Whether it’s marveling at the intricate window displays, gliding across ice rinks, or being mesmerized by spectacular light shows, the city offers a sleigh-full of activities that are perfect for kids.
Each experience is like unwrapping a gift, revealing moments of joy and wonder that will be cherished for years to come.
In this guide, we’ll unwrap the 10 Fun Things to Do with Kids in New York City this Christmas season. Get ready to create unforgettable memories as we dive into a world of enchanting lights, heartwarming shows, and pure holiday bliss.
Last Minute Deals for Xmas
New York Travel Guidebooks
All of these links open in a new tab. They are incredibly useful for your New York trip in November and December with your family.
💡 Tip: Make sure to read our 5 must-know tips when visiting NYC with kids during Xmas time at the end of this article.
Special Tour Tip for Kids | Book in Advance
Of course, you can visit on your own if you like. However, we always felt more relaxed when we used a tour. It takes away the headache of getting there via the subway, and it’s the safest option for your family.
Welcome to Christmas in New York City – where every moment is a reason to celebrate with your little ones!
1. See the Spectacular Bronx Zoo Light Show
- Location: Bronx Zoo
- Illuminated Animal Displays: Walk through a path adorned with bright lights and glowing animal figures.
- Vast Grounds: Spanning 265 acres, it’s the largest metropolitan zoo in the country.
- Winter Treats: Enjoy hot chocolate or s’mores to keep cozy.
The Bronx Zoo becomes a mesmerizing winter wonderland during Christmas. The Light Show transforms the zoo into an illuminated paradise, perfect for a family stroll.
It’s a special time at a beloved NYC institution, offering a unique experience amidst nature.
2. Enjoy Peter & the Wolf with Isaac Mizrahi at the Guggenheim
- Venue: Guggenheim Museum
- Show Length: 30 minutes, ideal for young attention spans.
- Narration: Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi adds a touch of glamour.
This annual tradition is a must-see for NYC families. The show’s engaging narrative and charming setting make it an unforgettable Christmas treat. Tickets sell out fast, so be sure to plan ahead for this festive event.
3. See the Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden
- Attraction: Model trains zip through a miniature NYC.
- Audience: Suitable for kids and adults alike—bar nights available for grown-ups.
- Venue: New York Botanical Garden
The Holiday Train Show is a Christmas staple. The sight of model trains navigating through a landscape of New York City’s iconic buildings is truly captivating for children.
4. Experience Macy’s Santaland
- Location: Macy’s Herald Square
- Size: A sprawling 13,000 square feet of holiday displays.
- Cost: Free! But make sure to reserve your spot.
Macy’s Santaland is a Christmas extravaganza. The department store becomes a festive playground where families can explore charming villages and Santa’s workshop, culminating in a meeting with Santa Claus himself.
5. Ice Skating at Wollman Rink: Glide with a View
- Location: Central Park South, near the Central Park Zoo.
- Season: Late October through early April.
- Facilities: Skate rentals, lockers, and snack bar available.
Skating at Wollman Rink is an enchanting experience for families. The combination of the outdoor activity and stunning views provides a joyful outing for kids and the perfect opportunity to create lasting holiday memories.
6. Cruise the City: Ferry Ride on the East River
- Views: Iconic skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
- Perks: Indoor and outdoor seating, plus snacks available for purchase.
- Cost: Affordable, with free options for children under a certain age.
Taking a ferry ride along the East River is an adventure for kids, offering them a sailor’s view of New York’s famous skyline and landmarks.
It’s an exciting way to see the city from a different perspective, and the cool breeze off the water is sure to add a fresh touch to the holiday experience.
7. Step Back in Time: The Nostalgia Train
- Experience: Vintage subway cars from the 1930s.
- Schedule: Runs during the holiday season on specific dates.
- Attraction: Authentic period advertisements and subway maps.
The Nostalgia Train is a unique holiday treat, where families can ride in authentic vintage subway cars.
This special train runs along a regular MTA route during the holidays and is decked out in old-fashioned decor, providing a whimsical journey through time.
8. Marvel at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree
- Location: Rockefeller Center
- Tradition: The lighting ceremony is an anticipated annual event.
- Activities: Ice skating and holiday shopping nearby.
Watching the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a timeless tradition. The massive tree, beautifully decorated and lit up, is a sight to behold. Families can enjoy ice skating at the rink below the tree or explore the festive shops around Rockefeller Center.
It’s a quintessential New York Christmas activity that embodies the spirit of the season.
9. Gliding Joy: Ice Skating at Bryant Park
- Setting: Surrounded by the park’s natural beauty and the New York skyline.
- Feature: Free admission to the ice rink.
- Extras: Skate rentals are available, and cozy igloos and the Lodge for food and drinks.
Ice skating at Bryant Park is a delightful activity for kids, offering the unique experience of gliding across the ice amidst the towering skyscrapers of New York. The park’s Winter Village also features a festive market where families can browse for gifts and enjoy seasonal treats.
The rink’s free admission makes it an accessible option for everyone, though you’ll need to rent or bring your own skates.
10. Festive Fun: Union Square Holiday Market
- Atmosphere: Festive and vibrant with holiday decorations.
- Selection: Handcrafted toys, children’s books, and sweet treats.
- Interactive: Children’s craft workshops and face painting.
The Union Square Holiday Market is a wonderland for kids with its lively atmosphere and colorful stalls. It’s a place where they can find unique handcrafted toys, indulge in sweet treats, and even participate in craft workshops designed just for them.
The market is not only a shopping destination but an interactive experience that captures the joy and creativity of the season.
Combining the exhilarating experience of ice skating with the enchanting exploration of one of New York’s most child-friendly holiday markets, these activities perfectly round out the ultimate guide to Christmas fun for families in the Big Apple.
5 Essential Tips for Visiting NYC During Christmas with Kids
1. Dress in Layers
- New York winters can be quite chilly, with the temperature often changing throughout the day.
- Ensure everyone is wearing warm layers that can be easily added or removed as needed.
- Accessories are key—don’t forget hats, gloves, and waterproof boots to stay warm and dry.
2. Plan for Shorter Days
- Daylight is limited during winter, so aim to start your activities early. It gets dark by 4:30 PM, so prioritize outdoor activities for the morning or early afternoon.
- Check the opening hours for regular attractions, as some may close earlier in the winter.
3. Schedule Downtime:
- Rushing from one attraction to another can be overwhelming, especially for kids.
- Build in some relaxed time for meals or simply enjoy a hot chocolate while people-watching.
- Remember, sometimes the best moments come from the unplanned breaks in a cozy café away from the winter chill.
4. Stay Hydrated and Energized
- With all the walking and the dry winter air, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Carry water bottles for the family.
- Keep snacks on hand to fuel up. With kids, having their favorite treats can be a lifesaver during longer walks or waits.
5. Navigate the Crowds
- Places like Times Square and Rockefeller Center can get extremely crowded. Hold hands with younger children to avoid getting separated.
- Consider a child locator or a meeting point in case someone gets lost.
- Visit popular spots early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the busiest times.