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Best time to visit New York City

Learn how to get cheap flights and avoid long lines in the Big Apple.

The best time to visit NYC is during the spring or fall, when the weather is temperate and crowds of tourists are sparse. Avoid spring break, Memorial Day and Labor day, when lines for top attractions swell. Choose October for crisp weather, vibrant fall foliage and a cozy mood.

Best time of year to visit New York City

Peak season

The winter holidays are some of the busiest times in NYC — and for good reason. The city lights up, Christmas tree vendors line the sidewalks and festive vibes furnish the air. Share good cheer with tourists and locals alike, but keep in mind most museums are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Plane tickets are more expensive over the holidays, and you’ll have to deal with crowds — especially if you plan to visit Bryant Park’s Christmas Village. Average lows in December range from 38 to 31° F, so pack winter wear.

Off-season

To avoid swarms of people, plan a to visit in late April, May, September, October or early November. Mild weather and less tourist traffic mean you can go sight-seeing without crazy lines, and enjoy a cool breeze while you’re at it.

Remember that crowds in NYC accumulate near tourist attractions. So if you stay in neighborhoods frequented by locals, you’ll find quieter spots no matter the season.

Cheapest time to visit NYC

The cheapest time to visit NYC is in January and February, since airlines and hotels tend to reduce prices during off season. According to Kayak, flight prices drop 13% on average in February. And occupancy dips to nearly 90% in hotels around the city, so you should also be able to find great deals on accommodations.

Though you’ll need to bundle up, winter is also ideal for visiting museums and galleries because the lines are shorter.

Budget travelers should avoid visiting NYC in December, since flights spike 27% on average.

Weather

Every season in NYC is unique and has its own personality. Spring is a beautiful time to visit, because the weather is mild and foliage begins to bloom. Summer can get hot and humid, and since not every subway car has air conditioning this can lead to sticky commutes. But the warm, long summer evenings can be magical, especially if you enjoy a late dinner on a patio or cocktails on a rooftop. Fall is gorgeous and crisp, a wonderful time to go leaf-peeping in central park. And winter can be a wonderland, with holiday markets in parks throughout the city — though the snow could damper your plans.

  • Tip from Amy: My favorite time to visit New York City is fall, because it’s perfect sweater weather and generally not as crowded. I’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings there with friends, and it was never too cold for comfort.

Here are the average monthly temps in NYC, to help you plan your trip:

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
High39° F43° F52° F64° F72° F 80° F 84° F 84° F76° F64° F55° F44° F
Low26° F29° F36° F45° F54° F 64° F69° F 69° F61° F50° F42° F31° F

Average yearly temperatures sourced from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in February 2021.

Best seasonal events in New York City

NYC’s got something going on 24/7, but certain events are exclusive to a single season:

Spring

  • The Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. Celebrate Japanese culture against a backdrop of lush florals at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
  • The Tribeca Film Festival. Catch an independent flick next to celebrities and New Yorkers alike. Tickets start as low as $12.
  • Frieze Art Fair. Head to Randall’s Island — located just east of Harlem — to check out contemporary art from around the world at Frieze New York.

Summer

  • Shakespeare in the Park. Watch classic theater from Much Ado About Nothing to Hercules at the Delacorte Theater’s stage in Central Park. All shows are free to attend.
  • Free outdoor movies. Nearly every borough hosts free outdoor movies beneath the night sky during the summer. Bring a blanket and snacks!
  • Warm Up at MoMA PS1. Get introduced to experimental musicians and DJs of all genres at curated outdoor concerts in MoMa PS1’s courtyard.
  • Jazz Age Lawn Party. Sip Prohibition-era cocktails and dance the Charleston at this two-day fete held on Governors Island, just south of Battery Park. Tickets start at $40 and sell out quickly.

Fall

  • The New York Coffee Festival. A caffeine-fueled dream for coffee drinkers, the New York Coffee Festival offers latte art demonstrations, food tastings and of course, endless cups of coffee. Tickets start at $26 for early-bird pricing.
  • Open House New York. Famous city buildings open their doors to design and architecture enthusiasts and passersby for a weekend. Admission is free for most events and includes Edgar Allen Poe’s cottage in the Bronx and the Frick Art Reference Library.
  • The New York Comedy Festival. This week-long festival features headliners like Tracey Morgan and Conan O’Brien as well as panels, podcast tapings, improv and more. Snag tickets for November as early as August.

Winter

  • Winter Village at Bryant Park. Glide around The Rink at Bank of America’s winter wonderland in Midtown. Admission is free, though you’ll pay a fee if you rent skates. Holiday boutiques and food vendors keep your spirits bright after hitting the ice.
  • Lunar New Year. Did you know that outside of China, NYC has the largest Chinese population in the world? Ring in the Chinese New Year at the Lunar New Year Parade. Expect traditional costumes, food vendors and Chinese performances in Chinatown and authentic culinary specials at Chinese restaurants in all neighborhoods.
  • Winter Jazzfest. Boogie across lower Manhattan with jazz groups from around the world. See several hepcats at a slew of Greenwich Village venues over the course of a weekend. Wristbands for one or both days get you into the gigs.

Bottom line

While the best time to visit New York City may depend on what you’d like to see and do, the Big Apple offers thrills year-round. So if you’re ready to pound the pavement in the city where dreams are made, compare flights now to find the best deal.

FAQs

Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

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