Best Things to do in NYC on Christmas Day – From a New Yorker

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21 Things to do in NYC on Christmas Day That’s Still Open

NYC during Christmas time and the holiday season is easily one of the most magical times to visit New York! From beautiful Christmas lights, holiday store decorations, ice skating rinks, and more, there is a ton to do, even on Christmas day! In this NYC travel guide, I’m covering some of the best things you can do in NYC on Christmas Day that is open! 

While a lot of stores and museums in NYC are closed on Christmas Day, there are still tons of top NYC attractions open on Christmas Day as well, so don’t worry!

Rockefeller Center in NYC during December holidays
One of the best things to do in NYC on Christmas Day is visit Rockefeller Center

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Rockefeller Center

Take a stroll through Rockefeller Center and see the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree if you haven’t already. Did you know the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center is usually around 80-100 ft on average? The first tree actually went up back in 1931.

While you’re at it, consider going ice skating at the Rink at Rockefeller Center under the tree. Buy Ice skating tickets here!

Additionally, one of the best NYC sky decks is open on Christmas Day as well; The Top of the Rock! This sky deck offers 3 floors of incredible views of the Manhattan skyline including the view of the Empire State Building! 

Address: Rockefeller Plaza, 30, New York, 10112

Views from the Top of The Rock
Views from the Top of the Rock

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Did you know you could attend mass on Christmas day at the NYC St. Patricks Cathedral? This stunning Catholic Church is known as one of the largest Gothic Revival Catholic cathedrals in North America!

Midnight mass is by a lottery ticket only. There is additional mass at 7 AM, 10:15 AM, 1 PM, and 4 PM! Check here to learn more about attending mass. 

Even if you don’t want to attend mass, the building is still beautiful to see and it is located right next to Rockefeller Plaza. 

Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

St. Patricks Cathedral during Christmas time in NYC

Central Park on Christmas Day

Another one of the best things to do on Christmas Day in NYC is taking a stroll through Central Park! If you’re lucky, Central Park may even be covered in snow!

Central Park is over 800 acres, so technically, you can take a full day exploring this famous green space! 

Some of the best places to check out in Central Park include Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, and Fountain, Gapstow Bridge, and Umpire Rock.

Additionally, you can go ice skating at the famous Wollman Rink. Tickets for Wollman Rink are already on sale and can be purchased here.

Wollman Rink Address: 830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065

One of the best things to do in NYC on Christmas day is visit Central park - Bethesda Terrace with woman in red ball gown
Bethesda Terrace in Central Park

Christmas Spectacular Radio City Rockettes

What better thing to do on Christmas day in NYC than to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular on Christmas day!

Currently, there are 3 show times available at 2 PM, 5 PM, and 8 PM. This is a very popular attraction, so I would recommend booking this in advance. Find Broadway Rockette tickets here.

Did you know The Rockettes have been performing at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan since 1932? If you choose not to see the show, you can still check out the holiday decorations at Radio City! 

Furthermore, there are also a ton of other on Broadway shows and off-Broadway Shows open on Christmas Day in NYC!

Address: 260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

Visit Radio City in NYC on Christmas day

See the Famous NYC Christmas Holiday Window Displays 

You can’t visit NYC during Christmas time without seeing the store’s window displays. While you most likely won’t be able to go inside the stores on Christmas day, you will be able to see the extravagant display windows.

Some of the best window displays to see on Christmas day in NYC are Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Cartier Holiday Decorations, and Bergdorf Goodman.

I especially love Sak’s 5th Ave. at night for their Christmas light show. Their Christmas lights start around 5 PM and it starts every 10-15 minutes. Best yet, Saks is located right across the street from Rockefeller Center, so you can see the Christmas lights on the Rockefeller tree next.

Saks Fifth Avenue Address: 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

Macy’s Address: 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Bloomingdale’s Address: 1000 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10022

Bergdorf Goodman Address: 754 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Cartier Address: 653 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

nyc in december saks 5th avenue castle light show. woman standing in front with long blonde hair and red long sleeve shirt

Grand Central Terminal

So far all of these NYC Christmas day activities have been outdoors, so let’s warm up at Grand Central! This train station is one of the most iconic landmarks in New York and another perfect thing to do on Christmas day. 

