christmastime in the city

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj
Bryant Park Ice Skaters

I am a total sucker for the holidays. I love them. I love the tree, I love the lights, I love the cookies, I love shopping for presents, and even if I do feel Scrooge-ish from time to time about the cold, having an excited child keeps the mood at a pretty high level of cheer. If you find yourself in New York around this time of year, below are a few of my favorite seasonal activities to do with our little guy.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Watching the ice skaters. Wollman Rink is right by the zoo in Central Park and of course there is the rink at Rockefeller Center, but our favorite zamboni to stalk is at the rink at Bryant Park. Not only is it less congested than Rockefeller Center, but the carousel is open year-round AND Bryant Park is home to a seasonal holiday market (Other holiday markets of notable size are at Grand Central Terminal, Columbus Circle and Union Square.). Ornaments, gifts, stuff you might need, stuff you certainly don’t and one essential purchase…

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey VukeljHours of entertainment

Max Brenner hot chocolate. Usually located at the north end of Bryant Park near the stairs to 42nd St. and back of the library. Yes, it is $5 a cup. Yes, it is the most decadent hot chocolate this side of the Atlantic. Yes, it is worth every penny. No, my husband does not agree with me on that last point, although he still gets one or two of his own each season.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey VukeljIf the driver isn’t drinking the hot chocolate, he wishes he was.

The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens.  If you plan to go on a weekend, purchase tickets in advance. The NYBG is less than half an hour from Grand Central on the Metro North. It is worth the trip, even if you do not have a small, train-obsessed person to accompany you. The exhibition includes numerous replicas of historical New York area buildings, all made out of organic materials. It is impressive and beautiful and of course, there are toy trains running throughout the village. While you are there, check out the Children’s Garden – the activities are educational and a lot of fun.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

An Event at Lincoln Center. See about tickets for the Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah, something at the Opera…it is an expense but it is such a fun time of year to get dressed up. Also, if you are hoping to attend a tree lighting, the small one at Lincoln Center is infinitely more manageable with little kids than the big one at Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center. Speaking of the big tree, I leave any visits to Rockefeller Center for mid-morning during the week (after the morning commute). I also love going late – sometime between 11pm and midnight during the week. The beautiful lights are still on but the crowds have mostly cleared.  The window displays on Fifth Avenue are also often lovely, but can be tight with a stroller depending on when you go.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Picking your own tree. Living in the city, the Christmas Tree farm comes to us. It’s a different experience (think the scene from Harry Met Sally where she’s dragging the tree down the sidewalk), but if you are in need of a heady whiff of pine, walk around any semi-residential area and you will find tree stands where you can choose your own and take it home. Or maybe just a baby tree or wreath as a souvenir.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

A visit with Santa? To be honest, this has not made our annual tradition list. ABC Home has a great Santa I’m told, but I have never worked up the motivation to get there. We did do Macy’s one year – it was relatively early in the season and early on a weekday morning so the line wasn’t bad. The waiting area has lots of trains and animated scenes that, as you can see, my son was loathe to leave in exchange for Santa’s lap.

Christmastime in New York City with Stacey Vukelj

Stacey Vukelj, New York
Stacey Leece Vukelj spends her time being a mom and a lawyer and wielding a heavy camera around the streets of New York. She loves cities (hers and others), cheese, and the company of friends and loved ones, particularly when they bring wine to go along with the cheese. She is thankful for the boundless support of her husband, who kindly refrains from commenting on her growing lens collection, and is highly amused that her brother has unwittingly become a heartthrob for a certain subset of Clickin Moms. Should you come to town and find yourself in need of a friendly face, give her a shout.

Read all photography tutorials by Stacey Vukelj.


  • Fun post, Stacey! Christmas in NYC looks amazing. I am definitely jealous of the hot chocolate! :)

  • Kelly R says:

    So awesome!!!!!!!! <3

    • Stephanie says:

      What’s awesome is that you’re leaving us here in Miami to go to that! So happy for your family 😉

  • Kami says:

    I cannot believe you posted that picture from Macy’s! Ha! We were SO convinced that we would not be in the picture – no such luck. I love all these images – the Christmas lights bokeh is particularly beautiful – and am so glad I got at least a taste of the Season in the City with you guys.

  • Melina says:

    I just loved reading this Stacey!!! Gorgeous pictures!!! Didn’t know about the Holiday Train Show!! We’ll have to work that one in!!! <3

  • Gabby says:

    I was at NYC this weekend and I know NON of my images are as awesome as yours! I was too busy running with the other 4 ladies trying to keep up while take in as much of NYC as possible. We clocked 17 hours on our feet on Friday and another 11 on Saturday before leaving at 8am Sunday to head home. I am -still- trying to catch up on rest !!

  • Emilia says:

    Thanks Syacey for the post! We’re going to brave the Macys line tomorrow… At least this one time. 😉

  • Shari says:

    Love this post! Beautiful photos, makes me want to go back to NYC at Christmas!!

  • Kathy says:

    What a great post Stacey! It’s on my bucket list to visit NYC during the Christmas season. This makes me want to go even more! And I have recommendations from a local girl ~ perfect!

  • Elaine says:

    Stunning photos and such a beautiful insight into our gorgeous city as always ! I want to come out on a photo walk with you !

  • pam says:

    One of these days, I will be in NYC for the holiday season, one of these days.

  • Carole says:


    We were just in NYC this weekend (we visit every Christmas), and you mentioned all our favorite things. We saw Matilda (awesome). I didn’t know about the botanical garden exhibit (a definite must do next year). Thanks for the great images and post!

  • Stephanie says:

    Loved the deep tones in your images. Christmas in NY is a once in a lifetime experience to cherish for us tourists. Thanks for the share.

  • Jessica Reischel says:

    oh my goodness stacey. I so enjoyed these. my heart skipped a beat when i was scrolling down…and my eyes landed on the one of your son pulling the tree. OH.MY.goodness. I have never seen or really even thought about what it would be like transporting a tree in the city. 😉 This made my night. Stunning images as usual!!

  • Thank You so much for capturing and sharing the “Big City” amazement. I’ve never been to N.Y during holidays and we now live in a very small town on the coast of Oregon. My daughter doesn’t even know what a Home Depot or Target is like. To see New York City even in pics is wonderful. That train exhibit looks amazing:)

  • Jodi says:

    ack! i feel like i just traveled to nyc through your post! love it all! <3

  • Meredith R. says:

    Great post Stacey. Happy Holidays!

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