Things to Do in Winter in NYC

Updated: 10 marzo 2024

Do what we do in New York City's colder months -- grab a coat and head out to enjoy the seasonal festivities and fun winter activities!

Below we share with you our favorite things to do in NYC in the winter during the 2023-2024 season! Plus, we share some tips to make your visit a magical one!


Before we go into the things we enjoy doing in the winter, we'd like to point out why coming to NYC in winter is a smart choice!

First, it's the off-peak season (other than the days around Christmas and New Year).

This means fewer tourists so attractions aren't as crowded and entry lines won't be long at all.

Next, you can participate in plenty of activities that don't take place during the other seasons, like going ice skating and shopping the post-holiday sales!

Best of all, you'll save money visiting in winter as you can find cheaper flights to NYC as well as lower prices on hotels.

Want to save even more?

If you are planning on going to a lot of attractions (which might be the case if you want to be inside on colder days), look into getting a tourist discount pass.

So many of the top New York attractions are included for free with one of these passes, you may find that getting one is right for you.

Still need convincing that winter is an awesome time of the year to visit NYC? Read our post, Best Times to Visit NYC.

best time to visit new york

Here are some links to the most popular things to do year-round in NYC:

See what events are happening during these winter months, plus what you can expect, weather-wise):

Go Ice Skating

We wait all year to put on our skates and hit the ice rinks. There's something incredibly magical about ice skating in the city.

Surrounded by beautiful buildings by day and dazzling lights at night, ice skating in NYC is an unforgettable experience.

Of the city's several skating rinks, our favorite is at Bryant Park's festive Winter Village.

It's free if you have your own skates. They also rent skates there.

Of course, skating at the iconic rink at Rockefeller Center is a must-do, at least once in a lifetime

Another gorgeous place to skate is Wollman Rink in Central Park (see the picture above). The skyline around the rink is just lovely, especially at night.

You'll recognize it from the movies like Home Alone 2 and Serendipity.

Wollman Rink is just one of the stops on our seasonal NYC Christmas Movie Tour.

Read here about NYC's ice skating rinks.

See the City Sparkle

Even after decades in NYC, we never get tired of how beautiful NYC is at night when the lights come on and the city sparkles.

At the holidays, we get an extra layer of sparkle, filling us with joy.

Despite having seen the department store holiday window displays many times, we can't resist going every year - the new themes and designs are always fun to see.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree never disappoints!

Let us show you the best places to see the city lit up on our New York Holiday Lights Tour.

For a mind-blowing holiday lights experience, see the over-the-top Dyker Heights Holiday Lights.

They have to be seen to be believed! Join a tour or see them on your own.

Check out our post Christmas in NYC to see all the best light displays during the holidays!

Embrace the Holidays

Winter is somewhat synonymous with the holidays. This is a good thing, even if you don't celebrate them.

That's because the holidays bring with them all sorts of wonderful activities that only happen this time of year.

When else besides winter can you see the Rockettes kick up a storm at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular?

One of our favorite things to do this time of year is to hit up the Christmas markets to buy holiday gifts, decorations and unique artisan crafts.

A few great markets to visit are the Union Square Holiday Market, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, the Bank of America Winter Village, and the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair.

And if you are here on December 31st, brave the crowds and cold to see the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

See our survival guide to New Year's in Times Square.

Attend a Broadway Show for Less

If you are here in late January to early February, you are in for a treat!

This is when Broadway Week takes place and you can get two for the price of one'' tickets to some of the best Broadway shows.

Over the years, we've saved loads of money seeing shows during Broadway Week.

But even if you aren't here at that time, you can still find lower prices on tickets since it is off-peak tourist season.

In the video above, Katie, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot, explains how to get discounts on Broadway show tickets.

Read our detailed post on how to get discount Broadway tickets any time of the year!

Go to a Sports Game

If it's too cold for you outside, head indoors and see some athletes sweat playing ice hockey and basketball.

You can also see a football game, and though you'll be sitting outdoors, we can vouch that the boisterous, electric atmosphere at a Giants or Jets game is unbeatable.

Seeing a game is a fun way to spend an evening in NYC. If you are here with kids, sports events are a family-friendly activity.

Football  (September - January)

Ice Hockey (October - April)

See what other sports are happening this winter in NYC.

Catch a Concert

Those of us who live in NYC are pretty spoiled when it comes to seeing concerts. We get the top names coming into town, even in the winter months!

There are some fantastic holiday concerts by big-name performers in 2023.

Like always, Phish will play at Madison Garden for four nights, including New Year's Eve.

These performers are playing this winter:

See what other concerts are scheduled in DecemberJanuaryFebruary.

TIP: Check out the Madison Square Garden All-Access Tours to see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.

Take a Sightseeing Tour

Don't let the weather stop you from seeing NYC! It doesn't stop us from doing things around town!

