things to do in nyc in winter

Snow-Covered Skylines: Top 20 Things to Do in NYC in Winter

New York City in winter is nothing short of enchanting. From the glimmer of fresh snow atop skyscrapers to bustling holiday markets, there’s a myriad of things to do in NYC in winter. Dive into this guide and uncover the city’s frozen treasures.

When Is Winter in NYC?


Winter officially casts its spell on New York from December 21st, marking the onset with the winter solstice and bidding adieu on March 20th with the spring equinox.

While January and February are the chilliest, boasting frequent snowfalls, the city sometimes finds itself cloaked in winter’s embrace as early as November or as late as April. As such, it’s always prudent to peek at the short-term forecast before packing your bags.

Top 20 Things to Do in NYC in Winter

1. Ice Skate at Rockefeller Center


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A time-honored tradition, the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center is a quintessential New York winter experience. Surrounded by the city’s towering skyscrapers, skaters of all levels can glide on the ice, absorbing the festive ambiance. The colossal Rockefeller Christmas tree, adorned with thousands of lights, watches over the rink, making every twirl and glide feel like a scene from a movie.

2. Fifth Avenue Holiday Displays

The illustrious Fifth Avenue transforms into a winter fairy-tale with its captivating window displays. World-renowned department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Macy’s meticulously design each window, telling enchanting holiday stories through intricate installations, mesmerizing lights, and innovative animations. A stroll down this avenue becomes a journey through imaginative winter wonderlands.

3. Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular

For decades, the Rockettes have epitomized holiday entertainment in NYC. Their impeccable, synchronized high-kicks, dazzling costumes, and dynamic performances at the iconic Radio City Music Hall evoke sheer wonderment. Coupled with a heartwarming storyline and state-of-the-art visual effects, this show captures the magic of the season.

4. Shop at Bryant Park Winter Village

Winter Village

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A festive sanctuary in the midst of urban hustle, Bryant Park’s Winter Village is a paradise for holiday shoppers. From artisanal crafts, handmade jewelry, to unique holiday trinkets, each kiosk offers something special. Amidst the shopping frenzy, visitors can also lace up their skates for a whirl on the rink or savor winter delicacies at the food stalls, all while surrounded by the park’s serene beauty.

5. Union Square Holiday Market

Taking festive shopping up a notch, the Union Square Holiday Market is a beloved NYC tradition. Red and white tents pop up in Union Square, housing vendors that present a mix of vintage goods, artisanal foods, and handcrafted gifts. The aroma of roasted nuts and mulled wine fills the air, making shopping a multisensory experience.

6. Artistic Exploration at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

As winter engulfs the city, The MET invites visitors to explore a treasure trove of art, history, and culture. Winter often sees special exhibitions, but the pièce de résistance is the museum’s Christmas tree, a radiant display accompanied by a stunning Neapolitan nativity scene, which reflects the season’s spirit and the museum’s commitment to artful celebrations.

7. Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows


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The neon lights of Broadway beckon theater enthusiasts, offering a roster of diverse performances. Winter often premieres some of the year’s most anticipated shows. Whether it’s the timeless tale of “The Nutcracker” or a contemporary musical sensation, the theaters of Broadway and Off-Broadway promise a warm escape from winter’s chill with riveting performances.

8. Snowy Adventures in Central Park

This vast urban oasis undergoes a magical transformation as snow blankets its meadows, bridges, and pathways. Central Park becomes a playground for winter enthusiasts – families building snowmen, couples partaking in snowball fights, and thrill-seekers sledding down its gentle slopes. The stillness of the park’s frozen ponds and snow-laden trees offers a tranquil escape from city life.

9. Ride the Staten Island Ferry

The chill of winter doesn’t deter the Staten Island Ferry from its regular jaunts across New York Harbor. Offering panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline, this ferry ride becomes even more picturesque as snowflakes dance around and the city’s landmarks gleam in the winter sun.

10. New Year’s Eve in Times Square


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Synonymous with grandeur and jubilation, the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is a spectacle like no other. As the final seconds of the year tick away, all eyes are on the gleaming ball that descends atop One Times Square. The air, thick with anticipation, erupts in joy as fireworks light up the night sky, welcoming a new year amidst confetti, music, and collective euphoria.

11. Warm Up with Hot Chocolate

When winter’s chill starts to bite, there’s nothing more comforting than a cup of rich, velvety hot chocolate. NYC boasts numerous cafes that elevate this humble beverage to an art form. For instance, City Bakery in Flatiron is legendary, serving its cocoa thick and decadent, often crowned with a fluffy homemade marshmallow. Each sip is a moment of cozy indulgence.

