Last weekend, I packed as much Christmas cheer into my schedule as humanly possible. I saw the Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet on Friday night (which I highly recommend!), I had a belated Friendsgiving with my friends in Queens on Saturday night, and the rest of my time I spent racing around NYC on an epic Christmas tree crawl planned by yours truly.
What’s a Christmas tree crawl? It’s where you try and see as many Christmas trees in one afternoon as possible. I cheated and split up my crawl between Saturday and Sunday, but I squeezed in more holiday spirit that way. If you complete this crawl in one day, you will be exhausted by the end of it. With the exception of the first stop, all these trees are relatively close to one another. Between fighting the crowds and wanting to wait a while to enjoy the decorations, this crawl could take you an entire afternoon. I suggest you wear comfy walking shoes, throw on a thick scarf, and treat yourself to some hot chocolate along the way to stay energized.
South Street Seaport
It’s a bit of a haul down to the Seaport, but it’s one of my favorite places in NYC. This year they have a 60-foot spruce on display and it’s decked out to the max. Snap a few pics in front of the tree and pop across the street to see the ships docked there. Supposedly there are Christmas trees on the ships as well, but I’ve yet to confirm this myself.
Tall Girl Tip: There’s a TKTS booth at the Seaport, so if you’re wanting to see a Broadway show that day make sure to buy your tickets here. The Seaport’s TKTS booth hardly ever has a line, unlike the one at Times Square.
Location: 89 South Street
How to get here: Take the A, C, 2, or 3 to Fulton Street and walk to the Seaport.
This is where the fun really begins. And by fun, I mean fighting your way through throngs of people to get a clear shot of the holiday tree. The tree at Bryant Park is absolutely spectacular. It’s massive and decked out in giant baubles you can see your reflection in. The holiday market at Bryant Park has a large selection of eateries, so grab a snack before heading to the next stop on your crawl.
Location: 40th-42nd streets between 5th and 6th Avenue.
How to get here: Take the A or C uptown to West 4th Street, then transfer to the BDFM and get off at 42nd Street – Bryant Park.
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is a straight shot down 6th Avenue. You’d think there wouldn’t be a ton of people across the street trying to get a good photo of it, but unfortunately there is. Radio City’s tree is actually made of lights, but it looks so darn festive I had to put it on my crawl. The street here is so crowded with tourists during the holidays that police officers have to guard the crossings to let people through.
Location: 1260 6th Avenue
How to get here: Walk up 6th Avenue to 50th Street.
A NYC Christmas tree crawl wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Rockefeller Christmas tree. I never got the chance to see this tree last year, which I was super bummed about. Rockefeller Center is wall to wall people this time of year, but the tree is absolutely stunning. Don’t worry, the rest of the stops on this crawl aren’t all this crowded!
Location: 30 Rockefeller Plaza
How to get here: Head east on 50th Street until you get to Rockefeller Center (about two blocks).
Saks Fifth Avenue
Across the street from Rockefeller Center is yet another New York icon: Saks Fifth Avenue. Do yourself a favor and stay on the Rockefeller side of the street and snap a photo of Saks’ window display. Again, there’s no real tree here, but there’s an epic holiday lights display that typically features a massive tree made out of lights. If you’re dying to see the holiday displays inside Saks, come back later when it’s less crowded.
Location: 611 5th Avenue
How to get here: Walk across the street from Rockefeller Center.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Christmas tree at the Met is my absolute favorite. It’s a 20-foot blue spruce with an 18th century nativity scene at its base. You can find the tree in the medieval sculpture hall in front of an old choir screen. The nativity scene is one of a kind and has so many intricate details to it.
Tall Girl Tip: The Met is pay what you want, so if you’re stopping by just to see the tree don’t feel pressured to pay a lot.
Location: 1000 5th Avenue
How to get here: Take the 6 uptown to 77th Street, then walk about 10 minutes.
American Museum of Natural History
The final stop on this Christmas tree crawl is the origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History. I love this tree because you can tell how much TLC went into making it. Volunteers begin folding the origami decorations months in advance. The origami represents favorite exhibits in the museum, like dinosaurs, pianos, and more. It’s a hodgepodge of decorations, but it’s a real treat to see. Head up to the fourth floor to see this Christmas tree.
Tall Girl Tip: This museum is also pay what you want.
Location: Central Park West & 79th Street
How to get here: Walk across Central Park from The Met (it’s a straight shot).
Honorable mention: Lincoln Center
If you still have energy after the Natural History Museum, head over the Lincoln Center to see their beautiful tree. Lincoln Center is the home of the Met Opera and the ballet, which are both beautiful buildings worth sticking your head into. I’ve put this Christmas tree as an honorable mention because I actually haven’t seen it myself. When I went to the ballet, it wasn’t up yet. However, the photos of last year’s tree are gorgeous, so I have high hopes for the tree this year.
Location: 10 Lincoln Center Plaza
How to get here: Take the 1 downtown to 66th Street station or walk 15 minutes south.
Phew, just writing that post wore me out! I had an amazing time snapping photos of all these festive Christmas trees, and I hope you have a chance to see at least a few on this list. Even if you don’t do a crawl like I did, it’s well worth stopping by a few of these iconic NYC spots for a proper dose of holiday cheer.
Tell me: What are you most looking forward to over the holidays?
More posts you’ll love:
- Christmas in NYC: 10 Things You Need to Do During the Holidays
- The Ultimate Guide to Decoding NYC’s Acronyms and Abbreviations
- 10 Things to Do in NYC When It’s Raining