Post Overview: NYC Christmas photo spots
Chances are if you’re visiting New York City for the holidays, you’re going to want everyone to know it. And hey, I don’t blame you! The city is as magical as you’d imagine so why not make your friends back home a little jealous? 😉
But in order to achieve full jealousy (kidding), you’re going to need to know where the best NYC Christmas photo spots are — that’s where we come in.
New York City is chock-full of decked out restaurants, festive Christmas trees and window displays galore during this time of year so narrowing down what’s worth your time can be a challenge (especially if time is limited).
We’ve compiled a list of 15 best NYC Christmas photo spots to make your trip go a little smoother and to help you with your Instagram game. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Top NYC Christmas Photo Spots
#15. Store fronts
Yes you read that correctly!
The shopping areas in New York City are endless which only means that the photo-ops are boundless as well. Not to mention the decorations that follow are beyond exceptional.
So many delightful stores and small shops make it their personal mission to stop folks in their tracks and force them to slow down and linger, gawking at the window displays.
Since shopping in New York City is such a popular activity anyways, might as well hit two birds with one stone by checking out some of the best NYC Christmas photo spots while you’re doing your seasonal retail therapy.
#14. Neighborhood Stoops
One of the best (and most accessible) NYC Christmas photo spots is likely right under your nose!
New Yorkers take decorating for the holidays very seriously, and we just so happen to reap the benefits. Charming neighborhoods full of decorated stoops make the dreamiest backdrop for a photo.
Stroll the neighborhoods in your coziest outfit (with a hot chocolate in hand, of course) and snap some pictures for Instagram. All while dreaming about one day owning a brownstone as pretty as the one you’re taking the photo in front of.
Some of our favorite NYC Christmas photo spots are in these neighborhoods:
- Upper West Side
- Upper East Side
- The West Village
#13. South Street Seaport
If you’re looking for one of the most charming NYC Christmas photo spots, look no further than South Street Seaport.
This historical neighborhood oozes old-school charm and has plenty of things to do in the area to keep you busy. It’s also home to one of the best Christmas trees in NYC, which is great for taking pictures in front of.
The neighborhood itself is full of beautiful restaurants, colorful boutiques and even a museum. But the best part? The cobble stone streets and epic views of the East River.
It’s not very often that the best NYC Christmas photo spots have views of the river, so take advantage of this opportunity and fill up your camera roll!
#12. Dyker Heights
Dyker Heights is as epic as it gets when it comes to NYC Christmas photo spots. The Brooklyn neighborhood is made up of dozens of outlandishly decorated houses that shine so bright you could probably see them from outer space.
Before you come at me — I know I mentioned neighborhoods earlier, but Dyker Heights is legendary and deserves its own section on our list of NYC Christmas photo spots.
The friendly competition is felt as you walk down the street only to find that the next house has a *tiny* bit more decorations than the previous. In fact, the neighborhood is so popular for decorations, the locals started a tourism company and offer tours.
Tickets can be purchased here, with prices starting at $75 for the bus tour and $35 for the walking tour. Interested in learning more? Check out Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 2022 (Everything You Need to Know).
The Santa Clauses’ Winter Wonderland at Watermark may sound like a mouthful, but believe me when I tell you this one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
Located on Pier 15, the festive pop-up event is made up of decorated glass-houses and enough Christmas themed drinks you can have a different one each day of the week.
Tickets start at $20 and give you access to a plethora of outdoor activities and photo-ops including a giant snow globe, Santa’s sleigh and so much more. Oh did I mention your ticket includes a cup of hot cocoa?
The pop-up is meant to be a mostly outdoor activity, however the glasshouses are available to be rented out and make s’mores in (starting at $75).
If that wasn’t convincing enough, from now until December 31st, every Saturday and Sunday you can join Watermark for brunch with Santa. Between 12PM and 8PM, families can enjoy a meet & greet with Santa, making this one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
#10. Pulitzer Fountain
Right outside of the iconic Plaza Hotel (Home Alone 2 anyone?) is the Pulitzer Fountain. The outdoor fountain stands 22 feet high and gets a Christmas makeover during the holiday season.
Giant glowing ornaments and dozens of twinkling lights garnish the fountain making this one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
I suggest coming during sunset when the Christmas lights are more visible and there is still natural day-light for the photos.
Cartier on Fifth Avenue draws locals and tourists alike thanks to their elegant display of holiday cheer. It’s not surprising that one of the most high-end jewelry brands is also one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
The lights frame the windows tied into wreaths and the store itself is made to look like a gift — ribbon and bow included.
Fifth Avenue has some of the best holiday window displays in the city. Cartier is just one of the shops that makes for the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
Further Reading: Stroll down Fifth Avenue and check out 10 WONDERFUL Window Displays in New York City (You Can’t Help But Love).
#8. New York Stock Exchange
Who would have guessed that the New York Stock Exchange would make our list of NYC Christmas photo spots, but alas, here we are!
Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t Wall Street gray, dull and everything you want to avoid when taking photos? While technically yes all of that is true, the New York Stock Exchange hosts one of the best Christmas trees in NYC, making the usually gray financial distract burst with color.
