Holiday Guide to New York City: What to Eat, Drink, and Do in New York City During Christmas & Holiday time

Is there anywhere more magical during the holiday season than New York City? The soft-falling snow illuminated by the city’s skyscrapers, the stunning window displays in all of the luxury storefronts, the many Christmas markets and holiday bazaars… there’s a reason that Christmas in New York is such a bucket-list item for so many people!

Just like any other time of year, there are tons of things to do in New York City during the holidays. Whether you are a first-time tourist or a native New Yorker, I promise you that you will have the most amazing experience if you take full advantage of all that the city has to offer around Christmastime! 

The Best Place to Stay in New York City During the Holidays

I wrote an entire guide on where you should stay in New York City, but if you are looking for a hotel that will really get you in the holiday spirit, here are my top picks!

Lotte New York Palace


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This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that the Lotte New York Palace’s Christmas tree is ten times better than the Rockefeller tree (When it’s up! It is apparently under construction for 2022, FYI!) Sure, the Rockefeller tree is iconic. But the Palace’s Christmas tree? It’s one of the prettiest, most picture-worthy trees on the planet! 

The Plaza Hotel


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If you’ve ever seen Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, you’ll know why this is one of my top holiday hotel picks in New York City! Even if you don’t end up staying at The Plaza, you absolutely have to take a walk through the lobby and take in the grandeur of this incredible hotel. I named it one of the most Instagrammable places in all of New York City, which you can read more about in this blog post!!

Gramercy Park Hotel

Gramercy Park Hotel, which is owned by Marriott, is nestled in the heart of Manhattan (a perfect location when you’re visiting!). I love the boutique feel of this hotel, and the warm, inviting holiday decor will get any grinch in the holiday spirit.

The Best Places to Eat in New York City During the Holidays

New York City is known for its FOOD!!! No matter what cuisine you are in the mood for, I am willing to bet that New York has one of the top restaurants in the world to offer. Whenever I am planning a trip to New York City, I usually start with where I want to eat because the food is just that good. 

JETSET TIP: Just about anywhere you go in Manhattan, you will need to make reservations ahead of time. Otherwise, be prepared to wait a looooong time for a table to open (if one opens up at all!). This is especially important around the holidays as so many tourists flock to the city.

Rolf’s German Restaurant


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At least once in your life, you have to go to Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy Park for dinner or a drink during the holidays! When I tell you this place brings “decking the halls” to a whole new level… I mean it!!! Rolf’s is famous for its holiday decor in the winter months. They cover the entire ceiling, every pole, and even the walls with ornaments, garlands, and more! Just make sure that you make reservations well in advance, or prepare to wait. This place is also great for holiday-themed cocktails if you aren’t in the mood for food! 

Tavern on the Green


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If you find yourself strolling through Central Park, stop over at Tavern on the Green on the west side of the park for a bite to eat! Tavern on the Green is beautiful any time of year, but the holiday decor will definitely have you feeling festive.

Fraunces Tavern

Photo courtesy of Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern may not be the most “Christmassy” restaurant on this list, but I think that it is worth seeing in the winter months. This tavern is the oldest restaurant in all of New York City — so old, in fact, that it is actually the place where President George Washington established the Chamber of Commerce!! Not only does this place have great food and history, but they also have a renowned whiskey bar (and a fireplace, which you will love if you’ve been out in the New York cold!).


Photo courtesy of Carmine’s Italian Restaurant

Times Square is home to tons of chain restaurants, but if you listen to anything that I say regarding restaurants in New York, let it be this: DO NOT eat at the chain restaurants!!! There are soooo many other absolutely incredible places to eat in the same area, and the food (and service) will be a million times better. One of the places I most recommend in Times Square is Carmine’s. It’s an Italian restaurant smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the lights and tourists with the cutest holiday decor!

Peter Luger’s Steakhouse

If you want the best steak in New York City, head across the bridge to Brooklyn and experience Peter Luger’s Steakhouse! This Williamsburg chophouse is definitely more of a splurge restaurant, but it is SO worth it IMO! It has been open since 1887, and since then, it has continuously been known as one of the best restaurants in NYC.

Au Cheval

On a similar note, if you want one of the best burgers in New York City, go to Au Cheval! To me, there’s something about a burger that warms me up and just makes me feel good, so if you are visiting during the cold winter months.

New York City Markets

A Guide To All The Holiday Markets Open In NYC This Season

Shutterstock via Francois Roux

Because it is so bone-chillingly cold during the winter in New York City, you may want to walk around and explore a few places indoors. If you aren’t sure what you want to eat but don’t want to stand out in the street freezing your butt off while you figure it out, hit one of New York’s indoor markets and scope out the lay of the land! My favorites are Chelsea Market, Time Out Market, and Mott Street Eatery.

The Best Bars to Go to in New York City During the Holidays

Just like New York City’s restaurant scene, the bar scene has a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking for a dive bar, a ritzy hotel vibe, or a club with a bomb dance floor, NYC has it all!

