Despite winter’s less-than-hospitable climate, it’s a wonderful time to be in New York City. Sure, some areas can get uncomfortably crowded during the holidays (looking at you, Rockefeller Center), but the rest of the time there is much to enjoy. Here, you will find a variety of fun, fresh indoor options, outdoor options and accessible picks outside the city.
In the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig, and the New Year falls on February 5. It’s a great opportunity to bundle up and go revel in New York’s three main Chinatowns: in lower Manhattan, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and Flushing in Queens. The Manhattan location is the most well known and sports some of the best revelry, with a Firecracker Parade featuring bands and marchers in fabulous costumes, as well as martial arts demonstrations, dancing, and fireworks. If your focus is more on eating, head to Brooklyn and Queens, which may be (marginally) less crowded. —By Elisabeth Vincentelli
The High Line (thehighline.org) is a victim of its success: In summer, it is often mobbed—go on a weekend at your own risk. The crowds are a little sparser during the cold months, and you wonder why when you end up almost by yourself, enjoying the crisp light that only winter brings. It’s also easier to land a table at one of the nearby popular spots, like Santina (212.254.3000; santinanyc.com), which serves tasty coastal Italian fare. Bonus: Youcan enjoy the Whitney Museum’s exhibition “Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again” until March 31 (212.570.3600; whitney.org).
Manhattan ice-skating rinks are deservedly popular, which means they are crowded. It’s easier to find elbow room at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center at Lakeside (718.462.0010; lakesidebrooklyn.com). It offers two skating areas (one covered, the other not) spread over a spacious 32,000 square feet. You can join ice-skating as well as hockey leagues—and even learn curling.
Conventional wisdom has it that New York theater hibernates after the holidays, but January is actually the perfect time to venture out. In just a few years, BroadwayCon (broadwaycon.com) has turned into a must-do event with panels and workshops, autograph sessions, and singalongs, all featuring some of the Great White Way’s most popular performers. This year’s edition is at the New York Hilton Midtown, January 11–13. Fans of more offbeat fare should head downtown, where festivals like the Public Theater’s Under the Radar (212.539.8500;publictheater.org/Under-the-Radar), January 3–13, and the Abrons Arts Center’s American Realness (212.598.0400; abronsartscenter.org), Jan. 4–13, present cutting-edge companies. Meanwhile, the Prototype Festival, January 5–13, (212.352.3101; prototypefestival.org) focuses on new music as well as opera.
Few people have a fireplace at home, but luckily New York boasts several bars and restaurants that do. One of our favorites is the NoMad Hotel’s aptly named Fireplace (212.796.1500; thenomadhotel.com), an intimate cove boasting a 200-year-old hearth imported from France. In Brooklyn Heights, Henry Public (718.852.8630; henrypublic.com) cultivates a homey saloon vibe and is famous around the neighborhood for its burgers. Also worth a visit is the nearby Clover Club (718.855.7939; cloverclubny.com) in Cobble Hill, a cocktail bar that also serves small plates.
OUT OF TOWN
Warning: Those allergic to whimsy should steer clear of The Roxbury Motel. But if you think too much is never enough, this oasis of campy over-the-top style in the Catskills, three hours from New York City, is a rare find. Some of the rooms have 1960s and ’70s themes, and the cottage known as the Archeologist’s Digs has to be seen to be believed.
A mere two hours from Penn Station via Amtrak, Hudson offers an ideal weekend getaway. This walkable town offers a diverse array of shops and restaurants, and unusual joints like Moto Coffee Machine, where you can buy a cappuccino and a motorcycle. Set in a converted 1880s factory, Basilica Hudson is an edgy arts center that offers music, screenings, and readings, and was co-founded by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur.
You don’t go to Montauk in winter to see and be seen, but you will find a surprising number of outdoor activities available. The hardcore can do some winter surfing with CoreysWave. More accessible is hiking at the Camp Hero, Montauk Point, and Hither Hills state parks. Yes, many accommodations shutter in the cold months, but the high-end resort Gurney’s Montauk is open year-round.