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White Star Tours

3 Days / 2 Nights

Nov 15-Dec 24, 2024 Weekends slightly higher

Departure from your location may require en route lodging. Call for details.

Christmas in New York City

A group bus tour, this package includes:.

  • 2 Night Lodging
  • 2 Breakfast
  • Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, featuring the world-famous Rockettes
  • Backstage Tour of Radio City Music Hall
  • Tour of Lower Manhattan
  • 9/11 Memorail Museum
  • Rockefeller Center
  • 5th Avenue Shopping
  • Macy's Herald Squar
  • Gift for All
  • Luggage Handling
  • All Taxes and Meal Gratuities
  • 2 Comps Per Bus of 40 or more

Call for available options 800.437.2323

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bus trip to nyc in december

Come Play With Us!

Christmas in nyc.

1 Day to Do As You Please During the Christmas Season.

A day on your own to visit NYC at Christmas and see all that the big city has to offer during the Holiday Season.

Is this tour for me?

Warm Wind Tours offers this day trip as an easy way to spend time with family and friends visiting New York during the Christmas season with reliable transportation for a full-day of shopping, sightseeing, and more.

1 Day New York City, NY

Saturday - december 2, 2023.

Submit a request for more information about this trip and share your travel preferences to help us customize our trip to meet your needs.

bus trip to nyc in december

Larger Than Life Sized Decor!

bus trip to nyc in december

City Lights

bus trip to nyc in december

Rockefeller Plaza

bus trip to nyc in december

Central Park

bus trip to nyc in december

Dyker Heights & Saks Fifth Avenue

bus trip to nyc in december

Madison Square Garden

bus trip to nyc in december

Gulliver's Gate

bus trip to nyc in december

Grand Central Terminal

bus trip to nyc in december

Nathan's Famous

bus trip to nyc in december

Palace Theatre

bus trip to nyc in december

The High Line

bus trip to nyc in december

Eataly Downtown Market

bus trip to nyc in december

National Geographic Encounter

1 day trip itinerary.

7am Pickup at Elite Coach Parking Lot at 1685 W. Main St. Ephrata, PA

10am Drop off at Winter Garden Theatre

7pm Pick up at Winter Garden Theatre

10:30pm Return to Elite Coach in Ephrata

Top 13 Things To do in NYC!

This to know...

  • Dress warm with layered clothing.
  • Storage for bags will be available on bus
  • NYC Official Visitor Guide ( download ) 2020 
  • NYC Visitors Map ( download ) 2022
  • Fun things to do in NYC
  • Madison Square Park offering Horticulture & Art blended together creating a relaxing sanctuary.
  • Gulliver's Gate is a museum of minatures that is HUGE fun! Offer 50,000 sq. ft. of minature buildings, landmarks and scenes.
  • Grand Central Terminal a bustling transportation hub with 60+ shops, 35 eateries.
  • Nathan's Famous known for a New York Style hot dog.
  • GreenFlea Market is New York City's oldest and largest flea market with indoor and outdoor treasures offering something for everyone.
  • Palace Theatre once the preeminent vaudeville theatre in the whole US! So you may want to catch a show.
  • The High Line is quite the experience with great views as an outdoor, elevated walkway.
  • Eataly offering Italian heritage and culture as a marketplace of shops, restuarants, cafes and would you believe a cooking school!
  • National Geographic Encounter is a state-of-the-art interactive exhibit that offer incredible experiences you just got to see for yourself.
  • Radio City Music Hall is an iconic venue offering amazing performances at the most perfect time of the year.
  • Battery Park were you can take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.  A great experience for the whole family to have a great education with a fun ride and more.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art offering 5,000 years of art that is just priceless and a huge experience from beginning to end.
  • Central Park has over  a square mile of space filled with nature's beauty that is also decorated for the Christmas season during December and a magical experience.

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  • Tour Overview
  • Tour Highlights

Tour Dates & Pricing

Day itinerary, departure cities.

Choose Your Departure Year:

Experience the most wonderful time of the year in one of the world’s most festive cities! As the backdrop to several timeless holiday movies, the Big Apple has everything from award-winning performances and mouthwatering cuisine to dazzling storefronts and lively city streets. Begin by exploring iconic attractions on a guided city tour that includes Rockefeller Center’s massive Christmas Tree, followed by a visit to Radio City Music Hall for a special show featuring the famous Rockettes. The next day, cruise New York Harbor for sights of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and more. Then, attend a spectacular New York City Ballet performance of The Nutcracker™ at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Our last day includes 360-degree panoramic views from the observation deck of the Empire State Building and a gourmet Farewell Lunch. Throughout this tour, enjoy staying at a wonderful hotel near Times Square, perfect for exploring on your own during ample time at leisure.

The Holiday Advantage

Moderate

You can earn a $100 Travel Show Credit good for your next trip with Holiday Vacations by simply clicking the photo to watch the online travel show! The show is about 10 minutes long and at the end, you'll have the ability to submit your contact information and receive a travel credit which can be applied to this or any Holiday Vacations tour. Get started now!

EACC

Additional Tour Information

Your holiday vacations experience includes:, all accommodations featuring.

  • 4 nights at the Sheraton New York Times Square
  • 4 nights at Sheraton New York Times Square

Attractions & Highlights

  • New York City guided tour
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas tree & ice rink
  • Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes®
  • Lower Manhattan Harbor cruise
  • New York City Ballet performance of The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center
  • Empire State Building observation deck
  • Time at leisure in New York City
  • Radio City Music Hall feat. Stage Door Tour & Christmas Spectacular® Starring the Radio City Rockettes®
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
  • Liberty Midtown cruise
  • Grand Central Station
  • New York City Ballet performance of The Nutcracker™ at the Lincoln Center

6 Excellent Meals Featuring

  • 3 breakfasts in New York City
  • Holiday Vacations Welcome Lunch
  • Holiday Vacations Farewell Lunch
  • Daily breakfasts
  • Welcome Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Farewell Lunch at Porter House Bar and Grill

December 10, 2024 - December 14, 2024

Price Per Person

Final Payment Date: 09/06/2024

December 17, 2024 - December 21, 2024

Final Payment Date: 09/13/2024

December 9, 2025 - December 13, 2025

Final Payment Date: 09/05/2025

December 16, 2025 - December 20, 2025

Final Payment Date: 09/12/2025

Day 1 : Arrive in the Big Apple

We fly to New York City to begin our wonderful holiday getaway. Our superb accommodations for the next four evenings are near Times Square, an essential focal point from where we'll begin each day exploring the city’s best-known attractions, museums, and shops.

Day 2 : A City Tour & The Rockettes

Following breakfast, a local guide joins us for a tour of The Big Apple. The sights and sounds of New York City during the holiday season are truly a magical experience! See Rockefeller Center and its famous ice-skating rink, the Lincoln Center Christmas Tree, and Grand Central Station. We also have an opportunity to admire the windows adorning the shops on 5th Avenue. Following a delectable Welcome Lunch there is time for shopping or exploring midtown Manhattan. This evening we attend the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® . Debuting in 1933, it is both brilliantly grand and genuinely moving – a glittering combination of old favorites and new delights. Enjoy the flawless precision of 140 people while they sing and dance in the legendary Parade of the Wooden Soldiers . Experience Santa’s magical ride to the North Pole, where massive ragdolls come to life, and marvel at the stunning reenactment of the first Christmas as the Living Nativity unfolds before us on stage.

Day 3 : The Nutcracker™

After a delicious breakfast at the hotel, we take a relaxing cruise of New York Harbor. Our excursion travels past Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, and Liberty Island for breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, America’s symbol of freedom. The statue was a gift from France to commemorate liberty and friendship, dedicated on October 28, 1886. We also cruise past Ellis Island, the former gateway to America for millions of immigrants. The remainder of our afternoon is free for shopping at the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park and more. Tonight we come together to take in a production of The Nutcracker™ performed by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The once-in-a-lifetime experience of this classic ballet will stay with you forever and warm your spirit. Gorgeous costumes, a one-ton Christmas tree that magically seems to never stop growing, and a 62-piece orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s timeless music make this performance truly unforgettable.

Day 4 : The Empire State Building

Our morning begins with an included breakfast at the hotel before we visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building, a landmark recognized worldwide. The Empire State Building first opened in 1931 as the tallest building in the world until the 1970s. We gather this afternoon and enjoy a special Holiday Vacations Farewell Lunch. The remainder of the day is ours to explore The Big Apple as we wish.

Day 5 : Fly Home

Day 1 : Fly to New York

Upon arriving in New York City, we check in to our superb accommodations for the next four evenings. Enjoy a delicious breakfast each morning and the convenience of staying in the heart of the city near Times Square, perfect for exploring the best-known attractions, museums, and shops.

Day 2 : City Tour & Radio City Music Hall

A local guide joins us this morning for an exciting tour of the Big Apple, which is truly a magical experience during the holiday season! See Rockefeller Center and its famous ice-skating rink, the Lincoln Square holiday tree, Grand Central Station, and the festive decor adorning store windows on 5th Avenue. After getting to know fellow travelers over a Welcome Lunch, we return to the hotel to freshen up before going behind the scenes of the world-renowned Radio City Music Hall. Enjoy a guided tour that includes the palatial 60-foot-high foyer, exclusive views of the auditorium, a visit to the secret “Roxy Suite” apartment, and more. Following the tour, we attend the Christmas Spectacular® Starring the Radio City Rockettes® . Admire the flawless precision of 140 performers while they sing and dance in classics, like the legendary Parade of the Wooden Soldiers .

Day 3 : Liberty Midtown Cruise & The Nutcracker™

After a leisurely morning, we relax on a cruise of New York Harbor. Get comfortable in the heated indoor deck with huge panoramic windows, perfect for taking in sights of One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the High Line. We also see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the former gateway to America for over 12 million immigrants. The afternoon is yours to grab lunch at one of the many incredible eateries, visit Grand Central Station, or explore Bryant Park’s Holiday Shops, a unique wintertime bazaar of over 150 vendors. Tonight, we are treated to a production of The Nutcracker™ , performed by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This extraordinary, classic ballet encapsulates the spirit of the season with stunning costumes, a magical one-ton Christmas tree, and a 62-piece orchestra playing timeless music.

Our day begins with a visit to one of the most widely recognized landmarks, the Empire State Building. This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper first opened in 1931 and remained the tallest building in the world until the 1970s. Take in unbeatable views of Manhattan’s cityscape, including the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park, from 1250 feet above on the top observation deck. Afterwards, we celebrate our holiday getaway with a delicious Farewell Lunch at an upscale local restaurant. The rest of the day is yours to soak up the wonders of this iconic and festive destination.

We return home today, filled with holiday cheer from our enchanting time in lively and festive New York City.

Airport Pickups

Choose a State:

Birmingham - Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Bentonville - Northwest Arkansas National Airport

Little Rock - Little Rock National Airport

Phoenix - Sky Harbor International Airport

Los Angeles - Los Angeles International Airport

Orange County - John Wayne Airport

San Diego - San Diego International Airport

San Francisco - San Francisco International Airport

Denver - Denver International Airport

Hartford - Bradley International Airport

Washington - Ronald Reagan National Airport

Washington - Washington Dulles International Airport

Fort Lauderdale - Fort Lauderdale International Airport

Fort Myers - Southwest Florida International Airport

Jacksonville - Jacksonville International Airport

Miami - Miami International Airport

Orlando - Orlando International Airport

Tallahassee - Tallahassee International Airport

Tampa - Tampa International Airport

West Palm Beach - Palm Beach International Airport

Atlanta - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Cedar Rapids - Eastern Iowa Airport

Des Moines - Des Moines International Airport

Boise - Boise Airport

Chicago - O'Hare International Airport

Moline - Quad City International Airport

Evansville - Evansville Regional Airport

Fort Wayne - Fort Wayne International Airport

Indianapolis - Indianapolis International Airport

South Bend - South Bend International Airport

Wichita - Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport

Lexington - Blue Grass Airport

Louisville - Louisville International Airport

Baton Rouge - Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport

Lafayette - Lafayette Regional Airport

New Orleans - Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Shreveport - Shreveport Regional Airport

Boston - Boston Logan International Airport

Baltimore - Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

Detroit - Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Grand Rapids - Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Saginaw - MBS International Airport

Duluth - Duluth International Airport

Minneapolis - Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport

Kansas City - Kansas City International Airport

Springfield - Springfield-Branson National Airport

St Louis - St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Gulfport - Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport

Jackson - Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport

Billings - Billings-Logan International Airport

Bozeman - Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Missoula - Missoula Montana Airport

Charlotte - Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Greensboro - Piedmont Triad International Airport

Raleigh - Raleigh-Durham International Airport

Bismarck - Bismarck Airport

Fargo - Hector International Airport

Grand Forks - Grand Forks International Airport

Omaha - Eppley Airfield

Newark - Newark Liberty International Airport

Albuquerque - Albuquerque International Airport

Las Vegas - McCarran International Airport

Albany - Albany International Airport

Buffalo - Buffalo Niagara International Airport

New York - Kennedy International Airport

New York - La Guardia Airport

Rochester - Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport

Syracuse - Syracuse Hancock International Airport

Cincinnati - Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

Cleveland - Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

Columbus - John Glenn Columbus International Airport

Dayton - Dayton International Airport

Oklahoma City - Will Rogers World Airport

Tulsa - Tulsa International Airport

Portland - Portland International Airport

Allentown - Lehigh Valley International Airport

Harrisburg - Harrisburg International Airport

Philadelphia - Philadelphia International Airport

Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh International Airport

Charleston - Charleston International Airport

Greer - Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport

Rapid City - Rapid City Regional Airport

Sioux Falls - Sioux Falls Regional Airport

Knoxville - McGhee Tyson Airport

Memphis - Memphis International Airport

Nashville - Nashville International Airport

Austin - Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Dallas - Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Houston - George Bush Intercontinental Airport

San Antonio - San Antonio International Airport

Salt Lake City - Salt Lake City International Airport

Norfolk - Norfolk International Airport

Richmond - Richmond International Airport

Seattle - Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Spokane - Spokane International Airport

Appleton - Appleton International Airport

Baldwin - Groome Transportation

Eau Claire - Groome Transportation

Green Bay - Austin Straubel International Airport

Hudson - Groome Transportation

Madison - Dane County Regional Airport

Menomonie - Groome Transportation

Milwaukee - Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport

Charleston - Yeager Airport

New York City at Christmastime

Stories from eastern usa, activity levels.

bus trip to nyc in december

Tour days tend to be shorter in length, at a relaxed pace, and include lots of unscheduled time for leisure. Expect standing and walking for extended periods of time on flat surfaces, mostly low altitudes, and consistent temperatures.

bus trip to nyc in december

Tour days usually move at a leisurely pace. Some days’ scheduled activities last longer than others. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on occasionally uneven terrain. You may experience changes in altitude or temperature.

bus trip to nyc in december

Tour days tend to be long, move at a consistent pace, and may include long travel days. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on uneven surfaces. Some destinations may have changes in altitude and/or temperature.

bus trip to nyc in december

Tour days tend to be long, move at a brisk pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on uneven surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.

bus trip to nyc in december

Very Active

Tour days tend to be long, move at a vigorous pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on rough surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.

