Things To Do And See In New York In December?
New York is the third most touristic city in the world, after Paris and London. And if there is a period during which this great metropolis attracts a lot of visitors, it is during the end of year celebrations. If you are planning to visit New York in December, you are probably wondering what the essential activities you can do there will be, but also what the climate will be, the budget to be expected, or the tourist influx at this time of year..
New York Weather In December
If you’re traveling to New York in December, don’t forget to pack some really warm clothes with you, as you might get quite cold! December is one of the coldest months of the year in New York, as average temperatures range between 0°C and 8°C during a day.
In New York, the winters are cold and harsh, and some days the thermometer can even drop below -10°C. The sun is present most of the time, even if the days are short (about 9 hours between sunrise and sunset). It rains quite often (as it does throughout the year in New York by the way), and snow also appears regularly.
As you will have understood, the climatic conditions are rather unfavorable in New York in December… But as we will see right away, if so many visitors come to discover the Big Apple during the last month of the year, it is not definitely not for sunbathing on the beach
What To Do And See In New York During The Month Of December?
Before seeing in detail what you can do specifically during the month of December, it is important to remember that you can also discover the city’s major must-sees which remain open throughout the year, and therefore even in the middle of the month. of December.
To warm up on a particularly cold day, for example, you can visit all the major museums in New York such as the Met, the MoMa, the Guggenheim Museum and many others. You can also warm up your evenings by going to a Broadway musical.
You will also have the opportunity to see and visit the most famous monuments and sites of the Big Apple, for example the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty (thanks to the Staten Island ferry in particular), or even Grand Central Terminal.
And of course (even if you really have to think about covering yourself well), you can also go and admire New York from the heights of some of the city’s tall buildings, where there are panoramic observation platforms : The Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, the Summit One Vanderbilt …
But let’s dwell a little more on the major events and visits to do without fail during a stay in New York in December:
Discover New York’s Christmas Markets
Here is an absolutely must-do activity in New York in December. You can visit a multitude of Christmas markets all over Manhattan and the rest of the city:
- The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park in Midtown;
- The Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, in Manhattan’s famous train station;
- The Columbus Circle Holiday Market, just around one corner of Central Park;
- Union Square Park Holiday Market, right next to one of the city’s most iconic plazas;
- Hester Holiday Market, just outside Penn Station along 34th Street.
Some of these markets are traditional and bring together many artisans, while others are more modern. In any case, one thing is certain: you will be able to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of New York during the holidays, and find many souvenirs to bring back from your trip!
Have you thought about the tourist pass?
If you want to discover the must-do activities of the city during your trip to New York, I can only recommend that you opt for the New York City Pass. This tourist pass will give you several advantages throughout your stay, and among these, access to 5 major tourist sites. You can also select your activities (2 unchangeable activities + 3 activities to choose from a list)
Admiring The Christmas Windows
New York’s department stores prepare their Christmas window displays all year round. More than simple decorations, it is often real theater scenes that are created. In the shopping streets of the city, and especially on 5th Avenue, you can discover these superb scenic creations in the windows of Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s or Saks Fifth Avenue.
Of course, all these shows are completely free, since you can attend them from the street
Enjoying New York’s Skating Rinks
December is also the perfect time to hit the big ice rinks in New York. The two best known are the Rink at the Rockefeller Center (right next to the famous Christmas tree, which I talk about below!), and the Wollman Rink, the ice rink in Central Park.
Admission is usually paid, and you will also have to pay for the rental of the skates. The only exception: the Bryant Park ice rink, right next to the superb Christmas market, is free, and you will only be charged for the skate rental!
Admire The Facades Of Dyker Heights
In the United States, decorating your home for Christmas is not something you do lightly. And if you want to see how hard some people work, check out Dyker Heights over the Christmas period. In this district of Brooklyn, the inhabitants compete in creativity to create the most impressive Christmas decorations!
It’s very simple: this neighborhood is voted the best decorated neighborhood in the country every year, and visiting it has become one of the emblematic attractions in New York at the end of the year.
To discover these Christmas lights comfortably, I recommend the guided bus tour of Dyker Heights. This will allow you to contemplate the creative genius and the breathtaking houses of the inhabitants of the district, without being bothered by the cold, the wind or the snow. You can reserve your place by clicking on the button below.
Visit Santa At Macy’s Santaland
Every year, the eighth floor of one of the largest stores in the world is transformed into a veritable Christmas village in New York. From the last week of November until Christmas Eve, nearly 200,000 visitors come to discover this magical setting which notably includes Santa’s workshop, a forest, a rainbow bridge, a large sleigh pulled by reindeer and many other surprises!
Macy’s Santaland is a unique place, not to be missed if you are traveling as a family with children. Admission is free, but as Santa Claus is particularly busy in December, it will be necessary to book online before your visit. These reservations can be made the same day or up to 5 days in advance.
Attend The Christmas Tree Lightning Ceremony
If you are already in New York on December 1st, you will have the opportunity to attend the illumination of the most famous Christmas tree in the world, placed at the foot of Rockefeller Center 🎄 Generally, this tree is installed from mid- November, but its 30,000 lights aren’t turned on until early December.
Every year, this ceremony, which begins around 7 p.m., brings together several thousand spectators.
It is possible to attend for free, but only the first to arrive will find a free seat.
Of course, even if you didn’t have the opportunity to attend this ceremony, going to see the Rockefeller Center tree remains one of the most popular attractions in New York during the month of December.
Going To New York In December: Is It Really A Good Idea?
To end this post, I offer you a small summary of the advantages and disadvantages of a trip to New York in December, to help you determine if this stay will really meet your expectations.
The disadvantages are:
- It’s cold. Even colder than in Paris during the same period. New York in December will not be suitable for people who want to go on vacation to forget winter for a bit. You will need to cover yourself well, and the temperatures may even prove to be dissuasive (especially in the morning or in the evening).
- This is a period of high tourist season. Starting in the second half of December in particular, there are a lot of visitors to New York. Very often, the city streets and major New York attractions are truly crowded at this time of year.
- The prices are high. A large crowd often goes hand in hand with a rise in prices. Traveling to New York generally requires a large budget, and this is even more true during the month of December. Admittedly, flight prices do not reach the exorbitant rates of July or August, but a return flight between Paris and New York still costs on average 10% to 15% more than the same trip between January and May, for example. Hotels are also more expensive than during the rest of the year (allow around €140 to €190/night for a room for two in a 2 or 3 star hotel). Besides, if you don’t know where to sleep in New York during your stay, I’ve shared my best addresses and neighborhoods with you!
If these few inconveniences do not prevent a very large number of travelers from going to New York in December, it is because the advantages are also numerous:
- New York transforms at the holiday season. The whole atmosphere of the city changes and becomes magical during this time of year, and even if you have already visited New York several times at other times, there is so much to discover in December you really won’t get bored.
- New York under the snow is a unique spectacle. If you are lucky enough to discover Central Park under the snow in particular, you will quickly forget the cold.
- You can of course visit all the major sites and iconic attractions that are accessible throughout the year; but you will also have the opportunity to discover many events that only take place for a few weeks during the end-of-year celebrations (Christmas markets, ice rinks, department store windows, etc.).