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10 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in New York at Christmas

Experience the magic of New York at Christmas with these 10 wheelchair accessible things to do during the holiday season. From ice skating in Central Park to visiting the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, this guide will help you make the most of your Christmas in New York. Get ready to create unforgettable memories in the city that never sleeps because NYC in December is magical!

a group of red Christmas baubles sitting on top of a fountain. The Radio City Music Hall is behind the baubles.
Photo by Jay Joshi on Unsplash

New York is my favourite city. I’ve been able to visit a handful of times during various times of the year. But my dream had always been to visit New York at Christmastime.

Growing up watching classic Christmas movies, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Miracle on 34th Street, made New York look magical. When I finally got the chance to visit, it was a dream come true as I experienced the city’s unique charm and magic for myself.

Every Christmas since that trip, my partner and I love to look back on our experience, and we always talk about how much we’d love to go back to New York at Christmas. This time around, it would be even more special because we have two adorable young nephews to share the experience with. We hope to relive the magic of Christmas in the city with them!

Things to Do in New York at Christmas

Here are the 10 best wheelchair accessible things to do in New York at Christmas if you’re planning a visit during the holiday season this year. I loved Christmas in NYC, and I’m sure you will too.

1. Visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

One of the most iconic symbols of Christmas in New York City is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Adorned with 50,000 multi-coloured LED twinkling lights and topped with a Swarovski star, it’s a sight to behold and a must-see attraction during the holiday season.

No visit to New York in December is complete without seeing the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree, but as you’d imagine, it gets very crowded, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.

In terms of wheelchair accessibility, I managed to navigate the crowds by taking my time, anticipating people’s movements, and ultimately being patient for my moment to swoop in and capture that all-important selfie in front of the Rockefeller Christmas tree for the ultimate New York at Christmas vibes.

2. Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with friends and family, ice skating at The Rink under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a magical experience. It’s a great way to create unforgettable memories while surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the towering Christmas tree, the twinkling lights, and the famous Prometheus statue.

The Rink at Rockefeller Center is ADA-compliant so wheelchair users can enjoy the iconic Christmas activity in New York too. I wish we had glided across the famous ice during our visit at Christmas time, but it’s at the top of my bucket list for our next visit to New York in December. Rounded off with a nice hot chocolate afterwards to warm up and complete the perfect winter experience.

tourists and skaters in the famous Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holidays.
Photo by fashionstock: tourists and skaters in the famous Rockefeller Center during the Christmas holidays.

3. Attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show

Another must-see attraction during the Christmas season is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show. Held at the iconic Radio City Music Hall, this show features the world-famous Rockettes and is a holiday tradition for many families. The show is filled with dazzling dance numbers, stunning costumes, and festive music that will leave you in awe.

If you’re planning to attend, be sure to book your wheelchair accessible seats in advance, as this show sells out quickly. We booked our wheelchair accessible tickets months ahead of our trip and had a great view of the stage and all the action. We left at the end of the show feeling full of Christmas spirit.

The Rockette's dancing on the stage at Radio City's Christmas Spectacular.
Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular
View from the wheelchair accessible seats

4. See the Holiday Window Displays on Fifth Avenue

Each year, the luxury New York City department stores on Fifth Avenue create extravagant and enchanting displays that capture the spirit of the holidays. From Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman to iconic brands like Tiffany & Co., the Christmas window displays are spectacular. Even if you don’t like shopping, you have to stop by to admire the creativity that goes into these festive displays. 

As a wheelchair user, I found Fifth Avenue to be very busy, and although I don’t like to shop while on holiday (a souvenir magnet and snowglobe will do me), I definitely enjoyed seeing all the Christmas lights and window displays, with some even featuring music and a light show projected onto the building’s facade, so I would do it again. It’s a whole attraction in itself and a fun, wheelchair accessible thing to do in New York at Christmas.

Saks Fifth Avenue holiday display light projection onto the building’s facade.

