Things To Do in New York in December

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Best December in New York City Activities

There are lots of great things to do in New York in December.  For starters, winter sports abound, whether you like to play, watch, or both.  Shopping reaches a fever pitch this month, from crafts and artists’ markets to flea markets to sample sales and more.  December offers some of the biggest shopping bargains and some of the most unique items.

A Holiday Lights Tour is definitely a must-see. Top it off with Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, the best of Broadway, the beautiful windows of 5th Avenue and lots more.


Special December Tours in New York City

All year round, NYC offers fabulous tours of all kinds, but there is nothing on the planet like New York City during the winter holidays, when the entire City just sparkles. Choose from bus tours, walking tours and dinner cruises and take in all of NYC during the holidays just like you’ve seen in the Movies and TV.

New York City Holiday Lights Tour

On Sale Now 2016 Special Holiday Lights Tours:


Holiday and Christmas Cruise Specials

Just Added!!! Save $5 per ticket with code "INSIDER5"

Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise

Classic Harbor cruises has a special holiday treat just for YOU!!! Their upscale cruise line offers dozens of NYC Holiday Cruises, like Cocoa & Carols, Holiday Jazz, Holiday Brunch, Holiday Wine Tasting, New Year's and many more, all year round.

These cruises SELL OUT QUICKLY, so make sure to head over to: Classic Harbor Holiday Cruises and save $5 on any cruise ticket with code "INSIDER5"


  • The Ride Holiday Edition – The Ride, one of NYC’s most popular bus tours, has more TV screens (40) and LED lights than any other tour bus, as well as a booming club-quality sound system, stadium seating and floor-to-ceiling windows. During the holidays, the 75-minute holiday-themed tour offers cheery seasonal tunes and decorations. November 7, 2016 to January 8, 2017.
  • Holiday Lights and Movie Sites Tour – the perfect excursion for movie-buffs lucky enough to be in town over the holidays, or anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of that picture-perfect city they know from its cameos on the silver screen. The Holiday Lights & Movie Sites guided bus tour gives passengers an up-close look at the locations used for iconic New York City holiday movie scenes while they take in the broader vistas of the dressed-up city during this magical time of year. Nov 27 – Jan 1, 2017. Daily at 3pm & Saturdays at 3pm & 5:30pm (availability subject to change)
  • New York Christmas Holiday Tour (4 hrs) – Hop On Hop Off guided bus tour takes you to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, all the famous displays at Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Ave, Macy’s and others along Fifth Avenue. Then, drive through Times Square, Columbus Circle and see Lincoln Center, horse-drawn carriages at the entrance to Central Park, through the Park and a quick stop to see the ice skaters and the Holiday Market at Bryant Park. Nov 30, 2016 – Jan 7, 2017
  • Holiday Lights Tour – escorting you all over NYC to see the lights and decorations in full swing

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Holiday Shopping in December in New York City

Union Square Holiday Market NYCOne of the best things to do in New York in December is check out our one-of-a-kind artists’ markets, craft fairs, flea markets or shopping festivals. Indoors and outdoors, uptown and downtown.  These special markets offer original artists’ creations, one-of-a-kind finds, antiques, deep bargains, lots of food and drink, and a festive shopping atmosphere. Here is a great overview of holiday markets in New York City.

In prior years, December designer sample sales included L’Oreal, Botkier, Autumn Cashmere, Theory and Diane von Furstenberg and many more. Stay up to date on deep designer discounts on your favorite brands with our New York City Sample Sale Calendar.

Interested in a personal escort to guide you through the thousands of shopping choices? New York City shopping tours range from the most insider bargain opportunities to the most interesting shops and locations, from the garment center to Soho to celebrities’ favorite shopping spots; from home goods and high fashion to the most unique shoes, accessories, gifts and more. There are shopping tours for movie buffs, fashionistas and even for men who want a shopping trip designed just for him. Learn more about our fabulous NYC Shopping Tours.

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Check the NYC Insider Guide December Events Calendar

Things To Do in New York in DecemberCheck out all our cool events taking place in December: Concerts, Holiday Train Show, special December Vacation Packages, Holiday Shows, Nutcracker Ballet, Times Talks and so much more.

Also don’t miss our Insider Guides’ to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Christmas in New York City and New Year’s Eve Parties. There is never a shortage of things to do in New York in December!!!! 

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Skiing, Snow and Sledding in and around NYC

Sledding in New York CityAfter a good snow, New York City becomes a mecca of winter sports activities; from cross-country skiing to sledding, ice skating and, of course, building giant snowmen (and snow-women).

Skiing in New York City may be a challenge, but most toy stores in the city sell inexpensive sleds and you can get creative with cardboard, as well.

Pilgrim Hill in Central Park is known for being big and steep, though it can get crowded. Best entrance is 5th Avenue & 72nd Street.  Cedar Hill (also Central Park) is quieter and less steep.  Best entrance is between 76th and 79th Streets at Fifth Avenue.

For those who want to do some local downhill or cross-country skiing, this all day Skiing & Snowboarding from NYC Trip offers your choice of 3 Resorts; more local ski groups: Dynamic Outdoors, Ski NYC, Outdoor Connections.