The ultimate NYC Christmas itinerary for 1, 2 and 3 days

The ultimate NYC Christmas itinerary for 1, 2 and 3 days

Image of author Steffen

Nothing compares to Christmas in New York City. Millions of twinkling lights adorn the buildings everywhere, providing the perfect background for cheery holiday shows, iconic experiences, and some of the best shopping in the world. We think your itinerary should reflect this magic. So, we compiled the only NYC Christmas itinerary you’ll need to see the best of the city.

You'll also love this

  • Christmas in New York City
  • The 31 Best Things To Do in New York at Christmas
  • The 24 Best Christmas Lights & Decorations in NYC

If you have limited time you’ll be especially pleased. We’ve included an itinerary for a day trip for those with only 👉 1-day to see the city at Christmas ! There is also a 👉 2-day itinerary and 👉 one for three days .

My tip: This is my complete guide to Christmas in NYC .

Steffen Kneist Loving New York

Best Places to Stay in New York City during Christmas

If you haven’t booked a hotel yet, be sure to check out my article on the most beautiful hotels in NYC at Christmas time . They are beautifully decorated and you are guaranteed to get into the Christmas spirit!

Table of Contents

1 Day NYC Christmas Itinerary

If you only have one day in NYC for Christmas you’ll want to focus on as many of the city’s iconic Christmas sights as you can, while including the must-see borough of Brooklyn. This means an early start and a detailed game plan (don’t worry, we’ve included both a map and a handy list of all the places mentioned at the end of each section to help with your plan of attack!).

1 Day in NYC at Christmas: Morning – One World Observatory and Holiday Village at The Oculus

With only a day to explore NYC, the only way you’ll see all of the city’s famous buildings is through one of the sky-high observatories. We recommend the One World Observatory as it opens a full hour before the Empire State Building , therefore freeing up more of your time. It also helps that for Christmas, the observatory has been transformed into a mountainside Onederland complete with cozy red and white sleighs, a faux fireplace, and cozy gingerbread decor. Be sure to bring your camera!

After your bird’s eye views of NYC’s best sights, take a five minute walk to the nearby bird-shaped Oculus building for some of the city’s best shopping and a nostalgic Holiday Market. Booths serving everything from locally baked goods to scented candles and surrounded by Christmas trees and snowy scenery bring true holiday cheer as you end your morning.

My tip: These are the best holiday markets in NYC

1 Day in NYC at Christmas: For Lunch

For lunch we suggest the historic Gansevoort Market Food Court onsite at the Oculus, or the local favorite for salads, Sweetgreen, which is right next door.

My tip: These are the best Christmas restaurants in NYC

1 Day in NYC at Christmas: Afternoon–Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo Holiday Market

For the afternoon of your 1 day NYC Christmas itinerary, you’ll want to squeeze in some Brooklyn sights. Luckily, the Oculus is within walking distance to the famous Brooklyn Bridge . Take the 40 minute walk across the historic bridge to Brooklyn where you’ll spend the afternoon staring in awe at the best views of the Manhattan skyline you’ll find in all of New York. Don’t worry if it’s too cold to take the walk. It’s easy to hop on a train to Brooklyn right from the Oculus. Or, if you prefer, you can take a guided bus tour of the area ( THIS is the best tour in my opinion ).

Once you get to the Dumbo neighborhood on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, you’ll want to find the iconic Manhattan Bridge spot on Washington Street for the perfect selfie with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. Or head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the edge of the river for breathtaking views. We also recommend stopping for hot chocolate at Jacques Torres ’ (yes that same Jacques Torres from Netflix’s popular Nailed It series) and the very artsy Dumbo Holiday Market.

1 Day in NYC at Christmas: Dinner

For dinner, we suggest the tantalizing Christmas menu at the upscale River Cafe (reservations usually required) or any of the fantastic restaurants at the 1 Hotel . For budget options, Dumbo has a Shake Shack and an excellent pizza place run by locals on Front Street.

1 Day in NYC at Christmas: Evening- Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Rockettes Christmas Show

Rockefeller Tree

As the sun disappears, New York City reveals why no other place compares at Christmas. Buildings come alive with lights, music fills the air, and the energy changes. The Rockefeller Plaza Area is the best place to take it all in. Head to the Rockefeller Tree to see one of the world’s tallest Christmas trees. Nearby, find the Saks Fifth Avenue building for a heartwarming light show . As you walk, you’ll pass holiday windows, fairly lights everywhere, and projections to warm your heart. Don’t miss DIOR (59th corner 5th Ave.), Bergdorf Goodman (5th Ave corner 58th St.), the Cartier Building (5th Ave corner 52nd St.) and the FOX News Christmas Tree (6th Ave corner 48th St.)).

bus trip to nyc in december

When you’ve had your fill of holiday cheer, walk a few minutes to the Radio City Music Hall to end your day with the must see Rockettes Christmas Show .

As promised, here’s a handy list of your one day NYC Christmas Itinerary stops. We’ve also added a map for reference!

Things To Do on Your Christmas Day Trip to NYC

  • Wonderland at the One World Observatory
  • Holiday Village at the Oculus
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Dumbo Holiday Market
  • Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
  • Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show
  • Rockettes Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall

Christmas Tree New York Rockefeller Center

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

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Radio City Musical Hall Rockettes

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Music Hall is a distinguished concert and event hall located on Sixth Avenue...

New York Christmas Lights - our Guide

The 24 Best Christmas Lights and Decorations in NYC

During the holiday season, electric bills skyrocket all throughout New York City. Seeking to outdo...

2 Day Itinerary to NYC at Christmas

If you are coming to NYC for two days this Christmas or you are planning your Christmas weekend in NYC, this itinerary is for you. You’ll want to spend a day and a half exploring Manhattan and the evening of the second day exploring some fantastic Christmas lights in Brooklyn. Here’s how to do it!

2 Days in NYC at Christmas: Day 1

Morning- empire state building, macy’s christmas windows.

Start the first day of your 2 day NYC Christmas trip with a visit to the historic Empire State Building for views of every famous building in New York. Plan to spend about an hour and a half to two hours getting to the cheerfully decorated viewing decks and taking in all the sights. Look out for Central Park, the Statue of Liberty , the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Go prepared to snap photo after photo!

Macy's Christmas Decorations

After leaving the Empire State Building, walk two minutes west to 34th Street where you’ll find Macy’s Holiday Windows, a local Christmas tradition in New York City. Admire the Christmas stories visually depicted in each window of the beloved department store while you mingle with local families out for some fun. When you’re done, this is a good area to get some shopping done as there are many budget stores in the area.

For lunch, Rib No 7 is a good option for a more upscale experience. The whole Herald Square area is also home to many casual eateries so you’ll have your pick of options on every block you pass.

Afternoon – Morgan Museum and Bryant Park’s Winter Village

Winter Village at Bryant Park

After lunch, you’ll be walking up to the picturesque Bryant Park (about a 8 minute walk from Macy’s). But first, since you have two days, we thought you could spare an hour or two to stop at one of NYC’s more manageable museums!

History buffs and book lovers will especially appreciate the treasures in the Morgan Library and Museum . Fine art, mostly with historic or academic significance, and rare books, are the highlights of this museum. But truly, anyone will appreciate the rarities in the private collections of J.P. Morgan who this museum is named for.

After leaving the Morgan, head up to Bryant Park where every Christmas, the green space transforms into a Christmassy Winter Village . Spend your afternoon wandering through delightful booths where leather goods, fashion, jewelry, Christmas ornaments and more can be bought for yourself or your loved ones. We also recommend trying out the skating at the ice skating rink right next to Bryant Park’s life-size Christmas tree.

My tip: These are the best ice rinks in NYC

For dinner, you can try some light fare at The Lodge in Winter Village or head to the Grill , also in Bryant Park, for a more substantial meal to get you ready for your evening.

Evening- Times Square, Balanchine’s Nutcracker Ballet

Times Square is one of those bucket list places you’ll want to see on your two day Christmas trip to NYC. With dizzying lights, neon billboards, and foreign sounds and smells, it’s a sensory overload any time of year. But Christmas sees the lights going into overdrive and it’s truly a spectacular sight. Spend your evening walking around and taking in the electricity in the air. Look out for famous characters like the naked cowboy, and do spend some time sitting at Duffy Square just inhaling it all.

When you’re done, head west towards the river to end the first day of your 2 day NYC Christmas itinerary with the Nutcracker Ballet, a holiday classic even New Yorkers rush to see every year.

2 Days in NYC at Christmas: Day 2

Morning- rockefeller center and christmas tree.

No Christmas trip to NYC is complete without seeing the larger than life Rockefeller Tree and Center. Start your second day admiring the tree early in the morning when it’s not too crowded. After taking in the colorful lights sparkling on the tree, head to the nearby Channel Gardens in Rockefeller Center for even more lights in the form of sparkling angels standing like guards to the garden’s water features. If you look up while sitting in the gardens, you’ll also see the Saks Fifth Avenue light show! After you’ve had your fill of sparkle, you’ll want to walk along Fifth Avenue to take in the Holiday Windows of the area.

SAKS Fifth Avenue Show

My tip: These are the best holiday lights and decorations in NYC

Rockefeller Center is home to such a delicious array of dining options that we would recommend eating there. Here are your dining options .

Afternoon–Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair

After spending so much time outside, you’ll welcome the warmth of the Grand Central Terminal, just a ten minute walk away. But Grand Central is more than just a warm place to escape New York’s brutal winter. The Terminal is home to elegant shops and restaurants year round. But come Christmas, one of the city’s best Holiday Markets add to the charm. While you stroll through the tastefully decorated Market, look up for the famous paintings on the Terminal’s ceilings. And stop by the Campbell to have a shot of whiskey or a cocktail from their unbelievable collection.

My tip: These are the best Christmas markets in NYC

Grand Central houses some of the city’s best restaurants. We recommend The Oyster Bar or Tartinery for a more casual dinner.

Evening – Birdland Jazz Club and Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

Come evening you’ll be leaving Grand Central and walking to the off-the-beaten-track Birdland Jazz Club for one of their early evening Christmas shows. With red decor and Christmas cheer everywhere Birdland is perfect for losing yourself in some soulful music.

After the hour-long Christmas show, it will be the perfect time to head out to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn for what is arguably the best display of residential Christmas lights in New York. Admire home after home decked out in red, blue and white lights and surrounded by holiday ornaments. With the homes going to lengths to outdo each other, you’re in for a real treat! Getting to Dyker Heights can be challenging so we recommend a guided bus tour to make it easier.

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Here’s a quick list of all things you can do if you have 2 days in NYC for Christmas

Things to do on a 2 day nyc christmas trip.

  • Empire State Building
  • Macy’s Holiday Windows
  • Morgan Library and Museum
  • Bryant Park’s Winter Village
  • Times Square
  • Nutcracker Ballet
  • Rockefeller Christmas Tree
  • Rockefeller Center-Channel Gardens
  • The Peninsula Hotel
  • Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair
  • Birdland Jazz Club
  • Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

3 Day NYC Christmas Itinerary

With 3 days in NYC for Christmas you’ll be able to see the most quintessential NYC sights and to head to a few in the outer boroughs for a deeper experience!

3 Day NYC Christmas Itinerary: Day 1

Morning- central park and the tavern on the green christmas tree.

More movies than can be counted have taken advantage of the magical settings all over Central Park. When Christmas comes around, some of these sites get elevated into what can only be described as fairy tales. This is where you’ll start your 3 day Christmas trip to New York City.

Enter at the Harlem Meer entrance at 110 Street to see the park’s floating Christmas Trees. From there wander over to the Charles A Dana Center for more holiday lights, or head up further in the park (between 57th and 59th St.) where a romantic horse carriage ride in a carriage decked out in holiday finery can be booked with add-ons like chocolates and roses (pre-booking during the holiday season is highly suggested)! Ice skating at Wollman Rink should also be part of your plans for this morning ( My tip: These are the best ice rinks in NYC ).

And even if you don’t plan on eating there, we recommend stopping at the movie famous Tavern on The Green to see their Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

Speaking of eating, we highly recommend eating in Tavern on The Green for lunch. Or head outside the park to one of the nearby Le Pain Quotidien locations for something more casual.

Afternoon – Origami Tree at The Museum of Natural History and Columbus Circle Holiday Market

After spending a full morning outside, head to the first floor of the nearby Museum of Natural History to see their unusual origami Christmas Tree. Every year the tree has a different theme, but the themes are always related to the natural world. Past origami decorations on the tree have included dinosaurs and bugs. While there you may also want to check out the fantastic exhibitions in the world class museum. After, end your afternoon at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market where everything from holiday foods to jewelry can be had.

For dinner, head to 53rd and 9th where a local favorite for inexpensive but delicious meals, Poulette , is located. Or, walk up to Bar Boulud for a more upscale experience.

Evening- Times Square and a Broadway Christmas Play

Ending your day with a broadway show is a very New York thing to do. Before heading to one of the excellent holiday plays on Broadway, stop at Times Square for a stunning array of holiday lights and flashing billboards. The area is touristy, but no visit to New York City is complete without seeing it at least once.

My tip: These are the best broadway shows during the holiday season !

3 Day NYC Christmas Itinerary: Day 2

Morning- santa claus at top of the rock and rockefeller center.

Since New York City is the city of skyscrapers you really can’t visit and not see the most iconic ones. Day 2 of your Christmas itinerary starts with Rockefeller Center’s Top of The Rock Observatory where you’ll have less lines and an easier time getting up and down. After admiring the lighted Empire State Building and all the other icons, head to the Top Of The Rock Shop for ornaments or stop to snap a pic with Santa Claus.

Once downstairs on the street again, head to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree , another of the city’s popular holiday sights you don’t want to miss. It will be too early for the Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show, but you can sit in the Channel Gardens where the illuminated angels and twinkling trees will bring some much needed warmth in the cold. This whole area is NYC’s holiday central, so head to the Holiday Windows on Fifth Avenue, stop at the magical skating rink just below the Christmas tree, and be sure to take photos of all the twinkling installations along the way. If this sounds like a lot, you can also book a guided Holiday Tour of the area to ensure you don’t miss a thing!

After being outside for much of the morning, you’ll want to head inside to any of Rockefeller Center’s well loved restaurants for lunch.

Afternoon- Radio City Music Hall and A Rockettes Show

For your afternoon, take the short walk from Rockefeller Center to Radio City Music Hall for a backstage tour or to see an early afternoon showing of The Rockettes Show, a NYC Christmas institution that will have you dancing to the entertaining holiday selections.

My tip: These are the best Christmas shows in NYC

After your early show, try the famous Del Friscos for an unforgettable dinner. Or Toloache for something more spicy.

Evening- Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden

New York City’s gardens all celebrate Christmas in a big way. This evening you will spend a few hours exploring this major one out in the Bronx . Give yourself an early start to get to it as Bronx is a good distance away from where you’ll likely be staying in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Once there, prepare to be awed by a miles long light show that transforms the garden’s wintery plants with thousands of fairy lights and illuminated installations every evening.

After taking in the lights, explore the miniature renditions of New York City’s buildings and the trains chugging around them in the onsite train show. If you’ve never seen a Holiday Train Show, this one is highly recommended.

3 Day NYC Christmas Itinerary: Day 3

Morning- shine bright light show at hudson yards and winter lights at the high line.

