The lights, the windows, the skaters, the tree at Rockefeller Center – there is nothing better than Christmas in New York. Growing up in New Jersey, Christmas in New York was a yearly tradition. My dad took two weeks off around Christmas, and we always did fun holiday adventures. One of those adventures every year was a day in New York City. We would walk around the city to see the windows and tree. Every few years we would get tickets to see the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular in the Radio City Music hall. It’s those memories that always fill me with the spirit of the holidays.
Now that I’m a mother of two, I try to infuse that same spirt of the holiday in my children. I plan out the month, ensuring that we have fun, holiday adventures set up every weekend. I have tried to create my own traditions now. We make Christmas cookies, see the lights in San Francisco, wear Christmas PJs all season long, and decorate the house as early as possible. But there have been a few times we have been able to be in New Jersey during the holiday season. And those times, we made sure to go into New York so my kids could have the experience I had as a child.
While there are some variations, there are a few sites we like to visit:
Macy’s at Herald’s Square: Macy’s in New York knows how to dress it up for the holidays. The windows at the 34th street Macy’s are always a site to visit, but we always go inside and head up to the top floor. Macy’s has the “real” Santa (at least according to Miracle on 34th Street). When you go in, you get in line to view the Winter Wonderland. There are trains, decorations and lights. And at the end, an elf takes you to see the real Santa. Both my children were more than happy to sit on his lap as a baby. (As a toddler, not so much…)
Toys “R” Us: Christmas for kids often means toys. And there is no better toy store to visit than the flagship Toys “R” Us store in Times Square. Toys “R” Us always has great displays, every main brand displayed, and of course the big Ferris Wheel at the front of the store.+
One of my favorite memories was visiting the Toys “R” Us when my son had just turned 3. We went to the Thomas section, to appease his Thomas obsession. Here he saw a Cranky from the wooden railway set. He was obsessed, and asked for it. I told him Christmas was coming soon, so he wanted to go back and visit Santa so he could tell him he wanted Cranky. We had to find another Santa for him to send the report. Let’ just say he was happy that Christmas morning.
St. Patricks’ Cathedral: The famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral always has a beautiful display for Christmas. It’s a wonderful place to get away from the crowd and have a little quiet. I love to sit in the pews, pray, and marvel at the beauty around me.
Saks 5th Avenue: Saks is a nice store, but the real fun is the lights display outside. It’s snowflakes light-show timed to holiday music. The best view is from across the street, close to Rockefeller Center. There you can see the lights in all its glory, and listen to the music.
Rockefeller Center: You can’t go to New York and not see Rockefeller Center. Every year New York ships in a huge tree and covers it with millions of colored LED lights. You can only truly appreciate its size and majesty up close in person.
Down below the tree, through the flags of the UN, you see the skaters of the temporary ice ring put down in the plaza. I love watching the skaters flow and twirl through the center, enjoying the ice. Watching long enough, among the tourists you can usually see a “real” skater. I love to watch them move through the ice and throw in an occasion twirl or jump.
However, wherever you walk in the city you will see lights, decorations, and brilliant store window displays. You will smell the nuts roasting from street vendors. You will feel the nip in the air in your cheeks and fingers. You will feel the vibe as everyone is rushing along, and enjoying the atmosphere the same as you. New York at Christmas is just spectacular!
*Stared Photos taken by Atma Photography
+Toys “R” Us Times Square closed it’s doors in 2015