Full of colorful lights and bright baubles, the NYSE holds its own when searching for the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
Not the mention, some of the surrounding buildings participate in decorating with a classic wreath-and-lights style, adding to the charm.
#7. Lotte NY Palace
Any Gossip Girl fans in the house? If so, then this next spot might look familiar to you. In the show, this is where Chuck Bass and the Van Der Woodsen’s live in the first few seasons.
To everyone else, this is one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots. Lotte New York Palace is a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan and every year flocks of folks go out of their way to swing by for pictures.
The regal tree stands brightly in the middle of the courtyard, surrounded by twinkling lights wrapped around the nearby shrubbery.
Visitors are allowed in the courtyard, so make sure to have plenty of storage on your camera while you check out one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
#6. Bryant Park
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots because of the variety of backgrounds.
During the winter the park is transformed into a European-style Christmas market, equipped with 100 vendors that line a magical ice skating rink that sits in the shadow of the Empire State Building.
Take a photo of you iceskating with the buildings looming in the background or snap a picture of you casually shopping at the cute shops.
Further Reading: Do you have more time on your hands? Check out 10 Cheerful Christmas Markets in New York City (Worth the Visit!).
#5. Zuccotti Park
Anyone a fan of a dreamy, sparkly, blurry background photo? Zuccotti Park may be the perfect spot!
The park is made up of 54 Honey Locusts, all which get strung with twinkling lights and a gorgeous Christmas tree. The decorations may be simple, but the lighting here is magical making this one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots.
Grab a cup of cocoa and wander between the lit trees and take a picture for Instagram while you walk through enchanted lights.
Photography tip: Make sure to set your cameras focus on yourself so that the lights are blurred behind you for a whimsical feel.
Further Reading: Do you love Christmas trees? Us too! Check out 20 Captivating Christmas Trees in NYC and Where to Find Them.
#4. Radio City Music Hall
There are few NYC Christmas photo spots as instantly recognizable as Radio City Music Hall. Not only is it thanks to the fact that its name is illuminated, but thanks to the Christmas tree that towers above the marquee.
Checking out Radio City Music Hall is a bucket-list item for most folks when visiting the Big Apple for the holidays so you can expect crowds.
The great thing about the illuminating lights is that they can be seen whether you’re directly in front of the building or across the street, so finding a spot to take an epic photo won’t be difficult.
Make sure to swing by the giant ornaments across from Radio City Music Hall (another famous NYC Christmas photo spot) and take some pictures there as well.
We are always hesitant to mention Rolf’s, but if it’s the best NYC Christmas photo spots you’re after, we’d be remiss to not mention this recognizable German restaurant.
Personally, if you plan on swinging by, plan on grabbing drinks and opting out of a meal. Don’t get me wrong, this restaurant has some of the best Christmas decorations in the city, but the food is way too expensive and way too average. Plus the wait to get in is long because they don’t take reservations.
If at all possible, we suggest trying to visit during the weekday and avoid the weekends at all costs. The decorations are epic and over the top which is why we’re adding Rolf’s to our list of NYC Christmas photo spots.
Further Reading: Looking for spots similar to Rolf’s without the long lines? Check out 15 Epic New York City Christmas Restaurants You’re Sure to Love.
#2. Rockefeller Center
One of the most iconic NYC Christmas photo spots and instantly recognizable places is the Rockefeller Center, especially during the holidays.
For those wondering, this year the tree lighting takes place on November 30th, 2022.
A new tree is selected every year with an impressive requirement: the tree must be at least 75 feet tall. Decorated with more than 50,000 lights and topped with a breathtaking (and super bright) Swarovski star, this is one of the most unforgettable Christmas trees in New York City.
Our advice is to visit as early as possible (like first thing in the morning). Since this is one of the most popular NYC Christmas photo spots, the crowds are intense.
On the bright side (no pun intended), the tree is lit at 6AM so you’ll still be able to see the lights.
#1. Hudson Yards
Few NYC Christmas photo spots are as extraordinary as Hudson Yards.
Hudson Yards is a massive mall adjacent to the monolithic art display known as the Vessel. The mall features tons of high-end shops and restaurants.
Granted it’s fun to explore anytime of year, but during the holiday season it is especially worth a visit. This is thanks to the fact that Hudson Yards uses over two million Christmas lights when decorating for the occasion.
The holiday celebration at Hudson Yards Mall is called Shine On. It’s a unique light and music installation that spans the holiday season. I think kids would really like this experience, so if you have tots definitely swing by!
Not to mention, since this is one of the best NYC Christmas photo spots, the photo taking opportunities are nothing short of epic. The New York Christmas lights are breathtaking and the perfect backdrop for selfies.
Most Instagrammable Places in New York City during Christmas (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of Instagrammable places in NYC
- Hudson Yards
- Rockefeller Center
- Radio City Music Hall
- Zuccotti Park
- Bryant Park
- Lotte New York Palace
- New York Stock Exchange
- Pulitzer Fountain
- Dyker Heights
- South Street Seaport
- Neighborhood stoops
- Store fronts
Map of the top Instagram spots in NYC during Christmas
And there you have it, our list of NYC Christmas photo spots we think everyone should check out. Let us know if you think we missed a spot.