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Where to Stay during December in New York City

December is the perfect time to watch the world’s most famous ball drop at midnight from your own New Year’s Eve NYC Hotel, check into one of our hotels near Rockefeller Center (Rockettes at Radio City, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Ice Skating) or near Central Park for more iconic Ice Skating.

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Save BIG on Things To Do in New York in December

New York City CouponsThere are New York City Coupons and Discounts available for almost everything one can do in NYC, except for a few exclusive events, shows and restaurants. This time of year, there are huge savings on shows, tours, attractions and other fun things to do in December.

Examples include Elf The Musical, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, The Big Apple Circus, Museums, Holiday Lights Tours, New Years Eve Parties and lots more. For updates and details, check the NYC Insider Guide to ALL our local steals and deals.

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Cheer on a New York City Sports Team

New York Knicks TicketsEven though it’s cold outside, there are still lots of great sports to watch in December in New York City. The Knicks and Nets basketball season is well underway, as are the Rangers and Islanders hockey seasons. The Giants and Jets are toward the end of football season, and hopefully doing well!

So whether you brave the cold at MetLife Stadium for football, or stay warm at Madison Square Garden or Barclay’s Center for basketball and hockey, or even just try and watch them all on TV at a bar, cheering for a NYC Sports team is one of the BEST things to do in New York in December.

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New York City Helicopter Tours

NYC Helicopter ToursThe cold weather is a great time to take to the Manhattan skies for an exciting New York City Helicopter Tour! Enjoy spectacular aerial views of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, 9-11 Memorial, World Trade Center and Ellis Island. If your tour heads uptown, Central Park and Yankee Stadium are must-sees!

I LOVED my tour…check out some of my photos and review at New York City Helicopter Tour.

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What to Wear – What to Bring – December in New York

Bundle up – December in New York City ranges from cold to freezing cold, with some occasional unseasonably warm days. Layers are always a good idea when traveling to NYC, this is a year-round rule.  But make sure to pack hats, scarves, gloves, waterproof shoes/boots, sweaters, coats, umbrellas and so on. It is always advisable to bring a small knapsack for warm winter accessories, as temperatures can change quite a bit while you’re walking around.

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More Things to do in New York City

Sightsee from the Sky

Top of the Rock, Empire State Building or One World Observatory? Which is best and, if we have to choose, which should we visit? There is no easy answer, but here are some facts to help guide your choice.

New York City Tourist Attractions

  • Empire State Building - (86 and 102 floors) Best for patient movie and history buffs who need to check it off their bucket list
  • Top of the Rock - (67-70 floors) Best for sweeping 360° vista views, including of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Shorter lines and cheaper than the ESB.
  • One World Observatory - (100-102 floors) Best for those who want to be first. Newest, most modern and high tech, with phenomenal views

See All: Top New York City Tourist Attractions

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Things to do in New York with Kids

One of the best parts of NYC is that what is fun for kids is usually just as much fun for adults. If you are joining us in NYC for a family vacation, then please read all about our local kid's favorites, along with special tips just for visitors.

Things to Do in New York With Kids

See All: Visiting New York with Kids.

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FREE Things to do in New York City

There are tons of free things to do in New York all day, every day! Tours, attractions, museums, events, shows, sports, movie and more. Kids, adults, outdoors, indoors, active, lazy...you name it!

Free Things to Do in New York City

See All: Free Things to Do in NYC - weekly calendar of all free walking tours, free museum admissions, free things to do by season and more

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Get Out of NYC for a Day

NYC is within 3 hours of so many other cities and areas you can visit for just one day: Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, the Hamptons, Woodbury Common Shopping Outlets and more quite easily. Top choices for 1-day Out of Town:

See All: Day Trips Out of New York City

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New York City Nightlife

How do you make the most of your time in the city that never sleeps?? Some of the best 'only in NYC' nightlife experiences include skyline views, dinner cruises, Museums and attractions open late til 2am, rooftops, night tours, comedy clubs and more. Some of our top NYC Nightlife picks:

New York City Nightlife

See all our Top Picks: New York City Nightlife

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Save Big on Things to do in New York City

New York City Coupons and Discounts are available for almost everything one can do in NYC: concerts, shows, Broadway, sports, events, tours, attractions, beauty and spa and much more!

New York City Coupons

Sites we use ALL the time to save are:

  • Groupon - save on dining, tours, things to do, attractions, cruises, shows
  • Gilt City - upscale deals on dining, exclusive events, Broadway, shopping
  • ShowTickets.com - huge sightseeing tourist discounts

See All: Insider Guide to ALL our NYC Coupons

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Romantic Things to Do in NYC

There are tons of things to do on your romantic New York City vacation. Attractions open late with skyline views, Central Park Tours, VIP Experiences, a helicopter ride. Some of the most popular romantic ways to see NYC include:

Romantic Things to Do in NYC

See more romantic things to do at: Romantic New York City Vacation and Valentine's Day in NYC


Explore and Indulge Like a Real NYC Foodie

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