For more than seven decades, the awesome, awe-inspiring tree at Rockefeller Center has symbolized Christmas in New York City. But it’s not the only tree in town. So go forth and feast your eyes! Read on for a few of our favorites. By Jessica Allen.
Christmas Tree at the Seaport District
19 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
For a taste of old New York, head to the Seaport District. (Seriously: the Dutch West India Company once had an outpost down here.) Just don’t wear heels, as the neighborhood’s cobblestones can be tricky to navigate. The retail and dining destination has featured a tree for the last 30 years, and there’s just something incredibly evocative about staring up at the decorated holiday tree while feeling the sea breeze ruffling your hair. Bonus: if you’ve still got gifts to purchase, have a walk through the numerous nearby shops, including Defend Brooklyn, Farm Candy, and Hester Street Holiday Fair.
Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
As you might expect from the one of the largest museums in the world, the Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features a gorgeous, multi-faceted nativity scene. More than 200 crèche figures are nestled around and among the blue spruce’s candlelit branches — from a monkey playing cymbals, to a shepherd tending his flock and suspended angels and cherubs. The collection dates to the 18th-century, while piped-in music (and the occasional in-person concert) add to the religious feel.
Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
The theme of this year’s Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History is “Dinosaurs Among Us,” a tie-in with the ongoing exhibition exploring the relationship between birds and dinosaurs. The intricately folded, brightly-colored origami that adorn the tree are made by hundreds of volunteers, who begin work in March in order to get the models finished in time for display during the holidays. Many of these very same volunteers will be on hand throughout December, giving demonstrations in this fine art.
Washington Square Park Christmas Tree
Fifth Avenue and Washington Square North
New York, NY 10012
Washington Square Park feels like the spiritual heart of Lower Manhattan, or at least the area south of 14th Street. Each year the Washington Square Association puts up a 45-foot tree beneath the arch. But that’s not all: on select evenings, carolers will be singing beloved tunes and Santa himself may deign to make an appearance. There will be candy canes, merriment, and some much-needed good cheer for all.
New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, doesn’t have one decorated tree—it has quite a few! Can’t get enough? Head inside to the annual Holiday Train Show, a spectacular display of ingenuity, as more than 100 landmarks, from Yankee Stadium to the Empire State Building, get rendered with seeds, branches, nuts, and other types of flora, going on through January 2017.
Winter Village at Bryant Park
40th and 42nd Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
New York, NY
Bryant Park’s annual Winter Village offers a one-stop shop for all your seasonal needs. You can stock up on gifts from hundreds of vendors, get warm with hot chocolate or a glass of wine, ice skate (for free!) and oogle a gorgeous tree.
Jessica Allen is a New York-based writer.