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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 21, 2018
When should I go to New York City?
When To Visit New York City – Summary
- The best time to visit New York City is from April to June and September to early November when the weather is warm and pleasant but the tourist crowds are not overwhelming. The cheapest time to visit New York is on weekends from mid-January to the end of February. My favorite month in New York is September.
- Many of the best things to do in NYC and best things to do with kids in NYC are year-round – but some are certainly season-dependent and do require specific planning to see and do.
- Best Time for Good Weather: May to October though July and August can be hot and humid.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: April, May, June, September, October, and early November
- Best Time for Honeymoon: May, June, September, and October
- Best Time for Nightlife: Year round
- Best Time for Saving Money: January and February
Best Time to Visit New York City
- Best Time to Book Hotels: The best hotels in NYC and the best family hotels in NYC get booked months in advance. Reserve a place to stay as early as possible.
- Best Time to See Shows: It’s easiest to find show tickets during the quieter months of January and February, and in the early fall after the summer tourists have gone home. 2-for-1 tickets to over twenty of Broadway’s most popular shows are available during Broadway Week, held twice yearly in September and January. Summer travelers will have the best luck over the Fourth of July weekend, which generally sees a massive drop in ticket sales. Show tickets are hardest to come by during the last two weeks of the year, when blockbusters are reliably and constantly sold out. The Broadway season starts in September, making that month a great time to score tickets to new shows that haven’t yet generated a lot of buzz. (Tickets to these same shows can be a lot harder to come by in May and June, after the Tony Award nominees have been announced.) Theaters are typically closed on Mondays (though there are plenty of exceptions), and travelers hoping to attend a live TV show taping should note that many late night shows go on hiatus in mid-to-late August and April.
- Best Time for Shopping: Shopping bargains can be found year round in New York City. Sale season at high end boutiques occurs twice annually, in November-December and April-May while outlet stores like Century 21, Loehmann’s, and Filene’s Basement offer discounted designer goods daily. Other retailers stick to a pretty dependable seasonal schedule: fall and winter items get discounted in November and December, with spring apparel at lowest prices in April and May, and summer clothing sales beginning around July Fourth. The combination of post-holiday sales and January’s slight dip in tourism make that month great for finding deals across the board in shopping, hotel rates, and airfare. International travelers take note: you receive a 10% discount at Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Lord & Taylor all year long – just show your passport and ask for it.
- Best Time for Museums: Expect museums to be at their most crowded during the holiday rush surrounding Christmas and New Year’s. Because museums are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, the heavily-travelled days around them can be particularly packed. The slight lull in tourism in January and February means quieter galleries and shorter lines. Special exhibitions are commonly debuted in the early fall, once the summer throngs have subsided, making October a great time to explore New York City museums and galleries.
- Best Time for Restaurants: Along with the slow mid-winter tourism months, reservations at New York’s best restaurants can be surprisingly easy to come by in July and August, when locals escape the city on the weekends. December travelers, on the other hand, will find it all but impossible to get a good table without reserving well in advance. Great deals and special menus can be found at more than 300 of the city’s finest eateries during New York’s Restaurant Week, held twice annually in late January/early February and late July/early August.
- Best Time for Holiday Displays: Stores along 5th Avenue begin unveiling their holiday window displays in mid-November, with all decorations up by Thanksgiving. The spectacular tree at Rockefeller Center isn’t lit until the Wednesday following Thanksgiving, when tourism crowds are at their peak. Those looking to enjoy New York’s holiday cheer would do best to visit during the week before Christmas, when festivity is high but hotel and airfare rates take a slight dip. Decorations and displays stay up through early January.
- Best Time for Kids and Families: Summer is a particularly popular time for families to visit New York City. While there’s not the tourism lull you’ll find in January and February, crowds are much thinner than during the school holidays that surround Thanksgiving and Christmas, and airfare and hotel rates will be lower. The city offers loads for kids to do during the summer, from outdoor concerts and movies (many of them free) to bike rental, boating, and playgrounds in Central Park. While the busy holiday season can be magical for kids, the hordes of travelers can make Times Square overwhelming – and impossible to navigate with a stroller.
- Best Time to Avoid Crowds: The deep winter months of January through early March offer your best chance to see the city without being mobbed by tourists, though you’ll trade lower airfare and hotel rates for frigid temperatures. Despite the increase in family tourism, the summer months can also be surprisingly quiet in New York, as many locals head for the coast. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are best bets for calmer crowds minus the cold.
