Image of Rockefeller Christmas Tree at the end of a procession of angels with trumpets

Get an Instagram-perfect selfie in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree [Photo credit: June Marie/Flickr]

There’s nothing like NYC decked out at holiday time with plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions to get you in the holiday spirit. To New Yorkers, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the official kick off to the holiday season frenzy that floods the Big Apple with tourists from near and far who dream of being a part of the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple at Christmas time. Whether you are coming for a short getaway or planning to spend the season or the semester in the city this winter, read on for our “must do” things to check off your bucket list when you’re in New York City during the holidays. Then head to our apartment search page to find the perfect furnished apartment or room so you can feel at home in the big city. Winter doesn’t have to be boring when you can spend it in the city that never sleeps!

Festive sights & lights

Image of the front of Radio City Music Hall at night with neon lights, Christmas tree over the entrance, trees wrapped in lights and giant red ornaments

Don’t miss New York City’s famous holiday shows this winter! [Photo credit: Matt Kieffer/Flickr]

When in New York City during holiday time you simply can’t miss hitting some of the iconic sights you’ve dreamed about and seen in movies all your life. Sure, they will be flooded with people Instagramming away, but we have to admit they are worth battling the masses to experience, so grab your camera, watch your wallet and get those elbows ready to work your way through the crowds — welcome to New York City!

The Rockefeller Tree lighting ceremony is a huge occasion for New Yorkers and tourists alike, with free live performances from top musical artists drawing huge crowds. This year the event takes place on Dec 4th, 2019. If you’d rather skip the biggest crowds but still want to see the famous tree, forgo the tree lighting ceremony and head to Rockefeller Center any other day up to the first week of January. When you plan an extended stay in NYC you’ll have plenty of time to see the sights at your own pace while also experiencing everyday life in the city like a local from the comfort of a fully equipped furnished apartment home base instead of a bland hotel room.

Some other holiday trees to check out as you explore the city in your free time are the origami tree at the American Museum of Natural History – decorated with 800 hand-folded origami creations, and the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring an 18th-century Neapolitan Baroque Crèche with cherubs and angels.

Even locals enjoy checking out the elaborate holiday decorations around NYC, keep your eyes open and you’re sure to spot some under-the-radar yet impressive hotel and apartment building lobbies. If you’ve always dreamed of coming home to a swanky NYC pad with your arms full of holiday shopping bags and a doorman holding the door open into a dreamy Manhattan apartment building lobby with a glittering, larger-than-life Christmas tree — consider renting an apartment in one of our full service buildings with a doorman this holiday season and live your best life!

Image of toy replica of family at a Christmas tree stand, tying a tree on top of their car

Pick out a tree for sale on a NYC street corner and make your furnished rental merry! [Photo credit: Tyler Delgado/Unsplash]

If you enjoy a more low-key, local neighborhood vibe, we recommend settling into one of our smaller walk-up buildings and bringing your creativity with you to make the space your own for the holidays. Smaller buildings and brownstones are full of character and classic features. Once your creativity is sparked by all the festive decor around town, bringing some holiday cheer home and sprucing up your furnished apartment with seasonal decor is as easy as stopping by the local market for some poinsettias or birch branches or hitting one of the dollar stores for some Christmas garland and lights. Imagine shopping for the perfect tree at one of the sidewalk tree sellers and taking it back to your furnished apartment where you can add a bit of your own holiday style to make the space truly feel like home.

Catch a seasonal show

Image of dancers dressed as toy soldiers and mice in The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Ballet is a New York City tradition for all ages [Photo credit: Rosalie O’Connor/ Flickr]

Nothing screams New York City like shows, whether it’s showtime on the subway with street performers, big Broadway productions, quirky off-Broadway theaters or immersive art and light shows. When in the Big Apple for the holidays it’s tradition whether you’re a local or just visiting, to head to the much anticipated holiday shows. Of course the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes is a show most New Yorkers remember seeing with their parents back in the day, and many make it a tradition to return every year for the memories or to continue the tradition with their own families. If you’re a theater go-er, consider renting an apartment in Midtown West or Hell’s Kitchen close to the Theater District. Another classic holiday show is the Nutcracker Ballet performed by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center, while hobbyists love the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden with miniature NYC landmarks recreated using bark, leaves, and other natural materials. For something new and equally magical for kids of all ages, check out an immersive lights festival like Lumino City on Randall’s Island featuring 12 acres glowing with LED art installations.

While other locations around the globe might fall into a lull of inactivity during the winter, NYC still bustles with entertainment and culture, making it the perfect time to head to the city. Plant some roots for a month or so to get familiar with the city or test out a possible relocation when off-season pricing on longer furnished rentals is more budget friendly.

Holiday shop ’til you drop

Image of tourists in winter wear outside of store windows decorated for the holidays

Don’t miss the holiday store windows as you stroll down Fifth Avenue [Photo credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr]

Everyone heads to NYC for word-class shopping from department stores and designer boutiques to unique local and vintage shops. When the holidays come around, not only do you have plenty of options to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, but you get to do it all while strolling by the famous holiday window displays. If you want to pack the most into your stroll we recommend heading down 5th Avenue from the southeast corner of Central Park down to 34th Street. Along the way you’ll pass other iconic sights like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. Don’t forget to grab some roasted chestnuts or honey roasted nuts from one of the famous NYC street vendors — follow the irresistible smell, your nose will show you the way! Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) starts the holiday shopping frenzy and plenty of sales at major department stores like Macy’s.

