Best things to do in New York in winter

por Postcards from IvI

New York is an amazing city during any of the 4 seasons, but in winter it becomes even more magical. On this post you’ll learn about the best things to do in New York in winter so you can enjoy this special time in the city to the fullest.

I’m not going to lie to you, winter in New York is tough. It gets really, really cold. Temperatures can drop past freezing temperatures. The second time I visited New York, it was for Christmas time and temperatures reached -15°c making it the second-coldest New Year’s Eve on record in New York.

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Don’t let the weather stop you! While it is true that winter weather can bring some complications such as delayed or even cancelled flights, you can totally spend winter in New York and also enjoy some activities that only happen during this season.

Best things to do in New York in winter

Frozen fountain in Bryant Park

Best things to do in New York in winter

  • Central Park in winter

A trip to NY is not complete without visiting Central Park which is at its most picture-perfect state during winter. All the trees are covered in snow and the park is turned into a winter wonderland. You can also visit the skating rink located on the east side which is open until February. Visiting Central Park is my favorite thing to do in New York in winter.

Are you a runner? A unique event takes place on 12/31 midnight at Central Park. You you can trek with hundreds of joggers at the NYRR midnight run.

Best things to do in New York in winter

  • Ice skating

Winter is also the time to go ice-skating! Some of the city’s main rinks open in October. These are the most popular rinks in New York:

Wollman Rink Central Park (admission price goes from USD$12 to $19 according to the day, skate rental prices is USD$10). Public skating hours: Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 to 14.30 hs; Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 22 hs; Fridays and Saturdays from 10 to 23 hs; Sundays from 10 to 21 hs.

Rockefeller Center (admission price goes from USD$25 to USD$35 according to the day, skate rental price is USD$18). This is the most visited rink in the city and sometimes there’s a long line to enter. General Admission skating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Opening times: 8 am to 10 pm from October to April.

The Rink – Bryant Park (admission is free, skate rental USD$18-USD$33). Opening times: Nov 30 – Dec 30 from 8am to 11pm, Jan 1 – Jan 4 from 8am to 11pm, Jan 5 – Mar 1 from 8am to 10pm.

Bryant Park

  • Christmas and New Year in New York

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and it’s even more wonderful in New York. Spending Christmas or New Year’s Eve in this city is an unforgettable experience. The window displays are filled with Christmas lights and colors, every store is playing Mariah Carey and other Christmas hymns, the houses are incredibly decorated, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree… I swear NY is what Christmas movies show us and even more! Christmas spirit is more alive here than in any other place.

You can’t miss: The christmas lights at Dyker Heights and the light&sound show at Saks Fifth Avenue.

How to enjoy winter in New York

Dyker Heights

Winter in New York itinerary

Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Visit the Christmas Markets

Along with Christmas and winter, the outdoor holiday markets open. Some of the most popular Christmas markets in Manhattan are Bryant Park’s Winter Village, Grand Central Holiday Fair, Union Square Holiday Market and Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Here you can buy unique items, artisan gifts, crafts and souvenirs.

For more info read: Best things to do in New York during Christmas

  • Attend the Christmas show at Radio City

The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is New York’s traditional Christmas show presented at the legendary Radio City Music Hall since 1993. The famous Rockettes appear on stage dancing with different New York settings.

The show runs from November 9 to January 5 and it is best to buy the tickets in advance as it is a very popular show.

Buy online tickets for Christmas Spectacular

  • Drink hot chocolate

You can obviously do this in any season but what’s better than having a good hot chocolate or coffee when it’s cold outside? Luckily New York offers so many great coffee spots. I promise you will need to stop for coffee at least once a day when walking in winter in New York.

How to enjoy winter in New York

Coffee in hands while visiting the High Line

  • Visit New York’s Museums

Museums are a great option to stay inside and found shelter in the coldest days. You really can’t get bored with all the activities New York offers.

