22/07/2024

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A Guide to Visiting New York City in Winter

11 min read
A Guide to Visiting New York City in Winter

Welcome to the city that never sleeps, where dreams come true, and every street tells its own story.

The heart of New York – Manhattan – is one of those places you can visit endlessly and still discover something new. Whether it’s the glittering skyscrapers that seem to be growing at a breakneck pace, the dazzling lights of Broadway with its diverse shows, or the colorful and eclectic shops, Manhattan is pulsing with life.

Perhaps this “heartbeat” of the city and the fact that New York is a melting pot of nations and generations makes every traveler feel welcome – even in the winter. If you’re thinking about exploring New York City in winter, we’ve got you covered with this guide.

Related: 10 Things to Do in New York With Kids

Manhattan skyline with a view of the Empire State Building, New York City, USA.
Manhattan skyline with a view of the Empire State Building, New York City, USA.

Where to Go in New York City in Winter

Is there a secret “bucket list” of must-see sights? Yes and no, because there is so much beauty hidden between the highlights that you should definitely avoid rushing from A to B in New York.

I love to drift when I travel, not to book too much in advance, and to give places, moments, and movements time and space to unfold. In this travelogue, you will find tips and experiences that you will share with many other New York travelers and some real insider tips from insiders that will amaze you like I did.

Here is an overview:

Hudson Yards & The Edge

Vessel - the center of Hudson Yards in New York City, USA.
Vessel – the center of Hudson Yards in New York City, USA.

Restaurant The Peak

You need time to experience New York City in winter with all your senses. We spent most of January 1st in heaven. What a perfect way to start the year!

The Peak is a restaurant on the 101st floor, directly above The Edge observation deck in Hudson Yards, the new and fascinating district that combines the present and the future. It is a new dimension in urban development and sustainable concepts.

The restaurant is breathtaking, offering wonderful service, great food and an incredible view of the entire city.

View of the Empire State Building from The Peak restaurant in New York City, USA.
View of the Empire State Building from The Peak restaurant in New York City, USA.

The Edge

Enjoying a 2- or 3-course meal with a view of the Empire State Building here at The Peak Restaurant is hard to beat, and what makes it so special is that after dinner, each guest has free access to the observation deck.

View from The Edge - It's getting dark in Manhattan - New York City, USA.
View from The Edge – It’s getting dark in Manhattan – New York City, USA.

Time is the magic ingredient as you watch the sunset and the city turns into a glittering sea of lights.

Sea of lights view of New York City, USA, from The Edge.
Sea of lights view of New York City, USA, from The Edge.

High Line

From Hudson Yards, you can walk directly to the High Line, a 2.6-kilometer-long walkway that follows the former railroad tracks at a height of 25 feet (7.5 meters).

You walk along the old, sometimes overgrown rails, past galleries, private homes and offices – a green oasis in the middle of the city with great views of the Hudson River.

High Line near Hudson Yards in New York City, USA.
High Line near Hudson Yards in New York City, USA.

9/11 Memorial

In 2011, the site looked very different before the planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, killing so many.

Today, there are pools of running water surrounded by memorial plaques where the two towers once stood.

A white flower for the victims on their birthday - 9/11 Memorial in New York City, USA.
A white flower for the victims on their birthday – 9/11 Memorial in New York City, USA.

2983 names are carved into the stone here in memory of the victims. For me, the 9/11 Memorial is one of the most intense places in New York, a place of reflection. Not only because of the play of light created by the water and the different surfaces, but also because of the atmosphere that prevails here.

Looking up from the Memorial, you can see One World Trade Center, currently the tallest building in the United States.

One World Trade Center in New York City, USA.
One World Trade Center in New York City, USA.

Times Square and Broadway

OMG! This place is just so atmospheric. Wherever and however you go in Manhattan, you will always pass the famous Times Square.

It used to be the headquarters of the famous New York Times newspaper.

Times Square with colorful neon sign - New York City, USA.
Times Square with colorful neon sign – New York City, USA.

On New Year’s Eve, the famous “ball drop” takes place here, and on all other days, neon signs and brightly colored commerce spill from every surface. Times Square is also known as “The Crossroads of the World” or “The Heart of the World”.

Here, at the corner of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, you will also find the Red Steps, where you can take pictures, just sit down or get last-minute tickets for the many Broadway shows that offer a full evening’s entertainment nearby.

Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island

More than just a statue, it symbolizes freedom and democracy.

Did you know that it was a gift from France for the 100th anniversary of the USA and was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris?