Image of people shopping in an outdoor Christmas Market in Columbus Circle, NYC

Outdoor Christmas Markets pop up for the holidays in New York City [Photo credit: Charley Lhasa]

If you crave the full holiday experience you have to stop by one of the many Christmas markets (Union Square, Brant Park and Columbus Circle being some of the main ones), where you can browse unique treasures from independent vendors while sipping on some hot chocolate.

Everyone has their own sense of style, and that applies to fashion and apartments too, whether you’re looking for classic old school New York City features or living the celebrity dream life just for couple of months is on your bucket list, one of our agents can point you in the right direction or you can day dream while scrolling through the NYC apartment offerings on our website to find the apartment that matches your sense of style.

Indoor & outdoor winter fun

Image of people skating at night by the famous tree in Rockefeller Center

Everyone has to hit the ice at least once in their life at Rockefeller Center [Photo credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr]

If winter brings out your inner ice skater, there are plenty of picturesque spots to show off your skills or share a laugh about your lack thereof. You can skate free at Bryant Park (if you need skate rentals there’s an extra fee) surrounded by midtown skyscrapers and a view of the Empire State Building. If you want to live your movie scene dreams right in the center of Manhattan, there’s The Rink at Rockefeller Center, featured in many romantic movie scenes and where many real life proposals happen in front of an audience of tourists. If you prefer to be surrounded by nature, there’s Wollman Rink in Central Park — which you might recognize from the movie Serendipity among many others — and LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park where you can skate lakeside surrounded by trees and you just might forget you’re in the big city for a moment.

While in Brooklyn, spend an evening strolling through the over-the-top holiday decorations that Dyker Heights is known for!

If you prefer to hole up indoors and skip the chill, with so many restaurants and pubs in this amazing city there’s never a lack of places to go for a hearty meal or to meet up for a hot toddy. Limited daylight means more fun in the dark — try a romantic candlelit cafe, a dimly lit bar or lounge with a roaring fireplace, or a restaurant filled with holiday cheer and heart-warming comfort food. If you’re looking for a place with Christmas enthusiasm, it’s hard to be grumpy while drinking beer and indulging in Bavarian food while immersed in Christmas decorations at Rolf’s German Restaurant (281 3rd Ave at E 22nd St) — trust us, you’ll want to bring your camera for this one!

With a furnished apartment you don’t need to dine out every day, you can save money and make memories cooking in the comfort of home. Holidays are the time to gather together with friends and family so why not prepare some wine and snacks and invite a couple of friends for dinner in your NYC apartment? If you want all the excitement of New York City at holiday time yet also dream of settling down for a long winter’s nap away from the frenzy of midtown, consider renting a vacation rental or a bit longer-term furnished apartment on the outskirts of Manhattan or one of the other boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island where you can get a sense of real NYC living with the locals and some peace and quiet too!

Image of living room of vacation rental NY-15544 with antique sofas around a fireplace

Gather around the fireplace with your family for the holidays at this Brooklyn vacation rental

Rent a home for the holidays

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Holiday you know that a change of scenery (like renting a property in a new city or country) can certainly change your life. Everyone has the idyllic image of Christmastime in New York City, from the Plaza Hotel decked out in holiday bulbs and garlands to couples skating under the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Central Park blanketed in snow. New York City truly is a winter wonderland all its own. What’s your vision of a home away from home for the holidays?

Image of the living room of apartment NY-17903 with bay windows and a decorative fireplace

This elegant Brooklyn property can be rented as a vacation rental, apartment share or furnished rental

Is it somewhere big enough to gather the whole family or friends together for holiday festivities like this 2 bedroom/2 bath vacation rental close to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park? Maybe you prefer somewhere cozy with a decorative fireplace like this 2 bedroom apartment share in Brooklyn (also available as a vacation rental and furnished rental too), or this Harlem vacation rental with multiple decorative fire places that sets the perfect winter mood? Does classic exposed brick give you that warm and cuddly feeling? Do you dream of a place with a dining table big enough to host holiday dinners with friends or having a fully equipped kitchen where you can bake holiday cookies with your kids or grandchildren like this 2 bedroom duplex furnished rental in Clinton HIll, Brooklyn? We love it because it has a huge kitchen for meal prep and lots of countertop space perfect for putting hors d’oeuvres out for a holiday get together, plus multiple decorative fireplaces and exposed wood ceilings that make you feel like you’re in a winter cabin in the woods, laundry on-site so you don’t have to venture out in the cold to do the wash, and plenty of room to gather the whole family together. Maybe you simply want to curl up on a comfy sofa with your significant other and just gaze out at a bird’s eye view of skyscrapers while snow falls on the city streets below? Why wait for another year when there is still time to plan your dream winter getaway now!

No two apartments are exactly alike and once your favorite is booked it’s gone, so if you see one that makes your heart skip a beat send us a request through the website and one of our experienced agents will answer any questions you have and help lock it in for you. This 1 bedroom furnished rental in a classic townhouse on the Upper West Side has two decorative fireplaces, antique furnishings, original wood details and elegant chandeliers, surely it won’t last long on the market for winter rentals, so you better figure our your travel dates quick before someone else snaps it up!

Image of piano in the living room of NY-14656 with plush red rug and antique furniture

Imagine singing Christmas carols around the piano at this furnished rental on the Upper West Side

When temperatures drop we all crave a warm spot to retreat to that gives us a sense of home, and that’s New York Habitat’s specialty — finding the perfect property to make all your wishes come true — so whether you’re coming for a getaway or spending the season or semester in NYC, we’ll find you the perfect spot to call home for the holidays.