Peak fall foliage in lower Central Park during the best time to visit New York City

Best Time to Visit New York City in 2022 (By a Local)

The best time to visit New York City is from April to June and September to early November when the weather is best and the crowds aren’t as big. Summer and winter may also be good times to visit depending on your planned activities and budget. 

There are many factors to consider when planning the best time to visit New York City depending on your specific interests. I’m here to help you to get the most out of your trip, no matter the season or time of year! 

I’ve been a New York City local for almost seven years, and have an insider’s view on what’s happening during each season and how to plan your trip around special events and activities. 

Deciding when to visit New York City depends a lot on your budget, what you’d like to do, and how long you’re staying. We’ll address the best time to visit New York City for good weather, budget travel, avoiding crowds, popular special events, and travel with kids. 

If you need to find a place to stay, be sure to bookmark my guide on where to stay in New York City.

Let’s dive in!

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When is the Best Time to Visit New York City

New York City is at its best from April to June and September to early November when the weather is comfortable and there are fewer crowds of other visitors. If you’re traveling with kids or on a budget, then you might want to visit during the summer or winter instead for the best overall experience. 

There are plenty of things to do in New York City year-round, but when you decide to visit the Big Apple depends on your specific priorities and interests. Here’s my breakdown of the best times to visit New York City depending on your preferences:

When to Visit New York City for Good Weather 

View of cherry blossoms in Central Park and the clear blue sky over it
Central Park is full of beautiful flowering trees in the springtime.

The weather in New York City can be unpredictable, but September and May are consistently pleasant and comfortable. Central Park is full of colorful foliage and beautiful blooming trees and flowers, which you can take in thanks to mild weather.

In my experience, September and May are ideal for a mix of outdoor and indoor activities. Plus, you’ll avoid the humidity that takes over the city during the summer and the chilly temperatures of the winter months. There are always things to do in New York no matter the season, which we’ll discuss later on in the article.

👉 Looking to take a day trip? Newark is an easy jaunt from NYC, and our guide to the best things to do in Newark will help you plan your adventure!

When to Visit New York City on a Budget 

Reservoir in Central Park covered with snow during winter season in NYC
Blankets of snow covering the reservoir in Central Park during a January snowstorm.

If you’re on a budget, then the cheapest time to visit NYC is in early January and February. These are the best months to save money and find some great deals. There is usually a dip in tourism right after the holiday season and throughout the cold winter months. You’ll also avoid tourist crowds in midtown Manhattan.

Despite the colder temperatures, there are plenty of NYC events during the winter months. Schedule your trip in January to take advantage of hotel week, restaurant week, and 2 for 1 Broadway tickets.

Looking for more ways to focus on saving money? The New York Pass provides free entry to many New York attractions and events in the Big Apple. Visit the iconic Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, and other top museums to escape the cold.

🛏️ Looking for a budget place to stay? Browse these hotels in New York City to save even more!

When to Visit New York City With Families and Kids

People enjoying their day at the New York City Park
City parks are the ultimate playground come summertime.

Visiting New York with kids is an amazing way to experience the city in new ways through their eyes. Like many destinations, the best time to visit New York City with families and kids is in the warmer weather summer months. Keep in mind that Memorial Day through Labor Day is considered the high season in NYC, so it’s important to plan in advance.

There are several family-friendly events during the summer months if that’s when you plan to visit NYC. Popular activities include visiting The Bronx Zoo, taking a boat tour, exploring playgrounds, and attending music classes and outdoor concerts offered in many of the city parks. Be sure to stay hydrated and bring lots of sunscreen — temperatures can reach triple digits (plus humidity!) towards the end of the summer season in late August.

Many locals travel outside the city on summer weekends, so this can be a great time to explore. If visiting with your family during the summer isn’t an option, then experiencing the Christmas season with kids is a spectacular alternative.

🚗 Need a rental car for your visit? Check out Discover Cars to research and get the best deals.

When to Visit New York City to Avoid Crowds 

People enjoying ice skating in Wollman Rink
Wollman Rink in Central Park.

It’s no surprise that the budget-friendly months of January and February are also some of the least crowded times to visit NYC. Thanks to freezing temperatures, tourist crowds are at a minimum in the winter, unlike in the busy summer months.

Expect temperatures to be in the low 30s along with occasional snow and ice, so pack your warmest layers. There is nothing more magical than Central Park covered in snow!

Hotel prices will also be more reasonable during the shoulder season. Use those savings to try ice skating in Rockefeller Center or Central Park, enjoy classic New York restaurants, or take in a game at Madison Square Garden.

When to Visit New York City for Broadway Week

Different signs at the Broadway Theater in NYC
(photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock)

Broadway week takes place twice a year, in September and January. Keep in mind that most theaters are closed on Mondays, but you can buy theater tickets for matinee and nighttime performances to make the most of your visit. 

