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  • Maria Haugen

12 Things To Do in New York in December

Anyone who has ever been to the Big Apple knows it’s the place to be any time of year. However, there is something really special about experiencing the city during the Christmas month. We visited New York the first week of December, and these are some of the things we did.


Ice Skating

The previous times I visited New York, it was either summer or fall. I always knew that if I ever got to go in the winter, ice skating at Rockefeller Center would be at the top of my list. We made reservations in advance for the Starlight Skate session which lets you skate from 10.30 pm until 12.00 am. They played Christmas music and it was snowing the whole time, which really made it a wonderful experience. On our last day we also went skating at the Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was cheaper than Rockefeller and the rink was a lot bigger. I loved both locations and you can safely choose either one, or both like we did.


Visit a Rooftop Bar

We had heard great things about the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar and weren’t disappointed. We were lucky enough to snatch a table with a perfect view of the Empire State Building, and I could easily have spent a few hours just admiring it.

See the Giant Ornaments on Sixth Avenue

These giant baubles on 1251 Sixth Avenue are one of the most photographed holiday decorations in New York, and I get it. There are many special decorations up this time of year, but this was one of my favorites! From the right angle you can have the Radio City Music Hall as a backdrop.

Have the Best Burger of Your Life at Emily

I guess going to Emily is a good idea any time of year, really. However, it’s a great place to escape the snow for a while. It’s really a pizza restaurant and they only have one burger on their menu. No picture or attempt at a description would do this meal justice. You just have to try it for yourself. We went to the one in the West Village, but they also have a location in Brooklyn.


Visit One World Observatory

One World Trade Center is the main building in the rebuilt World Trade Center complex and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. So I guess it’s safe to say that its observation deck offers a spectacular view of NYC. Even the Empire State looks small from up there.


Try Apple Pie Waffles at Clinton Street Baking Company

Yeah, we couldn’t continue this list without adding more food. There’s a reason I keep coming back to Clinton St when I’m in New York and that reason is waffles. The season special for their Belgian waffles was Apple Pie Crumble and it’s the best breakfast I’ve had in my life. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

See the Extravagant Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights

The Christmas displays in this Brooklyn neighborhood really are a sight to behold. And one of the activities you really shouldn’t miss if you’re in New York in December. Several tour companies offer organized tours here. We went with TourAmerica and it was a pleasant experience.

Make a Day Trip to Washington DC

I fell in love with DC the first time I was there in 2013 and it really felt like it was time to go back. It’s less than a three-hour train ride each way from New York. We left at 7 am and were back by 10 pm, and got to see all the most important sights. I definitely recommend this if you have the time.

Have Coffee and the City’s Best Cookies at Levain Bakery

These Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies! I’ve never had anything like them. Levain is a small bakery not far from the American Museum of Natural History and the perfect place to stop by either before or after your visit there.

See the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller

Well, I guess you can’t really make a list like this without including this iconic sight. I’ve seen this tree in so many movies and it didn’t disappoint in real life either.

Try the Cronut Flavor of the Month

You’ve probably heard of Dominique Ansel and their famous Cronut. This was my first time trying one in New York. There is a new flavor every month and the December flavor was Speculoos Caramel. They only make a limited amount though so make sure to preorder one.

Visit the Lumino City Festival

This festival of lights on Randall’s Island was such a fun thing to experience. I recommend including bus tickets to and from Manhattan when you make a reservation to make the journey easier. I don’t know if this is an annual thing, but if it is it’s definitely worth a visit.


© 2020 by Maria Nesse Haugen