When travel to New York?
And above all how to choose the best time to visit it, reckoning the seasonal events, the things not to be missed to do, the weather, the single needs and available funds of travelers, with a particular attention to the period (unfortunately the vacations of most of us bind departures to specific dates) and – above all – to prices?
These are questions I am asked always more often and which is necessary to answer to in detail in order to be really helpful.
So I thought to write a sort of mini-guidebook with any useful info to decide, according to the single needs and times in everyone’s hands: when travel to New York, season by season, with pros and cons, special events and activities included, and quite a lot of deepener links.
Start from the assumption that New York can be visited all over the year.
Every month gives particular festivities to celebrate and original things to do, besides – of course – the chance to visit always and however the major attractions – which cannot be missed if you’re planning your first time in the city.
It’s only a matter of flexibility, adaptability to temperatures (that in some winter months can drop drastically), to crowd (exhausting sometimes), periods of the so-called “high season”, and affordability, of course.
From late in November – after the Thanksgiving, when fall festivities leave place to the Advent Time, precisely – until early in January, New York dresses up literally with lights and magic.
A special period, for many people the most suggestive ones, including some of the events and shows which entered the collective imaginary thanks to cult movies and TV series.
Starting from the opening of the Saks Fifth Ave Lights and Sound show and the Rockefeller Center one with the lighting of its famous Christmas Tree.
The Christmas Market in Bryant Park and Union Square (the most crowded ones), the ice-skating rinks in Central Park and Bryant Park again, the 5th Ave ornaments, the exaggerated decorations in Dyker Heights.
And even the New Year’s Eve celebrations, as far as arriving to the festivals organized in Brooklyn and Staten Island and the suggestive Holidays Train Show of the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, three very beautiful New Yorker districts to explore.
Without mention the chance to travel by subway on vintage trains – the Nostalgia Trains –and watch the mythical Rockettes Show at the Radio City Music Hall.
Find here any indication about these experiences, precious tips and info included.
Even if Advent is one of the most magic periods of the year to visit the city, it’s necessary to reckon also some related aspects such as the tourist crowd that –specially on December 8th and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day – invades literally the city making difficult to be able to visit the main attractions without having to be under endless lines and even only walking through the most famous places, completely swallowed up by the crowd.
My tip – above all if you are visiting the city for the first time – is if you can, of course) to avoid the highlight of weekends I talked about above or at least to get the City Pass in order to avoid gridlocks entering the museums and attractions.
Another sore spot are prices. Since we are in the high season, you’ll have anyway to estimate a higher budget than other periods, not only for flights (enlisting to the newsletter of the airlines companies flying more often to NYC – Lufthansa, American Airlines, Delta and Emirates – you could however find affordable fares moving in advance), but above all for accommodations and meals.
New York has a low season. Incredible, but true!
A period – the one I define the real New Yorker Winter – of two months corresponding to the end of Christmas Holidays and the beginning of Spring, more or less from the middle of January until the middle of March.
Prices of flights and hotels drop remarkably, arriving to cost – above all accommodations –about 1/3 less than the standard. The city belongs again to locals, as if visitors disappear by magic (or passing unobserved among locals) and there are no lines to reach the greatest tourist attractions.
There’s only one contraindication. The weather. Then that is the main reason of the so-called low season.
Temperatures often drop to below zero and snowfalls are on the agenda even if it can occur that then in the middle there are wonderful sunny days and clear sky.
Certainly a period to reckon – if you don’t have great troubles with cold – above all because then activities and events to take part into are really many anyway. Find here a detailed list with the things to do and see in this period.
The time of the year when New York blooms again with colors and visitors. Spring!
Temperatures start rising progressively allowing – despite the short downpours typical of this season – to cycle again and to do outdoor activities again, from Central Park as far as the High Line, the Flea Markets open again and fairs of the period make the atmosphere incredibly nice for locals and tourists.
Among the events not to miss: The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Macy’s Flower Show to celebrate worthily the arrival of Spring. Besides then to the Tribeca Film Festival, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the very beautiful, eccentric Easter Parade not to be missed.
Without mention the chance to visit the numerous outdoor artworks, like the districts entirely dedicated to street art.
It occurs to me The Bushwick Collective, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Wellington Court (Queens), the Houston’s buildings façades – between Lafayette and Bowery Street – the wonderful artistic installations on the walls of the new subway route of the Second Ave and many other ones.
And with the return of tourists, the good season and nice temperature, (unfortunately) prices raise again, too.
My tip is always to start monitoring immediately (as soon as you are sure of the holiday/leaving period) the websites of the airlines companies and reckon to stay also in other districts besides Manhattan – suggestive as well maybe more local – like Brooklyn or Astoria in Queens, Long Island City in Harlem in the southern area towards Central Park or Lower Manhattan. Always remember to choose also according to the presence of near subway stop, so you can reach the tourist locations always and however in few minutes.
Summer in New York, almost 5 months of movie and shows outdoor, in the parks (you cannot absolutely miss “Shakespeare in the Park”, the theatrical festival in Central Park, and the Bryant Park Film Festival), fairs, rides by bicycle, aperitifs on the rooftops, dinner on boat on the East River, trips to Governors Island and days in the Hamptons to enjoy sea and beaches together with the New Yorkers. And quite a lot of festivities made in USA to celebrate – among them July 4th, the Independence Day, the national holiday par excellence.
The second half of May, June and September (except for the very famous Fashion Week, usually from September 18/20) are the best months to enjoy the city with the warm summer weather as regards climate, expense and tourist crowd. In July and August – very hot both from a climate point of view and high season – you have to move much in advance about booking and reckon a budget certainly higher.
How can to save???
Eating at the Food Trucks – good quality ethnic and local food sold at the colored trucks with small tables and chairs – gathering in several areas of the city at lunchtime is certainly a good way to optimize expenses dedicated to food. Click here and find a complete list according to areas, steadily updated.
Another tip is to use the so-called “chain food” like Chipotle Mexican Grill or also the Whole Foods Market: affordable expense, good food, present everywhere in the city.
“There’s nothing like Fall in New York: not only leaves change,
but something in the air brings the real colors of everyone to light.”
Fall in New York. I must admit it. My favorite period by far to live and enjoy the city almost like a local.
Between late in September and almost all November the city covers literally with warm and enveloping colors of the mythical Indian Summer – the Foliage. Temperatures – except for sudden change in weather – are still acceptable, and walking in Central Park and in the most suggestive streets – specially the Village, Soho, Nolita, Lower East Side, Brooklyn Heights ones, et cetera – turns into a downright experience of colors, smells and savors.
Fall in New York it means house decorated for Halloween and a series of tied celebrations, among them the Halloween Parade in the Village not to be missed and the theme parties organized in every city neighborhood.
Find here the complete list with any necessary info to plan your itinerary in this period.
Fall in New York it means one or two days’ excursions to the near and magic Hudson Valley, among historic Inns, dwellings of other times and small villages of the old America.
Fall in New York it means having the chance to take part into the big New York Marathon, enjoy the Thanksgiving Day – one of the most loved and heartfelt festivities by Americans – and take part into the Thanksgiving Day Parade – the most beautiful parade of all, in my opinion.
A season to reckon also for prices – definitely more “affordable” in comparison with other periods – and for the tourist crowd that – except for the weeks of Halloween and Thanksgiving – is definitely lower compared to other periods.