It takes a lot to impress local New Yorkers and the Christmas lights at Hudson Yards have managed to do that. You’ll be ending your 3 days NYC Christmas trip with a bang by joining them at this dazzling light show at Hudson Yards . Walk through a forest of twinkling trees for a magical experience. Head inside the mall for millions of lights everywhere and a suspended hot air balloon also adorned with fairy lights. Whatever you do, do not forget your camera or phone!

Steffen at Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards

After leaving Hudson Yards, head to the nearby High Line Park for a modern take on holiday lights. High Line Park’s reflective holiday lighting installations are as inventive as the first-of-its kind park and sure to have you smiling.

The famous Chelsea Market is close by. We suggest having lunch in one of their excellent eateries!

Afternoon – Holiday Harbor Cruise.

This afternoon you’ll be heading from Chelsea Market up to Chelsea Piers where you’ll be winding down your trip with a relaxing Holiday Harbor Cruise around New York City. See the city from the comfort of a well decorated yacht where you’ll be served cocktails or hot chocolate and dinner, depending on the cruise you choose.

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As most of the holiday cruises come with dinner, we suggest having dinner on your boat.

Evening-North Pole Express Bus Tour

For your last night, you’ll be going all out and taking a festive North Pole Express ride through Manhattan for a tour of the city’s best Christmas lights. End your NYC Christmas trip singing carols, meeting Santa, and listening to Christmas stories aboard a festive bus with people who all came to New York to enjoy the magic of the city.

It’s the perfect end to your time in New York City!

Everything You’ll Do on Your Three Day NYC Christmas Itinerary

3 days in nyc at christmas: day 1.

  • Central Park Holiday Lights
  • Tavern On The Green Christmas Tree
  • Museum Of Natural History Origami Tree
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market
  • Times Square Lights
  • A Holiday Show on Broadway

3 Days in NYC at Christmas: Day 2

  • Top Of The Rock Observatory
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Radio City Music Hall Tour
  • Rockettes Show
  • New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show

3 Days in NYC at Christmas: Day 3

  • Shine Bright Light Show at Hudson Yards
  • Winter Lights at High Line Park
  • Chelsea Market
  • Christmas Harbour Cruise
  • North Pole Express Bus Tour

My NYC Christmas itineraries for an amazing time

New York City is truly the best place on earth to spend Christmas at. Use these itineraries to help you see everything that’s special about the city and I guarantee you won’t miss a thing!

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Things To Do in New York at Christmas

The 31 Best Things To Do In New York At Christmas 2024 + 3 To Avoid

Best Christmas Lights Decorations NYC

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide . Also check out my hotel finder for New York !

bus trip to nyc in december

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What to Do in NYC in December

1. special december tours in new york city, holiday cruises, cocoa & carols holiday cruise, statue & skyline holiday cocoa cruise, sunset & holiday cocoa cruise, best of nyc holiday tours, dyker heights christmas lights, 2. special christmas holiday nyc tours, special holiday tours open on christmas eve and/or day.

  • Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights Brooklyn (Open Dec 24, 25)
  • See More: Christmas Day & Eve Dinner Cruises

3. Holiday Shopping in December in New York City

  • Holiday Markets in NYC
  • Holiday Shops at Bryant Park - October 24, 2023 - January 2, 2024
  • Grand Central Holiday Fair - November 16 - December 31, 2023
  • Union Square Holiday Market - November 16 - December 24, 2023
  • Columbus Circle Holiday Market - November 28 - December 31, 2023

New York City Gift Ideas

  • Ticketmaster Gift Card - There is probably no more versatile gift in NYC than a Ticketmaster Gift Card . Broadway, Sports, Concerts and so much more.
  • Classic Harbor Cruise - NYC Boat Cruises are one of my favorite things to do in NYC, with both my lifelong NYC friends and when visitors come to town
  • NYC Foodie and Restaurant Gifts - choose from dozens of food tours, restaurant gift cards, classes.

4. NYC Insider Guide December Events Calendar

5. skiing, snow and sledding in and around nyc, 6. head to a winter wonderland, save big on things to do in new york in december, 7. cheer on a new york city sports team, download our nyc holiday hours cheat sheet, 8. new york city helicopter tours, 9. what to wear – what to bring – new york city in december, where to stay in new york city in december, best hotels near rockefeller center.

  • The Jewel facing Rockefeller Center - great value and location. My NY high school classmates stayed here for our reunion
  • 3 West Club - consistently receives excellent reviews, especially the location and value for the price.
  • Radio City Apartments - a NYC Insider Guide Favorite
  • New Hotels : Motto by Hilton NYC Times Square (Opens Oct 6, 2023) + Hampton Inn by Hilton New York Times Square + Home2 Suites by Hilton New York Times Square (Open Nov 1, 2023) - New 1000 room Hilton Hotel with 3 brands in the same building right next to Rockefeller Center

Best New Years Eve NYC Hotels

  • New York Marriott Marquis - rooms with Ball Drop views, multiple parties in hotel
  • M Social New York - new in 2021 with bar and lounge right above Times Square with perfect vantage point for the Ball Drop
  • The Knickerbocker (photo) - St. Cloud rooftop bar "New York, New Year's Eve, Times Square, private party on roof top where you can watch the ball drop 180 feet away - what else could you ask for?"

Central Park NY Hotels

  • 1 Hotel Central Park
  • Mandarin Oriental (photo)
  • La Quinta Inn Central Park

NYC Hotels Best Holiday Decorations

  • Lotte New York Palace - “Beautifully decorated for the holiday season” (photo)
  • The Peninsula Hotel - Nights Before Christmas Package & Holly Jolly New York Holiday Package + their amazing rooftop
  • Club Wyndham Midtown 45 - The "Elf" Suite inspired by the classic holiday film is like “Sleeping inside a Christmas card”
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  • Ink48 Hotel - right next to the Intrepid Museum and my ALL time favorite rooftop!
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  • The Empire Hotel - year-round indoor/outdoor rooftop with seasonal pool and cabana rentals
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Attractions & Sightseeing

Go high or go home.

  • Empire State Building - (86 and 102 floors) Best for patient movie and history buffs who need to check it off their bucket list. Recently redone indoor 102nd Floor Observatory
  • Top of the Rock - (67-70 floors) Best for sweeping 360° vista views, including of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Shorter lines and cheaper than the ESB.
  • One World Observatory - (100-102 floors) Best for homage to the Twin Towers. Modern and high tech, with phenomenal views
  • Edge - (100-101 floors) Highest outdoor observation deck, glass bottom floor, deck extends 80 feet away from building (photo)
  • Summit One Vanderbilt - (91-93 floors) Opened Oct 2021, all glass elevator, indoor and outdoor decks and glass terraces off the side of the building. One of the hottest tickets in town

Sightsee from the Sky

  • Summit One Vanderbilt - (91-93 floors) Opens Oct 2021, all glass elevator, indoor and outdoor decks and glass terraces off the side of the building

New York City Night Cruises

Sunset sail aboard the schooner adirondack, nyc premiere dinner & skyline cruise, champagne city lights cruise on yacht manhattan, circle line harbor lights cruise, new york city lights dinner cruise, around manhattan architecture, take in all the tours, landmarks and attractions and save.

  • Sightseeing Pass - Unlimited Hop on Hop off Buses, One World Observatory, Edge
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  • Explorer or Go Select - Choose from 55+ sights or Build your Your
  • New York CityPASS - 6 top attractions, good for 9 days from first use

Secret NYC Insider Tours

Things to do in new york with kids.

  • Things to Do in New York With Kids - best NYC activities, tours, attractions and Insider Tips for kids and families
  • Broadway and Off Broadway Shows for Kids - choose a dream show, like Aladdin, Wicked or Lion King, see the latest Kids shows, or save BIG and entertain kids and little ones under 4 with an awesome Off Broadway Show
  • Best NYC Hotels for Families - special perks, freebies, bunk beds, larger rooms, suites

FREE Things to do in New York City

  • NYC Museums Free Days and Times - weekly guide to free museum admissions
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New York City Shopping Guides

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New York City Nightlife

  • NYC Rooftop Lounge Tour - guaranteed access to exclusive nighttime hot spots as you sip cocktails under the sky
  • InviteOnly Party @ the Hottest NYC Clubs - VIP access to NYC Clubs with Bottle Service and dancing.
  • New York Dinner Cruise - family-friendly and/or romantic cruise with excellent service, spectacular sights and delicious menu offerings.
  • Broadway Comedy Club - laugh out loud all night long
  • NYC Night Bus Tour - From Times Square to the Brooklyn Bridge, see our city wink and twinkle right at you.

Save HUGE $$$$ in NYC

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Romantic Things to Do in NYC

Romantic nyc hotel deals, romantic nyc champagne & skyline cruises, private central park walking tour with a personal photographer, new york city private helicopter tour, romantic broadway show picks, valentines dinner cruise with the nyc skyline, explore and indulge like a real nyc foodie, spot celebrities in nyc, get out of town for a day.

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Radio city christmas spectacular with rockettes, july 4th in new york city fireworks, new york city events march 2024.

Inexpensive things to do December 7 

Hi Sandi – I’m not sure what you mean by “inexpensive.” There’s always free things to do in NYC, as you can see from this post. And in December, feel free to see the Holiday trees, light and decorations all over NYC.

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October 10, 2023 By Lyndsay

Your Perfect New York City Christmas Itinerary for 2024

  • 1.1 Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
  • 1.2 Christmas Cruise on the Hudson River
  • 1.3 Top of the Rock
  • 2.1 Visit Rockefeller Center
  • 2.2 Watch the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
  • 2.3 Admire the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue
  • 2.4 Marvel at the amazing view from the Top of the Rock
  • 2.5 Enjoy The Nutcracker from the New York City Ballet
  • 2.6 Visit the Christmas Markets in New York City
  • 2.7 Take a Christmas tour of New York City
  • 2.8 See the Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights
  • 2.9 Jump on the vintage train on Sundays
  • 2.10 Meet Santa at Macy’s Santa Land
  • 2.11 Visit the New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show
  • 2.12 Lace up your ice skates at an ice skating rink
  • 2.13 Head to IFC Theaters to watch It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen
  • 2.14 Explore Christmas at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park
  • 2.15 Catch a Christmas show on or Off-Broadway
  • 2.16 See the Christmas tree and Menorah on Wall Street
  • 2.17 Enjoy the Hudson Yards Christmas lights
  • 2.18 Take a holiday tour in a luxury limousine
  • 3.1 Holiday dinner at a gorgeous restaurant
  • 3.2 Cozy up at a festive rooftop bar
  • 4.1 Lotte New York Palace
  • 4.2 The Peninsula Hotel
  • 4.3 The Algonquin
  • 5.1 Prepare for the crowds
  • 5.2 Learn how to navigate the city by walking and the subway
  • 5.3 Make reservations in advance
  • 5.4 Plan a budget, and stick to it
  • 5.5 Dress warmly
  • 6.1 Day 1 – Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue
  • 6.2 Day 2 – Christmas Tours and Santa Land
  • 6.3 Day 3 – Holiday Markets, Hudson Yards, and Broadway
  • 6.4 Day 4 – Endless Possibilities
  • 7 More Resources for Your Christmas in New York Itinerary
  • 8 Your New York December Itinerary: Wrap-Up

This post may contain affiliate links! I will receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you purchase something recommended here.

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

There’s just something extra-special about New York City at Christmas time.

It’s one of the best places to visit during the holiday season, and for a good reason. Many movies and songs have been made about how romantic the season is in the City.

If you’re looking for things to do in New York City for Christmas, here’s your guide to creating a perfect New York City Christmas itinerary for you and your family. 

FREE: 25+ Top NYC Restaurants that Decorate for Christmas

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Editor’s Choices: Things to do in NYC at Christmas

Christmas spectacular at radio city music hall.

With an average of 4.8 stars from more than 60 reviews, watching the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall needs to be on your Christmas in NYC itinerary.

Christmas Cruise on the Hudson River

Taking a Holiday Statue & Skyline Cocoa Cruise on the Hudson River in a 1920s-style yacht is one of the most unique New York trips at Christmas.

Top of the Rock

With an average of 4.5 stars from more than 3,150 reviews, you need to experience the magnificent view from Top of the Rock this Christmas in NYC!

The Best Things to do in New York City for Christmas

Visit rockefeller center.

This is an image of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lit up for the season in NYC. Are you visiting the Big Apple this holiday season? Find the best things to do and plan out your entire New York City Christmas itinerary!

As far as NYC winter activities go, is there anything more iconic than visiting Rockefeller Center for things to do in New York City for Christmas?

When you walk into the plaza, you’ll be met with the incredible views of flags from all over the world, waving in the wind, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Centered below the tree, you’ll find Prometheus’s famous statue, watching over the ice skating rink.

There’s not really a time of day that you can be in Rockefeller Center without significant crowds.

While early mornings will probably be the least crowded in front of the Christmas Tree, you’ll be met with a group of people standing outside of the TODAY Show studios, the NBC morning show that shoots right in the Center.

And the later in the day you venture into Rockefeller Center, the more and more people you’ll find.

Pro Tip : While you’re in Rockefeller Center, make sure you add FAO Schwarz to your New York Christmas vacation, an iconic New York City toy store. The larger-than-life store features experiences like the famed floor piano–featured in the movie  BIG  with Tom Hanks–to hosting classic toys and toy brands your parents and grandparents loved. Make sure to ask the famous life size toy soldiers to take a Christmas photo with you !

Or, you can catch a live stream of the tree from 8 a.m. – 12 a.m. EST any day at the Rockefeller Center website⁠.

Watch the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall

This is an image of the illuminated marquee at Radio City Music Hall in New York City NYC.

One of the most quintessential experiences on any Christmas in New York itinerary might be watching the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall featuring The Radio City Rockettes.

From moments like Santa Claus flying high above New York City and the Rockettes’ famous Parade of the Wooden Soldiers performance to new songs, you’ll really never see the same show twice.

Watching the Christmas Spectacular is really one of those can’t-miss experiences for your New York City Christmas itinerary.

If you’re interested in theater history, schedule a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall to get an inside glimpse into the magic behind the production.

Fun Fact : If you’re wondering–yes, the animals in the Christmas Spectacular are real! If you happen to be out and around Radio City Music Hall either late at night or early in the morning, you might catch a glimpse of handlers walking the camels, sheep, and donkeys that are featured in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular .

Once you’ve finished at Radio City Music Hall, head across the street from the entrance on Sixth Avenue to take pictures with larger-than-life Christmas ornaments!

Admire the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue

This is an image of the Saks Fifth Avenue light display on 5th Ave in New York City NYC.

Although classic department stores like Lord & Taylor and Barneys have closed in the past few years, there are still several department stores along Fifth Avenue that go all out for the holidays.

Across from Rockefeller Center and the famous Christmas tree, start your New York City Christmas itinerary walk along Fifth Avenue to admire the window displays Saks Fifth Avenue .

Every year, Saks has a full 5 minute light show on its storefront every 10 minutes, featuring music, stunning lights, and an epic new storyline each year.

Once the light show ends, walk across the street to the Saks Fifth Avenue storefront and admire their window displays.

Christmas window displays at the department stores along Fifth Avenue is a historic practice.

It’s said that the tradition started in 1874 when R.H. Macy arranged scenes from  Uncle Tom’s Cabin  by Harriet Beecher Stowe with porcelain dolls in the department store’s front holiday windows to attract customers.

Obviously, it worked!

