Top 5 things to do in NYC at Christmas with kids!

Struggling to plan what to see and do for your upcoming Christmas trip to NYC with the kids? I’ve got you covered!

There are so many sights NYC has to offer that it is hard to narrow down your list! Let me help by giving you a list of activities that made our recent Christmas trip to NYC a big success!

1. Macy’s Santaland (best for 10 and under)

The best thing about Macy’s Santaland is that it is FREE. Starting in 2017 Macy’s requires making your reservations online in an effort to reduce wait times!

Macy's NYC at Christmas, Macy's Santaland

Before we visited Santaland,  I was unclear as to exactly what it was. I envisioned an entire floor of Macy’s decorated as a Winter Wonderland with the option to see Santa Claus somewhere along the way.

Macy's SantalandSince that was my expectation I was originally disappointed to realize that Santaland is just a small portion of the 8th floor and is essentially a very elaborately decorated line to visit Santa.

Macy's Santaland for kids, Macy's christmas

Since most of my children have outgrown the desire to sit on Santa’s lap, this experience for them was just okay. Despite having made reservations there is still a good amount of standing in line and my older kids got restless.

That being said, if you have younger children and sitting on Santa’s lap is a yearly tradition, you’d be hard pressed to find a better Santa experience than Macy’s! For that reason Macy’s Santaland remains on my list!

2. Grand Central Terminal Train Display

Grand Central Terminal Christmas, Train display at Grand Central in NYC

Grand Central Terminal is a sight to see in and of itself.

As one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks it is a true architectural masterpiece. Located in mid-town Manhattan it is decorated beautifully for Christmas and will definitely get your crew in the holiday spirit.

To see the Annual Holiday Train show you will want to head down the main staircase to the Shuttle Passage where you will find a magical little store that houses the train display.

You will see many iconic NYC landmarks and cityscapes including a miniature Grand Central Terminal. My little guys favorite part was seeing the subway trains zip around track.

Grand Central terminal train show

3. Bryant Park Holiday Shops at Winter Village.

This is the one activity that we ran out of time for and I was so disappointed! We walked past the open air market on our last day and it looked absolutely charming. It was also much larger than I expected! There are apparently over 150 vendors!

bryant park winter village, bryant park holiday shop

Photo Credit: Bryant Park Corporation

Not only does the Bryant Park Holiday Market offer an incredible selection of vendors but also an outdoor ice skating rink. It’s just like the one at Rockefeller Center, except FREE! Just bring your own skates (or rent onsite for $20)  and you are set to go!

To get a complete list of vendors participating in this year’s Winter Village check here.

4. Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show

Right near Rockefeller Center is the amazing Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show.

Saks Fifth Ave light show, christmas in nyc

This was our daytime view of Saks Fifth Avenue. The greenery is part of an elaborate light show that the high end department store puts on every year.

Saks Fifth ave light show

After the sun sets Saks puts on their spectacular light show to music every 10 minutes!

5. Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

You can’t go to NYC at Christmas and not see the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating rink. This is the heart of Christmas in the city!

Rockefeller center christmas tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, rockefeller center at christmas, rockefeller center skating rink

We visited during the day because that’s what our schedule allowed, but Rockefeller Center is best after the sun sets, when the tree and the iconic skating rink really shine in all their glory.

While you’re in Rockefeller Center be sure to check out the Lego Store with your kids! That was our plan but because we hit Rockefeller on a Saturday it was packed and there was over an hour wait just to get in the store!

My two little guys were so disappointed to miss it because of the wait, which brings me to my final point!

Beware of going to NYC on a weekend at Christmas!

Weekends in December are the busiest time of year to visit NYC, so be aware.

We arrived in the Big Apple on a Thursday evening and left on a Saturday evening. The difference between the amount of visitors on Thursday versus Saturday was remarkable.

Walking on the streets and window shopping was no problem our first two days. By Saturday many of the streets (especially around Rockefeller Center) were so packed you could barely move. We were shoulder to shoulder with people.

nyc at christmas, nyc with kids, rockefeller center at christmas

Wall to wall people in Rockefeller Center on the first Saturday in December.

On Thursday and Friday we were able to easily pick a restaurant and there was no wait. On Saturday finding a place to eat was a nightmare. Every place was packed with people and had long lines.  I gotta say that the Christmas spirit can fade quickly when you’ve got tired and hungry kids (and adults).

For all the above reasons and more, I strongly recommend taking the day off work and pulling the kids out of school so that you can enjoy all the Christmas fun NYC has to offer without fighting the massive crowds!

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Lisa

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