Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right New York State icon-chevron-right New York icon-chevron-right The best things to do in the winter in NYC
Bryant Park Bumper Cars
Time Out/Ali Garber

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.

By Jillian Anthony and Collier Sutter
Advertising

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 a winter lights festival and other 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.

A picture of the Couchbound email

An email you’ll actually love

Sign up to our Couchbound newsletter and bring the city to your sofa

Subscribe now

Best things to do in the winter

102
15th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, Chinese New Year
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Chinese New Year

Things to do

Get ready for one of the best NYC events in February: Chinese New Year! NYC will be chock-full of dragon dances, vibrant floats and yummy vendor foods during the annual celebration. Make sure to head to Chinatown for one of the best things to do in the winter, including annual Lunar New Year Parade & Festival. 

103
Winter Jam
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks and Recreation

Central Park Winter Jam

Things to do

With just one good snow under our belt thus far in 2020, New Yorkers are jumping at the chance to sled down one of city's many hills. Luckily, Central Park has our backs (as they do each year) with Winter Jam. Our inner child rejoices at the idea of the winter sport event located at one of the best NYC parks: Central Park. If you want to learn more about the action-packed, snow-covered affair (yes, they actually bring in snow machines), we have all the details you need below. The NYC Parks and Recreation event includes ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, grub and more, so get ready to join New Yorkers of all ages for one of the best things to do in winter. Winter Jam is a free winter festival chock-full of events for New Yorkers of all ages. Whether rain or shine, upstate ski destination Gore Mountain blows fresh snow into the heart of Central Park, where festivalgoers can go snowshoeing, sledding, and even figure out the sport of curling. There will also be skiing lessons provided by Lake Placid. Other highlights include live ice carving and an ice sculpture garden. For Instagrammers, there will also be bobsled and snowcat photo ops. We have chills (the good kind) just thinking about it.   When is Winter Jam? The date for Winter Jam is Saturday, February 1, 2019. The event is from 11am to 3pm. Where is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is located at the Rumsey Playfield. Enter at 72nd Street. 

Advertising
104
TWA Hotel

Massive rooftop jacuzzi at JFK

News City Life

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.

105
midcentury buildings in NYC
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Kenlarry

The Ford Foundation Atrium

Things to do Midtown East

If you need a quick change of scenery from our concrete tundra, duck into this hidden oasis in midtown that just so happens to be open to the public. The Ford Foundation building houses a 12-story atrium that boasts a verdant green space with 39 species of subtropical plants, a reflecting pool and a garden with plants you can touch and smell. Even if it’s only during a few stolen moments between meetings, sneaking away to this paradise will enliven you.

Advertising
106
Photography: Tiki Chick / Emilia Aghamirzai

Tiki Chick cocktails

News Drinking

Jacob Hadjigeorgis gave the Upper West Side’s sleepy restaurant scene a jolt of energy when he opened Jacob’s Pickles in 2011. The gastropub became a popular destination for Southern comfort food with a menu filled with fried pickles, hot chicken biscuits and other American comfort food dishes (full disclosure: its success, and perfectly crisp fried chicken, is one reason we welcomed the eatery into our very own Time Out Market New York). Now Hadjigeorgis’ Pickle Hospitality (which also operates Maison Pickle and Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co.) has opened Tiki Chick next door with a modern day spin on the retro tiki bar. The area isn’t exactly a hotbed for the best New York bars but the vibrant space with tropical vibes is refreshing debut filled with pineapples, greenery, bamboo, a red leather banquette and an array of fun drinking vessels. New Year's eve was the first night the bar opened. Instead of beer and whiskey, beverage director Selina Arden and lead bartender Michael Walters have put their own touches on classic drinks. You’ll find the requisite Mai Tai ($16) and Singapore Sling ($16), but there’s also a Rum & Cola’d Fashion ($16) and large-format drinks to share such as the Mida’s Gold Punch ($29 and $55), a bowl filled with Brennivin Aquavit, Blackpool Spiced Rum, Perry’s Tot Gin, apricot, golden beets, turmeric, agave and lime. There will be at least seven frozen cocktails, too.