As long as you have packed for an NYC winter, you will enjoy a guided sightseeing tour with us as much as any other time of the year.

In the winter, our tour groups are smaller in size and you'll get more up-close and personal time with our guides.

New York Walking Tours


If you are here around the holidays, we have special tours that you can't take any other time of the year like our New York Holiday Lights Tour.

See what other tour offerings we have!

Hop on a Bus Tour

If you’re not up for walking, or the weather is cold, stay warm while you see New York City on a bus tour.

Just take a look at the video to see what a winter bus tour is like!

Also, hop-on, hop-off buses stop at the most popular attractions, so you can use the bus to go from destination to destination and still see a lot of the city.

Our post on the best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC Bus Tours can help you decide which is best for you.

Dining Discounts During Restaurant Week

If you've seen the food tours we offer, then you know we are foodies! And boy, do we wait for this time of year to roll around!

During Restaurant Week (a 3-week stretch from late January to mid-February) you can enjoy a 5-star meal at top restaurants and pay 1/4 of the regular cost!

During Restaurant Week, more than 300 of New York City’s best restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu including either 2 courses or 3 courses for a low price, relative to their regular prices.

See our post, Restaurant Week, to get all the details plus our suggestions of where to eat organized by neighborhood.

Shop the Post-Holiday Sales

If you are in New York after the holidays, you are in luck!

Department stores offer deep discounts and we love looking through the racks for bargains.

You can get even better deals at the already discounted shopping outlets.

Woodbury Commons is one of the best outlets in New York. It's only one hour outside of NYC and worth the easy ride to get there.

In this video, tour guide Katie explains how to get to Woodbury Commons along with tips for shopping there.

Find out how to get there and what you can expect from this huge outlet mall from our post on getting to Woodbury Commons.

See where the best shopping is in NYC here.

Go to a Top Tourist Attraction Without the Crowds

Just like we do, take advantage of the off-peak season to visit one or more popular attractions.

Lines are shorter so you won’t have to wait long (if at all) to get into the attraction.

We enjoy this time to go to museums as they are less crowded in the winter.

Winter is also a great time to visit one of the observation decks which offer spectacular skyline views from inside, as well as outside.

Choose from the Empire State Building, One World Observatory (Freedom Tower), or Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.

TIP:  See our post on the long list of NYC's attractions

Look into a Tourist Discount Pass

tourist discount pass affords you discounted entry into most of NYC’s most popular attractions.

While the passes themselves certainly aren’t free, if you plan your itineraries well, you will end up getting one or two attractions for free each day.

There are several different types of passes, so be sure to read our comparison post to learn about how you can save the most money on your trip.


We here at Free Tours By Foot's NYC team love free things to do in our city!

Some activities that are free every day are even more enjoyable in the winter for a variety of reasons.

For hundreds of other activities that won't cost you a dime, check out our post on free things to do in NYC and our post on free museums and other attractions.

Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge

New Yorkers love walking across the Brooklyn Bridge often due to the sense of freedom one feels from there.

But the bridge can get very crowded though in peak tourist season.

Bundle up and cross this NYC gem in winter with lots of room to breathe!

See our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge to maximize your experience.

You can also join one of our pay-what-you-wish Brooklyn Bridge Tours or take our GPS-enhanced audio guide.

Attend a Free TV Show Taping

This is totally free and totally fun and in January it is easier to get a seat when the tourist season is over.

Sit in on tapings of shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Today Show, and The Daily Show.

See our post on all the New York TV show tapings and how you can score tickets.

Explore Central Park

There is never a bad time of year to visit Central Park. It can be especially charming when there is a dusting of snow.

You will want your camera for these moments. Head to The Mall and Gapstow Bridge to capture iconic images.

See our suggestions for the best photo spots in Central Park.

Consider joining our pay-what-you-wish Central Park tour or explore the park on your own using our guide to things to do in Central Park.

We also have an audio tour you can use day or night.

Hear a Gospel Choir

Let an inspirational choir warm your heart in the winter. NYC has many churches that you can go to and hear the gospel for free.

In the video below, Derrick, a tour guide with us, Free Tours by Foot, discusses how to get tickets for the famous Abyssinia Baptist Church in Harlem.

While there are some basic etiquette expectations, attending a gospel service is easy.

Find out where to hear Gospel Music in NYC.

Get a Spectacular View of NYC from the Free Staten Island Ferry

If you like to avoid crowds, take the free Staten Island Ferry in winter!

During the summer, it can be hard to find a spot along the railing with so many visitors on board, but in colder months, you'll have no trouble.

As for the weather, grab a seat indoors to stay warm then pop out to take pictures of the amazing view of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

For other ways to get out on the water, see our post about all of NYC’s boat tour options.

Check Out the Top Art Museums for Free

You might have been disappointed to find out that the top museums in New York cost a small fortune.

Luckily, many of the top museums offer free days or special free hours, often in the evening.

