Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

What: Around 45,000 LED lights decorate this 76-foot Norway spruce from Shelton, Conn., topped with a Swarovski star. This annual staple has been one of the city's most celebrated holiday traditions since 1933.

Where: Between Fifth and Sixth avenues and 48th and 51st streets

When: 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., through Jan. 7

Best time to go: As one of the city's most popular holiday attractions, expect massive crowds throughout most of the day. Stop by late and you might get lucky.

Winter Garden Holiday Lights

What: This holiday tradition has lit up the Financial District since 1989, with some 50,000 sparkling lights illuminating the area this year.

Where: World Financial Center, 220 Vesey St.

When: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Jan. 1

Best time to go: Though the garden is open all day, you'll be better off going after work hours to avoid the crowds and catch the lights.

Bryant Park Holiday Tree

What: If you're in the mood for a dazzling holiday tree but want to avoid the crowds at Rock Center, your best bet is Bryant Park's 50-foot Norway Spruce tree from Newburgh in Orange County, N.Y. This year's tree boasts some 30,000 lights and 3,500 custom-fabricated ornaments.

Where: 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues

When: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to midnight weekends through Jan. 6

Best time to go: Like Rock Center, check out the tree after dark to see it in its full illuminated glory.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

What: Tour this massive national landmark, the largest decorated Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the country. The church remains open during renovations.

Where: Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets

When: Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Best time to go: Though the cathedral offers walk-in tours, you can schedule a free tour during the week for groups of 10 or more.

F.A.O. Schwarz

What: One of Manhattan's most famous shopping destinations and the oldest operating toy retailer in the country, this is among the pre-eminent shopping spots in the city. Perfect for window shopping, the store has floor upon floor of toys and games and some of the best holiday decorations around.

Where: Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th streets

When: Holiday hours vary; check online for the day you want to go.

Best time to go: Weekends will be hectic, but the shopping rush will likely die down after Christmas. Try a weekday morning or afternoon for calmer crowds.