New York City is one of the most exciting places to visit, especially during the festive Holiday Season. With so many fun things to do and see, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out your itinerary. Here are five must-dos when visiting NYC over the holidays:
1. Take a New York City Holiday Lights Tour
Get in the Christmas spirit. Take a fun two-hour narrated evening NYC Holiday Lights Tour. There’s no better time to see Manhattan’s glittering holiday season lights and dazzling displays. See Rockefeller Center’s giant Christmas Tree and ice-rink. Pass by Fifth Avenue’s magnificent window displays – they’re truly spectacular! Entertaining and knowledgeable tour guides will share trivia and highlights about the attractions you’ll see along the way. Note: This tour is only available in December. Tours depart every 30 minutes.
2. See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show
This only-in-NY Christmas extravaganza, featuring the world-famous high-kicking Radio City Rockettes, is the perfect must-see holiday show for the whole family. Expect to be wowed with the sensational “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” – our favorite part of this magical show. If you have limited time and budget to see just one show, we highly recommend this one! Radio City Christmas Spectacular starts in early November and runs through January 2, 2017. Matinee and evening performances. Tickets to this show sell out every year – it’s a very popular show! Book early so you won’t be disappointed.
3. Tour Rockefeller Center – See 3 Top NY Attractions
During the holidays, Rockefeller Center is a fun place to visit, hang out and people watch. At night, this whole area is breathtaking with its dazzling lights and festive decorations. Make the most of your time in New York and see three of the city’s top attractions – all at Rockefeller Center:
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – Lighting & Live Entertainment
See the world’s most famous Christmas Tree lit up in all its glory at Rockefeller Plaza (between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues). Tree lighting takes place on November 30th, wth live performances from 7pm-9pm. Thousands of people are expected to crowd the area, so arrive early to get a good spot. The lighted tree will be on display until 9pm on January 7, 2017.
- Rockefeller Center Ice-Skating Rink
Did you know that Rockefeller Center’s ice-skating rink is visited by over half a million people every year? During the winter months, the famous sunken plaza is filled with ice-skaters from around the world. If you like to ice-skate, this is the place to do it… just know that you’ll have a big audience watching over you – hundreds of people line the elevated area overlooking the plaza. During the holidays, it’s one of our favorite places to visit and people watch.
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
If you want to get a panoramic “open-air” bird’s eye view of New York’s beautiful skyline, visit the Top of the Rock atop Rockefeller Center – 70 floors up! Any time of the day is stunning, but It’s particularly breathtaking at night when the city is illuminated. Sunset and twilight are also good times. See magnificent views of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Central Park, Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty… and more. Open 365 days of the year.
4. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Take a Ground Zero Walking Tour
Get a deeper understanding of what took place on September 11, 2001 with this poignant tour that includes a visit to the September 11 Memorial, a 1 1/2 hour walking tour of Ground Zero – and an optional upgrade for entry into the 9/11 Museum.
- Ground Zero
The Ground Zero walking tour begins at St. Paul’s chapel, the oldest public building in NYC, located directly across from the World Trade Center site. From there, you’ll follow your tour guide to the Firefighters (FDNY) Memorial Wall and the FDNY 10/10 (Ten House) fire station at Ground Zero.
- National September Memorial (9/11 Memorial)
The tour then takes you to the National September 11 Memorial (9/11 Memorial) – a tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Get an up-close view of the massive twin reflecting pools and fountains (at the spots where the Twin Towers once stood). Listen to moving stories from your certified tour guide of that infamous and fateful September day. Names of those who perished in the February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools. These pools feature the largest manmade waterfalls in Northern America. At night, the water is illuminated by LED lights at the base of the pool. While in this area, if you look up, you’ll see One World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower.
- National September Museum (9/11 Museum)
If you opt for the upgrade on this tour, you’ll receive entry into the National September 11 Museum where you can take a self-guided tour and explore the museum at your own pace. Highlights of the museum include a collection of original artifacts (including actual pieces of the towers), archives, video screenings, and multimedia displays – all telling the story of 9/11. The lives of every victim of both terrorist attacks (2001 and 1993) are commemorated at the museum.
5. Visit a New York Museum
It’s no secret that New York is known for having some of the best museums in the world. If you have time, any of these three museums are well worth a visit:
- American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History was voted the No. 1 Family Attraction in NYC and the Third Most Popular Destination in the USA by Zagat Survey Family Travel Guide. Conveniently located across from Central Park, it’s one of the world’s largest museums, featuring over 46 permanent exhibits. Museum highlights include the giant glass cube of the Rose Center of Earth and Space that contains the colossal Hayden Sphere, the historic T. Rex skeleton and Easter Island head that inspired characters in the 2006 hit movie “Night at the Museum” (starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams). If you opt for a Super Saver upgrade ticket, you’ll get access to the Hayden Planetarium Space, IMAX films and all special exhibits. There’s so much to see here so be sure to allow plenty of time for everything. Open daily from 10am-5:45pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
- Museum of Modern Art (with Skip-the-Line Access)
Beat the holiday crowds and get instant access into the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with a skip-the-line entrance ticket. MoMA houses one of the most impressive art collections in the nation, including masterworks by Pollock, Warhol, van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Jasper Johns, Elizabeth Murray Frida Kahlo, Roy Lichtenstein… and more. Open daily 10:30am-5:30pm (Friday ’til 8pm). Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
- The Guggenheim Museum (with Skip-the-Line Access)
No hassle of waiting in line during the holidays – this convenient skip-the-line ticket grants you entrance on arrival. The stunning Guggenheim museum, located on Fifth Avenue, is an architectural masterpiece in itself. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum is filled with one of the world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary art. Allow plenty of time to explore the museum at your own pace. If you have time, take one of the daily “Art in the Round” public tours led by skilled Guggenheim educators. Tours are free and take place daily at 2pm. Each tour focuses on a different aspect of the museum’s collection, specific exhibitions, themes, or architecture. Open daily.
We hope this article gives you a few ideas and saves you a little time when planning your trip to New York. Feel free to tell us about some of your favorite things that you like to do and see when visiting NYC over the holiday season. We love getting recommendations and finding new and fun things to do to share with our readers.