It’s a classic holiday tradition – visiting “the Tree” in Rockefeller Center. It’s the perfect outing to get you into the spirit; don’t let the crowds dissuade you. Yet, there’s more to do than just snap selfies, you can spend an entire day in and around Rockefeller Plaza.
The main attraction is the giant Norway Spruce, which has stood between West 48th and 51st streets every year since 1931. Most trees are between 65 and 90 feet tall, decorated with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights, and topped with a Swarovski crystal star. This year’s lighting ceremony will be on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The tree will be illuminated daily from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. through the first week of January 2018.
For incredible views of New York City from 850 feet above street level, head to the Top of the Rock observation deck. The elevator takes you to the 69th floor Grand Viewing Deck for views in all directions, which is 80 miles on clear days (although you can’t see the tree from up there).
We took the stairs to the 70th floor for a completely unobstructed view of Central Park, the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty. It was windy, but truly memorable. Top of the Rock is open daily, 8 a.m. to midnight. Tickets are $32 for adults and $26 for seniors and children ages 6 to 12.
Following an 80+ year tradition, the sunken section of the plaza is iced over October through April for public skating. It’s open for eight sessions between 8:30 a.m. and midnight daily. Admission is first come, first served, so if your kids aren’t up for a long wait, consider the VIP pass. You’ll get to select a time and bypass the line. The package includes skate rentals, cookies, a hot drink and bottled water.
General admission skating rates are $25, $27 or $32/person (depending on the day) and $15 for children under 11. VIP rates are the same regardless of age: $60/person from Oct. 14 to Nov. 17, and $75 to $150/person from Nov. 18 to Jan. 7.
The Concourse is an underground network of dining and retail space, with plenty of kid-friendly options, including sandwich shops and delis, cafés and a pizzeria. Stop in to Jacques Torres Chocolate for delectable hot chocolate.
The best shop on the Concourse, according to my 10-year-old daughter, is P!Qtoo, offering cute gifts and accessories from Japanese brands such as Hello Kitty, Craftholic and Sonny Angel. On the Plaza, look for the giant LEGO dragon winding its way through the flagship LEGO store, with two levels of playsets, as well as a play area and a pick-a-brick wall. You can easily spend an hour sampling the newest video games at the Nintendo NY store.
Every season, 1 million people see the Christmas Spectacular show featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. While every year brings minor tweaks, two numbers have remained since the show’s debut in 1933: “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity.” The highlight is always the finale with the highly-synchronized, 36-dancer line kicks.
This year the show runs Nov. 10 to Jan. 1, 2018. There are up to six performances a day, and tickets can be combined with a Stage Door Tour. Ticket prices vary by day, time and seat selection. Radio City is massive, with an orchestra level and three mezzanines. Depending on how tall your kids are, you may want to try for seats in the first row of a mezzanine level for better views.
Frequent contributor Traci L. Suppa writes about travel, parenting and family life. WordS
• Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes
• Radio City Music Hall
• Rockefeller Center
• The Rink at Rockefeller Center
• Top of the Rock