The Broadway and performing arts seasons usually kick off in September, so this is a perfect time to visit NYC and watch new shows and performances before tickets sell out. In January, find cheaper tickets thanks to two-for-one deals. It’s also easier to get tickets to popular New York shows thanks to the lull in tourism. 

👉 Wondering when to visit other top USA destinations? Our guides to when to visit Seattle, when to visit Nashville, and when to visit Long Beach are great resources.

When to Visit New York City for Restaurant Week

View of different pizza flavor on a table
You can’t visit NYC without grabbing a pizza!

A great time to enjoy fine dining in NYC is during restaurant week, either in the winter (January) or summer (July). Over 300 restaurants across the boroughs offer deals for lunch and dinner, often multiple courses, which is a perfect way to try new places and spend less money.

Note that these deals are only offered during the week, so if you’re a foodie craving a specific meal, plan your trip accordingly. Be sure to make reservations in advance because these places book up quickly! The “week” now runs over a period of three weeks in January and February, so there are plenty of chances to take in delicious food and dessert. 

When to Visit New York City for Sporting Events

Cars passing by along Madison Square Garden in NYC
Madison Square Garden is home to many NYC sports teams. (photo: S-F / Shutterstock)

If you’re a sports fan, then New York is the ideal place to take in a game (or two). Home to Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, New York offers many venues across sports seasons. Even if you aren’t a huge sports fan (like me), it’s worth going to a game–the home team spirit is contagious! 

Baseball season (go Yankees!) starts in April, so a springtime visit is perfect for watching a home game at Yankee Stadium. More of a basketball fan? Head to Madison Square Garden to watch the NY Knicks and other teams during Match Madness. MSG is also home to the NY Rangers ice hockey team, whose season begins in October. 

Rooting for the Giants? Hop on the train from Penn Station (near the Empire State Building) to Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. Yes, the home field is technically not in New York! Of course, don’t miss tennis stars at the net during the US Open, hosted in Queens, NY, in August-September. 

When to Visit New York City for the Holiday Season

A Christmas tree displayed at the Lotte Palace Hotel
My all-time favorite Christmas tree and decorations at The Lotte Palace Hotel.

Lots of people visit NYC specifically to get in the holiday spirit in the weeks leading up to Christmas. One of my favorite things to do in mid-December is to walk around midtown Manhattan at night to take in the over-the-top Christmas decorations, holiday windows, and light shows.

Holiday performances like the Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center and The Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall are perfect activities for anyone visiting NYC during the holiday season!

If you want to avoid the holiday rush and crowds, then plan your visit for early January. Most of the holiday decorations will still be up, but there is a dip in tourism in the weeks after New Year’s Eve and the busy holiday season. Hotel prices will be cheaper, attractions will be less crowded, and you can continue celebrating the holidays for a bit longer!

New York City Travel Seasons 

Winter (December-March)

The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace covered with snow in NYC
The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace during a December snowstorm.

Winter in New York may be the cheapest time to visit, but it’s also when you’ll experience consistently cold weather. Average high temperatures are in the 30s, and Central Park is occasionally blanketed in snow. Grab a hot chocolate to keep you warm, and stop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to warm up and view iconic paintings and special exhibits. 

The holiday season officially kicks off after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but things really start to pick up in early December. Here are some of my favorite winter events and activities you just can’t miss:

  • 🎄 Christmas Markets: There are a few different Christmas markets across Manhattan, but the biggest markets set up shop in Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, and Union Square. In addition to fun trinkets, fine jewelry, and clothing, there are food and drink stalls to fuel your holiday shopping.
  • Holiday Events: There is nothing like NYC during the holiday season. To really get in the spirit, visit the gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center, watch the light show outside of Saks Fifth Avenue, and buy tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. These three highlights are within short walking distance from each other making for a festive night out.
  • 🎭 Broadway Week: Even though the Broadway season officially kicks off in September, Broadway week in January is a great time to buy cheap tickets to see multiple shows. There are usually between 20-30 shows that offer discount tickets, so be sure to decide which performances you want to see during your trip.
  • 🐉 Chinese New Year: There are events across the five boroughs to celebrate the lunar new year each February. In Manhattan’s Chinatown, the lunar new year parade is a wonderful event that gives locals and visitors alike a chance to join in on the cultural celebration. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you plan on doing a lot of outdoorsy activities during New York City winter, then bring a pair of windproof gloves and hand warmers – you won’t regret it!

Spring (March-June)

Colorful tulips blooming in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden
Tulips blooming in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden.

Spring is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year in New York. The city starts to come alive after gloomy winter days, and the city’s parks are full of blooming trees and flowers. 