Miracle Pop-Up

Each year, the Miracle Pop-Up chooses a location in the city to fully decorate from head to toe! The name of the pop-up ends up being the street that it is on (hence why the last two years have been “Miracle on 9th Street” and “Miracle on 12th Street”), but the exact location isn’t announced until right before the holiday season! Full disclosure, this is in a ton of cities across the U.S., but if you are in New York for the holidays, you may as well see what the NYC location has to offer!


Christmas cocktail pop up bar – photo via Miracle Pop-up

The Lodge at Gallow Green

I love Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel (which, fun fact, isn’t an actual hotel!) on any given day, but the holiday lodge is really something special. You will truly feel as though you have been transported to a luxurious European ski lodge when you enter this space! There are plenty of rooms (and cocktails!) to explore, so plan to spend an hour or two here at least. 


Photo courtesy Garfunkel’s

New York City is known for its speakeasies, but if you only go to one, make it Garfunkel’s! Garfunkel’s is located at The Burgary (a burger joint on the Lower East Side), which also has great burgers btw. When you enter this speakeasy, it will be through an old bank safe door, which is actually connected to the space’s history. Back in the 1920’s, Garfunkel’s was a space used by two felonious bankers who operated a corrupt bank on the second floor. The name “Garfunkel’s” actually comes from one of the bankers, George Garfunkel!

The Skylark

Photo courtesy of The Skylark

Let’s be honest — I would tell you to go to The Skylark any day of the year. This is by far my favorite rooftop bar in the city!! In the winter months, they do have covered/indoor seating, but the outdoor heated terrace is still very enjoyable. This swanky Midtown bar has fantastic views of the Empire State Building as well as some of the best cocktails in Manhattan.

The Best Things to Do in New York City During the Holidays

Prepare yourself, because this section will be a long one!! There are soooo many incredible things to do in NYC during the holidays. If you are taking a weekend trip, be prepared to choose maybe a fourth of what is on this list. If you are able to, I recommend spending a full week in the city to really experience all that it has to offer!

Attend the Rockefeller Tree Lighting

Typically, the Rockefeller tree is lit on November 30th of each year between 7 – 9 PM (although the time varies each year, so check out their official website for the most up-to-date information!). Experiencing the Rockefeller tree lighting is a lot like spending New Year’s Eve in NYC — for some people, it’s neither here nor there. For others, it’s all they’ve ever dreamt of and more! Just be prepared — if you do end up going to the tree lighting, you’re going to need to arrive three to four hours early in order to get a good view.

See the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall

Photo courtesy of The Rockettes

The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular is something that I have yet to check off of my bucket list, but I have heard from everyone who has gone that it is, well, spectacular!! This 90-minute show is a must-see if you’re in town for the holidays.

Board a Classic Harbor Line Cruise

Photo courtesy of Classic Harbor Line Cruise

This is another activity that I highly encourage you to put at the very top of your list!!! There are several cruise companies in New York City, but Classic Harbor Line is simply the best of the best. Not only does Classic Harbor Line offer a fleet of luxurious, vintage yachts, but they host tons of holiday cruises that you are sure to love! Some of the best are their Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise, Holiday Jazz Cruise, and Sunset & Holiday Cruise.

Explore the Bryant Park Winter Market

Bryant Park has one of the best winter markets in New York City. I love exploring the little shops and stopping for hot chocolate along the way! 

Go Ice Skating

Speaking of Bryant Park, there is an ice rink within the park that is popular amongst both tourists and locals alike! There is also a rink called Wollman Rink in Central Park as well as the mega-famous rink at Rockefeller Center. In my opinion, there are pros and cons to all three of these rinks, and choosing between them can be difficult. So, let me break it down for you!

Rockefeller Center

Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

I’ll start with the most well-known rink, which is Rockefeller Center (remember that scene from Elf? Yep, that’s the one!). Pro — Skating at Rockefeller Center is a bucket list item that can be very fun and romantic! Cons — It’s super crowded, which makes it difficult to actually enjoy skating, plus, it’s more expensive than the other two rinks at up to $64 per person including skate rentals.

Bryant Park

Photo Courtesy of TimeOut

Bryant Park is seen as the “budget-friendly” place to skate because they advertise that it is free. However, it’s only free if you bring your own skates and don’t pay for a lock on your locker to store your things. In other words, if you are a tourist, you will be paying $20 for skates plus $10 for a lock to go on your locker, resulting in a total of $30. This is technically the least expensive option, which is a pro, but it is a fairly small and crowded rink, which I see as a con. 

Wollman Rink

My personal favorite place to go ice skating during the holiday season in NYC is Wollman Rink. It is much larger than both Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park’s rinks, which means that it will feel a lot less crowded. At most, you are going to pay $34 to skate here, but honestly, it’s totally worth it for the view of Central Park that you will get!

