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

Catch a showing of Mary Poppins Returns. Photo by Jay Maidenment for Disney
Here's What's Open for Kids to Do on Christmas Day Around New York City

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 or not. Here are 13 fun things to do on December 25 in NYC. You can find even more seasonal activities in our Holiday Fun Guide or Event Calendar, and of course, best things to do all holiday weekend.

Sign up for our FREE newsletters to get posts like this delivered to your inbox.

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

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

2. 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 horizontal juggling for the first time in America, with the award-winning aerial duo Desire of Flight.

Experience the thrill of transforming into a sweet Troll at The Trolls Experience. Photo by Jody Mercier

3. 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. The interactive The Trolls Experience is also open; tickets need to be purchased in advance.

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

4. See a movie. Many movie theaters open on Christmas Day, so you can catch highly anticipated releases like Aquaman or Mary Poppins Returns. Family-friendly November releases Ralph Breaks the Internet and The Grinch will still be playing in theaters. Prefer to stay home? TBS is showing A Christmas Story all day.

5. 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 decoration and iconic Christmas tree as you skate at the rink at Rockefeller Center. Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

6. 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.

7. 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 catch a family concert by Nefesh Mountain at the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side.

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

8. 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.

9. 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 11am. The Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park will also be open from 10am-8pm.

10. 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.

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

12. 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

13. 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.