Did you know Grand Central sees around 750,000 visitors a day and is one of the second most visited places in NYC? During your visit, marvel at ceiling work, stand under the famous clock and check out that marble work. 

Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is likely one of my favorite Christmas Markets in NYC and it is also open on Christmas Day!

You can snap a picture under the Christmas Tree, enjoy the ice skating rink, and visit any open shops.

This year they also have Cozy Igloos that can be reserved for up to 90 minutes! To reserve your own Cozy Igloo, check here!

Chimney Cake at Bryant Park over the ice skating rink during Christmas time. Black glove holding cup with people ice skating in the background
Chimney Cakes at Bryant Park

Summit One Vanderbilt

The Summit One Vanderbilt is NYC’s newest attraction and it is open on Christmas Day. Witness New York City with a whole new viewpoint which includes unique mirror rooms, panoramic views, and the Ascent.

The Ascent is the highest rack-and-pinion elevator system in the world! It is currently the largest glass floor elevators in the world too.

There are 3 different types of tickets to choose from. The Summit Experience $35 (day) $49 (night), The Summit Ascent $59 (day) $69 (night), and the Ultimate Summit $73 (day) $83 (night).

This New York City attraction just opened in October 2021, therefore you are kind of first to the party! Learn more at the Summit One Vanderbilt website.

Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017 Entrance located on the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal

Times Square

Have you walked through Times Square yet? Well if not, you can take the S train from Grand Central Terminal right into Times Square. You may even get lucky to see Times Square in the snow! However, the snow gets dirty pretty quick once the cars start driving through! 

Regardless, Times Square is the most visited place in NYC and pretty special if you have yet to visit!

The Hudson Yards

Another one of the best things to do in NYC on Christmas day is to check out the Christmas displays and Vessel, a huge honeycomb-like structure standing at 154 ft high all at the Hudson Yards!

Additionally, one of the coolest NYC Hudson Yards attractions is also open on Christmas Day; the Edge! The Edge is known as the highest outdoor sky deck on the West Hemisphere.

At 100 stories high, enjoy unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline along with a partial glass bottom deck.

They did their first Christmas display last year in 2020, and we are expecting 2021 to be just as grand! It is also one of the most Instagrammable places in NYC!

Update: The Vessel is currently closed to climb.

Address: The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001

View inside the NYC Vessel

Walk The Highline

Located right next to the Hudson Yards is The Highline! If it is not too cold out, I’d recommend taking a stroll down this old railroad turned into an epic green space. It used to be one of my favorite places to visit during my college days! 

The Highline is 1.45 miles and allows you to look down over the Chelsea Neighborhood!

The Flatiron Building

Another free and cool thing to do on Christmas day in NYC is viewing one of the most photographed buildings in NYC. The Flatiron building is a unique triangular-shaped building that stands 285 ft. tall.

While you are near the Flat Iron Building, you can also check out Madison Square Park, which also usually has Christmas decorations and displays.

Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

The Flatiron Building is one of the top 10 most instagrammable places in NYC

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is another nice place you can visit on Christmas Day. You can view their Christmas tree under the Famous Washinton Arch. Enjoy this 9.75-acre  park located in Greenwich Village.

This is such a quaint area in NYC so make sure to check out the beautiful brownstone buildings that are likely decked in lovely Christmas decorations.

Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012

Things New Yorkers Say Differently
Go in the street at your own risk

The Oculus

Looking for another place to warm up? Check out the iconic Oculus train station at One World Station. This stunning piece of architecture was designed after the fall of the Twin Towers and designed by Santiago Calatrava. The Oculus is also another top photography spot in NYC.

Address: 50 Church Street New York, NY 10007

The Oculus in the World Trade Center Park

One World Observatory

Love sky observation decks? The One World Observatory is another top NYC attraction that’s open on Christmas day! Enjoy 360 views of NYC, along with having the opportunity to dine, have a drink, or a guided tour. If it is really cold out and you don’t want to be outside, you might want to consider this observation deck.

However, if you are limited on decks to visit, my favorites are still The Edge and the Top of the Rock, but everyone has a different opinion on this!

Address: 117 West Street, NY, NY 10007

Visit The Top of the Empire State Building

Can you believe the Empire State Building is open on Christmas Day in NYC too? It sure is, so if you want to go to the top of the most photographed and well-known building in New York, you can do it during Christmas day!

