The Very Best Time to Visit New York (by a local!)

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When’s the best time to visit New York? New York experiences all four seasons, and often temperature extremes — but I think the best time to visit New York is in the fall from September to November.

That said, that’s just one small part of the year — and it could be completely different for you. You might hate that time of year if you came for festivals, or outdoor dining, or the cheapest prices. (And if you have kids or work in education, you might not be able to come then at all.)

So I set out to create the best guide on the best time to travel to New York, completely with temperature, atmosphere, crowd level, and event information.

I lived in New York for several years until recently, and living there was one of the great joys of my adult life. I know the city extremely well, and this guide is full of tidbits that you only get after living awhile in New York.

Like just how hot the 96th St. 1-2-3 platform gets in August. Or just how bad the crowds are on Fifth Avenue in December.

Or the incredible feeling you get when taking part in an activity with a huge crowd of strangers, whether it’s a rare eclipse or a surprise Janet Jackson concert in your neighborhood.

In short — New York is a one-of-a-kind city, and you are going to have a wonderful time here, not matter what time of year you decide to go to New York. Let’s get to the guide!

I love Central Park in the fall! Via DepositPhotos.

Best Time to Visit New York

The best time to visit New York is during the fall months: late September, all of October, and early November. This is for three main reasons:

The weather is fantastic. Nice, warm and cool temperatures that are perfect for strolling around outdoors. Some days you need no jacket; some days just a light jacket is perfect. One big difference from spring is that it doesn’t rain as often during the fall.

Crowds have thinned out. New York’s busiest seasons are from June through August and Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Kids are back in school and many families are averse to traveling so early in the school year, and families comprise a decent percentage of New York tourists.

Prices have dropped. New York is always expensive, don’t get me wrong, but hotel prices are much lower in the fall lower than during the summer months and the peak season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

And a bonus reason: fall colors. That’s just a bonus, in my opinion! You see the best fall colors in New York from mid-October to early November, peaking in late October. Don’t miss the fall foliage in Central Park, Prospect Park, and Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters.

When’s the best time to visit New York overall?

I recommend visiting New York during the fall months, from late September through early November. May and June are nice, too.

What’s the best month to visit New York?

In my opinion, the best month to visit New York is October, for beautiful weather and gorgeous fall colors.

What’s the best month to visit New York with kids?

There’s lots to do in New York year-round, but we love September for family trips because most kid-friendly Big Apple attractions are empty.

How cold does it get in winter in New York?

In the winter temperatures are frequently below freezing, especially in January, but usually hover between 28-45 F (-2-7 C).

What’s the best time to visit New York for festivals?

Festivals occur year-round in New York but there are many great ones in the summer, especially June, as well as between Thanksgiving and New Years’.

A blooming yet overcast day in Riverside Park, Manhattan.

New York Weather

New York gets every kind of weather you can imagine. It experiences all four seasons and the weather fluctuates throughout the year. 

In the winter you have plenty of subzero days and major snowstorms; the spring growsinto warmer and warmer temperatures, but with decent rain; summer is very hot with high humidity, and the fall is warm-to-cool with mostly clear skies.

There are pros and cons to each season in New York. Let’s break down each season one by one.

Pink blossoms on a tree in bloom against a stone and brick building in NYC.
Gorgeous blooms add so much to New York in the spring.

New York in Spring

Spring in New York is absolutely beautiful and a great time to visit. As long as you come during actual spring: early April through early June. March is still very much winter temperatures here.

Yes, New York has cherry blossoms, and they tend to bloom at the end of March or the beginning of April. They symbolize the beginning of warmer months ahead with their bright spring colors. Some of the best places to see cherry blossoms in New York are Central Park, Roosevelt Island, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, which has a cherry blossom festival in April.

One of my favorite things to do in New York in the spring is to wake up early and take a long, leisurely walk through Central Park, enjoying the fresh cool air and the dogs enjoying off-leash hours.

It can be a cheerful time to visit after a cold winter, but many days can be rainy. The temperature is comfortable for walking around and not too hot or too cold. It’s good to have a light jacket and umbrella with you.

