Every November and December, New York City residents must walk around masses of visitors drifting through our city. Most of the time, we accept this as part of living in the greatest city in the world. At times, it can be frustrating while getting to work, doctor visits, and grocery shopping. That being said, we love it here and enjoy showing off our city to friends, family, and the occasional tourist who loves to look up at the buildings at the worst time and place.
Whether a resident or a tourist, Christmas Trees throughout the city provide joy and excitement for the season. I’ve been in NYC for 20 years and I still venture out and about every December to see my favorite trees. This helps bring me into the Christmas spirit. Here is a list of my favorite trees. Some photos are my own and some I pulled from Instagram. Soon I’ll be able to replace all the pictures within my own. So check back often.
A list of Christmas Trees in NYC would not be complete without mentioning the Rock Center Tree. Rockefeller Center bottles up joy from around NYC all year long and releases it at Christmas. Besides a magnificent tree, visitors can drink hot chocolate, ice skate, and shop.
Also, stop by St Patrick’s Cathedral across the street to see the Christmas decorations, attend mass, and light a candle by the nativity.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1000 Fifth Ave.
The Met Museum’s Christmas Tree is my favorite one in New York City. The tree is in the Medieval Sculpture Hall and sits in front of a Spanish Screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid. The tree is decorated with angelic figures wearing silk robes and at the base of the tree is an 18th Century Neapolitan Nativity scene.
The reason it’s my favorite is because of the light Christmas music playing around the tree and the tree is surrounded by religious artifacts and art from around the world. Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s cold outside or raining. Not only does viewing the Met Christmas Tree brings you joy, but also warmth.
3. American Museum of Natural History Christmas Tree: 200 Central Park West
The Origami Christmas Tree at the Museum of Natural History takes the award for the most fun Christmas Tree. Each year, the AMNH comes up with a new theme and decorates the tree with origami figures. In 2019, the theme was dinosaurs. Origami masters are on hand during the day and kids are encouraged to make their own decorations and hang them on the tree.
4. Cathedral of St. John the Divine Peace Tree: 1047 Amsterdam Ave.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a beautiful church that began in 1892 and combines the styles of Byzantine and Romanesque Styles. The church offers tours and provides a history of the Christmas holiday. There are many events happening in the church and you should check on the calendar before visiting.
The Christmas Tree or “Peace Tree” is covered in papered cranes and dedicated to peace and diversity.
5. Bryant Park: Between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Visiting Bryant Park during the Christmas Holidays has become a holiday tradition for my family. We peruse the Winter Village and shop the independent pop-up stores, go ice skating, and sip hot cocoa in front of the Christmas Tree.
6. The New York Public Library: 476 Fifth Ave
While visiting Bryant Park, stop inside the New York Public Library and visit the NYPL Tree. The New York Public Library is more than a place to act out your favorite scenes from Ghostbusters, but also a great way to learn about various holiday traditions. Also, make use of the indoor bathrooms and hot drinks by the cafe. Can you tell I’m a dad? We’re always looking for ways to warm up when out with the kiddos.
7. The Plaza Hotel: Fifth Ave. at Central Park South
The Plaza Hotel is where Kevin Mcallister caused a lot of mischief and ran up a room service bill. It’s also home to a glorious Christmas Tree. Before or after carriage rides around Central Park, stop by The Plaza and check out the tree.
And for the Home Alone fans, you can have a Home Alone 2 inspired stay in The Big Apple. Donald Trump cameo not included.
8. Lincoln Square:
Lincoln Square is a great place to catch amazing shows. It’s also a place to witness a beautiful Christmas Tree. The Winter’s Eve Festival kick starts the tree lighting every year with activities for kids and great music.
9. Radio City Music Hall: 1260 6th ave.
The Christmas Trees on Radio City’s marquee welcome visitors to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
10. Park Avenue Christmas Trees
Using money from the Fund for Park Avenue, the area between 54th street and 97th street is decorated for the holidays. The lighting of the trees usually takes place after the first Sunday in December outside of the Brick Presbyterian Church.
While walking around and doing your Christmas shopping, take a slight detour along Park avenue. It looks especially gorgeous once the sun goes down and the lights shine brightly.
11. Madison Square Park:
On December 21, 1912, the first public Christmas Tree in the United States was put on display in Madison Square Park. The tree was lit by bulbs from the Edison Company and became a holiday staple in New York City and caught on throughout the country.
12. New York Stock Exchange: 11 Wall Street
Did you know one of the most beautiful Christmas is located outside the NYSE? I was surprised when I wandered by one evening and was in awe of the lights and the giant tree. There’s a lot to do in the area, including saying “hello” to Alexander Hamilton. Take the time to see the lights and tell Alexander and Eliza “Merry Christmas. (They are buried nearby at Trinity Church.”
The Southstreet Seaport is a fun location for families, singles, and everyone. There’s a great nightlife for those that don’t have to put kids to bed, and ice skating and activities for kids. There’s a nice culinary and art scene in the neighborhood as well.
For Christmas Tree aficionados, the center of the Seaport is filled with a ginormous tree. It makes a great backdrop for selfies and family photos.
In front of the iconic Washington Square Park Arch is the Washington Square Christmas Tree. The Greenwich neighborhood gathering spot is also a joyful seasonal gathering for celebrating the holidays.
15. The Occulus: 33-69 Vesey St.
One of our Christmas traditions is to visit One World Observatory and see Santa Claus. After our visit, we walk around The Oculus and check out the holiday decorations and have lunch. Scattered throughout The Oculus are small Christmas Trees, but my favorites are the simple artistic trees stationed by chairs where we have a snack. Quite often when we visit The Oculus, we stumble across an event.
16. Lotte New York Palace: 455 Madison Ave.
There are trees that I love because of the environment they are in (Met, Bryant Park, AMNH, to name a few). Then there are trees that I love because they are magnificent and artistic. The tree at Lotte New York Palace is beautiful. The hotel offers great holiday packages for those with a lot of change to spend during the holidays, but people like me can stop by and marvel at the Christmas Tree and the decorations.
When I first moved to NYC some 20 years ago, I bought all of my Christmas gifts at the Union Square Holiday Market. It’s a great place to support small businesses and dive into the festive spirit. Since then, more holiday type markets have sprung up around New York City, but I still love to spend time in Union Square and take in the sights and smells of Christmas in New York.
18. The Cloisters: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Holly, ivy, and Christmas trees line the hallways of The Cloisters and transform the Gothic look of the Cloisters into… into… well, a Gothic Christmas. My 4-year-old daughter calls The Cloisters “The Dead Jesus Museum” due to the many art pieces displaying Christ Crucifixion. His death isn’t all that’s on display, although it is a dominant theme at the museum, but there are also many paintings of the Magi.
19. New York Botanical Garden: 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
The Christmas Trees in the Botanical Garden challenge the notion that size is better. The trees are added to the Train Show, which is the focal point of the Christmas decorations. Kids and adults enjoy the sights of the artistry involved and the sounds of the Botanical Garden’s take on Christmas.
20. Queens Botanical Garden:
Of course, a botanical garden has to have a Christmas Tree, right? All holidays are fun at the Queens Botanical Garden and my kids and I love to run through the fields and see all the flowers and plants in the garden. Next to the offices and gift shop is a Christmas Tree, well-loved by the employees and visitors.
Check back as I place more photos of Christmas Trees.
Did I miss any? What are your favorite Christmas Trees in NYC?