By Charles Beacham

Top 20 Things to Do in Winter in New York City

June 24, 2014   |    

Don't let the cold keep you and the kids cooped up at home all winter. Keep this list of the top 20 winter activities in NYC handy for ideas to keep cabin fever at bay, including going ice-skating, sledding, and some spectacular holiday shows.

1. Go ice-skating.


Hit the ice for some classic winter fun at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park, our borough’s brand new, state-of-the-art skating facility featuring two ice rinks. Find more indoor and outdoor ice rinks in the area.

2. See model trains in the Bronx.

Hitch a ride to tons of fun at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show, which boasts replicas of area landmarks made entirely from plants. The show typically runs mid-November through early January. Check out our full list of nearby train shows and exhibits that you can visit throughout the year.

nybg train show

3. Watch a performance of the The Nutcracker


Visit the Land of Sweets when New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Performances are usually held late November through early January. 

4. Cut your own Christmas Tree.

Make this Christmas special with a day trip to cut your own Christmas tree at Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs in nearby Westchester County or one of the area’s other farms, most of which are open from late November through late December. 


5. See the Rockettes in action.

It wouldn’t be Christmas in New York without the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in Midtown Manhattan. From early November through late December, the Rockettes perform classic numbers such as “New York at Christmas” and “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” 

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

6.  Go to a holiday fair at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. 

Create your own Christmas story in the Bronx at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum’s annual Holiday Family Day. Usually held in early December, this event includes storytelling, shopping, crafts, and of course, pictures with Santa. 


7. Attend a menorah or tree lighting.

Watch little eyes light up with holiday joy during a tree or menorah lighting. If you’re looking for a big event, brave the crowds at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan to see its illustrious tree throughout December, or celebrate Hanukkah at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, where the World’s Largest Menorah stands throughout the festival of lights.


8. Visit with Santa Claus 

santa hat


From Santaland at Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan to Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island, Kris Kringle makes appearances all over the city from late November to late December. For something unique, climb aboard Circle Line Downtown’s Zephyr yacht for a Breakfast with Santa Cruise in New York Harbor in mid-December..



9. Do some service

With all of the gift-giving and receiving, the holiday season is a great time to teach kids about being charitable. Give a little back to your community and fiind a place to volunteer.

10. See a gingerbread house exhibit.

See the world’s architectural wonders recreated in gingerbread form at the annual Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien in Midtown, Manhattan, on view from mid-December through early January. 


11. Experience historical holiday traditions.

In mid-December, step into the 18th century with Candlelight Tours at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island. During the special holiday tour, visitors will learn about the history of some of today’s most cherished holiday traditions.


12. Go sledding.

Pull out your Flexible Flyer and get set for some downhill snow-day fun. Once there’s enough snow on the ground (4 to 6 inches), hills in New York City parks are fair game for sledding



13. Count down to the new year.

Count down to a brand new year with a fun workshop at one of the city's children’s museums, such as 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights. At this hands-on educational workshop, toddlers learn about the history behind New Year’s traditions and make a craft to take home.


14. Go skiing.

Grab your gear and pack up the kids for a day (or a few days) of skiing or snowboarding at one of the area’s many family-friendly resorts.



15. Visit the Museum of the Moving Image.

museum of the moving image

Escape from the cold at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. The only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the art, history, and technology of moving pictures, this museum boasts behind-the-scenes exhibits, hands-on workshops, and daily film screenings.


16. Attend an authentic Native American Pow Wow.

Over two weekends in late January and early February, city folks can get a taste of Native American culture during the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Annual Dance Concert and Pow Wow at Theater for the New City in the East Village of Manhattan. The event brings together Native American artists, educators, singers, dancers, storytellers, and performing groups from across the Americas. Check out more cultural festivals

in the area.

thunderbird dancers



17. Celebrate the Lunar New Year.

flushing unar new year parade

Ring in the Chinese New Year in Late January or early February with dragon dancers, steel drummers, fireworks, and more at the Famous Flushing Lunar New Year Parade in Queens or enjoy traditional performances and crafts at the Lunar New Year Celebration hosted by Manhattan-based New York Chinese Cultural Center.

18. Attend a winter festival in Brooklyn.

Brighten up those dark winter days with Illuminated, a pop-up festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Over two weekends in late January and early February, visitors will enjoy food, performances, crafts, and more, all inspired by winter. 

19. Try something tastey at a children's food festival.

In late February, the Kids Food Festival in Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park educates little foodies and their families about making balanced food choices with lots of fun hands-on activities--—and yummy food, of course!


20. Learn how to make maple syup.

maple sugaring


Learn all about Southeast New York’s maple sugaringheritage at programs held in late February and early march at Hoyt Farm in Smithtown, the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale, and other orchards and nature preserves on Long Island or in nearby Westchester County.




Want to keep up with what parents near you are talking about? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Comments for This Article