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.

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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.

RELATED: 35 Things to Do Over Holiday Break in NYC


Thrill to the dazzling iLuminate at New World Stages in Midtown. Photo by Charles Sykes/courtesy of the production.

2. Choose a nontraditional stage show. Earlier in the season we rounded up our top holiday theater picks for kids. One of those picks, The Illusionists, is playing on Christmas Day. Another recent pick, iLuminate, has performances, too, but tickets are going fast.

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 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or family-friendly releases such as Sing and Moana. Prefer to stay home? TBS is showing A Christmas Story all day.


Celebrate with our aquatic friends at the New York Aquarium. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/courtesy of WCS.

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.

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. Take a stroll. The forecast calls for warmer temperatures, so 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.

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 silent movie screening, 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. The Museum of Jewish Heritage hosts its own Yiddish concert. Christmas Day coincides with the second day of Hanukkah, so there are plenty of happenings related to that holiday.

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. It even hosts a FREE Math Exploration Session at 2:30pm.

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. Of course, there will also be the second night of menorah lightings, too.

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. Start around 59th Street and stroll south, though you may want to skip trekking by the Trump Tower security detail (between 57th and 56th Streets) or at least move to the other side of Fifth Avenue, which brings us to... 

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: 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.

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

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