Here are three to visit:

  • Museum of Modern Art  - Fridays, free from 5:30 pm – 9 pm
  • Guggenheim Museum  - Saturdays, free from 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm
  • Whitney Museum of American Art - Fridays, free from 7 pm – 9:30 pm

See more free museums here.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial

Seeing the Memorial site and the beautiful giant cascading fountains is a moving experience.

In this video, Katie takes you on a tour of the National September 11th Memorial, also known as the 9/11 Memorial, which is free to visit.

Next to the memorial is the National September 11th Museum which educates the public through documents and videos. The museum also houses artifacts recovered from the Twin Towers site.

There is a fee to enter the museum, but you can enter for free on Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Also, should you buy a tourist discount pass, you can choose the museum as one of your attractions.

Discover the Underground Art Scene

It might be a little cold and rainy outside during the winter, but if you're looking to escape the weather, we have the answer.

Use this virtual subway art tour to discover the underground art scene in NYC's subways!

By walking into any subway station you’re more than likely to find a subway performer or two. Find them easily with our tips for finding subway musicians.

If you are new to the city or a first-time visitor, you may find our post How to Use the NYC Subway helpful.


Some of the events and activities listed above are family-friendly, such as ice skating, seeing a sports game, and taking a free walking tour so be sure to look through this entire post for more ideas.

You can find even more information about visiting New York in the winter (and year-round) with kids by reading our post on things to do with kids in NYC as well as our 3-day itinerary for families.

Visit a Top Attraction

Below are indoor, kid-friendly experiences that will keep your little ones warm and entertained.

These attractions are quite fun for grown-ups too!

Take a Sightseeing Tour

We offer several family-friendly pay-what-you-wish walking tours that include a mix of historical facts and humorous stories.

Most of our tours are appropriate for children and they are recommended by Red Tricycle as one of the best tours for families in New York City!

Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

If you are here between November 17, 2023 – January 15, 2024, you should check out this popular annual model train show.

People of all ages love seeing the 190 famous New York landmarks replicated in miniature with birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks!

See a mini Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of LibertyRockefeller Center, and the wonderful model trains.

Attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

As the name implies, this annual parade occurs on Thanksgiving morning in New York City every year.

You can expect a huge variety of floats and performers throughout the parade, and of course, you'll also see Santa Claus!

This is the same parade depicted in the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, and it's a popular activity for families to attend.

For more kid-friendly activities, see our post on Things To Do with Kids in NYC.

Visit the Butterfly Conservatory

Located at the American Museum of Natural History, this annual event takes place from the end of November through May of the next year, making it the perfect winter activity.

You'll find more than 500 butterflies fluttering around all kinds of beautiful tropical plants inside the museum's Butterfly habitat.

Get Active at Chelsea Piers

This gigantic sports complex is located right along the Hudson River, and they have a lot of indoor activities that both you and your family may enjoy.

Some of the most popular indoor activities here include:

  • Rock Climbing Walls
  • Batting Cages
  • Basketball
  • Golf Club
  • And more!


Winter in New York City requires a warm winter jacket or coat.

Bring along some gloves, a scarf, and a hat, unless your coat has a hood. Some days in January or February can be blustery or windy.

Layering clothing is a good idea for any vacation. 

In winter, layering will keep you warm outdoors, and you can peel off those layers when indoors.

Some items to bring warm slacks or heavy jeans; for women, skirts are fine if you are willing to wear some very warm leggings or tights.

Long-sleeve shirts of wool or heavy-duty cotton as opposed to lighter materials.

Be sure to bring a wool or cashmere sweater (the thinner, the better kind unless you want your suitcase to be bulky!) 

Last but not least, warm (preferably waterproof) boots are also a good idea in case of rain or snow.

Bring a tried and true pair - you don't want to be breaking in a new pair on your vacation!

TIP: If you find you need some additional items to layer but are on a budget, you can try chain stores, particularly Uniqlo, known for its warm yet lightweight apparel.

They have locations all over the city, with one located right near Rockefeller Center and another in SoHo.

For more details on weather conditions, see our posts for each month:


There are a lot of interesting festivities that take place in New York City during the winter, and you might want to consider attending some of these events.

We also have a post that covers all of the major public holidays recognized in New York.

Chinese New Year

In 2024, the Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, February 10th (Year of the Dragon, 4721).

The colorful Lunar New Year parade will occur on Sunday, February 18, 2024, in Chinatown.

Learn more about the Chinese New Year.

Winter Jazzfest

If you're a jazz fan, this annual event is an absolute must.

The music festival will be taking place between January 11th - 18th, 2024.

You can look forward to more than 100 bands and musicians playing at multiple venues in Greenwich Village.

Buy a day or weekend pass. Let these smoking hot jam sessions warm you up this winter. See their website for the details.

Here's what else is happening during the winter.




About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: marzo 10th, 2024
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