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Top 10 Things to See and Do in New York City in the Winter

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Manhattan Island in winter as viewed from Queens. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer, courtesy of NYC and Company.

Winter Travel Guide to New York City

What to see, what to do, where to go, where to eat, where to stay and - most importantly - how to save money. Here is your your complete winter travel guide to New York City.

 

The lines at the museums are shorter, it’s easier to book a table at restaurants, and hotel lobbies are warmed by roaring fires in the fireplace.

Because winter is New York’s so-called “off season”, hotels room rates are lower than during other times of the year.

Discounts are often offered for live theatre performances on Broadway.

Many restaurants also offer special deals on dining.

Do bars, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs follow suit?

Ten Best Things to Do in New York City in Winter

Any time is a great time to visit the Big Apple, but there is something especially magical about New York in the brisk winter air.

Followed, of course, by a trip inside for a quick warmer-upper!

I've put together the 10 bet things in see and do in New York City during the coldest months of the year.

1. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge in the Snow

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Brooklyn Bridge in the snow. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer, courtesy of NYC and Company..

There is something about the Brooklyn Bridge, which links lower Manhattan with the working class borough of Brooklyn.

Summer, winter, spring, or fall, it’s always a good time to walk across the iconic bridge – unless it’s pouring rain, of course.

In the snow, however, a walk across the bridge is pure magic.

On the other side of the you will find neighborhoods with elegant brownstones, massive Prospect Park, and the magnificent Brooklynn Museum, with its world-class permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

You might even want to take in an ice hockey or a basketball game at …!

2, Go Ice-skating in Central Park

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Central Park in the winter. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer, courtesy of NYC and Company..

From the Rink at Rockefeller Center to the Winter Village at Bryant Park, there are several places in Manhattan and the other four boroughs of New York City to go ice-skating.

You will also find no shortage of ice-skating rinks in the suburbs of Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey, either.

But nothing can match the wintery thrill of ice-skating at Wollman Rink in Manhattan’s Central Park.

When you’re through, we can explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, or the Guggenheim Museum, which are set on the periphery of the park.

3, Take in a Broadway Show

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New York CIty's Times Square after dark. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

There are live performances of opera, ballet, and symphony orchestras at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

There are live performances of jazz, dance, or theatre at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

There are countless live acts at bars, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs across town.

And what about taking in the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall?

But nothing can match the excitement as when the lights dim, the crowd goes silent, and the orchestra strikes up the overture of a Broadway musical in one of the many theaters surrounding Times Square.

And check this out: there are dozens of live plays to choose from every night!

4. Check Out the View from atop the Empire State Building

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The Empire State Building in New York City remains one of the BIg Apple's most iconic structures. Photo Credit: Architypist2.

Once upon a time, it was the world’s tallest building, and now it’s not even the tallest building in New York.

But the Empire State Building – with its Art Deco design – is more than a building: it is a state of mind.

Other buildings might be taller, but none offer more spectacular views than the views from the top of the Empire State Building in mid-town Manhattan.

5. Take the Subway to Queens

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Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer, courtesy of NYC and Company.

They don’t call the No. 7 subway line the “International Express” for nothing!

The quick hop under the East River will take you to a cornucopia of global cuisines in Jackson Heights.

You will find a scale model of New York City at the Queens Museums in Flushing.

And don’t forget Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. The view of Manhattan is spectacular, especially when the New York skyline is silhouette against the sunset.

Forget Chinese or Italian or Greek. What about Ethiopian, Himalayan, or Peruvian?

These ethnic eateries aren’t targeted at curious tourists. They serve the denizens of the neighborhood, who crave a taste of home..

6. Go Shopping at the World’s Largest Department Store

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Macy's at Healds Square in New York City is the world's largest department store.


From Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue to Lord and Taylor and Century 21, New York’s department stores are the stuff of legend.

There is also no shortage of boutique shops on Fifth Avenue, including Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton.

But nothing can match the excitement of shopping at Macy’s, the world’s largest department store.

The one square block edifice houses a breathtaking selection of fashion brands as well as a wide variety of housewares, gifts, and furniture across nine floors.

There are also eight food and beverage outlets to keep you nourished.

7. Eat on the Street

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Food vendors line the sidewalks of New York City. Photo Credt Ian Gratton.

You won’t go hungry in New York City!

The sidewalks of New York are lined with venders selling all manner of food – from Greek to Middle Eastern to Chinese.

You can chomp on a giant bagel or guzzle of a glass of orange juice squeezed before your very eyes.

But nothing will warm your heart on a cold winter’s day quite like noshing on a piping hot hotdog on the sidewalks of New York.

8. Grab a Bite in Grand Central Station

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Grand Central Station in New York CIty has 35 food and beverage outlets. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you’d rather eat indoors than out, New York City Is chock-a-block with all manner of eateries – from fast food to fine dining.

Food halls are particularly popular in the Big Apple, and people-watching Is the of the key attractions – in addition to the food, of course.

For my money, the Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Station is tops.

If that doesn’t suit your fancy, there are 35 food and beverage outlets.

