New York City’s infamous winter is seen very differently among tourists and locals. While we can all agree that the snow looks beautiful once it has freshly blanketed our city streets, a sight any tourist romanticizes heavily, a true New Yorker is sitting there dreading the thought of treading through the wet, sludgy mess it will quickly become. Many of us New Yorkers tend to follow in the footsteps of the hibernating bear and hide out in our apartments until the first glimpse of spring.
Luckily, the never-ending list of fun things to do in New York City is enough to test our strength and pull us out of our warm, cozy beds and into the bustling streets of the city we love so much, even if there is a chill in the air. The truth is, New York in the winter isn’t so bad, and these can’t miss wintertime experiences are sure to prove it to you. From rooftop iceskating with breathtaking views of the city to the best places to experience igloo dining, here’s our list of the top things to experience this winter in NYC.
1. Try out some of the best things the SecretNYC team ate, drank, and did in 2022!
Find out all of our team’s favorites from this past year, including entertainment, fantastic meals and drinks, and copious amounts of culture. Whether it’s an amazing restaurant perfect for cozying up during the wintertime or a show we suggest bingeing on while wrapped like a burrito in your bed, all our favs can be found here.
2-4. Strap on your skates at one of these must-visit ice rinks
Put your ice skating skills to the test at one of NYC’s many ice rinks. From a Brooklyn rooftop rink with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline to Bryant Park, New York City’s only ice skating rink with free admission, there’s no shortage of places to bundle up and put your blade to the ice. Here are some of our favs:
- Wollman Ice Rink, Central Park
- Industry City, Brooklyn
- Governor’s Island Winter Village Ice Rink
5. Celebrate the Lunar New Year in NYC
Sunday, January 22 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rabbit–more specifically the water rabbit. And with the Lunar New Year comes all the exciting events that take place across New York City to celebrate this monumental time! Learn all about the best Lunar New Year events happening around NYC here.
6. Escape to the wondrous Wizarding World at ‘Harry Potter: The Forbidden Forest Experience’ in NY
Encounter magical creatures from the Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts films at this must-visit Forbidden Forest experience. Follow a luminous trail and come across interactive moments, dazzling lights, and theatrical illusions. And, of course, there will be photo-ops at every turn. Get your tickets here!
7. Let your inner child shine with bumper cars at Bryant Park
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park’s iconic bumper cars are hitting the ice once again starting this Friday, January 13–and nothing says “adulting” like bumping around on ice! The bumper cars can be reserved up until the day of your visit, sessions start at $20 and last 10 minutes each. Learn more about them here.
8-10. Enjoy a beautiful candlelit concert
Enjoy enchanting candlelit performances inside breathtaking NYC venues while hiding from the cold this winter. Each concert makes for a stunning evening where you can simply sit back and savor the stunning music you’ll hear. Get tickets here.
- A Tribute to Radiohead
- Celebrating Black America – Jazz, Soul, and Blues
- Valentine’s Day Special ft. “Romeo and Juliet” and More
11-12. Warm up with some tasty hot cocoa from one of our favorite NYC spots
If you’re thinking hot chocolate is the same everywhere, let NYC prove you wrong. Whether you opt for hot chocolate in the form of fluffy mousse, hot chocolate topped with a marshmallow flower, or red velvet hot chocolate, the choices are endless, and they’re all equally as tasty. Allow a sweet cup of hot chocolate from one of our favorite spots to warm you up all winter long:
- Blue Stripes, Union Square
- Dominique Ansel Bakery, SoHo
13. Be wowed by a series of seductive cirque-style cabaret dinner shows
The ‘AirOtic Soireé’ is a series of special Cirque-style cabaret dinner shows that bring talented world-class acrobats together to perform stunts that will blow your mind. With extravagant costumes and seductive choreography, this a one-of-a-kind burlesque circus style soirée is one thing you won’t want to miss out on. For an unforgettable night out, grab your tickets here.
14. Experience the beauty of nature in the winter at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Even though it may be winter the Brooklyn Botanic Garden still has a ton to do, like viewing their evergreens and winter berries, smelling the citrus scent of witch-hazels, a ribbon-like flower that blooms in the winter, or keeping an eye out for the pair of hawks who have been nesting in one of the garden’s pines for several years. Plus, they offer pay-as-you-wish weekday admission January 16 through February 28! Learn more here.
15-17. Cozy up while dining in igloos across NYC
Dining in igloos seems to have become an NYC winter staple post March 2020, so why not try one yourself to enjoy a new dining experience? From Lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side, there’s no shortage of igloos to cozy up into. We created a list of some of our favs, three of them being:
- City Winery, Rockefeller Center
- Somewhere Nowhere, Chelsea
- 230 Fifth Rooftop, Midtown
18. Elevate your taste buds at this ‘Dining in the Dark’ experience
Backed by psychologists as an ‘amplified’ way to enjoy food, this ‘Dining In The Dark’ experience is a night to try something you’ve likely never done before–eat a meal while blindfolded! Studies show that 80% of people eat with their eyes, so with that sense eliminated, the theory is that your other senses (namely, taste and smell) take over to elevate your meal to a whole new level! Grab your tickets to this one-of-a-kind experience here.