Take Photos at the Lotte New York Palace Tree

Photo courtesy of Dana Berez

Again, I think that the Palace’s tree is always more impressive and photogenic than the Rockefeller tree, so be sure to stop by to revel in its beauty!

Get a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3

Photo courtesy of Serendipity3

There is no place quite like Serendipity 3. This is the kind of place that proves why I love New York so much — it’s funky, eclectic, and yet elegant and Instagrammable all at the same time! Serendipity 3 is known for its frozen hot chocolate, which I love, but anything on the menu is absolutely delicious!

Grab a Cookie From Levain Bakery

Photo courtesy of Secret NYC

Best chocolate chip cookies in all of New York City, hands down!! I love Levain Bakery, and honestly, I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t agreed with me!

Luxury Shopping on the Upper East Side

Even if you just end up window shopping, the luxury designer shops on Fifth and Madison Avenues are sooo dreamy during the holidays! I would specifically recommend hitting Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman’s, and Bloomingdale’s.

Watch the Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show

Photo courtesy of Secret NYC

Speaking of Saks, they always have a gorgeous light show on the outside of their building! It goes off every 10 minutes from 5 PM to 11 PM, so it’s easy to catch if you are in the area.

See the Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center

Photo courtesy of New York City Ballet

The Nutcracker is iconic. If you enjoy shows of any kind, this is one that you don’t want to miss!! 

Get a S’mores Latte at Felix Roasting Co.

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

If you happen to be on Greene Street between Spring Street and Prince Street in SoHo, you have to run into Felix Roasting Co. for their famous s’mores latte! This latte will warm you right up after being in the frigid winter cold. It is so beautifully made, you will want to savor every sip!

Walk Through Dyker Heights to Admire the Christmas Lights

Photo courtesy of Viator

For those of you who aren’t afraid to cross the river from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Dyker Heights is a must-see during the holidays! This Brooklyn neighborhood goes all out when it comes to Christmas displays!!! If you have the time, I highly recommend that you check this neighborhood out (specifically between 11th and 13th Avenues and 83rd and 86th Streets). 

Shop at “Christmas in New York”

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Technically, this store in Little Italy is open year-round, but there is something extra special about “Christmas in New York” during the holidays! And yes, that’s actually what the shop is called!!

Attend a Winter JazzFest Show

On Friday and Saturday nights, you can attend the Winter JazzFest Show which has been running since 2005! If you are a fan of jazz music and holiday tunes, this is a must.

Have Afternoon Tea at Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel

Photo courtesy of The Plaza Hotel

Can you tell that I just really want you to see the Plaza Hotel?! Afternoon tea at Palm Court is one of the most luxurious, bougie things that you can do in NYC (sign me up!). Just make sure that you make reservations in advance. 

What to Wear in New York City During the Holidays

New York City is known for its chic fashion scene, so when you are choosing your outfits, don’t be afraid to have fun with it! However, it is important to keep the weather in mind. Some days are super cold and snowy, while others are relatively warm and more enjoyable! For a typical holiday season in NYC, here is what I would recommend you wear.

The Best Coats to Wear in the Winter in New York City

This white cropped jacket is soooo chic and perfect for a night out in New York!

 This long white fur coat screams Upper East Side. I love it!

This puffer is perfect for sightseeing around the city!

This jacket is called the “Manhattan Jacket.” How much more perfect could it be?!

A long white fur coat just screams NYC to me! 

This mid-length fur coat is dreamy!!

 And if you’re looking for a little Christmas color, this emerald green fur coat is *chef’s kiss*!!

The Best Tops to Wear at Dinner or on a Night Out in the Winter in New York City

 This off-the-shoulder top would be great for dinner or a night out! 

I love a turtleneck sweater in the winter! You have no idea how much that little bit of extra fabric comes in handy as you’re making your way through the bitterly cold city.

 This shirt gives both casual and chic — it’s NYC perfection. 

 Give NYC that cold shoulder with this adorable “cold shoulder” sweater!

The Best Pants to Wear in the Winter in New York City

These slit pants are Revolve best sellers for a reason!!

And we can’t forget about the leather — so fab!

The Best Dresses to Wear in the Winter in New York City

 If you are going to The Nutcracker or a Broadway show, this black dress is a perfect choice!


 This is a classic NYC club dress for the winter! Your legs may get a bit cold, but beauty is pain, am I right?! You could also pair this dress with some black tights and boots for more coverage.

Loooooove this sweater dress! It comes in several different colors!

The Best Winter Shoes and Accessories to Wear in New York City

A beanie is a must for those frigid winter days!

Every girl needs a tall white boot in her closet, I’m convinced!

These black booties are perfect for all occasions in NYC! The block heel makes them easy to walk in, but the overall style is still chic enough to wear to dinner or on a night out.

You will be doing a TON of walking in NYC, so make sure that you have a comfy pair of sneakers! I am in love with my Allbirds


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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.