Dine alfresco or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to fully enjoy pleasant weather in the early spring. You’ll avoid larger crowds at New York’s top attractions by visiting before the high season. Just be sure to bring an umbrella–April is the rainiest month in NYC! Below are some of the most notable springtime events in New York:

  • 🏀 March Madness: This is arguably the most exciting time of year if you’re a basketball fan. If you can’t make it to Madison Square Garden for a game, there are plenty of sports bars across the city to watch with other fans. Many teams have their own dedicated bars that locals visit every week during the season!
  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held every March 17th, and is the oldest parade for the holiday in the world. Can you believe the first parade was held in the streets of NYC in 1762? It’s a classic NYC event and draws millions of spectators. The parade runs up 5th Avenue from 44th to 79th Street and starts precisely at 11:00. Wear your green!
  • 🌸 Cherry Blossom Festival: New York City starts to see its first blooms in mid-March, and the cherry blossoms attract visitors from near and far. My favorite places to see cherry blossoms are on the west side of the Reservoir in Central Park and Roosevelt Island. The blossoms typically peak in late-April to early-May. The New York Botanical Garden (or Brooklyn Botanic Garden) is also an amazing location to see the trees as well as other spring flowers and plants.
  • 🎖️ Fleet Week: The unofficial kickoff of the summer season in NYC starts with Fleet Week in late May. Throughout the seven day event, members of the US Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps are celebrated during special events across the five boroughs. 

Summer (June-September)

View of the skyline in NYC at sunset
Summer sunset over the reservoir in Central Park.

Although the summer months can be expensive thanks to the peak tourism season and summer crowds, there are lots of free events throughout the city and outer boroughs. Be aware that the average high temperatures can reach the mid-80s and the summer heat can be overwhelming, but nights are cooler so be sure to keep a light jacket with you. 

Early June to mid-August is when the city sees the most summer tourists thanks to school vacations and time off. Here are some popular summer events to add to your New York City summer trip:

  • 🎶 Governors Ball: If you love music festivals, Governors Ball in June features a fantastic lineup of artists. This year it will take place at Citi Field in Queens.
  • 🎭 Shakespeare in the Park: One of the most popular free events during the summer is Shakespeare in the Park, which runs between July to September. Performances are hosted at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and tickets are distributed free of charge a couple of days ahead of each performance. Theater enthusiasts start to line up for tickets as early as 6:30 am, so grab a bagel and iced coffee and head over to the box office to try your luck.
  • 🏳️‍🌈 Pride: June is pride month in NYC, culminating in the annual Pride Parade on June 26th. The first pride march was held in 1970 and is one of the most-attended summer events in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. 
  • 🎆 July 4th Fireworks: Macy’s puts on amazing fireworks show on the 4th of July each summer. The best place to view them is close to the water or from a rooftop.

Fall (September-November)

Halloween pumpkins decor on a stair
Festive Halloween stoop decor on the Upper East Side.

In my opinion, fall is the best time to visit NYC. The stoops of townhouses are covered in festive Halloween decor, the temperatures are more reasonable, and the foliage in the parks is unbeatable. 

After Labor Day, there are fewer crowds into the early fall, but plenty of events for locals and visitors alike. These are some of the most popular things to do and see during the fall:

  • Feast of San Gennaro: This annual celebration takes place in Little Italy for four days in September. Food stalls line the narrow streets and there is plenty of free entertainment. Get there early in the day to avoid long lines.
  • 🎃 Halloween Parade: The annual Halloween Parade in the Village is one of the neighborhood’s best (and spookiest!) events of the year. This year will be the 49th year of the parade on October 31. The route runs up Sixth Avenue and costumes are mandatory for all participants.
  • 🏃 New York City Marathon: The entire city comes out to support more than 60,000 runners from across the globe for the annual marathon. Runners race across all five boroughs, and the energy is contagious. I love watching from mile 17 on the Upper East Side and mile 24 on 5th Avenue to cheer for runners who need extra support on their final push.
  • 🎈 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: It’s a tradition for a reason! Hundreds of balloons, floats, and performers walk the parade route from Central Park West all the way down to Herald Square at 34th Street. Line up early or watch on TV.

Holiday (December)

View of holiday decor on the Upper East Side of NYC
Fabulous holiday decor on the Upper East Side.

The holiday season in New York is one of the most popular times for visitors, despite the potentially freezing temperatures and crowds rushing to finish their holiday shopping. 