Also, you have those exceptionally warm days that pop up every now and then, usually in mid-April. I live for the first hot day of the year in New York because everyone empties into the parks and enjoys the glorious sunshine!

If you have a genie and can predict the future, THAT is the best time to go to New York — the first hot day of the year. But if you’re feeling lucky, aim for the last week in April.

The Manhattan skyline underneath a partly cloudy sky, buildings rising up in shades of blue and gray.
Governor’s Island is a must in the summer months!

New York in Summer

Summer weather in New York is very hot and humid, which can be glorious, but also difficult to handle. Ah, New York in the summer is quite the contradiction.

On one hand, summer is when New York explodes into festivals and events, from Pride to the Mermaid Parade to the Jazz Lawn Party on Governor’s Island. There’s outdoor dining, rooftop parties, street festivals, and even time on the beach at Jacob Riis or the Rockaways.

On the other hand, summer can be miserable. The smell of garbage is particularly pungent in New York at this time of the year. Waiting for the subway can be on a platform 10+ degrees hotter than the temperature outside. And subway cars that have lost AC are their own brand of hell.

Honestly, I’m a big summer fan, but in New York I spend a lot of time visiting museums and doing indoor activities. I recommend doing the same, finding lots of places you can escape to if it gets too hot.

One of my favorite things to do in New York in the summer is to take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s the best free activity in New York City, and standing outdoors on the ferry will give you some lovely breezes.

Yellow Leaves behind a lamppost in Central Park, NYC.
I love the fall colors in Central Park.

New York in Fall

Fall is a spectacular time to visit New York. It’s the best of every world, as I mentioned above: comfortable temperatures for walking around and exploring; mostly clear skies and limited rain; colorful fall foliage; and smaller crowds and lower hotel prices than peak season.

One thing I’ve noticed in my years as a travel writer is that September and October are MAGICAL. This is when kids go back to school and parents don’t want to travel that early in a new school year — so places are marvelously empty of kids.

Every fashionista knows that fall is the best season of the year for fashion — and New York is one of the most interesting fashion cities on the planet. Whether you go to Bryant Park for the shows or stroll through the streets of SoHo, fall is THE time for exploring fashion in New York.

One of my favorite things to do in New York in the fall is to get out my camera and explore different neighborhoods and their local cuisines: Prospect Heights for Caribbean curries; Flushing for Hong Kong egg tarts; Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for Albanian burek.

(Pretty different than the Times-Square-Empire State Building-Brooklyn Bridge-High Line tourist attractions route, don’t you think?)

This photo really shows how brutal New York can be in winter, via DepositPhotos

New York in Winter

When you live there, winter in New York sometimes feels eternally long and bleak, but there’s nothing like the city under a fresh snowfall.

New York gets several major snowstorms during the winter months, most of them between early January and late March. (Though it’s not unheard of to have a snowstorm in December or even as early as November.)

This is absolutely gorgeous — New York under a fresh snowfall is so lovely to photograph, especially Central Park and any neighborhood with brownstones. But that only lasts a few hours, and if the snow is deep, the city can grind to a halt.

Should you visit New York in the winter? I always say that you should only come here if you know what our winters are like. If you’re from Chicago or Minnesota, come on in! You know what you’re getting into. Good winter boots are BEYOND essential.

But if you’re from Florida or Texas, I strongly urge you to come at another time. On the NYC subreddits there are always posts by travelers from warm climates who don’t know how to deal with the cold and aren’t enjoying their trip. (If this is you, go to Uniqlo or H&M and buy a bunch of winter gear. It will make it easier.)

Winter is also the cheapest time of year to visit New York — specifically early January through late March.

One of my favorite things I’ve ever done in winter is the no-pants subway ride! This event in January is organized over social media. Groups of participants ride a set route of the NYC subway together in full winter gear except pants, ending up in Union Square. Somehow it always ends up being the coldest day of the year, but that adds to the fun.

