What to do in NYC during Christmas

Christmastime is arguably the best time to visit New York… I swear there’s a different, almost magical energy in the air! I just got back from New York over the weekend, so I thought it would be fun to create a little guide of what we did while I was there. It was one of the best NYC trips I’ve ever had!

baker boy cap // similar drape front trench // sweater  // black leggings // over-the-knee boots // luggage


Okay first of all, New York is COLD in November and December! Check the weather before you go, but most of the time it’s in the 30s, or if it’s not, the wind chill makes it feel like it is. You’ll want to pack a heavy coat, gloves, and a few hats to keep warm. It doesn’t hurt to pack hand warmers that you can keep in your pockets, since you’re bound to do some walking in the City (even if you take cabs everywhere, you’ll still end up walking a lot!). On that note, I would pack comfortable shoes. I would also bring a few dressier outfits – you’ll need these if you plan on going to nice restaurants, or to the Plaza for tea!

Okay… now on to the activities!

sweater // faux fur jacket // AG jeans // Chanel mini bag, similar HERE


One thing you DEFINITELY have to do while you’re in New York is go ice skating at Wollman Rink! Located right in Central Park, it offers a spectacular view of the skyline. Make sure to bring cash, because the rink doesn’t accept credit cards. You’ll also need a lot – it’s $12 to get in on a weekday, and an extra $10 to rent skates. Even if you aren’t skating, there’s a $5 spectator fee. On this particular day, we wanted to get a picture without many people in the rink, so we arrived at 9:45 and waited in line until the rink opened at 10 a.m. It was definitely the least crowded at that time, and the ice was pristine!

red sweater // beanie // leggings //over-the-knee boots


Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, you should still hit up 5th Avenue to do some window shopping. I would go around 4 p.m. because this is when all the stores light up their displays! In the photo above, I’m standing in front of the Cartier store (10 E 52nd St), which has a huge red bow encompassing the whole building! A couple doors down, Saks has a GORGEOUS lit display. If you intend to make any designer purchases while you’re in town, 5th Avenue is the place to do it!


Rolf’s is apparently a Christmas legend in the City. It’s definitely the most festive restaurant I’ve EVER been in! There are ornaments, garland and cherubs covering the entire ceiling (as you can see in the above photos). Rolf’s does serve food, but apparently it’s nothing to write home about. It might be worth it to make a reservation and eat, just so that you don’t have to withstand the crowds! When we visited, there was a long line outside of people waiting to get in. The line did move pretty quickly, but the line was just to stand at the bar, not to get a table or eat dinner. Once we made it inside, it was PACKED! We could barely move. However, we sucked it up and ordered drinks from the bar (I got the egg nog). The drink was delicious and in the end, I think the experience was totally worth it. (However, if you’re claustrophobic, definitely stay away from this one!).

printed Christmas sweater // Paige jeans // over-the-knee boots


You’ll definitely want to visit the Winter Village in Bryant Park while you’re in New York! Carve out a few hours of time because there’s an ice skating rink and a European inspired open-air market featuring artisans from around the world. You’ll find cool ornaments, art, and delicious drinks and food. If you see a little stand with the words “Christmas in New York” on top, make sure to stop and buy their hot chocolate!


This one is a must-do! On the rooftop of 230 Fifth, you’ll find Igloo Bar – a whole rooftop filled with heated and transparent igloos and an incredible view of the Empire State Building. There’s a small bar where you can order food and drinks (we just got hot chocolate but they served beer as well as boozy hot drinks!). There are no minimums or entry fees, and the igloos are open to everyone. They really encourage you to get to know your neighbors, because most of the time you’re sharing an igloo with someone you don’t know! It was SUCH a cool experience!

Here are some other recommendations we received, but didn’t have time to do:

  • Visit the Union Square holiday market
  • Go to the Highline and stop at Chelsea Commons for avocado toast
  • Order the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity
  • Visit the rooftop of Eataly Flatiron – the entire rooftop is transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland
  • Head to Levain Bakery for the best cookies in the world
  • Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center next to the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree
  • Take a carriage ride in Central Park
  • See the NYC ballet perform the Nutcracker
  • Have afternoon tea at the Plaza
  • Visit FAO Schwarz’s new location in the Rock Center
  • Visit the Lodge at Gallow Green

If you have any other recommendations, let us know in the comments!

