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This post covers things to do in January in NYC, including a top 10 list, family-friendly options, things to do at night, and of course, free activities.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 activities to enjoy in January on NYC. We note attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.
Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
Below is our top 10 list. If you are considering visiting many of NYC’s top attractions, then you might want to consider a tourist discount pass, which could save you considerable money. Read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes.
Hop-on-hop-off bus tours are a good way any time of the year to see a lot of the city in a little bit of time. They also help get you oriented to the layout of the city before you decide where you would like to visit more in depth.
In January, a bus tour has the additional enticing feature of keeping you warm on days that are especially cold. Since they stop at the popular attraction locations, you can use the bus to move from destination to destination and it is a lot more interesting to look out a bus window then stand in a crowded subway.
Our post The Best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC Bus Tours can help you decide which is best for you.
January 21 – February 9, 2019
Enjoy a 5-star meal at a top New York restaurant 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 3 courses for a very low price, relative to their regular prices.
The list of participating restaurants will be available in early January. Prices for 2018 were $29 Lunch / $42 Dinner, so we anticipate the prices will be in this range.
For advice on how to get the restaurants you want, see our post on how to make the most of Restaurant Week.
A beautiful location to skate at a beautiful price: FREE — that is, if you have skates. If you don’t have skates, rental prices are very reasonable. The lines to get in can be long, so plan for a wait, but well worth it.
Surrounding the rink is Winter Village, which houses stalls selling unique gifts and plenty of food stalls with seasonal treats. Just below is information on attending Winter Village.
For information on ice skating hours and prices, click here.
January is a fine time to take a walking tour, believe it or not! Weather can be surprisingly mild, and comfortable if dressed appropriately.
If you want to keep warm or just see something a little different, we have an indoor New York City Subway Art Tour. We also have several tours of Grand Central Terminal, an NYC gem that is both beautiful and warm!
We also offer food tours, bike tours, and occasional special theme tours like our ghost tours and holiday lights tours.
Our guided walks are free to join and operate on a pay-what-you-like basis, which means you decide what a tour was worth or what you could afford (even free) when the tour is over.
We also have self-guided tours and GPS-enabled audio tours of every neighborhood that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC.
This month you can see one of the funniest comedians ever, a timeless pianist, monster trucks, a pop idol and a dance contest like no other.
(6) Winter Jam in Central Park
January 26, 2019 (kid-friendly)
At the park’s Winter Jam, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the Central Park Bandshell area is covered with blown-in snow. This is a great activity to bring kids to!
You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding, live Ice Sculpting, Ice Bowling, Taste NY Winter Market / Warming Hut, Dodgeball and more!
(7) Attend a Sporting Event
Woodbury Commons is one of the best outlets in New York and it is only one hour north of New York City and worth the easy ride to get there.
Our post How to Get to Woodbury Commons has everything you need to know to get there, including bus company recommendations as well as directions on how to go by train.
This huge outlet mall has 220 stores including many upscale stores. You can find post-holiday sales offering 25%-65% off everything from clothes, household goods, accessories and much more.
Until January 2, 2019
Winter Village at Bryant Park is one of the best holiday markets in NYC to shop for one-of-a-kind items including handmade winter clothing, sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, decorative items and more.
It’s located in Midtown Manhattan so why not join one of our Midtown Manhattan Tours. If you can’t join us, we have an audio tour with GPS.
(10) Winter Antiques Show
January 18–27, 2019
This is the most prestigious antiques show in America. It is held at the historic Park Avenue Armory and the show highlights an eclectic mix of works dating from ancient times to the present day.
The Armory itself is a gorgeous location to showcase fine works of art. Going to the Winter Antiques Show is worth it just to see the building.
Click here for information on hours, directions to the Armory and more.
Also, be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of these other ideas are possible at night.
Lucky for those coming to New York City the first week of January, you get a chance to see the stunning and gigantic Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The tree remains illuminated from 5:30 am to Midnight every day. See our full post on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree for much more information.
From January 21 through February 10, you can get two-for-one tickets to Broadway shows. Tickets go on sale starting January 9th so check their website for details. If you aren’t here during that week, there are plenty of other ways to save big on Broadway shows. See our post on How to get Broadways tickets at discounted prices.
Nothing brings out the fun of winter as a loop around a rink, or a fall on your behind under the holiday lights of the Big Apple. 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.
From January 4-12, 2019, this annual festival features 100 bands and musicians playing at 11 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 are just a few of the hundreds of free things you can do in New York City in January and year round. Check our comprehensive post about Free Things to Do in NYC.
Also, be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of these other ideas, such as visiting Grand Central Terminal are free (and warm).
Since January is a non-tourist season you will have a much easier time getting into one of the top Gospel services in New York City. On Sundays, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem is one of the most popular services to attend to hear this inspirational music. It’s free to attend!
Find out more about this church as well as others where you can hear Gospel music in New York, read our post, Gospel Music in Harlem and the Rest of New York City.
Totally free, totally fun! And totally easier to get a seat in January when the tourist season is over. Being in the studio audience of one of your favorite shows is possible. We have compiled a list of New York TV Show Tapings along with how you can get tickets.
Here is just a small sampling of shows you can see: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Today Show, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
Admittedly, these passes have a cost. However, if you plan well, you will essentially get several tickets to attractions or tours each day for free. Tourist discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, usually between 20%-50% the retail price.
January 21, 2019
A free panel discussion about Dr. King’s legacy and how his teachings affect us today at Apollo Theater. Find out the details at WNYC’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. Afterward, explore the neighborhood with our Harlem Audio Tour. Take a look at our A Harlem Visitors’ Guide for suggestions. We also offer a pay-what-you-like Harlem tour on various days of the week.
For other celebrations of Martin Luter King Jr.’s Day check the schedules for these venues: The Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music: BAM and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
January 13, 2019
Get ready to freeze your behind during the annual Improv Everywhere event the No Pants Subway Ride. On the designated date and time meet up with hundreds of sparsely clad others. You’ll receive instructions from an Improv Everywhere representative, which is basically to start riding the subways…but leave your pants behind.
Below are just a few ideas for things to do with kids in January. Many of the activities in other sections of this post are kid-friendly, such as going to the Winter Jam in Central Park and taking a bus tour.
For lots of other activities, check out our posts Things to Do with Kids in New York City, our 3-day itinerary for families and our list of over 100 things to do in New York City which includes dozens of kid-friendly activities.
January 1-21, 2019
It’s worth taking a bit a slightly longer subway train ride to see these G-scale mini-trains circle 150 of New York City’s landmarks along a half-mile of track. This year’s theme is Lower Manhattan and One World Observatory is making its debut!
Stay warm while you take a deep dive into the ocean. Using photo-real animation with giant projection screens and immersive sound, your simulated ocean voyage will feel real.
This is a great activity for families with children as there is a great deal of interactive technology including touch screens, holograms, and games involving ocean conservation/research. Get all the information here.
Below are indoor, kid-friendly experiences that will keep your little ones warm and entertained. These attractions are quite fun for grown-ups too! Be sure to see our Museums and Attractions section in our post Things To Do with Kids in NYC.
This impressive Train Show features Lionel trains traveling through a two-level, 34-foot-long miniature New York City and countryside scene. Get all the information here.
While you are Grand Central you might want to spend some time looking around. You can do this on your own with one of our self-guided audio guides, or join one of the many guided Grand Central Tours available to you. See our post What to See and Do in Grand Central Station for more ways to explore this warm terminal.