One of the most popular and exciting tourist destinations in the world, New York has lots to offer travelers year-round. However, with the intense popularity and countless attractions, there can also be massive crowds, overbooked restaurants, sold-out events and full hotels. Understanding the tourist seasons and planning ahead can help you avoid many of these hurdles, but you may need to consider other elements when deciding what time of year to make your trip to the Big Apple.
We all know that New York is the City that Never Sleeps, but this does not only refer to the time of day; New York is awake and thriving year-round, whether there are snow and jingle bells in the air, or the sun is shining and the parks are green. Depending on what you hope to see and experience on your journey (as well as what you hope to avoid), the time of year you visit New York is one of the more important factors to decide ahead of time. Some seasons are better for traveling families, and others are better for shopaholics.
If you have an idea of what you want to get out of your trip, you can make an educated decision on when to venture out and choose one of the best tour packages in New York City. This guide is designed to help you do just that, with information on weather, attractions, popularity and events during each season in the Big Apple.
Once the cruel winter weather begins to leave the burroughs, tourists begin to file into the city. Springtime provides temperate weather and lots of outdoor activities, making it one of the better times to visit with your family. Popular parades on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter will keep the kids entertained and enchanted, and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus provides fun for the whole family, beginning in March.
For more grown-up activities, springtime offers countless outdoor exhibits and events, in addition to the constantly thriving nightlife. The Tribeca Film Festival in April and the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit in May provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the discerning artist in you, and Central Park will always be full of colorful springtime fun.
Summer marks the beginning of the high season for tourism in New York, as countless families and European travelers funnel in to take in all the city has to offer without bringing a sweater. However, the high level of tourist traffic is slightly offset by exiting locals, who often leave the city during this period. Once summer kicks into full-force, temperatures can reach well into the 90s, and the intense humidity can make it feel even hotter.
Although summer offers a lot to do, you should plan on booking your hotel and purchasing any tickets in advance. NYC Restaurant Week in July and New York International Fringe Festival are perfect examples of popular, yet worthwhile, tourist attractions. Shakespeare in the Park also begins in June, and although tickets are free, you will still want to get to the box office early in the day, as these shows are always extremely popular among visitors.
If you make your plans and bookings ahead of time, early fall may be the best time of year to take in all that New York has to offer. The hot and humid weather of summer will begin to dissipate and be replaced by crisp days and cool evenings. Locals who leave the city during summer will begin to return, bringing back much of the personality and flavor that makes New York unique.
September offers countless events to distract and dazzle tourists, such as New York Fall Fashion Week, the New York Film Festival and Broadway Week, in which tickets will be 2-for-1 for more than 20 of the most popular shows. Fall is also parade season, with the Columbus Day Parade and Halloween Parade in October, and the world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade towards the end of the season.
Temperatures will begin to drop dramatically towards the middle of fall, but December offers many of the most exciting and famous attractions New York has to offer. By this time, the shopping season will be in full-swing, and holiday window displays become attractions in and of themselves. Countless holiday events make late November and December one of the more popular tourist times, and there are lots of fun things to do, despite the drop in temperatures.
If you can handle the cold and snow, more frugal travelers may find that January and February are the best months for low-prices and relatively open availability. New York Restaurant Week, Broadway Week and New York Fashion Week will also come around again, providing worthwhile destinations and experiences, even in the coldest months.