New York, New York — the city so nice they named it twice. The Big Apple is on pretty much everyone’s bucket list, and many people enjoy their time in the city so much that they can’t wait to return! Whether you’re visiting or moving here, there’s no shortage of things to do in NYC in winter.
There’s no wrong time of year to visit the Big Apple, but when you visit in the winter you can take advantage of low season prices and smaller crowds at attractions.
Another advantage for people from warmer climates is the possibility of seeing the city draped in a fresh blanket of crisp white snow.
As long as you remember to pack a coat, hat, and gloves in your suitcase, winter is arguably the best time of year to visit New York City.
Even better, you could rent a flexible furnished apartment and stay for a few months, rather than a week or two.
All in all, Blueground has studios and one- and two-bedroom turnkey rentals in all of the best New York City neighborhoods, making it easy to see everything the city has to offer on your terms and on your own schedule.
Here’s the lowdown on the best winter activities in NYC.
And for even more things to do in New York City, check out Blueprint’s guide to how to spend your first weekend in the city.
1. See a Broadway show
You can see live theater in any major city.
But there’s nothing quite like New York City’s Broadway anywhere else in the world. Catching a live comedy or musical is one of the coolest things to do during winter in NYC.
Overall, there are more than 40 Broadway theaters in all, so finding a show to suit your fancy isn’t difficult at all.
Check out Broadway.org for the lowdown on all of the hottest shows in town, as well as links to buy tickets from individual theaters.
If you’re willing to be more flexible, you can download the Theater Development Fund’s TKTS app or visit one of their booths to buy half-priced same-day tickets to select Broadway performances.
2. Go ice skating
One of the top things to do in NYC in the winter is ice skating! Even if you’ve never skated before, you owe it to yourself to try this quirky pastime.
Above all, one of the best places to go ice skating in the city is at Rockefeller Center. The skating rink is in the thick of it all, with amazing views of Rockefeller Plaza and its world-famous holiday tree.
Best of all, you can make a day of it by combining ice skating with a tour of NBC Studios, located just steps away, or Top of the Rock, an observatory perched high above Midtown.
You can also go ice skating at Central Park’s Wollman Rink. This is another outdoor rink with unbeatable views, in this case the trees and slopes of the beautiful greenspace.
You’ll also see plenty of fellow skaters enjoying NYC in the winter!
3. Celebrate New Year’s Eve
Ringing in the New Year in Times Square is one of the most iconic things to do in NYC in winter.
Best of all, it’s absolutely free!
Just be aware that you’ll need to arrive in the afternoon in order to be admitted to the viewing area for the famous ball drop.
If you want to see the ball drop, but aren’t up for spending seven or eight hours out in the cold you may prefer to buy a ticket to a private event.
Above all, many hotels and restaurants in Times Square host New Year’s Eve parties with food, drinks, and unbeatable views of the ball drop. Just be sure to buy your tickets well in advance, as these events are insanely popular with New Yorkers and tourists alike.
4. Hit a museum (or many)
New York City is home to hundreds of galleries and museums — far too many to see in one visit, or even in two trips to the Big Apple.
If you’re wondering what to do in NYC in the winter, visiting several museums over a week or two is a wonderful plan.
How to start?
You really can’t go wrong.
Just be sure to hit one or two of the major, world-class museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the American Museum of Natural History, and the Brooklyn Museum.
There are also smaller museums that are well worth a visit, and these under-the-radar attractions are also noticeably less crowded.
If you like Austrian and German art, check out the Upper East Side’s Neue Galerie.
Anyone who wants to explore the Caribbean and Latin American art scene should head to El Museo del Barrio in the Bronx.
Are you a fan of Himalayan art?
Try the Rubin Museum in Chelsea.
5. Celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown
If you’re visiting the Big Apple in February, you may get the chance to experience some of the biggest winter events in NYC. Lunar New Year falls on February 1, and NYC is the perfect place to start off the Year of the Tiger.
There are actually three Chinatowns within New York City, one in Lower Manhattan, one in Flushing, Queens, and one in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
All in all, the biggest Lunar New Year celebration happens in Lower Manhattan, where visitors can take in a joyous parade and sample delicacies from hundreds of participating restaurants and street vendors.
6. Enjoy Winter Jazzfest
Do you like jazz? If so, you’re hardly alone! Thousands of music enthusaists travel to NYC each year for Winter Jazzfest for ten days of outstanding live performances and events.
Since 2005, the festival has featured incredible shows from iconic performers.
In 2022, Winter Jazzfest will be held from January 13-22 across 12 different NYC venues. Jazz lovers can choose from hundreds of different shows from groups and performers from around the world!
7. Take advantage of Restaurant Week
One of the best things to do in NYC during winter is to enjoy special prices at some of the city’s best eateries during Restaurant Week.
This year’s event takes place from January 18 through February 13. (Which is actually a little over three week, but who’s counting?)
During New York City Restaurant Week you, diners can order from special prix-fixe three course menus that include an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. These special menus are available for both lunch and dinner.
8. Explore and enjoy New York as much as possible
In order to make the most out of NYC in winter, be sure to explore the whole city.
Overall, many visitors and tourists make the mistake of exploring Manhattan, but not the city’s other five boroughs.
There are plenty of fun things to do in winter in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island! Consider a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge if the weather cooperates, or a visit to MoMa PS1 in Long Island City, Queens.
There’s also the free Staten Island Ferry, which makes the half-hour trip between Lower Manhattan and the borough of Staten Island throughout the day.
Above all, the ferry is a great place to get an up-close look at the Statue of Liberty — without the long lines and pricey tickets for admission.
Are you convinced that winter is the absolute best season to visit New York City?
Whether you want to attend a once in a lifetime event like the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square or the Lunar New Year celebration in Lower Manhattan, visit one of the city’s museums, or go ice skating, there’s nowhere like the Big Apple.
Plus, these are just some of the great things to do in NYC in winter!
Visiting New York City in winter also means lower prices, whether you’re staying in a hotel or a flexible NYC rental apartment from Blueground.
In addition to lower prices, you’ll find smaller crowds at all of the city’s top attractions, making December, January, February and March excellent times to plan a visit.
There is an almost unlimited number of things you can do in New York City in winter, and so we hope you’ll decide to stick around for a while.