Once you pass Saks, you’ll come upon St. Patrick’s Cathedral , all decked out and in its holiday splendor.

Make sure you head inside and catch a glimpse of the largest Catholic church in North America before continuing up Fifth Avenue to admire the window displays at stores like Cartier , Harry Winston , Louis Vuitton , and Bergdorf Goodman .

When you finish your walk up 5th Avenue, you will reach Pulitzer Square.

In front of you will be Central Park, and to the left will be another New York Christmas itinerary icon– The Plaza Hotel .

You might recognize The Plaza from famous movies like  Sleepless in Seattle ,  Plaza Suite , and the Christmas movie  Home Alone 2: Lost in New York . 

You’ll find  Sleepless in Seattle  and many more on my list of favorite films that feature New York City.

Marvel at the amazing view from the Top of the Rock

This is an image of the entrance to NBC Studios, the observation deck, and the rainbow room in New York City, NYC.

So you’ve seen the Christmas view of Rockefeller Plaza on the ground, but what about from above?

Head to the Top of the Rock , the observation deck on top of 30 Rock, the famed NBC Studios building, to take in the sights of the City from above.

You’ll have unbelievable panoramic views of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the ice skating rink, and Central Park. 

While you’re at the top, make sure you grab a drink at Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room, Top of the Rock’s upscale bar. 

If you’re interested in visiting several major sites in addition to the Top of the Rock, check out my guide on comparing New York City passes to see if one is right for you.

And if you want to visit an observation deck, but maybe not Top of the Rock, check out my guide to the best observatories in New York City .

Need some gift-giving inspiration this holiday season? Check out my guides on the best travel essentials for women , travel gifts under $20 , zero-waste travel essentials , and great gifts for friends going abroad !

Enjoy The Nutcracker from the New York City Ballet

If you love the classics, there’s nothing like watching The Nutcracker performed by the New York City Ballet.

Each year, the troupe expands from its 90 dancers to include an additional 125 children, 40 stagehands, and more than 60 musicians to perform the iconic ballet at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center.

From its choreography by George Balanchine to its extraordinary visual effects, it’s a genuinely dazzling production on par with any other show you’d find in New York City.

Visit the Christmas Markets in New York City

This is an image of the oculus Christmas market in New York City NYC.

If you’re interested in finding some really unique gifts, make sure you add a visit to one of the New York City holiday markets to your New York City Christmas itinerary.

There are Christmas markets and holiday villages in every borough of the City, showcasing items and foods from all different shops and stalls local to the metropolitan area. 

Although the most well-known holiday villages in New York City are the Bryant Park Winter Village and the Union Square Holiday Market , there are holiday shopping villages all over.

You can even go to indoor Christmas markets at the Oculus or the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Market!

You’ll find some really unique gifts sold by local artisans and shops from all around the five boroughs.

I always make sure to include at least one gift for my holiday giving from one of the shops at the holiday villages. It’s a great way to be festive and shop local. 

Pro tip : While you’re visiting the Bryant Park winter village, make sure you stop by the New York Public Library next door. The building is beautifully decorated for the holidays each year, and it’s a great place to sneak away for a restroom!

And don’t forget about long-term New York City Markets. Markets like Artists & Fleas–which has a few locations around the City–Smorgasbord in Brooklyn and Grand Bazaar on the Upper West Side all go all out with holiday spirit.

You’ll find additional vendors and local artisans with their holiday wares.

Take a Christmas tour of New York City

This is an image of the massive Christmas ornaments on fifth Avenue across from the radio city music Hall, entrance in New York City, NYC.

There are tours for everything in New York City, but especially at Christmas!

Movie tours showcasing filming locations for plenty of holiday movies , holiday-themed boat tours on the Hudson River , and walking tours of Rockefeller Center are only a few of the incredible things to do in New York City for Christmas.

For an in-depth look, head over to the guide of my favorite Christmas tours in New York City.

See the Christmas Lights in Dyker Heights

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

New York City is a little different than other areas of the country. Most people live in apartments; they don’t often have their own front lawn to decorate in the Christmas spirit.

However, that’s not quite the case in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

In this area of the City, families do have their own front Lawns to decorate for the Christmas spirit.

And do they ever!

The tradition of the Dyker Heights Christmas lights began in the 1980s when a woman named Linda Spata moved into the neighborhood.

She decided to carry on the holiday decorating tradition her mother had started, and it paved the way for the whole area to take part.

If you’re interested in seeing the spectacular holiday displays yourself, you can either take the subway out or hop on a bus tour. 

You can take either the Brooklyn-bound R train to 86th Street or the Brooklyn-bound D train to 79th Street, and walk to 13th Avenue, or Dyker Heights Boulevard, to the Dyker Heights Christmas lights neighborhood.

If you feel like you need a little bit more help, though, here’s my guide to navigating the New York City subway .

I promise that using New York City public transportation is pretty easy, and it’s something you definitely should experience while you’re here.

If you want a more guided experience or you don’t want to figure out your way there yourself, many companies offer tours out to Dyker Heights specifically to see the Christmas light displays. Some of them will even pick you up in front of your hotel.

Jump on the vintage train on Sundays

This is an image of the holiday train decorated for the Christmas season. It's a vintage New York City subway, train car in NYC.

Have you ever wondered what riding on a vintage subway car was like?

While you can go look at and learn about the New York City subway through the ages at the New York Transit Museum, if you’re here during the holiday season, you can ride one for the price of your MetroCard.

Every Sunday between Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the MTA and the New York Transit Museum partner together to run the Holiday Nostalgia Rides.

The holiday subway train consists of several vintage subway cars from the 1930s.

Since the holiday train only runs a few times during the season, make sure to plan for a pleasure ride based on the train’s schedule available on the New York Transit Museum’s website.

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Meet Santa at Macy’s Santa Land

Macy's at Christmas time, 151 West 34th Street, New York City.

They say the REAL Santa is sitting in Santa Land at Macy’s in Herald Square. 

Step onto the top floor of the 34th Street department store to be transported to Santaland .

While the tradition of the real St. Nick visiting Macy’s began in the 1860s, since the mid-1970s, Santa has had a permanent home on the 8th floor.

When you arrive to check this off your NYC Christmas list, you’ll wind your way through interactive exhibits before stepping on the Santaland Express train that will take you right to Santa.

If you want to make sure you see Santa, you need to book a reservation in advance.

Time slots are booked out well in advance, and if you try to show up and wait in line on the same day, you might have to wait hours, or you might be turned away.

You can head to Macy’s website to make reservations for the Santa Express Lane.

Visit the New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

For the past 29 years, the New York Botanical Gardens has hosted its Holiday Train Show.

Model trains move through a tiny replica of New York City made with natural materials, complete with iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many others. 

While you’re there, you can also explore the gardens themselves and view GLOW, a new outdoor exhibition that illuminates the Botanical Gardens’ landmarks.

You can learn more about the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Experience here .

Lace up your ice skates at an ice skating rink

This is an image of skaters on the rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City, NYC.

If you’re looking for a classic wintertime date in NYC , ice skating is the way to go. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy, and you can get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

These are my favorite skating rinks in the city:

  • The Rink At Rockefeller Center
  • The Rink at Bryant Park’s Winter Village 
  • The Rink at Brookfield Place
  • Wollman Rink in Central Park
  • Winterland at Pier 17
  • Vale Rink at The William Vale ( Booking | Hotels ) in Brooklyn
  • LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park
  • Abe Stark Rink at Coney Island
  • Glide at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Fun Fact : The Rink at Bryant Park’s Winter Village is the only ice rink in NYC with free admission (just pay for your skate rentals!)

Head to IFC Theaters to watch It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen

It's A Wonderful Life

You can see the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen down in Greenwich Village.

The IFC Center shows classic and independent feature films, and is located right off of the A/B/C/D station at West 4th street. During the holiday season, they show the 1946 movie many times.

First enjoy a great dinner downtown at Solaro , an Italian restaurant around the corner, before watching James Stewart’s iconic performance as George Bailey. 

Explore Christmas at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park

The Cloisters

A magnificent museum called The Cloisters is located in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, which takes visitors back to Medieval Europe.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s museum houses more than 5,000 works of European art dating from the Byzantine period to the early Renaissance and was constructed in the medieval European monastery style by architect Charles Collens.

The halls are adorned with historic Medieval ‘Christmastide’ decorations each year to celebrate the season.

Garden staff and volunteers work for weeks handcrafting the locally-sourced holiday furnishings, including evergreen trees, holly, ivy, and other plants used to celebrate Christmastide, the 12-day Medieval festival between the Nativity and the Epiphany. 

This is an amazing place to explore during the year, but if you have ever wondered what a Medieval holiday celebration would have looked like, this is the place to go.

You can see the architecture and learn about the era when you wander through the holiday halls.

Catch a Christmas show on or Off-Broadway

This is an image of the Hamilton marquee on Broadway in New York City NYC.

When I was a New York-based actor, watching a Broadway production happened to be my absolute favorite thing to do at this magical time of year!

Every year during the holiday season, performance schedules change to accommodate the influx of visitors who want to see a show–which is great for you, because there are more showtimes than usual!

You can check out Playbill’s list of Broadway performance times (updated weekly) to find something that works for your schedule, or check out the production’s website online to see their holiday showtime calendar in advance.

Pro Tip : If you aren’t sure which Broadway show you want to see, visit the TKTS Booth and ask! In Times Square, you’ll find them under the red stairs, but they also have a location at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport. There, you can find a selection of Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets between 30-50% off the price you’d pay at the box office. 

You can also read my whole guide on the best ways to buy Broadway tickets and tips for attending a Broadway show for more tips!

See the Christmas tree and Menorah on Wall Street

This is an image of the Wall St., NYC Stock Exchange, Christmas tree menorah, and Kwanzaa exhibit on Broad Street in New York City.

In front of the New York Stock Exchange in the Financial District, you’ll find another one of New York City’s Christmas trees.

Visit the Wall Street tree and Hanukkah Menorah before wandering into Federal Hall, the site of the first Congress and where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.

The building that stands there today was a U.S. Customs House.

Enjoy the Hudson Yards Christmas lights

Hudson Yards The Vessel Snowstorm 2020

The newest private development in New York City, Hudson Yards is located on 11th Avenue, between West 28th and West 38th streets.

It’s considered the northernmost part of the High Line and offers unique views of the Hudson River and Jersey City. 

At Christmastime, The Vessel is adorned in twinkling lights, bringing a festive glow to the complex.

Then inside the Shops at Hudson Yards (one of my favorite indoor activities in New York City ), you’ll find additional holiday decorations among the many interactive stores.

Take a holiday tour in a luxury limousine

If you’re celebrating the holiday season in style, you need to check out this NYC Holiday Lights Tour by Limousine .

Meet your driver at your hotel lobby or any preferred spot in Manhattan to start the day.

Your guide will show you some of the city’s wonderful holiday decorations, such as Dyker Heights’ Christmas lights and the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

Enjoy the unique chance to explore New York City’s festive atmosphere in a luxurious fashion!

You can find more New York City limousine tours here .

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Where to Eat for your New York City Christmas Itinerary

If you’re interested in my full list of the best restaurants in NYC that decorate for the holiday season, you can find it by filling out the form here .

Holiday dinner at a gorgeous restaurant

Just like the storefronts, many restaurants totally transform for the winter holidays. Rolf’s German Restaurant on 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue is one of the most popular Christmas dining experiences in New York City.

While the restaurant changes its decorations according to each season, it really goes all out decorating for Christmas. 

Another favorite is Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, either on West 49th Street or East 17th Street.

When you walk inside at any time of year, it feels like you are transported to a modern take on a Victorian dining room.

But, step in during the holiday season. You’ll find garlands, wreaths, and ornaments hanging all over the restaurant.  

Cozy up at a festive rooftop bar

Enjoying the city skyline from a rooftop bar is one of my favorite New York City summer activities , but you can also add it to your NYC Christmas bucket list !

There are many rooftop bars throughout the City, each with its own way to keep you warm.

230 Rooftop has igloos each winter, SERRA by birreria at Eataly Flatiron transforms into a chalet in a winter wonderland, and Bar 54 becomes another igloo haven right in the heart of Times Square.

Grab a hot cocoa and enjoy the chilled winter air!

Where to Stay for 4 Days in New York in December

This is an image of the entrance to the peninsula hotel, all decorated for Christmas in New York City NYC.

If you’re committing to a full-on New York City Christmas vacation, there are a few different hotels that go all-out decorating for the holidays.

I have a complete guide on my favorite choices all around NYC if you’re interested in learning more.

Lotte New York Palace

  • Location : 455 Madison Avenue, Manhattan
  • Rating : 8.4 Stars out of 400+ reviews
  • Price : $$$$
  • Book Lotte New York Palace now

Lotte New York Palace ( Booking | Hotels ), located on Madison Avenue and East 50th Street, hosts a 30-foot Christmas tree each year, and garlands, colorful lights, and ornaments adorn the hotel.

They also host events throughout the holiday season for guests, like holiday-themed happy hour specials, Story Time for Christmas classics, cookie decorating, and carols.

“The whole atmosphere in the hotel was one of comfort and luxury, made even more special by the beautiful Christmas decorations. All the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. We were allocated a corner room, which had a fantastic view down 51st Street.” –Michael (Lotte New York palace Review )

The Peninsula Hotel

  • Location : 700 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
  • Rating : 8.8 Stars out of 600+ reviews
  • Book The Peninsula now

At 700 Fifth Avenue, The Peninsula Hotel ( Booking | Hotels ) is just steps away from the Fifth Avenue stores’ bright lights and Rockefeller Center.

The hotel’s decorations are aligned with its signature “Stories from the Tree” theme incorporating six character ornaments, including the Gingerbread Man.

You can read  The Gingerbread Man’s Tale , the hotel’s featured story, on its website.

“The Peninsula Hotel is a Premier property in New York City. Every aspect of your visit is attended to. The staff, the rooms and the facilities are superb. For Christmas, the lobby was decorated with a beautiful tree and there were nightly Carolers performing. There was a holiday candy shop for the children. The gym, spa and pool are exceptional.” –James (The Peninsula Review )

The Algonquin

  • Location : 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan
  • Rating : 7.8 Stars out of 70+ reviews
  • Price : $$$
  • Book The Algonquin now

Just outside Times Square, The Algonquin ( Booking | Hotels ) is another excellent hotel beautifully decorated for the holidays, perfect for your New York City Christmas itinerary.

The hotel first opened in 1902 but rose to prominence after World War I when it became a haven for writers and artists to meet and discuss.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Edna Ferber are just a few of the incredible writers that met for lunch at the hotel daily. 

Now, the historic hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

You’ll find ornate decor, enhanced at Christmastime with a large Christmas tree in the lobby and garland throughout.

 “It is a place with character and the location is fantastic if you’re aiming to stay midtown. Breakfast is very good and the restaurant staff is outstanding. Saturday Jazz was a nice surprise for us.” –Norma (The Algonquin Review )

Tips for your New York City Christmas Itinerary

This is an image of the view from the Empire State building on a snowy day in New York City NYC.

Prepare for the crowds

If it feels like the City is packed at any time of year, it feels even more crowded in the winter, when tourists come from all over the world to be part of the holiday cheer.

Leave yourself more time than you expect to get somewhere.