The Empire State Building offers views of the 86th floor and 102nd floor depending on which ticket you purchase. 

Did you know the Empire State Building was built in 1930 and only took 13 months to build? Additionally, if you were to climb to the 102nd floor, you’d have to climb 1,872 steps!

One thing to keep in mind is that if you do go to the top of the Empire State Building to see the NYC skyline, you will not see the Empire State Building – obviously.

This is why many prefer to go to the Top of the Rock, so the Empire State Building is in your photo!

The prices range from $42 USD – $75 USD, however, I’d recommend getting an NYC attractions pass. I cover the passes at the end of this guide!

Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Macys window displays are one of the best places to see in NYC during December

The Staten Island Ferry to See the Statue of Liberty

Have you seen the Statue of Liberty yet? If not, you can hop on a free ride from NYC to Staten Island on the Staten Island Ferry which is open and running on Christmas Day.

The Ferry takes about 30 minutes one way and provides some pretty epic views of Lady Liberty. 

The Staten Island ferry runs on their weekend schedule on Christmas day, but don’t worry, there are tons of rides in and out. 

Wondering if you should do anything in Staten Island? No hate to Staten Island (I used to live there), but I’d say no. Just go back to Manhattan!

The Staten Island Ferry deports from the White Terminal in NYC. You can find the Staten Island Ferry Schedule here.

A great free activity in NYC is taking the staten island ferry to see the statue of liberty.

Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Visiting the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in NYC so what better day to visit it than on Christmas Day? It is completely free to walk this Iconic Bridge and if you still have time, you can cross the bridge to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood. 

The DUMBO neighborhood is really nice, and if you are looking for the iconic photo of the Manhattan Bridge with the Empire State Building, this is the area it can be found!

If you are in search of this Instagrammable spot, it can be found at the cross-sections of Waters Street and Washington Street. 

New York City Travel Tips - Make sure to take advantage of free things to do in the City such as crossing the Brooklyn Bridge
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is free to do and open on Christmas day!

Hit Chinatown

As a local New Yorker, one of the most popular traditions on Christmas day is to get Chinese food, especially if you don’t celebrate Christmas. New York City is also known to have some of the best Chinese food, so you will be in for a delicious treat!

Chinatown is located in Lower Manhattan near Little Italy and the Lower East Side. 

Dinner during Christmas is very popular, so you will want to make a reservation if they accept it. Jewish Delis including Katz’s Delicatessen are usually open in NYC for Christmas dinner as well.

See a Movie

Another classic thing New Yorkers do on Christmas Day (especially if you don’t celebrate Christmas) is to see a movie, so most, if not all movie theaters are open on Christmas day in NYC.

There is a pretty good chance the movie theaters are crowded, so if you do plan on seeing a movie, look for your tickets ahead of time. 

The most popular movie theaters are AMC and I generally look for tickets and showtimes on Fandango, Moviefone, or directly at the movie theaters website.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Another top thing to do in New York during December and even on Christmas day is to see the Christmas Lights in Dkyer Heights, Brooklyn.

If you love Christmas lights, this is the place for you! This Brooklyn neighborhood goes all out with insane Christmas decorations! 

If you are trying to decide if this is best to do on Christmas day or on one of the days before Christmas, personally, I would rather go before Christmas day but this is totally dependant on your itinerary.

When I think of Dyker Heights, I think of the movie “The Grinch” when they were competing to have the brightest most over-the-top Christmas decorations!

The lights go on at Sundown (about 5 PM) and end around 10 PM when homeowners go to bed. For the best lights travel around 11th Ave. to 13th Ave. and from 83rd to 86th Street.

If you are coming from Manhattan, you can take the R, N, and D trains. From there it’s about a 15-20 min walk from all 3 train stations to get to the lights. However, if you have the luxury to rent a Zipcar, I’d recommend it because it can be very cold at night!

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn Christmas lights
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn Christmas lights

NYC Travel Resources

Now that you know what’s open in NYC on Christmas day, here are some additional resources you may find helpful during your trip! 

Best Things to do in NYC on Christmas Day: Wrap-up

Now you know some of the best things to do in NYC on Christmas day! Way more than you thought, am I right? I hope you have the best time visiting New York City during the holidays!

Did I miss anything or has something changed? Did you use this guide and found it helpful? Please let me know in the comments below!

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Best things to do in NYC on Christmas Day

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