How to Spend Winter in New York

New York City is a wonderland in winter. Despite the cold, there is a warmth to the city that radiates from lit-up shop windows, sparkling streetlights, and the exciting energy in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. With so much to experience from Christmas markets and light shows to ice skating and sleigh rides, here are some unique and wonderful things to do in New York this winter.


Explore St Patrick’s Cathedral

winter in new york

You have probably heard of New York City’s most famous Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree. Whilst it is an incredible sight to see, the crowds can be crazy, especially in the approach to Christmas.

Directly across the street on the fifth avenue, visitors can escape the crowds and find some peace and quiet in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Built-in 1878, the Cathedral is currently the largest Catholic church in the United States, and one of the most iconic churches in the city. This beautiful Cathedral boasts neo-gothic architecture, a Louis Tiffany altar, a 7000-pipe organ, and a Charles Connick’s Rose Window.

Take a guided audio tour or enjoy exploring the cathedral on your own. Enjoy the contrast of this serene oasis in the middle of the fifth avenue, before heading out to do some window shopping. The Cathedral is free to visit and is open daily from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm.



Go to a pop-up winter market

Holiday markets filled with quaint and cosy stalls, brimming with unusual goodies, and warmed with the smell of fried dough and hot cocoa, are the ultimate winter activity.

New York has plenty of fabulous winter markets across the city to explore.

The Brooklyn Flea Market, which is a sprawling outdoor market in the summer, moves inside for winter. Here, you’ll find antique treasures and food from some of New York’s most popular restaurants all under one roof.

winter in new york

Bryant Park’s Winter Village, between 40th and 42nd Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenue, is home to the largest Christmas market in the city, with over 170 stalls selling gifts, crafts, and food. There is also a free ice rink in the village, so you can shop and skate all in one place for the perfect winter day.

You can also find pop-up Christmas markets in the striking setting of New York’s Grand Central Station as well as in Union Square and Columbus Circle.


Visit the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History

Each year, towards the end of November the Butterfly Conservatory is installed at the American Museum of Natural History.

Enjoy the surreal and magical experience as you walk among more than 500 free-flying butterflies.

This is the perfect way to escape the winter cold, as the conservatory habitat is kept at a warm 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch in awe as a diversity of butterfly species flutter around you, and perch themselves on the lush tropical plants of the conservatory.

This is a wonderful activity to do as a family, as you are encouraged to try and spot each different species of butterfly. The museum is located on the Upper West Side, on the edge of Central Park. The exhibition opens on November 20th this year, and tickets can be purchased daily. Tickets are $23 for adults and $13 for children, and the exhibition is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.



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Skate at Harlem Meer instead of Wollman Rink in Central Park

Central Park is an absolute must-visit at any time of year in New York. In winter, it is draped in a blanket of white snow, perfect for snowball fights, building snowmen and enjoying the wintry beauty of the park.

Ice skating is a popular activity, though whilst many people will go to the Wollman Rink, you can avoid the crowds in Harlem Meer instead.

‘Meer’ means lake in Dutch, and this stunning lake is located on the East side of the park between 106th and 111th street.

Lined with Beech and Gingko trees, this pristine lake is a beautiful alternative to the popular Wollman Rink.


New York Restaurant Week

New York is a food-lovers haven, bursting with incredible restaurants and eateries that cover every cuisine and flavour. During the winter, so many of these fabulous dining destinations are fully booked, or out of budget in high season.

Enter, New York Restaurant Week. Running for three weeks from mid-January to mid-February, this popular event offers reduced set meals at some of the city’s most sought-after restaurants.

From exquisite dishes at a Michelin-starred restaurant to succulent cuts of meat at a high-end steak house, or delicious dim sum from award-winning eateries, Restaurant Week allows visitors to taste the best of New York, at a fraction of the price.

winter in new york

Restaurant Week offers typically consist of two or three-course fixed-price menus offered at participating restaurants on select days of the week.

With so much to explore this winter in New York, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Take some time to stroll through sparkling and snow-lined streets and enjoy the season’s spirit as you explore this magical city.


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