New York knows a thing or two about activities, even in the winter! There are a lot of incredible things to do all season long, which only reinstates how the city that never sleeps certainly doesn’t hibernate during the colder months. There are many exciting events during the snowiest time of year, including great museum exhibits and winter pop-ups to keep this town entertained. For something a bit more snuggly, check out the free fireplaces to cozy up by in NYC or lounge inside a sauna at one of the best spas. Don’t forget that New York is absolutely gorgeous in winter, so bundle up and go out to admire all the snow-covered trees at the best NYC parks, and enjoy fun winter celebrations.
The best things to do in the winter in NYC
The weather outside might be freezing, but the best things to do in winter in NYC will keep you cheery.
Best things to do in the winter
City Winery is offering two pop-up experiences at Rockefeller Center. The first is an open-air wine garden on the plaza level, complete with light bites, local sips (City Winery vino, Montauk tapped bears), and those iconic private igloos, which can be reserved for 90-minute stints for up to eight people, and will set you back $150 minimum during lunchtime (1–3:45pm) or $250 minimum during dinner (4–8pm). For the COVID conscious, temperature checks are required upon arrival and domes are cleaned between groups with an “electromagnetic fogger” (whatever that means). The second experience is a new rink-side café and bar, offering winter warmers like cinnamon buns, Bavarian pretzels, and hot spiked cider, as well as front-row views of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Reservations are suggested, but walk-in guests at both pop-up areas may be seated on a first-come, first-serve basis. City Winery at Rockefeller Center will run from November 21st through January 17, 2021, from 9:30am to 10pm.
Eataly Flatiron's SERRA by Birreria will take you to a magical forest with its wintertime concept, SERRA Stellata - Into the Woods. Taking inspiration from the great outdoors and being in the open air—the restaurant is named stellata, which means "starred" in Italian, to give inspiration to people to "look up" and admire the winter starry night—the open-air rooftop will feel fittingly woodsy with Adirondack chairs, bird houses, and white-and-gold "foliage." The winter concept is actually in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees—during the course of Stellata - Into the Woods, Eataly will donate funds for 5,000 newly planted trees to help reforest U.S. areas affected by natural disaster.
The just-opened boutique-style Rockaway Hotel boasts a short, one-minute walk to the ocean. The luxurious and design-forward 84,000 square-foot hotel has 53 guest rooms and eight long-stay residences each with Atlantic Ocean or Jamaica Bay views. The locale, which sits on 108th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, has a spa on site, and the ultimate dining "getaway", without needing to leave NYC this winter. Their enclosed, ventalated dining area on the hotel’s sprawling pool deck, the Winter Pool House, will bring guests in for a tropical-filled outing. With pampas grass, sherpa throws and teak furniture in every corner, you can lean into the beach-themed feel, tropical cocktails, and all day and dinner menus loaded with sead, seafood platters. Need to crash after dinner? Winter rates at the quiet beachside hotel start at $200 a night.
TWA Hotel just gave us another epic way to embrace a chilly New York winter. Instead of heading to JFK to fly somewhere tropical over the next few months, bring your swimsuit to TWA Hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and lounge in water that's now cranked up to a toasty 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (Germaphobes: If the thought of a hotel jacuzzi freaks you out, heads up that TWA’s rooftop pool water completely purifies itself every 30 minutes, instead of once or twice a day. Phew.) During the summer months, there are fees and food and beverage minimums for non-hotel guests to visit the pool and observation deck. But as of right now, there’s zero charge for visitors to swing by. Even better than a free pool day, they've turned the poolside bar into a "Runway Chalet," a 1960s après ski-themed winter hideaway that’s both heated and tented. It's officially open for biz! TWA Hotel Inside, you can hang by a vintage fireplace while sipping on seasonal cocktails like an Idlewild Hot Toddy (spiced rum and hot apple cider garnished with a cinnamon stick) or a Weather Delay (vodka, hot chocolate and marshmallows.) To top off your visit, you can order up some fondue too. The heated infinity edge pool and deck are open from 7am to 11pm every day (weather permitting) so consider heading here after an ice skating sesh at TWA on the tarmac below. The Runway Chalet at The Pool Bar is also open daily, from 11am to 11pm.
The William Vale has once again transformed its 23rd-floor outdoor rooftop into a skating rink—an experience that comes with a side of panoramic views of New York City. While there is an impressive selection of ice rinks to skate at all over the city, Vale Rink is taking the experience to new heights. The true first-ever open-air rooftop ice skating rink in New York, Pier 17, is closed this year. But luckily you can still head to Brooklyn.
By now, you may be craving a ski trip to the slopes, but TWA Hotel has just reopened its pool-cuzzi and Runway Chalet, offering up retro Alpine vibes within the city limits. TWA Hotel guests (whether they're staying overnight or just for the day) can use the heated infinity pool, which is cranked up to a toasty 95 degrees and overlooks JFK's runway 4L/22R, visit the observation deck or dine on the hotel's rooftop. If you're worried about germs in the pool-cuzzi, it's good to note that the water in the 63-by-20 foot pool completely purifies itself every 30 minutes, instead of once or twice a day. Pools were allowed to reopen across NYC in August.
Twice a year, NYC Restaurant Week takes over our fair city, allowing penny-pinchers like us to stuff our guts like royalty at top eateries for only a fraction of the usual cost. With three-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus and reservations available via OpenTable, it’s easier than ever to get into that new French bistro you’ve had your eyes on and nearly 400 other mouthwatering gems. Just keep your eyes peeled for new rules regarding dining this year.
Whether you dig football or not, the big game is, if anything, an ace excuse to gorge and get sloppy. And if football isn’t really your jam, there’s always the Puppy Bowl, a televised gaggle of adorable doggies in a mock stadium. Who are we kidding? We’re mostly here for the puppies.
More winter things to do
Grab your galoshes and check out the best places to go sledding (and where to get boozed-up afterward)
Winter food & drink
From returning favorites like Sippin' Santa's Surf Shack to ski-lodge–inspired newcomers, these are the seasonal boites you have to hit up before year's end.
The holiday season might be over, but the cheer lives on. The Standard East Village is maintaining its five alpine yurts (a.k.a. cozy, makeshift tents) in its Winter Garden until March 1, 2017
The best rooftop bars open during the winter range from a mountain ski lodge to a cigar lounge overlooking Times Square
Winter events guides
See our comprehensive guide to the Academy Awards, including this year's Oscar nominations, predictions and interviews