It’s always exhilarating to be in New York City — even moreso at the holidays. This time of year, the lights, the windows and the hustle and bustle of New York grows exponentially. Being a native New Yorker, my family and I look forward to our annual trip into the city for our New York Christmas fix. Without breaking the bank, we have an amazing day and night. Here is our list of must-see holiday activities every year.

New York Christmas events: See the Rockettes Christmas Show in New York City.

Christmas in Rockefeller Center. Photo Credit: NBCUniversal

Christmas at Rockefeller Center

First, there’s the Christmas tree. If you haven’t seen the tree first hand, you have definitely seen it in a movie or on television. Since 1933, the tree has been the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center. Adorned with  more than 45,000 lights, Rockefeller Center is one of the best spots for seeing holiday lights displays in the Northeast.

And there’s the ice skating. The skating rink is usually crowded, but it is just as much fun to watch as it is to skate.

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

Besides the famous Rockettes performing in the show, Radio City is converted to a winter wonderland with a unique take on ”The Nutcracker.” And there are ice skaters, dancing teddy bears, dozens of Santa Clauses and more surprises!

Macy's New York Christmas window.

Macy’s New York Christmas window. Photo credit: Andrew Kelly/AP Images for Macy’s

Store Window Displays

There are a number of window displays throughout New York City, but one of our favorites has always been the windows at Macy’s in Herald Square.

Here’s what Macy’s says on its website:

“Since the early 1870s, Macy’s has been stunning spectators with its famed holiday window displays and celebratory events. Macy’s was the first store to feature holiday windows created for the pure fun and joy of the season and, with that, began a tradition that still lives on today.”

This year’s windows feature a 15-foot-tall Santa Claus. “In creating this year’s windows, we wanted to focus on the idea of what Christmas meant to us as children. In thinking back to those feelings, we kept returning to the idea of six key qualities [believe, celebrate, together, giving, love, and magic] that truly exemplify the spirit and magic of the season.” —Roya Sullivan, Macy’s national director of window presentation, told the New York Times.

Other great window displays can be found at Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Saks 5th Avenue and Barney’s New York.

Check out these other free things to do in New York City.

Where have you visited in New York City for the holidays that you consider a must-see holiday activity for families?