New York City is a top holiday destination in the US. However, as soon as everyone heads back to work and school, the city empties out. The best way to get New Yorkers out of their cozy apartments and visitors to the city is to run a big sale. New York City sponsors several programs during the winter to promote its offerings from glittering Broadway Shows to the Best NYC Restaurants to two-for-one Museum tickets. Here are the Top Things to do in NYC in Winter.
Top Things to do in NYC in Winter
- See a Broadway Show
- Enjoy a New To You Restaurant
- Make it a Weekend Getaway
- Visit a Museum
- Shop at the Winter Village
- Go Ice Skating
- Take a Scenic Cruise to See the City Lights
- Go for a Walk in Central Park
- Find a Cozy Bookstore
See a Broadway Show
This might be my favorite top thing to do in NYC in Winter. This is when most New Yorkers take in a show or two.
January is home to Broadway Week. From mid-January to early February, some shows will offer 2-for1 tickets. It is also a great time to snag tickets to those always sold-out shows (looking at you, Hamilton).
For last-minute tickets, you can stand in line at the Times Square TKTS kiosks and grab a discounted seat. I did this for Moulin Rouge last winter.
Get the latest details on the offerings from NYC Broadway Week and remember tickets are required.
NYC Restaurant Week
In addition to NYC Broadway Week, mid-January and early February are home to Restaurant Week. Each year, close to 500 restaurants offer a Prix Fix menu for lunch and dinner for one price.
Diners can choose from a two-course lunch for $30 per person, Monday through Friday. Dinner is a three-course option and costs $45 per person. On Sundays, brunch and lunch are $30, while dinner is $45. Reservations are required, and research in which NYC Restaurants participate.
With a dinner and a show, just get a room and stay the night in NYC. Again, from January to early February, NYC hosts Hotel Week with discounts of 24% at top hotels across the five boroughs.
Visitors can find some smoking deals for hotel rooms. I do this every January and get a room for under $200 a night, usually in Midtown.
Top NYC Museums
This is another favorite thing to do in NYC in the winter. New York offers some of the best museums in the U.S. and thanks to fewer tourists, there are far less crowded than the Holiday Season.
Some of my favorites include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Though visitors will find science museums and specialty exhibits as well.
Another perk for visiting in the winter is the NYC Must-See Week. From art museums to science museums to specialty museums, tickets are two-for-one. Advance tickets are required, and the NYC Must-See Site is the place to go.
Winter Village in Bryant Park
With its 17,000-square-foot ice rink and outdoor shopping, Bryant Park is one of the top things to do in NYC in the Winter. The jewel box and glass-enclosed shops sell unique gifts from around the world, along with artisan-made items.
Additional to the amble shopping, The Lodge Bar and Food Hall offers cocktails and rink-side seating. For a chance to pick up a new sport, reserve a spot at the Curling Cafe and Bar.
After New Year’s, the bumper cars return to the ice for a super fun activity. For kids, take a ride on the carousel ($4 a ride, open daily from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.).
Located between 5th and 6th Ave. between 40th and 42nd Streets. Open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The ice skating rink is open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. – midnight Reservations are required for skating and bumper cars. The Winter Village at Bryant Park stays open until early March.
Ice Skating in NYC
Ice skating on an outdoor rink is a must for a winter trip to NYC. The top spots are Rockefeller Plaza rink and the Bryant Park rink, though find over a dozen rinks across NYC.
Wollman Rink in Central Park is another picturesque spot to skate. Riverbank State Park offers a roof over its outdoor rink and overlooks the Hudson River. The Rink at Brookfield Place is close to Penn Station. The Rink at Manhattan West is a smaller outdoor venue.
If the weather outside if frightful, then head to the indoor rink at Chelsea Piers. Additionally, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island all offer ice skating.
Scenic Cruise to See the City Lights
Manhattan is beautiful at night with its all aglow. One of the best ways to see the city’s lights is from the water on a scenic cruise.
City Line offers its 2-hour Harbor Lights Cruise that passes top sights like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge.
The Harbor Cruise departs from Pier 83 at 7 p.m. most nights.
Central Park in Winter
Central Park is a backyard for New Yorkers as well as a top destination for visitors. This 800-acre is transformed by snow so make it a point to visit during the winter.
Ice skating at Wollman Rink is always popular. However, if you have skates, Conservatory Water is open for skating when the ice is six inches thick.
The Central Park Zoo and the Carousel are open during the winter. For sledding, Pilgrim Hill and Cedar Hill are both open when there is six inches of snow on the ground. For snowballs and snowpeople, visitors can head to Sheep’s Meadow.
The 21 playgrounds in Central Park remain open during the winter as well.
Best Independent Bookstores in NYC
My personal favorite is the Strand Book Store. It opened in 1927 and has weathered an erratic industry. With over 2.5 million books in stock, you will find something. Located at 828 Broadway.
For the high-end book lover, take a look at Argosy Book Store. I visited on one of my trips, and it was an interesting find. I imagined it is a destination for book collectors. Located at 116 E. 59th St.
For a cozy space, head to Three Lives & Co. on 154 W. 10th St.