Holiday season is in full swing, and there’s tons of family-friendly activities taking over NYC! Whether you’re visiting the city for the holidays or are looking for something to do with your kids, we have some ideas for you! From Christmas shows to holiday light immersions, there’s so much to be explored! Here’s where to discover there the magic of the season and have a delightful holiday adventure with your little ones in NYC!
Santa Clause is coming to town, and that means it’s time to get your kid’s last minute gift requests in! Take them to one of NYC’s iconic department stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s to see the jolly man, or opt for a holiday market like Bryant Park Winter Village, where you can meet Saint Nick and eat festive treats all day long! Check out all of the best places to find Santa in NYC this year here!
2. Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Marvel at the enormous and iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, complete with dazzling lights and a festive atmosphere! It’s perfect for children of all ages, especially the tree lighting ceremony taking place on November 29! Plus, there’s even an ice skating rink that you can reserve a time slot for as well!
Ice skating is one of the best family-friendly winter activities there is, and NYC’s ice skating rinks are perfect for all ages! You can go skating at many places including Rockefeller Center, Central Park’s Wollman Rink, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village to name a few. Some of them even offer lessons for beginners too! Check out NYC’s best ice rinks here!
4. Illuminate the night at Winter Lantern Festival
Step into the dazzling world of light with over 1,000 Chinese lanterns at this family-friendly night walk and mystical event in Queens! Now open at the Queens County Farm Museum, kids can play on interactive light swings and see-saws, as well as feast on delicious food vendors and more! This whimsical walk-through will warm up the holiday season, and offers discounted admision prices for kids!
5. See the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Take a trip to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood to see the extravagant Christmas light displays on houses! The annual tradition is one of the most notable holiday light displays throughout NYC, and it’s something magical like you’ve never seen before. You can even take a guided tour of the homes too! Learn more about the Dyker Heights Christmas lights here.
6. Enjoy waterfront holiday activities at Santa’s Winter Wonderland
This enchanting waterfront activation at Watermark in Seaport is perfect for the kids, since it includes meets with Santa, festive carousel rides, complimentary hot chocolate, make-your-own smores, and so many more activities! You and your family can get a heated glasshouse for 90 minutes, or opt for the normal hour long experience. Learn more about it here!
7. Experience the Bronx Zoo’s Holiday Lights
The legendary Bronx Zoo is once again hosting their annual holiday lights show this year, which is the perfect activity for kids! This tradition brings immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns, and animated light shows across the zoo throughout November and December! Don’t forget about their holiday-themed activities eitehr, including ice carving and musical performances! Learn more about the Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights here.
Take in awe-inspiring model trains at New York Botanical Garden, where their annual Train Show of locomotives are traveling through a miniature New York City and landscapes made entirely of plants! After (or before) you catch the trains zipping past 200+ iconic NYC locations, be sure to snap a perfect holiday family photo at one of their outdoor mountainscapes! Learn more about the NYBG Train Show here!
9. Attend The Nutcracker Ballet
There are so many family-friendly holiday shows and performances happening in NYC, and Ajkun Ballet Theatre’s version of The Nutcracker is one of our favorites! Making for the perfect family outing, you and your kids can enjoy the classic tale of sweet little Clara in the form of ballet!
10. Enjoy sweets at GingerBread Lane
Wander through the world’s largest gingerbread village, made up of 700 gingerbread houses (using 1,000 pounds of gingerbread) and 4,000 pounds of candy! You’ll be able to admire the entirely edible spectacle, and even take a little bit of it home with you if you’re lucky! It’s located at Essex Market in the Lower East Side through January 7! Learn more about GingerBread Lane here.
11. Watch The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular
Take the kids out to Radio City Music Hall to see the iconic kick line of The Rockettes! The dance group and Christmas Spectacular show are an NYC staple that are perfect for kids and adults of all ages! Learn everything about the show here!
12. Ride a nostalgic holiday train at New York Transit Museum
Teleport back in time with one of these epic train rides in a vintage 1930s R1/9 train cars! The annual holiday nostalgic train rides are back, courtesy of the New York Transit Museum, and you can your kids can navigate around NYC like you’re in an old Christmas movie! Learn more about the throwback ride and see the train route here!
13. Explore PaleyLand at The Paley Center for Media
The Paley Center for Media’s annual holiday extravaganza is set to return starting November 25! Making for the ultimate kid’s dream, there will be so much to do…including photo opps with Santa, holiday movie screenings, a holiday train display, free hot chocolate and candy canes, plus so much more!
Plus, there will be lots of special events featuring My Little Pony, The Harlem Globetrotters, DreamWorks Trolls, Snoopy, Gabby’s Dollhouse, and Rosie’s Rules. Learn more about the event happening through January 7, 2024 here!
14. Go shopping at NYC’s holiday markets
15. View NYC’s holiday window displays
Take a stroll along the iconic Fifth Avenue to view many of NYC’s retail stores dressed to the nines for the holiday season! The elaborate holiday window displays at stores like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s are perfect to snap photos of your kids in front of, and fascinating enough to grab their attention and get their imagination running wild! See the best holiday window displays in NYC here!