Catch the opening of Spies in Disguise. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Catch the opening of Spies in Disguise. Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Christmas Day Activities with NYC Kids: What's Open, and What's Fun?

The presents have been ripped open, the plastic packaging dismantled, and the batteries installed. Dinner won't be ready for hours and the kids are stir crazy. What else can you do on Christmas Day in New York City with the kids? What is open?

Those who don't celebrate the holiday have asked that question for years, and the answer is traditionally Chinese food and a movie. But there are options, whether you celebrate Christmas and/or Hanukkah or not. Here are 14 fun things to do on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 in NYC. You can find even more seasonal activities in our Holiday Fun Guide or Event Calendar.

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The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a magical and memorable experience! Photo courtesy of Radio City


1. Celebrate the Festival of Lights. With Hanukkah and Christmas coinciding this year, celebrate the Jewish holiday at the World's Largest Hanukkah Menorah lighting in Manhattan or the other "Largest" Menorah Lighting in Brooklyn.​

2. Catch a show. A handful of Broadway shows play on Christmas Day, including family-friendly options such as The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular also takes the stage.

3. Go to the circus. Big Apple Circus has returned to Lincoln Center and there are two shows on Christmas Day, at noon and 4pm. See the hand-balancing duo with crazy strength and agility, Rafael Ferreira and Alan Pagnota.

Experience the newly renovated 80th floor of the Empire State Building. Photo by Jody Mercier

4. Play tourist. Times Square's Madame Tussauds and Ripley's Believe it or Not! Odditorium are open on Christmas Day. If you'd rather play games, arcade-restaurant Dave & Buster's is open, too. Other tourist spots with December 25 hours include the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and One World Observatory

Make it a family movie day and see the latest Cats movie. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

5. See a movie. Many movie theaters open on Christmas Day, so you can catch highly anticipated releases like Little Women or Cats. Plus, the family-friendly animated Spies in Disguise opens on Christmas Day. Prefer to stay home? TBS is showing A Christmas Story all day.

6. Hang with the animals. Although the Bronx Zoo is closed for the holiday, the Prospect Park, Queens, and Central Park zoos are open, along with the New York Aquarium at Coney Island.

RELATED: 35 Things to Do Over Holiday Break in NYC​​

Gaze at the gorgeous Christmas decorations and iconic Christmas tree as you skate at the rink at Rockefeller Center. Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

7. Hit the ice. The rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park's Wollman and Lasker rinks, Rockefeller Center, Prospect Park and Brookfield Place all open for skating on Christmas Day, weather permitting. The indoor rinks at Chelsea Piers, Brooklyn's Aviator Sports, and the World Ice Arena in Queens also have public skating on December 25.

8. Party at a Jewish museum. Many Jewish cultural institutions stay open on December 25 and host special family activities. Hit the Museum at Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side for a communal concert, singing and dancing, and more. You also can swing by the Chanukah Art Festival at the Jewish Children's Museum in Brooklyn.

Need to get the kids out of the house and active? Head to MoMath for lots of interactive and engaging exhibits. Photo by Jody Mercier

9. Explore the Museum of Mathematics. Almost all non-Jewish NYC museums are closed on Christmas Day. However, the interactive MoMath in the Flatiron District is an exception.

10. 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. Central Park is even hosting a FREE Heart of the Park tour at 2pm. The Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park will also be open from 10am-7pm.

11. Go bowling. Several of the city's bowling lanes are open on Christmas, including Bowlmor Chelsea Piers and Bowlmor Times Square. Abbreviated hours apply, so call ahead.

12. Attend a religious service. If you weren't able to go on Christmas Eve, churches are, of course, open on Christmas Day.

Visit the dog at Macy's Holiday Window display. Photo by Jody Mercier

13. Gawk at the holiday windows. We make our annual trek to see the holiday windows right after Thanksgiving. But time is swiftly running out on these awe-inspiring displays before they come down for the season.

Take a Christmas photo in front of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Photo by Jody Mercier

14. Snap a picture in front of the tree. It might be crowded, but why not begin a unique family tradition with a photo in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? The atmosphere is guaranteed to be festive.

This post, originally published in December 2009, is updated annually. 

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