The museums always bring in very special exhibits and this year the Metropolitan Museum of Art is highlighting the drawings of Michelangelo. Expect long lines for this once in a lifetime exhibit! Also catch the tree in the medieval wing as well as other special exhibits. The J.P. Morgan Library has some wonderful exhibits as well. Check out their medieval bindings with jewels galore and the special holiday exhibit on Charles Dickens and his Christmas Carol! Also, the drawings exhibit is a not-to-be missed with drawings from all decades by all the masters!
Check out the Bryant Park Holiday Market which has wonderful items and food as well as the market surrounding Rockefeller Plaza if you can get near it! Another wonderful holiday market is held at Grand Central Station. With the onslaught of crowds going to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and the tree, go early to avoid the crowds. It's magical and well worth it!
The galleries in Chelsea, the lower eastside and uptown also have special exhibits for the holidays and gives one some great exercise after eating cookies and hot chocolate! They are all free and for those on a budget, is a great way to catch some great art. Most galleries feature contemporary art, but it spans the styles from abstract, realism and photography so it's always a nice surprise.
One of the other fun places to visit with children is the Central Park Zoo! Free and a great way to spend an afternoon watching the seals and polar bears as well as the other animals.
Have fun and happy holidays!