Bright Lights, Big City

Christmas in New York? 4 Things to Do Other than Visit Rockefeller Center

Ice skating in Central Park and other insider tips for spending your Big Apple holiday in style.

By Kayla Stewart December 16, 2015

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Why fight the crowds at Rockefeller Center when Wollman Rink in Central Park is waiting?

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Spending Christmas in the Big Apple can be both exhilarating and daunting. The city features a multitude of sights and activities that will keep you busy from dawn to dusk. From The Radio City Christmas Spectacular to the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting, the options for holiday cheer are endless. If you're looking for some holiday activities that are somewhat off of the beaten path, here are a few that may grab your attention.

Skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park

Skating at Rockefeller Center can be a headache. The never-ending crowds and the hefty price tag ($30 plus a $12 rental fee) make the tiny rink less than desirable. Venture over to Central Park’s east side for a picturesque view of New York at the Wollman Rink. Located near 59th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, the rink is open most days from morning to night. Skate rentals are $8, and adults skate for just under $12 during the week.

Union Square Holiday Market

This European-style market comes around once a year for shoppers to buy unique, handcrafted items for loved ones. The winter market is home to more than 150 local and national artisans that sell everything from jewelry and artwork to soaps and candles in the heart of Manhattan’s shopping scene. There are gifts for your food-loving friends, as well. Bee Raw, The Truffliest, Batter and Cream and Miss Tea have homemade treats and drinks for all tastes.

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This Brooklyn neighborhood goes all out with the holiday lights every year.

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Gaze at holiday lights in Dyker Heights

This Brooklyn neighborhood puts on a display for the books during December. Since the 1980s the tradition of going all out with Christmas decorations has steadily increased in the neighborhood, with some residents investing more than $20,000 in their Christmas displays. Find a free walking tour or go with family and friends and enjoy some of the most extravagant Christmas displays in the country.

Pop-up holiday bars

It just wouldn’t be the holidays without some incredible cocktails, and New York pop up bars have you covered. Dozens of pop up bars put on their best act throughout the city, serving up boozy holiday drinks in festive glasses that could put a smile on Scrooge’s face. Check out Baita (which translates to “small ski lodge in the Alps”) by Birrieria, a rooftop popup that takes its namesake to heart. The bar is filled with pine trees and Dolomite artwork, and even has Adirondack chairs for patrons to lounge in while chatting over the their White Hot Negroni—an espresso-filled cocktail with almond grappa—and other Italian favorites with a holiday spin. Miracle on Ninth Street, an Alphabet City speakeasy-style pop up that features drinks such as Christmas Tree Gimlet and a Calvados cocktail infused with gingerbread, spiced pumpkin syrup and an egg white. The non-stop Christmas tunes and garlands also help to put visitors in the holiday spirit.

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