From the rugged forests and glacial lakes of upstate New York to the gleaming skyscrapers of Manhattan, the state of New York is a dream vacation destination. This beautiful state has something for every holiday preference, whether your ideal Christmas includes ice skating at Rockefeller Center in New York City, or gliding over the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh in Lake Placid. Book a stay at one of many New York vacation rentals, then check out the Christmas festivities in these great cities.
1. New York City
When it comes to Christmas, New York City is one of the best vacation destinations in the state – if not the country. A holiday trip to the city is packed with iconic experiences: ice skating in Central Park, sipping cider in the shadow of the massive Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and watching the Rockettes in the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular. If you have shopping to do, head down Fifth Avenue to check out the legendary Christmas window displays, or browse handmade goods at the Union Square Holiday Market. For Christmas lights, head to Dyker Heights, and for a traditional holiday evening out, watch “The Nutcracker” at the New York City Ballet.
Christmas in Cooperstown, which is known as “America’s most perfect village,” is a scene straight out of a movie. Here, Christmas lights adorn 18th-century brick buildings along Main Street, and the town’s waterfront offers a panoramic view of the snow-covered hillsides that rise from Otsego Lake. The holidays in Cooperstown are dominated by an important local tradition: the Farmers’ Museum Candlelight Evening. Explore the village in a horse-drawn wagon, and listen to Charles Dickens read the classic “A Christmas Carol.” Grab a cup of wassail, and join the carolers as they sing around the candlelit historic buildings. For a family-friendly morning out, enjoy breakfast with Santa at the Otesaga. A short drive away in Milford, hop on the Christmas Lights Train for a ride along the Susquehanna River to North Pole Station.
Since it was first established by settlers from the Netherlands in 1652, Kingston has embraced a strong Dutch tradition. Join in the fun at the town’s annual Sinterklaas festivities, which are named after the Dutch version of Santa. Attend a mask- and branch-making workshop, and wear your creations during the Children’s Maritime Parade. After the parade, watch as Sinterklaas sets off on a riverboat with his white horse in tow, and stay for the Sinterklaas Soiree. Kingston also hosts The Polar Express train; bring the whole family as the train glides through the forests in search of Santa, who boards for the return trip. Other popular local traditions in this Hudson River town include the over-the-top lights on Santa Claus Lane, the Kingston Annual Snowflake Festival, and A Frosty Fest in nearby Ulster.
4. Lake Placid
Spend Christmas in the Adirondack Mountains in Lake Placid. The site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, this beautiful village is home to family-friendly outdoor attractions, such as Whiteface Mountain ski area and the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute. Greet Santa during the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll, attend an ice-skating party at the Olympic Center’s outdoor rink, or get active during the Jingle Bell Run/Walk. Cap off your holiday adventures with a sleigh ride through the snow with Country Dreams Farm or Lake Placid Sleigh Rides.
Experience winter in the Finger Lakes region with a Christmas vacation to Corning. Start the season at the tree lighting on Centerway Square, and stay for the twinkling Parade of Lights that runs from Bridge Street to Market Street. Head downtown for Sparkle, an annual festival that features pony rides, wagon trips, and live outdoor entertainment. At the end of the evening, fireworks light the sky. Make a glass Christmas ornament at the Corning Museum of Glass’s Holiday Open House, and be sure to pay a visit to Santa as he holds court in his Crystal House in the Gaffer District.
Spend Christmas with a view of the magnificent Hudson River in Troy, a small city near Albany. Vacation rentals near downtown put you close to the Annual Troy Victorian Stroll, a sprawling holiday festival. Join the locals and dress in your finest Dickensian apparel for a day of music, dancing, and shopping. Stop by the food court in Monument Square for a cup of hot cocoa, and listen to the roving carolers regale visitors with Christmas songs. Later in the month, listen to the Albany Orchestra Pro Musica’s annual Christmas concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and attend the Christkindlmarket for last-minute shopping.
December brings ample snowfall to Syracuse, turning the small city into a sparkling wonderland. The holidays here revolve around the Lights on the Lake festival in Onondaga Lake Park, which gleams with dramatic Christmas light displays; check out the Wizard of Oz, search for a glowing Loch Ness Monster, or marvel at a shimmering Victorian Village. Skate with a view of a spectacular Christmas tree in Clinton Square, check out the amazing gingerbread houses at the Erie Canal Museum, and attend a holiday concert by Symphoria, Syracuse’s symphony orchestra. Add a festive twist to your local vacation rentals with a trip to cut your own tree at Chuck Hafner’s Christmas Tree Farm.
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