New York City is packed full of things to do all year long—even in the winter—whether you want to go shopping, attend an event, or simply relax. Events like Jazzfest and Frostfest showcase live music, and the shopping opportunities with holiday markets are extensive. You can also find some more unusual attractions that are especially appealing if you're looking to see some animals. For something more low-key, you can relish the holiday spirit as you take in the incredible, towering decorations. Discover the best things to do in New York in winter.

    1

    Rooftop Jacuzzi at JFK

    Find warmth on a rooftop

    • Luxury

    The Rooftop Jacuzzi at JFK is exceptionally adept at keeping the cold away, thanks to its constant high temperatures and regular purification cycles. Specifically, this pool is kept up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water is completely purified every 30 minutes. Given the location of the pool, the view is also quite nice. The airport tends to be fairly busy during the winter, so you can relax in warm waters while watching the planes go in and out of the airport. You'll find this jacuzzi on the roof of TWA, a hotel next to JFK.

    Location: TWA Hotel One Idlewild Drive JFK Airport, Jamaica, NY 11430, USA

    Phone: +1 212-806-9000

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    2

    Central Park Winter Jam

    Attend a free winter festival

    The Central Park Winter Jam is an annual NYC event in which visitors can enjoy sledding, snowshoeing, and winter adventure in the middle of Central Park. You can always enjoy the snow at your own pace, but if you're interested in learning, skiing lessons are also held here. You'll find additional winter-themed attractions at the festival, including ice carvings and an entire ice sculpture garden with impressive displays. You'll also have the opportunity to get into curling if you're looking to try out an uncommon sport. This event is typically held in late January or early February in Central Park.

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    Phone: +1 212-310-6600

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    3

    Macy's Santaland

    Enjoy a family-friendly holiday display

    Macy's Santaland is a yearly event held at the Macy's on Herald Square and featuring a massive Christmas village display along with fun indoor landscaping. Along the way, visitors will be able to cross a rainbow bridge and see a giant Lionel train-scape. One of the most popular aspects of this 13,000-square-foot display is Santa's workshop, where visitors can see preparations being made for the big night. Of course, meeting Santa himself is the ultimate finale. Typically, the event is held throughout almost all of December on the 8th floor of Macy's.

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    Location: 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 9 am to 11 pm, Saturday–Monday from 8 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 212-695-4400

    Map

    photo by Felton Davis (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Winter Jazzfest

    Hear live jazz at a bustling festival

    Winter Jazzfest is a cultural event held each year where you can see a series of live jazz music performances in what's considered to be the country's best jazz festival. Each year, hundreds of artists attend and perform incredible live jazz music well into the early hours of the morning. If you're looking for bustling nightlife in the winter, this is one of the best options in New York City. The festival connects the historical value of jazz with the work and creativity of contemporary artists, creating an atmosphere that exemplifies the best the genre has to offer along with its promising future. Most participating acts are in city centre Manhattan.

    5

    FrostFest

    Enjoy a wintry festival for kids

    FrostFest is a festival held every year in Bryant Park that offers 10 days of winter-themed activities, including a skating showcase, a New Year's celebration, and ice-rink bumper cars. The bumper cars tend to be the most popular activity here, as everyone aged 7 and up can participate provided they reserve their spot in advance. You'll find additional activities here also, including a silent disco and ice-carving performances by renowned sculptors. They even have their own version of ice fishing, and you can experience it all in late January in Bryant Park.

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    Phone: +1 212-768-4242

    Map
    6

    Smorgasburg Winter Market

    Shop at a local winter market

    Smorgasburg Winter Market is an indoor market that offers seasonal winter items from local food vendors in addition to various other flea-market finds. The local food vendors are especially appealing because this is one of the best places in the city to find seasonally fresh food and ingredients directly from the source. The flea-market finds here can take on many different forms, but you can be sure that you'll find something exciting no matter what you're interested in. The market is only open on weekends throughout the winter, and you'll find it just a short walk west from South Oxford Park in Boerum Hill.

    Location: 625 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217, USA

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed Monday–Friday)

    Phone: +1 718-705-4580

    Map
    7

    Butterfly Conservatory

    See tropical butterflies

    The Butterfly Conservatory is part of the American Museum of Natural History and provides a fitting home for tropical butterflies even through the bitterest of winters. The vivarium features around 500 individual butterflies that flutter around a variety of tropical flowers. Inside the vivarium, the temperature is set to a constant 80 degrees to keep the flowers and butterflies comfortable. When you visit, you'll be able to get up close and personal with these butterflies, as they typically don't hesitate to land on the shoulders of visitors. You'll find the conservatory in the American Museum of Natural History in Theodore Roosevelt Park.

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    Location: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 212-769-5100

    Map
    8

    Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree

    Visit the iconic Christmas tree

    The beautifully decorated Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree is one of the most iconic aspects of winter in New York City and features an ice rink nearby. Adding to the splendour is the fact that the massive tree at Rockefeller Centre is always a live one rather than artificial. The nearby ice rink makes it easy to take in this incredible sight while enjoying classic winter fun. Just be sure to get a view of the tree from a distance so that you can catch the signature Swarovski star on top. You'll find this tree in Rockefeller Plaza between 50th and 49th.

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    Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 5.30 am to 11.30 pm, Friday from 5.30 am to 11.45 pm

    Phone: +1 212-588-8601

    Map
    9

    Union Square Holiday Market

    Shop in the heart of New York City

    The Union Square Holiday Market is an annual market where you'll find all sorts of fun items and gifts, many of which are handcrafted by local artists. You'll find an array of items here throughout its winding aisles whether you're looking for soaps, chocolates, puzzles, wood crafts, or anything else you can imagine. As the market grows, new sections seem to pop up every year. As of 2019, this market offers a lounge area, live music, and even a Little Brooklyn section that lets you get a taste of the borough's local culture without having to cross the bridge. You'll find it in Union Square Park.

    Location: E 14th St, New York, NY 10011, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 212-529-9262

    Map
    10

    Origami Holiday Tree

    Explore an annual origami tradition

    The Origami Holiday Tree is a prominent feature in the American Museum of Natural History that displays 1,000 origami cranes on a holiday tree. Each of the cranes on the tree is crafted using brightly coloured paper, and the cranes are meant to be symbols of peace and good wishes. This tree was inspired by the Nature of Colour exhibition, which showcases the power of colour in the natural world and the important role it plays. The cranes themselves were folded by a variety of local, national, and international artists. You'll find it all within the American Museum of Natural History.

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    Location: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 212-769-5100

    Map

    photo by Matt Tillett (CC BY 2.0) modified

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