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There’s plenty to do in New York City any day of the year, even on a holiday like Christmas Day when so many things are closed. Yes, of course you can join the crowds taking selfies at the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and even go ice skating there. Ditto the tree and free ice skating at Bryant Park. And, yes, you could elbow your way to catch a glimpse of the world-famous holiday windows on Fifth Avenue and Macy’s 34th Street. That’s festive, but if you want to eschew long lines and thick crowds, here are six things to do, and nearby places to eat, after the presents have been opened.

There are three Jewish museums in Manhattan–one uptown, two downtown—and all offer events on Sunday, December25. That also happens to be the first day of Hanukkah, so there are menorah lighting ceremonies, too, at sundown.

Jewish Museum | Photo courtesy of @daniknipst

Jewish Museum | Photo courtesy of @daniknipst

 

1. Jewish Museum – Upper East Side
Sundays are normally family day at the museum, and Christmas Day is no different, with arts and crafts workshops and a toe-tapping concert featuring Klezmer, jazz and the music of Africa.

Eat nearby at Rosa Mexicano, one of the first and still one of the best Mexican restaurants in town. There’s a special Feliz Navidad menu, or order a la carte.

2. Museum of Jewish Heritage – Battery Park

The annual Christmas Day concert at the MJH has been described as “SNL meets Sesame Street“, with uptempo songs in Yiddish and other languages in the afternoon, and a concert of traditional Yiddish songs in the evening. Be sure to stop by the exhibition “Voices of Liberty” for the story of how Jewish immigrants from many lands helped shaped New York and the nation.

Eat nearby at Bill’s Bar & Burger Downtown, generally regarded as one of the best burger joints in town.

Museum at Eldridge Street | Flickr CC: Paul Stein

Museum at Eldridge Street | Flickr CC: Paul Stein

 

3. Museum at Eldridge Street – Lower East Side
Housed in a historic synagogue that’s been impeccably restored, the Museum at Eldrige Street is open December 25 for family-friendly scavenger hunts and arts and crafts workshops, plus a screening of His People, a 1925silent film about a Lower East Side immigrant family, with live music accompaniment. Then, join a Hot Cider Walking Tour of the historic neighborhood on the 26th that includes nibbles from local vendors like the Pickle Guys, where you pick your pucker from an old-fashioned barrel.

Eat nearby at Veselka, a no-frills Ukranian diner/cafeteria/restaurant equally famous for being open 24/7 and for its homemade borscht, meat-filled pierogies (dumplings) and cheap prices.

Katz’s Delicatessen | Flickr CC: ercwttmn

Katz’s Delicatessen | Flickr CC: ercwttmn

4. Annual Christmas Day Lower East Side Walking Tour – Lower East Side

Guides from Big Onion take you to all the neighborhood’s hot spots for 150 years of Jewish, Chinese and Latino immigrant history.

Eat nearby at Katz’s Delicatessen, where the pastrami and corned beef sandwiches are legendary, and the matzoh balls are as big as baseballs.  Just check with your cardiologist before ordering.

Photo courtesy of @rohanccc

Photo courtesy of @rohanccc

5. Nitehawk Cinema – Williamsburg, Brooklyn

This is the city’s first dine-in and drink-in movie theater, with a month-long schedule of holiday films, from the silly (Elf) to the sublime (It’s a Wonderful Life).

Nosh on high-end Italian food at Antica Pesa, which is currently taking 5:30pm, 7:30pm and 9:30pm dinner seatings on Christmas Day and whose menu will feature dishes from its regular menu plus items specifically rolled out for the holiday.

6. Film Society of Lincoln Center – Upper West Side

Get your fill of great, classic cinema at the Film Society with one of three Christmas Day screenings, including Goodfellas, Eyes Wide Shut and After Hours—titles (although not necessarily subjects) that sum up the holidays.

Eat nearby at Carmine’s, which serves up huge portions of Italian favorites meant to be shared, family-style, so don’t over-order. The cavernous Upper West Side location is the original of what became a popular chain, with outposts as far away as Las Vegas.

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Tagged: Christmas Travel Ideas, New York

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Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn is an NYC-based travel writer who would rather ride a chairlift, river raft or zipline than the subway. She's a regular contributor to major publications, including airline inflights, and has written more than a dozen travel guidebooks. Evelyn's website is www.ecoxplorer.com
Evelyn Kanter

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