The Best Time of the Year to Visit New York: December in New York

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Are you wondering what is the best time of the year to visit New York? Are you thinking about whether you should spend December in New York? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’re going to list down the top reasons why Winter is the best time of the year to visit New York City. 

New York is absolutely one of our favorite places in the world. It has an energy and vibe to it that doesn’t compare to any other destination. You walk through its streets and you feel like you’ve become another person. It sounds cliche but New York is a city that you have to see to believe. If you’re figuring out whether December in New York is worth it, we will tell you all the reasons why you should visit New York in the Winter!

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The Best Time of the Year to Visit New York is in the Winter

Is New York in the Winter too cold?

New York in the winter is indeed cold, but nothing too crazy or brutal, in our opinion. Coming from a tropical country who moved to the French Alps, December in New York isn’t as bad as it seems. The temperatures can go to as high as 10 degrees and drop to below zero. With the right thermal layers, it shouldn’t be a problem and the experience of going to New York in the winter offsets whatever general weather conditions you could experience.

We’ve experienced colder temperatures here in the Alps or in Iceland, so if you’re someone who has already experienced the winter, you’ll soon see that December in New York is pretty mild compared to other destinations around the globe.

Ultimately, what makes December in New York the best experience is that the city comes alive with so many activities. From Christmas and New Years festivities, snowfall, cheaper deals, and more adventure given the shorter daytime, you’ll be convinced that the best time of the year to visit New York is in the Winter.

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December in New York has the most festivities

New York in the Winter means it's especially alive with lights and music

December in New York is probably the most magical time of the year to visit the city. The city knows how to do Christmas season unlike any other place in the world. During the winter months, you get to experience the city’s biggest attractions from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Iceskating at Central Park and seeing the Times Square Ball all lit up for the upcoming New Year.

There are also various Christmas Markets around the city, such as the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Union Square Market and the Brooklyn Flea Market.

Another festive aspect that makes December the best time of the year to visit New York is seeing the grand displays, lights shows and music concerts. Fifth Avenue is brimming with energy. Saks Fifth Avenue has the most stunning Christmas lights show every night, and every department store in the avenue has their own impressive display of holiday decorations, adding to the overall festive mood of the city. It’s a vibe you’ll truly enjoy being immersed with.

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December in New York is the most magical sight with snow

New York in the Winter means the most picture perfect walks

Can you imagine Central Park or Washington Square Park filled with snow? Or seeing the majestic skyscrapers of New York, such as the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center, snowcapped

New York in the winter is the most unreal thing you’ll ever see, almost like you’re being transported to another century. It feels as if the world slows down even if everything is buzzling all around you. Wherever you look, it’s the most picture perfect scene. 

By exploring the city, witnessing snow in New York is already a unique experience on it’s own. We have experienced December in New York, and it’s a real life winter wonderland and a sight to behold.

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Winter in New York can be cheaper

Except the Peak Holidays, New York in the Winter is overall cheaper

New York in the winter is actually the cheapest time of the year to visit. Except for the peak holidays, if you go before or after Christmas and New Year’s, you’ll notice the prices are a huge difference.

Occupancy in hotels and flight rates are its lowest during the season. This means there are also less crowds outside of the holidays, which is why it’s a golden opportunity to visit the city.

Where to stay in New York during the Winter

Budget Hotels to stay in New York in the Winter

Now you may be wondering, what are some more budget hotels to stay at in New York? Here’s a short list we’ve compiled of the lowest nightly rates we found during the months of winter in New York, depending on your preferred area:

December in New York promises more off-the-beaten adventures

You appreciate the little things and value your time more in the Winter

Going to New York in the Winter means cold nights and shorter days, and that’s part of why we love it! It makes you appreciate your time there more and make the most out of the hours you have in the day.  

You get to experience things like snow and festive sights for free, because they’re part of the overall experience of going to New York in the winter. You also end up being more adventurous stumbling upon random bars or cafes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the High Line or Chelsea, seeking for the extra warmth.

It’s the best time of the year to visit New York for a more unique experience that doesn’t match any other season, because as we’ve learned travelling, the best things in life are free.

And that’s especially true on a winter day, with snow falling, the lights shining and the energy buzzing in the ever magical city that never sleeps, New York.

