From early November and on throughout the month of December, New York City is filled with holiday decorations and cheer, going all out for the spirit of Christmas. The city becomes a festive hub for shopping, musicals, and much more. While the city is plagued with tourists from near and far this time of year, here’s a guide to visiting NYC for Christmas from a local himself– William Doonan.

Visit the Rockefeller Center

2017 hosts the 85th annual tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center in NYC. This is a free event, open to the public that takes place on November 29th, and will remain open through the first week in January. Each year, a live tree is donated to the city to display more than 50,000 LED lights. This year, the tree was donated from State College, Pennsylvania and is believed to be over 85 years old.

The Rockefeller Christmas Tree serves as a beacon to locals and tourists alike. Even since the Great Depression, the tree has brought a moment of joy and hope to all who pass it by. Today, the tree is passed by half a million people each and every day it stands decorated in the city.

Shop Local at the Union Square Holiday Market

Support the local community in New York City by shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market. You’ll be sure to check items off of your shopping list while supporting local artists and handcrafters in the city. Not only does this build up the local economy, but you’re money goes into quality goods that aren’t machine made from a big corporate monster. This public market supports creatives, entrepreneurs, and a community that celebrates localism.

Go Ice Skating in Central Park

Skip the expensive Rockefeller Ice Skating and head over to Central Park for a “best of both worlds” experience. The Wollman Rink in Central Park is a much more affordable skating rink, and gives you a gorgeous city view while surrounded by the nature of Central Park. Rather than bustling tourists wandering by, you have an enjoyable skate time that skips the crowds.

Remember that you are in NYC, which is a major tourist hub– especially during the Christmas season. While you should expect to see more people in one city than you can imagine, there are great ways to avoid the crowds. Rather than go on a weekend or midday during the week, plan your time around the opening and closing hours of the rink.

Check Out the Other Boroughs

When visiting NYC, don’t forget about the other boroughs. If you’re in the city for more than a day, here are a few things you should look into doing: