Manhattan, New York
New York City during any season is pretty unique, but the lead up to Christmas is an entirely different level. You have the weather, you have the atmosphere, and you have the festivities. Combine being in New York during winter and being in a city that never sleeps, well it is a pretty special place to be. So check out below for the best of New York during December in 1 day.
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With an approximate population of 8,398,748 in New York City, this number only increases during this time of year. According to the World Population Review, the demographics consist of White: 42.78%, Black or African American: 24.32, Other race: 15.12%, Asian: 14.00%, Two or more races: 3.33%, Native American: 0.40% and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.05%
Things you should know before you go to New York in Winter
Weather in New York in Winter
New York is a great place to go all year round; the weather is not a factor because each season brings something special. The warm season, from June to September, with an average daily high temperature above 24 degrees Celcius. The cold season lasts for three months, from December to March, with an average daily high temperature below 8 degrees Celcius.
Getting to New York in Winter
Flying – You have three airports in New York City, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty Airport.
Airport Shuttles.com – you can book your transfer online before your Journey begins; this makes it a cost-effective and efficient way of getting into Manhattan.
Taxi – Is by far the easiest way to get to Manhattan, JFK taxies have a flat rate, but the other airports are a metered fare.
Trains – JFK and Newark airports by train will take on average about 1.5 hours and will need to change a couple of times.
Uber/Lyft – Ensure you uploaded the app before arriving and set up your account so that once you visit it is as easy as adding in your pick up location and destination.
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Accommodation in New York in Winter
J W Marriott Essex
I can not fault this hotel, and the hefty cost is worth every cent. The location is ideal, just on the corner of Central Park (165 Central Park South), with gorgeous views from your hotel window. I found the service is also World-Class, friendly and helpful when needed. The rooms are beautiful, and the architecture gives it that old world charm.
Courtyard New York Manhattan/5th Avenue
Although this hotel is a little tired, the location is fantastic for the price. The staff are friendly, the rooms are comfortable and are precisely what you need after a hard day of walking around the streets of Manhattan.
Transport in Manhattan
I love walking the streets of New York, but Winter makes the walk a little tricky. However, do not be surprised if you choose to walk the streets to get from A to B, that there will be loads of people choosing this option also.
The subway is by far the most cost-effective way of travelling through Manhattan, but it can be somewhat hectic. Outside of rush hour will see you moving in a little less crowded carriages, so take note of times.
Yes, they are everywhere, but sometimes they aren’t so easy to hail. Busy times and weather conditions may see you standing on the curb a lot longer than you hoped.
Central Park – New York in winter
Central Park is busy even during winter, sure it has a better feel during summer, with the plants at full bloom, the sun shining and a lot more people enjoying the warmer weather. But don’t be fooled, there is plenty to see even in the colder months. Walking tracks allow you to discover this vast park on your own, or book in for a guided tour for an affordable price.
Recommendation – Strawberry Fields is a must for any Beatles fan.
American Museum of Natural History
If you have seen the movie Night at the museum, then you will know this museum well. Get out of the cold weather and spend the morning searching for Dum Dum yourself (you can’t miss it, there will be a long line waiting for an opportunity to grab that infamous shot) or take the A night at the museum self-guided tour. It is fun for all the family.
Recommendation – If the lines are enormous, for a few extra dollars, become a member and enter the express lane.
Macy’s Department Store – New York in Winter
Head down to iconic Time Square where Macy’s Department store can be found front and centre. If you head up to see Santa be prepared to wait in a long line for a chance to get that Santa Photo. Remember that the closer to Christmas you get, the crazier and busier this store becomes.
Recommendation – Try not to take small kids if you don’t have to, this place can be busy!
Top of The Rock
For those wanting the best view over this beautiful city, Top of the Rock during sunset is the perfect location. It can be super busy and freezing and windy at this time of year, so rug up and enjoy this gorgeous view. Instead of choosing to visit the Empire State Building for it’s the view of the city, you can get a great photo of The Empire State Building from the top of the rock.
Recommendation– The sunset is by far the best time of day to head up there, ensure you book online before though as lines can be hectic if in New York in winter.
Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes
Yes, of course, there are plenty of shows to see here during the year, and broadway shows are plentiful. Nothing, however, beats the Christmas Spectacular during this festive season. The show has you entertained from beginning to end and can be enjoyed by any age. This show does make you feel like you are experiencing a new york Christmas.
Recommendation – Book as early as possible as tickets sell out fast.
Christmas Lights and Rockefeller Christmas Tree
Of course, there are many places to see the beautiful Christmas lights, but if you are already at Radio City Music Hall, then this is a great place to start especially in New York in winter. Nothing screams New York Christmas more than Rockefeller Christmas tree which is only a 4-minute walk away, but remember it is jam-packed in and around this area.