New York Travel Seasons
- High Season (June-August & November-December): Vacationing families and European travelers on extended holiday make the summer months one of the most popular times to visit New York. Many locals leave the city during this time, however, which means that it can feel less crowded even while tourism is high. The Thanksgiving-New Year holiday season is a huge draw for tourists, festivity is high and the city is at its most packed. During both of these busy tourism periods, expect airfare and hotel rates to be at their peak and availability to be low. Book well in advance. See Also: The Best NYC Hotels
- Shoulder Season (March-May & September-October): Though tourism isn’t quite peaking during these months, they are still incredibly popular times to visit New York. Mild weather makes the spring and fall seasons ideal for exploring the city on foot, whether to a backdrop of blooms and open air markets in the springtime, or the changing colors of Central Park trees in the fall. High prices and low availability for both flights and hotels is to be expected.
- Low Season (January-Early March): New York City is at its quietest during these cold mid-winter months, when snow is common and temperatures hover between 1 and 4°C. Hotel occupancy rates dip below 90%, and restaurant reservations and theater tickets are easier to come by. The drop in temperature means a drop in both airfare and hotel rates, which makes this a great time to visit the city if you’re looking for a bargain and are not bothered by a little cold.
New York City Weather by Month
New York Temperature by Month (high in celsius)
New York Rain by Month (mm)
- New York City Weather in January: January is New York’s coldest month. Temperatures range from -12°to 4°C, generally hovering around 3°C. Snow is likely around this time, quickly becoming slush on sidewalk and street corners – warm clothes and waterproof boots are a must. (Average Max Temperature: 3.1°C. Average Precipitation: 81mm.)
- New York City Weather in February: February remains cold, with the average daytime high creeping up to 4.2°C. Snow still common, and the days remain short: New York City sunset is around 5:30 in February. (Average Max Temperature: 4.2°C. Average Precipitation: 77mm.)
- New York City Weather in March: March is a bit of a mixed bag in New York City, feeling sometimes like winter and at other times spring-like. Cold and snow are still common, though less likely toward the end of March. You’ll want to pack warm clothes, but may be surprised by not needing them. (Average Max Temperature: 8.9°C. Average Precipitation: 91mm.)
- New York City Weather in April: Snow in April is rare in New York City, though still possible – especially around the beginning of the month. Any snow the city gets won’t last long, however. Average temperatures range from 7 to 18°C, spring rain showers are common, and flowers are up and blooming by the end of the month. (Average Max temperature: 14.6°C. Average Precipitation: 99mm.)
- New York City Weather in May: May is one of New York City’s loveliest months. The temperature ranges from 10-26°C, so it’s usually warm but not hot, and without the humidity that you’ll find during the summer months. Flowers are blooming, trees are leafing out, and it’s a wonderful time of year to explore the city’s many parks. (Average Max Temperature: 19.8°C. Average Precipitation: 96mm.)
- New York City Weather in June: June days grow warmer as summer approaches, though it’s usually not too hot or humid to comfortably enjoy being outdoors. Shorts and sandal season is in full swing, and the month’s long days (the sun sets around 8:30pm) are perfect for catching an outdoor concert or ballgame at Yankee Stadium – barring the occasional rainstorm. (Average Max Temperature: 25°C. Average Precipitation: 92mm.)
- New York City Weather in July: The hottest month of the year, expect temperatures to range from 21-35°C, with an average high of 28.2°C. The humidity is on the rise as well, especially as August nears, though ample shade from trees and tall buildings means it’s usually not so uncomfortable that you can’t enjoy a walk in the park, or lunch or dinner in a sidewalk café. Expect quieter streets as locals have head for the cooler coast. (Average Max Temperature: 28.2°C. Average Precipitation: 97mm.)
- New York City Weather in August: Though July is NYC’s hottest month by temperature, August is the most humid. It is truly sticky in the city this month, with the climbing daytime humidity often bringing late afternoon and early evening thunderstorms – but don’t worry, they blow over quickly. Temperatures can be a full 10° hotter in the subways, so it’s a good idea to consider a taxi as you make your way from one air-conditioned attraction to the next. (Average Max Temperature: 27.7°C. Average Precipitation: 87mm.)
