If you’re visiting New York City in January you won’t be short on things to do, albeit you’ll have to bundle up. I won’t lie to you and say January’s the best time to visit, but the city is home to plenty of gems that are worth braving the cold.
As a local I’ve noticed that NYC is quieter than usual in January, thanks to New Yorkers staying home and the seasonal dip in tourism. Lines are shorter, ice skating rinks are open and there’s a cozy cafe on every corner.
So before you write-off visiting New York City in January let me share with you the local’s guide to the best things to do. These are the same activities I share with dear friends who visit me this time of year. I hope you find this article useful in planning your trip to New York City in January!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Please Note: This post contains affiliate links which we might earn commissions from – at no cost to you. Programs like this are the reason we can continue writing free New York City Content. Thank you for supporting our work.
Average temperature in New York City in January
Averages: high 39° | low 26° | rains on average 8 days of the month
If you’re visiting New York City in January you should be prepared for cold (and sometimes snowy) weather. Insulated and wind-proof clothing are non-negotiable if you want to enjoy yourself without freezing.
Keep in mind the sun sets early this time of year, so plan your outdoor activities while you still have daylight.
If it snows during your visit you’ll want to get an early start on the day. This way you can enjoy a pristine, freshly powdered New York City before pedestrians and cars turn the snow to slush.
Be sure to read What to Pack for New York in Winter (20 Things You Can’t Forget!) for more suggestions.
Tips for visiting NYC in January
- Bring winter shoes: It’s no secret that January in New York City is cold, and the most miserable place to be cold is in your toes. I recommend insulated/waterproof boots (here’s the pair I live in) and the only wool socks you’ll need.
- Bring lip balm & moisturizer: January in New York City is dry and cold. Add in raging industrial heaters to the mix and you’re bound to need quality lip balm and moisturizer. Lip balm is a personal thing, but if helpful, here’s the best one I’ve found to date (and it’s cheap!).
- Portable charger: Cold weather depletes batteries (both cellphones and camera) quicker than you’d expect, so when heading out for the day make sure you’re at full charge and pick up one of these.
Things to do in New York City in January
Ride the Bumper Cars at Bryant Park
Dates: January 14 – February 27, 2023
For those of us who are children at heart bumper cars can be thrilling. Luckily, after the holiday season, Bryant Park dusts off their bumper cars and provides us with one of the best things to do in New York City in January.
Unlike typical bumper cars that drive over asphalt or indoor surfaces, the cars at Bryant Park use the 17,000 square foot ice rink as the track. You’ll be slipping and sliding all over but that just makes it all the more fun!
The bumper cars are currently open to the public throughout January, and start at $20 for 10 minutes. I strongly recommend booking in advance since this is one of the most popular things to do in New York City in January.
Try Michelin Rated Ramen at Tonchin
Tonchin is a family business, founded in Japan in 1992 by brothers Katsuhiro and Motohiro Sugeno. When Katsuhiro’s son opted to take the business international heaven rejoiced, because ramen this good shouldn’t be gate-kept.
In fact, I’m not the only one who considers Tonchin some of the best ramen in New York City. The Michelin Guide gave the restaurant a Bib-Gourmand rating, which is given to good value restaurants.
With just one bite (or sip) you’ll understand why enjoying a bowl of ramen is one of the best things to do in New York City in January. The mouthwatering dish is the perfect way to thaw out after braving the winter chill!
For more delicious ramen recommendations be sure to read 12 Tasty Ramen Restaurants in New York City (Perfect For a Chilly Day)
Address: 13 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018
Attend the Museo del Barrio Three Kings Day Parade
Date: January 6th, 2023
The Museo del Barrio is a museum dedicated to celebrating the heritage and cultures of Latin and Caribbean people. In doing so the museum hosts an annual Three Kings Day Parade, one of the best things to do in New York City in January.
The parade features performances and characters, namely the Three Kings (also called the Three Wise Men) that visited baby Jesus after his birth. Expect latin music and a fun celebration the whole family can take part in.
