The holidays may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the season with your loved ones! Rather than scrambling to distance yourself from your fellow subway passengers or hailing cab after cab after cab throughout the day, round up your established pod of loved ones and let a thoroughly sanitized New York City bus rental transport you to these fan-favorite events this holiday season:
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
The holidays in Manhattan wouldn’t be the same without America’s favorite Christmas tree. You can marvel at all 75 feet of this glittering Norway Spruce both online (through the Rockefeller Building’s live stream) and in-person—with a face covering on, of course.
Have your bus driver drop everyone off near the tree-viewing entrances on 49th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, and follow the markers on the ground as you wait in line to have your moment with the tree. These social distancing markers can only accommodate up to four people per spot, so large groups will need to split into smaller pods. Once you’ve reached the bedazzled, 11-ton tree, your group will have five minutes to take in the lights and take as many Christmas-card-worthy photos as you please.
Bryant Park Winter Village
If you haven’t already picked out gifts for your loved ones, why not buy local? That’s right, the Winter Village is still up and running! From handmade jewelry to boutique maple syrups, piping hot cocoa to fresh-baked gingerbread, this outdoor market has a little holiday cheer for everyone.
While you’ll find fewer vendors here than in years past, the new layout allows for wider walkways and more room for social distancing while you wander through the stalls. Hand sanitizing stations are available around the village, and many vendors use contactless payment methods. Oh, and all staff will be wearing masks and face coverings—so you should too.
Brooklyn’s Largest Menorah
Though it’s no longer “NYC’s Largest Menorah” (it now shares the title with the display in Central Park), this huge Brooklyn spectacle is still a sight to behold this holiday season. This menorah towers at 32 feet high—the maximum height it can possibly be by Jewish law—and you need a crane to light each candle!
Stop by any night of Chanukah to catch the celebration at the Grand Army Plaza. Many past years’ customs will still be in place, so expect live music, food vendors, and some small gifts for the kids. Social distancing protocols will be used, but if the crowds get to be too much, grab a hot latke to-go and take a walk along some of Prospect Park’s lesser-known trails.
HolidayMagic at the NYBG
If your merrymakers are lucky enough to be Members, Patrons, Corporate Members, or Bronx Community Partners for the New York Botanical Garden, you’re in for a treat. This year, you’ll have exclusive access to the gardens’ Holiday Train Show! Come by before Jan. 31 to see the model trains zip through miniature replicas of NYC landmarks made from natural materials like birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks. Besides limiting the number of people allowed into this year’s event, NYBG is also implementing an online-only ticket reservation system, as well as increased cleaning efforts and face-covering requirements for all visitors (including children over the age of 2).
Not a member? Not to worry, there’s always NYBG GLOW: the twinkling light display in the Haupt Conservatory! There should be plenty of space to spread out within the conservatory, and there’s a lot to see outside as well. Your tiny tots and children-at-heart are sure to love the illuminated ice sculptures and tap their feet to pop-up performances by The Hip Hop Nutcracker. Like the train show, tickets for NYBG GLOW must be purchased online and in advance, and entry windows are timed to limit the number of people inside.
The Rink at Brookfield Place
From now until the first week of April, you can show off your skating skills to your loved ones and perfect your triple salchow at this downtown outdoor rink. It costs $15 for an hour time slot on the ice and $5 per skate rental—through private skate sessions are reservable for an extra fee. Skaters and onlookers alike must have their temperature taken every day they stop by, everyone must skate at least 6 feet apart, and visitors must wear masks at all times: while waiting in line, while watching the skaters glide by, and while skating.
The rink itself boasts 7,350 square feet of ice (plenty of room to spread out!), and your skaters can always take a break to stroll along the Hudson if it gets too crowded for your liking. And when you’ve had your fill of ice, everyone can warm back up on your completely climate-controlled bus rental, which can include plush reclining seats for your groups’ comfort.