New York City in the winter time is the perfect destination for your next couple’s getaway! This city holds so much charm, romantic restaurants, and unique experiences.
In this guide, I will explain the best time to go to New York City, where to stay, winter packing essentials, and of course… top romantic things to do in NYC!
If this is your first time to New York City, I would tack on an extra day to see the famous sites such as Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Wall Street. I have an entire guide for 48 hours in New York City you can check out that covers these sites. Or if you are just there to take fabulous pictures, check out my guide on 9 most Instagrammable spots in the city!
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– When to go to NYC in the winter –
The best and most popular time to visit New York in the winter is of course, New Year’s Eve. They host the famous ball drop in Time Square and still have all of their popular Christmas Decorations up. Plan far in advance and plan to spend A LOT of money!
If you want to avoid NYC’s New Year’s Eve at all costs (like a big chunk of the population), go before Christmas so you can go Christmas shopping at all the outdoor markets. This way you will get to see the entire city lit up in decorations, shop for the best sales, and can avoid the hectic crowds of New Years!
If you want to beat the crowds and get the best price, go after the Rockefeller Tree is down (first or second weekend of January). The second they take this tree down, all hotel and airline tickets drop significantly.
– Where to stay in NYC –
I recommend staying in Time Square if it is one of your first times in the city. You will be within easy walking distance of all the popular sites and restaurants.
The best hotel for Time Square is The Crowne Plaza Hotel. It is right in the center of Time Square, giving you the best views! It is also extremely fairly priced compared to others in the area and gives you free drink coupons when you check in.
If this is not your first rodeo and want to branch out a bit, I highly recommend staying near The High Line in the Chelsea district. This area is trendy, not as touristy, and still so close to all the famous sites you would want to see.
– Winter Essentials –
- Multiple Beanies to keep your head and ears warm. I also want to disclose a secret…. NYC is extremely windy. Which means, your hair will look awful at all times… there’s just no way around it. Except for a beanie. I would stick to neutral beanies with colorful clothes or neutral clothes with a colorful beanie. This one comes in packs of two and every color you could ever want!
- Gloves! If your hands aren’t warm, you won’t be warm. It’s as simple as that. I would recommend getting tech-finger gloves, so you don’t have to take them off when you want to use your maps or take a picture. This one comes in a pack of three so you have color options.
- Hot Hands Hand Warmers are my holy grail for any winter destination! They seriously make the world of a difference. You can stock up with large pack for so cheap on Amazon! I even use these things in Las Vegas in the winter (yes, I am that much of a baby).
- Wool Socks because like your hands, if your feet aren’t warm you will not be warm! This pack comes in all the neutral colors and.. aren’t ugly. Which is always a major plus, ha!
- Thermal under layers are not the cutest thing in the world, but if you are wearing jeans, a sweater and a big coat over… no one will notice! Like I said, it is extremely windy in New York City, so you will thank me later for that extra layer!
(you know you are pretty when you can make a thermal layer look good..)
Romantic Things to do in NYC in the Winter
1. Horse and Carriage Ride through Central Park
Central park is home to so many movies scenes, TV shows and famous historical moments. In the winter time, it brings the magic alive because there are not many people wandering the park and you will feel like you have it all to yourself.
When you arrive to central park, you can see multiple tours for horse and carriage rides that will take you around the park and point out the most important sites. This is the warmest way to see Central Park because they will bundle you up in big, fuzzy blankets!
NYC Horse Carriage Rides is a family owned business that has been open since 1979. Not only will you get an experienced and knowledgeable guide, but he knows all the best picture spots to make your memories tangible!
Riding a horse and carriage through NYC’s famous central park is on every girls bucket list and EASILY the top romantic thing to do in NYC! It’s so romantic, picturesque and a special memory that you will never forget.
Instead of asking for a tangible gift for Christmas from my boyfriend, Joseph, I asked for a surprise date night! I always prefer experiences because it creates a memory and ends up being a gift for both of us! I think he did pretty good didn’t he!?
2. Dinner at a trendy NYC restaurant
My favorite restaurant in NYC, Catch, is a trendy seafood restaurant is known for its extravagant cocktails, signature “Catch” sushi roll, and rooftop bar. Make sure you don’t go too late because after 11pm, the entire upstairs turns into a night club!
3. Lunch at Grand Central Station
Head over to midtown to get your touristy fix since there are so many famous sites in this area (more on this later).
When you walk down the stairs into the station, you will walk the same steps as famous actors and actresses. From there, you can pick the endless restaurant options depending on your budget and what you are in the mood for. There are 4 fine dining restaurants, several bars, and a cafeteria style hall on the bottom floor. You can see pictures and browse menus here.
Once you decide on your food choice, sit down and watch hundreds of strangers pass by that are either coming home or traveling somewhere new.
TIP: Split up and pick something to eat for each other. This will be a true test to see if you know the other person! 🙂
4. Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center
How romantic is it to ice skate in a famous rink, hand in hand with the person you love? Rockefeller is only a 10 minute walk from Grand Central Station, so it would be a great idea to link these up 🙂
You can buy tickets for a time slot the day of or you can reserve them in advance. Tickets will cost you $25.00 per person + $13.00 if you need to rent skates. These tickets will be good for 1.5 hours, which in my opinion is plenty of time!
