Best Times to Go to NYC Explained

This post is a guide to choosing the best time to visit NYC, including when it’s the cheapest and when to expect the best weather and a month by month comparison. 

 

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THE QUICK ANSWER

The best time to visit NYC depends on what “best” means to you.

If by best you mean cheapest times to visit, then that’s much easier to answer, come just about anytime between January and February.

However, there are also relatively cheap times to visit during periods of the high season. Read our section below explaining when is cheapest.

If your definition of best is mostly concerning the weather, then that’s also an easy answer. You should visit between May-June or between September-November.

This is when it is the warmest with the least amount of rain. Learn more about why.

Each month can be the best for certain individuals. Therefore, we also created a section in this post summarizing what each month has to offer.

Because there’s no point visiting in October if your dream is to ice skate on the Rockefeller Center ice rink.

 


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CHEAPEST TIME OF YEAR TO GO TO NYC

The following is a summary of a more in-depth post on visiting NYC during the least expensive periods of the year, where we also cover the cheapest times in the high season.

 

 

The short answer though is that from early January until early March is clearly the cheapest time to visit NYC.

This period contains the best combination of low prices and discounts on flights, hotels, and Broadway-types shows and musicals.

The second cheapest period is from early November until about the first week of December.


Cheapest Hotel Prices

Average hotel prices, which approach $300/night for the year, drop to around $190/night city wide during this low tourism period.

And although the graph doesn’t show it, there is a period between November 1st and early-December that is also relatively inexpensive to visit NYC.

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Cheapest Flights to NYC

Likewise, the cheapest times to purchase a flight to NYC is generally from early January until early March.

According to Google Flights, the average 5-day round-trip, non-stop flight from London to NYC can reach £1200 during the peak Christmas rush. 

But, if you wait until after the Christmas season, the average round trip flight from London is more than 4x cheaper. 

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There are some caveats to hotel and flight discounts during this time of year and we provide more detail here.


The Types of Travelers Who Should Benefit

Museum Lovers

It’s cold outside, but who cares. During the slow seasons, museums and other indoor attractions are operating as usual and they are much less crowded.

 

NYC Museums in Winter

 

Not to mention, many museums and attractions are either free (or pay-what-you-wish) every day of the week or on select days and times or included for free with a tourist attraction discount pass.


Theater Lovers

Fewer tourists mean getting tickets to shows in NYC are easier to come by, especially on websites such as StubHub and TodayTix.

broadway week

Late January is also Broadway Week, which is actually 2 weeks long when you can get 2 for 1 tickets to many popular Broadway shows.

We also have some general tips on how to get your hands on discounted theater tickets.


Dining Out

Jan until early March is also a great time for dining out. Like for Broadway shows, dinner reservations are much easier to come by.

There is Restaurant Week, which like Broadway Week lasts for 2 weeks in the 2nd half of January and offers deep discounts. 


Other Money Saving NYC Travel Tips:

 


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BEST TIME TO VISIT NYC WEATHERWISE

Much like in the previous section, the answer to the question when is the weather best is subjective.

But the short answer is that for most people, the best times to visit NYC weatherwise is the roughly 2-month periods of May and June as well as September and October.

 

Best Months for Weather in NYC

 

 

 

It’s during these 2 periods that the weather (both day and night) is stable and warm, without the humidity of the dead of summer as well as very little rain.

Late April and early July, as well as late August and early November, could also apply here.

While July and August can be downright hot and humid in NYC, this isn’t always the case.

And if you come from a hot and humid climate, such as Florida or Queensland, then you should easily acclimate yourself to NYC’s summer climate.

And as we alluded to in the previous section, if you are a museum lover, then when you come to NYC isn’t very weather dependent.

After you read this section, check out our section on things to do by month.


Weather Overview by Seasons

Winter (Dec-Feb)

This is the coldest time of year. Early December is relatively mild but can be quite cold as well. 

Daily afternoon high temperatures in January and February will be mostly in the upper 30’s F to near 40 F (3-5 C), with evening and morning low temperatures around the mid to upper 20’s F (-2 to -3 C).

Snow is most likely in January and February but it can certainly snow in December and March.

 

When does it snow in NYC

 

Although NYC isn’t a particularly snowy city, you should be prepared to deal with snowy conditions.

Read our post on planning for snow in NYC for more information.

As we alluded to earlier, this is also the cheapest time to visit NYC (with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s) and is great for those who love museums, indoor attractions, Broadway shows, and fancy dinners.

But it’s also a great time for people who like to go ice skating or just don’t mind the cold (Canadians?).


Spring (March-May)

At the start of March, average high temperatures will reach into the mid 40’s F (6-7 C). 

By the end of May, average daily high temperatures will reach the mid-70s F (22-24 C) by the end of the month.

The photo was taken on May 23, 2019, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

May is a Great Time to Visit NYC

 

You should expect some snow at the start of March, but significant snowfall after this time occurs seldom in NYC.

And if NYC has a rainy season, then it’s this 3-month period. However, no month in NYC sees more than 4 in. (10 cm) of rain a month on average.

 

Average Monthly Rainfall NYC

 

The weather isn’t very stable, particularly in March and the 1st half of April with frequent temperature and precipitation changes, though May is more pleasant.

More outdoor activities are taking place, especially starting in April. Professional baseball, basketball, and hockey are all happening now.  


Summer (June – August)

June is still a great time weather-wise, with average high temperatures around the mid-70s F (22 -24 C) at the start of the month and ending the month just a tad warmer. 

 

Average Monthly Temperatures NYC

 

July is when things start to warm up, with average high temperatures in the mid-80s F (26-29 C).

About 1/4 of the days will exceed 90 F (32 C) along with high humidity.