The seven spikes in the Statue of Liberty‘s crown represent the seven oceans and continents of the world, and the broken chains at her feet symbolize the end of slavery. And so, since 1886, she has stood strong and steady with her torch on Liberty Island as a constant reminder.

The Staten Island Ferry offers a free view of the imposing statue on its 25-minute trip. It runs from Whitehall Terminal near Battery Park in Manhattan to St. George Terminal on Staten Island.

Ellis Island and the skyline of Lower Manhattan with One World Trade Center can also be seen from here.

Related: Tips for Visiting the Statue of Liberty, New York

Evening boat tour to the Statue of Liberty in New York City, USA.
Evening boat tour to the Statue of Liberty in New York City, USA.

You can get up close and personal with the statue with various tours, such as Get Your Guide’s.

The evening boat ride to the illuminated statue with skyline views and the illuminated Brooklyn Bridge is particularly impressive.

The Brooklyn Bridge from the water - New York City, USA.
The Brooklyn Bridge from the water – New York City, USA.

Brooklyn Bridge

New York has many stories to tell: Immigrants at Ellis Island, artists on Broadway, and designers of distinctive statues, buildings, and bridges.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest steel cable suspension bridges in the United States.

Brooklyn Bridge with steel cable construction - New York City, USA.
Brooklyn Bridge with steel cable construction – New York City, USA.

The steel struts rising from the stone arches are a work of art, and the setting of this bridge, which until 1903 was one of the longest in the world, is as diverse as the city itself.

The many faces of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA.
The many faces of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA.

When crossing the bridge, it is always worthwhile to look back or up, as the ever-changing motifs created by the interplay of the bridge and the skyline in the background are a photographer’s paradise.

Skyline view from the bridge - Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA.
Skyline view from the bridge – Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, USA.

Dumbo

You don’t even need a map, just follow the signs on the ground as you cross the bridge and you’ll find yourself in Dumbo, a neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough.

Dumbo stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” and is known for its many art galleries, cafes and cobblestone streets.

One of these streets, Washington Street, is home to a very special photo opportunity: the Empire State Building, perfectly framed by the pillars of the Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge with a view of the Empire State Building in Dumbo - New York City, USA.
Manhattan Bridge with a view of the Empire State Building in Dumbo – New York City, USA.

Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center is for those who want to get up high.

The beam is brand new and a real souvenir. Here, you can recreate the famous photo of the construction workers on their lunch break high above the skyscrapers of New York.

As with all attractions in New York, booking one or two events online at least a day in advance is a good idea, as many attractions are fully booked. This is especially important for fans of tall buildings. Book online here.

The Summit, for example, is sold out many days in advance during popular travel times. In this case, it pays to plan your time well in advance or simply skip that part of the program.

The view from Rockefeller Center to Central Park in New York City, USA.
The view from Rockefeller Center to Central Park in New York City, USA.

OHO SOHO

Where is the best place to shop in New York? Spring Street in the SOHO district.

You will find all the brands your heart desires as well as many wonderful culinary oases.

Foodie Stops for New York City

Blue Ribbon Sushi

My absolute favorite is Blue Ribbon Sushi on Sullivan Street. It’s easy to miss from the outside, but as soon as you walk through the door, you’re catapulted into Japanese Kyoto.

I have never had such delicious sushi outside of Japan. The mixed sushi platter with seven surprise nigiri and a maki of your choice is a real treat.

The great thing about this place is that you can stop by on the spur of the moment and usually get a seat with a short wait.

The Blue Ribbon sushi restaurant in the heart of Soho in New York City, USA.
The Blue Ribbon sushi restaurant in the heart of Soho in New York City, USA.

Burger Joint

The Burger Joint is a different story. If you want to come here at lunchtime with a growling stomach to satisfy your hunger, you must wait in a long queue.

Hidden behind a red velvet curtain in the Le Parker Meridien Hotel, it is no longer an insider tip. Just like in the ’50s and ’60s, the tables are close together, and the walls are covered with newspaper articles about sporting events.

Brasserie Rue 57

Rue 57, a brasserie nearby, is a much more dignified place to eat without having to wait.

La Fayette

La Fayette on Lafayette Street in Noho is a wonderful restaurant and cafe. Here, you can get the special New York Rolls, rolled croissants with different fillings that people like to line up for.

Empire Rooftop Bar

On the Upper Westside, the Empire Rooftop Bar is located on the roof of the Empire Hotel, made famous by Gossip Girl. Here you can enjoy delicious drinks, tasty snacks and a cool atmosphere.

Eataly

If you love the hustle and bustle and want the widest selection, you should stop by Eataly in Flatiron. Eataly is an Italian market hall with plenty of places to eat and drink in the many bars and restaurants inside.

