Best Christmas Trees In NYC

An outside view of a decorated Christmas tree in New York City with golden yellow lights.
Photo Credit:

The holiday season can be a tricky one for New Yorkers when it comes to decorating. If we had it our way, there would be tall Christmas trees, countless nutcrackers, and warm lights in every living room! In reality, most of us settle with a table top Charlie Brown tree to fit presents under. But you know what? I’m totally okay with that, because us New Yorkers are lucky enough to live only blocks away from some of the most stunning, festive, and unique trees in the entire world. (And we’re not biased about it at all, clearly.)

While even tourists can rattle off the names of the famous trees at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, we encourage you to get out this season and explore some of the lesser known Christmas trees in the city… Unless crowds are your thing, of course! Here are 5 of our favorites:

An interior view of The Plaza Hotel's elegant Christmas tree with wrapped presents placed under it.
Photo Credit: The Plaza Hotel

The Christmas Tree at The Plaza Hotel

Maybe it’s the memories of watching ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ as a child, but no other hotel screams “Christmas!” to me quite like the Plaza.

I’d argue that the Plaza is the perfect spot for holiday festivities for many reasons:

  1. It’s close proximity to the beautiful store windows on 5th Avenue (a wonderful Christmas activity all on its own!)
  2. The stunning Christmas Tea offered in the Plaza’s Palm Court daily throughout the month
  3. A visit to the Plaza’s Santa Claus
  4. Knocking off holiday shopping in the Plaza’s many boutiques and food stalls
  5. And of course, photos by the gorgeous tree!

East Harlem Holiday Tree

This tree’s message truly represents the meaning of the holiday season. Since 2004, the East Harlem Holiday Tree has been put up at Franklin Plaza, on the corner of Third Avenue and East 106th Street, by a group of volunteers dedicated to supporting the growing community.

The theme this year is “Celebrating Our Senior Citizens / Celebrando Nuestros Personas Mayores”, with a message of “This year we celebrate our senior citizens, who preserve and perpetuate our values and cultural heritage. We are especially grateful to those who have made ‘Winter Flowers’ decorations for the 2016 East Harlem Holiday Tree.” I love that seniors of the East Harlem community created the ornaments from recycled plastic bottles to decorate the tree, making it a true coming together of the community.

The Christmas tree at the MET with angels and figurines placed on it for decoration.
Photo Credit: The MET

Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the MET

Standing 20 feet high and graced with the sweetest cherubs and angels, the MET Christmas tree is a vision to behold. I remember the first time I saw this tree when first moving to the city, and it’ still my favorite holiday sight. Besides it’s delicate beauty, the MET holds daily lighting ceremonies accompanied by Christmas music at 4:30. If you can’t make this time, there’s additional ceremony times every Friday and Saturday at 5:30 and 6:30.

An origami white and black panda ornament on a bright green Christmas tree at the Museum of Natural History.
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Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History

If you have kids, a tree to absolutely not miss is the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History. For the last 30 years, this 13 foot tree has been decorated with handmade origami models inspired by the museum’s exhibitions. This year’s theme is “Dinosaurs Among Us.”

Volunteers begin to fold over 800 origami pieces in March to ensure completion by the holidays. Want to get your hands involved? Volunteers will be on standby to teach museum visitors how to fold their own origami!

An outdoor view of the Christmas tree at Washington Square Park places between two light grey columns with a crowd of onlookers admiring tree lights at night.
Caption: Washington Square Park

The Washington Square Park Tree

Washington Square Park is home to the second longest running tree lighting ceremony in NYC (bet you can’t guess what the first one is!) While the lighting has already passed this year, we’re even more excited for the festivities that take place around this tree on Christmas Eve… Caroling!

At 5pm on December 24th, join The Rob Susman Brass Quartet as they lead New Yorkers in familiar holiday songs. We bet you’ll know the words by heart, but just in case you need a little help, there will be songbooks distributed.

Do you have a favorite tree in the city? Share your best finds with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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