Recommendation – Hold onto your kids, there are people everywhere.
Time Square – New York in Winter
New York isn’t New York without a visit to
This iconic location is buzzing at any time of the day and night. Enjoy people watching. The bright lights and the millions of buskers that you can find everywhere. Oh, and a photo in Time Square is something you will look back at for years to come, it doesn’t matter if you are in New York in winter, this is a must-see.
Recommendation – This place on Christmas Eve is crazy, with loads of last-minute shoppers (like myself) so avoid this place on Christmas Eve if you can.
Pit Stops Not to miss
Although the infamous frozen hot chocolate that was a rumoured favourite of Jackie O is much more favourable during the summer months. It did not stop me from indulging in this restaurants favourite even though New York in winter is freezing. Serendipity 3 has seen more celebrities than I can mention and I can see why, the desserts are to die for, for those with a sweet tooth like myself you will not walk away disappointed.
Recommendation – Make a reservation to avoid disappointment!
The Original SoupMan – New York in winter
Yes, I am talking Seinfeld here! The Soup Nazi himself will probably not be there to serve you, but this place is a must in New York in winter and can be found at West 56th near 8th Ave.
Recommendation – It is take away only, so if you are looking for somewhere to sit, you may want to head back to the hotel to eat it.
Dylan’s Candy Bar
Not only is this candy store famous for making an appearance in shows like gossip girl and cake boss but it was also founded by Dylan Lauren, daughter of designer Ralf Lauren. Dylans candy store is one of a kind boutique candy store that allows you to personalise your gummy bears, amongst other things.
Recommendation – You can personalise your candy, which makes excellent Christmas presents.
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2 thoughts on “The Best of New York during winter in 1 day”
I would not recommend the shuttle service from the airports, especially if there is more than one person. By the time you have paid for two or more, it is nearly the cost of a taxi. The shuttle takes you all over the place, dropping off people. A friend of mine once took nearly two and a half hours to get to our apartment on the shuttle, after a flight from Australia. At that time of day, it should have taken less than an hour by taxi.
Times Square is a must, especially at night, but only briefly, it is so crazy and crowded. O”Donoghues Pub on 44th between 7th and 6th is a good place to go for food. Also Carmines, which is an amazing family style Italian restaurant. Best to go with a crowd though, the portions are big.
The subway is a great way to get around but on weekends a lot of lines don’t run on their normal schedule or even their normal line. Always check beforehand. There are usually signs on the platforms.
Never heard of Dylan’s candy bar but I guess it is probably great for people visiting with kids. Have never seen Gossip Girl but remember walking past when they were filming in some places in the city.
Have been to the Museum of Natural History a couple of times and it was okay. The Met is the best museum in New York, have been so many times and always seem to find something that I missed before. They also have some great visiting exhibitions.
Chelsea Market is a great place to visit, with good shopping and great food. The new Hudson Yards complex is amazing, especially The Vessel and Little Spain is wonderful if you like Tapas and other Spanish delights.
West and East Villages both have lots of really good restaurants and interesting shops. Our Aussie friends, Callum and Morgan Sigg, from Sydney, have a great restaurant on Cornelia St in the West Village called Uncle Chop Chop. Fantastic South East Asian food.
Hells Kitchen is another good food area. On 9th Avenue, between 43rd and 52nd Sts, there are lots of restaurants serving, everything from Vietnamese, Thai, Greek, Italian and burgers. 10th Ave between the same streets is good as well. We particularly like Anejo, which is a Tequila and Mexican Tapas restaurant, it is on the corner of 10th and 47th.
The best place for Korean food is in Korea town on 32nd, between Broadway and Madison.
The 911 Memorial is worth a visit, but be prepared, it is very moving and some people find it very hard, I know I shed a few tears. Tickets are best bought beforehand, online.
Coney Island and Brighton Beach are also good places to go in the summer. The main street in Brighton Beach is full of Russian restaurants, shops and supermarkets. You hear very little English, it is known as Little Odessa. My friend and I used to go there to eat pierogis and try to get the very serious Russian people to smile, a bit of a challenge.
There are so many other places I could recommend but would take too long. Morningside Heights to visit Grants Tomb, Washington Heights for Dominican food, East Harlem to visit Alexander Hamilton’s house. Yankee Stadium or Citifield for a baseball game, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Staten Island Botanical Gardens, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island.
Thanks so much for your great tips and descriptive post, I always love hearing from a resident rather than a tourist! How else do you find those hidden gems?