The American East Coast may be known for its winter chills and snow flurries (and the occasional Nor’easter), but don’t let that scare you away from visiting the country’s most populous city this holiday season. Frosty weather looks good on New York City and there is a lot to miss out on if you wait for sunshine. So pack your scarf, mittens, and sense of adventure and be sure to check out the top ten things to do in NYC this winter, even if the weather outside is frightful.
Enjoy New York City Winter With These 10 Things To Do
1. Ice Skating in Central Park
For an iconic New York City wintertime experience, it doesn’t get more perfect than ice-skating in Central Park. Wollman Rink is a great place for beginning skaters and tourists alike. The large crowds may prevent you from doing a lot of speed skating, but this activity is more about the location anyway. You will probably recognize it from its appearance in the classic Christmas movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Enjoy the gorgeous skyline views from the heart of Manhattan seven days a week, weather permitting.
Location: A two-minute walk from the Central Park South entrance.
2. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet
It wouldn’t be a visit to the Big Apple without taking in a live performance of some sort. While typically that means Broadway, the winter season can also mean The Nutcracker, which you can see timelessly, performed by the New York City Ballet. Join the full company and 50 young ballet students as they bring Tschaikovsky’s score to life with George Balanchine’s choreography at the Lincoln Center.
Location: 20 Lincoln Center
3. Drinking Hot Chocolate
Few things are better than warming up with a cup of hot cocoa, and NYC has some for everyone. Serendipity 3 is the typical tourist spot that everyone knows, but if you want to venture out of the comfort zone a bit more, there are other great places to try. The Commons Chelsea is a neighborhood café with a friendly atmosphere offering cocoa, hot cider, coffee, or even wine, so everyone in your crew will be satisfied. In Brooklyn, you can try the vegan version of hot chocolate along with a snack at Little Choc Apothecary, known as “NYC’s first 100% vegan creperie.”
Commons Chelse Location: 128 7th Ave.
Choc Apothecary Location:141 Havemeyer St.
4. Winter Market at Skylight One Hanson
Flea markets shouldn’t have to close up shop just because it starts to get cold. Weekend market, Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasbord, moves indoors for winter, but it doesn’t hibernate. This collective of more than 70 vintage and craft vendors sets up shop at the incredible Skylight One Hanson, where the location is one of the best selling points. The historic Williamsburgh Savings Bank Clocktower has 63-foor tall mosaic ceilings, and beautiful limestone and marble walls. What could possibly be a better atmosphere for sipping hard cider and getting in some weekend antiquing?
Location: 1 Hanson Pl.
5. SantaCon NYC
Self-described as a “nonsensical” and “absurdist” event, SantaCon NYC is an annual bar crawl where participants dress as Santa or in holiday gear just for the fun of it. This event takes over NYC one day a year with thousands of participants. It has been a controversial event in the past because, shockingly, some people think that thousands of drunken people don’t make for very good company. However, the organizers have a “Santa Code” meant to reign in any naughty behavior. Also, registration money will be donated to a list of local charities, which will help keep you on the “Nice List”.
Location: Announced to registered participants shortly before the event begins.
6. Cocktails at Rolf’s German Restaurant
One of the best things about the holidays is the decorating. If you’re looking for the Christmas spirit, you can find it at Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy Park. Come for a cocktail and marvel at the lights, ornaments, and Christmas cheer that seem to occupy every available inch of this establishment. Seriously, this place does not believe that “overdoing it” is possible.
Location: 281 Third Ave.
7. New Year’s Eve in Times Square
Sure, you may not want to spend every New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but it is worth experiencing at least once in your life. Chances are you’ve watched it on television, but there’s nothing like the madness of actually being in the crowd. Each year, bestselling musical artists treat attendees to performances as they wait to watch the ball drop. Dress warmly, arrive early, and later you can brag to your friends that you were there.
8. Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day Swim
Looking to start off the New Year with some exhilaration and a good deed? Look no further than the Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s annual New Year’s Day Swim. The club opens this event to the public for free each year so you can join them for a – shall we say – “brisk” dip in the ocean. Donations are collected during the plunge to benefit Camp Sunshine, “ a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families,” and registrants are encouraged to fundraise beforehand.
Location: Surf Ave. & Stillwell Ave.
9. Winter Jazzfest NYC
This annual NYC fest takes place over five days at various venues downtown. If you buy a ticket for one or both of the “marathon” days you can gain access to shows around the village all day long for one price. The lineup consists of artists ranging from the famously well known to local up-and-comers. In The City That Never Sleeps, the festival season doesn’t need to end just because the temperature drops.
10. Celebrate Chinese New Year
The New Year celebrations don’t stop after January 1st. One of the year’s most stunning spectacles takes place in Chinatown to ring in the Lunar New Year. You can expect vibrant colors, dancing dragons, and gorgeous floats as the parade winds its way through the neighborhood. Also, you will not want to miss the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival in Sara Roosevelt Park.
This article was written by Paula Ashlee Berg.