If you time it right, you’ll still get to see all the Christmas decorations, especially the famous Rockefeller Tree! This tree is up between beginning of November to beginning of January. Exact dates will change every year, so it’s best to Google it before you go.
TIP: They keep to a tight schedule to keep the ice rink in perfect condition. You can find the Rockefeller Ice Rink’s schedule and rates here.
5. Watch the sunset over the NYC skyline
After your hands are freezing from the cold, head inside of the Rockefeller Center to buy your tickets to the Top of the Rock where you can soak in the view of the Manhattan skyline.
Most people go to the Empire State Building to get their picture-perfect view of NYC, but Top of the Rock is half the price, half the crowds, and twice the views! Not only do you get the same view of the Empire State Building, but you get the Empire State Building in your view!
Tickets will range from $35-$45 depending if you go for sunset (which I highly recommend spending the extra $10). These do not need to be purchased in advance and can be bought right before heading up.
TIP: If you plan to do a lot of sight seeing while you are in NYC, make sure you buy a City Pass that saves you money when you bundle!
6. Wander Times Square
If you are staying at the Crowne Plaza like I recommended, this hotel is located directly in Times Square! Their hotel bar even has views of the square for you to escape the cold.
In Times Square, you can watch street performers, go shopping, get cheesecake at Juniors, or grab a hot chocolate or people watch. Beware though… it’s very easy to lose track of time in Times Square because it is SO bright! Sometimes you will forget it’s even night time!
7. Take a mushy photo on the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn will give you a totally different feel of NYC than in any other district. It’s slow-paced, trendy, and picturesque!
If you are a baby to the cold (like me), take a cab/uber across the bridge and get dropped off at DUMBO. You can walk along the bridge, take SUPER cheesy photos, and grab some lunch in one of the many restaurants nearby.
TIP: Take your pictures on the side closer to DUMBO, so you get the skyline in the background!
Hey, like these photos? They were edited on the go with my one-click presets!
If you want more ideas for things to do in Brooklyn, here are my top recommendations:
- Snap a picture at the most picturesque spot in all of NYC (Water and Washington)!
- Stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Ice Skating in Prospect Park
8. Have a cocktail in an Iglo
Easily the best winter bar in NYC: 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. During the winter months, this unique bar turns its rooftop tables into heated igloos! If you arrive before 9am, it is free to access them and it’s on a first come first serve basis. Something I didn’t know until I got there was the igloos are HUGE and hold around 15-20 people and are SHARED. Unless you have a very large group that takes up an entire igloo, you will be sharing the igloo with other travelers.
At 9pm, the entire bar (rooftop and inside lounge) turns into a night club. Split a bottle of wine with your hot date and dance the night away with a spectacular view of the Empire State Building!
9. 911 Memorial
I was so young when this tragedy hit that I don’t even remember it happening, only the stories from the years following.
This museum holds pieces from this day like parts from the Twin Towers, stairs that the victims ran down, letters from the offices, phone call recordings, fire trucks, news clips and so much more.
As you walk through the museum, it will be virtually silent as everyone listens to the recordings and reads the descriptions on the walls.
There will be one large room that holds a minute-by-minute timeline of the events that happened on 9/11/2001. It starts off with the news broadcasts that were showing that morning, before the attack.
They were so irrelevant, about politics and weather predictions.
Can you imagine being the newscaster that morning, talking about meaningless stuff like political drama while one of the biggest tragedies is happening at that very moment?
You’ll leave the museum with a heavy heart and open mind to the trauma this entire city faced. You will walk outside to see the beautiful fountains that took the Twin Tower’s place and the even larger, One World Trade Center – symbolizing hope for New York City.
10. NYC Comedy Show
To find tickets to a comedy show, you can either look online to buy tickets or you can hustle with sales people in Times Square! There will be people EVERYWHERE trying to sell you tickets for that night’s show, and since they are obviously trying to sell out, they will go pretty low on the price.
When we got to the comedy show, we asked around to see how much everyone paid and we all laughed about how different everyone’s prices were! This was a super last minute decision, but it was our favorite memory in NYC!
Tickets range from $10-$30 (depending on how hard you hustle haha), and the comedians are hilarious, especially after a few drinks!
11. Bagels at the best bagel shop in NYC
A trip to NYC is not complete without a New York Style Bagel! We got our fair share of bagels on our trip, but Best Bagel & Coffee was BY FAR the best! My mouth is drooling just thinking about it.
I would recommend going early in the morning to snag a bagel because the line at this place can easily be down the block!
TIP: Get the sausage, egg and cheese on an everything bagel… trust me on this one.
Okay, that’s a wrap! These are my top romantic things to do in NYC in the wintertime, perfect for any couple. If this is your first time in New York, I would recommend adding on a day to see the touristy sites like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and more! I have a summer guide that includes all the famous stops, you can read that here.
Like big city travel? Here are a few guides I think you will love!
- Top Instagram Spots in NYC
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- 10 Day Thailand Itinerary – includes Bangkok!
- Top rooftop bars in Bangkok
- 3 Days in Seattle
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