They don’t call NYC the city that never sleeps for nothin’! Yes, even on Christmas Day there are fun things to do in New York City together as a family. (And, you get the bonus of places being less crowded—Hallelujah!) Whether you’re looking for a special outing or show, a casual tasty, meal and a movie, or perhaps some outdoor activities, you can get off the couch and have fun in New York City on Christmas Day with the kids. Here’s how and where! (P.S. For tips on things to do in NYC with kids during the holidays, click here for our bucket list!)
Go Full On Christmas with The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall
The Rockettes, Santa, and all those animals in the manger don't just do one show on Christmas Day—they do four. (You can catch them at 1, 4, 7, and 10 p.m.!) Obviously, you must swing by the Big Tree at Rockefeller Center a few blocks away. It doesn't really get more classic New York City festive than this!
1260 Ave of the Americas
Radio City Music Hall
Go Ice Skating On a Rooftop
The Seaport's Pier 17 is home to Winterland Rink, the only rooftop ice skating rink in New York City! Lace up on Christmas Day and take a spin while taking in great views of the Brooklyn Bridge, East River and surrounding skyline.
Check Out American Dream in New Jersey
This mega entertainment emporium, from the minds behind the famed Mall of America in Minneapolis, has arrived on the East Coast and they're open Christmas Day! Pick your pleasure: the indoor amusement park of Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, home to more than 35 rides, rollercoasters and attractions, Nick characters and a stage for live performances; The Rink at American Dream, an NHL-regulation size ice rink, or DreamWorks Water Park, North America’s largest indoor water park, with over 40 water slides and 15 amazing attractions, from SurfRiders to the lazy river. Wait, there's more! Early December brought the arrival of Big SNOW, North America’s only indoor real-snow park, where you can ski and snowboard 365 days a year. (Big SNOW has slopes for guests of all skill levels, from bunny hills to more challenging slopes. (P.S. you don't need a car to get there. Check out these alternatives, including the ferry!)
1 American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ
See Wild Lights at the Bronx Zoo
Last seen at the zoo in 2007, Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo has returned bigger, brighter, and greener than ever before. (Those lights energy-efficient LEDs now.) Dazzling light displays cover several acres of the zoo in a walk-through experience with wildlife-themed displays, custom Asian lanterns, and animated light shows on the historic Astor Court.
Travel the World at the Hello Panda Festival
Yet another spectacular light display, the Hello Panda Festival makes its New York City debut this year. This international lantern, food and arts extravaganza celebrating culture and diversity is taking over Citi Field and spans 750,000 square feet.
the multi-sensory event showcases over 120 Instagrammable Chinese lantern exhibits, 60 international food vendors curated by The World’s Fare and numerous cultural arts experiences including live performances, modern art exhibits, interactive games, cultural arts and handicrafts, and a holiday market.
Ride a Trike with Square "Wheels" at MoMath
The National Museum of Mathematics, or "MoMath"—the only math museum in North America—is here for you this holiday season! This Flatiron District museum, featuring unique, interactive exhibits that make math fun, accessible, and exciting is open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) Its “Math Unfolded” exhibit closes January 5, and is New York's first-ever math and origami exhibit and displays beautiful patterns and designs based on geometry, computer algorithms, and math theory. Take note: MoMath is running a special one-day mini-camp for students in first through sixth grades: "MoMath Mini-Camp: Between the Dimensions", on December 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In it, kids will explore dimensions through the exotic world of fractals and experience hands-on learning.
National Museum of Mathematics
11 E. 26th St.
Enjoy Art and Music at The Jewish Museum
Head to The Jewish Museum for Picture This!, a program for families that includes a gallery tour, interactive activities, an art project, story time and a snack, and then finishes off with a live music concert! This day's performers are the group Nefesh Mountain, led by singer Doni Zasloff and her multi-instrumentalist husband Eric Lindberg. They'll play to a vibrant blend of bluegrass, Celtic, and Appalachian tunes with a Jewish soul, as well as some Hanukah favorites.
Visit the Empire State Building
Who knew? The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year and almost 24 hours a day—and yes, that includes Christmas. (You can visit until 2 a.m.!) This 88 year-old icon just wrapped up a four-year, $165 million renovation, which includes a new 102nd floor lookout (inside); a heated outdoor observation deck on the 86th floor, and an interactive experience on the 80th floor, developed in partnership with NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership bureau for New York City. (Step up to a kiosk, answer some questions about your interests and get a personalized itinerary to explore NYC.) This floor also has an area explaining how the lights and lights shows of the ESB are created by artist Marc Brickman, and some old school binoculars that play videos of the destinations at which they are pointed. The Empire State Building experience also includes the chance to have a 360-degree photo of you taken in front of a green screen, with your image to be dropped into a few backgrounds—one of which has King Kong peeking in the window at you. Tickets are $38 to the 86th floor; pay $20 extra to go to the 102nd—as high as you can go!
20 W. 34th St.
Play With Some LEGOs in Westchester
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York is open for business on Christmas Day. About a 30-minute drive from the city, LEGOLAND features two rides, 10 LEGO build-and-play zones, and a 4-D cinema. There's also a store on site in case Santa forgot to bring a very important LEGO set.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Westchester
39 Fitzgerald St.
See a New Show at a Classic Venue
Start a new family tradition of seeing a show at this NYC icon every Christmas Day! (Bonus: with a ticket price of $8-$12, it's easy on the post-holiday wallet.) An original production from the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Yet, Set, Snow! is the story of a young girl named Widget, and her friend, Twig, who encounter a yeti named Pascetti on the first snow day of the winter season. Unfortunately for Pascetti, who lives on a mountain top nearby, he dislikes the snow. Through songs and snow day activities, he discovers not only that snow can be fun but also the value of friendship.
Learn to Dance Like a Modern Master
Take your tiny dancer to a class in the style of vanguard Isadora Duncan on Christmas Day! Part of an ongoing slate of classes with a drop-in option, the class, taught in the Duncan aesthetic, has children breath through floor exercises, followed by skips, runs, leaps, and tosses—all to great classical music. The beauty, grace, and athleticism of the Duncan technique builds strength, musicality and freedom on movement!
Check Out Some Holiday Trains
Didn't get to the holiday train shows yet? No problem! Grand Central is open, and the Transit Museum's 34-foot miniature Lionel train display is chugging along on Christmas Day!
Eating Chinese food on Christmas Day has been a tradition for decades. We think it's always a good time for dim sum; the famous Nom Wah Tea Parlor is pictured here, and is one of our favorite places to get dim sum with kids in New York City. But of course there are many other options for Chinese food in New York City, from Chinatown in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, to your favorite neighborhood spot.
Catch a Movie
Another old standby for a reason: Christmas Day is an awesome day to see a movie! (It's less crowded, it's cozy, etc.) Big titles this season? Frozen II and Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker are the hot tickets for kids. NYC has all kinds of options when it comes to kid-friendly movie theaters, as well as many where you can eat a full meal while you watch! Check out our favorites here!