If Citymapper (my favorite subway app) says it’ll only take 45 minutes to arrive wherever you’re going, leave an hour or so ahead of time instead. 

Learn how to navigate the city by walking and the subway

To make the most of your New York Christmas trip time, you need to learn how the city works to get around quickly and effectively.

Thankfully, I have two guides to help you out!

The first is on how to understand NYC streets . Manhattan is laid out like a grid, with a defined system.

The second is on how to navigate the NYC subway . The metro runs 24/7 all throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx, and it also has its own defined system.

Again, Citymapper is my favorite subway app, and Google Maps is my favorite app for saving landmarks, restaurants, other points of interest, and giving walking directions.

Once you understand both systems, you’ll be moving across the city in no time at all!

Make reservations in advance

Everyone is coming to New York City for their holiday vacation to experience the same things you want to, but there are limits to how many times or spaces are available per day.

Make sure you make reservations for restaurants and excursions in advance to ensure you’ll be able to do what you planned in your New York City Christmas itinerary. 

Plan a budget, and stick to it

To be honest, New York City is expensive, and there might even be surge pricing during the holidays for major attractions and things to do in New York City for Christmas.

When you live here, you get used to the prices, but your dinner bill might cause a bit of sticker-shock the first few times.

Make sure you create a budget and stick to it for your trip.

A helpful way to stay within your budget is to take advantage of the many free activities in New York City or to plan your New York City Christmas itinerary around free museum hours in NYC .

I have guides to both of these topics, and they really make a difference for your bottom line.

Dress warmly

Among the magic, you need to know that it’s really, really cold in NYC in the winter.

The daily temperature averages are a high of 44°F and a low of 31°F–and you need to factor in additional wind chill and possibly even snow.

Your best bet is to wear layers as the temperature tends to fluctuate.

It’s a must to wear winterized, waterproof boots and thick socks if you’re going to be on your feet outside all day.

When it snows in NYC , there’s no shortage of puddles and slushie sidewalks, and it will ruin your trip if you have to walk around with cold wet feet.

You also need gloves , a hat , and a scarf .

Fortunately, if you happen to forget any of these items, you can always stop in any shop or purchase some from street vendors.

As always, keep an eye on NYC’s weather forecast as you’re packing for your trip, and try to plan accordingly in advance!

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Sample 4 Days in New York at Christmas Itinerary

This is an image of the massive Christmas lights decorations on sixth Avenue in New York City NYC.

Day 1 – Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue

Drop off your bags as you check into your hotel! Get ready and go outside to start enjoying your New York Christmas vacation.

Start by visiting the iconic Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, and head up to Top of the Rock for another perspective.

Then, walk uptown on 5th Avenue to enjoy the Saks Fifth Avenue lights show and go window shopping through all of the holiday displays.

Stop off at one of my favorite free sites in NYC, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the largest churches in the city and home to the Archbishop of New York.

Once you arrive at the southeastern corner of Central Park, you can either head into iconic The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel for afternoon tea or an elegant dinner, or walk into Central Park to go skating at Wollman Rink. 

If you’re interested in seeing a late show, grab tickets to the 8 p.m. production of the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. 

Day 2 – Christmas Tours and Santa Land

Today is all about holiday tours and experiences! Depending on what time you’ve pre-booked seeing Santa at Macy’s Santaland, that will determine what tour you can take today.

I highly recommend a walking tour, so you can learn more about the city’s historic sites along with the holiday splendor.

After Santa Land, you have three different options to spend your evening.

Take a Christmas cruise on the Hudson River to have dinner and see the city from a new perspective, head to Dyker Heights for the dazzling light displays, or visit the IFC Center to enjoy It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen.

For your New York City at night activity , finish your evening enjoying a drink from a rooftop bar with a view of the Empire State Building.

Day 3 – Holiday Markets, Hudson Yards, and Broadway

Are you ready to shop ‘til you drop?!

For day 3 of your New York in December itinerary, you need to visit the Bryant Park Winter Village to start, but there are several other holiday markets and NYC winter festivals you can check out throughout the city for gift shopping and souvenirs.

Columbus Circle, Union Square, Grand Central Terminal, and the Oculus also have great holiday markets or you can head over to the Brooklyn for Winterfest at the Brooklyn Museum, Smorgashboard, or Artists & Fleas.

Once you’ve finished running around the holiday markets, stop back at your hotel to drop off your shopping before heading to Hudson Yards.

If you want to add some more walking into your day, start at the bottom of the High Line in the Meatpacking District above the Whitney Museum and walk up until you reach Hudson Yards.

Enjoy The Vessel all decorated before heading inside the Shops at Hudson Yards–for more shopping.

Once you’re all shopped out, enjoy a nice dinner at a beautifully decorated restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, like Becco’s or Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, before attending a Broadway show.

Day 4 – Endless Possibilities

Maybe you’re a history lover who’s dying to see The Cloisters at Christmas?

Or, you love model trains and are desperate to get to the New York Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show ?

Better yet, do you want to wander around downtown to see the Christmas tree and Menorah on Wall Street before taking the free Staten Island Ferry to Empire Outlets and Snug Harbor, with a view passing the Statue of Liberty? 

While you might not have time to do everything, your NYC in December itinerary is best spent today visiting the iconic sites you’ve always dreamed of seeing in New York City or experiencing one of the incredible holiday sites of the city before checking out of your hotel and heading home.

More Resources for Your Christmas in New York Itinerary

This is an image of Zuccotti Park in New York City NYC at Christmas.

  • Are you visiting New York City this winter with your significant other?  Be inspired by my list of the best winter dates all around NYC.
  • Trying to find a perfect hotel for your Christmas trip? Here are all the best places to stay in New York City during the Christmas season.
  • Interested in taking a holiday-themed tour?  Check out my list of the top Christmas tours throughout the five boroughs.
  • Are you hoping to see snow this Christmas season? Find out here if it snows in New York at Christmas .
  • In charge of planning your complete Christmas itinerary?  I have a full guide on how to spend your time in NYC this Christmas.
  • Trying to find some other wintery activities? Check out my list of awesome winter activities in New York City.
  • Looking for more ideas this holiday season?  Take a look at my complete New York at Christmas bucket list.

Your New York December Itinerary: Wrap-Up

There are so many things to do in New York City for Christmas, it’s truly one of the most incredible places to be during the holiday season. What do you plan to add to your NYC Christmas itinerary?

The Best Things to do in New York City in December - Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and ice skating rink - Are you visiting the Big Apple this holiday season? Find the best things to do and plan out your entire New York City Christmas itinerary!

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bus trip to nyc in december

Red Eye Tours

Sublime tours red eye tours for an unforgettable travel experience.

You have reached the right place if you are looking for a bus tour that delivers a memorable travel experience. Sublime Tours is a premium travel service committed to providing an exciting and fun-filled travel experience without being too harsh on your wallet. Our affordable bus tour is the perfect choice for an unforgettable family outing to your favorite travel destinations in Lexington, KY, and the beautiful tri-state area.

Sublime Tours is the top choice of families and individuals looking for an affordable bus tour to make their bus trip truly enjoyable. We are the leading providers of affordable bus tours from the Tri-State-Area of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Count on Sublime Tours to take you to some of the top travel destinations in our country. Call us to plan a bus tour to New York City, Washington D.C, Chicago, Nashville, Niagara Falls, and other popular vacation spots. We promise you a fun-filled experience where you will make memories.

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Sublime Tours is the leading multi-day tours service for those who want to get away from their routine for a few days and have a great time traveling to desirable destinations. We offer exciting and well-planned trips to some of the most popular destinations in the United States, such as Chicago, New York City, Disney […]

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We recently had a fantastic first-class bus tour experience with Sublime Tours Red Eye Bus Trips! The tour bus was immaculate and well-maintained. Traveling was comfortable in the plush seats. The kids loved the bus tour experience, and so did we. There was never a dull moment on this fantastic bus tour which was very well planned and organized. I will recommend Sublime Tours. They are one of the best bus tours you can get near Huntington, West Virginia.

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Offering The Cleanest, Safest, Most Kid Friendly Bus Tours from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia

Bus tours frequently asked questions.

A Red Eye bus tour is a trip that’s scheduled to depart at night and arrive at the preferred destination the next morning. Many passengers prefer traveling at night to arrive at their destination after enjoying a whole night’s sleep and enjoying an extra day. Red Eye bus tours are popular among tourists as it saves them time and a night’s accommodation. When you travel on Sublime Tours Red Eye bus tour, you can enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep on the best seats without suffering travel fatigue. You can arrive at your exciting destination in great shape, ready to enjoy a fun-filled day ahead.

A Red Eye bus tour means a trip is scheduled to begin late at night and arrive at your destination the next morning. This is designed to save you time so that you can save one whole day of traveling and enjoy exploring your destination even longer. Red Eye bus tours are popular among entrepreneurs and tourists who want to make the most of their time. A well-organized Red Eye bus tour such as the one by Sublime Tours allows them to catch up on their sleep on the road. They can arrive at their destination feeling fresh and bright after a good night’s sleep on seats designed to maximize their comfort.

For travelers, a Red Eye bus tour is a time-saver. These tours start late at night and are scheduled to reach the destination the next morning. As travelers are on the road for the night, they can sleep comfortably in the luxury buses and arrive in great shape at their chosen destination the next morning. The most significant advantage of doing a Red Eye bus tour is that you can save a whole day which can be spent exploring more places. It helps add more value to your bus tour vacation time. In addition, Red Eye bus tours are more affordable than regular bus tours. So you can save time and money too.

We serve the Eastern KY area and are the favorite bus tour service of vacationers, business owners, and people from all walks of life. We are the top choice of individuals and families looking for affordable vacations. Our Red Eye bus tours are affordable and conveniently scheduled to deliver the most comfortable and convenient travel experience to our valued customers. Many of our customers return to us to relive their previous experiences because we ensure they have a great time on our well-maintained luxury buses and exciting fun-filled bus tour getaways and destinations. Our customer service is rated among the best in the industry.

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Sublime Bus Tours is a name synonymous with excellence, quality, comfort, and affordability. We offer the best luxury motor coaches, comfortable reclining seats, 4G LTE WI-FI, power outlets, DVD player, and lots more. Above all, we offer our outstanding and industry-leading customer service, which will exceed your expectations every time you travel with us on our Red Eye bus tours. When you want excellence delivered throughout your bus tour from beginning to end with a remarkable experience, choose Sublime Tours for affordable, fun-filled bus tours where you can make memories to cherish for a lifetime!

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bus trip to nyc in december

Taking a Bus Trip to New York City: Sights to See

New York City skyline view

The Big Apple is an exciting destination for friends, families, school groups, church members and business teams. The city boasts many famous landmarks, attractions, viewpoints and an intriguing mix of neighborhoods. While it’s impossible to explore all of them in a day — or a week — with proper planning, you can enjoy some of the most prominent attractions around the city during a one-day visit.

Before  chartering a reliable ride  that prioritizes your safety and comfort, create an itinerary of all the NYC places you’d like to see. With limited time on your hands, you’ve got to go in with a plan. Here are some must-see sites in New York to get the inspiration flowing.

1. Times Square

If you want to experience New York in its full glory, you must  take a walk in Times Square . The tourist hot spot gives you a feel of the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. It’s among the world’s busiest pedestrian streets, lined with gigantic digital billboards, talented street performers, live music shows and a whole range of businesses.

If you walk through Times Square or people-watch from one of the many restaurants in the morning, keep an eye out for shows like Good Morning America and the Today Show. And don’t miss a chance to experience the historic  Hard Rock Cafe New York , the  Paramount Building  and the  M&M store . There’s also no better place to buy your New York City souvenirs than one of the many gift and specialty shops in Times Square. There’s the Disney Store, Yankees Clubhouse and countless other shops where you can pick up an “I Love NYC” T-shirt.

2. Central Park

Scenic view of Central Park

Central Park is among the oldest and most-visited urban public parks in the United States. The  park covers about 843 acres , or 1.3 square miles, of Manhattan and was established over 150 years ago to facilitate the recreational needs of the fast-growing city. Central Park provides New Yorkers and visitors  a place to escape  the busy and stressful city life.

The serene park is covered with green lawns, Instagrammable trees, broad lakes, winding streams, rolling slopes and stunning valleys. It’s also home to several animal species, including chipmunks, geese, ducks, squirrels and bunnies. When you only have a few hours to  explore Central Park , take your pick of attractions like the Conservatory Water, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, the Central Park Zoo and the Belvedere Castle.

3. Rockefeller Center

An iconic symbol of midtown Manhattan, the  Rockefeller Center  is a complex of buildings and plazas that house television studios, theatres, corporate headquarters, shops and restaurants. Some of the most iconic attractions you can see include the 70-story skyscraper that houses NBC studios, hundreds of historic art pieces and the Associated Press Building.

You can catch 360-degree views of the city from the  Top of the Rock observation decks , explore and relax at the Channel Garden, and shop at the NBC store. Around the holidays, you can skate at The Rink at Rockefeller Center and check out the legendary Christmas tree. Another major attraction worth experiencing is the modern-style gardens on the seventh floor of Rockefeller Center. Looking to enjoy an elaborate dinner in New York? Make a  reservation at the Rainbow Room  for an unforgettable experience that includes fine dining, excellent skyline views and pleasant service.

4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Spend part of your day in New York exploring the  9/11 Memorial & Museum  to better understand the events that led up to the tragic attacks on September 11, 2001. The memorial is free and open to the public every day of the week, but you pay for admission to the museum.

The museum blends architecture, archaeology and history to tell the story of the attacks. You can explore artifacts, imagery and rotating displays that pay tribute to the people who were affected. The museum also hosts  events and programs  online and offline to deepen your understanding of the attack’s continued impact on the United States and the world. You can support the museum by purchasing books, keepsakes and apparel at the Museum store.

5. Broadway Shows

Your day trip to New York isn’t complete without catching a  live Broadway show . New York’s Theatre District is home to over 40 theatres, each with a minimum capacity of 500 seats. Bus trips to Broadway are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will bring you closer to your travel buddies in more ways than you can imagine.

Live Broadway shows are exhilarating because you get to indulge in the work of top-tier actors, orchestras and designers. You can enjoy elaborate performances in Broadway staples like “Wicked” or “Chicago,” catch a revival of a classic musical like “Sweeney Todd,” check out a newer option like “The Notebook” or “MJ” or opt for more family-friendly shows like “The Lion King.” It’s best to  buy your tickets  a few weeks, or even months, in advance. You can also often enjoy discounted rates for groups of more than 10 people.

6. Empire State Building

End your day trip by visiting the  Empire State Building . Take in all of New York’s breathtaking beauty from one of the enclosed observatory decks, either 86 floors (1,050 feet) or 102 floors (1,250 feet) above Manhattan streets. On bright days, you can  catch clear and stunning views  of up to six states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In the evening, you can enjoy panoramic views of the neon-lit New York skyline.

While the Empire State Building has spacious and fully air-conditioned waiting areas, you should  book your tickets in advance  to avoid long queues and waiting times. You’ll also appreciate the opportunity to take and post photos from the world’s most photographed building.

Trust Executive Coach to Get You to NYC

Trust Executive Coach to get You to NYC

Executive Coach is a luxury bus charter company based in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We offer regional day trip transportation for small and large groups in the most comfortable luxury motorcoaches. We can help you plan and schedule one-day bus trips to NYC at affordable prices and with a guarantee of the highest quality customer service.

