‘Tis the season for family gatherings and getaways. So what’s on the top of the destination wish list for many families? Manhattan, of course, which abounds with family fun, from the lavishly decorated shop windows to sparkling ice-skating rinks to the regal Rockefeller Center tree. Plus, Broadway also celebrates the season with a wonderful lineup of shows that have kid appeal. Here are our top picks for 5 fun holiday activities for the whole family to enjoy in NYC.
The window to witness the revolting children of Matilda at the Shubert Theatre is ever-narrowing: Matilda plays its final show on January 1, 2017. The musical, created by master comedian Tim Minchin, has thrilled audiences young and old since its New York premiere in spring 2013. A Tony Award-winning spectacle, based on the classic Roald Dahl novel, Matilda captivates with dazzling sets and wickedly fun dialogue.
In fact, some of the show’s most memorable jokes may go over the heads of your kids and instead appeal to your own funny bone. (Case in point: The reference to Doctor Who at the close of Act One.) The show doesn’t just appeal to kids – it features them, too. Four different actresses play the leading role of Matilda and half of the cast consists of child actors – all of which adds to the authenticity and fun of this show. Shubert Theatre, 225 W.
Zip Around the Ice at the Rink at Rockefeller Center
What do White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf have in common? Ice-skating! Gliding across the ice is a beloved holiday tradition, and there’s no better place to do it than at Rockefeller Center, with its twinkling lights, colorful flags, and glowing Christmas tree. New to skating? The rink offers 30-minute skating lessons for all ages. So, grab those reindeer mittens, dust off your skates, and take the family to the Rink at Rockefeller Center for a magical night on the ice.
Before or after your skating adventures, take a tour of Rockefeller Center for a fascinating overview on the art and architecture of this famous Manhattan hub. Check out Prometheus, by Paul Manship, which presides over the Rink at Rockefeller Center, as well as the swirling mural American Progress, by Josep Maria Sert, in the lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center. The Rink at Rockefeller Center, W. 50th St., btwn 5th & 6th aves.; therinkatrockcenter.com
See the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes
No visit to New York is complete without a night at Radio City. The beloved Christmas Spectacu features 12 poignant Christmas scenes, celebrating the holiday spirit around New York. The Christmas Spectacular may have been around for decades, but it’s anything but dated. The show features the largest LED screens in the world, and every year, the show reveals new elements, plot twists, and dance numbers.
Radio City Musical Hall, 1260 6th Ave.;get tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Go Wild at the Central Park Zoo
This time of year, Central Park Zoo offers a sublime backdrop for your kids to learn about North Pole-native animals. Roam this small but well-curated zoo, and learn about the natural habitats and characteristics of arctic animals, like polar bears, penguins, and snow leopards. The zoo also features an indoor rain forest, filled with tropical birds. Though we can’t guarantee you’ll see an an arctic puffin, the kids may still be inspired to quote Elf upon entering the zoo’s legendary gates: “Not now, arctic puffin!” East Central Park, 64th St. & 5th Ave.;get tickets to the Central Park Zoo
Sample the Holiday-Themed Cookies at Schmackary’s
The children are cranky. The parents are hungry. The solution? Cookies. But not just any cookies – holiday-themed Schmackary’s cookies. For those unfamiliar with this New York phenomenon, Schmackary’s is a cookie monster’s answer to the sudden rumble in need of a sweet treat. The store is centrally located in the heart of the Theater District, feeding some of the most talented actors in New York on a daily basis.
Even better? Each season, the menu at Schmackary’s changes. The holidays usher in a new batch of flavors including, dirty peppermint, pumpkin spice, German chocolate, and eggnog. 362 W. 45th St.; schmackarys.com