth visiting, but these are just a few of my favorites for during the holidays. Even just taking an aimless walk around the city, you are sure to feel the magic of Christmas unlike anywhere else — and trust me, those holiday rom-com movies in New York aren’t exaggerating.

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Elizabeth Tait

U Mass Amherst '24

Elizabeth is a junior at UMass Amherst double majoring in psychology and sociology. In her free time, she loves reading, watching sunrises at the beach, making Spotify playlists, playing tennis, and traveling.