New York is an amazing city during the 4 seasons, but in winter becomes even more magical. That’s why visiting New York in winter is a dream for many people.
I’m not going to lie to you, winter in New York is tough. It gets really, really cold. Temperatures can drop past freezing. I visited New York for the first time in February 2014, and even though I was living in Vancouver (Canada) at that time, I felt more cold in New York. The second time I visited New York, I went back in winter to make a dream come true: spend Christmas and New Year in NY. This time. Temperatures reached 9-degree Fahrenheit and made it the second-coldest New Year’s Eve on record in New York.
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 enjoy winter in New York and also practice some activities that only happen during this time.
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.
↣ 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.
- Ice skating
Winter is also the time to go ice-skating! The most popular rinks are: Rockefeller Center ($25 entrance, $12 skate rentals), Central Park ($ 12/$ 19, includes skate rental), Bryant Park (free admission, $20 skate rentals).
- 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.
- Coffee and hot Chocolate
Obviously you can 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. And if you like to walk and be outside, I promise you will need to stop for coffee at least once a day.
- Winter Markets
Along with Christmas and winter, comes the outdoor holiday markets where you can buy unique items, artisan gifts, crafts and souvenirs. Some of the most popular in Manhattan are Bryant Park’s Winter Village, Grand Central Holiday Fair, Union Square Holiday Market and Columbus Circle Holiday Market.
You can’t get bored with all the options in new York. Whatever the month, there are amazing museum collections to see. MoMA, Met, Guggenheim, Whitney, American Museum of Natural History, etc. They are all a great option to stay inside and found shelter in the coldest days. If you plan to visit many attractions and museums I recommend to get the New York Pass which includes almost everything and you will save a lot of money.
↣ Best museums in NY: MoMa, MET Museum, Guggenheim Museum and American Museum of Natural History.
- 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 2019, NYC Restaurant Week takes place January 21–February 8.
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? Download the Winter Checklist for free
- Accommodation: Winter is the most affordable time of the year to stay in New York City. After New Year, prices drop and you will find cheaper hotel rates. I stayed in YOTEL and Iberostar and I recommend both hotels.
You can also 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.
Need more tips for visiting New York? Check out these posts:
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