Our team is made of professionals who enjoy and strive to provide customers with the best travel experience.  Contact us  for more information on how we can help you plan an amazing day trip to New York. If you have your itinerary ready,  request a free quote  for your NYC bus trips.

Taking a Bus Trip to New York City: Sights to See

From Our Customers:

  I want to extend my appreciation to Executive Coach and our driver for organizing a safe trip to the Women's March in DC this past Saturday. Our driver was courteous and respectful and obliged to our wishes to travel directly into DC for a drop off point after all the metro sites were full. Everyone on the bus loved his accommodating manner and felt safe riding with him. I appreciate the Executive Coach staff working tirelessly to make sure we had all the information available to us. I look forward to working with you all again!  

  I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation of your driver. He was our driver for the past days from Boston to New York. He was not just a professional driver, he cared for us, he was understanding, and most of all knew where and how to get everywhere.  

- Garry & Carmen

  Clean coaches, professional drivers, excellent safety record, overall pleasant experience.  

  We have worked closely with Executive Coach for years. They have always portrayed the utmost professionalism and courtesy to us as a customer. Their equipment is state of the art and very well maintained, and their drivers are concerned with the safety of their passengers and are very pleasant to our groups. Overall, the team at Executive Coach has been a wonderful partner with White Star Tours and we look forward to continuing our professional relationship for years to come.  

- White Star Tours

  Back from another wonderful day trip to Ocean City! The bus driver was pleasant, courteous, and a wonderful driver. We were picked up on time, the bus was clean and comfortable, and we were back a few minutes early despite some traffic delays. Can't wait to go again in August!  

- Connie from Paradise, PA

  We had a great time yesterday. Thank you so much. Things could not have gone more perfect. Our driver did a great job. We were running over a little on time, and I gave him the choice of skipping the last stop or keep going (which would mean we would get back to our return destination about 40 minutes later than scheduled). He said it was fine with him to keep going and complete our route. It was a great day. Thank you very much to Executive Coach, Inc.!  

- Susan Threadworks Quilting

  On a recent trip to D.C. I was in need of a sudden change in carriers due to safety concerns and the crew at Executive Coach came through for me. They were able to provide service from D.C. to Chicago on a less than 24-hour notice. I will recommend Executive Coach anytime, anywhere! You have restored my faith in a corporate culture that takes responsibility, loves their work and goes the extra mile (literally!)  

- Ed Hollinger Chiaravalle Montessori School

  Not only were they reasonably priced, the assigned bus was clean and on time for all scheduled events throughout the day. Our bus driver, Greg, was very professional, warm and welcoming. He helped to make the travels even more interesting by sharing some history of the surrounding area. My family and I are pleased. Looking forward to using your services in the future. Thank you so much.  

  I just finished a tour from Washington to Boston with one of your drivers. It was the best driver and person I worked with in my last 15 years. The group and I appreciated his presence and safety during this tour.  

- Normand Misa Tours

  We were very pleased with the outcome and performance by your company in the transportation of our employees.  

- Lancaster General Hospital

  Executive Coach staff & drivers are timely, friendly, and professional. They took the stress and worry out of our transportation logistics  

- Hope International

  Went to Montreal and Quebec city over the weekend with a school trip...all three drivers were very professional and friendly. Our driver (Jay) was exceptional in communication and safety! I would highly recommend Executive Coach!  

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Executive Coach, Inc. 525 Beaver Valley Pike Lancaster, PA 17602-1601

(844) 924-8755

(717) 464-4033

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Kline Tours, Inc.

New York City 1 Day

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  New York City 1 Day Join Kline Tours for A Day On Your Own in New York City. Kline Tours is your source for New York City with many dates to choose from. Kline Tours is now an official ticket agent for Broadway Shows in New York City. If you want to take in a Broadway Show while in New York Contact us and we can let you know availability and pricing of any participating theater in New York City.

09/07/24 New York City Saturday September 7

09/07/24 New York City Saturday September 7 $99.00

Spend A Day On Your Own in New York City Departure points are Hagerstown, Greencastle and Chambersburg. Drop-off in New York is in Times Square area. The day is yours to do as you please. Sightseeing, shopping, take in a...

10/12/24 New York City Saturday October 12

10/12/24 New York City Saturday October 12 $99.00

11/30/24 New York City Saturday November 30

11/30/24 New York City Saturday November 30 $99.00

12/02/24 Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Monday December 2

12/02/24 Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Monday December 2 $209.00

RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Monday December 2. See the world famous Rockettes. Bus departures from Hagerstown, Greencastle and Chambersburg. Join Kline Tours for our annual 1 day trip To New York City for...

12/07/24 New York City Saturday December 7

12/07/24 New York City Saturday December 7 $99.00

12/14/24 New York City Saturday December 14

12/14/24 New York City Saturday December 14 $99.00

12/21/24 New York City Saturday December 21

12/21/24 New York City Saturday December 21 $99.00

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Which New York Bus Tours Are Best?

bus trip to nyc in december

This post reviews and compares the various bus tour options available to you in NYC, including hop-on-hop-off, fully guided, themed, and night tours. 

This content written by local tour guides who don't just review but actually lead these bus tours, so we know a thing or two about them.

If you are looking for content written by enormous media companies using AI and favored by Google, then you've come to the wrong place.

If you are like many visitors, you are struggling to decide which of the many bus tour companies to choose, or if to choose one at all.

There are hop-on-hop-off buses, fully-guided bus tours, themed tours, night tours, and the list goes on.

Well, we are here to help make sense of it all.

In this post, we explain the pros and cons of each option and compare the different options.

New-York-Bus-Tours

These are two questions that we locals get asked all of the time, and the following tips come from our own experiences.

And we also got inspiration from the contributions of the roughly 200k members of our popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group. At the bottom of this you can see what group members thought about bus tours.

Our group consists of locals, like our guides, veteran visitors to NYC and newbies.

There's no need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations, so check us out once you finish reading this post.

So, without further ado, let's get moving.

  • Double Decker Bus Hop-on-Hop-Off
  • Hop-on Hop-off Tours Compared
  • Fully Guided Bus Tours
  • Movie + Themed Bus Tours
  • Night Bus Tours
  • Combo Deals
  • Brooklyn Bus Tours

NEW YORK HOP ON HOP OFF SIGHTSEEING BUS TOURS

Traditional hop-on-hop-off bus companies provide transport to major sites all over the city, which can be appealing if the New York subway system seems daunting.  

Typically guests purchase 1, 2, or 3-day access passes and can then get on/off the bus at any of the company's designated stops at any time, or they get tickets through a tourist pass .

Most multiple-day tickets include more than one route to explore, a free bike rental, and sometimes even a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty!

Depending on the service you use, tickets might also include admission to more than one museum, popular attractions like the Empire State Building, and freebies at nearby businesses.

Prices for these combination tickets are sometimes too good to pass up.

All offer audio headsets with commentary in multiple languages.

Unfortunately, no hop-on-hop-off company offers live tour guides at this time. For live guides, check out the next section .

The market is very competitive with companies outdoing each other's prices regularly.

NYC Sightseeing Pass

Be sure to check for any deals by clicking the links.

However, no information is provided when you are off the bus, and commentary on board occasionally consists of a recording.

For that reason, these tours are best for those looking for an informational shuttle service between attractions rather than detailed information about the city.  

Leave the detailed touring to our pay-what-you-wish walking tours  or our audio tours , many of which start and end near popular bus stops.

Likewise, during the busy season, guests may have to wait for multiple buses to pass through a stop as seat availability is not guaranteed.

Also, keep in mind that though bus tours guarantee easy transportation around the city, they are not always the quickest as all bus tours are subject to NYC traffic!

BIG BUS TOURS

If we were ranking these buses, Big Bus would be at the top of the list.

Big Bus Tours consist of 35+ stops around New York City on 5 routes, including Downtown, Uptown, and Midtown Manhattan routes, Harlem Routes, and one route in Brooklyn ( see map detail ).  

You can also download their app, which has maps to help you plan your route.

Guests listen to an audio recording in one of 10 languages while on the bus and they are free to wander around on their own at each stop.  

They also offer a  night tour , which is not a hop-on-hop-off tour as well as  combo packages .  

All of the Big Bus routes are included for free with the Sightseeing Pass , GoCity Explorer Pass , and the New York Pass .

Big Bus Tours New York

UPDATE: Big Bus has actually added a new feature for kids: Peppa Pig ears!

All children who climb onboard will receive a pair of Peppa Pig ears to wear and an activity sheet.

There is also an audio commentary channel just for kids which focuses on the history of this character and includes music from the latest album.

Big Bus Tickets

Here are just a few of their most popular tickets. Prices are for tickets purchased online. It's slightly more expensive on-site.

All prices below reflect an additional 10% off pricing that you can only get when purchasing tickets directly from the official Big Bus website.

Essential Ticket 1 Day

  • 1 Day Hop-on, Hop-off w/ 2 extensive routes
  • The ticket includes 50% on a 2-hour bike rental.
  • Price: $72/Adults | $63/Children

Premium Ticket 2 Day

  • 2-Day Hop-on, Hop-off Tour w/ 2 extensive routes
  • Price: $90/Adults | $81/Children

Deluxe Ticket 3 Day

  • 3-Day Hop-on, Hop-off Tour w/ 2 extensive routes
  • The ticket includes a 2-hour bike rental
  • Price: $100/Adults | $90/Children

Discover Ticket 1 Day

  • 1-Day Hop-on, Hop-off Tour covering Downtown route
  • Price: $54/Adults | $45/Children

Learn more and/or purchase tickets here .

TIP: Save an additional 5% off tickets by using Tiqets !

Big Bus also offers even more combinations where you can add on attractions (see below ), which could include access to the Empire State Building,  Madame Tussauds, and much more.

Be sure to read our post comparing all the different tourist pass options in NYC .

Review of Big Bus New York

Big Bus is the best-reviewed hop-on-hop-off bus tour in NYC and the company regards itself as the premium hop-on-hop-off bus service in New York City.

This company sports an overall 4 out of 5-star  rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide. Reading their reviews will help set proper expectations.

Most negative comments focus on the amount of time that it can take to get onto a bus and the audio systems not working properly. Negative reviews are more likely in high seasons.

Even those who didn’t enjoy their experience typically reported that this bus service was worth considering. 

TopView NYC

This is a relatively new company offering hop-on-hop-off bus tours, but they’re giving the competition a run for their money.

Not only are their prices much cheaper, but they also offer a lot of additional activities and attractions for free with each ticket.

In addition to their main Downtown tour, they also provide hop-on-hop-off routes of Uptown & Harlem, Brooklyn, and even a Night tour.

Depending on which ticket option you choose, you can also get access to a Statue of Liberty Cruise, a Central Park Bike Rental, and the Museum of the City of New York.

This hop-on-hop-off bus tour ticket can be used at any time within 6 months of the original purchase date.

That means you are free to buy tickets when they are on sale and wait until you plan to visit NYC to use them. 

Reviews of TopView NYC

Ratings for this company have suffered in recent years.

While some of this might be due to issues that all companies had during the pandemic, there is no mistaking the fact that their reviews are not very good anymore.

TopView has an overall rating of 3 out of 5 stars , and most guests feel that they don't provide accurate instructions on how to use their service.

Whatever is going on behind the scenes, one thing is for sure: many reviewers are displeased with this company.

Their prices might be some of the lowest in NYC, but sometimes when it seems too good to be true, it actually is.

Same Day Downtown Pass

  • 24-hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • $45/Adults | $35/Children

Same Day Downtown & Uptown Pass

  • 24-hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown & Uptown Bus Tour
  • $61/Adults | $51/Children

All City Pass (2-Day)

  • 48-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • Uptown Tour
  • 2-Hour Central Park Bike Rental
  • $81/Adults | $71/Kids

All City Pass (3-Day)

  • 72-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • Brooklyn Tour
  • Statue of Liberty Cruise
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • Free Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Store
  • Skyscraper Museum
  • $115/Adults | $101/Kids

All City Pass (5-Day)

  • 120-Hour Hop-on-Hop-off Downtown Bus Tour
  • $131/Adults | $115/Kids
  • Purchase tickets or learn more .

TIP: We highly recommend choosing a more reliable and better-rated service, but if you're really looking to save some money, this is the most affordable hop-on hop-off bus tour currently available in NYC.

CITYSIGHTSEEING NYC BUS TOURS

NOTE: Big Bus has officially taken over every aspect of operation for City Sightseeing in New York City, so this service is no longer available.

The following information is kept here only for those who have not yet been informed of this change.

CitySightseeing NYC offers a similar open-top, double-decker hop-on-hop-off service as Big Bus.

Brooklyn Bus tour City Sightseeing

Like Big Bus, CitySightseeing is a global company and you most likely have seen their red double-decker buses in other cities.  

Reviews of CitySightseeing NYC

When it comes to their hop-on-hop-off service, the reviews are mixed.

CitySightseeing has earned an overall rating of 3 ½ out of 5 stars.

As with most bus services in New York, the negative comments focused mostly on long wait times and audio systems not working properly.

Those who were pleased with their experience reported that the bus drivers/guides were both helpful and knowledgeable.

( NOTE - there are no longer live tour guides).  

Previous guests have complained about experiencing a lot of pressure to tip the guide/driver at each stop.

So, either be prepared to ignore these pleas or carry $1 bills to distribute at each stop.

  • Downtown Tour (Midtown south to the Financial District)
  • Uptown Tour (Midtown north to Harlem)
  • Brooklyn Tour (Currently unavailable)
  • Bronx Tour (Currently unavailable)
  • Night Tour/Holiday Lights (Currently unavailable)
  • Downtown: $59/Adults | $49/Children

NEW YORK CITY HOP ON HOP OFF TOURS COMPARED

If you're having trouble deciding which hop on hop off company to work with and figuring out how much tickets cost, this section will directly compare all the most pertinent details about each service.

As you can see, there are a few main differences you'll want to keep in mind when deciding which service to choose:

  • No matter how you do the math, Big Bus is the bigger name in hop-on hop-off tours, and they do charge a bit more.
  • Although they aren't as popular as Big Bus, they do have 3 day and 5 day tickets, and they also include additional activities that aren't offered by their competitors.
  • If you read the reviews for each service, you'll find a lot more negative experiences being reported about TopView NYC than Big Bus.

HOP ON HOP OFF WITH A TOUR GUIDE 

As a company that primarily offers walking tours, we prefer these types of bus tours as they include all the benefits of a bus tour without most of the cons!

The guide accompanies you on and off of the bus at each stop so you get detailed information about all the major sites, rather than just wandering around on your own.

You are also with the same bus, driver, and guide for the entire duration of the tour, so you never have to worry about getting a seat and can enjoy the tour in a more intimate setting.  

These are premium tours run in climate-controlled buses, therefore they are more expensive than the traditional hop-on-hop-off variety.

However, you will see a lot more, more in-depth, in a much shorter amount of time. 

USA GUIDED TOURS

Visiting New York can be an exciting and bewildering experience.

If you’re looking for a nice overview of the entire city, you might want to consider the NYC Day Bus Tour .

In addition to a fully guided trip throughout the Big Apple, you’ll also enjoy a walking tour and usually a boat cruise (Apr 1 till Dec 31)  around Manhattan.

