What's open on Christmas Day in New York City? Once the presents have been ripped open, the plastic packaging dismantled, and the batteries installed, you might need to get the kids out of the house. After all, dinner won't be ready for hours and the kids are full of holiday energy.
The traditional move on Christmas Day is Chinese food and a movie. But there are other fun things to do that are open on Christmas Day in NYC, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. Here are 21 fun things to do Monday, December 25, 2023, in NYC. You can also pair an outing with a reservation at one of these restaurants open on Christmas—just make sure to book soon! Find even more seasonal activities in our Holiday Fun Guide or Family Activity Calendar.
Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.
1. Winter Village at Bryant Park
This outdoor winter wonderland is open on Christmas Day. Go ice skating, sip on hot chocolate, and take in the magical decorations.
2. See a Broadway Show
A handful of Broadway shows play on Christmas Day, including family-friendly options such as Wicked, Chicago, and MJ.
3. Attend a Religious Service
If you weren't able to go on Christmas Eve, churches are, of course, open on Christmas Day.
RELATED: 49 NYC Holiday Activities Every Kid Should Try Once
Experience the immersive observation deck at Summit One Vanderbilt. Photo by Jody Mercier
4. Play Tourist
Times Square's Madame Tussauds is open on Christmas Day. If you'd rather play games, the arcade/restaurant Dave & Buster's is open, too. You can also take in the stunning views from the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Edge, and Summit One Vanderbilt.
5. See the Big Apple Circus
The Big Apple Circus plays two shows on the day. Pop over to Lincoln Center to see the beloved hometown troupe's collaboration with the renowned Circus Theater Roncalli, which lends a whole new experience to this annual tradition.
6. Visit the Rockefeller Center Tree
It might be crowded, but why not begin a unique family tradition with a photo in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Christmas Day? The atmosphere is guaranteed to be festive.
7. Celebrate with the Rockettes
Enjoy a New York Christmas tradition and see the iconic Rockettes perform their annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
RELATED: Restaurants Open on Christmas in NYC
Make time for a family movie at home with around-the-clock showings of A Christmas Story on TBS. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers
8. See a Movie
Many movie theaters are open on Christmas Day so you can catch family-friendly December releases like Wonka, Migration, The Color Purple, or Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Prefer to stay home? We've got picks for tons of family-friendly movies. Of course, TBS returns with its 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon.
9. Visit the Zoo or Aquarium
Although the Bronx Zoo is closed for the holiday, the Queens and Central Park zoos are open, along with the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.
10. See Spectacular Holiday Houses
Take a drive through some of the outer boroughs to see magnificent light displays.
RELATED: 35 Things To Do Over Christmas Vacation in NYC
Gaze at the iconic Christmas tree as you glide around the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink. Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center
11. Go Ice Skating
The rinks at Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, Prospect Park, Brookfield Place, Manhattan West, Central Park's Wollman Rink, and Brooklyn Bridge Park's Glide are all open on Christmas Day, weather permitting. The indoor rink at World Ice Arena in Queens also has public ice skating on Christmas Day.
12. Visit a Winter Wonderland
Santa's Winter Wonderland and The Santa Clauses Winter Wonderland are both open on the holiday, offering festive eats, fun attractions, and beautiful, seasonal photo-ops.
13. Visit a Jewish Museum
The Jewish Children's Museum is another one of the few museums that are open on Christmas Day. It's got a ton of activities like mini-golf, a ball pit, wall-climbing, and interactive exhibits to help children learn about the Jewish religion and culture. You can also catch a family-friendly concert from Nefesh Mountain at The Jewish Museum or see a mash-up of Jewish and Chinese music at the Museum at Eldridge Street.
RELATED: Rockefeller Center Tree in 2023: Insider Tips for Visiting with Kids
Wander through the enchanted lights of Astra Lumina at Queens Botanical Garden. Photo by Jody Mercier
14. Wander Through Astra Lumina
Go on an after-dark walk through the night sky—and the Queens Botanical Garden—at its Astra Lumina light installation.
15. See iLuminate
See a different kind of light show when you watch the light-up costumes of iLuminate transform the stage at New World Stages.
16. Gawk at the Holiday Windows
We make our annual trek to see the holiday windows right after Thanksgiving. But time is swiftly running out to see these awe-inspiring displays before they come down for the season.
17. Enjoy Tea Around Team
Climb aboard the TopView Sightseeing Bus for a roving tea party and see the holiday sights while you sip.
RELATED: How to See the Dyker Heights Lights with Kids
Head to MoMath for lots of interactive and engaging exhibits. Photo courtesy of the museum
18. Explore the Museum of Mathematics
Almost all NYC museums are closed on Christmas Day. However, the interactive MoMath in the Flatiron District is an exception.
19. Go Bowling
Several of the city's bowling lanes are open on Christmas, including Bowlero Chelsea Piers and Bowlero Times Square. Abbreviated hours apply, so call ahead.
20. Visit Harry Potter: The Exhibition
Enter the Wizarding World with an outing to Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which is open on the holiday and has extended its run through Spring 2024, too.
21. Take a Stroll
Enjoy a quiet Christmas stroll through one of the city's green spaces. Central Park, Prospect Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and all other NYC parks are open on Christmas.
This post, originally published in December 2009, is updated annually.