107
Winter Jam
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks and Recreation

Central Park Winter Jam guide

Things to do

With just one good snow under our belt thus far in 2020, New Yorkers are jumping at the chance to sled down one of city's many hills. Luckily, Central Park has our backs (as they do each year) with Winter Jam. Our inner child rejoices at the idea of the winter sport event located at one of the best NYC parks: Central Park. If you want to learn more about the action-packed, snow-covered affair (yes, they actually bring in snow machines), we have all the details you need below. The NYC Parks and Recreation event includes ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, grub and more, so get ready to join New Yorkers of all ages for one of the best things to do in winter. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC What is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is a free winter festival chock-full of events for New Yorkers of all ages. Whether rain or shine, upstate ski destination Gore Mountain blows fresh snow into the heart of Central Park, where festivalgoers can go snowshoeing, sledding, and even figure out the sport of curling. There will also be skiing lessons provided by Lake Placid. Other highlights include live ice carving and an ice sculpture garden. For Instagrammers, there will also be bobsled and snowcat photo ops. We have chills (the good kind) just thinking about it.   When is Winter Jam? The date for Winter Jam is Saturday, February 1, 2019. The event is from 11am to 3pm. Where is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is located at the Rumsey Playfield. Enter at 72nd Street. 

Advertising
108
The No Pants Subway Ride 2015
Photograph: Luciana Golcman

The NYC No Pants Subway Ride

Things to do Festivals

One of the best and most amusing NYC events in January is the No Pants Subway Ride  created by Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd. In 2002, the funny fella produced the first-ever event and posted it on YouTube, where the short clip quickly gained popularity. Now it has turned into one of the group’s most anticipated events, as thousands of New Yorkers continue the funny tradition on subway cars across Gotham. Donning winter coats—minus their pants—the straphangers share the same goal: to confuse bystanders. The event had only 150 participants in its first year, but now the prank is an international sensation with over 25 countries involved. Why? Because annual international pranks are fun! Find everything you need to know about the No Pants Subway Ride. And make sure to consult our list of bars with fireplaces for warming up afterward.  

109
Westminster Dog Show
Courtesy J. Grassa for WKC

The Westminster Dog Show

Things to do Exhibitions

The best doggos from around the country are set to take over New York City for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, at which hundreds of dog owners and all types of breeds (including brand-new ones) are primped and prepped to compete in agility and obedience challenges and for the highly coveted title of "Best in Show." This is one of the best NYC events in February, where spectators can join in on the excitement (after they’ve visited some dog-friendly restaurants or pampered them at one of the best pet-friendly hotels). And if you want to come face to face with the breeds, you can actually play with them at the AKC Meet the Breeds event in January. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC What is the Westminster Dog Show? The Westminster Dog Show is a long-running competition for dogs, with Best in Breed winners advancing to the Group and Best in Show competition at Madison Square Garden. Spectators can watch the dogs compete as well as see them get primped for their show time backstage. You may see some dog breeds you never have before! (At last year's show, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes and Grand Bassett Griffon Vendeéns were recognized as a breed for the first time by the AKC.) Owners of show dogs often spend many thousands of dollars on training and grooming. When is the Westminster Dog Show? The Westminster Dog Show takes place on Sunday, February 9, Monday, February 10 and Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Daytime breed juding sessions take place

Advertising
110
Winter Jazzfest 2017
Photograph: Courtesy Gulnara Khamatova

Winter Jazzfest

Music

Each January, Winter Jazzfest, perennially one of the best concerts in NYC, hosts the genre’s top talent over several nights. Its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon brings vets and up-and-comers, hordes of music fans and a palpable air of excitement to an array of cozy downtown venues. More than 100 groups perform at this year's fest from all around the world. Multi-talented drummer-bandleader, Mark Guiliana is artist-in-residence at this year’s Winter Jazzfest (Thu 9, 10, 11, 16, 17). The lineup includes talent like cutting-edge jazz drummer Makaya McCraven (Sat 11), Brazilian musical artist Seu Jorge (Thu 16) and many more classic and contemporary artists.

