ED NOTE: If you love the hustle and bustle of the city, visit New York during the Christmas season. The holiday tradition there dates back to 1931, when the Rockefeller Center Plaza first lit its tree. That tree was less than 20 feet tall; this year, the tree is 84 feet tall and 48 feet wide. It is lit from approximately November 28 to January 6. Those arenít the only Christmas lights youíll find aglow in NYC, though; the entire city seems to shine with lights. Take a walking tour to learn about the Jewish culture or explore other history in the city, or enjoy some famous ghost tales. Window shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macyís seems to get better year after year. Donít miss the Origami Holiday Tree, covered with 500 hand-created origami critters, located at the American Museum of Natural History. Youíll love the holiday dinosaurs flanking the doorways. Try ice skating or go see one of hundreds of shows and events. 

NEW YORK CITY

As you'd expect, New York City knows how to celebrate the holiday season. Below find many highlights for visiting families, and some of them are free or nearly so.

Holiday Shows and Performances
Every Holiday Season, wonderful productions entertain families in New York City.

Ice-Skating
Rockefeller Center is certainly the most famous place to lace your skates in New York City, but families have other choices too.. ice skating in Central Park, and more.

Central Park- Free Holiday Programs
Every visitor to New York City should see Central Park, with its amazing 843 acres in the middle of Manhattan's prime real estate. Several visitor centers in the Park, including Belvedere Castle, offer free Holiday Season events: winter star-gazing, making a Menorah for Hanukkah, meeting jolly old St. Nicholas, Christmas crafts, Festival of Lights with storytelling, Kwanzaa crafts... and that's not all. See Winter Holiday Programs in Central Park.

Holiday Windows
New York City is the top town for Holiday Windows, with wonderful displays at its famous department stores. At Macy's, for instance, "Miracle on 34th Street" Windows are an annual tradition. Take a walking tour of the best windows displays. Good family fun, and the price (free) is right.

Christmas Trees
The giant Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center> is right near the famous ice-skating rink, and also near Top of the Rock, which is a great sightseeing attraction to visit with kids. See more Christmas Tree Lights all over the city (double-check for dates)

Miscellaneous Fun!
New York Botanical Garden - Holiday Train Show
: Inside the conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, model trains choo-choo past miniature replicas of New York City landmarks, made using leaves, twigs, bark and other natural materials; see some cool pix from a fan. Holiday train show runs from late November to early January. The Botanical Garden has puppet theater and Gingerbread Adventures too.*

Bronx Zoo: on multiple days in December and early January; activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, ice-carving demos, presents to the animals, live music and dance, make-your-own s'mores.
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Holiday Lights Tour: a sightseeing bus tour, offered by Gray Line, which has many other sightseeing tours as well including double-decker "hop on, hop off" tour

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