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Holiday events and attractions in New York City

Holiday staycation

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Visitors know that December is one of the best times of year to come to New York City, when shops and attractions dress up and show off with special activities, events, and retail wonders. Luckily for us, it’s all just a ferry, train or bus ride away. This holiday season, use your days off to take in some of the festive fun listed below — and maybe even top it off with an overnight stay in Manhattan.

Sights and activities

Window shopping: The inside of the stores may be a treasure trove of great gifts, but the first stop for anyone exploring New York City this season is to see the famed holiday windows of Manhattan’s iconic shops. Favorites include Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman on 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue on 49th Street, Lord & Taylor on 38th Street and Fifth Avenue, and Macy’s on 34th Street at Sixth Avenue.

Rockefeller Center: Is there really any other Christmas tree when compared to Rockefeller Center’s soaring spruce? The beautifully decorated, massive tree is lit up in all its glory and surrounded by other holiday decor starting Nov. 28. Get in the true spirit and take a spin on the ice at the skating rink, or get tickets for Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular,” celebrating its 85th anniversary of the Rockettes performing in New York City. The show runs Nov. 9-Dec. 30.

Rockefeller Center (Rockefeller Plaza between W. 49th and W. 50th streets in Manhattan, rockefellercenter.com); Radio City Music Hall [1260 Sixth Ave. between W. 50th and W. 51st streets in Manhattan, (212) 247–4777, radiocitychristmas.com]

Holiday Train Show: This New York Botanical Garden annual event features model trains that ride through more than 100 replicas of city landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and the George Washington Bridge. Takes place from Nov. 17 through Jan. 13, 2013.

New York Botanical Garden [2900 Southern Blvd. in Belmont, Bronx, (718) 817–8700, www.nybg.org]

Bryant Park: Combine skating and shopping at Bryant Park. The City Pond at Bryant Park rink features free ice skating, rental skates, skating shows, and special events and activities. The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, individual booths boasting unique gift items, surround the skating rink through Jan. 6, 2013.

Bryant Park [41 W. 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Manhattan, (212) 768–4242, CitiPondatBryantPark.com; TheHolidayShopsatBryantPark.com]

Gingerbread time: Going beyond gingerbread men and gingerbread houses, local pastry chefs create large-scale confectionary creations highlighting monuments from around the world at Le Parker Meridien hotel during its annual Gingerbread Extravaganza. They are on display from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, 2013.

Le Parker Meridien [119 W. 56th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Manhattan, (212) 245–5000, parkermeridien.com]

Hotel packages

Make your holiday shopping time something special with an overnight stay in Manhattan. Below are just a few of the hotels offering special packages; it’s up to you if you want to bring the kids or spend some alone time with your significant other. Access the websites or call the hotels directly for rates.

Affinia Manhattan: The Miracle on 31st Street package includes accommodations for one night; VIP Ice Skating package at Bryant Park (two skate rentals, VIP access to bypass the line, hot cocoa, bag check, and 10 percent off your final bill at Celsius at Bryant Park); two complimentary holiday cocktails and 20 percent off holiday dinner at Niles NYC Restaurant & Bar; Macy’s 10 percent savings pass; in-room holiday cookies and hot chocolate; in-room DVD of “Miracle on 34th Street” upon request.

Affinia Manhattan [371 Seventh Ave. between 30th and 31st streets in Manhattan, (212) 563–1800, affinia.com]

Hyatt 48 Lex: Bloomie’s Holiday Shopping package includes a $50 gift card and an appointment with a Bloomingdale’s personal shopping consultant. Guests also receive a leather VIP wallet from Bloomingdale’s and a 15 percent off coupon for all Bloomingdale’s purchases during their stay, plus free delivery of Bloomingdale’s packages to the hotel.

Hyatt 48 Lex [517 Lexington Ave. between E. 48th and E. 49th streets in Manhattan, (212) 838–1234, 48lex.hyatt.com]

414 Hotel: The Magic in the City package for two guests per room (queen room only) includes two gift certificates for $20 each for ice skating at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Two-night minimum; mention Magic in the City when booking.

414 Hotel [414 W. 46th Street between Ninth and 10th avenues in Manhattan, (212) 399–0006, 414hotel.com]

Stacey Zable is an award-winning veteran travel writer and family travel expert who has written about destinations, resorts, and cruise lines around the world. Her favorite trips are those that she shares with her husband and two daughters. Send travel questions and comments to Stacey at info@familytraveltrails.com.

Updated 4:32 pm, July 9, 2018
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