New York City is a place fortunate enough to experience all four seasons each year. While summer is one of the more popular times to visit, winter can be just as charming, if not more fun! As someone who was born and raised in New York, I know that a winter trip here is definitely an experience not to be missed.

Where to stay

I’m not going to lie – hotels (and hostels too!) in NYC are expensive, so if you are cool with couch surfing or renting an apartment or room through Airbnb, try that. Otherwise, check out Groupon for hotel discounts, or if you leave things to the last minute HotelTonight can offer you some great deals. If you are traveling to NYC after several visits and are familiar with certain areas, Queens, Brooklyn and even Jersey City offer better discounts.


How to get around

The subway system is your best bet. It goes everywhere, and runs 24/7. With apps like HopStop, you can plan your route, and things won’t seem so scary. A one-way ride is less than $3, but it’s better to get an all-day or weekly pass, depending on how often you plan to ride. Walking is also quite easy and safe.

Here are some great things to do between January and March:

1. Museum hop

Keep warm by visiting some of the best cultural institutions in the world. You can jump from museum to museum down “Museum Mile” along 5th Avenue, which hosts six of the best New York has to offer (from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to El Museuo Del Barrio). You could spend an entire day in some of these places as well. The Museum at FIT, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and even the Museum of Sex are located elsewhere in the city, and are definitely worth checking out if you are into those topics.

Photo: ilirjan rrumbullaku via ilirjan rrumbullaku

2. Go ice skating

It may seem cliché, but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to stay fit in the cold!  You can go more traditional and rent skates at Rockefeller Centre or Central Park, check out the swanky rink at the Standard Hotel, or be adventurous and travel to Prospect Park, Coney Island or the City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City. Lots of these places have cute cafes and shopping nearby as well.

3. Attend a show

Seeing live theater in NYC, even if it’s just a community production in the basement of a bar in the East Village, is definitely a different experience than you’ll find anywhere else. Each year in January, when the post-holiday slump sets in, the city hosts 2-for-1 tickets to the best shows on Broadway, including Wicked, Mamma Mia, and the Lion King. If you are here after that, you can always get discounted tickets from TKTS, or the awesome new app TodayTix. Catch a comedy show at places like the Upright Citizens Brigade, where you can get tickets for $20 or less depending on who is performing (sometimes it is someone from Saturday Night Live).


4. Enjoy a discount meal during Winter Restaurant Week

For less than $40 you can have a delicious 3-course meal at some of New York’s top restaurants, like Beauty and Essex, Nobu, and Tavern on the Green. It’s a great way to dine like a real New Yorker, without spending a ton of money.

5. Shop during sale season

My favorite time to shop is right after the holidays and into the spring season. Many boutiques want to keep the business flowing, and often offer sales of up to 75% off. NYC has some of the best vintage shops, so make sure to bring extra luggage for swag from places like Amarcord Vintage, or one of the many Housing Works thrift shops throughout the city. Some New York Fashion Week events are also open to the public and there are parties all around the city you can try to crash.


6. Take a cocktail class

There’s so much to learn when you come to New York. Crafting our classic cocktails is definitely some of the best education you’ll ever receive. Whether it’s wine tasting in NoHo, sampling whiskey and cigars at The Carnegie Club, or learning mixology at Apotheke, you’ll have a blast meeting new people over drinks.

7. See the city from a local’s perspective

There are tons of touristy things to do in New York for sure – places like the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and bus tours will always be there. But to see where us New Yorkers REALLY hang out, you should get a tour from someone who lives here. There are great ways to meet up with NYC residents – you can sign up to meet a local through Big Apple Greeter, take some tours led by locals with Walks of New York, or casually strike up conversation at a bar or park. We are more friendly than the world makes us out to be, I promise!

via Dan Nguyen via Dan Nguyen

8. Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinatown is always lively, but it really becomes a party around Chinese New Year. Celebrations go on for a week or more (usually Mid-February), with parades, dragon dances, almond cookies and dumplings everywhere, and beautiful decorations strung throughout the area.

9. Brewery tours

It’s cool to learn how beer is made! The craft beer scene is on the rise, even in New York where people have begun brewing in their tiny apartments. Check out the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg for free tours, or smaller craft beer tours for $10, and the Chelsea Brewing Company, which offers free samples and discount drinks after the tour.

via Diana Robinson via Diana Robinson

10. Check out St. Patrick’s Day

If you are “lucky” enough to be in New York on March 17, you’re in for a treat. The entire city wears green (even the Empire State Building) and acts Irish for a day. There is a large parade that goes through the city, to celebrate Irish pride and the people who helped make Manhattan what it is. And then the bars will be happy to serve you green beer, Irish Car Bombs, corned beef and cabbage…it really is a special, fun-filled day.

This is just a small sample of activities to choose from. The weather might not always be perfect, but even in a blizzard New York City manages to keep things lively. In the city that never sleeps, you won’t have any issues finding something to do – and hopefully you will create your own adventures as well!