Pride parties dancing through the streets in the summer, Broadway shows bringing the magic of the stage in the fall, holiday lights and magic in the winter, cherry blossoms galore in the spring…there’s no such thing as a bad time to visit New York City.

This abundance of seasonal activity means it’s hard to decide when to plan your trip. So whether you’re looking to nab a deal, go ice skating in Central Park, avoid the crowds or join them, here’s our guide to the best times to visit New York. 

December to February is a holiday season like no other

During the holiday season, New York City is a beautiful sight covered in twinkling lights. Instead of snow-capped mountains or wooden ski lodges, visitors can enjoy the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, plus a mixture of goodwill and retail madness – Fifth Ave department stores (as well as Macy’s) create festive, elaborate tableaux within their storefront windows. You don’t have to look far to find a concert or religious service packed with holiday tunes. The downside to all this festive cheer is that hotel prices skyrocket to summertime levels.

However, if you don’t mind risking a winter blizzard, there are deals to score during the long, cold winter months of January and February. Though the winter doldrums arrive after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, New Yorkers take advantage of the frosty weather, with outdoor ice skating and weekend ski trips to the Catskills. The odd blizzard and below-freezing temperatures make February a good time to stay indoors nursing a drink or a warm meal at a cozy bar or bistro. The fashion industry A-list descends on Manhattan for New York Fashion Week, while (most years) Lunar New Year celebrations make the city’s Chinatowns (there are many!) the places to be. 

Bow bridge in Central Park on a sunny day in spring. A cherry blossom branch in full bloom frames the right side of the image
Spring is a good time to find hotel deals © S.Borisov / Shutterstock

March to May is a great time for budget travelers  

Springtime is another great season to try to score hotel deals. The summer crowds have yet to descend and the weather is generally pleasant this time of year (but there are no guarantees). The odd warm spring day appears and everyone rejoices – though that’s usually followed by another week of subzero dreariness as winter lingers on. Wearing green is essential on St Patrick’s Day, when a huge parade makes its way through Midtown.

Spring finally arrives in April, and the city’s new outdoor dining program officially opens for the season. Tree pits, window boxes, squares and parks abound with bright tulips and cherry trees start blooming – a spectacle you can enjoy at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, on Roosevelt Island and throughout Central Park.

The weather becomes warm and mild, usually without the unpleasant humidity of summer – May is perhaps the best month for New York City weather. Broadway perks up again as shows open in advance of the June Tony Awards. In late May, uniformed sailors fan out on the town as Navy vessels dock on the Hudson for Fleet Week.

Check out these other budget-friendly tips before you book.

A group of people holding and flying rainbow flags walk down a street during NYC's Pride Parade.
Pride is one of many festivals celebrated in NYC in June © Erika Cross / Shutterstock

June to August is the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors

There’s nothing like summertime in New York City. While the weather often gets hot and sticky, the city also comes alive with a host of festivals, parties and events throughout the five boroughs. There’s the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Pride March in Manhattan and the US Open in Queens. This is also the ideal time to check out the local beach scene.

The warm temperatures in June tempt New Yorkers out of their office cubicles and WFH setups to lie out in the city’s green spaces. Parades roll down the busiest streets and portable movie screens are strung up in several parks. SummerStage offers exciting programming after dark in Central Park all season long.

As the city swelters in July, locals escape to Long Island or to beaches just a subway ride away. Still, it’s a busy month for tourism, as vacationing North Americans and Europeans fill the city. The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks dazzle, while Shakespeare in the Park serves up some drama – for free.

Thick waves of summer heat generally set in between the skyscrapers in August as everyone heads to the seashore or gulps cool blasts of air-conditioning. Myriad outdoor events and attractions add life to the languid urban heat. The US Open kicks off at the end of the month. Hotel prices are at their highest in the summertime as the streets fill with tourists from all over the globe. If the humidity becomes a little too much, you can always take a day trip to recharge and renew – before heading out for another night on the town.

A traffic-filled street and above, neon signs of Broadway shows in New York City
Fall is a perfect season to catch a Broadway play © Fresh photos from all over the world / Getty Images

September to November is the best time for cultural events and openings

After Labor Day, New Yorkers return to the city en masse and the city is abuzz with events, Broadway openings and new art exhibitions. Revelers dance down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in the West Indian American Day Parade, and festival-goers eat up sausage and peppers at Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro. Hotel prices might dip a bit from the summer’s peak but don’t expect incredible deals.  

As the season progresses and “sweater weather” sets in by October, the air gets crisper and the leaves start to turn. Brilliant bursts of color blossom across the city's parks as temperatures cool, ushering in one of the most pleasant and scenic months to visit NYC. Cultural delights continue, Comic Con invades the Javits Center and normally private sites open their doors for one weekend only during Open House New York. The Village Halloween Parade closes out the month with a creative bang.

As the leaves tumble, light jackets are replaced by wool and down. The headliner NYC marathon is tucked into the final days of pre-hibernation weather before families gather to give thanks – and perhaps watch the giant balloons pass by at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Ready to plan your trip to NYC?

Add these top experiences to your itinerary
Find out which NYC neighborhood fits your vibe
Start crafting your budget with these tips
Navigate NYC like a local with our transportation guide

This article was first published March 2021 and updated March 2024

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