There is nothing more magical than the streets of New York City during the holidays. It kicks off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ends with the ball drop in Times Square. Look anywhere and everywhere to find a festive touch. Classic holiday events in New York City are a favorite tradition that families and kids of all ages enjoy time and time again.
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The Best Holiday Events in New York City for Families
See a Show
New York City is home to some of the best plays anywhere on Broadway. Start a holiday tradition by heading into the city to see a show!
Looking for something Christmas themed? You can’t go wrong with the classic Radio City Christmas Spectacular where the Rockettes will dazzle with their stunning dance numbers. Be sure to arrive early to allow time to seek out fun photo opportunities with a Rockette located on the first mezzanine and Santa located in the Grande Lounge. Families may also enjoy a show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. One of the hottest holiday tickets in town is George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ performed by the New York City Ballet. Kids and adults alike will enjoy entering the world of toy soldiers, mice kings, and sugar plum fairies.
Stroll Fifth Avenue
Strolling down Fifth Avenue between 59th and 34th streets will treat you to some of the best sights in the city namely the decorated department store windows. Some of the most famous windows you can find are at the department stores of Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Macy’s. A stop by Macy’s in Herald Square will not only treat you to wonderful window displays, but you can also have your own Miracle on 34th Street moment while visiting Santa in Santaland. In November and December, kids can also enjoy the Puppet Theater on the 8th floor.
For the epitome of a Christmas in New York experience, visit Rockefeller Center. Take in the decorations, the famous tree, or lace up your ice skates and step onto the ice. There are also a variety of great stores to browse in and pick up some holiday gifts such as the LEGO store.
Take a Tour
Gray Line Bus Tours are available all year round but during the holiday season you can hop aboard for a holiday lights tour and see all the festive sites around the city. Times Square, the laser show at Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are just some of the highlights on this tour. NYC Kids Tours were designed with kids in mind. The entire family will enjoy site-seeing some of the city’s best attractions! Teachers have created activity guides for your children that include photo assignments, games, music, and other hands on fun. The guides are even leveled by age, so all of your kids can get an age-appropriate experience!
For something a bit different, try The Christmas Lights Tour from A Slice of Brooklyn guided bus tours. Fun from the time your family steps onto the bus until you hop off filled with cool local knowledge – and a bit more of the holiday spirit, this is one fun family activity that you’ll be talking about long after the ride is complete.
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Additional Holiday Delights
The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden features model trains traveling around miniature replicas of famous New York City landmarks. Throughout the season, visitors can enjoy special events featuring puppet shows and visits with Thomas the Train. The Botanical Garden has other fun programs such as Holiday Adventures where kids can enjoy a variety of activities.
A New York staple, Central Park, is the perfect place for a wintertime stroll or a carriage ride. For a fun, traditional wintertime activity, take the family ice skating! The kids will love the puppet theater at The Swedish Cottage. This year, the theater is featuring “The Three Bears Holiday Bash,” where Baby Bear invites Santa to star in the annual holiday show.
Stop by Bryant Park and take a twirl on the ice at Citi Pond, the only place in the city where you can skate for free! Afterwards take a spin on the Le Carrousel which will be sure to delight the kids. From October through the beginning of January, visitors can enjoy the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park where more than 100 boutique style shops are available for your shopping pleasure.
Hop on a train out of the city up to Saratoga Springs where you can enjoy a Polar Express experience aboard the Saratoga and North Creek Railway. Depart the Saratoga Springs station bound for the North Pole! Dancing chefs will deliver cookies and hot chocolate, have your ticket punched by the conductor, and keep your eye out for the traveling hobo. When you arrive in the North Pole, Santa and his elves will greet each guest.
Where to Stay
There are so many hotels to choose from in New York City! During this time of year many offer fun holiday-themed packages during your stay. The Omni Berkshire Place is located just steps from some of the city’s best shopping! Book new reservations by December 1, 2014 and save with reduced holiday room rates, and check out the fun Stocking Stuffer package.
Stays at the centrally-located Westin New York at Times Square will also get you a room at the center of the action. Check their website for specific holiday specials and rates and enjoy breathtaking views of the city. Chelsea’s Hyatt House is a great choice for families who want a kitchen to cook in. For those looking to stay somewhere other than Manhattan, check out the Hampton Inn Brooklyn Downtown for quality lodging that won’t break the budget as well as the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. For a less cookie cutter stay that offers some funky decor, check out Brooklyn’s Box House Hotel in Greenpoint.
If you’d like to visit the city but stay outside of it, then the Ritz Carlton in White Plains might be just for you. Throughout the holiday season, kid-friendly activities and workshops will be held at the hotel such as gingerbread decorating workshops, breakfast with Santa, and menorah lightings. A trip to the city to enjoy the holiday magic is a short train ride away.
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