food & drink · arts & culture · music & nightlife · attractions & tours · outdoor activities ·
Published October 26, 2023
NYC's Ultimate 2023 Winter Bucket List
Baby, it’s cold outside—but there’s still plenty to do in NYC this winter! ❄️☃️
by New York Bucket List
It’s officially cold outside, and the temptation to hide under the blankets at home for the next few months is intense. We’re here to tell you not to do that, though. There are so many unique and exciting things to do in NYC this season you don't want to miss, so save the hibernating for after the new year.
Whether you’re into shopping for handmade gifts, taking in all the holiday displays, or visiting a winter wonderland, we’ve got all of the best events and activities New York City has to offer this winter.
The Best Things to Do in NYC This Winter & Holiday Season
Explore The Santa Clauses’ Winter Wonderland at Pier 17
The Rooftop at Pier 17 is transforming into the North Pole this winter! Inspired by Disney’s The Santa Clauses, the waterfront will be decked out in candy canes and gingerbread houses, and it’s the perfect place to grab a drink, a sweet treat, and some iconic photos for your holiday card!
Where: The Rooftop at Pier 17: 89 South Street, New York, NY
Visit The Holly Jolly Bar
Get into the holiday season with some festive spirits (the alcoholic kind) at the Holly Jolly Bar. The halls of Mad Morton will be decked from top to bottom, and you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Hallmark movie. Enjoy good vibes, entertainment, and a welcome cocktail from November through January!
Where: Mad Morton: 47 7th Ave S, New York, NY
Shop The Holiday Markets
Lining the allées and terraces of Bryant Park, the incredible open-air market featuring artisans from around the world is back. This is the perfect spot to search custom-designed kiosks for crafts, gifts, and delicacies or spend the day people-watching and taking in the festive decor. Other shopping options include the Union Square Holiday Market, Grand Central Terminal’s Holiday Fair, and Columbus Circle Holiday Market—they’re all worth checking out!
Where: Various locations.
Watch The Rockefeller Plaza Tree Lighting
Tourists and locals alike can see the iconic Christmas totem, the gigantic Rockefeller Tree, return this holiday season! This year’s tree lighting will take place on Wednesday, November 29th. Can’t make the big event? Come by any night to go ice skating, grab a cocoa, and take in all of the splendor of its 50,000 LED lights, and make sure to check out all the great holiday light displays across NYC.
Where: 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York
This Christmas-themed speakeasy is back again this year with Santa, elves, presents, tinsel, festive tunes, and lots of winter warmer drinks, including a fabulous Christmas cocktail menu! The halls are more than fully decked with baubles, bows, hanging trees, wreaths, and just about every festive goodie you can imagine.
Where: Pekarna NYC: 594 Amsterdam Ave., New York
Grab an Instagram-Worthy Hot Cocoa
Nothing beats going for a stroll down the lit-up streets of NYC with a cup of hot cocoa in hand to keep your fingers warm. One of our favorites is the blossoming hot chocolate from Dominique Ansel Bakery, complete with a marshmallow flower that blooms right in your drink!
Where: Various locations.
See The World's Largest Menorah Lighting
There’s some debate as to which menorah in NYC is actually the world’s largest: Manhattan’s or Brooklyn’s. Both usually host kick-off events, and in Brooklyn, live music, hot latkes, and gifts are available every night. No matter which location you choose, you’re in for quite the show when the “candles” are lit each night of Hanukkah.
Manhattan: Fifth Avenue between West 58th and West 59th Streets
Brooklyn: Grand Army Plaza: Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy. and Prospect Park
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Gift yourself a relaxing spa experience with unbeatable city views. QC NY Spa on Governors Island is open year-round, rain or shine, and makes for the perfect winter retreat from the city without leaving the city, just minutes away from Manhattan by ferry. With panoramic heated spa pools, cozy outdoor and indoor relaxation areas, rejuvenating saunas, and steam rooms, there's no better way to unwind. It also makes for a great experience gift or couples gift!
Where: Governors Island, 112 Andes Rd, New York, NY
Board the Holiday Wish Express
Round up the fam and escape the city for a day of festive fun. Just a short train ride away, you'll find Stamford Town Center's Holiday Wish Express! Begin with a dazzling ride to Glacier Island, then wander the twinkling Starlit Forest, and treat Santa's reindeer to a snack at the festive Reindeer Stables. You can also explore the enchanting North Pole's Main Street, write a letter to Santa, have a snowball duel, and grab some sweet treats at Teddy's House of Sweets!