From 8:30 to 10:30AM there will be a breakfast at El Museo, and at 11 the parade takes to the streets. The parade comes back to El Museo and hosts live performances and crafts from 1:00 to 2:00PM.
Address: El Museo, 1230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
Celebrate at the Chinese Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony
Dates: January 22, 2023
Celebrating Chinese New Years in Chinatown is like celebrating Oktoberfest in Germany or St. Patrick’s day in Ireland, it just feels right.
The festivities draw in thousands of visitors every year, and I’m not just talking about the parade. The Chinese Lunar New Year takes course over 15 days (between full moons) and Chinatown celebrates on every one of them.
Festivities kick off on January 22nd with the Firecracker Ceremony, where locals use firecrackers to fend off evil spirits. Vendors, dancers and food-booths flood the neighborhood to ring in the Year of the Rabbit in one of the best events in New York City in January.
Gawk at Richard Avedon: MURALS at the MET
Dates: January 19 – Fall, 2023.
With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. Averaging 6 million visitors per year, The MET is also the most visited museum in New York City.
One of the best things to do in New York City in January is to swing by the museum for their brand new exhibit: MURALS at the MET. Featuring enormous (as big as 35 feet) murals by photographer Richard Avedon, the exhibit makes the viewer feel like they were next to Avedon as he snapped the picture.
Avedon worked as a fashion photographer for Vogue, Elle and Harpers Bazaar and the exhibit commemorates what would’ve been his 100th birthday.
Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
Savor the Eataly Wine and Food Festa
Date: January 20, 2023
One of the best things for foodies to do in New York City in January is to swing by Eataly. The Italian marketplace sells ingredients and cooking supplies and is the home to three unique restaurants.
Although the market is a great place to visit year round, on January 20th the Alpine Winter Wine & Food Festa makes stopping by one of the best things to do in New York City in January.
At the Winter Festa you’ll be able to try unlimited drinks and bites inspired by the Italian-Alps for a flat fee of $85. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance, I don’t anticipate they’ll last long. Plus, there’s an early bird discount if you’re one of the first to buy!
Something to note: Eataly has two locations in NYC but the Alpine Winter Wine & Food Festa is only being hosted at the downtown location.
Visit the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
Dates: January 1st to January 16th, 2023
The Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in New York City in January, especially if you have kids in tow.
Model trains make way past 190 replicas of New York’s landmarks, all made from natural-growing materials. The train show has been a beloved tradition for more than 30 years.
The last day of the show is January 16th, so book tickets to avoid having to wait for next year!
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10458
Admire Jerry Seinfeld at the Beacon Theatre
Dates: January 20 – 21, 2023
Jerry Seinfeld needs no introduction, unless you’ve been living under a rock. Best known for the hit TV show Seinfield (the sixth-best TV show of all time, per Rolling Stone), Jerry Seinfeld will be performing four shows at the Beacon Theatre in January.
As a native New Yorker Seinfeld is a hometown hero, and often regarded as one of the best comedians at all time. Tickets won’t last long, so purchase them in advance to avoid missing one of the best things to do in New York City in January.
Address: Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023
Check out a Sporting Event
One of the best things to do in New York City in January is to check out a live sporting event, and there are plenty of home games choose from.
NYC is home to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders hockey teams, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets basketball teams and the New York Giants and New York Jets football teams.
Each team has a loyal fanbase that brings a vibrant energy to the live games. If you’re visiting New York City in January consider attending a game as an excuse to get out of your hotel and cheer for the home team.
Something to note: If cost is a concern you should know that tickets to basketball and hockey games are typically less expensive than for football.
Take Your Kiddos to Disney on Ice
Dates: January 18 – January 22, 2023
Put on your shoes, kids! Disney on Ice is coming to town. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host one of the best events in New York City in January. Classic Disney characters will glide, sing and perform the stories we’ve all come to know and love.
There is also a pre-show Character Experience you can purchase where your little ones get to interact with Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Expect dancing, games and crafts your kids will be sure to remember.
