Christmas in New York with Kids…Like a Local

Santas corner is a home in Whitestone (Queens) NY that is a must-see during the holiday season.

You know all the touristy places in New York for Christmas: Rockefeller Center! Central Park! Pictures with Santa at the Plaza Hotel! I want to share the stuff that I do with my ids during the holiday season… the stuff real New York families do… those things where you will find more locals than tourists! 

Here are my ideas so you can celebrate Christmas in New York with Kids Like a Local! 

Celebrate Christmas in New York with Kids Like a Local

Here are my top ideas so you can celebrate Christmas in New York with Kids like a local. 

The Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Gardens.

Sure, you may think that it’s a trek to go to the Bronx, but NYC isn’t only Manhattan my dears! You can easily access the NYBG by Metro North, it’s a quick ride from Grand Central, or you can take the subway there as well (or drive, they have ample parking). 

The Holiday Train Show is a must-see! NYBG recreates NYC monuments using plants, bamboo, and other material. In addition, the garden is beautifully decorated as well, and kids can run around since there are no cars. It’s a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. 

Celebrate Christmas in New York with Kids like a local at the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show

The holiday train show is open until late January, so it’s something you can do after the holidays as well! For more info on tickets visit NYBG.ORG.

Tip: Don’t eat at the gardens, head over to Little Italy in the Bronx and enjoy a delicious Italian meal! 

Santa’s Corner, Queens NY 

Now, you need a car to get here but if you happen to be driving, don’t miss this house on the corner of 166th Street and 23rd Avenue in Whitestone. 

Celebrate Christmas in New York with Kids like a Local by visiting this house in Whitestone, NY~

The house is really impressive, so many lights, decorations and statues! 

Christmas in New York like a local in Queens

Ride the Holiday Nostalgia Train

For the price of a Metrocard swipe, this is something really cool to do in NYC! 

During the weekends in December the MTA puts out a nostagia train on certain lines. The train is a vintage 1930s R1-9 train car, and it runs on regular service every Sunday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. You can get the full schedule here.  

R1-9 vintage fleet makes up the Holiday Nostalgia Train on Sun., November 25, 2018, running from 2 Av to 145 St.
Photo: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science

The NY Hall of Science is a great museum for kids, and one that is often overlooked by tourists. 

The Gingerbread Lane at the New York Hall of Science is a must-see during the holiday season in NYC!

During Christmas they have a huge gingerbread lane that takes a year to plan and that has been featured multiple times in the Guinness Book of World Records! NYSCI also has gingerbread making workshops for kiddos and a special play area for younger children. 

The Gingerbread Lane is open until mid-January (Jan. 12th in 2020). 


Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor

For a second year, the NYC Winter Lantern Festival is back in Staten Island! Wait… what? Diana, you want us to go to Staten Island? Well, yes because the Lantern Festival is adorable. Your kids will love the lights and sculptures… definitely some instagrammable moments. You can ride the ferry which is another fun experience all on its own! 

Come on, venture out to Staten Island the forgotten borough. 

The Winter Lantern Festival is happening until Jan. 12 2020; to get info about tickets click here. 


And to finish off the Christmas season like many New Yorkers of immigrant decent do, by celebrating Three Kings Day! (Jan. 6th). 

Attend the Three Kings’ Parade in El Barrio! 

Every year, Museo del Barrio in Upper Manhattan hosts its Three Kings’ Parade. 

Photo credit: Museo Del Barrio 

Museo del Barrio has been putting on the Three Kings Day Parade for over 40 years (43 to be exact) and it’s always full of music, joy, and dancing. The parade begins at 106th St and Park Ave, goes up Park Avenue and ends at 115th St and Park Ave featuring live music. Then, the party continues inside the Museo del Barrio. This is something I’ve done alone, and it is SO much fun! 

Three Kings parade In NYC

Photo credit: David Bledsoe via Flicker. 

They have the Holy Family, The Three Wise Men, dancing, and it’s an all around great time! 

camels at the three kings parade NYC

If you like these suggestions, don’t forget to share this article with your friends! 



Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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