christmas new york city

New York City is such a magical place to visit during Christmas time!

Being from Washington DC, we are quite close to NYC but have never visited during Christmas until our friends from Las Vegas invited us on their trip!

So here’s a guide on what to pack for New York City during wintertime and what we saw for our New York City Christmas adventure.

What to Wear in New York City in Winter

The most important things to pack for New York City in Winter is a warm coat, thing insulating layers, and wool socks!

what to wear in new york winter

Winter in New York City can vary greatly in terms of temperature and precipitation. I would check the weather a few days before leaving to make a final decision on what to pack.

what to wear in new york winter

Because it’s going to be heated indoors but freezing outside in New York during winter time, I tend to pack really thin layers with a warm coat.

My feet are always cold so the types of socks I pack are probably the most important.

Here’s what I typically pack for a weekend in New York in winter time:


Snowboard Ski Socks

The really important part of packing for New York City in winter is what your wear UNDER your clothes and your choice of socks.

Typically it’s your legs and feet that will be cold.  The best socks for cold feet are ski/snowboarding socks that have merino wool content.

These socks are my absolute favorite and keep my feet toasty warm.  I actually snowboard a few times a year so I’ve always worn them during winter.  Last year I got a pair for the Husband and he can’t stop wearing them too.

You can also buy just wool socks which I also own.  They are really warm too but they are bulkier than my snowboarding socks.

Base Layer

Next you will want a solid base layer and my favorite has always been Heattech – Check Prices

Their leggings and tops are amazing under clothes because it’s so thin, but really adds warmth without the bulk. 

christmas in new york

I wear Heattech as a bases layer when I go snowboarding and there’s nothing that has performed better.  I’m able to wear a dress in New York City in winter because I have a layer of Heattech underneath!  


In addition to having cold feet, I also have cold hands, so gloves are important.

I find that because I use my phone to take pictures and get directions while I’m walking around (like most people do these days) my hands always froze from taking my gloves on and off.

This is because none of the etip gloves I’ve ever gotten have worked, until this pair I got last year.  Again I bought these for snowboarding after having my hand nearly freeze off from taking my liners on an off on a mountain to take pictures.

Hand Warmer

Besides having the gloves, I also packed a rechargeable hand warmer – Check Prices.

This is the first time I’ve seen these things and I was intrigued by the great reviews.  I’ve always gotten the disposable hand warmers for snowboarding – Check Prices, but I thought I would give these a try for winter in New York City this time around.

My friend’s daughter ended up using it the most and she loved it.  She said her hands were cold while we were sitting around Bryant Park with our hot drinks so I lent it to her, and it kept her hands nice and toasty!

Where to Stay in New York City During Christmas

Parker New York

We wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle of Rockefeller Center but still be near it so we stayed at the Parker New York – Check Prices

new york city christmas

The rooms here are spacious and the lobby of the hotel is beautiful.  We booked a King room on a high floor so we had a beautiful view of the city.

parker hotel new york

The hotel is just a few blocks away from Rockefeller Center and most of the places we wanted to see on our short weekend trip to New York City for Christmas.  It was also very child friendly with spacious rooms, they also offer adjoining rooms for larger families.

christmas new york city

If you stay here don’t miss the chance to eat at the burger place inside the hotel! 

When we arrived the husband noticed this was the hotel that Bordain had gotten burgers at, so he went and got one!! 

It was amazing and I don’t even really like burgers.  The lines for this place starting around 5 pm are insane though so either go early or go super late at 11 pm.

The Arlo 

Last time I was in New York during winter I stayed at the Arlo – Check Prices, which is more of a boutique hotel with smaller rooms. 

arlo hotel nyc

Overall the vibe of the Arlo is super hip with cool restaurants and even a library. 

This hotel is better suited for singles or couples vs families with children since the rooms are not that big.  Though if you are arriving from Penn Station this hotel is just a few blocks away.

