Christmas in the City | New York City Christmas Trip guide

It’s Christmas time in the city! Every year before Christmas we take a family day trip into New York City to celebrate the holidays. We always take the train in because it is the easiest way to get into the city from Connecticut and the short trip gives us plenty of opportunities for talking and laughing. There are countless ways to spend a day in the city, but for Christmas we have some deep rooted traditions that I wanted to share with you and hopefully inspire your next winter trip into NYC.


  1. Step one: Pick up a treat and a warm beverage to take onto the train.
  2. Step two: Walk through the city to see all the decorations and make our way to Saks Fifth Avenue’s window displays.
  3. Step three: Rockefeller Center is right across from the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue. You have to see the tree in person. If you stick around long enough you will most likely see a proposal or two by the impressive Christmas tree or out on the ice rink.
  4. Step four: Dinner at a lovely historic hotel (I recommend the Plaza or the Waldorf Astoria). There are plenty of places to eat in the city for all price ranges, but the annual trip into the city is the time to fancy it up a little.
  5. Step five: See a Christmas show in the city.
  6. Step six: Enjoy the sites and appreciate every moment.

Most importantly, I am excited because this light in my life is home from her first semester of college. (She is in her first year of college all the way in California!) There are a little over eight years between my baby sister and I and she truly is one of the most important people in my life. Together again for the holidays. After all, isn’t this time of year all about family?

We all missed Avalon’s exuberant humor.This year Avalon’s best friend came along to the city. They were imitating poses of the window mannequins. When you come to the city around the holidays, the decorations and especially the windows are not just an attraction, but a must-see to get into the holiday spirit. Saks Fifth Avenue always has unique window displays with a story to go along with it. I think I found my wedding dress! (Matthew wasn’t digging the gown, but he did like the rock candies.)Inside Saks Fifth Avenue.
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. The best time to visit is in the early morning or on a weekday, but our visit was on a Saturday shortly before Christmas so you can imagine how packed the center was! Still, no matter how busy it is, you cannot miss the center. We didn’t squeeze to the front this year because of the crowds, but the angel displays and the ice skating rink are a must if you’re visiting from far away. “Gee, the traffic is terrific!”Dinner at the Peacock Alley Restaurant at the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Sometimes we make a trip in to the Plaza Hotel, but since the world’s largest toy store FAO Swartz closed, we haven’t stopped by. It was always a tradition to see the toy store and one year I was even able to dance on the large toy piano that was made famous in the Tom Hanks film Big. The doors were attended by real life “toy-soldiers.” I will have to dig into my archives to pull up some photos for a Christmas Past in the City post one day.

The decorations of the Waldorf Astoria make dining at this hotel an experience. (They also have some of the nicest public restrooms in the city.)Champagne for the ladies and an old fashioned for the gent. The truffle fries are fantastic. When you visit New York at Christmas the thing to do is see a show. We used to see A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden years ago and I will never forget how magical the experience was. When they stopped production of the show we changed our tradition to the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall. One year we saw Cirque Du Soleil’s show Wintuk. This year we mixed up the routine by seeing Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer at Madison Square Garden and the whole family loved it! The characters sounded just like the move and all the props and puppets made it feel like we were really in Christmas Town. The Abominable Snowman certainly was big and scary! As for me, I was a little obsessed with the Christmas trees and wanted to take one home. “Rudolph, you’ll go down in history!”One year I will see the Macy’s Day parade at this exact location. Every year it is my Thanksgiving tradition to watch it on television. It is on my life goal list to watch it in person!Back to Central Station for the train ride home. All of the photographs in this post were taken with my new Fujifilm X100 T. I love my Nikon DSLR, however, when traveling I adore the convenience of a lightweight and simple camera with only one lens to worry about. It is not the perfect portrait camera or great in low light situations, but it is surprising versatile and I can’t get enough of the film look it gives to images. I feel like an old school photojournalist when I travel with my Fujifilm companion.

I hope this post inspires your own trips to the city. Of course, there are countless ways to spend a day in NYC around the holidays. I hope you adore the classic traditions and discover some new traditions of your own.

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