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How to Spend the Perfect December Day at Rockefeller Center

By Paulina CajigalDec 7 2021

There’s no shortage of things to do in New York City, especially during the winter months. But between 48th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, there are 22 acres of festive fun. From famous retailers to iconic attractions and restaurants, Rockefeller Center offers a long list of one-of-a-kind experiences — all within walking distance of each other.

We’ve taken out the stress of planning a trip to the city by creating a detailed itinerary of things to do and see. Here’s how to spend the perfect December day at Rockefeller Center.

10 am: Grab a cup of coffee at Café Grumpy

Find it on The Rink level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza

Start your day without a fresh cup of joe? Not when you have a full itinerary ahead of you. Café Grumpy recently made its way to Rockefeller Center — and it’s the perfect place to begin. You can pair your morning coffee with small bites like muffins and croissants (we recommend the almond croissant) — and even grab a bag or two of fresh beans for the coffee lover in your life.

Now it’s time to get your legs moving…

10:15 am: Take a scenic walk with Gesso

Make your way to 6th Avenue

With your coffee and croissant in hand and earphones snugly in place, you can discover hidden gems at Rockefeller Center. The landmark teamed up with New York-based storytelling collective Gesso to create a free, self-guided audio tour that takes listeners through its rich history and unique architecture. Filled with fun facts and rare anecdotes, the immersive tour feels like a friend sharing secrets (and navigational tips) that only you get to hear.

The free Gesso app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

If you worked up an appetite...

11:30 am: Fill up with a midday meal at Lodi

Head to 1 Rockefeller Plaza, a few steps from 30 Rock

A new concept by chef and owner Ignacio Mattos, Lodi is a café and bakery that gives visitors a taste of Italy. It’s inspired by all-day aperitivo culture, so the lunchtime menu features a selection of pane (bread), antipasti, and panini — all carefully curated Italian classics.

In case you want something sweet, too...

12:45 pm: Snack on a warm cookie from Chip City

Find it on The Rink level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza

There’s always room for dessert, so your after-lunch stop should be Chip City. In its new location inside 30 Rock, the sweet treat company draws inspiration from childhood treats and puts a new spin on traditional desserts with options like Strawberry Shortcake, Oatmeal Apple Pie, and Peanut Butter and Jelly. The menu rotates weekly, so you’ll need to plan accordingly if there’s a particular cookie that makes your mouth water.

Wash down your cookie with something to drink…

1 pm: Sip on a cup of hot chocolate at Raaka

Raaka is next door to Chip City

What pairs better with a warm cookie than hot chocolate? Grab a cup at Raaka, a Brooklyn-based chocolate maker dedicated to producing delicious, high-quality, and ethically sourced chocolate from scratch. If you skip the liquid gold, you should still make time to check out their line of fun chocolate flavors (think Bananas Foster and Waffle Cone). They may even have you rethinking your holiday dessert menu.

Now it may be time for some more exercise...

1:30 pm: Go ice skating at The Rink

The Rink is located between 49th and 50th Streets, right in front of 30 Rock

You spent your morning working up an appetite, so spend your afternoon working off some sweet treats with a round at The Rink. There’s nothing like ice skating under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to get you into the holiday spirit — it’s a classic winter must-do. You can also make the most of your time on the ice with memberships and skating lessons at the Skate School.

To add to the cheer and make your holiday shopping easier, several Rockefeller Center retailers have set up shop with carts on the Plaza — so once your skates are off, you can pop on over there, too.

Before the day is over...

4 pm: Experience a golden hour view at Top of the Rock

Find it a block over on 50th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues

The sun is setting earlier and earlier, but that only means you don’t have to stay out late to enjoy the best sights the city has to offer. Top of the Rock is the only place with sweeping, 360-degree views of New York. With both indoor and outdoor observation decks, you can still enjoy the view while staying warm and cozy.

Hungry again? We know just the place...

5 pm: Get a slice at Ace’s Pizza

Ace’s Pizza is on The Rink level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza

Whether it's a late afternoon meal or an early evening dinner, pizza is always the right choice. Opened in time for the holidays, Ace’s Pizza is one of our favorite spots to grab a quick bite. The eatery serves both Sicilian and Detroit-style pizza — and it doesn’t skimp on the toppings.

Before you go...

5:30 pm: Pick your own snack stash at The Goods Mart

Head up back up to the lobby of 30 Rock

Want to take some snacks on the road? Or need some stocking stuffers? Head to The Goods Mart. Housed in a historic newsstand in the lobby of 30 Rock, the convenience store offers socially conscious and environmentally friendly snacks. From nutrient-packed veggie chips to guilt-free sour gummy bears, The Goods Mart has something to satisfy your post-Rockefeller Center cravings.

One last thing…

6:30 pm: Snap a photo of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

You can’t miss it in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza

Draped in 50,000 energy efficient LED lights and topped with a sparkling Swarovski star, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a New York holiday icon. The Christmas Tree is open to the public and the picture-perfect place to end your day.

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