111
Photograph: Courtesy Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Bumper cars on the ice rink of the Winter Village at Bryant Park

News City Life

FYI: The Rink at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is no longer just for skating. Until February 3, you can ride bumper cars on the ice during the attraction's new winter carnival called FrostFest—a ten-day event filled with activities. Just like in recent years, folks can don their fanciest formal wear (and skates) for the Ice Ball on Wednesday, January 30 and attend a Cozy Sweater Puppy Meet-up (aww) on Saturday, February 2.  There's also live music in The Lodge by Urban Space, free fitness classes, kid-friendly events (i.e. puppet shows and "penguin" catching in the Bryant Park Fountain) and...wait for it...heated igloos! That's right, you can reserve your own bubble in the park and sip mulled wine and eat s'mores during the festival.  Photograph: Courtesy Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park There are free activities at the Winter Village at Bryant Park every day from now until the fest ends on Super Bowl Sunday. So if you're looking for a spot to see the Patriots take on the Rams, this option is certainly classier than going to a sports bar. For more details, visit bryantpark.org.  

Advertising
112
Photograph: Courtesy Scott Lynch/Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg Winter Market

News City Life

New York knows a thing or two about indoor fun. The beloved Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, two of NYC's favorite summertime attractions, are back again to keep the eating and shopping going all winter long. The wintertime market will be set up at 25 Kent Avenue, a brand-new office building and creative hub in Williamsburg, which also happens to be the new home of the 29Rooms exhibition. During its residency, Brooklyn Flea will feature about sixty vendors of furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a curated selection of art, jewelry and crafts from local artisans and designers. Vendors on hand will include vintage shop Omnia, Portmanteau for furniture and design, Superfussy for new clothing, Thea Grant Design for jewelry and Dan's Parents' House for toys.   When you're ready to eat your way through the Smorgasburg section of the market, you can expect fifteen to twenty specialty food vendors to choose from including Blue Chicken, Mao's Bao, Leitao, Vayalo! Cocina and Petisco Brazuca. The indoor market will be running every weekend from November 2, 2019 through March 2020, from 10am to 6pm. At the very least, it should be an activity that’ll let you thaw your extremities from the coming cold. 

113
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

The Butterfly Conservatory at AMNH

Things to do Upper West Side

In what feels like a makeshift rain forest, a winding path leads you through an enchanted landscape where you’ll marvel at 500 vibrant butterflies fluttering in the air. Plus, you can reconnect with nature while staying nice and cozy in the temperature-controlled exhibition room, set to a balmy 80°F to protect these winged beauties.

Advertising
114
Photograph: Raydene Salinas

New York Fashion Week

Shopping

Get camera-ready for Fashion Week. NYC will be filled with a stampede of posh editors, bloggers, stylists and shutterbugs. Tickets to some of the major runway shows aren’t available to the general public, but newsflash: you don’t have to be part of the elite fashion world to feel like an insider. Maybe you don’t have a front-row seat to the shows or a spot reserved next to Anna Wintour, but don't fret—we’ve got you covered. 

115
The Orchid Show 2013 at the New York Botanical Garden
Photograph by Cinzia Reale-Castello

The Orchid Show

Things to do Exhibitions

The New York Botanical Garden explodes into a tropical floral extravaganza for the annual Orchid Show. Take in the thousands of blooms on display, and don’t forget to make a pit stop by the Shop in the Garden for your very own orchid to take home.

Advertising
116

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Things to do Festivals

No St. Patrick’s Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes another glorious march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers show up for the annual spectacle. 

117
Minton's
Photograph: Zandy Mangold

NYC Restaurant Week

Restaurants

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.

Advertising
118
Super Bowl Party Food

Super Bowl

Things to do

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.

119
Photograph: Thomas Donley

Mardi Gras

Things to do

Every year, New York's usual anxiety and chaotic charm turns laissez-faire via the Crescent City for Mardi Gras. NYC’s Fat Tuesday is a typically rambunctious affair, featuring jazz performances at some of the best jazz clubs in the city, plus more funky shows. There also rich cuisine from Cajun restaurants, king cake and some of the best parties in New York.

More winter things to do

Advertising
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best winter date ideas

Things to do

Don’t let freezing temperatures and icy conditions crush your love life—just consult our list of the best winter date ideas

Advertising
Show more

Winter food & drink

Advertising
Advertising
Show more

Winter events guides

Advertising
Show more

Archive things to do in the winter content

Advertising
Show more
Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising