27 Festive Ideas for Your Holiday Vacation in New York City

11/11/2017 07:12 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2017

The holiday season is almost upon us, and for those planning a trip to The Big Apple between Thanksgiving and the New Year, here are some festive (and fun!) must-do’s whether you’re with the kids or it’s an adults-only vacation.

See the Sites: Holiday Windows Oh My!

Take a leisurely stroll down Fifth Avenue to see the awe-inspiring holiday window displays. Start at 58th and 5th at the iconic Bergdorf Goodman department store, where the windows are sure to impress. Then walk south and stop at Saks Fifth Avenue’s display, which also includes a music and light show. If you’re not too cold, head to 38th Street for the windows at Lord & Taylor. Then west to Macy*s for both their window display, and to meet Macy*s Santa Claus, one of the best “North Pole” adventures in all of New York. (Ever wonder how they come together? Watch Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s for a behind-the-scenes look at how the team at Bergdof Goodman creates these fashion-inspired installations.) The above video is the 2013 holiday light show at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Getting in the Christmas Spirt: Must-See Christmas Trees

Skate beneath the city’s most iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
Flickr: Shinya Suzuki
Skate beneath the city’s most iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

There are a number of decked out trees around the city. Of course the most recognizable one is at Rockefeller Center, but you can also get into the Christmas spirit by visiting the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has vintage ornaments and 150+ year old nativity scene set beneath it in the Medieval Sculpture Hall. Other notable firs and spruces includes the Origami Christmas Tree at the American Museum of Natural History, the Holiday Tree in Bryant Park and the Christmas tree at the South Street Seaport, where you can get holiday shopping done and listen to some of the city’s best carolers.

Tis the Night: Where to Book Your Hotel Room

Just like Kevin! Pizza from The Todd English food Hall, enjoyed during your limo ride around the city.
Amanda in New York City for Flytographer
Just like Kevin! Pizza from The Todd English food Hall, enjoyed during your limo ride around the city.

For the ultimate holiday hotel experience (through January 31, 2018), book the Home Alone 2 Anniversary Room Package at The Plaza! Spend your time in New York just like Kevin McCalliser did, minus the Wet Bandits of course. Packages, starting at $850/night and include Home Alone 2 branded backpacks filled with the Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray set of all 5 Home Alone films and themed tee-shirts and a Plaza-style Ice Cream Sundae. You can ask the concierge to enhance your Lost in New York experience with express passes to the top of the Empire State Building, skating time at Wollman rink (just steps away in Central Park), a white stretch limousine (with pizza from the Tood English Food Hall) and a photographer from Flytographer to capture every fun moment! Whether or not you’re staying at The Plaza, you can enjoy some ‘90s-themed treats at The Todd English Food Hall, such as Sunny-TE, Spaghettios, but not out of a can, Todd Pockets and Food Hall Funyon Rings.

P.S. Through January 31st you can enjoy a Downton Abbey tea, or cocktails, at The Plaza’s Palm Court. Get details here.

All I Want for Christmas: Are Tickets to One of These Shows

A seasonal revue starring <em>American Idol</em> winner Candice Glover, <em>The Voice</em> winner Josh Kaufman, and Bianca Ry
Home for the Holidays
A seasonal revue starring American Idol winner Candice Glover, The Voice winner Josh Kaufman, and Bianca Ryan, who won America’s Got Talent.

There’s plenty of holiday-themed entertainment in town, and deciding what to see can be quite difficult. There are the Rockettes at Radio City in their world-famous Christmas Spectacular that’s great for all ages, but here are some other shows you may want to get tickets for: Elf on Broadway follows the story of Buddy the Elf made famous by the Will Ferrell film, the Nutcracker at the New York Theatre Ballet is always a classic, David Hyde Pierce reads A Christmas Carol in this one-night only event – you can also see it (almost) nightly at The Merchant House – or take in a holiday concert, Home for the Holidays, starring winners of TV voice competitions, YouTube stars and Danny Aiello.

Shop Till You Drop: Holiday Markets You Don’t Want to Miss

Shop till you drop at one of New York’s Holiday Markets.
Etsy
Shop till you drop at one of New York’s Holiday Markets.

While the department stores and chic neighborhoods may be on your list of where to shop, New York also has holiday market pop-ups around town with kiosks stocked with everything from clothes and home goods to artisanal foods and crafts by independent designers and well-known brands. The Union Square Holiday Market has 150+ local and national shops offering handcrafted items. Bryant Park’s Winter Village also has over 150 kiosks filled with the perfect holiday gift and delicious bites you can grab on the go. (The park also has an ice skating rink with skates you can rent too.) Shop indoors at the Grand Central Holiday Fair, which boasts 40 booths filled with gifts everyone will love, including a range of foodie favorites, home items and personal accessories. Looking for something handcrafted? Try the Etsy Holiday Handmade Calvacade at their Lower Manhattan or Dumbo location. Over 50 Etsy sellers have wares available to grab on the go, no shipping necessary. The Columbus Circle Holiday Market has over 100 booths with handmade items and snacks. There’s also a concierge who can help guide you to the booths that will suit your style, and your shopping list.

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