Where: Stamford Town Center: 100 Greyrock Pl. Stamford, CT
Donate Your Time Or Money To A Worthy Cause
Lend a helping hand to NYC’s largest soup kitchen during the season of giving and goodwill. Consider volunteering to distribute food or make a donation if possible. Contributing $28 feeds a guest every weekday for a month, and they also have Thanksgiving donations available.
Where: 296 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY
Take a Roundtrip Ski & Snowboarding Bus to Mountain Creek
Did you know you can wake up in Manhattan and be skiing down the snowy slopes at Mountain Creek by noon? With four mountain peaks and 46 trails to explore, you can expect to spend an entire day escaping the city. There’s also a plethora of food options for when you need to refuel, and we recommend ending the day with a hot chocolate (or beer) in hand before boarding the bus back to the city.
1st Pickup: 41 Union Square West (Corner of 17th & Broadway)
2nd Pickup: W 45th and 11th Avenue (directly across the street from Gotham Market)
Sip Cocktails at an All-Pink Holiday Bar
Add a little pink to your holiday festivities this year and head to A Pink Wonderland, New York's newest festive pop-up featuring pink bows, baubles, tinsel, and drinks! Perfect for a girls' night out, winter birthday, or really anyone who loves pink and the holidays!
Where: 55 W 21st St, New York, NY
Go Ice Skating
Figure eight your way into the holiday season at one of NYC’s many ice rinks. Skate under the stars and warm up by the fire pits at Industry City's ice rink in Brooklyn, or head to Bryant Park for free skating. You can also go for a rooftop skate session at The Santa Caluses' Winter Wonderland at Pier 17!
Where: Various locations
Reset an Immersive Wellness Experience
Let's be honest, as much as we love the holidays, this time of year can also mean a lot of stress. Reset with an immersive music and wellness experience at Gaia Nomaya in Flatbush. Here, music serves as medicine and art as therapy in a space that allows you to relax, ground yourself, and feel the connection between mind and body. Each ticket includes crystallized water, cacao, breath-work, 2 concerts, and much more.
Where: Gaia Nomaya: 510 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn NY
Recreate The Piano Scene From ‘Big’ At FAO Schwarz
Explore one of the largest and most iconic toy stores in the world located just around the corner from the Rockefeller tree. Full of games, toys, sweets, and more, FAO Schwarz is a kid’s dream and a great spot to knock out your holiday shopping. While you’re there, step into the shoes of Josh Baskin and do a little dance on the keyboard! Make Tom Hanks proud.
Where: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
Gather the Group and Go Snow Tubing
Looking to beat the winter blues? Bundle up and hop on the NYC Snow Tubing & Brewery Bus! Enjoy a 2-hour snow tubing session at Mountain Creek, where you can warm up by the bonfire in between runs and grab hot cocoa and s’mores from the snack shack.
After the snow tubing session, you’ll head to Pennings Farm for dinner and drinks while enjoying the cozy ambiance of their greenhouse-turned Winter Beer Garden before heading back to the city. All round-trip transportation is included!
1st pickup: 85 Delancey St, Lower East Side (Delancey & Orchard St.)
2nd pickup: West 45th & 11th Ave (Across from Gotham Market)
Set Sail On A Holiday Cruise Around Manhattan
Enjoy the grand salon of the Manhattan yachts in their rich, full holiday decor while taking in the NYC skyline during the most magical time of year. Choose from options like the Holiday Brunch Cruise, Cocoa and Carols Cruise, Holiday Lights Cruise, and more!
Where: Chelsea Piers (Pier 62)
Enjoy Winter Jazzfest
Since its founding in 2005, Winter Jazzfest has only gotten bigger and better with each passing year. This year’s event, which runs from January 11 through 18, will feature more than 500 musicians ranging from huge names to up-and-comers. Stop by, enjoy the good vibes, and find your new favorite jazz artist!
Where: Various locations.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
This February, NYC will set off fiery colors and festivities in honor of the Lunar New Year. Manhattan's Chinatown will play host to the Firecracker Ceremony and Chinese New Year Parade. The vibrant affair celebrates Chinese culture and tradition and is a must-see event if you've never attended before.
Where: Kimlau Square, Park Row in Chinatown, NYC
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