Our favourite things to do in New York in winter

New York City is packed full of ‘bucket list’ items – crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, strolling through Central Park, taking in the view from the Top of the Rock or getting an up-close look at the Statue of Liberty, these are just a few of the must-see places to visit but here are some of our favourite things to do whilst visiting New York this Winter.

Be sure to pack your hat, scarf, gloves and thick winter coat as Winter in New York is very cold, often with snow.

1. Christmas Shopping and amazing window displays

Where do you start when Christmas shopping in New York?  Well…. let us guide you.
When in NYC Fifth Avenue is a must and home to a lot of New York’s popular department stores, namely…
Saks (which is so big it takes up almost an entire block) and famous for it’s legendary Christmas light show.
Bloomingdales with their iconic ‘Little Brown Bag’ is surely a staple buy when in NYC.
Macy’s which is famously known for it’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that must watch movie in which it featured, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.
Particularly during the festive season, take a walk along the famous 5th Avenue where all the retail stores showcase their majestic festive window displays that literally tell a story.
A shopping trip to Woodbury Common which is a great outlet shopping centre, 1 hour from central New York on the bus which you can get from Central Station. They have many brands on offer, including designer brands for a fraction of the price.

Saks Christmas Window Display

2. Gift Hunting in Open Air Festive Markets

From mid-November until January, boutique pop-up market stalls appear in spectacular locations around New York. The magical festive experience at these markets feature sparkling Christmas decorations, delicious food and some even have ice skating rinks! Find artisan jewellery, hand-made gifts, clothing, crafts and fun presents perfect to take home for friends and family.

If time was of the essence, we recommend the Grand Central Holiday Fair, located in 42nd & Park Avenue. Being the biggest, best and warmest indoor market, you can enjoy the perusing the stalls no matter what the weather.

3. Ice skating Central Park and Rockefeller Centre

If the choice of shops wasn’t enough to make your head buzz then the number of Ice Skating rinks to choose from certainly will.

The Rink at the Rockefeller Center – the most iconic ice-skating rink within in this city and sits snugly over the infamous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.  Although you may think that it would be overcrowded, only 150 people are allowed on the rink at any one time so you will have plenty of space to get those Bambi legs under control.

Wollman Rink in Central Park – now this ice-skating rink is just picture perfect set within the priceless scenery of Central Park (especially in the snow).  It does get busy but so worth it!

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park Rink – Perfectly located if you are looking to eat, shop and skate (not all at the same time obviously). This place is a Winter Wonderland!

4. New York’s Roof Top & Secret Bars

Eighty years ago, American law’s on a ban on alcohol came to an end.  Gone was the thrill of secret passwords, false storefronts and a bit of lawlessness. But in the last decade, New York has enjoyed going back to those days of secret bars. Bars like PDT (Please Don’t Tell) which is accessed through a vintage phone booth in an East Village hot dog joint, and the Campbell Apartment, a former office with stained-glass windows and an enormous fireplace in Grand Central station, are well-known despite their ‘secret’ entrances.

A few of our favourite rooftop bars are 230 Fifth, which is one of the most popular jaunts with it’s uber cool igloos that comfortably fit you and 7 friends. Certainly a funky must to go on your things to do list! And the Empire Hotel Rooftop where you’ll get perfect views of Central Park and The Press Lounge which has breathtaking views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. And of course Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room, found on level 65 of the Rockefeller Centre, a stylish hotspot offering more spectacular views of the city and an abundance of swanky cocktails and tasty treats.

5. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

You can walk across this spectacular bridge any time day or night, whether by daylight or moonlight the views will simply take your breath away.  It does get chilly during the winter months so you will definitely need to don your best winter woollies.  This well-loved historic structure is perfect for a photo to add to your selfie portfolio!

6. Quirky Eateries and Sophisticated Restaurants

If you are looking for something different and fun then these places will certainly get you in the New York mood.

Ellens Stardust diner, you’ll find this little gem in Times Square, the home to the Broadway Theatres appropriately.  Whilst you indulge in traditional American diner food you’ll be serenaded by the famous singing waitstaff who are future stars of the Broadway shows! You’ll love it…

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

The Sugar Factory, this place is not for the faint-hearted and the main requirement is that you LOVE all things sweet and alcoholic.  This placed is well known and frequented by many celebrities and home to the sparkly lollipops, dry ice/sweet cocktails.  You will be bouncing around New York after a little stop here!

If you are looking for something a little more intimate then Serendipity 3 is the place for you. The home of amazing food and decadent desserts and the setting of several Hollywood films, Serendipity being one. It’s an enchanting place where artists got their inspiration and actors fulfilled their cravings. Beginning with Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the 1950’s, continuing with a celebrity following the restaurant continues to attract the newest crop of hot young celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ryan Reynolds, Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian.  

Serendipity 3

Eataly’s winter rooftop restaurant, 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. 

SERRA Stellata

If you are more of a foodie and discerning diner looking for somewhere that tends to stand out for excellent ingredients, well-crafted cocktails, booze pairings, concept and ambience then these restaurants may be a little more up your street.