Afterwards, make your way to your seats for the main event. Miguel from Coco, Rapunzel from Tangled, and Moana all will sing their songs (and you’ll find it hard not to sing-along) in a performance called Into the Magic.
Address: Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Visit the Queens Botanical Garden
The 39 acres of the Queens Botanical Garden are filled with unique and beautiful plants, and if you’re visiting New York City in January you get to visit for free!
I’ll admit the garden can be cold and most of the plants won’t be in bloom, but the green-space has a tranquil vibe that’s hard to replicate. In a city as loud as New York you’ll find the serene garden quite peaceful.
Address: 43-50 Main St, Queens, NY 11355
Sing Along with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
Dates: December 19, 2022
Billy Joel is Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) first and only musical franchise. This essentially means he’s a tenant – and MSG is his home, just as much as it’s the home of the New York Knicks or New York Rangers.
Known as The Piano Man, Joel is the fourth best-selling solo artist in the United States, the winner of 5 Grammys and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
To call Billy Joel a living legend would be understatement, so no wonder his concert is one of the best things to do in New York City in January!
Address: Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001
Go Ice Skating in Central Park
Ice skating is one of the most popular things to do in New York City in January, and few locations are as iconic as Wollman Rink in Central Park.
Located in the southern part of the park, the rink is set under the shadow of trees and high-rise buildings. As one of the best things to do when visiting New York City in January the rink can get crowded pretty quickly. A local tip is try to visit during the weekday and arrive early.
By no means is Wollman Rink the only place to ice skate in New York City in January – be sure to read 12 Impressive Ice Skating Rinks in New York City (& Where to Skate For FREE!) for more suggestions.
Attend the Harlem Gospel Choir Martin Luther King Jr. Day Show
Date: January 16th, 2023
The Harlem Gospel Choir was founded in 1986 and is consistently regarded as the most talented gospel choir in the world. I’ve spent years listening to the group online and admiring them from afar, but once I got to see them live it took a week to pick up my jaw off the floor.
On January 16th the choir will come together at Sony Hall to pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr, the American civil rights activist who changed history. You can expect gospels songs sang with heartwarming passion.
The event is open to all ages and faiths, and is one of the best things to do in New York City in January. Tickets are available now and start at $32 plus fees.
Address: Sony Hall, 235 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
Participate in Paramount’s Laser Spectacular, featuring the Music of Pink Floyd
Date: January 18, 2023
Paramount’s Laser Spectacular uses 3D and prism glasses to wow their audiences with an immersive light show. The glasses put you at the center of the visually-stunning displays in a way I can only describe as eye-opening.
Set to Pink Floyd’s best hits (the band will not be performing) the lights dance around in trance, mesmerizing the audience.
If you love Pink Floyd and want to experience their music in a unique way, this is one of the best things to do in New York City in January.
Address: NYCB Theatre, 960 Brush Hollow Road Westbury, NY 11590
January Festivals in New York City
Dates: January 17th to to February 12th, 2023
Foodies rejoice! Restaurant Week is one of the best reasons to visit New York City in January. Restaurants all across the city offer two and three course meals at a discounted rate giving folks the opportunity to try a little bit of everything. Dates and info here.
Dates: January 3rd to February 12th, 2023
Similar to Restaurant Week, Hotel Week also provides another reason to visit New York City in January. To celebrate 2023, guests will get 23% off their stays at some of New York’s best hotels. This is also great for any locals looking to book a staycation and splurge a little bit. Click here for a full list of participating hotels.
Must See Week
Dates: January 17th to to February 12th, 2023
One of the best things to do in New York City in January is to take advantage of Must See Week. Starting January 10th you can book tickets to some of NYC’s biggest attractions at a 2 for 1 discount. Tours, museums and performing arts will all be up for grabs, but again – tickets go on sale on January 10th and they will go fast.
