Monday, November 22, 2021

Get in the Christmas spirit with 3 delightful days in NYC

Red ornament large scale artwork in NYC
Photo by Jay Joshi on Unsplash

From Miracle on 34th Street to one of my personal holiday faves, Elf, Christmas in NYC lives large in our cultural imagination. It's a classic for a reason. There's just something about the decorations, the department store windows, the hustle and bustle of shoppers...

Want to plan your own family-friendly visit to NYC for the holidays? Read on!


For your holiday in the city, I recommend staying somewhere central with good subway access, but away from the hellscape that is Times Square. On our most recent holiday stay, we opted for The Iriquois New York at 44th and 6th. The rooms were stylish, comfortable, and relatively small. For a larger room that fits four, we also love the suites at The Benjamin (50th and Lex).

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in NYC at night
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

Head uptown to kick things off with a bang with the Rockefeller Center tree. The enormous tree is really something to behold, and it will be lit as of December 1. Nearby is the famed FAO Schwartz toy store. When we tried to visit, the line wrapped around the building, so it was a hard pass for us. If you can get in just be prepared for your kids to go gaga over things like life-size stuffed bears. The Rockefeller location of Jacques Torres is a perfect pit stop for incredibly rich hot chocolate and a heavenly chocolate chip cookie.

Radio City Music Hall promoting Christmas show at night
Seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplash

If the crowds aren't too crazy, you can check out some of the nearby store windows. Saks is particularly close by and offers light and music shows to go with their windows. Beware, though, it can get so crowded around this area that it can be a little overwhelming.

You've got lots to pack in tonight, so keep dinner quick. Los Tacos is one of the most popular taco spots in the city. The 43rd and 7th location will put you in reasonable proximity to Radio City Music Hall. 

The Rockettes are the epitome of NYC holiday cheer, and my 6-year-old daughter adored the show on our last holiday visit. It's a true spectacle with amazing costumes, beautiful leggy dancers, and of course a visit from Santa. It's impossible not to get into the holiday spirit watching these dazzling performers give it their all. My daughter is still talking about the famed toy soldiers dance years later.


Start your morning with a chocolate-filled brunch at Max Brenner's. It gets insanely busy, so don't even think about going without a reservation. It's a bit of a tourist trap, but it's a fun and reasonably classy one that will blow your kid's mind. They have savory dishes, but who are we kidding? You're there for the myriad of super sweet waffle options. Looking for a more authentic experience? Grab a bagel at Bagel Bob's nearby your next stop, Union Square Holiday Market. It's filled with art, gifts, and food, and offers a European-style Christmas market experience. The last time we visited, we picked up an adorable hot pink nutcracker for my daughter and a gorgeous butterfly gift.

November 18, 2021 – December 24, 2021
Monday – Saturday 11am-8pm
Sunday 11am – 7pm

Now head south to the West Village for The Children's Museum of the Arts. It's small but has very engaging activities that let your little one's creativity shine. On our visit, my daughter created holiday-themed clay sculptures, made a song in a recording studio, and used fiber scraps to make her own artistic masterpiece. 

Venture east and grab some stellar dumplings at Mimi Cheng's on Broome St. There's plenty of name brand shopping in the hood, including Bloomigndale's and J Crew, so you get some additional holiday shopping done while you're there.

Little girl eating dumplings at Mimi Cheng's in NYC
Dumplings at Mimi Cheng's with my little cutie
Then hop onto the subway and head uptown for more Christmas shopping at Winter Village at Bryant Park. Like Union Square there are tons of interesting stalls, but there's also ice skating and a large concession where you can get food and drinks. It was over-priced but was still a great spot to pick up some hot chocolate or some mulled wine.

Winter Village at Bryant Park

October 29, 2021 – January 2, 2022
Monday – Friday: 11am-8pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am-8pm

You're probably wiped by this point, so head back to midtown to relax at your hotel for a bit. Afterward, walk to Urban Space Vanderbilt food hall. Since no trip to NYC is complete without pizza grab slices at Roberta's. Looking for something different? My dumpling-obsessed kid also loved the bao at Kuro-Obig.


Lots to do today so grab some chocolate babka and coffee at Breads Bakery at Lincoln Center or you can head straight to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market and grab a waffle at Wafels and Dinges.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

November 27, 2021 – December 24, 2021
Monday – Saturday 11am-8pm
Sunday 11am – 7pm

People shopping at Columbus Circle holiday market in NYC
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
Photo by Kayle Kaupanger on Unsplash

This market is a little smaller feeling than the others but still offers a lot of options and is a perfect stop before a stroll through Central Park. If your kids need to burn off some energy, Heckscher Playground is a quick walk inside the park and has a huge slide and nearby bathrooms.

Woman and girl taking selfie in Central Park in winter
Central park with my cutie

Next head to my kids' favorite museum, the American History of Natural History. It is an excellent opportunity to get away from chilly winter weather and has amazing animal, space, and dinosaur exhibits. 

Cheesy meatball sandwich at NYC's Parm restaurant
Parm's meatball sandwich

For lunch, head to the adorable red sauce Italian spot, Parm, from Michelin-Starred chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi. My kids gobbled up their meatball sandwiches, while eggplant parmesan was just what I needed to warm up.

Find all of these recommendations as well as other family-friendly options on the Adventurous Tastes Holidays in NYC map.

Have more time to explore beyond Manhattan? Try these Bronx and Brooklyn holiday activities:
Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic

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