The Best Time to Visit New York City and Why You Should

Cindy Richards Avatar
New York City skyline during the day
New York City skyline from FDR Four Freedoms State Park on Roosevelt Island. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Ask three New Yorkers the best time to visit NYC and you will get four different answers. Really, there is no bad time to visit. If you’re not tied to a school schedule, Spring and fall offer the best chance at great weather. Winter after the holidays can be very cold, but lower prices and smaller crowds make up for that. And summer, when it stays light till late lets you enjoy the city that never sleeps even more.

Christmas is practically its own season in NYC and even a jaded New Yorker will agree that the holiday season is simply magical in NYC, between the lights, the Christmas markets and the crisp winter air.

Read below to find out why New York is special all year round and how to plan your trip around seasonal events.

Orchid display in the Enid Haupt Conservatory at NYBG in the Bronx in NYC in spring, one of the best times to visit
The NYBG Orchid Show is a highlight of NYC in spring. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Spring in New York City

Spring is glorious in NYC! The temperatures are mild — generally in the 60s and 70sF (15.5-25.5C) with moderate humidity. The flowers are in full bloom, which makes it the perfect time of year to stroll through Central Park, take a walk along the High Line, visit the New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show, see the pink and white cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or enjoy other outdoor activities.

It can be quite rainy in April. Use those rainy days to explore the city’s iconic indoor tourist attractions, such as the venerable Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building and the Met.

Reasons to Visit New York City in the Springtime

Shakespeare in the park stage during summer in NYC, a great time to visit
Want a real New York experience? Check out a summer Shakespeare in the Park performance. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Summer in the City

Expect average temperatures in the 80s and 90sF (26.6-36.6C) and humidity levels to match.

Yep, summer in the city will leave your neck feeling dirty and gritty and you’ll be walking on a sidewalk that is hotter than a match head (with thanks and apologies to The Lovin’ Spoonful and “Summer in the City”).

But summer is also the time to feel the throbbing energy that makes New York a world-class city. You can walk the streets of Manhattan alongside other tourists and New Yorkers, explore the neighborhoods of Brooklyn or just find a spot to sit and people watch in Times Square.

The Fourth of July can be a great time in the Big Apple. Locals blow town and head for the Hamptons or some other nearby retreat. That can mean good deals on airfare and hotel rates.

If you need to cool off, jump on the free (yes, free!) Staten Island ferry for a Hudson River cruise past the Statue of Liberty. It’s one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city. When booking your NYC hotel, look for one with a rooftop pool for skyline splashing, like the Margaritaville Resort in Times Square.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Summer is peak tourist season in NYC. Keep your travel budget in check by doing one of these fun free things in New York City. And save money on paid attractions by buying a CityPASS.

Reasons to Visit New York City in the Summer Months

  • Shakespeare in the Park draws thousands to Central Park’s open-air theater to watch some of the biggest stars in free performances of the Bard’s plays. Note: the theater is undergoing renovation and is scheduled to reopen in 2025.
  • Tribeca Film Festival showcases a diverse selection of film, episodic, talks, music, games, art and immersive programming
  • Governors Ball Music Festival features a variety of popular artists from different genres.
  • Summer Streets happens in August when Park Avenue and its connecting streets between the Brooklyn Bridge and East Harlem are closed to traffic and opened to pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers.
  • US Open Tennis Championships happen at the end of the summer in Queens
  • Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, the classic ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, transformed for summer into a roller rink so you can strap on your rollerblades and skate like it’s 1975.
ornate costumes from Phantom of the Opera on display at the Museum of Broadway
Costumes from “Phantom of the Opera,” including the ornate Red Death are on display at the Museum of Broadway. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Fall in NYC

In the fall, the humidity starts to moderate and the temperatures fall back to a more comfortable range between 60 and 80F (26.6-36.6C). The fall foliage bursts forth in Central Park and, as October ends, Halloween fun begins.

In autumn, many new Broadway shows have preview runs and openings. Check the Theatre Development Fund site for the latest news. Instead of seeing an established show like Wicked, consider taking a chance on a yet-to-debut play or musical. SheBuysTravel Editor Cathy Bennett Kopf’s bragged for years that she saw Hamilton off-Broadway during its preview run at the Public Theater.

Because school’s back in session, NYC’s class trip destinations like the Museum of Natural History and the Statue of Liberty, are crowded on weekday mornings. Can’t bear to go indoors if the weather’s great? Do the city’s great outdoor things, like strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge or taking a Circle Line boat tour.

Reasons to Visit New York City in the Fall

  • Electric Zoo electronic dance music fest on Randall’s Island over Labor Day weekend (yes, technically still summer, we know)
  • New York City Wine and Food Festivalfour days of wine tastings, food tastings and cooking demonstrations
  • Greenwich Village Halloween Parade invites everyone in costume to join the parade, which can mean more than 50,000 marchers!
  • NYC Fashion Week, which happens again in February, is the way to see the latest in haute couture.
  • New York City Marathon, the largest marathon in the world
  • Madison Square Garden, “the world’s most famous arena,” is the place to go for a Rangers’ hockey game or Knicks’ basketball game or to see Billy Joel during one of his ongoing performances
Ornaments dripping form Rolf's restaurant, a NYC in winter must-see
Eat in a sea of ornaments at Rolf’s, a Christmas tradition in NYC. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

New York City in the Winter

Winter is both the most expensive and cheapest time of the year to visit NYC. It’s most expensive — and most magical — during the Christmas holidays. And it’s cheapest from January to March when the temperatures will likely be 40F (4.4C) or below and chances are there will be snowfall.

If you’re willing to face the colder temperatures, you’ll be rewarded with lower hotel prices and smaller crowds. You’ll also get great deals on Broadway shows during Broadway Week’s 2-for-1 ticket specials. Add in low cot menus at hundreds of restaurants during Restaurant Week, and the first quarter of the year becomes the cheapest time of the year to visit New York City.

Winter is the season to savor NYC’s fab restaurants. Make reservations for one of the city’s classic steakhouses like Keens or Peter Luger. Or pair dumplings with cannolis on a Chinatown and Little Italy food tour.

If you visit during the holidays, plan to bundle up and spend time shopping at the outdoor pop-up Christmas markets or ice skating in Bryant Park or under the massive Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. Don’t miss the famous high-kicking Rockettes’ annual Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

Just be sure to book your flights and New York hotel in advance — the city is a hot spot from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Reasons to Visit NYC in the Winter

Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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