Stand in front of the Eataly market hall with various bars and restaurants in New York City, USA.
Stand in front of the Eataly market hall with various bars and restaurants in New York City, USA.

Milos

Exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and a huge fish counter can be found at Milos in Midtown. Named after the Greek island, the restaurant is a special place for foodies and those who want to become one, both for lunch and dinner.

Grand Central

The famous Grand Central Terminal from 1913 in New York City, USA.
The famous Grand Central Terminal from 1913 in New York City, USA.

Grand Central Terminal in New York is the largest train station in the world. Its main lobby, with the large four-sided opal clock, is a real gem.

Petite Maman and Le Pain Quotidien

Leaving the station toward the Metlife Building, you visit one of my favorite New York cafes, Petite Maman. The lavender honey “milk” is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and the almond croissants are definitely the best in the world.

You can also have a wonderful breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. From avocado bread and eggs to breakfast bowls and pain au chocolat, this is where New Yorkers and travelers come to fortify themselves for the exciting days ahead. Cakes and afternoon treats are also available, along with a large café au lait.

Sweet temptations at Le Pain Quotidien in New York City, USA.
Sweet temptations at Le Pain Quotidien in New York City, USA.

Central Park

For example, if you choose Le Pain Quotidien on Columbus Circle for breakfast, you can walk through Central Park right after.

Central Park is a pleasure in any weather - New York City, USA.
Central Park is a pleasure in any weather – New York City, USA.

Stroll past the Bethesda Terrace & Fountain and the Loeb Boathouse, where you can rent a rowboat and glide across the lake during the summer months.

Related: Free Things To Do in New York City

An oasis amidst the skyscrapers - Central Park in New York City, USA.
An oasis amidst the skyscrapers – Central Park in New York City, USA.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Do you love art and culture?

Then how about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world’s greatest art collections, located right next to Central Park.

School bus in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA.
School bus in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, USA.

If you’re in New York between the start of the holiday season and New Year’s Eve, here are some highlights for you:

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

It may seem like a cliché, but ice skating at Rockefeller Center is a must-do!

The feeling of gliding across the ice to Christmas music next to a giant, colorful, glittering tree is indescribable.

It’s not just any tree; it’s the New York City Christmas Tree with 50,000 sparkling LED lights and over 3 million Swarovski crystals covering the 70 points of the star at the top. It’s a must when visiting New York City in winter.

The famous ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA.
The famous ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA.

Want more Christmas trees? Then stop by the Winter Bar at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue.

Here you will find winter snacks and drinks, as well as pure holiday cheer.

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Show

The Saks Lightshow is a real highlight, and not just because of all the lights - New York City, USA.
The Saks Lightshow is a real highlight, and not just because of all the lights – New York City, USA.

The big light show at Saks is a magnet for passers-by. Every year, the store presents this dance show with different images and themes.

600,000 lights dance to Christmas music every 10 minutes starting at dusk.

Christmas in New York

For lovers of Christmas decorations, there is Christmas in New York in Little Italy. It’s Christmas all year round!

On several floors, you will find Christmas decorations, faux gingerbread houses, and Christmas ornaments in all colors and shapes.

Christmas decorations in all shapes and colors in Little Italy in New York City, USA.
Christmas decorations in all shapes and colors in Little Italy in New York City, USA.
Christmas store on several floors - Christmas in New York City, USA.
Christmas store on several floors – Christmas in New York City, USA.

Christmas Spectacular Show der Rockettes

The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall is highly recommended.

Not only is it one of the largest concert halls in the world, seating over 6000 people. In their show, the Rockettes dazzle with fantastic choreography, elaborate costumes, powerful dancing, singing, tradition, humor and pure entertainment. Everyone, even the biggest theater or concert fan, will find something to marvel at.

I always love a behind-the-scenes look and highly recommend the Meet a Rockette tour after the show. Not only does it give you a glimpse of what the dancers do, but it also tells the touching story of Radio City Music Hall, which was founded in 1932 in the heart of the city.

Radio City Music Hall in New York City - where the famous Rockettes perform.
Radio City Music Hall in New York City – where the famous Rockettes perform.

What, that’s it?

Only for now. New York is already waiting for my next visit, and I’m counting down the days until then.

Panorama of Manhattan  and New York City from the Edge, USA.
Panorama of Manhattan and New York City from the Edge, USA.

Looking for a place to stay in New York? Check out OuR New York Accommodation Guide

  • Maja Sommer

    I love to laugh, live and give! Values are important to me. People, countries and cultures fascinate me endlessly. And children make my heart beat faster.

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