Things to Do in New York City in the Winter

Winter in New York City is full of white lights, window displays, shopping, and more.

We put together a list of our favorite things to do in New York City in the winter, from outdoor skating to seasonal festivals, there’s NYC fun for everyone in the winter.

Many of these great activities are included on the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Choose as you go from dozens of top New York attractions and save up to 50% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 25% off.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Go Ice Skating

ice skating rockefeller center

Ice skating at the Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center might be the most quintessential winter New York City activity and it’s one of the most famous places to skate.

After you skate, warm up with a cup of hot cocoa at any of the nearby coffee shops or cafes.

Snap a pic with the famous tree in Rockefeller Square, tour the center, and take a trip to the top for sweeping seasonal views of the New York City skyline.

Image credit: Bryant Park Facebook page.

Image credit: Bryant Park Facebook page.

If you’d rather avoid the hard-to-navigate crowds that are sure to be at Rockefeller Center, head to the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park for free admission for ice skating every day, through January.

At Winter Village, you can get quality Skate rentals, sharpening, lessons, and there are bag checks and lockers available. Afterwards, stop in Celsius for a warm meal and festive drinks.

This charming two-story restaurant overlooks the rink.

A photo posted by Olivia May Owens (@oliviaao94) on

Head to Wollman Rink in Central Park for skating with a picturesque background and a convenient location close to lots of attractions, including the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, the American Natural History Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to name a few.

Go on a Walking Tour

walk this way walking tour of Harlem New York City

Explore a new part of New York City and learn about the history and cultural significance of different areas on a walking tour.

Get sweeping Manhattan views on a walking tour of trendy Brooklyn and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

Insider tip: get a slice of pizza at Grimaldi’s, some of the best slices in New York!

To get a taste of hip hop culture and see how New York City itself has become a canvas for self expression and social change, don’t miss the Harlem Street Art Walking Tour.

Or explore the historic yet up-and-coming neighborhood of Harlem on a two-hour educational and entertaining walking tour of Harlem.

Visit a World Class Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art 1

Want to get in a little culture during your visit to New York? Head to one of New York City’s top museums.

Whether you’re looking to experience the emotional tour of the 9/11 Tribute Center, explore all things weird at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, or see costumes and props from Star Wars movies up close, you’re bound to find a museum that suits your interests.

For a more traditional museum experience, some of our top picks are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York’s most renowned art museum, with its special exhibitions during the winter months and the American Museum of Natural History which explores all things earth science and natural history.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s Annual New Year’s Day Swim

When: January 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm–sharp.

Join the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, who willingly plunge into the freezing Atlantic Ocean every Sunday from November through April, in their annual New Year’s Day Swim.

This event is open to the public and a suggested donation of $20 is collected for Camp Sunshine.

Check online for more information and to register in advance.

Winter Jazzfest

When: January 13-17, 2016

What started as a one-day event has evolved into a full, four-day annual festival.

Jazzfest features some of the best established and up-and-coming jazz artists to make for an unforgettable event that celebrates the history and culture of all things jazz.

Check online for tickets, lineup information, and more.

Check Out Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium Tour in NYC is a great winter time activity

For a taste of real New Yorker life, be sure to check out the legendary Yankee Stadium with a behind the scenes tour.

You’ll learn some of the unique history that makes the stadium great (at least in the hearts of Yankee fans).

Under the Radar Festival

Under the Radar Festival in New York City

Photo credit: Under the Radar Festival’s Official Facebook Page

When: January 6-17, 2016

The Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater is one of the most exciting ways to experience New York City’s famous theater culture.

The annual event features diverse comedy troupes from around the world performing over a dozen shows. These performances provide high-quality cultural entertainment at a portion of the price you’d pay to see a show on Broadway.

Check online for tickets and more information.

Empire State Building Run-Up

When: February 3, 2016

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to work out more, consider heading to the Empire State Building for a totally unique and totally challenging workout: the annual Empire State Building Run-Up, sponsored by Marmot

While only a quarter-mile in distance, a sprint to the top of the 86th floor is no easy feat.

The trip to the top takes visitors under a minute by elevator, and the fastest runners can do all 86 floors in 10 minutes. Start training now for this February 5th event.

Check online for more information.

New Year Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival

New York City Chinese New Year Firecracker Ceremony

When: February 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

Head to Chinatown for a symbolic daytime display of fireworks to celebrate the coming new year.

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival

New York City Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival

When: February 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Do something different this Valentine’s Day and check out the annual Chinese Lunar New Year Parade organized by the Better Chinatown Society.

The parade makes it way through Little Italy and Chinatown and features lots of live entertainment, stunning visuals, performances highlighting Chinese culture and tradition, vendors, and more to ring in this new year of the monkey.

Check online for more information.

Go to the Dog Show

Go to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Photo: Joe Buglewicz


  • Meet & Compete: Saturday, February 13, 2016
  • 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show: Monday & Tuesday, February 15-16, 2016

See some of the most talented K9s compete for best in show this year at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The show is always entertaining and dog lovers will enjoy the chance to meet their favorite breeds at the event on Saturday before the big show.

Check online for tickets and more information.

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival

Head to New York City's annual Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ festival for some good eats and festive fun

Photo credit: Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Official Facebook Page

When: January 30, 2016

This traveling festival is scheduled to land in NYC in January. Admission comes with a souvenir sampling glass for unlimited bourbon and beer so you can sample your way through the day. Be sure to try the barbecue samples spread throughout, there will be samples and larger portions available for purchase.

Insider tip: save room for the bacon eating contest. (Nope, we’re not making that up.)

Check online for tickets and additional information.

Save on Admission

Whatever your reason for visiting New York City, be sure to visit some top attractions and things to do in the winter.

And remember, a New York Explorer Pass can save you big on combined admission to many of these attractions.

New York City Explorer Pass

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