Winter is the perfect time to see a whole new side of old New York.
Every time we take off for a quick getaway to New York, we’re trying to satisfy two competing drives: one, the undeniable urge to tick off all the iconic attractions still left on our list (Rockefeller Centre, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Met again and again!), and two, to get a taste of everyday New Yorker life. To hang out in a brunch lineup, catch a poetry reading, meet a friend for coffee and a stroll in Central Park. And in January, not only can you get a taste of low-key New York, but you have a chance to see all the big sights dusted with snow (hello, winter wonderland!). January New York is like a whole new city—and here’s our itinerary of things to do so you can make the most of it.
(Photo: Images courtesy of the Winter Show Instagram, @thewintershownyc)
An Anything-But-Boring Antiques Show
The Winter Show (running Jan. 18 to 27) could be the only reason you visit. This design fair brings 70 of the world’s top experts in fine and decorative arts to one place (the historic Park Avenue Armory), with booths showing off the best for-sale art, antiques and design. Everything from 18th-century paintings and furniture, to 17th-century Delft vessels and antique European jewelry.
Walking in a (Central Park) Winter Wonderland
There are a few things that are quintessential New York: jaywalking is up there on the list, along with bagels, yellow cabs, Statue of Liberty foam hats—but surely nothing beats Central Park. From the water features and fountains to the picturesque Bethesda Terrace—there are ample viewing spots to take it all in. And in the winter, the downtown park’s 843 acres is transformed under a blanket of gorgeous, powdery snow.
Star chef Daniel Boulud's Mediterranean eatery Boulud Sud was part of Restaurant Week in 2018, so keep an eye out for it to return to the special city festival, along with 300-plus other top NYC restaurants. (Photo: bouludsud.com)
It’s Restaurant Week, People!
Proof January is the most wonderful time of the year. During Restaurant Week (Jan. 21 to Feb. 8) the city’s top 380 restaurants adopt fabulously democratic and budget-friendly prix-fixe menus ($26 for a two-course lunch, $42 for a three-course dinner), so you can sample New York’s finest eats and still afford your Big Apple hotel room at the end of the night.
The awesome food-focused bookstore Archestratus in Brooklyn gives out house-made arancini with cookbook purchases AND holds cool events. (Photo: from Instagram @_archestratus_ )
Stop By a Foodie Bookstore with Arancini Happy Hour
This little Italian bookstore in Brooklyn, Archestratus, not only gives out complimentary arancini with book purchases (deep-fried risotto balls they fill with things like green chili and mozzarella, or garlic and cauliflower—yes, IT IS heaven), but they’re also a community bookstore that celebrates everything food, with cookbooks on the shelves and long-table dinners between the stacks. Pop in for a reading, screening, tasting, or cat club meeting and sample some Sicilian baked goods.
It's looking very snow globe in front of the 1922-restored Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn. (Photo: Flytographer Armando in New York City)
A must: taking in the view of Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo. (Photo: Armando in New York City)
Get Enchanted in Dumbo
Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a.k.a. Dumbo, you’ll naturally get a stellar view of the Manhattan Bridge between the Brooklyn borough’s heritage brick buildings. Here you can also visit the iconic Jane’s Carousel or check out a hipster coffee shop like Brooklyn Roasting Company or a charming boutique restaurant, our pick: the homestead-chic Vinegar Hill house.
Bundle up tight and enjoy your Brooklyn Bridge view! (Photo: Flytographer Armando in New York City)
Walk the Snow-Capped Brooklyn Bridge
OK, so everyone wants to get their feet on this bridge, but with good reason! It connects Brooklyn back to Manhattan so you get a stunning view of the city, but then can you imagine if it starts snowing?? Beauty-wise, it might almost be too much. Set aside a good half-hour to walk it (it’s about a mile long) or situate yourself by the water and view its grandeur from below.
Have Your Iconic ‘New York Rockefeller Christmas Tree’ Moment
“But wait!” you say, “it’s January!? Surely the Christmas tree has already come down and is lying in a back alley near the garbage bins just like every other discarded fir in America?” Well as luck would have it, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lives on! And in full twinkly glory until Jan. 7 at 9 p.m. As for the ice rink, that baby’s open all winter for jumps and one-legged spins. Expect to pay $27 for adults, $15 for kids under 11, and skates are an extra ($12) in case you didn’t pack any.
An Igloo Nightcap
New York’s 230 Fifth bar has acclimated to, nay, totally harnessed winter weather with its 17 heated rooftop igloos, all transparent and lit up in different bright colours, where guests can grab a free red robe and sit back and sip a hot mug of Bailey’s hot chocolate. Cooler than cool.
(Photo: © AMNH/D. Finnin)
Keep Kids Warm and Have Fun Doing It
The American Museum of Natural History has it all: kids are entertained while learning about the natural world, parents are entertained while learning about the natural world—and everyone is warm and happy. Look out for special exhibits like the butterfly conservatory (500 free-flying butterflies amongst tropical plants), the Unseen Oceans exhibit that’s all about the alien undersea world, and more. Also, sleepovers at the museum are a thing! They used to just be available for kids (make sure to book ahead), but the museum has just rolled out special grown-up sleepovers (with a full buffet dinner and jazz) starting in February (so you’ll have to come back).
During Hotel Week many of the city's best hotels offer deeply discounted rates on rooms. (Photo: Courtesy of the Casablanca Hotel in Manhattan, casablancahotel.com)
Bonus: You Get to Stay During Hotel Week!
Hotel stays can be steep in the Big Apple no matter which borough you decide to hang your hat. Thankfully, the city has taken it upon itself to reward January travellers with some sweet savings on the accommodation front with Hotel Week, running January 4 to 14. Booking a room during Hotel Week you can get a room that would normally cost $500 per night for around $100 to $200 a night. This week also comes just before Broadway Week (Jan. 21 to Feb. 10), where Broadway musical tickets are sold two for the price of one. We’re telling you, January is the month to visit New York City!