- New York City Weather in September: September is a flux month in New York, and the weather varies wildly as the city transitions from summer heat and humidity into crisp autumn. Temperatures range from 21-27°C until mid-month, with cooler air settling in as October approaches. Because summer’s humidity has gone, even September’s warmest days are perfect for outdoor activities and seeing the city on foot. (Average Max Temperature: 23.9°C. Average Precipitation: 84mm.)
- New York City Weather in October: Traditionally New York’s driest month of the year, October boasts mild to chilly temperatures and crisp autumn air. Temps range from 10-20°C, so it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket – though you might not need it. The changing fall leaves and comfortable temperature range lead many folks to consider this a perfect time to see New York. (Average Max Temperature 18.2°C. Average Precipitation: 73mm.)
- New York City Weather in November: Days are getting shorter, chillier, and rainier. A jacket is essential, and a hat and gloves are a good idea. It’s not unusual to see snow flurries by the end of the month, though accumulation is unlikely at this point. (Average Max Temperature: 12.1°C. Average Precipitation: 92mm.)
- New York City Weather in December: Winter arrives in New York, with cold temperatures, snow, and holiday crowds. Wind and temperatures can be bitingly cold. Days are short – expect the sun to set around 4:30pm mid-month – giving visitors ample time to view the city’s twinkling seasonal lights. (Average Max Temperature: 5.9°C. Average Precipitation: 87mm.)
New York City Events and Festivals
January in New York
- Winter Jazzfest NYC — Over 100 acts at 11 venues in and around Greenwich Village.
- Broadway Week — 2-for-1 tickets for over 20 of Broadway’s most popular shows.
- NYC Restaurant Week — Three-course dining deals for lunch and dinner at over 300 of the city’s best eateries.
February in New York
- Lunar New Year Festival/Parade and Firecracker Ceremony/Cultural Festival — Annual two-part Chinatown celebration of the Lunar New Year, featuring a street fair, fireworks, and a parade through the main streets of Chinatown and Little Italy.
- Westminster Kennel Club Show — The grand-daddy of dog shows, an all-breed competition held over two days at The Piers 92/94 and Madison Square Garden.
- New York Fashion Week — The fashion industry converges on Lincoln Center, where the best designers in the world show off their fall collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties.
March in New York
- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — Clowns, gymnasts, aerialists, and performing animals make camp in Madison Square Garden when the Greatest Show on Earth comes to New York, kicked off by the annual elephant parade through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade — Bands, bagpipers, and politicians march up Fifth Avenue past Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in this 250 year old annual celebration of Irish heritage.
April in New York
- Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival — An unorganized Easter Sunday celebration of fancy hats and outlandish accessories. Fashionable and festive folk stroll Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th, and the rest of us experience some great people-watching.
- Tribeca Film Festival — Celebration and judged competition of independent film, including panel discussions, a family festival street fair, and thousands of independent, documentary, and foreign film screenings across lower Manhattan.
May in New York
- Ninth Avenue International Food Festival — Ethnic cuisine, international music and dance, and more than a million hungry festival goers in Hell’s Kitchen between 42nd and 57th Streets.
- Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit — Hundreds of local and international artists and artisans hawk their wares at this massive sidewalk art fair over Memorial Day weekend.
- Fleet Week — The Hudson River Parade of Ships kicks off a week of musical performances, military demonstrations, and Memorial Day observances that celebrate the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
June in New York
- Belmont Stakes — Annual thoroughbred horse race that is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Held in Belmont Park, about 14 miles east of Manhattan.
- Pride Festival and March — GLBT pride celebration and civil rights rally with floats, bands, dancing and celebratory parade from Fifth Avenue and 36th Street to the West Village. Ends in the ultimate bash on Hudson Street, from 14th Street to Abingdon Square.
- Shakespeare in the Park (June/July) — Tickets are free (2 per person), but you’ll have to line up at the box office before noon to score seats to these extremely popular Public Theater shows at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
July in New York
- Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks — This spectacular display over the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge draws crowds of thousands each year, and is viewable from many locations in Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn and Queens.
- Bastille Day on 60th Street — Annual celebration of French food, culture, and entertainment, held the Sunday before July 14th. On 60th Street, between Lexington and 15th Avenues, on the Upper East Side.
- NYC Restaurant Week — Three-course dining deals for lunch ($25) and dinner ($38) at over 300 of the city’s best eateries.
- Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival (July/August) — Three weeks of world class music and dance performances, free and under the stars, in the plazas of Lincoln Center.
