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What to Do in New York in February

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This post lists the top things to do in New York in February (updated for 2021), including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly events and activities. 

COVID-19 ALERT: Due to the pandemic, many attractions and activities will either be altering their opening hours or limiting the services they provide.

Even if the attraction you want to visit is still open, you can expect limited capacity, requirements to wear a mask, and social distancing guidelines.

 


TOP 15 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY 

This is our list of the fifteen best events and things to do in NYC in February. For even more suggestions, see our comprehensive guide to things to do in NYC.  

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

For tips on the most popular activities in NYC, check out the following posts:


1. Celebrate Black History Month

All of February is Black History Month. There will be relevant events throughout the city, but the place where you will find the best events is in Harlem.

Check out a show at the historic Apollo Theater or take a deep dive into Harlem's history and culture on our pay-what-you-like Harlem Walking Tour.

If you want to move at your own pace, you can also use our GPS-enabled audio tour of Harlem at any time. 

Our Guide to Harlem lists resources to find events, sights to see, where to eat, shop, see live music, and more.


2. Go Ice Skating

In New York City you have many choices of where to skate, at varying prices and all different hours.

Of course, there is the famed Rockefeller Center Rink and the Wollman Rink in Central Park. 

New York Ice skating centralpark

A new outdoor rooftop rink has opened at Pier 17 by the South Street Seaport.

As you skate, you'll have views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the even Empire State Building in the distance!

To find out the many places you can go skating in the city, see our post on Where to go Ice-skating in New York City

NOTE: Some of these skating rinks will either be closed or at limited capacity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.


3. Explore Grand Central

This world-famous terminal is a great place to spend some time, especially on a cold day.

While you can enjoy it just by walking around, you will learn secrets about this historic station by taking a tour.

We offer a pay-what-you-wish two-hour tour of Grand Central and also have an audio tour that can be used any time, day or night.

Our guide on what to see in Grand Central Station is filled with helpful information, so be sure to take a look.


4. Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival

On February 7, 2020, at 1 pm, come out to welcome in the Year of the Rat!

This is one of the most festive days of the year for all New Yorkers, regardless of heritage. 

Chinatown will be filled with colorful floats, lion and dragon dancers, marching bands, and other types of performers. 

For more information and a map of the parade route, click here

NOTE: This event may be canceled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


5. Take a Sightseeing Tour

If the Chinatown Parade leaves you wanting more of this special neighborhood of New York City, join us for our pay-what-you-like SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown Tour.

We spend 45-minutes in Chinatown, a small neighborhood but with a huge amount of history that our guides share with you in a colorful and engaging way.  

If you can't join us for a tour, or care to explore on your own, see our guide to Things to See in Chinatown


6. Enjoy Restaurant Week  

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

In 2020, Restaurant Week takes place from January 21-February 9.

You can enjoy a 5-star meal at a top New York restaurant and pay just $26 for a 2-course lunch or $42 for a  3-course dinner.

The list of participating restaurants will be available in early January. 

See our post on how to make the most of Restaurant Week for more details.

NOTE: This activity may be canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.


7. 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.


8. Attend a Sports Event

February is perfect for seeing an ice hockey game and all three major NYC hockey teams have multiple games to choose from. 

For excitement off the ice, you can see a basketball or football game.

Sports events are also a way to spend an evening. They are also a family-friendly activity.

Check to see which games are available to attend with this list of sporting events in New York City this February.

TIP: Madison Square Garden offers All-Access Tours so you can see how this iconic arena has become a world landmark.  


9. Visit a Free Museum

Many NYC museums offer free days or free hours. If you go on these days you save yourself a bundle!

Here are just a few museums that offer free days/hours.

For a complete list see our post, Free Museums in New York.

NOTE: Some of these locations have either changed their hours or offer limited capacity, so make sure to check before heading out.


10. Valentine's Day: Love in Times Square

At 6 pm on February 14th, head to Times Square for the heart-warming Love in Times Square.

This is a mass ceremony where couples renew their vows at the crossroads of the world. 

Anyone can come and watch couples pledge themselves again to each other on the famous red steps at W. 46th Street & Broadway in the heart of Times Square. 

Before or after the ceremony, discover Times Square using our guide on things to do in Times Square.

NOTE: This event may be canceled, postponed, or altered due to the pandemic.


11. Take a Romantic Valentine's Day Evening Cruise

Nothing beats the nighttime views from a cruise on the water just off the shore of Manhattan's sparkling skyline.

There are many companies that offer night boat tours, some with a Valentine's Day theme. 

See our post, Which New York Boat Tour or Cruise is Best?

For a free nighttime ride, you can take the Staten Island Ferry 24 hours a day!

Our post on riding the free Staten Island Ferry has all the information you need to plan a magical, affordable voyage.

NOTE: Some of these services might be limited or canceled due to the pandemic.


12. Visit a Museum at Night 

Avoid the crowds and visit a New York museum in the evening. Some are free, others have a small cost. 

The Museum of Modern Art is open late every Friday until 9 pm. Free entry starts at 5:30 pm.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is open until 10 pm on Friday evenings. Better still, it is free to enter from 7 pm to 9:30 pm.

The Rubin Museum of Art's K2 parties takes place every Friday night until 10 pm. Admission is free, and food and drinks for purchase are available.

Our post on free museums in New York City has many more listings. 

Read our post on things to do in NYC at night for other after-dark activities.

NOTE: A lot of museums are closing earlier than usual due to the pandemic. Check their hours to make sure they will be open late before heading out.


13. Commemorate President's Day 

On President's Day on February 17, 2020, visit the free Federal Hall National Memorial where Washington was sworn in as the first president. 

See all the Trump buildings in New York City using our free self-guided tour.

If you don't mind paying, you can say hello to Presidents Trump, Obama, Lincoln and Washington at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.


14. Take a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour   

Hop-on-hop-off bus tours are especially good for young children who can tire easily from a day of sightseeing.

They have the additional advantage in February of being nice and warm - something the whole family can enjoy!

Our post The Best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC Bus Tours can help you decide which is best for you and your family.


15. Carnival Day in Bryant Park

Early in the month (date to be announced), you can enjoy Carnival Day.

There will be an Ice Ball, a Skating Showcase, curling lessons, musical performances, and an outdoor Winter brewhouse & Warming Lodge. 

For more suggestions, see our post on free things to do in NYC.

NOTE: This event may be canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, but Bryant Park will have events you can enjoy throughout the month including Cozy Igloos, Juggling, and more.


Honorable Mention: Go to a Concert 

Warm yourself up at a concert with some of the hottest stars coming to town in February. 

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, pretty much all concerts and live musical performances have been either canceled or postponed.

If you want to double-check just in case, see what's on in February.


Honorable Mention: See a Broadway Show 

February is off-peak time on Broadway and you should be able to find good prices on many shows. See what's playing when you are in town.

Unfortunately, many of the Broadway shows have been either canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, so there's a good chance you won't be able to see much this month.

Find all the shows playing when you are in town.

 


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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, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 3rd, 2021
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