5 Unforgettable Ways to Spend a Holiday in New York City

Create special memories of the season in America's largest city.

New York City delivers an endless pageant of history, culture and holiday whimsy. Block after block, the sights and sounds of the season are hard to miss. Even if it doesn’t snow, you can still revel in the magic during these five iconic holiday happenings:

1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade iStock

A tradition that started in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in New York. If you can’t see the parade from the grandstand on 34th Street, peek at the giant balloons the night before, as they’re inflated on the grounds of the American Museum of Natural History.

2. Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center MSG Entertainment

Radio City Music Hall plays host to the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Radio City is part of Rockefeller Center, where holiday festivities kick off with the tree-lighting ceremony. You can also ice skate beneath the tree, stand outside the Today show studio to wave at the cameras or go to the Top of the Rock for 360-degree skyline views.

3. Window-shopping on 5th Avenue

Window-shopping on 5th Avenue Bloomberg/Getty Images

Window-shopping is another unforgettable holiday experience. On Fifth Avenue, heading uptown from Rockefeller Center, the department store holiday windows get more extravagant, reaching jaw-dropping levels of intricacy and sophistication at Bergdorf Goodman, at the doorstep of Central Park and the Upper East Side.

4. Central Park

ice skating central park iStock

A stroll through Central Park is an ideal way to reflect on a day of gallery-hopping and drink in the beauty of the season. The park’s two ice-skating rinks are generally open from late October to early April. Nearby, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the crown jewels along Museum Mile, a stretch of Fifth Avenue running along Central Park. Where else can you see an Egyptian temple, King Henry VIII’s armor, Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses and a costume center named for Vogue editor Anna Wintour?

5. Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square Holiday Market Philip Scalia/Alamy

Looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, a souvenir holiday decoration to remind you of your trip or simply a warming cup of organic hot chocolate? Head to the doorstep of downtown for one of the largest holiday markets in the city. The Union Square Holiday Market includes live music, a warming station, a kid’s crafts studio and row upon row of artisan-made gifts.

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