12. Dine in NYC’s Historic Eateries

NYC’s culinary scene doesn’t hibernate in winter. Instead, historic diners and esteemed restaurants invite guests to experience a medley of flavors. From the old-world charm of Katz’s Delicatessen, with its hearty sandwiches, to the romantic ambiance of One If By Land, Two If By Sea in West Village, winter is the season to indulge in gastronomic delights that warm the body and soul.

13. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights


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Located in Brooklyn, Dyker Heights goes all out every winter, with homeowners turning their residences into luminous spectacles of holiday spirit. Streets come alive with gigantic Santas, twinkling fairy lights, animated displays, and festive music. The sheer enthusiasm and community spirit make Dyker Heights a must-visit winter attraction, even inspiring organized tours.

14. Greenwich Village Stroll

Winter adds a touch of serenity to the bohemian rhapsody of Greenwich Village. The winding streets, lined with historic brownstones and boutique shops, sparkle with modest holiday decor. Grab a warm drink from a local cafe and meander through the streets, soaking in the blend of historic charm and modern day NYC hustle.

15. Visit the New York Botanical Garden

Winter doesn’t deter this Bronx-based botanical garden from showcasing its beauty. The Holiday Train Show is a particular highlight, where model trains whiz through a miniature NYC made entirely of plant parts. Furthermore, the garden organizes bar car nights, with ice-sculpting demonstrations, festive drinks, and live music to set the mood.

16. Experience the New York Public Library


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The iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building dons a festive aura in winter. Apart from its impressive collection of books, the library hosts winter-themed events, readings, and workshops. And there’s nothing quite like reading a classic novel under the grand ceilings, with snow gently falling outside.

17. Attend a Live Jazz Show

The sultry sounds of jazz are perfect for warming up on cold winter nights. Historic venues like The Village Vanguard and Blue Note host some of the best talents in the jazz world, offering an intimate ambiance, where the music resonates with every heartbeat.

18. Holiday Markets at Grand Central Terminal

Apart from being a transportation hub and an architectural marvel, Grand Central hosts The Holiday Fair every winter. The Vanderbilt Hall transforms into a shopping paradise, featuring dozens of artisan vendors selling everything from handcrafted goods to gourmet foods, all under the Terminal’s celestial dome.

19. Winter Jazzfest

For those who can’t get enough of jazz, NYC’s Winter Jazzfest is a dream come true. Spanning several days and multiple venues, this festival showcases a diverse array of artists and styles, ensuring that attendees swing, groove, and sway to the winter rhythm.

20. Indulge in Winter Spa Days

NYC’s luxury spas, like The Mandarin Oriental or The Peninsula Spa, offer treatments tailored to soothe winter’s toll on the skin and body. From hot stone massages to rejuvenating facials, it’s a perfect way to relax and embrace winter’s calm.

9 Tips for Visiting NYC in Winter


1. Dress in Layers: NYC’s winter weather can be unpredictable. While mornings might be frosty, afternoons can become milder. Dressing in layers ensures you’re comfortable no matter the temperature. A warm coat, scarves, gloves, and a hat are essential.

2. Invest in Good Footwear: With so much to explore, you’ll be on your feet quite a lot. Opt for warm, waterproof, and comfortable shoes or boots to navigate the city streets and any potential slush or snow.

3. Stay Hydrated and Moisturized: Cold winter air can be dry, so carry a reusable water bottle and frequently apply moisturizer and lip balm to avoid chapped skin and lips.

4. Plan Indoor Activities: While there’s a lot to do outdoors, ensure your itinerary has a mix of indoor activities – like museums, shows, or cafes – where you can escape the cold when needed.

5. Utilize Public Transportation: While NYC is great for walking, the subway can be a respite from the cold during longer commutes. Plus, it’s efficient and can save you time!

6. Book Tickets in Advance: Popular shows, attractions, or events might sell out quickly during the holiday season. Secure your spot by booking tickets ahead of time.

7. Stay Alert: With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. Keep your belongings close and avoid displaying expensive items openly.

8. Local Winter Delicacies: Don’t miss out on seasonal treats. From warm apple cider, roasted chestnuts sold by street vendors, to special holiday menus in restaurants – there’s a lot of culinary exploration awaiting.

9. Check the Weather: NYC weather can sometimes throw a curveball. Regularly check forecasts and plan your activities accordingly. It’s always good to have a mix of indoor and outdoor options for each day.


New York City in winter is a spectacle of snow-draped landmarks and festive lights. From Broadway shows to ice skating at Rockefeller and sipping warm beverages, the city offers myriad magical moments. Embrace the season’s charm and let the wonders of winter’s NYC captivate your heart.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.