Leave a Comment


  1. I couldn’t agree more, Christmas in the city is absolutely magical! These pictures are gorgeous!!

    Kendal / Life With Kendal

  2. I see it makes sense to be in NYC during Christmas!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  3. Christmas looks so magical in New York! Thanks for sharing this Cait!

    I hope you have a lovely Tuesday,

  4. Oh my it is so festive there!! Love this guide. So helpful!


  5. Erin B

    Looks like an amazing trip! I can’t get any of the links to work under the pictures though 🙁

  6. Nicci

    It looks so pretty there! In order to get such great pictures inside Rolf’s and at the Igloo rooftop, do you special settings on your camera or edit them afterwards? They are beautiful, but I’m sure they must be difficult shots due to the darkness and differences in lighting.

  7. Laura Leigh

    So many pretty snaps! Now I want to pack up and fly to NYC for Christmas. My mom and I went once for a few days right after Christmas and were able to soak in some of the beauty with a little less of a crowd – which was super nice. But we didn’t hit up Rolf’s – will have to do that next time.

    xo Laura Leigh
    Louella Reese

  8. Elena


    I live in nyc, and when I found out you were here I freaked out a little!!!

    Hope you and your brother had an amazing time! 🙂

  9. Bayleigh Adams

    So glad you posted this, i’m going to NYC next week!! Yay!!

  10. Janet Oloyede

    Such a great post and absolutely love all your recommendations! I’m hoping to visit NYC during Christmas in the next coming years! I did visit NYC earlier this year during March but there’s truly nothing like being in the city during the Christmas season.It really is the most magical time of the year!

  11. Oh, it looks like you had an absolutely wonderful time! NYC at the holidays is definitely on my bucket list!! Thanks for the recommendations.

  12. Ahh visiting NYC during the holiday season is definitely on my bucket list, those photos are sooo pretty!
    Thanks for sharing Caitlin!
    xx Janine

  13. I love your travel guides Caitlin!! I have to tell you – I STILL go back to your Italy videos on YouTube and watch them from time to time. They’re my favorite! I loooove the footage, especially since that’s a dream trip of mine! 💗

  14. As a New Yorker, I can agree to these things. I do most of these things every year. Christmas is quite magical in NYC. The Heated Igloos, Operas, the Nutcracker, and the Christmas market are my favorite things to do and visit. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin! x

    Darianne | dariannegrimball.com

  15. What perfect timing- I’m going to NYC this weekend! Thanks for the recommendations! Katie Actually

  16. Brooke

    Awe! What a fun time <3 Hopefully you can go back before Christmas is over to visit other places. Great list over all. The Reindeer Lounge, Standard Hotel, Serra Alpina, the NoMad bar, Radio City Christmas Spectacular are some of my favorites as well 🙂 Xx

  17. OMG, ROLF’s looks incredible!! The most beautifully decorated bar I’ve ever seen! haha, SO need to go next time I’m there during the Holiday’s


  18. Christmas in New York would be such a dream! All of these activities sound amazing!

  19. April Saikia

    Hi was wondering where your tan long coat is from. My husband seen it and said that’s a nice coat. Please no dupe. Thanks

  20. This looks perfect! What a great shots! I’m going to NYC this Christmas so I can’t wait!

  21. Love this post and love these photos!!!
    Live in NYC and haven’t heard of the igloos on the roof top!
    Going to check that out for sure!

  22. It is a MUST go to Broadway and watch the Lion King

  23. Stacie

    It’s my absolute favorite time to visit the city!!! I usually go every year but had to skip this year. Can’t wait til next. Gonna visit the igloos for sure.

  24. These are all great ideas but I’m really in love with the outfits here 😍

    Naima | http://www.sincerelynaima.com 🙂

  25. I was just there over the weekend, too! We saw the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, went to Macy’s at Herald Square, went shopping at the new FAO Schwartz, saw the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center during the night and day, shopped on 5th Avenue and Bloomingdale’s also! Such a festive trip and a great way to kick off the holidays!! Thanks for sharing your ideas!!

  26. Rosanne

    The Christmas Spectacular!

  27. Mimi

    You left out seeing the Rockettes at Radio City!!
    Strolling through the Winter Village at Bryant Park!!!

  28. It looks so beautiful! And love your outfits

  29. Definitely had to PIN this post! My Fiancé and I want to go to NY in December next year!

    @happilyeveralanis | Happily Ever Alanis