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Our Final Thoughts

So there you have it! We hope this helps you decide that the best time of the year to visit New York is in the winter. Within this season, we think that amongst all the months of winter, December in New York is the most unique time of them all. Going before the holiday peak, you get to experience New York in all its festivities but at cheaper rates.

If you’ve ever been to New York, when do you think the best time of the year is to visit? Have you experienced New York in the winter? We’d love to hear your travel stories in the comments below!

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19 thoughts on “The Best Time of the Year to Visit New York: December in New York”

  1. I always found New York to be too cold when I visit in the winter, however the photos I have of Central Park in the snow are amazing. It is unreal, I love city parks in the snow. Espeically first thing in the morning. It’s a great city to go around, crowds are a bit quieter so it can be the ideal time to go. Would love to go back in the winter, but next time I’m taking proper gloves which can handle the cold 😀

    1. Haha this made me smile Danik. I agree, it’s so worth it! And yes, gloves are truly a must or else your fingers will freeze to death. I can’t wait to come back too! ☺️

  2. I’ve often thought about visiting New York in December, with all the wonderful Christmas lights and store windows! If there’s snow on the ground, so much the better, though I’m a bit slow moving in the cold! Good to know that it’s actually a less expensive time to visit as well.

  3. I love NYC in December! All the city lights, store windows, ice skating rinks, Christmas markets and Christmas tree stands on the side of the road put me in the spirit immediately. I have not been lucky enough to have snow during a visit and your image of Central Park has inspired me to return!

  4. I dream of seeing New York in December. Christmas scenery gives the city a real charm. Then it looks like a city of fairy tales. It’s great that the prices are lower in winter. I would love to use your tips.

  5. I’ve only been to NYC once and it was for New Years Eve one December. While I wouldn’t recommend that hectic-ness, I wish I had visited just before Christmas instead! Loved the lights and the life of the city, and as a Florida girl New York wouldn’t be New York without having to bundle up for the cold!

  6. I’ve never been to New York, but I always think December is the best time to do it. After all, who don’t want to experience all the Christmas lights in the city, right? It’s good to know that December is actually the cheapest month to go – outside the holidays at the end of month. What I really want to know, how is the crowd after the New Years Eve though. On January 1st.

    1. Good question Umiko, actually I have done New York during New Year’s. On January 1st, it’s pretty dead (obviously given New Years Eve and how big the festivities are during the Eve) so the morning after is really quite calm and nice to take a walk. All the crowd during the eve is gone. But it’s a great feeling to start a new year in this city! It’s not as cheap as other days during the winter like I’ve mentioned in the guide, but it’s also an experience unlike any other. So I would still recommend it! The energy is truly palpable.

  7. Thanks for the tips. I haven’t been to New York yet but have always wondered when to go when we are ready to go. Being a festival time I thought it would be a costly proposition during that time but am surprised to learn it isn’t. Spending Christmas in New York quite excites me.

    1. It is costly during the peak holidays itself but if you go right before (before Dec 20) or right after (2nd week of Jan until March), the cost difference is huge. And you still get the same festive elements and possibility of snow during these times outside of the peak holidays. I’ve been to New York both during peak and non-peak holidays in the winter and I can promise that there is really a big diff between these two occasions in terms of the sizes of the crowds and the prices.

  8. I would love to see New York in every possible time of the year. I’m actually originally from Scandinavia, so I’m used to the cold winter weather and snow. I trust you when you say that New York looks beautiful with snow! There are so many pretty parks that it has to be pretty. I also enjoy the festive decor and light so I think I would be excited to be there in December.

    1. It’s really unlike any kind of energy we have ever witnessed! Bright lights, snow, and the beautiful parks. It’s amazing, you must definitely go when you can.

  9. I have visited NYC in August – means summer but would definitely want to see this city under snow too. Walking at the snowy Central Park with a beautiful skyline view would be really very romantic and dreamy here to do in winter time. NYC is very much illuminated and with Christmas lights show it must be really sparkling in winter time. The festive vibes here look very vibrant.

    1. Indeed it is very vibrant, we’ve been to other seasons too but it pales in comparison to a cozy winter season in New York, where everything is just magic. And so very much alive!

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