In the past, July has seen temperatures rise to as high as 106 F (41 C).

The good news is that evening and morning lows average around the mid to upper-60s F (17-21 C), which means taking advantage of things to do outside at night.

 

July Night Tour NYC

The summer is a great time for a night tour.

August is similar to July with the end of the month seeing partially cooler temperatures as the first half of the month, particularly at night.

All 3 months bring lots of sunshine, and while there aren’t many rain days, when it does rain, it’s often significant (if short-lived).

Expect thundershowers any day of the week.


Autumn (Sept-Nov)

If you can come during this time period, we recommend this as the best time.

As we mentioned earlier, September and October are two months when the weather (both day and night) is stable and warm, without the humidity of the dead of summer as well as very little rain.

Daily high temperatures in September average between 70 – 8o F (21 – 26 C) with October seeing average high temperatures between 60 – 70 F (16 – 21 C). 

Things will start to cool off in November when light jackets are required, but the weather is still pleasant. Daily average high temperatures range between 50-60 F (9 – 16 C).


Monthly Weather Reports

 


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BEST MONTHS TO VISIT NYC

January 

Wollman Ice Rink at night

January is a great month for bargain hunters. Post-holiday shopping means big markdowns. And hotels and flights will generally cost less.

Until mid-month some holiday lights are still up and you can enjoy them without the crowds. You can also enjoy winter sports like ice skating.

Two annual January events can save you some serious money. One of these is Broadway Week, where you can get two tickets to Broadway Shows for the price of one! 

The other money-saving event is Restaurant Week (actually two weeks long) you can dine at over 300 of NYC’s best restaurants with a more than an affordable prix-fixe set menu.

This event occurs again in late July.

January is also a great month for fans of professional ice hockey and basketball as both sports are active.


February

Restaurant Week

Similar to January, you can get good deals on hotels and flights. You can see ice hockey and basketball games. Best of all, you can visit NYC attractions without the crowds.

Both Broadway Week and Restaurant Week are still going on in early February. Mid-February offers Off-Broadway Week with two-for-one tickets for high quality shows at smaller theaters.

Chinatown is filled with celebratory spirit as Chinese New Year takes place with parades and festivals.

You can also see dogs and supermodels on the cat-walk as both the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and New York Fashion Week take place.


March

Early March is still off-peak season and flights and hotels may cost less.

Towards the end of the month, NYC sees signs of springtime with the Orchid Show and the Macy’s Flower Show.

You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day when much of New York seems to turn green for the day, including green bagels!

Basketball fans will love March Madness and can see the Big East Tournament.


April

Another month filled with flowers, April brings the Easter Parade, the Cherry Blossom Festival and flower bulbs in Central Park.

 

 

You can see the best new movie makers at the Tribeca Film Festival. In addition to basketball and ice hockey, soccer and baseball start up so you have a choice of four professional sports to go see.


May

In May, baseball is in full swing. The High Line and Central Park are blooming.

This is a great month to spend outdoors and also at indoor attractions and museums before the summer crowds arrive.

Some special events are the Fleet Week at the Intrepid Museum and the Annual 9th Avenue Food Festival.

Memorial Day is the start of beach season in NYC, and believe it or not, we have some pretty nice beaches!


June

Summerstage

Summer is here, and though it does bring more tourists, there are also more fantastic annual events!

Two major free performance series start in June: Shakespeare in the Park and Summerstage.

You can purchase affordable art at the NYC perennial favorite, the Washington Square Outdoor Art Show.

There is a lot of dancing in the streets since June brings the Dance Parade, the Gay Pride Parade, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the one-of-a-kind Mermaid Parade at Coney Island.


July

The free fun continues with loads of free concert and outdoor movie series, and both Shakespeare in the Park and Summerstage are still running.

 

 

Restaurant Week returns for two weeks at the end of the month with amazing discounts at over 300 restaurants.

Independence Day brings Macy’s unbelievable Fireworks show and French Independence Day (Bastille Day) brings great food and music festivals.


August

Moma

August does heat up a bit, but this is a bonus for visitors as many New Yorkers flee the city meaning an easier time to visit museums and enjoy otherwise packed restaurants. 

At the end of the month the world’s top tennis players arrive for the US Open Tennis Championship. You can also see professional baseball games and soccer matches.

In the evenings you have almost too many choices of free entertainment from outdoor movies and plays, concerts and festivals.

August is also Harlem Week – which lasts the whole month!


September

September is great for those who like warm days and cool nights. The city is yours to explore without the summer crowds.

School kids are back in the classroom so lines at family-friendly attractions are shorter.

Broadway Week returns with two-for-one deals on theater tickets. Baseball’s still happening and football season begins.

The month is filled with festivals and parades with the highlights being the Feast of San Gennaro, the Carribean Day Parade and the Atlantic Antic.


October

Central-Park fall-season

You can pretty much count on the tourist crowds being gone giving you more time and space to visit the city’s top attractions.

Central Park’s trees change colors. Lots of fun ‘spooky’ events are put on, including Ghost Tours!

There are lots of family-friendly festivals celebrating the harvest season. 

The culmination of the month is the Annual Village Halloween Parade, a one-of-a-kind experience.


November

Early in the month can see top comedians at the New York Comedy Festival and all month long you can see a basketball, football or ice hockey game.

Later in November, you can see the giant floats at the incredible Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 

 

Towards the end of the month, the holiday spirit starts up, holiday lights and markets appear and you can even ice skate!


December

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The holiday season brings tourists back for the festive environment.

The holiday lights, special Christmas markets, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are highlights.

You have many holiday shows to choose from including the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and you can ring in the New Year watching the ball drop in Times Square.

 


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About the author

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others.

She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.