Winter after the New Year is one of the best times of year to enjoy New York City. Seriously.

There are deals to be had, there’s finally some elbow space on sidewalks in SoHo and Greenwich Village, and calendars are filled nightly with must-see cultural events in every borough.

These six things will leave you with warm feelings about the coldest season in New York City.

Central Park's Wollman Rink, New York City, New York
Ice skaters in Central Park's Wollman Rink © Stuart Monk / Shutterstock

1. Ice skate on some of the world's most picturesque rinks: Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park

A century ago, about 30,000 New Yorkers would head to Central Park’s long-gone Great Rink to hit the ice on a winter weekend (not so much to skate as to flirt). Those days are gone – happy hour changed everything – but skating outdoors in the city, particularly at night, remains a classic New York experience.

The rink at Rockefeller Center, a city icon, is a tiny space packed with visitors who pay the rather exorbitant prices for a photo opp in front of the gold Prometheus statue (prices hover around $35 to skate and $15 to rent during peak season and are only slightly cheaper in January). Skating’s better at Wollman Rink, in the southeastern corner of Central Park. It’s a wide outdoor rink, with great views of the Midtown skyline and the park’s treetops. To cut costs, skate Monday to Thursday.

A just-as-lovely setting is Bryant Park’s pocket-sized rink that’s free to use (though skate rental is an additional fee). Further downtown at Brookfield Place, you can skate alongside the Hudson River (so make sure you’re adequately dressed for the windchill).

A dragon puppet as part of the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown
Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Chinatown is a highlight of the year for tens of thousands of people © mandritoiu / Shutterstock

2. Join the vibrant festivities of Chinese New Year, this year on January 22, 2023

One of the city’s greatest (and most colorful) events is the Chinatown parade to celebrate the Lunar New Year, falling near the end of January into early February. About half a million people crowd the streets each year to sample food on the sidewalks, shop and watch vibrant dragons parade down Canal Street. But even many locals don’t realize that it’s not the only place to celebrate Chinese New Year. The Flushing, Queens, parade – which is actually a couple of years older than the one in Manhattan – is just as colorful, with far fewer people (about 10,000 a year).

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Moulin Rouge on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Moulin Rouge! The Musical is an incredible spectacle on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre @ Zachary Laks / Lonely Planet

3. Enjoy a Broadway show or go Off-Broadway for something different

There are few things more New York than the thrill of a Broadway or Off-Broadway show. Most new shows tend to open between September and April, and on any given night you'll find upwards of 100 plays and musicals throughout the city. With such a wide variety, there really is something for everyone at every price point. Discounts and comprehensive listings can be found on the TodayTix app

New York City's 8 neighborhoods to experience in winter

Three Star Chef Daniel Boulud in the kitchen of his Restaurant Daniel, in New York
Celebrated chef Daniel Boulud owns a few restaurants that participate in Restaurant Week © Owen Franken / Getty

4. Enjoy a taste of the best of NYC's restaurants with Restaurant Week

Never mind the fact that the foodie-themed 'week' actually spans three; the winter version of this beloved event offers reduced set meals at great city restaurants. The prix-fixe specials provide the coveted opportunity to dine at restaurants from chefs like Daniel Boulud and Marcus Samuelsson – a real deal for NYC. Check here for reservations, dates and a list of participating restaurants (Winter 2023 dates are TBD).

Christmas lights and a wreath shine around the exterior of New York City's Grand Central Station at night
Grand Central Station, always a New York City landmark, is even more beautiful in winter © mwillems / Getty Images

5. Linger a bit and enjoy the splendor of Grand Central Station

A hub for Amtrak, MetroNorth and the MTA subway, Grand Central Terminal is beloved by New Yorkers (well, the building is, but maybe not the unreliable train service). Once saved by Jackie O from a Penn Station-like fate, the building is always a spectacle, with nonstop action, "secret" bars and whisper galleries, plus the slick Oyster Bar downstairs – the work of Noma co-founder Claus Meyer.

A pink dress hangs on a fence in front of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City in Winter
Looking for bargains? Try the Brooklyn Winter Flea Market © Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

6. The kooky and unique artisan gifts you'll find at Brooklyn's Winter Flea

Brooklyn’s Winter Flea has become a shopping tradition for the cold months. Sixty or so vendors peddle all manner of wares from 10am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday. Even if you’re not in the market for anything, it’s worth going to fill up your stomach at the accompanying Smorgasburg event, which offers up street food and other delicious fares from vendors across the city. 

You might also like:
New York City’s best free experiences
How to get around New York City
How to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1, 3 or 8 hours

This article was first published November 2017 and updated December 2021

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