Then you can shop till you drop at the nearly 70 shops and boutiques.

There is something about Grand Central Station.

When I lived in New York, I would often walk a few blocks out of my way to march awe-struck through the interior of the awe-inspiring edifice.

Not sure why, but it always gave me an adrenaline rush!

9. Take the Statin Island Ferry

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The Statue of Liberty as viewed from the Staten Island Ferry. Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer, courtesy of NYC and Company.

It’s worth the ferry ride to Staten Island for the spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty along the way.

Best of all, the leisurely voyage is free!

While you’re there, take a Yellow Cub ton the Staten Island Museum at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

Following dinner, take in an evening performance at the historic St. George Theatre.

10. Visit the 9/11 Memorial

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The view from the One World Observatory. Photo Credit: Tagger Yancey IV, courtesy of NYC and Company.

No trip to New York would be complete without paying your respects at the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum has multimedia exhibits, archives, and a collection of artifacts related to the tragic event.

At the heart of the museum are bronze parapets surrounding two memorial pools with the names of the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children that perished in the attack.

The two reflecting pools with cascading waterfalls are set in the exact footprints of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, which collapsed in the event.

Getting Around

New York City is LITERALLY the city that never sleeps, and nothing is more reflective of that than the New York City Subway.

There are seven numbered routes, 15 lettered routes, and three shuttles.

Built in 1904, the subway system currently has 469 stations, most of which were completed by 1940.

Crisscrossing all five boroughs, the New York Subway has a total of 661 miles of mainline track, not including track used for non-revenue purposes

Every route and every station is served 24/seven. You can always make it back to our hotel regardless of the hour.

Sometimes, however, you might have to make transfers that wouldn’t be necessary during peak hours.

How to Get There

Three airports serve New York City: LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport.

While it is located across the Hudson River in the neighboring state of New Jersey, Newark Airport (EWR) is actually the closest airport to mid-town Manhattan.

The airport is, in fact, just 15 miles southwest of midtown Manhattan.

The field in Newark is serviced by numerous domestic and international carriers. EWR is a hub for United Airlines.

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is 20 miles southeast of Lower Manhattan, home to Wall Street.

JFK is the busiest international gateway airport in the United States, with domestic and foreign airline service to all six continents.

The airport is the busiest airport in New York and the fifth busiest airport in the United States.

The airport has six terminals with 128 gates. It is, practically, a city within a city.

JFK is a hub for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. It is a focus city for Avianca, Caribbean Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Norwegian Long Haul.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA), with its shorter runways, tends to be used mostly for short to mid-range flights within the United States.

A perimeter rule prevents flights beyond 1,500 statute miles.

As New York City's third busiest airport, LGA is a hub for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Where to Eat in New York

Owing to its eclectic ethnic mix, New York City has one of the world’s most impressive selections of eateries.

The world sets is table in the Big Apple.

  • Click here to find the perfect place to eat in New York City: TripAdvisor.com.

Where to Stay in New York

With more than 113,000 hotels rooms located throughout New York City’s five boroughs, you won’t have to sleep in the street.

There are hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, serviced apartments, hostels, guest houses, and other types of accommodation.

Lodging providers generally lower their room rates in January and February, making winter a  great time to visit New York.

  • Click here to find a great place to stay in New York City: TripAdvisor.com.

If You Go to New York …

One of the best ways to save money when visiting New York is to purchase a pass that offers entry to key attractions within a given length of time.

Two of the most popular passes are the New York Pass and CITYpass New York.

Not only will you save money, you will also save time because you will be able to skip many ticket lines at the attractions covered by the two passes.

Here is an overview of the two passes:

The New York Pass

The New York Pass offers access to more than 90 attractions for periods of one, two, three, five, seven, or 10 consecutive days.

You can visit as many tourist attractions as like within a one-day period, but you can only enter each attraction once within a given day.

Prices range from US$109 for a one-day pass to US$319.20 for a 10-day pass.

The average savings per day works out to roughly US$72 to US$75 if you visited three attractions a day.

You can save as much as US$2,000 on a 10 day pass if you are quick on your feet!

What’s Included

In addition to entry to dozens of museums and other tourist attractions, The New York Pass also offers admission to hop-on-hop-off tour buses, Circle Line Sightseeing, Hudson River Sightseeing, foot tours, water taxis – the list goes on.

Buy The New York Tour now!

CITYpass New York

You can save 41% off admission to six of New York City’s top attractions if you buy CITYpass.

You won’t have to rush, either, because the pass is good for nine consecutive days starting with your first day of use.

If you purchased tickets to these six attractions, you would pay US$196.  With CITYpass, you will pay US$116 – a US$80 saving.

The savings on a child’s entrance fees would be US$85.50.

What’s Included

You will get a book of tickets providing entrance to …

  • The Empire State Buildings Experience
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Museum
  • Stature of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
  • 9/11 Memorial OR Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.;

Buy New York CITYpass now!

There are so many fun things to see and do in New York City. Plan your visit to the Big Apple now!

Planning a trip to NYC?

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