The Michelin Star restaurant – Kochi. Opened in 2019 and recently awarded this prestigious accolade, offers a ten-course menu, as well as supplements like caviar and sea urchin. Ever found yourself wishing you could order everything off the menu, now you can… every course is a joy, and with it’s $85 prix-fixe price tag it is more attainable than many of its competitors.

Kochi

Chefs Tables at Brooklyn Fare – An intimate 18-seat spot is somewhere between a dining room and an open kitchen. But don’t be fooled by its name, the restaurant used to be located in Brooklyn but now you will find it in Midtown. Although the tasting menu is not cheap it is worthy of the splurge for those wanting to taste cutting-edge Brooklyn-inspired fare at its finest. They keep the menu fresh but will normally include seafood-centric delights such as needlefish or Kumamoto Oysters. You’ll definitely need to book ahead to secure your space at this table.

Chefs Table at Brooklyn Fare

Eleven Madison Park – think urban sophistication with a twist of French. This three-Michelin-star restaurant is a constant high-baller within the worlds top 100 restaurants and you can certainly appreciate why as you walk through the doors. With dramatically high ceilings and magnificent Art Deco interior, stunning views of Madison Square Park is just the start of your culinary experience.

Eleven Madison Park

7. Watch a Broadway show

Is there anything more synonymous with New York than a Broadway? As the weather gets colder, performances such as the Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol make their appearance and feature heavily throughout the festive period.

You’ll find more than 30 Broadway theatres around the surrounding Times Square area. This quantity of shows available means there is always something for everyone.

You should buy tickets in advance, as all popular shows will sell out fast!

8. Catch a Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden

Basketball season in New York runs from October to April and New York Knicks basketball tickets are easy to buy online before you travel to New York. Even if you are now a sports fan, seeing a basketball game in New York is a great experience. As Madison Square Garden is indoors and warm, going to a game is perfect for the winter months.

9. Visit the Financial District

Walk around the Financial District to see Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange – an easy walk now the street has been pedestrianised, and take photo of the famous Bull on Wall Street. Walk down the block to beautiful Trinity Church and then a few blocks over to Pearl Street where you will find Fraunces Tavern, the historic restaurant where Washington bid farewell to his officers, it’s also great for to enjoy a spot of lunch. If you go upstairs at the entrance to the small museum on the second floor, you’ll be able to see the actual room in which Washington made his speech.

10. Take a Tour of Grand Central Station

Well known as the city’s most famous transportation hub, Grand Central is a magnificent and historic building in Midtown. Instantly recognisable by the zodiacs on its ceiling, and the famous information booth in the centre, which to this day is still on the best meeting points in the city.

You can grab a bite to eat in the plethora of small restaurants and cafes on its lower levels or savour a delicious cocktail at the famous Oyster Bar or one the balcony bars.

11. Metropolitan Museum of Art

‘The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.’ – An absolute must see whilst in New York, it’s a time travel you literally experience visually spanning many era’s and cultures. You won’t be disappointed.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

12. The New York Public Library

You can’ miss this national historic landmark, protected by two large marble lions at the entrance of this Beaux Arts masterpiece which contains more than six million books. A quirky little fact we happened to stumble across when visiting is that the New York Public Library is home to the original Winnie-the-Pooh and friends. Settled in the Children’s Centre, you can get up close and see these well loved characters we’ve all become quite fond of.

The New York Public Library

13. New York Fashion Week

Come February, New York’s streets are packed with the world’s best dressed, as celebrities, models, photographers, writers, and stylists strut their stuff for Fashion Week.

While the fashion shows themselves are invite-only, there is still plenty of excitement to absorb around the city, from Lincoln Center to Bryant Park, and several venues across the city that host events.

Beyond the fashion shows and parties, there are several panels hosted discussing the future of fashion and other topics surrounding the industry, hosted and attended by some of the biggest and most up-and-coming names in the industry.

14. Ferry to Liberty Island

If you would like a break from the Christmas shopping and crowded streets, then a visit to the iconic, neoclassical, 305ft Statue of Liberty is a must on your New York trip. One of the worlds most identifiable structures, the statue has been on Bedloe’s Island since 1886 (renamed Liberty Island in 1956).

Try to visit on a sunny day if possible and because the weather will be cold, it should hopefully be less crowded too! Pay for a round-trip ferry ride to the Island and for incredible views of Manhattan, make a booking to access the statue’s crown.

Check out live webcam photos of the Statue of Liberty

15. New Year in New York

Fed up of the standard New Year celebrations at home? Make this NYE one to remember and party in style. Don your festive holiday getups and head out for a night of fun and celebrations, New York style. Think amazing fireworks, concerts, dinners and parties.

Check out the video of the iconic ball drop that happens in Times Square every year. The ball descends 141 feet (43 m) in 60 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, beginning at 11:59:00 p.m. ET, and resting at midnight to signal the start of the new year.

Call us on 01730 711010 or email [email protected] if you wish to experience New York this winter.

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