19-21. Or stay cozy while enjoying heated al-fresco dining
Just because you’re not hidden within the safety of an igloo doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy al-fresco NYC dining without freezing your toes off. A lot of NYC restaurants have heaters in their outdoor spaces so you can keep your body toasty and your belly full, even in the dead of winter. Some of our favorites include:
- Loreley Beer Garden, Lower East Side
- Watermark Bar, Seaport District
- Boucherie, West Village
22. Step inside your favorite show at NYC’s The FRIENDS Experience
Enter into the iconic NYC sitcom like never before at ‘The FRIENDS Experience.’ Snap your photo on the iconic orange couch and order a coffee from everyone’s favorite Central Perk! There’s tons of exciting set recreations, costumes, and props to make you feel like you’re part of the show. Get your tickets here.
23-25. Hang out at one, or all, of NYC’s winter wonderland rooftops
Walking in a winter wonderland doesn’t apply to just frolicking around on a cold, snowy day. It can also mean hanging out at one of the many NYC rooftop bars that turn into winter wonderlands in the colder months!
Some of our favorites include:
- The Pink Winter Lodge: Frosted Edition at Magic Hour, Midtown
- Ophelia Lounge, Midtown East
- SERRA by Birreria (Eataly’s Rooftop), Flatiron
Here’s our full list of our top favorite spots.
26. Enjoy some winter sports on the Empire State Trail
Empire State Trail, the longest single-state trail in the nation that links NYC to Canada, is 750 miles long and open for some winter fun. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers are welcome to enjoy the trail’s paths. And, following snow events, some trail sections will be plowed for walkers and cyclists.
27. Head to this compelling Titanic exhibit opening in NYC
‘Titanic. The Exhibition’ has made its way to NYC and is transporting you back to 1912 to learn the history and personal stories of those aboard the Titanic. Explore original objects belonging to passengers, recreations of the ship’s interior, and moving recollections of heroism from those who survived. Grab tickets here.
28-30. Discover your new go-to winter date spot
Escape from the cold for a couple of hours with a cozy, dimly-light, romantic date night. Warm up with a glass of red wine or a hot toddy and feast on the most delicious meals. Unsure of where to go? Here are some of our favorite spots:
See our full list here.
31. Sip on tasty drinks at this three-in-one bar
From acclaimed NYC Aperitivo bar Dante comes Dante Winter House, a seasonal pop-up taking over Pearl Alley. This winter wonderland located features not one but three bars in one space: Coffee Bar, Dante Bar, Negroni Bar. (Plus a flatbread food truck and a gelateria truck will also be there for when your stomach starts to rumble). Learn more here.
32-35. Warm up by slurping on some of NYC’s best bowls of ramen
When hot chocolate can’t cut it on a cold winter day, ramen is our next favorite thing. There’s a ton of delicious ramen spots scattered across NYC, but some of our top picks include:
- HinoMaru, Astoria
- Chuko, Prospect Heights
- Momosan Ramen & Saki, Murray Hill
- Ippudo, East Village
36-38. Take in stunning views on a winter train ride
What’s cozier than watching snow covered hills roll by, as you chugga chugga-long on a picturesque train ride? Take in gorgeous views of winter scenery while staying warm and cozy on one of our favorite winter train rides, including:
- The Adirondack
- Empire Service
- Ethan Allen Express
The rest can be found here.
39. Head outdoors on a magical winter hike
Light snowfall can turn a casual outdoor stroll into “walking in a winter wonderland” in no time, and even if it’s not snowy, don’t let the cold change your mind! There are tons of perfect spots for winter hikes within NYC (or very close) that will help you escape cabin fever in your apartment and enjoy nature. Find all our favorite hikes here.
40. Partake in tons of winter fun at Governors Island’s festive Winter Village
The Trust for Governors Island recently announced the return of this year’s Winter Village on Governors Island, and it’s now officially open! Back for its second year the village features a 7,500-square foot skating rink, crackling fire pits, warm beverages, lawn games, and even bike & sled rentals! Learn more here.
41. Step inside an enchanting ice castle
Ice Castles at Lake George will open once again for the season on Friday, January 27, and the opportunity to explore ice caverns, slides, mazes, tunnels, and alcoves is for sure enough to talk you into embarking on the 3.5 hour drive from NYC! Learn all about the fun to be had here.
42. Treat yourself at this Scandinavian-inspired outdoor spa in Williamsburg
For those looking to detox from all of the seasonal stress and start the new year out on the right foot, head over to The William Vale’s Winter Spa for a revitalizing experience that’ll feel like hitting the reset button. Featuring red cedar saunas with panoramic views of the city, the Scandinavian-inspired al-fresco spa is the ultimate self care experience. Learn more here.
43. Stay cozy with a hot cocktail
It’s that time of year where we all could use a little pick me up…so why not make it a little more fun? Rally up some drinking buddies and discover NYC’s coziest hot cocktails that are all a must-try this chilly season. Find some of our favorites here.
44-45. Put your curling skills to the test at an NYC curling rink
There’s no shortage of fun activities around NYC during the winter, and curling rinks are just one of the many ways to have fun! This winter why not test your skill at the sport at one of NYC’s curling rinks, including: