(Last Updated On: October 31, 2020)

Winter might not seem like the ideal time to visit New York City, but I can promise you that seeing the Big Apple sprinkled with snow has more benefits than just being aesthetically pleasing. Winter in New York, particularly in the outdoors activity arena, tends to come with smaller crowds so that you can enjoy your trip with slightly less shoulder to shoulder action. Although, you’ll still get some – it is New York City, after all.

I’ve assembled a list of my favourite things to do in New York City in Winter for you to get planning for the next round of cold weather!

1. Ice Skating

Is there anything more peak New York City in winter than strapping on your ice skates and getting out on one of New York’s many ice rinks? The Rockefeller Center is arguably the most iconic skating venue, but with that status also comes a hefty price tag.

For my money, Central Park offers two rinks that are slightly cheaper and just as quintessentially New York City. Lasker Rink is the cheapest of the two but is slightly less picturesque as it’s a swimming pool in summer. The more famous rink in Central Park is down near the zoo and that’s where I’d choose to spend my money and enjoy the scenery.

2. The Color Factory

Now those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I never shy away from an Insta opportunity and The Color Factory immersive exhibit feels like it was designed just for me. Nestled in the SoHo district, the Color Factory serves up room after room of colourful exhibit, sometimes with colour matched tasty treats.

If you’re a photo lover, then there are opportunities galore. The good news for non-Instagram addicts? The Color Factory is just as entertaining if you just want to enjoy the experience without worrying about photography. Think bright, vibrant colours, soundscapes, food and a giant ball pit.

3. Walk in Central Park

This might seem like a strange choice for a New York City winter post, but it is worth braving the cold to see the lungs of the city’s dramatic cold weather transformation. Sheets of white snow cover the usually green lawns; the whirring of bicycles is predominantly replaced with the scraping sound of ice skaters and all at once you are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.

The grey of winter definitely makes visiting my favourite area of the park, Strawberry Fields, more poignant and sombre, matching the grey Imagine memorial to John Lennon. Also really cool is seeing the baseball fields in North Meadow completely pristinely covered in snow.

4. Visit a Museum

New York City is home to an impressive array of museums, galleries and exhibitions and there’s not many activities more perfect to make the most of the warmth of the indoors. From The Met to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, there is certainly something for every traveller’s tastes to explore.

Some favourites are the dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum, the contemporary art at MoMA and the architectural wonder that is the Guggenheim. It’s impossible to recommend just one, so I’ve assembled a post with a list of the best Museums in New York as picked out by travel bloggers.

5. See a Broadway Show

Making the most of a visit to the home of theatre is an activity for any time of year in the city, but it is especially great in winter to escape those icy winds. If you’re eager to see a show, but don’t mind what production, then you might want to check out my post on scoring cheap Broadway tickets.

If you already know what you want to see and don’t want to miss out, then I’d firmly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. Some shows are booked out up to a year in advance; others will have discounted tickets available on the day you want to visit.

6. The High Line

This is another suggestion that probably doesn’t sound that logical given its an outdoors activity in winter, but if you are able to rug up and brave the chill, then getting out above the city on the famous High Line walk is a brilliant way to catch a bit of that winter afternoon sun. The former rail line is beautiful at any time of year, but there’s something very special about the bare, knobbly trees and clumps of snow around the paths that really make this winter wonderland in amongst the sky scrapers a thing of beauty.

To be honest, the High Line is my favourite spot in all of New York City, so it would make it onto my list for any season and I never miss the chance to visit when I’m in town. I’ve definitely noticed that in the hotter months it can be quite crowded, so a hidden blessing of the colder season is that crowds are scarce. Even better? Its free.

7. See an Ice Hockey Game

Whilst the baseball season has wound up for the year, it’s still possible to get your sporting fix in New York City in Winter. Ice Hockey is barely played in Australia, so going to see a game in the US was a real treat. Even though the local team lost.

I ended up taking the Long Island Railroad out to see the Islanders get thrashed by the Philadelphia Flyers, but with beer and popcorn on hand and great company, the score line doesn’t matter so much. It’s amazing watching the padded up ice hockey players glide across the ice with such speed and ease and the atmosphere at a home game is electric.

8. Eat at the Chelsea Market

New York City’s very own foodie Mecca is the Chelsea Market. Home to the always-tantalising Los Tacos No. 1 amongst other incredible food vendors, this bustling indoor food market boasts New York’s finest cuisines in a casual setting. It’s always the next stop on my list after a walk on the High Line.

There are juicy, freshly put together tacos that are worth waiting in the always hefty line for. There are freshly carved cured meats, ready to be lovingly made into Italian-style sandwiches. There are noodles, soups, pizzas and desserts. The market is also home to the Fat Witch bakery, which serves up incredible, moist chocolate brownies. Definitely a winter warmer.

9. Sleep No More

When the days are more bearable, but the nights get really cold and outdoors activities are off the table, then there’s no better place to be than in the warmth of the McKittrick Hotel chasing actors around for 3 hours of immersive theatre. You’ll also be wearing a mask for the entire performance, so that cold nose will warm up pretty quickly. 

Sleep No More is a noir-themed retelling of Macbeth with a twist. Audience members are the master of their own collective destinies in this production, as they search the five storied Chelsea warehouse for glimpses of the actors in the story that builds to a thrilling climax. Believe me, after all that moving around for three hours, you’ll definitely be warm.

There might not be any way to escape the winter in New York City, but its definitely possible to have a great time despite the cold. Hopefully these suggestions have inspired you to rug up, dust off that beanie and get out to experience the magic of the city in the winter season.

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