Is a Weekend in New York City During the Holidays Worth it?

NYC,Times Square, Holidays
NYC, holidays, weekend

Back in October, I wrote a post on 7 types of trips to take before 30. My very first suggestion was a seasonal trip. You know, one where you see the leaves change in the fall, see the cherry blossoms bloom in DC, or visit Disney World during the holidays. The very next day, I booked our flights to New York City for the third weekend in December – a Christmas filled trip in the City of Dreams. (Does anyone else feel awesome when they take their own advice?!)

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know this past weekend we were exploring the Big Apple and soaking in all the wintery weather leading up to Christmas. We’re from Florida, so the snowfall made it really feel like the holidays to us. And when the 72 hours quickly sped by, my husband and I asked the question we ask after every weekend getaway, “Was it worth it?”.

To us, this meant:  was it worth the time, money, energy, flights, delays, exhaustion, miles and miles of walking, expensive meals, crowded sites, and a whirlwind of a weekend – all during the holidays?!

So we know we can visit many of the tourist sites in NYC year-round, but the iconic holiday sites are only there late November through early January. We chatted over a glass of wine when our flight home was delayed (not complaining about that!), and recapped our holiday-inspired stops during the trip.

 

Radio City Music Hall Rockettes

We attended the 11:00am show. This was, surprisingly, a convenient time and the cheapest! To me, this is one of those things you have to do at least once. I’ve read not to attend if you don’t have small children, but my only advice is to not attend if you hate Christmas. (Who hates Christmas?!!!) The show is only 90 minutes long and you’re entertained the entire time. You all know I love Disney, and this was like a Disney show in New York City. When you add in the Christmas theme, talented dancers, and a million Santas, I finally felt like it was Christmas time!

Radio City Rockettes, NYC, Holidays

For reference, we were in the 2nd mezzanine, row BB, seats 109 & 110

 

Ice Skating in Bryant Park

Ice skating ended up being a highlight of our trip. It was extra cold this day and so romantic. I suck at skating and Marc is amazing, so him teaching me and holding onto me literally felt like a first date. On top of that, it started softly snowing on us. It was magical, fun, and one of those things you dream of doing in the city, especially if you’re from Florida!

The downside? It was crowded and a smaller rink. Right before we went to the Rockettes, we walked through Central Park and passed Wollman Rink. This ice skating rink is huge compared to the others and has stunning skyscraper views! I didn’t know this at the time and turned Marc down when he suggested skating. After all, we had to be at the show soon and I didn’t want to be rushed. I wish we had gone back here, but hey, there’s always next time!!

Bryant Park, NYC, ice skating, holidays

Thanks to the stranger that snapped this pic!

NYC, Wollman Park, ice skating, holidays

Wollman Park ice skating rink must have been 3-5x larger than the other rinks. And those views!

 

5th Avenue Window Displays

I was looking forward to these incredible window displays for weeks. I admire and respect the talent and time it takes to create such masterpieces, BUT it was so crowded, I could barely stand it. We got hurried along, shoved aside, and felt completely in the way of other people just walking by. The displays were truly remarkable though and absolutely beautiful. My absolute favorite was the Bergdorf Goodman display at 754th 5th Ave, but I didn’t snap a good photo so you’ll just have to go see it for yourself! 😉

5th Ave, NYC, window displays

Don’t let this photo fool you. All the Snow White displays were so packed I couldn’t even get a photo.

 

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

We first saw this massive Christmas tree at 6:45am when we were heading to the Today Show (side note: 6:45am is late. Get there at like 6:00am!). Seeing the tree literally gave me goosebumps, and for some reason, I thought, “let’s just come back later for photos”. Welllllll, we didn’t make it back til the following night (Saturday) and OMG THE CROWD. To me, it was worse than the Times Square crowd. It was claustrophobic feeling, and after snapping a few quick photos, I just wanted to go. But nonetheless, I got my very own Rockefeller Christmas Tree photo and we saw the fun holiday light show.

Rockefeller, Christmas, holidays, NYC

The 75 foot Norway Spruce is wrapped with 5 miles of multicolored lights. The topper is a 9.5ft Swarovski star with 25,000 crystals!!

What We Didn’t Do:

We didn’t go see Santa at Macy’s (we’ll save that for when we have little babes), but I’ve heard you now have to make an appointment to see him. We also didn’t make it to the Union Square Holiday Market. What other holiday site did we miss? 🤔

 

So Was Visiting NYC During the Holidays Worth it?

In one word: YES! Of course, we did many other touristy things in the city, but these particular sites and activities are only there during the holiday season and we loved it. Would we go back during Christmas time? Abs-a-freaking-lutely. Would we try to go during the week instead of the weekend? Definitely. The city is magical all by itself, but during the holidays it’s on a whole new level. The Christmas cheer is contagious and it was exactly what we needed for this seasonal trip. The crowds were expected, the cold was bearable, and I went home with a happy heart. As with any weekend trip, we learn what to do (and not to do) for the next time around. I see us visiting NYC during the holidays many more times.

