NYC Winter Bucket List

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  • Post last modified:January 27, 2022

NYC is a worthy travel destination that appeals to visitors from all around the world. However, wintertime is as good as ever to come to visit the bustling metropolis. Not even wintertime cold and snow stop the city from being active 24/7.

The gorgeous trees in New York Central park with the city skyline view on the back, NYC Winter Bucket List

You can never do it all in NYC, even when visiting for a few days. However, there are some delightful winter activities you have to try when visiting the Big Apple. Make plans to enjoy seasonal big city fun, shop, eat, and make memories.

The following post was written by a transplant turned local resident.

Get Around Town

The city of New York might not get as much snow as upstate, but the temperatures can get downright chilly. Prepare to bundle up, dress stylishly in layers, and plan out where you want to go to avoid walking outside for too long.

When the weather outside is frightful, get around on the subway. Waiting on the bus is often painfully slow in the cold, and you're likely going to have a crowded ride. Map out stops close to your destination to prevent long walks.

Get familiar with the MTA website's current maps, and check for any delays or construction before you go. Service interruptions or reroutes usually happen on weekends. Feel free to hail an Uber or Lyft to avoid public transit.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, NYC and its denizens are doing everything they can to work, play, and enjoy the city safely. People are encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid unnecessary travel.

1. Go Ice Skating

Lace-up your ice skating shoes or pay for a rental pair at one of NYC's outdoor rinks. Check out the rinks at Bryant Park [free admission], Rockefeller Center, Central Park, or the many outer boroughs surrounding Manhattan.

Practice your latest move with an axel or lutz, or go around the rink in circles for the ultimate workout. The frost may be nipping at your nose when skating, but you can warm up with a hot chocolate, tea, or coffee afterward.

2. Kick It At Radio City Music Hall

The Christmas Spectacular is one of the most awaited events of the winter season, featuring none other than the Radio City Rockettes. If you are on a budget, try to snag tickets for seats during the middle of the week before Thanksgiving.

Radio City Music Hall is a nationally renown dance theater hosting comedy, musical acts, and even tours. If you are too short on time to enjoy a lengthy performance, consider indulging in a tour of this historic, elegant entertainment venue.

3. Say Shhh

If you love old places and beautiful landmarks, make a stop at the flagship public library that actively serves the people of NYC. The city is known for its bookstores, publishing houses, and authors and writers who call the city home.

Warm-up and get out of the cold, dust off a book in the rare section, ignite your imagination, or peruse recent releases. There are also plenty of hidden gems throughout the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, so take a tour of the site too.

4. NYC's Christmas Tree

One of the most iconic symbols of wintertime in the Big Apple is the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Note the city also boasts one of the largest lit menorahs in the world, too.

People crowd to the center to witness the lighting of the grand tree and enjoy musical acts from popular entertainers and, of course, the Radio City Rockettes. For nearly 100 years, this NYC tradition has ushered in the holiday season.

5. Stroll Through Central Park

Don't let the plunging temperatures keep you from enjoying a leisurely walk or brisk jog through Central Park. Enjoy people-watching, take an audio tour, or make time to feed birds or ice skate at the Wollman Rink.

Central Park is one of the major green lungs for the city, spanning between 59th street to 110th street between Central Park West and Fifth Ave. Take selfies, spot celebrities, enjoy fine dining, or take a magical carriage ride.

6. Celebrate Your Inner Foodie

Because NYC is such a melting pot of cultures and cuisines from around the world, one winter season event to look forward to is Restaurant Week. Take the opportunity to feast on prix-fixe menus at the best restaurants around town.

For four weeks, the city is your oyster to chow down on some of the finest dining at a lower than usual price. Gather a friend, make date plans, and make reservations for lunch or dinner at legendary eateries.

7. Fifth Ave. Calling

If there is one thing you have to do when visiting NYC, it's going shopping. Make stops at sought-after luxury stores, popular big box names, malls, and mom and pop boutiques. The city is often a constant catwalk.

Any serious fashionista knows that one of the best stretches to meander about for shopping is none other than Fifth Ave. There is something for everyone, whether you love the looks of Armani, Louis Vuitton, North Face, or Zara.

8. Treat Your Inner Child

There is no toy store in the world quite like FAO Schwarz. The iconic toy store has been featured in films and TV shows and is beloved by people of all ages and walks of life. And what's not to love about toy soldiers greeting you at the door?

If you are a few minutes away from the Rockefeller Center, don't miss out on capturing the magic of play and wonder.

9. Walk The High Line

If Central Park is too much to handle, check out the unique vantage point along the narrow High Line. The elevated park was formerly home to street-level freight train tracks, hurtling in goods. However, trucks put it out of business.

Thankfully, the stretch of unused space slated for demolition was revived and envisioned as a nature park filled with wild plants, public art, benches, and a beautiful view of the West Side of Manhattan.

10. Art Walk

Check out various galleries in the city, especially near The High Line around the west side of Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Call before you come, in case you need to reserve a time for viewing at an influential art space.

There are plenty of galleries along West 21st, 22nd, 24th, and 26th street, and around 10th and 11th avenues. If galleries aren't your thing, don't miss out on the city's host of uncommissioned murals, stickers, graffiti, and other public art.

11. Break A Leg On Broadway

The show must go on, as ongoing challenges to in-person gathering are not causing Broadway productions to lose steam. Snag tickets to see the latest performances and theatrical releases or sing along with revivals of musical stage favorites.

Wintertime is the best for Broadway Week and celebrating the historical and current contributions of NYC's thespian community.

12. Be A Bookworm

If stopping at the flagship public library isn't enough, stop by Strand to take a book or two home and add to your personal library. Strand Book Store has been in operation since 1927 and still maintains its charm and wide selection.

Support literacy, independent bookstores, and all things in print by taking a short or long trip to this iconic landmark.

13. Go On Tour

You don't have to wait to sign up for a guided tour of the city and neighborhoods. Map out destinations that pique your interest to eat, shop, explore, and make memories. Walking around the largest safe city in America is possible.

Locals are willing to give directions, police officers are stationed throughout, and there are even kiosks to charge your phone. Stop by cultural institutions, grab a bite to eat on the go, and enjoy the entertainment provided by local buskers.

14. All The Lights

When the days get darker and shorter, it's time to turn up the lights even brighter than 42nd and Times Square. The city comes alive with plenty of festive displays during the holiday season, from lantern festivals to elaborate storefronts.

Check out local listings for limited light shows and displays outdoors, or head indoors and check out the holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden.

Conclusion

An aerial photo of central park at Manhattan, New York

Even though summer may be the most popular time for exploration and entertainment outdoors in the Big Apple, there is still so much to do in NYC, even in winter.

Schedule time during your day to stop for a hot drink, a snack, or ride the train between destinations to keep warm. You are encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing, and protect your health while out and about.

And, if you are riding the subway, lookout for singers, breakdancers, spoken word poets, and local curiosities making a living on the MTA. You might be lucky enough to be on the right car to support the arts with some small change.

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