If you’re visiting NYC during the busy holiday season, be sure to take advantage of some of the holiday classics that adults and kids alike will delight in:

  • 🎅 Holiday Performances: Special performances to celebrate the holiday season are perfect for families visiting with children, or a festive date night out. My favorites are The Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. 
  • 🎄 Holiday Decorations: Department stores and apartment buildings go all-out with holiday window displays in honor of the winter holidays. Stroll down the fifth avenue for the most extravagant decorations at Tiffany’s and Bergdorf Goodman’s!
  • ⛸️ Ice skating: Bryant Park offers free skate rentals in their winter village. You can also rent skates at Rockefeller Center, Wollman Rink, and many other outdoor locations across the city.
  • 🎆 New Year’s Eve: That’s right, live from Times Square is New Year’s Rockin ‘Eve in New York! People line up for hours to watch the ball drop and celebrate the turn of the new year. Many restaurants and bars offer a prix-fixe dinner menu and festive drinks too.

New York City Weather and Climate

Overlooking view of Manhattan in New York City
View of Manhattan from Governors Island in July.

The weather and climate in New York city is very distinct across the four seasons, with a full range of temperatures throughout the year. New York City experiences an average of 119 days of rain per year, and an average snowfall of 25 inches during the winter.

Summer weather is best described as “swampy”, with temperatures in the mid-70s to upper-90s plus extreme humidity and occasional thunderstorms. July and August are the hottest months to visit NYC. Average winter temperatures are in the low-20s to 40s, plus frequent windchill and ice. Be sure to pack sturdy and warm boots for this time of year!

Like I mentioned, spring and fall are the best times to visit NYC because the weather and temperatures will be most predictable and comfortable. Average temperatures in the spring range from the mid-40s to low-70s (plus rain), and fall temperatures are typically in the low-50s to mid-70s. Dressing in layers, no matter what time of year, is absolutely key to visit NYC.

Tips for Visiting New York City 

Aerial view of New York City

Make Restaurant Reservations in Advance

No matter what time of year it is, the most popular restaurants book up weeks in advance. Be sure to make reservations in advance, or be prepared with backup dining options in case wait times are too long. This is especially important if you’re traveling with kids.

Dress in Layers for Comfort

Because the weather can be unpredictable, it’s important to dress in layers for maximum comfort. New Yorkers joke that you experience multiple seasons every day during the early spring due to the intense changes in temperature!

Research the weather ahead of time, and be sure to bring an umbrella if there’s a chance of rain so you’re not caught unprepared. I recommend packing jeans, T-shirts, and long-sleeved shirts, a warmer layer (fleece or similar item), and a coat or jacket depending on the time of year. Comfortable shoes are also a must!

Plan Your Budget Early 

Let’s face it, New York can get expensive quickly, especially if you’re underprepared. Before your trip, decide on and establish a budget so you can plan your activities accordingly. Sometimes you can find better deals by booking things far in advance, which will save you in the long run.

Create separate budgets for dining, activities, shopping, and anything else relevant to your trip. You’ll be able to enjoy your trip more if you aren’t worried about overspending the entire time. 

Prioritize Your Activities

There are endless possibilities for things to do in New York City, no matter the season. Decide what activities are most important for your trip, and prioritize them in your itinerary. Know that you might not be able to do everything on your list, but this will help you to stay on budget too.

Familiarize Yourself with Public Transportation

It might be tempting to call a rideshare service or hail a taxi when you’re moving between locations, but any New Yorker will tell you that the best way to get around is on public transportation. Plus, cars and taxis can get expensive, fast. 

Download free transportation apps to help your planning process and familiarize yourself with the different options ahead of your visit. You’ll never appreciate the wind from an oncoming subway train more than on a hot summer day!

FAQs About the Best Time to Visit New York City

The Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge from the water
Views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge from the water.

What is the cheapest month to visit New York City?

January is the cheapest month to visit New York City, the post-holiday rush. You can usually get better deals on flights and hotels, and save on dining.

How many days do you need in NYC?

At a minimum, I would recommend three days to visit NYC. If it’s your first time, and you have the budget, five days is the ideal number of days to fit in as many activities and see as many sights as possible.

Is New York cheap for tourists?

Even though New York is known for being one of the most expensive cities to live in and visit, if you plan ahead and do your research, you can book for reasonable prices and even find coupons. Planning out your budget is my #1 tip for travelers!

What are the hottest months in New York City?

July and August are the hottest months in New York City, with average temperatures in the 80s and 90s plus extreme humidity. Dress in comfortable, loose layers, and stay hydrated! Plan your days with plenty of air-conditioned breaks.

What is the snowiest month in New York City?

February is the snowiest month in New York City, and when you’ll be most likely to see noticeable accumulation. It snows in the city for an average of three days in February, but accumulations can vary from a couple of inches to over a foot!

***

I hope this guide will be a helpful resource to plan your trip to New York City! Know that each season provides new and different activities and events, so you really can’t go wrong with the timing of your visit. 

If you’re in the area, then also check out our New Jersey travel guides!

Enjoy the Big Apple!

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