December is a wonderful (& popular!) time to visit New York City. Visitors flock to New York City to do their holiday shopping, to experience the city's amazing sights and shows (including the Rockettes!) and to experience first hand the stunning decorations that turn New York City into a holiday wonderland, from the tree at Rock Center to the decorations in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Of course, the month ends with the New Year's Eve countdown and ball drop in Times Square.
With proper preparation, it can be a memorable and magical time to visit.
- Average High: 44°F (7°C)
- Average Low: 32°F (0°C)
- Don't let the cold weather keep you from seeing all of New York City's great December sights. As long as you dress appropriately, it doesn't tend to be very cold in December and the season's festivities and lights bring an energy to the city that is particularly memorable.
What to Wear:
- a warm, windproof jacket
- long pants
- closed toe shoes, comfortable for walking and water-resistant, if possible
- gloves or mittens, a hat, and scarf to keep warm
- Dressing for the weather is essential to having a pleasant time visiting New York City in December. Although you might not consider it an outdoor destination, in order to see most of the sights and to experience the city, you're going to find yourself spending more time outside and perhaps more time walking than you might expect. Being comfortably dressed for the weather, including wearing layers that can help you adjust to the variation in temperatures you will experience between being outside, being on the subway and during visits to museums and attractions, will play a key role in allowing you to maximize your enjoyment during your visit.
- Holiday Window Displays
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- New York City is a great place to do your Holiday Shopping. The city's many holiday markets are great places to buy interesting gifts for just about anyone on your holiday shopping list -- and they've become well curated over the years so there are lots of local and handmade goods available.
- hotel prices and airfares are high, as this is peak travel time
- the weather can be quite cold
Good to Know:
- Many stores and restaurants will be closed on Christmas Day, but this list highlights restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You will want to make reservations in advance if you plan to eat somewhere special that day -- particularly if there are more than one or two people in your party.
- You can usually see the Radio City Spectacular on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the Central Park Zoo and Empire State Building are open 365 days a year, making those good spots to visit if you're in town over Christmas.
- I often recommend to clients that they head to Chinatown for a meal on Christmas Day or even catch a movie at one of New York City's special movie theaters. It's a bit cliche, but it's what many Jewish families living in New York City do if they haven't left the city for the holidays.
- I put together a helpful Christmas in NYC itinerary that might inspire your trip. It covers many of the season's highlights, as well as offering ideas of things to do on Christmas and Christmas Eve when not everything will be open.
- A great way to commemorate your December visit to NYC is a photo with Santa -- I recommend The Plaza Santa if you want a good-spirited choice that won't care if you have kids or not.
- Ice Skating in New York City
- Holiday Windows on Fifth Avenue
- Christmas Shopping
- Christmas and Holiday Concerts and Shows
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- New Year's Eve