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Blog · New York · Best Time of Year to Visit New York
February 3, 2018

Best Time of Year to Visit New York

By Gabby Hammond
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Let’s start by saying, no matter what, New York City is always active. It’s the city that never sleeps, and that is true no matter what the weather is like outside. However, as a visitor, you probably feel a certain way about how you want your New York experience to go. For example, you might be looking to save money or looking to avoid the cold. You might be coming with kids or perhaps you are trying to avoid people! Whatever your preferences, this can help you greatly when deciding when to come out to the Big Apple. All variables considered, timing can make or break your vacation, so it’s best to choose a season that’s right for you!

Fall Foliage Central Park
Photo Courtesy of Anthony Quintano

FALL

Pros:

  • One of the best things about Fall is foliage. Now you may think that just because New York lacks a lot of green space that it will be lacking in foliage too. But that is simply not the case. Spend a day in Central or Prospect Park and admire the trees as they display arrays of colors. The views and the pictures are magnificent.
  • The weather is very pleasant in the fall. With the intense heat subsiding, you get warm, breezy days. Perfect for being outside. No more worrying about intense sunburn.
  • Once the summer rush has ended, the city slows down, so the crowds are not as heavy as they were. It makes it easier to book tickets, make reservations and waiting times become shorter.
  • Two major holidays in the Fall: Halloween and Thanksgiving. NYC goes all out for both. Halloween has parades, parties and costumes galore. While Thanksgiving brings the world famous Macy’s Day Parade, plus the most delicious food options anywhere in the country. Both are a fun time to be in the city.

Cons:

  • This is probably the worst time of year for families, as most kids are back in school by mid-September. Of course you can still take off, but the beginning of the school year is usually not the best time to do so.
  • With summer coming to a close, traveling can be more difficult to schedule. Tourism slows down, so transportation becomes a bit more limited, attractions might shorten their hours, while some might start to shut down altogether.
Spring in NYC
Photo Courtesy of Ingfbruno

SPRING

Pros:

  • The weather is much more mild compared to the summer or the winter season. Sunny, breezy days. Cool evenings. It’s the most splendid time of year weather-wise. Be warned, March is not going to be warm necessarily. The end of winter is a slooooow fade.
  • Plants are coming back to life. Places like Central Park and the High Line start to blossom. The city is more colorful. People are happier because of the warmer weather. It’s a really pleasant time in the city. Spring in New York is my favorite time of year.
  • Spring Break. A whole week off from school which makes it easier to travel.
  • In Spring, the crowds are generally not as dense as they are in summer or late December. Save for Spring Break.

Cons:

  • The biggest con would be rain. Spring is the “rainy season” in New York, which means your chances of getting a rainy day are higher than any other time of year. That being said, it’s not a rainforest, it won’t be raining every day. But the chances of getting rain sometime on your trip will increase.
  • Excluding the week of Spring Break, most kids will be in school throughout most of the Spring, so chances are, they will need to miss class.
The HighLine Summer
Photo Courtesy of David Berkowitz

SUMMER

Pros:

  • Due to the amount of visitors every day, the city is at it’s peak. Buildings are usually open longer, there are more events, more flexibility in scheduling. With so much going on, you’ll have a lot to choose from.
  • Vacationing with families tends to be easier. If you have kids, they already have off, so missing school isn’t necessary.
  • Tons of travel options. Traveling just tends to be better in the summertime because the industry is running full throttle. Much more budget friendly options available, plus New York has many free events as well.
  • You don’t have to be concerned about weather shutting things down. No snow or ice to be concerned about. Rain is also not a common occurrence. If it does rain, it usually ends within a couple hours.
  • In summer, it’s easier to pack lighter. No need for gloves, hats, scarves, etc. Preparing to go outside won’t be an event.

Cons: 

  • The city is pretty much crowded all the time. June through August are always busy. Not quite as intense as the holiday season, but still, summer draws heavy crowds.
  • Heat is just as dangerous as cold. You still have to make sure to take care of yourself. Intense heat can ruin your day in the same way that extreme cold can, by making it difficult to be outside. Hydrate, wear sunscreen, it’s very important. The heat isn’t dangerous on a daily basis, but heat advisories happen every once and a while.
  • The heat attracts bugs, and bugs are the biggest downfall of the summer season in general. Just because you’re not out in nature does not mean you’re avoiding those pesks.
  • In general, the city is smellier in the summer. Sounds random, but it’s true. The heat is intensified by humidity, the hundreds of other bodies, the sweat from those bodies and the addition of the trash on the sidewalk.
City Hall Park NYC Snowing
Photo Courtesy of Ivailo Dochkov

WINTER

(Since the “holiday season” falls within winter, this section has been split into two parts, as they are drastically different)

Pros (Mid-December thru Early January):

  • Since the holidays are in full swing, expect beautiful decorations almost everywhere you go in the city.
  • Special holiday related events all over town. Ice skating, shopping markets, Santa, Christmas trees, etc.
  • SHOPPING! New York has a ton of it, so it’s the best place to be to get those gifts.
  • Overall, the city is just much more lively and cheerful. Nowhere in the world does the holidays like New York.
  • Many people have multiple days free, so it’s a good time for a quick trip. You won’t have to worry about taking time off, kids won’t have to miss school and there will be a ton of travel options.

Cons: 

  • The holidays are, by far, the busiest time of the year in New York. Every single place you go, The Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, it will be very crowded. Even if it’s freezing cold outside, there will be tons of people. Guaranteed.
  • It may be freezing cold. The end of December usually isn’t terrible when it comes to the cold. But recent years have been pretty vicious, so there’s no telling how bad it could be.
  • Wait times at popular attractions will be long. If you are smart you can avoid some of them. But you will be amazed how long people will stand in line for something.
  • Travel and accommodations are particularly expensive.

Pros (January & February):

  • January & February are the slowest tourism months by far, so the city as a whole is less crowded and chaotic.
  • Overall, shorting waiting times at popular attractions. Especially those outside.
  • Many hotels and flights are cheaper in January and February because of reduced business.
  • When you sign up for things like tours or reservations, you have some room to be flexible. Chances are you probably won’t be required to do so very far in advance, as there are less people booking.
  • With tours in particular, since less people in general are booking, you will have a better chance of being in a smaller group. For example, during the summer, my tour group sizes are anywhere from 25-30 people. In January and February, it’s rare to have more than 10. This isn’t done on purpose, but is just a result of the slower season. So anyone who books in January and February usually ends up with a very intimate, or sometimes even a private tour.

Cons:

  • Weather. It will be very cold. Some days are more mild than others. But you can guarantee that it will be cold nonetheless. Depending on where you are from, you might be used to it. Keep in mind, however, that you will be outside all day. Cold weather is much less intimidating from inside your car than it is while walking on the street.
  • The weather can get worse. We’re talking heavy snow and ice. Chances of a huge snow storm are small. They usually only happen once or twice a season. Just make sure to be prepared, especially for the ice. However, the snow also has the potential to be very beautiful,which would be a positive.
  • The city overall is still active, with all of the major sightseeing spots still up and running. That being said, there aren’t as many activities going on within that. Most of these being things that traditionally happen outside. Outdoor movies, events in Central Park, etc.
  • Also, keep in mind, all of the sightseeing spots will still be open, but might have more limited hours.

No matter the weather, New York Tour1 is here to help you make the most of NYC, any time of the year! Our tours happen rain or shine, humid or snowing, hot or cold. Join us on your next visit.