The full trip will take roughly 5 hours to complete and you will see a lot of significant landmarks along the way.

Your tour guides hop off at each stop to help show you around!  

Available daily from 10 AM – 3 PM.

TIP: If you are planning on visiting Washington, DC, you will get 30% off the Discover DC Tour  (normally $69) if you purchase it at the same time as your Discover DC Tour.  

You will need to call USA Guided Tours to confirm your NYC tour date.

  • $99 for Adults
  • $89 for Children
  • $10 off for members of the Military
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • More info or to book online .

Reviews for USA Guided Tours NYC

All of the reviews for USA Guided Tours are positive.

With a full 5-star rating on TripAdvisor and Viator, it’s safe to say that this is one of the highest-rated tour companies in NYC.

One happy customer went so far as to exclaim that this is a must for any first-timers in New York. This seems to be a common sentiment, as several visitors left similarly positive comments. 

ONBOARD NYC

OnBoard offers day and nighttime tours, including an 8-hour Premium See-It-All Tour, which covers the length of Manhattan and comprises a visit past or to the Statue of Liberty. 

  • Cost : $69.99 and up depending on type/length of tour and which day of the week
  • Duration : Tours vary from 3.5-8 hours
  • Tour with Staten Island Ferry Ride
  • Tour with a ticket to the Statue of Liberty
  • Not currently available

Reviews of OnBoard NYC Tours

Reviews for this company are very good, resulting in an overall 4 ½ star rating on TripAdvisor and Viator. 

Some went so far as to indicate that they visited locations you wouldn’t typically see on a tour of New York City. 

SPECIALTY AND THEMED BUS TOURS

  • NYC Street Theater
  • Movie and TV Tours
  • Scott's Pizza Tour
  • Hip Hop Tours
  • Kenny Kramer's Seinfeld Tour

The Ride is Broadway on a bus!

A unique experience that, according to their website is "equal parts theatrical show and immersive tour."

It's designed to be fun and entertaining, with street performers scattered throughout the tour route.  

The information about the city is rather limited and the route is confined to the area around Times Square, so guests looking for a comprehensive city tour should look at "The Tour" or elsewhere.

Tickets and Reviews of The Ride

This service has received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide ( read the reviews ). 

Most guests enjoyed their experience on The Ride, but some have said that the quality of this tour has decreased over time.

It would appear that this trip does not appeal to all audiences, but it’s worth noting that hundreds of customers have left positive feedback about their adventures.

If you’re looking for something a bit different, many passengers have suggested that this is one of the most original and unique bus tours in New York!

  • Price: $79 per person
  • Duration : 75 minutes
  • Free cancellation up to 24 hours before tour time.
  • Purchase tickets here .

TIP: The Ride is free for those who purchase the New York Pass  or  the Explorer Pass .

Read our post comparing NYC tourist passes . 

This fun and educational trip is from the same company that brought you The Ride.

The Tour is less about the performance (there are no singers or dancers along the route) than it is about the city itself. 

Clocking in at 15 minutes longer than The Ride, this service is more affordable and it covers a slightly larger area.

TIP: Both the RIDE and the TOUR are free for those who purchase the New York Pass  or  the Explorer Pass .

Reviews of The Tour

Much like the other services from this company, The Tour has an overall 4 out of 5-stars rating on TripAdvisor.

There are a few negative comments, but the overwhelming majority of their ratings are positive.

Some passengers suggest that this is a great option for anyone who might be short on time, while others say it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken.

Several of the negative reviews indicate that they were expecting the same experience that is offered on The Ride, but that simply isn’t the case.

Please make sure to select the right bus tour from this company to avoid any confusion.

  • Cost: $39 per person
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Not currently available.

TIP: Both the RIDE and the TOUR are usually free for those who purchase the New York Pass  or  the Explorer Pass .

ON LOCATION TOURS

If you’re a major movie buff, then this is the tour for you!

On Location Tours specializes in showing guests where all their favorite movies and TV shows were filmed.

Some of their most popular tours include:

  • NYC TV & Movie Tour
  • Sex and the City Hotspots Tour
  • Gossip Girl Sites Tour
  • Sopranos Sites Tour
  • TCM Classic Film Tour
  • When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour
  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sites Tour
  • Superhero Film Locations Tour
  • Manhattan TV & Movie Sites Tour
  • East Village TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour
  • and the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour .

Guides also pepper the tours with history about the neighborhoods you drive through.

Reviews of On Location NYC Tours

With a 4 ½ out of 5-star  rating and over 1,500 positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide, it’s safe to say that On Location Tours has impressed a lot of customers.

That being said, about 10% of their reviews are from unhappy passengers, who complain that the tour wasn’t as long as they were promised, while others simply found it uninteresting.

Although these comments may be troubling, it’s worth remembering that there are ten times as many people who absolutely loved their experience with this company.

Several guests recommend this tour for film buffs of all ages, stating that it is both informative and fun for movie lovers.

  • Cost: Varies with tours, but most are between $30-$70.
  • Duration:  Tour times vary, but most run between 2-4 hours

HUSH HIP-HOP TOURS

Whether you are looking to bust a move or bust a rhyme, Hush Hip Hop Tours has the perfect tour for fans of the genre.

It claims to be the only hip-hop tour company in the world with pioneers of hip-hop, DJs, and professional break-dancers leading its tours.

As you travel from one location to the next, some of the people who helped make the movement possible will explain how this art form was born in the streets of NYC.

Their tours will take you to Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

Reviews of Hush Hip Hop Tours

This may be one of the highest-rated experiences on the list, as Hush Hip Hop Tours have earned an overall 5 out of 5-stars rating from most 

An overwhelming majority of customers have reported that their trip around New York was not only memorable but historically accurate as well.

Some have even said that this tour is great for all audiences, suggesting that you need not be a fan of hip-hop to learn a lot about the city while on your trip.

There are only a handful of negative comments, and few of them seem to have anything in common that would suggest any major issues with their service.

  • Bus Tours: from $75
  • Free cancellation with 24 hours notice.

TIP: Hush tours are also available for free with The Sightseeing Pass .

SCOTT'S PIZZA TOUR

Scott's Pizza Tours are the premier pizza tours of New York City.  

Scott's offerings are primarily walking tours. However, on Sundays, Scott offers a pizza bus tour that reaches the outer boroughs of NYC.  

  • $85 per person
  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Includes stops at 4 pizzerias
  • Proof of vaccination is required
  • Stops change weekly

Reviews of Scott's Pizza Tours

Everyone loves pizza, and according to reviewers on TripAdvisor, learning about the dish can be pretty fun.

An overwhelming majority of the reviews for their bus tour are positive.

This tour takes place on a yellow school bus, so it might not be the most comfortable seating you’ll ever experience.

That said, almost everyone who has experienced the trip has had an absolute blast.

Positive reviews suggest that the entire journey is entertaining, and you’ll even have the opportunity to eat a few slices!

Scott also offers pizza walking tours, including:

  • Greenwich Village Pizza Walk
  • Crosstown Pizza Walk
  • Lower East Side Pizza Walk
  • Brooklyn Pizza Walk

KENNY KRAMER'S SEINFELD TOUR

Fans of Seinfeld will definitely want to consider taking this tour.

According to Larry David, Kenny Kramer was the actual person who inspired the hilarious character of Cosmo Kramer.

Believe it or not, Kenny still lives in New York and he provides a fabulous tour of the city to give fans a better idea of what life was like for the people that inspired the characters in everyone’s favorite show about nothing.

Visit a lot of the locations you’ve seen in the series and hear about the creation of this concept from Kramer himself!

With the exception of just one negative review, every rating on TripAdvisor is positive. 

Some fans report waiting years to take a tour with Kenny only to have their expectations exceeded in the end.

According to many reviewers, this might be one of the more entertaining bus tours in the city, and it’s perfect for any fan of Seinfeld.

  • Cost: $47.50 (plus $2 service charge)
  • Available Saturdays at 12 PM
  • Duration: 2-3 hours

DO-IT-YOURSELF NYC BUS TOUR

If all of the above sounds out of your price range, then you could always take advantage of the public bus system and tour around the city on your own!

The New York Times published a great article a few years back about the best bus lines and routes to see all the major sites in the city.  

For under $10, the public bus system offers visitors a great way to explore the city on their own for a minimal cost.  

Don't forget that you can also take our free walking tours in combination with this option.

Another option is to download our audio tour app and use it for the neighborhoods that take the bus or subway to get to.

COMBINE BUS, BOAT, HELICOPTER TOURS AND MORE

If you are interested in taking both a boat and bus tour while visiting New York, it's often cheapest to purchase those two tickets as part of a combo deal.

Many companies offer a variety of combinations, including helicopter tours and museum tickets as well.  

Child prices are even less, but they vary. Click the company links for more details.  

Be sure to also read our post comparing the various tourist passes , such as the New York Pass, CityPass and the Explorer Pass, which may be an even better fit for you. 

All passes include some form of bus tour.

In addition to their hop-on hop-off bus tours, this company also offers a variety of additional activities you can combine with their tours to save money.

These combo packages include tickets to some of the most popular attractions in New York City, so there's a pretty good chance you're already planning to see them anyway.

  • $100/Adults | $90/Children
  • $80/Adults | $70/Children
  • $130/Adults | $120/Children

Purchase combo tickets here .

Some of these deals are better than others, and in the case of packages that include the Statue of Liberty or the 9/11 Memorial Museum , we recommend reading more about these to find out if you can get tickets for even cheaper another way.

It's also worth noting that most of these attractions are also included alongside the Big Bus tours with the New York Pass , the  New York Sightseeing Pass  or  the Explorer Pass .

CITY SIGHTS

City Sights also offers several different combo packages at a low rate. Use the promo phrase SAVE10 to get an extra 10% off each package.

Big Bus Classic Tour + 1 Attraction

  • 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
  • Both Downtown and Uptown Loops
  • Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock
  • Intrepid, Sea, Air, and Space Museum
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Madame Tussauds
  • 9/11 Tribute Museum
  • New York Historical Society
  • The Cloisters Museum
  • Central Park Sightseeing Guided Bike Tour
  • Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour
  • $79/Adults | $69/Children
  • Purchase this combo deal .

Big Bus Classic Tour + 3 Attractions

  • $139/Adults | $129/Children

The Sightseeing Pass

  • NYC Bus Tour for 1-10 days
  • One World Observatory
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Night Bus Tour
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • On Location Tours - When Harry Met Seinfeld
  • Prices from $149/Adults | $139/Children

New York Tour Shuttle

This bus tour is perfect for those who only have limited time in New York.

Over 9 hours, you'll see several different landmarks and enjoy access to sites such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Additionally, you'll also make a special stop in Little Italy for lunch.

This is a fairly comprehensive day trip that covers most of the bases in NYC.

Tickets are a bit expensive, but ratings indicate that the service may be worth its higher price tag.

  • Ticket Prices: $99 per person
  • Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Availability: Thursday – Monday at 9:00 AM
  • Statue of Liberty (w/ access to the Pedestal)
  • Wall Street Walking Tour
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Little Italy

Reviews for this service are quite good, as a majority of customers have given the trip a 5-star rating.

Several visitors mentioned their tour guides by name, indicating that they were very friendly and provided a lot of useful information about the city.

Although they enjoyed the experience, some reviewers felt it important to note that you will need a lot of stamina for this all-day outing.

If you are interested in day trips such as this, consider checking out our comparison of NYC in a day tours .

This company is currently offering their night bus tour in a combo package which includes tickets to the Edge Observatory.

If you're planning to visit this attraction and you're interested in taking a bus tour at night, this is an excellent opportunity to save some money.

The bus tour itself begins at 5:30 pm and lasts for 4 hours, so you'll want to visit the Edge Observatory before taking the tour.

This combo tour is available 3 days a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

  • $94/Adults | $84/Children

NIGHT BUS TOURS OF NYC

Many of the companies listed above also offer evening bus tours.

The New York skyline is breathtaking when illuminated after dark, and a bus tour is a great way to see many different areas of the city in a short amount of time.

Night tours do not typically operate as hop-on-hop-off tours, even though many are operated by hop-on-hop-off companies in double-decker buses.

There are also small group shuttle bus night tours.  

NOTE: Some of these night tours are included in the multiple-day tickets offered by each company.

In addition to its highly-rated daily tour, this company also provides one of the longest and most detailed night tours in New York.

Clocking in at 4 ½ hours in length, the NYC Night Bus Tour will take you past some of the most popular destinations in the entire city, including locations such as Times Square, Chelsea Market, Chinatown, and Greenwich Village.

This excursion also includes at least one short walking tour. Discover how New York City changes when the sun goes down! Available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 5:30 PM to 10 PM.

  • $59 for Adults
  • $49 for Children
  • $6 off w/ Military ID
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Availability: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
  • More information and to book .

Every single review for this particular night tour is 5 stars . Most guests report that this company is very professional and reliable, describing their tour guides as entertaining and knowledgeable. 

TOP VIEW NYC

In addition to their hop-on hop-off bus tours, this company also offers a night tour which allows you to see what the city looks like after dark.

This outing doesn't include any of their other bus tours, nor does it provide access to the Museum of the City of New York or a free Central Park bike rental.

Even so, it is one of the few options for a night bus tour as of March 2024.

If you're interested in seeing the city lights after the sun sets, this is an excellent option you might want to consider.

  • Not Hop-on Hop-off
  • No additional activities or routes
  • $51 per person

NOTE: Don't forget that this night tour is included with their 2, 3, and 5-day hop-on hop-off bus tour ticket.

TIP: We recommend considering another service, as this company routinely receives negative reviews indicating they aren't the best option on our list.

BIG BUS NIGHT TOUR

Big Bus offers nightly bus tours that depart between 6-7 pm every 15-20 minutes from Times Square (6 pm - 8 pm in winter months).

Sites include Radio City Music Hall, 5th Avenue, the Empire State Building, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn waterfront.

You can view their night tour route map (yellow).  

  • Price: $62.10 per person
  • Duration : 2 hours.
  • Included in the price of all multi-day Big Bus tickets.
  • It is not included in the New York Pass.

TIPS FROM LOCALS AND TRAVELERS

We hope that this post provides you with enough information to decide which, if any, NYC bus tour is right for you.

To help you get a sense from others about the various tours, we've included these opinions and suggestions from members of our popular New York Travel Tips Facebook group.

Here, Lindsey asks the question that anyone considering these tours wants to know.

bus trip to nyc in december

Among those who have taken and enjoyed a bus tour, one of the most common reasons they gave is to become oriented to the city.

bus trip to nyc in december

Rather than hop on and hop off, many people found it helpful to do a full loop first and note what sites you’d like to go back to.

This can be a great way to narrow down your itinerary to only places you know you will like.

These tours are more than just a way to orient yourself, you’ll learn things about NYC as well and see a lot!

bus trip to nyc in december

Plus, on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover new places that intrigue you enough to go back and visit them.

bus trip to nyc in december

This group member liked learning about the city’s neighborhoods and then deciding where to go back to.

bus trip to nyc in december

She also loved the fact that the bus gives her feet a rest while she still discovers more of the city.

Like the others, this group member recommends them but feels that the tours are best used as sightseeing tours, rather than a means of getting from attraction to attraction as that can eat into one’s time.

bus trip to nyc in december

For those who have never done a bus tour, don’t worry as they are pretty easy to use.