August in New York
- New York International Fringe Festival — 16 day long fringe theater and multi-arts festival: 1300 performances by over 200 multi-multinational companies at over 20 stages around Midtown Manhattan.
September in New York
- U.S. Open — American tennis pros compete in this two week long championship tournament held in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
- Electric Zoo Festival — Electronic Dance Music festival held over Labor Day weekend, featuring top international DJs and live acts from around the world. Takes place on Randall’s Island.
- Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit — Hundreds of local and international artists and artisans hawk their wares at this massive sidewalk art fair over Labor Day weekend.
- Broadway Week — 2-for-1 tickets for over 20 of Broadway’s most popular shows.
- New York Fall Fashion Week — The fashion industry converges on Lincoln Center, where the best designers in the world show off their spring collections in a week of invitation-only exhibitions and parties.
- New York Film Festival (September/October) — The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual fall celebration of cinema, showing critically acclaimed international works and Hollywood premiers at various Lincoln Center event halls.
October in New York
- Columbus Day Parade — New York’s yearly celebration of Italian-American heritage, with floats and bands traversing Fifth Avenue from 47th to 72nd Streets. Held the second Monday in October.
- Open House New York — A weekend-long architecture and design event, in which over 300 usually off-limit historic buildings and architecturally important sites are opened to the public for touring. Generally free, with some sites requiring advanced registration and a cover charge. Takes place across all five boroughs.
- Village Halloween Parade — Halloween night festival and parade, featuring floats, circus performers, musical acts, fantastic giant-sized puppets, and over two million annual spectators. Runs along 6th Avenue, from Spring to 16th streets in Greenwich Village.
November in New York
- New York City Marathon — The world’s largest and most popular marathon event. Over 50,000 runners from around the world wind their way through all five New York boroughs on the first Sunday in November.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Over 3 million spectators line the streets as hundreds of floats, marching bands, dancers, celebrity performers, giant balloons, and of course Santa Claus usher in the holiday season along Central Park West and through the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
- Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony — After a celebrity-studded holiday show and in front of thousands of spectators, Rockefeller Plaza’s iconic Christmas tree is set aglow. Held the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
December in New York
- Ice Skating Rinks — The Rink at Rockefeller Center is the most iconic and has the longest lines. Wollman Rink in Central Park is the largest and has the best view. The rink at Bryant Park is free (with skate rental fee) and adjacent to the park’s festive holiday market.
- Holiday Window Displays — Department stores on and around Fifth Avenue get decked out for the holidays starting in mid-November, and stay dressed up through the New Year. Best seen after sundown for maximum festive effect.
- The Nutcracker — So many to choose from. Take your pick between the classic George Balanchine show put on by the New York City Ballet, Alexei Ratmansky’s contemporary American Ballet Theatre interpretation, or any of the other dozens of traditional and themed versions performed annually around the city.
- Radio City Christmas Spectacular — The Radio City Rockettes star in this ultimate and iconic holiday extravaganza, a New York City tradition since 1933. Shows from mid-November through New Year’s at Rockefeller Center’s Radio City Music Hall.
- New Year’s Eve at Times Square — Two performance stages and hourly fireworks displays entertain the reveling masses from 6pm until the famous ball drops at midnight. On Broadway, between 40th and 53rd Streets.
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks — Ooh and aaah at the big display in Central Park (set off near Bathesda Fountain), or head east to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to hang with the mellower crowd. Both spots have live music starting at 10pm, with fireworks welcoming the New Year at midnight.
NYC Tickets and Tours to Book in Advance
- New York City Explorer Pass – Great for saving money. Passes for 3, 5, 7, or 10 of New York’s top attractions. All of them save you money but the 10-attraction pass is the best if you have the time.
- Helicopter Tour of NYC – Fantastic tour and views. Book early as dates sellout months in advance.
- Disney on Broadway Behind the Magic Experience – Every bit as awesome as it sounds. Dress in original costumes (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, etc.), see backstage and the prop room at a big Broadway theatrer, get the history on some of Disney’s biggest hits. Once again, book early.
- High Line and Greenwich Village Combo Tour – The best food tour in New York City. And the Highline is a great place to start.
- New York See It All Full-Day Sightseeing Tour – Easy and relatively inexpensive way to see the highlights in a short amount of time (just 5.5 hours).
- Skip The Line: Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket • Empire State Building • One World Observatory • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island • 9/11 Museum • Museum of Natural History • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
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