The Best Things to Do in New York City in the Winter

​​At any time of the year New York, known as “the city that never sleeps” is an amazing experience that overwhelms the senses. With its imposing skyline, huge parks, shopping precincts, monuments and bustling metropolitan atmosphere, there is nowhere quite like it. Visiting in winter and particularly at Christmas is a truly magical experience.

Whether you’re looking to encounter the iconic sites, stroll the vibrant streets or experience unbeatable shopping, there are plenty of winter activities in NYC to suit a range of travellers. A trip here allows for a once-in-a-lifetime venture. 

The city comes alive with the celebrations in December. Dazzling lights, huge Christmas trees, roasted chestnut stalls and the tinkling of Santa bells and carol singers on the streets, all make for an enthralling winter break. Here are some top tips for what to look out for during the festive season in the winter wonderland of New York.

Keep reading to learn more about winter in New York, alongside more information about the weather and where to stay. 

What is the Weather like in New York City in Winter?

New York City in winter is truly magical. The metropolis comes to life with bright lights and impressive events. As you stroll through the streets of NYC you will encounter a wonderful atmosphere with excited tourists and locals alike. 

Winter in NYC displays temperatures ranging from -3°C to 7°C, creating a chilly climate for those visiting during this time. There is also a chance of snowfall, allowing for a true winter wonderland for all to enjoy. This is an excellent season for those looking to experience a different side to the city, as the bustling atmosphere and festive cheer spread throughout New York. 

We recommend packing plenty of layers and warm clothing for your visit to New York City in the winter. The cold weather and brisk evenings allow for the perfect excuse to wrap up as you stroll through this beautiful metropolis. 

Best Things to Do in New York City in Winter

Now you know a little more about the weather, let’s go through the best NYC winter activities to enjoy during your break. With so many things to do and see, here are some of the top attractions to encounter this season. 

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square

There’s no better way to ring in the new year than in New York. It is the biggest party of the year and continues to attract both locals and tourists. With bright lights, lots of festive cheer, pretty decorations and a vibrant atmosphere, this is one event not to miss in NYC. 

Taking place on the 31st of December, New Year’s Eve celebrations are best enjoyed from the bustling Times Square. As thousands of people gather here, you’re sure to feel the lively energy that lingers during this time. Watch as firework displays light the skies, confetti litters the streets and people cheer as the approach of the New Year comes. 

With so much happening throughout New York City on New Year’s Eve, you’re sure to find something for a range of travellers. Whether you’re seeking an intimate dinner in one of the many restaurants, or an energetic party to dance the night away, this occasion won’t disappoint!   

Go Ice Skating

New York winter activities wouldn’t be the same without an ice skating experience. There are plenty of places to enjoy this seasonal attraction, so you can choose the best spot for you. Manhattan and Brooklyn are great options as there are ice rinks here that don’t only provide an exciting day out, but are also accompanied by lots of festive cheer. 

Head to Bryant Park in Manhattan where you can skate around an impressive ice rink, all whilst marvelling over the outstanding skyscrapers in the backdrop. This is an excellent way to experience NYC in winter and it also provides hours of fun for the whole family. 

Alternatively, Williamsburg in Brooklyn is another great spot for those seeking an ice skating adventure. Here you can visit The William Vale Hotel where you will find an amazing place to skate, all whilst enjoying the magnificent rooftop views. 

You will find a plethora of other great places to ice skate in New York, meaning there are options here for all. Whether you’re looking to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Manhattan, or are pursuing something a little quieter, this is one winter activity that is sure to impress.

Experience the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center

For those looking for what to do in NYC in winter, a trip to the Rockefeller Center is a must. Not only is this another excellent spot to enjoy some ice skating, but the iconic building is also home to the renowned Christmas Tree that continues to pop up in the city each year. 

The giant Christmas tree attracts visitors from all over the world to marvel at its sheer size and beauty. It is always decorated to perfection and is a signal for many that the festive season has arrived. Be sure to pack your camera as you will also discover some great photo opportunities next to the Prometheus Statue. 

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the frequented Rockefeller Center and it is made even more magical when experiencing it in winter!  

Watch a Broadway Show 

One of the most fun things to do in NYC in winter is to go see a Broadway show. These take place throughout the year, but as the temperatures drop it provides an excellent opportunity to head indoors to be thoroughly entertained. 

You will find the famous theatre-lined stretch through the centre of Times Square – the bright lights and hustle and bustle make it quite hard to miss! With an exceptional array of shows to choose from, you can enjoy either some of the classics or perhaps appreciate a newer performance. 

There are also some great winter-themed shows on Broadway in New York, perfect for those looking to get into the festive spirit. However, be sure to book your tickets in advance as this will help avoid long queues and disappointment as they have been known to sell out fast! 

Go Window Shopping on Fifth Avenue

Shopping on Fifth Avenue is an activity that visitors can enjoy throughout the year. This bustling street is home to some of the best high-end designers and well-known brands, making it great for those who love to shop! However, strolling down Fifth Avenue in winter provides you with a different experience and one worth checking out. 

Feel the energy as New Yorkers and tourists head to Fifth Avenue to marvel over the impressive window displays and twinkling lights. You will discover some of the most renowned department stores here alongside plenty of well-known designer brands. 

