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New York, New York

7 New York City Experiences You Can Only Have in Winter

So much happens in New York City, New York, during the winter months. It’s cold, but people embrace the weather and passionately celebrate the holiday season. In fact, there’s so much to see and do that it can be tough to create an itinerary that covers everything the city has to offer. Thankfully, we've gone ahead and done some planning for you. Here are seven can’t-miss winter experiences in New York City.

By Danielle Page

Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

A longtime holiday tradition, each winter Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan hosts the most famous Christmas tree in New York City. It typically stands at least 23 meters tall and is decorated with tens of thousands of LED lights, making it a must-see for anyone touring NYC in the winter.

Check Out an Ice Skating Rink

New York City is home to many ice skating rinks, and each has its own perks. Skating in midtown's Bryant Park is free, and you can avoid longer lines if you head there during the week. If you want to buy a ticket and guarantee an ice skating spot, head east of Times Square to skate by the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. If you want more room to spread out on the ice, make your way uptown to Central Park's Wollman Rink, the city's largest and most famous skating rink.

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown

If your trip falls during Chinese New Year sometime in late January to late February, you'll have the chance to see dragons dance in the streets of Chinatown. The annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade starts on Mott Street and travels nearly every street in Chinatown. There are also impromptu performances held throughout Chinatown. After you've had your fill of Chinese New Year festivities, warm up with soup dumplings – steamed dumplings filled with pork meatballs in a meaty broth – at Joe's Shanghai.

Go Sledding in Central Park

When snow covers the many hills of Central Park, it becomes a sledding utopia. Just purchase a sled, pick a hill and slide down. The deeper into the park you go, the less crowded the hills will be. Warning: You just might end up in the middle of a friendly snowball fight before the end of your park visit. 

Explore Pop-Up Shops

During the holiday season, many holiday shops set up temporary storefronts in Union Square Park, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park. Many of the goods sold in these spots are handcrafted, so if you're looking for a souvenir for someone special, these are the places to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Nothing will put you in the holiday spirit quite like the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, where the members of the famous New York City Rockettes perform holiday-inspired dances. Santa Claus makes a special appearance, too. If you stick around by the stage door afterwards, some of the Rockettes are more than happy to sign your show program.

Tour the Fifth Avenue Holiday Display Windows

Feast your eyes on the intricate holiday displays in the storefront windows of the high-end shops on Fifth Avenue. Start your tour at 58th Street with high-end retailer Bergdorf Goodman, then head toward 49th Street to take in the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday light show.

End at Macy's department store in midtown's Herald Square for a peek at its animated window displays set in picturesque winter scenes. For many in the United States, Macy’s is synonymous with the holidays. The 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, which is set at this flagship Macy’s store, is usually televised during the holidays. And each year thousands of people kick off the holiday season by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television or in person.

See New York City from above at the iconic Empire State Building.

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