The Weekend Fox Tips:

  • Like I said above, if possible, try to visit on weekdays. It was amazing to see the simple difference between the crowds on a Friday from the crowds on a Saturday. I bet traveling earlier in December, on a weekday, would be the most enjoyable.
  • Start your day early. So many sites were quieter and less crowded in the mornings!
  • Book your hotel earlier than later. October felt like a late time to book, but when I checked our same hotel around Thanksgiving, our room had gone up another $100/night.
  • Be patient with the crowds and when it gets overwhelming, head to the nearest bar. 😉 🍺

 

Have you been to NYC during the holidays? If not, would you? Leave a comment below!

 

NYC, Holidays, Weekend, Travel
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  • Rebekah Nichols

    I really enjoyed your weekend recap of Christmastime in New York City, it was insightful and full of great tips. I have never been to NYC at the holidays but I hope to go. Also the Rockettes are amazing! I see the traveling show every year in Texas!

    • Katherine

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! That’s so cool that you see the traveling Rockettes show every year!!

  • I’ve been to the city a couple of times, but it has always been during the summer. Unfortunately, I will be flying in next week, but don’t have enough time between flights to explore some of the city like I would want to. I will have to plan a winter trip to the city… maybe next winter.

    • Katherine

      Aw, any time in the city really is fun, but definitely try to make it back one year for the holidays!

  • Stephanie Wheeler Mechtel

    I think you are right about it being less busy during the week.. We traveled to NYC during weekdays and I remember it being busy but not super crowded. That’s a great tip for people who are able to do that.

    • Katherine

      You guys are so lucky that you had a full week to explore NYC during the holidays!! Serious #goals 😉

  • I love NYC!! I’ve been several times during the holidays and it’s so beautiful. Seeing the Rockettes is a must at least once! I will admit though NYC during the holidays at times gives me anxiety with it being so packed. So glad you enjoyed your trip!!

    • Katherine

      Haha, yes! We were standing in Times Square for some photos on a Saturday afternoon and we both looked at each other like, “get me the heck outta here!”. It can be overwhelming, but then we traveled to the upper west side and it was so calm!

  • It looks so much fun! I love NYC and although it can get super busy, I think it’s worth it to do all these things at least once.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Katherine

      Definitely! And I know I’ll be going back again and again for some of them!

  • Jenni L.

    I’ve only been to NYC in the heat of the summer but I’m heading back in February and I’m excited to experience the difference!

    • Katherine

      Ohhh I bet it’ll be so cold in February, but a totally different city from what you’re used to! Hope you love it!!

  • Kyla Matton Osborne

    The city can be magical at Christmastime, especially when there’s snow. I’ve never visited NYC in wintertime, but I have a lot of really positive memories of Montreal during the holiday season. Both cities are islands with a large population, so there’s a similar feel. It’s one of the best times to visit 🙂

    • Katherine

      Aw, that sounds wonderful! Montreal is on my list, too 🙂

      • Kyla Matton Osborne

        It’s a beautiful city! Make lots of time for eating and for seeing the sights.

  • Ayanna

    We love visiting NYC all year long. It definitely has something extra special going on during Christmastime.

    • Katherine

      I feel like I could go all the time and never get sick of it!

  • Jennifer Seislove

    The festive charm in NYC at Christmastime cannot be beat! We always spend at least a day there with the family…it never gets old and every new visit is a new adventure!

    • Katherine

      Aw, how fun! Such a great tradition.

  • Kristen Jones

    I just loved going to NYC for Christmas! It was snowing like crazy when I went and it was MAGICAL! We were mostly in central park, but of course we had to walk to see the tree! SO beautiful and totally worth all of the walking!

    • Katherine

      YES! When it snowed really hard the day we were there, it was like being in a NYC snow globe haha, I just loved it! And a snowy Central Park was so beautiful!

  • Nikki Gwin

    I do want to go to NY and at Christmas time would be sensational. Not sure if the mister could handle the crowds though. I love the practical tips.
    🙂 gwingal

    • Katherine

      If you can get him to go, make sure it’s on a week day 😉 he’ll be happier about that! Haha

  • Ny is such a great place for the holidays that it’s so worth it. So happy you Got to partake on some of the amazing holiday activities/sights there.

    • Katherine

      It’s truly magical 🙂 I loved it all!

  • I think NYC would be so magical during Christmas! We were planning one year to go for NYE but we decided against it. I’d love to go though in early December though!

    • Katherine

      I don’t know if I could handle the chaos of NYE, but maybe it’s one of those things you truly do just once?! I want to go back every December now 🙂

  • I love NYC during Christmas time. My husband’s work surprised us with a 1-night getaway at a super nice hotel in Manhattan a few weeks ago. The city was busy, but I loved it for this season!

    • Katherine

      That is so awesome and such a perfect little holiday gift from his work 🙂

  • This is something I’ve always wondered! I have family in NYC, so I’ll to try and schedule a trip out to visit them in December next year!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    Christmas in NYC would be a dream! I can’t wait to go someday!

  • I used to visit NYC during the holidays as a kid and it was truly magical! I’ve never gone as an adult, though. I don’t think I would be willing to put in the effort to plan that kind of trip as an adult during the holidays.

  • Despite the crowds, I love NYC during the holidays! It’s my favorite time to visit.

  • Taylor Smith

    I would love to NYC at Christmas time!