What to Do in NYC in January

This post covers things to do in January in New York City in 2020, including family-friendly, nighttime, and free activities. 

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY 

This is our list of the ten best events and things to do in NYC in January. 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) Go to a Concert 

Though January doesn’t bring in the arena bands, you can find some excellent smaller gigs of tried and true performing artists. See what’s on in January in addition to these select shows below.

 

 

 See who else is playing this month.


2) Attend a Sports Event

If temperatures become uncomfortably cold, head indoors and see some athletes sweat! This month, you can see ice hockey inside an arena or a football game.

Though football stadiums are outdoors, the boisterous, electric atmosphere at a Giants or Jets game is worth braving the elements.

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

 

 

Football  

Ice Hockey 

You can see what other sports games are playing during the winter months by checking here.

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


3) Take a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour   

Hop-on-hop-off bus tours are a good way at any time of the year to see a lot of the city in a little bit of time.

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


4) See a Broadway Show 

Winter (except around the holidays) is off-peak time for shows. You may find that Broadway ticket prices are lower in the colder months.

See what’s playing when you are in town.

 

 

This month offers Broadway Week. This is a two-week period from late January to early February when you can get two-for-the-price of one ticket to many Broadway shows. 


5) Take a Walking Tours with Free Tours by Foot

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 GPS-enabled audio tours and self-guided tours of many neighborhoods that you will likely visit as a tourist in NYC. 


6) Eat a 5-star Meal for Less During Restaurant Week    

The 2020 dates are TBA.

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 for a very low price, relative to their regular prices. 

 

 

The list of participating restaurants will be available in early January. Prices for 2019 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. 


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) Go Ice Skating

All the ice skating rinks in NYC are open in January, including the famed Rockefeller Center Rink and the Rink at Bank of America Winter Village. 

You can even go ice-skating at night for a magical experience. Ice-skating in NYC is also an ideal activity for the whole family. 

 

 

To find out the many places you can go skating in the city, see our post on where to go ice skating in NYC.


9) After Christmas Sales at Woodbury Commons

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.

There are also several other NYC outlets where you can save money this January.


10) Visit Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park

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 is open until January 5, 2020, and located in Midtown Manhattan so why not join one of our Midtown Manhattan Tours.

If you can’t join us, try our GPS-led audio tour. Check out our guide on 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan.

 


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THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT IN JANUARY 

Below are a few ideas for keeping yourself entertained at night. Also, be sure to check out all the sections of this post, as you’ll find other great nighttime activities, like going ice skating, seeing a concert or Broadway show or attending a sports event.

 

 

For more ideas, see our post on New York City at Night and our New York Night Tours.


See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

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.

While you are there, think about visiting the Top of the Rock where you get unparalleled views of New York City.

Read our post on how to get discount tickets for Top of The Rock


See New York City Sparkle from Above

Head to one of the three observation decks in January. You’ll have an easier time getting tickets for your preferred time slot and won’t fight the crowds to get to the windows.

Not sure which to visit? See our list of the pros and cons of each of them.


Winter Jazzfest 

From January 9-18, 2020, this annual festival features 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.

Take some time to explore the neighborhood using our guide, Things to Do in Greenwich Village. We also have an audio tour you can use at night before or after you see a show!


Winter Antiques Show  

January 24– Feb. 2, 2020;  open until 8 pm (except Thursdays and Sundays)

This is the most prestigious antique 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. 


Shop at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park 

Until January 5, 2020. Open until 10:00 pm.

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. 

Though the market closes January 5, the ice rink stays open until March of 2020. 

Our post on things to do in NYC at night has loads of other after-dark activities, so be sure to take a look.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY 

Here are just a few free things you can do in NYC in January. We list some free activities in other sections of this post, such as taking a pay-what-you-wish Grand Central Terminal tour or ice-skating at the Rink at Bank of America Winter Village.

 

 

Check our comprehensive post on free things to do in NYC for even more suggestions!


Hear Some Gospel Music! 

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


Take a Free Tour of Grand Central Terminal

On an especially cold day, kill two birds with one stone by visiting Grand Central Terminal. You’ll be nice and warm while you take in the splendor of this historic train terminal, a true icon of New York City.

There are a number of several free tours you can take. If you pop into the Terminal spontaneously, you can try our audio tour, which can be used at any time!

Our guide to Grand Central Terminal is filled with helpful information, so be sure to take a look. 


Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration 

In 2020, this national holiday falls on January 20th. Some museums and venues that will likely have shows or exhibits dedicated to Dr. King are:

Both the Apollo theater and the Schomberg Center are located in Harlem, the perfect neighborhood to visit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Take a look at our A Harlem Visitors’ Guide for suggestions of things to do there.


Attend a Free TV Show Taping  

Totally free, totally fun! And totally easier to get a seat in January when the tourist season is over. 

Our post of New York TV Show Tapings explains how you can get free tickets to shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and many more.


No Pants Subway Ride   

Date TBA for 2020. 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.

Our free things to do in NYC post has many more activities that won’t cost you a dime.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO 

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 a sports event, ice skating and taking a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.

For more family-friendly activities, see our post on things to do with kids in New York City.

 

 

We also have a 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. 


Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden 

This fantastic annual show is running until January 26, 2020. 

It’s worth taking a bit a slightly longer subway train ride to the Bronx to see these G-scale mini-trains circle 150 of New York City’s landmarks along a half-mile of track. 

You will also see the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center re-created with only natural materials like bark and leaves. 

For more information, click here


Annual Three Kings Day Parade

This is a fantastic event for kids! This free parade, on January 6, features children wearing crowns, music, dancing, puppets, sheep and even real camels!  

This parade is organized by the El Museo del Barrio is to honor those who contributed significantly to the Latino community.

The parade is from 11 am–12:30 pm. It starts at 106th St and Park Ave and ends at 115th St and Park Ave. in Harlem.

TIP: The El Museo del Barrio is one of many museums you can visit for free. See our post listing free museums in NYC.


Winter Jam in Central Park 

(2020 dates TBA). At the park’s annual Winter Jam, the Central Park Bandshell area is covered with blown-in snow so you and the kids can sled, ski, snowboard and more. 

There is also Ice Sculpting, Ice Bowling, and a Warming Hut. 

Check out our guide to Central Park and our pay-what-you-wish tours of Central Park


Take a Disney on Broadway Tour
Fans of Disney musicals will definitely want to consider taking this unique tour of Broadway focused on their shows.

Not only does this outing include a behind-the-scenes look at a popular theater, but you’ll also have the chance to try on actual props and costumes used in productions like The Lion King and Mary Poppins!
 

Even if you can’t make it out to see one of these musicals, chances are that you and your entire family will enjoy this Disney on Broadway tour.

  • $72/Adults | $55/Children
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Includes admission to New Amsterdam Theater.
  • Includes opportunity to try on costumes and props.
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

Visit an Attraction or Museum without the Crowds 

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.


Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal    

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.


National Geographic Ocean Odyssey  

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

Find out about more family-friendly activities from our post on things to do with kids in NYC.

 

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