After you have wandered through the many stores and enjoyed taking in the Christmas decor, you will also discover some excellent attractions on Fifth Avenue. From the Empire State Building to the Museum of Modern Art, The New York Public Library, Central Park and much more, the famed street is also home to many of the most iconic spots in the city. 

Enjoy Winter Jazzfest

One of the best winter events in NYC is undoubtedly the Winter Jazzfest. It has taken place in the city since 2005 and continues to gain lots of attention each year.  During this time, you can enjoy some of the best names in the industry that take place on more than 10 stages throughout New York City. 

Winter Jazzfest is a week-long event, great for those looking to experience an array of artists throughout different venues in NYC. With lots of live performances, presentations and conversations, visitors can use this time to immerse themselves in a world of music. 

The Winter Jazzfest is perfect for anyone seeking some excellent entertainment, alongside a great opportunity to escape the cold weather outside. Be sure to get your tickets in advance though, as this is a very popular festival in New York!

Visitors can also enjoy Jazz tours around NYC, great for those staying any time of the year. You can book your tours here to help with pre-planning your excursions. 

Climb the One World Observatory 

When seeking things to do in New York in winter, a trip to the One World Observatory should be high on your list. Sitting at around 386.5 metres, this is the highest observation deck in the city and provides visitors with fantastic 360° views of the impressive metropolis. 

The viewing platform is also all indoors, great for those visiting in winter as you won’t have to worry about the chill out when taking in the impressive vistas. Located on the top floor of the One World Trade Center, the One World Observatory also has an excellent restaurant, bar and cafe, great for those looking to grab some refreshments during their trip. 

To help organise your trip with ease, you can purchase your entry here for the One World Observatory in NYC. 

Wander around Central Park

If you’re brave enough to head outside, be sure to spend some time in Central Park when visiting New York City in winter. The area is brimming with excellent attractions for all to enjoy. With magical gardens, iconic structures and plenty of live performances, you’re sure to be impressed by all that is on offer here. 

The picturesque setting of Central Park also provides visitors with a welcoming break from the hustle surrounding the city. Spend some time strolling through this famous part of New York and relax amidst the tranquillity surrounding the park. 

For those planning a romantic getaway in winter in New York City, you can also relish a horse-drawn carriage tour around Central Park. This is an excellent way to see all that this wonderful part of the metropolis has in store, all whilst snuggling up with your loved one. You can book tickets here for these rides before your visit, ensuring you won’t miss a thing during your break. 

Where to Stay in New York in Winter

After learning more about the best things to do in New York in winter, likely, you’re now looking for somewhere to stay. Luckily enough, we’ve included some of the best accommodations below, making your planning process a little easier! 

The William Vale

If you’re pursuing a break in Brooklyn, New York, William Vale is the place to be. Here you can enjoy an opulent stay in one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. With private balconies attached to each of the rooms, alongside impressive views of the metropolitan skyline, you’re sure to be impressed by all that this lovely hotel has in store for you. 

You can book your stay at The William Vale here, an excellent choice for a winter getaway in New York City! 

Walker Hotel Greenwich Village 

Situated in the prevalent Greenwich Village is the wonderful Walker Hotel. This bohemian-style accommodation provides an excellent place for those looking to explore all that New York has to offer. You will also discover some excellent places to eat here, alongside stunning decor throughout. 

Plan your stay at Walker Hotel here, and book soon to avoid any disappointment. 

JW Marriott Essex House

In contrast to many of the hotels in New York, JW Marriott Essex House allows for exceptional vistas overlooking the magnificent Central Park. This popular accommodation is perfectly positioned at the edge of the park, allowing guests to wake up to the natural beauty amidst this bustling city. Take in the twinkling lights, horse-drawn carriages and Christmas decorations as you enjoy a stay at one of the best places to stay in New York. 

Book your stay at JW Marriott Essex House here and get ready to enjoy New York City at its finest during the winter! 


We hope that after reading this article you now know a little more about some of the best things to do in New York in the winter. With so many incredible activities and attractions to enjoy, you’re sure to be impressed by all that is on offer during this time. Whether you’re looking to visit the most iconic sites, or simply soak up the festive atmosphere throughout the bustling streets, a trip here provides guests with memories to last a lifetime. 

If you’re looking for more places to visit in the United States of America, be sure to check out our array of travel guides around the world – ensuring you plan your next adventure with ease!


Is New York busy on Christmas Day?

New York is generally quite quiet on Christmas day, as almost all shops and businesses are closed which means that the streets are relatively empty. The roads may get busy in the mornings as people travel to see their family, but traffic is unlikely to be as frantic as it usually is.

Is New York expensive at Christmas?

A trip to New York at Christmas is likely to be quite expensive, as the festive season is one of the peak times for tourism in the city which means that travel and accommodation prices tend to be high. It’s certainly a worthwhile experience, but you should be prepared for peak-season prices across the city as businesses try and make the most out of the influx of tourists to the city.

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About the Author

Ella Whitehead

Marketing Executive for SEO Travel, travel writer for Backpacker Boy, passion for content creation and adventure!