5. Explore the Holiday Markets

In addition to shopping along Fifth Avenue (or window browsing in my case), another shopping must-do during the festive season in New York is exploring the various holiday markets scattered throughout the city. NYC’s holiday markets offer a unique shopping experience and an opportunity to shop locally. You can find festive souvenirs, Christmas gifts, handmade gifts, clothing, artwork, delicious treats, and holiday decorations.

We visited the Columbus Circle Holiday Market and the Union Square Holiday Market. We couldn’t resist purchasing a souvenir when we found two turtle dove Christmas tree ornaments. The turtle doves were a nod to our favourite Christmas movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

We enjoyed soaking up the festive atmosphere while sipping hot chocolate because it is so cold in New York in December. I mean freezing cold.

New York Christmas market

6. See the Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal

The New York Transit Museum’s popular Holiday Train Show is back for the first time since 2020. Lionel model trains run along a 34-foot-long, two-level “O” gauge model train layout that winds past some of the city’s most prominent buildings, including a miniature Grand Central Terminal. The Holiday Train Show is located at the New York Transit Museum Gallery & Store in Grand Central Terminal, Shuttle Passage.

Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal
Photo by New York Transit Museum

7. Go to Museums for Christmas Displays (and warmth)

Christmastime in New York City is bitterly cold. Expect freezing temperatures and even snow. We had temperatures below minus 6, and the wind chill made it feel even colder. As much as I love the look of snow, it’s not a wheelchair user’s best friend. We left New York just in time because, on our last day, it started to snow.

To escape the freezing cold, we visited museums that had Christmas displays, holiday performances, and choirs. The American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was one of our favourites. Every year, the museum displays a 13-foot-tall tree decorated with about 2,000 colourful origami animals based on a different theme related to the museum. AMNH’s Origami Holiday Tree is in the Ellen V. Futter Gallery on the first floor. 

Emma inside the American Museum of Natural History. She is sitting next to a Christmas Origami Holiday Tree
Emma at the AMNH’s Origami Holiday Tree

8. Go Ice Skating in Central Park 

One of my favourite spots to visit in New York City is Central Park. It is lovely all year. We visited in the summer and at the beginning of autumn, so it was also nice to enjoy a stroll through Central Park and admire the beautiful winter scenery. We, of course, had to stop and watch the ice skating at the iconic Wollman Rink.

Unfortunately, we only spectated, but I do wish we had experienced ice skating in Central Park, as it’s such an iconic thing to do in New York during Christmas. I would have loved gliding across Wollman Rink NYC in my wheelchair.

tourists and skaters in the famous Wollman Rink in Central Park

9. Enjoy a Holiday Concert or Performance

New York City is home to some of the best theatres and concert venues in the world. From the New York Philharmonic’s annual holiday concerts to Broadway shows with a festive twist, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Although I got the chance to go to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show with the Rockettes, I also wanted to attend a Christmas Choir performance by Candlelight. Unfortunately, I left it too late to book tickets. I think attending a Christmas Concert in New York, a performance of The Nutcracker, or a festive concert at Carnegie Hall would be a great way to enjoy the holiday season in the city.

close up of a choir hymn sheet
Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

10. Take a New York Christmas Movie Locations Tour

New York has been the backdrop for numerous Christmas movies over the years, and it’s hard to imagine the holiday season without them. One of my all-time favourite Christmas films is Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and it’s part of the reason we visited New York at Christmas, as we wanted to experience the magic. For some of the major New York Christmas movie locations, you can take a self-guided tour or join a bus tour and hop on or off whenever you wish.

A scene from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York where Kevin is leaning out of a yellow cab driving over a New York bridge.

New York is one of the most amazing cities in the world and Christmas is the perfect time to experience it. What are you waiting for? Go for it!

I hope my wheelchair accessible guide with tips for things to do will help you plan your trip to New York at Christmas.

Where Next: You Might Also Enjoy

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Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

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