For example, Big Bus has an app that shows you in real time where buses are so you know when to be at the stop.

bus trip to nyc in december

You may have noticed that two members above were able to take the Big Bus tour for free by purchasing a New York Pass. You can read more about this pass here .

Need help planning your bus tour itinerary? This member has organized one for you!

bus trip to nyc in december

As for taking the unusual tour, The Ride, it really depends on what you are looking for. 

If you are looking for an informative tour that takes you around the city, The Ride isn't the best choice. That isn't to say you won't enjoy it.

bus trip to nyc in december

If you want to be entertained in a one-of-a-kind manner, then it could be just what you are looking for, especially after a long day and you want to sit back and relax.

bus trip to nyc in december

If you have any more questions about NYC bus tours (or anything else about NYC) that we haven't covered here, check out our New York Travel Tips Facebook group !

New York Travel Tips and Hacks

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When is the best time to visit New York City in 2024?

Brian Healy

Mar 22, 2024 • 5 min read

bus trip to nyc in december

Figure out the best time to visit New York City with this guide © Anthony Nazario for Lonely Planet

Pride parties dancing through the streets in the summer, Broadway shows bringing the magic of the stage in the fall, holiday lights and magic in the winter, cherry blossoms galore in the spring…there’s no such thing as a bad time to visit New York City .

This abundance of seasonal activity means it’s hard to decide when to plan your trip. So whether you’re looking to nab a deal, go ice skating in Central Park, avoid the crowds or join them, here’s our guide to the best times to visit New York. 

December to February is a holiday season like no other

During the holiday season, New York City is a beautiful sight covered in twinkling lights. Instead of snow-capped mountains or wooden ski lodges, visitors can enjoy the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree , plus a mixture of goodwill and retail madness – Fifth Ave department stores (as well as Macy’s ) create festive, elaborate tableaux within their storefront windows. You don’t have to look far to find a concert or religious service packed with holiday tunes. The downside to all this festive cheer is that hotel prices skyrocket to summertime levels.

However, if you don’t mind risking a winter blizzard, there are deals to score during the long, cold winter months of January and February. Though the winter doldrums arrive after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, New Yorkers take advantage of the frosty weather, with outdoor ice skating and weekend ski trips to the Catskills . The odd blizzard and below-freezing temperatures make February a good time to stay indoors nursing a drink or a warm meal at a cozy bar or bistro. The fashion industry A-list descends on Manhattan for New York Fashion Week , while (most years) Lunar New Year celebrations make the city’s Chinatowns (there are many!) the places to be. 

Bow bridge in Central Park on a sunny day in spring. A cherry blossom branch in full bloom frames the right side of the image

March to May is a great time for budget travelers  

Springtime is another great season to try to score hotel deals. The summer crowds have yet to descend and the weather is generally pleasant this time of year (but there are no guarantees). The odd warm spring day appears and everyone rejoices – though that’s usually followed by another week of subzero dreariness as winter lingers on. Wearing green is essential on St Patrick’s Day, when a huge parade makes its way through Midtown.

Spring finally arrives in April, and the city’s new outdoor dining program officially opens for the season. Tree pits, window boxes, squares and parks abound with bright tulips and cherry trees start blooming – a spectacle you can enjoy at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden , on Roosevelt Island and throughout Central Park.

The weather becomes warm and mild, usually without the unpleasant humidity of summer – May is perhaps the best month for New York City weather. Broadway perks up again as shows open in advance of the June Tony Awards. In late May, uniformed sailors fan out on the town as Navy vessels dock on the Hudson for Fleet Week .

Check out these other budget-friendly tips before you book

A group of people holding and flying rainbow flags walk down a street during NYC's Pride Parade.

June to August is the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors

There’s nothing like summertime in New York City. While the weather often gets hot and sticky, the city also comes alive with a host of festivals, parties and events throughout the five boroughs. There’s the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island , the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Pride March in Manhattan and the US Open in Queens . This is also the ideal time to check out the local beach scene .

The warm temperatures in June tempt New Yorkers out of their office cubicles and WFH setups to lie out in the city’s green spaces. Parades roll down the busiest streets and portable movie screens are strung up in several parks. SummerStage offers exciting programming after dark in Central Park all season long.

As the city swelters in July, locals escape to Long Island  or to beaches just a subway ride away . Still, it’s a busy month for tourism, as vacationing North Americans and Europeans fill the city. The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks dazzle, while Shakespeare in the Park serves up some drama – for free.

Thick waves of summer heat generally set in between the skyscrapers in August as everyone heads to the seashore or gulps cool blasts of air-conditioning. Myriad outdoor events and attractions add life to the languid urban heat. The US Open kicks off at the end of the month. Hotel prices are at their highest in the summertime as the streets fill with tourists from all over the globe. If the humidity becomes a little too much, you can always take a day trip to recharge and renew – before heading out for another night on the town.

Where Locals Go: NYC locals share their favorite nearby vacation spots

A traffic-filled street and above, neon signs of Broadway shows in New York City

September to November is the best time for cultural events and openings

After Labor Day, New Yorkers return to the city en masse and the city is abuzz with events, Broadway openings and new art exhibitions. Revelers dance down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in the West Indian American Day Parade , and festival-goers eat up sausage and peppers at Little Italy ’s Feast of San Gennaro . Hotel prices might dip a bit from the summer’s peak but don’t expect incredible deals.  

As the season progresses and “sweater weather” sets in by October, the air gets crisper and the leaves start to turn. Brilliant bursts of color blossom across the city's parks as temperatures cool, ushering in one of the most pleasant and scenic months to visit NYC. Cultural delights continue, Comic Con invades the Javits Center and normally private sites open their doors for one weekend only during Open House New York . The Village Halloween Parade closes out the month with a creative bang.

As the leaves tumble, light jackets are replaced by wool and down. The headliner NYC marathon is tucked into the final days of pre-hibernation weather before families gather to give thanks – and perhaps watch the giant balloons pass by at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Ready to plan your trip to NYC?

  • Add these top experiences to your itinerary
  • Find out which NYC neighborhood fits your vibe
  • Start crafting your budget with these tips
  • Navigate NYC like a local with our transportation guide

This article was first published Mar 12, 2021 and updated Mar 22, 2024.

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bus trip to nyc in december

MTA plan would exempt part of NYC fleet, yellow school buses from congestion pricing

T he MTA’s plan to exempt some New York City fleet vehicles from congestion pricing tolls came into clearer focus Monday, as the transit agency prepared to approve its final version of the tolling plan later this week.

As first reported by the Daily News , the agency has proposed exempting yellow school buses, privately operated commuter buses, and certain city vehicles on official business from its plan to toll vehicles entering Midtown and lower Manhattan.

The congestion pricing plan has long had a built-in exemption for emergency vehicles, and the plan approved by the MTA in December included exemptions for “specialized government vehicles” like street sweepers and snow plows.

That exemption will expand to include certain non-specialized vehicles owned and operated by the city and used for official city business, officials in Mayor Adams’ office and the MTA said Monday.

Examples include building inspectors or child services workers responding to calls in a city-owned car, mayoral spokeswoman Liz Garcia said.

MTA officials said Monday that City Hall would be providing a detailed list of specific vehicles that required such an exemption, and that the list would have to be approved by the transit agency.

An MTA spokesperson estimated that the city exemption would apply to less than half of the non-emergency municipal fleet.

The MTA’s board is expected to vote on a final version of the tolling plan Wednesday, ahead of the expected June start of congestion pricing.

Meanwhile, Patrick Condren, a lobbyist representing several of the region’s private bus operators — including the Hampton Jitney, Coach USA and Academy buses — welcomed the MTA’s decision to extend an exemption to any bus that is open to the public and runs on a regular schedule.

“The private bus industry is clearly part of the public transit system,” Condren told reporters Monday outside a meeting of the MTA’s board. “We are providing a public service to the riding public, and we’re pleased and happy to see that the MTA recognizes that.”

A spokesperson for the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1181-1061, which represents school bus workers, declined to comment on the proposed school bus exemption before the MTA votes on the tolling structure.

Michael Mulgrew, head of the United Federation of Teachers — which is suing the MTA in federal court over the congestion pricing plan, claiming it will increase traffic outside of Manhattan as well as place a financial burden on teachers who drive to work in the congestion zone — did not comment on the proposed school bus exemption.

Mulgrew did, however, take issue with the MTA’s decision not to exempt city workers’ personal automobiles.

“Our lawsuit focused on the inequalities of the congestion pricing plan, both environmental and economic,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of those inequalities have still not been addressed and so it will be up to the court to decide.”

With Cayla Bamberger

©2024 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Congestion pricing cameras are pictured on West End Ave. looking orth from W. 60th St. March 15, 2024 in Manhattan.

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Nyc council pushes massive $55m expansion of program to fund half-priced transit fares to poor.

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The City Council is pushing a massive $55 million expansion of a program that funds half-price transit fares for poor New Yorkers – as fare evasion continues to skyrocket.

Speaker Adrienne Adams wants to expand the city’s “Fair Fares” program so that half-off subway and bus fares would be available to 650,000 more residents of the five boroughs, as an estimated 325,000 already get the discount.

“The rising cost of housing, childcare and food is making it difficult for working families to stay in the city they love and build their legacies right here,” Adams said during a press conference Tuesday.

subway

Adams said many New Yorkers struggle to even afford even a one-way fare after a price hike kicked in last August.

This latest expansion push comes just one year after the Fair Fares program was last expanded.

To be eligible for the program now, applicants would have to be at 120% of the federal poverty level or less.

The expansion would increase that number 200%, just a year after it was hiked from 100%.

Although advocates pushed Fair Fares, which launched in 2019, as a program that could provide relief to the fare evasion crisis, it hasn’t helped slow down fare jumpers.

Nearly $700 million in revenue was lost to fare jumpers in 2022 alone. That included $315 million lost in bus fares, $285 million in subway fares, $46 million in bridge and tunnel tolls and $44 million in railroad fares, according to a 2023 PCAC  report  on fare evasion.

The same report said that more than half of fare evaders are skipping out by simply walking through the emergency exit gates. Another 20% of fare evaders jump or climb over the turnstile.

The largest spike in fare evasion is typically from 3 to 4 p.m. when schools let out, with smaller spikes during the morning rush hour, according to the report. Students are already given free transit passes.

city bus

Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala said many fare evaders are just low-income New Yorkers trying to get around in a city that keeps hiking the cost of public transport.

“With minimum wage at nearly $16 an hour in our city, paying nearly $6 to go and from work can be a heavy burden on New Yorkers. A reduced fare provides much-needed relief for low-income New Yorkers bearing the brunt of our affordability crisis,” Ayala said.

Meanwhile, the cost of a ride continues to go up.

After pausing its biannual fare hikes during the pandemic, MTA raised the cost of a single ride on MTA’s subway system by 25 cents to $3.25.

To ride an MTA-chauffeured bus one time, a rider must pay $3.25, also up 25 cents.

Metro card

Straphangers looking for frequent rider deals weren’t spared from the MTA’s price hikes. A 7-day unlimited MetroCard rose $1 to $34 last summer, and a 30-day unlimited pass increased by $5 to $132.

The $55 million expansion would put the Big Apple more in line with programs in other large metropolitan U.S. cities, according to a report from the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

The federal poverty level changes based on the size of a person’s household. For example, for a one-person household the federal poverty level is $15,060. For a four-person household, the federal poverty level is $31,200.

Of the 10 most populous U.S. cities with discounted public transit fare programs, New York City has both the highest poverty rate and the lowest income threshold, according to PCAC.

Most cities offer half-off fares for people living at 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Denver comes in just ahead of New York City. It offers fare discounts to people living at 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

Los Angeles is the most generous city for discounted fares. It offers 20 free rides per month to people making 300 percent or less of the federal poverty level. 

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Subscriber only, transportation | nyc transit advocates in new push to expand eligibility for fair fares subway, bus discounts.

Transit advocates and local electeds are again calling on Mayor Adams to raise the threshold for a city program offering half-off subway and bus rides to lower-income New Yorkers, demanding that the discount be available to those making less than twice the federal poverty line. (Anthony DelMundo / New York Daily News)

That would make 650,000 more people eligible for the Fair Fares program, according to a report expected Tuesday from the Permanent Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the MTA.

“As the cost of living has gone up, the eligibility for Fair Fares has not gone up,” Lisa Daglian, head of the PCAC, told the Daily News.

The eligibility has been tied to the federal poverty level, which the government does revise each year. But advocates and transit officials agree that the nation-wide benchmark for poverty falls short of the mark amid New York City’s high cost of living.

When the program began in 2019, eligibility was set at those making 100% of the federal poverty level or less — at the time that meant a family of four making less than $25,750 a year.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and transit advocates fought last year to raise the threshold from the poverty line — then $30,000 a year for a four-person household — to twice that number .

“The program’s current eligibility threshold undermines its ability to reach the riders who need and can utilize discounted fares the most,” she said in a statement. “This latest report only adds to the many reasons expanding Fair Fares to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level makes sense for New Yorkers and our transit system,” she said.

“It shows that residents from outer-borough neighborhoods and transit deserts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens can benefit the most, underscoring just how important it is for the budget to include this change for working-class New Yorkers.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. (Luiz C. Ribeiro; Shawn Inglima for New York Daily News)

Ultimately, budget wrangling saw a more modest increase , with New Yorkers eligible if they made 120% of the federal poverty level or less — currently a maximum annual income of $37,440 for a family of four in the five boroughs, or $18,072 for an individual.

“At 120%, you are not reaching people who are minimum wage workers,” Daglian said. “We really need to be sure that people who are doing essential work all over this city can get to their job.”

For the second year in a row, advocates and various elected officials are expected to lobby Mayor Adams for the funding to expand the program to include those making 200% of the poverty level or less — $62,400 for a family of four or $30,120 for an individual.

In total, PCAC estimates some 250,000 people who already ride the subways and buses would benefit from the proposed expansion.

Fair Fares Expansion Report

The analysis by PCAC staff predicts that an expansion to twice the poverty level would increase eligibility in a slew of neighborhoods across the city.

The Bronx would see the biggest per-capita increase in eligibility, with 16% of the borough’s population becoming eligible under the proposed threshold. Queens and Brooklyn would see about 13% of their populations eligible for the discount.

At the neighborhood level, more than half of the population across neighborhoods like Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and Morrisania and Highbridge in the Bronx would be eligible for half-off transit fares.

A quarter of the population would be eligible in Queens neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Flushing.

Fair Fares Expansion Report

The boost in funding would cost the city an estimated $55 million, and expand the program to include lower-wage workers who rely on subways and buses to get to work.

“If you’re making $50,000, $60,000 a year, you’re not rich — you’re still barely hanging on,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, a supporter of the expansion, told The News.

“This is your teachers, your paralegals, your crossing guards — your everyday New Yorkers who really do drive the city,” he said.

Asked the chances that this year’s push to expand the program would succeed where last year’s had not, Richards said he was confident City Hall would see the appeal.

“This is what you call political gold,” he said of lowering the cost of commuting for Gotham’s working class.

“I see the way New Yorkers are struggling,” he said. “If you’re not going to look at it from that standpoint, at least look at it from an election standpoint.”

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