Christmas in New York City What to Do

Even though we live in Washington DC, which is about 3-4 hours from New York, we have never experienced New York in December during Christmas time. 

rockefeller christmas new york

But thanks to my friends that decided to visit New York during Christmas, we went up to meet them. 

New York during Christmas is indeed magical.  There so many amazing things to do during Christmas in New York City. 

We were only there for a weekend so our activities were limited, but now I want to go back next year!

Rockefeller Center

We went to Rockefeller Center both during the day and at night. 

christmas new york city rockefeller

You definitely need to experience it during both times because it looks quite different!  At night it’s completely lit up with lights and of course the huge christmas tree.  

rockefeller tree christmas new york

Plus you this is the best spot to view the Saks 5th Avenue light display which features Frozen this year.  

saks light show

During the day Rockefeller is still super cheery with open air bars and drink carts!  We wanted to ice skate but the line was just too long!

Saks 5th Avenue Window Displays

The Saks 5th Avenue Window Displays were stunning this year especially all the Frozen-themed ones! 

new york city christmas display

Definitely worth checking out if you are in New York for Christmas.

saks window displays

saks christmas light show
saks frozen 2 window display

Macy’s Santaland Experience and Window Displays

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do the Santaland Experience because the line was simply too long!

christmas new york macys

Instead, we just looked at the window displays outside which were super fun, especially the dog that wags his tail when you pet his nose!

macys new york christmas

The Peninsula Hotel Lobby

The Peninsula is another hotel that I found on Instagram that looked absolutely amazing! 

peninsula hotel new york

And it didn’t disappoint with it’s Christmas decor.  They also had carolers performing the night we were there.  

peninsula hotel new york

new york city christmas photo spots
peninsula hotel christmas
new york christmas

Lotte New York Palace

I had seen Lotte New York Palace on Instagram and knew I wanted to visit!! 

lotte new york palace

Not only is the courtyard with the Christmas tree absolutely amazing but the inside is gorgeous as well.  And they have a Santa Letter box for kids to put their letters in.

new york lotte palace

They happened to have Santa there the morning we went, so we got to take a picture with Santa for FREE!  

lotte palace christmas

The restaurant inside the hotel is excellent too so after you are done touring, have a drink or some food.

Circle Line Boat Tour

The Circle Line Boat Tour isn’t per se a New York City Christmas activity. 

circle line tour new york

Our friends happened to buy tickets so we ended up tagging along and I was surprised how great it was!  We saw all the New York landmark sites from the water and got to experience sunset on the water.  The views are breathtaking. 

new york circle line tour

There are two sections, the lower section which is heated, and the upper deck which is open air. 

During winter I found the top a bit too cold so I mostly enjoyed the sites from the lower level.  All of the kids loved this tour too!

Bryant Park Christmas Market

The Bryant Park Christmas Market is super cute with lots of little shops! 

bryant park christmas market

I ended up getting a pair of earmuffs because I had left mine at home. 

christmas market bryant park

There’s also an ice skating rink but again the line was insanely long so we didn’t get to do it.

bryant park 

We had a nice hot drink outside and it was the perfect way to relax after a lot of walking.

Tips for Christmas in New York

  • If you are traveling with kids, especially if you have more than one expect it to take twice as long to get anywhere.  The streets are super busy and walking can take quite a bit of time.
  • Be prepared for a lot of traffic as well, so cabs will take a long time. 
  • If it gets too cold hop into one of the hotels I mentioned earlier for a  hot drink!
  • Wear thin layers because even though it’s cold outside, it’s super hot inside!
  • Be prepared to wait in line for everything!  We didn’t get to do any ice skating because the lines were so long.
  • For less crowds get out early and see the attractions before noon.  We actually got out of the hotel by 10am one morning and all the sites were far less crowded.
  • Be prepared for huge crowds EVERYWHERE!!  All the places we visited there were huge crowds every where.  It’s less so in the morning but still pretty bad.

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