Christmas Day Activities to Do with NYC Kids After Opening Gifts

Here's What's Open for Kids to Do Christmas Around New York City

The presents have been ripped open, 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 often 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.

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.


Thrills, laughs, and a lifetime of memories await you at the Big Apple Circus. Photo courtesy of Big Apple Circus

2. Go to the circus. Big Apple Circus returns to Lincoln Center and there are two shows on Christmas Day, at 12 and 4pm. See the legendary daredevil Nik Wallenda perform a seven-person pyramid with his family.

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.

4. See a movie. Many movie theaters open on Christmas Day so you can catch the recently released blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi or family-friendly releases such as Coco and Ferdinand. 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​​


Take a spin on the ice at the Le Frak Ice Skating Rink in Prospect Park and fill-up on delicious seasonal food at the Bluestone Cafe. Photo by Sara Marentette-Nighswander

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 scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, tours of the synagogue, and more. You also can catch a family concert by Oran Etkin at the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side.

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.


Top photo: New York City green spaces, including Central Park, are open on Christmas Day for families eager for a holiday stroll. Photo by Ralph Daily via Flickr

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.

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 surely running out on these awe-striking displays before they come down for the season.

RELATED: 25 Free Things to Do with NYC Kids Over Holiday Break


Make an unforgettable memory with a family photo at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Photo by Matthew Nighswander

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? My family treks to the tree each Christmas Eve. It's an ideal way to reflect on how your family has changed, and the atmosphere is always festive.

Top Photo: The Le Frak Center Ice Skating Rink at Prospect Park. Photo by Sara Marentette-Nighswander

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

Area/Neighborhood: