New York is one of the most visited cities in the world. But given its four-season climate and the sheer number of things to do at different times of the year, your New York experience can be very different depending on when you go. Here we’ll go over the best time to visit New York based on factors like weather, crowds, events, and costs to help you decide the best time to visit according to your travel preferences.
What is the Weather Like Year-Round in New York?
New York experiences a very seasonal climate with hot summers, cold winters and relatively mild springs and falls. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24.5°C (76°F), while the coldest month is January at 1.5°C (35°F). May is the wettest month with 114 mm of rain, while winters see an average of about 25 inches of snow. This means that you can have very different experiences depending on the weather.
Visiting New York: Tourist Season
Even though NYC never sleeps, it is definitely more crowded at certain times compared to others. While some prefer the hustle and bustle of peak tourist season, others prefer the lower rates and smaller crowds of the off-season, so let’s go over both.
When is New York’s Peak Tourist Season?
Peak tourist season in New York City is in the summer, from June to August. During this time, crowds from around Europe, Asia, and North America flock to the city to enjoy the weather, festivals, shows, and general vibe of the city. But that also means that prices, crowds, and temperatures all rise during this time as well, which is something to consider before booking your trip. That said, Christmas/New Years are also considered peak tourist times in New York City as well. The latter is known for the many beautiful displays and festivities around the city, from ice skating in central park to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre, while Thanksgiving sees the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When is New York’s Low Tourist Season?
NYC low season is in spring, fall, and in the January and February months of winter. While the city itself sees business as usual, these times also see a definite drop off in terms of tourist numbers. That said, spring and fall can really be considered more of a shoulder season, as tourism during both times remains steady, with many travelers even considering them their favorite times to visit. And while January and February see the lowest overall tourist numbers, due in part to also having the most snow and the lowest temperatures, this also means getting to enjoy the lowest rates and smallest crowds.
Visiting New York: Season by Season
New York’s activity schedule is unmatched by any other destination. Coupled with the variable weather, this makes considering the merits of each season a must if you have the flexibility to visit at different times of the year. Let’s break down each season’s relative strengths, as well as outline what we think are the best activities within each season.
Summer in New York sees the hottest weather but the most outdoor activities. Central Park is packed, the skies are blue, and there’s a definite summer vibe around the city. There’s also a ton of fun activities to enjoy, from music festivals to 4th of July celebrations. This is also the time of year that sees the most European and Asian tourists, which gives the city an even more international feel, despite making lineups even longer than usual.
While Broadway is usually high atop most travelers’ New York wish list, Shakespeare in the Park offers visitors the chance to enjoy the theatre outdoors and runs every summer from May-August. Summerstage, also in Central Park, runs from May-October and features performing artists from around the city. Also in June is the glamorous Tribeca Film Festival, the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and the NY Philharmonic Concerts in the Park. June is also Pride month in NYC, where the city celebrates its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, culminating with the Pride Parade on the last Sunday of the Month. July sees the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks and Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, as well as NYC Restaurant Week, and Summer at Lincoln Center. August and September, finally, see the US Open, NY Fashion Week, and 9/11 Commemorations.
Fall in NYC has a very chill vibe and is my favorite season to visit. After all the hustle and bustle of the summer, the city winds down somewhat, giving travelers a chance to experience a side of the city that New Yorkers themselves love. The weather is, of course, cooler, but ultimately still mild. Foliage can be seen as early as October, and it makes parts of the city, and especially Central Park, look stunning. Halloween time also sees a ton of great parties, and Thanksgiving offers one-of-a-kind events and festivities as well.
Both the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet have extensive Fall seasons that start in September and feature some of the best talents in the world of performing arts. September also sees NYC Broadway Week and NYC Off-Broadway Week, allowing for 2-for-1 tickets on both new productions and long-running acts. October sees the Rangers and Knicks kick off their NHL and NBA seasons, respectively, in Madison Square Garden, while the Brooklyn Nets begin their NBA season in the Barclay’s Arena. November sees the start of the New York Comedy Festival, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and, of course, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While heavy snowfalls occurring in January, February and even March are becoming more common, winter still provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy a different side of the city. Of course, if you really want to get that wintery, holiday atmosphere, then New York delivers in a way that no other city can match. Even outside the holiday season, though, the snowy cover provides a beautiful backdrop for the city, and with the lowest rates year-round in January and February (as well as the lowest crowds), they also offer a chance to experience more of the city for less.
The holiday season can be said to kick off with the lighting of the Rockefeller Centre Tree on the Wednesday following Thanksgiving. This is followed by the opening of holiday pop-up shops in Union Square, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle, the lighting of the world’s biggest Hannukah Menorah in front of the Plaza Hotel, the Lincoln Centre’s production of The Nutcracker, and, of course, the famous ball drop in Time’s Square for New Years Eve. And while things slow down in January, there’s still the start of the New York City Ballet’s Winter Repertory Season, NYC Broadway and Off-Broadway Week, and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to enjoy, as well as the Chinese New Year Parade and Festival, NYC restaurant Week, and New York Fashion Week in February.
Like Fall, Spring sees mild and beautiful weather. The city is beginning to bloom and come back to life for the summer, and it’s reflected in the atmosphere. While still relatively relaxed, tourist numbers, and the general energy level, begin to pick up, and destinations like Central Park and the Botanical Gardens become livelier.
March sees the start of the Big East NCAA Tournament for basketball fans, as well as Asia Week New York, the Macy’s Flower Show and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. April is the start of the Mets and Yankees baseball season, as well as the New York International Auto Show, the Easter Parade, and Earth Week. May, finally, sees the hosting the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, Frieze New York, and NYCxDESIGN.
When is the Best Time to Visit New York with Your Family
With so much to see and do, summer is the best time for families to visit New York. Let’s face it, kids can get restless, but there’s no shortage of activities for both kids and adults to enjoy in the summer months. Some of the activities, like Shakespeare in the Park, provide both entertainment and education and are a great way to bring the whole family closer together. There are also sorts of little extras all around town that the kids are sure to enjoy, like renting bikes and central park, and some family-focused activities, like visiting Conny Island, really shine most in the summer months. The holiday season is a close runner up though. Iconic scenes like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, the massive displays at FAO Schwartz, ice skating in Central Park, and enjoying the ball drop in Times Square all make for fantastic family memories (and photos!).
When’s the Best Time to See a Broadway Show?
January and February are some of the best times to see a Broadway show in NYC, as the crowds are the smallest, making it the easiest time to score tickets. NYC Broadway Week in late January/early February also offers travelers the chance to buy 2-for-1 tickets. That said, if you have your heart set on catching new shows as soon as they debut, then the start of Broadway season in September will be your best bet.
Where are the Best Places to Stay in NYC
Though each of NYC’s five boroughs has its own distinct flavor, staying in Manhattan gives visitors the best access to the city’s culture, dining options and energy. Within Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Central Park, Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village, and Midtown are generally considered the best places to stay. Rental Escapes has a very fine selection of New York City Vacation Rentals for you to consider in these neighborhoods, including some absolutely stunning penthouses and townhouses that are expertly appointed and in prime locations, making them some of the very best places to stay in the city.
Book now with Rental Escapes and let our concierge service also help you enjoy the very best that the city has to offer.