If you plan to visit many attractions and museums I recommend to get the New York Pass, a tourist pass which includes the entrance to more than 100 attractions in the city and allows you to save money.

Best museums in NY: MoMA, MET Museum, Guggenheim Museum and American Museum of Natural History.

American Museum of Natural History

Met Museum

  • Shopping in New York

The good news for shopping lovers is that winter is a great season for shopping in New York because everything is on sale. Just after Christmas and New Year all the brands start their winter sale and you can get really low prices.

  • Attending a sporting event

Sports are an important part US culture and New York City has some of the most recognized teams. Attending a basketball,hockey or football game can be part of your New York winter itinerary.

  • NYC Restaurant Week

If you’re in New York in winter you might have the chance to enjoy the NYC Restaurant Week. This event takes place twice a year (in winter and summer) and it celebrates fine dining at an accessible price. For a whole week, restaurants offer affordable prix-fixe menus.

In winter 2023, NYC Restaurant Week takes place January 27–February 5.

  • NYC Broadway Week

During January and February the Broadway Week is celebrated and you can get 2-for-1 tickets to some of the best shows.

The NYC Broadway Week 2022 takes place from January 21 to February 9. More information on the official Broadway Week site.

  • New York’s skyscrapers

New York is famous for its thousands skyscrapers so something you can’t miss in any trip to the city is visiting one of the most known observation decks like Top of the Rock, Empire State or One World Observatory (the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere). The views are stunning from any of these buildings.

Both the entrance to the Top of the Rock and the Empire State are included in the New York Pass.

Buy tickets online and avoid long lines at One World Observatory

  • No Pants Subway Ride

One of the most unique things to do in New York in January is to ride the subway wearing no pants. Seriously, New York is a unique city for many reasons and one of those is that there are things that can only happen here. In early January, the “No Pants Subway Ride” event is celebrated. It all began in New York in 2002 and has since been adopted by more than 60 cities in the world. If you dare with the cold weather, you can take the subway in New York without pants!

No Pants Subway Ride 2023 takes place on January 8th.

  • New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week, held in February and September of each year, is a semi-annual series of events. If you happen to be in New York in February and love fashion,you will see the city filled with models, bloggers and people from the fashion industry. You can even attend some of the few events that are open to the public.

In 2023, New York Fashion Week takes place from February 9th to 15th. For more information visit the NYFW website.

  • Celebrate Chineese New Year

On January 25th, the Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinatown in New York, where hundreds of people gather to receive the year and watch the parade. It is one of the most popular and colorful winter events in New York.

Tips for visiting New York in winter:

  • Bring the appropriate clothes: Temperatures can vary and it’s important to pack the appropriate winter clothes. I recommend to bring a good pair of waterproof boots and a water resistant jacket or coat. I also use a thermal t-shirt and leggings from Uniqlo. Then you just need to add layers! If you’re really cold, you can buy foot warmers, which keep your feet warm for a couple of hours.
  • Wondering what to bring to New York in winter? Check out this New York winter packing list.
  • Accommodation: Winter is one of the most affordable times of the year to stay in New York City. After New Year, prices drop and you will find cheaper hotel rates. If you plan to visit New York for Christmas time, you should book your accommodation as early as possible because it is one of the most popular times to visit the city.

You can check this list of affordable hotels in New York.

  • Plan your days based on the weather. I recommend that you check the weather for the next few days and plan your itinerary based on this. Eg: leave museums for cold or snowy days, and outdoor activities for sunny days.
  • Be an early bird! A negative point of going in winter is that the amount of daily light is much lower than in other seasons. At 4:30 pm it is already dark and the days are over faster than you can imagine. So to really seize the day you need to get up early.

Planning a trip to New York City?

Find cheap flights to New York here.

Find cheap accommodation here.

Book a private transfer from the airport

Buy your New York Pass

The best things to do in New York:

Need more tips for visiting New York? Check out these posts:

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