Dates: January 17th to to February 12th, 2023
During Broadway Week folks are able to purchase 2-for-1 tickets, effectively doubling the bang for your buck. If you’re a Broadway geek (like me) this makes visiting New York City in January twice as fun! Similar to Must See Week, tickets go live January 10th and sell like hot-cakes so act fast.
NYC Winter Jazz Fest
Dates: January 12th to January 18th, 2023.
Originally taking place on a single day and in a single venue, the Winter Jazz Fest’s rise in popularity has seen it evolve into a week-long celebration at over 20+ jazz clubs in New York City in January. Expect more than 500 musicians, both established and up and coming. Click here for a full lineup and to purchase tickets.
Public Theater Under the Radar Festival
Dates: January 4th to January 22nd, 2023
The Public Theater makes theater more accessible and shines a light on up and coming talent. The Under The Radar Festival takes it up a notch – it showcases new plays from all around the world. Ticket and shows are available online, but be quick, this is one of the best things to do in New York City in January so tickets won’t last long.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival
The Winter Lantern Festival is a walk-through light display featuring illuminated animals and figures. Consisting of four different locations with unique themes, they provide plenty of fun things to do in New York City in January. Although the locations are a little removed from Manhattan, the festival is worth the trek. Read more info here.
New York City Wine Fest
Date: January 28th, 2023
If you want to try wine from all around the world but lack the skymiles to do so, the NYC Wine Fest is one of the best things to do in New York City in January. You’ll be able to sample hundreds of wines in a lively setting with good music and plenty of vendors, just be sure to buy your ticket in advance.
New York Boat Show
Dates: January 25th to January 29th, 2023
I didn’t grow up with boats, nor do I own one now but I never miss the New York Boat Show and you shouldn’t either. I treat the Javits Center as a museum and the boats on display as artwork, just meant to be appreciated. For only $20 you can enjoy one of the best things to do in New York City in January, and children under 12 are free!
Brooklyn Wine Fest
Address: January 14th, 2023
Just like the NYC Wine Fest, the Brooklyn Wine Fest is also one of the best things to do in New York City in January. That’s because the festival is hosted by the same folks and you can try wine from all over the world! There will be live entertainment, food and games too making it an event you won’t want to miss.
What not to do in New York City in January
- Observation decks when the weather is bad: This isn’t so you won’t be cold, I tell you to avoid them because you won’t be able to see anything! Check the weather app and be sure to steer clear of fog.
- Forgetting to make reservations: I suggest checking each and every place for reservations before trekking out into New York City in January, this is so you can avoid waiting in cold (and rainy) lines outdoors.
- Open air bus tours: The cold weather is only exaggerated when you’re seated on the top floor of an open air bus, the experience feels like a permanent wind chill. The inside of the bus is seldom any better because of foggy windows.
Pros of visiting New York City in January
- Cheaper flights and hotels
- Discounted events (Broadway, restaurants, Hotel Week)
- Fewer crowds
Cons of visiting New York City in January
- Inclement weather
- Early sunsets
- Have to pack & carry layers
Best things to Do in New York City in January (Post Summary)
- Bumper Cars at Bryant Park
- Try Michelin Rated Ramen at Tonchin
- Museo del Barrio Three Kings Day Parade
- Chinese Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony
- Richard Avedon: MURALS at the MET
- Eataly Wine and Food Festa
- New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show
- Jerry Seinfeld at Beacon Theatre
- Check out a Sporting Event
- Disney on Ice
- Visit the Queens Botanical Garden
- Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden
- Go Ice Skating
- Harlem Gospel Choir Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Paramount’s Laser Spectacular, featuring the Music of Pink Floyd
- Restaurant Week
- Hotel Week
- Must See Week
- Broadway Week
- NYC Winter Jazz Fest
- Public Theater Under the Radar Festival
- NYC Winter Lantern Festival
- New York City Wine Fest
- New York Boat Show
- Brooklyn Wine Fest
Map of New York City January Activities
And there you have it, folks! My list of the best things to do in New York City in January. I hope you found it helpful.
Cheers and happy new year.