High Season and Low Season in New York

Generally speaking, high season in New York is during the summer months, from June through August. This is when you have the biggest crowds and the highest prices. There is also a second high season in New York between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, when New York goes all out for Christmas and the holiday season.

Some peak days in New York, when accommodation is at its most expensive, are New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

There are also some paradoxes during high season. On Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, the city empties out as New Yorkers head for the beach. This can be a very pleasant time in local neighborhoods that don’t get a lot of tourists.

Low season in New York is from January to March. During this time you have winter weather and lots of unpredictable snowstorms. If you’re used to cold winters, this can be a great time to visit, as you’ll be able to enjoy lower hotel rates, visit uncrowded museums, and get cheap Broadway tickets.

Best Month to Visit New York

What’s the best month to visit New York? Usually I say October, but that’s not the whole story.

It depends on who you are and what kind of trip you want to have.

I’ve broken down every month in New York into atmosphere, weather, and events.

New York in January

January is the coldest month in New York and other than New Year’s, it’s not a busy time to visit. After the holiday season, prices drop and it’s one of the cheapest times of the year.

The average temperature in New York in January can range from 27 to 39 Fahrenheit (-3 to 4 Celsius). You can also expect snow in January, and likely multiple major snowstorms, in between a variety of sleet, rain, and wintry precipitation.

Events in New York in January include the Three Kings Day Parade in East Harlem, the world-famous Westminster Kennel Dog Show, and Broadway Week, when Broadway shows have 2-for-1 tickets.

New York in February

February is a slow month in New York and one of the cheapest months out of the year. The cold, snowy weather of February keeps tourists away.

Average temperatures in New York in February range from 28 to 41 Fahrenheit (-2 to 5 Celsius) and you can expect a few major snowstorms, along with various other wintry weather.

Events in New York in February include the Lunar New Year Parade in the city’s numerous Chinatowns, the beginning of the multi-month Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens, and NYC restaurant week, when restaurants offer low-priced specials.

New York in March

March is the last of the cold months in New York and much more winter than spring. It’s still a cheaper time of year with fewer tourists because it’s too cold for spending much of the time outdoors.

You can expect average temperatures in New York in March to be 36 to 50 Fahrenheit (2 to 10 Celsius). There is usually at least one snowstorm in March as well, sometimes more than one, and the weather still feels like winter through the end of the month.

Events in New York in March include the St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Fifth Avenue, the New York International Children’s Film Festival, and the Macy’s Flower Show in their flagship store on 34th Street.

New York in April

April is when New York starts to awake into spring, which makes it a lovely time to visit New York. In the early days of April, you can find cherry blossoms blooming and colorful flowers all around. Temperatures are moderate, though you may have a few cold and hot days mixed in.

Weather-wise, it can be a bit all over the place — some rainy days, some sun, some foggy mornings, a lot of cloudiness — but the weather is warming up and spring has sprung.

Average temperatures in New York in April range from 45 to 61 Fahrenheit (7 to 16 Celsius), though you’ll probably enjoy one or two super-warm days near the end of the month!

Events in New York in April include the New York Easter Parade along Fifth Avenue, Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and Earth Day, which brings in a variety of events.

New York in May

May is a great month to visit New York, especially if you like flowers. Spring is in full effect, the flowers are lovely and temperatures are comfortable for being outside. It’s just before summer begins and tourists make their way to the city, so May is the perfect time to beat the major crowds.

You can expect the average temperature in New York in May to be around 54 to 72 Fahrenheit (12 to 22 Celsius).

Events in New York in May include Bronx Week, celebrating everything about the northernmost borough; NYCX Design, showcasing interesting designs of all kinds, and the Ninth Ave International Food Festival in Hell’s Kitchen.

New York in June

June marks the start of summer in New York, and if you have your heart set on a New York summer trip, we recommend June over hotter, more humid July and August. Early June is much more spring-like and you’l experience more rain, but by late June, sizzling summer has set in.

You can expect temperatures in New York in June to be around 64 to 79 Fahrenheit (18 to 26 Celsius), and for it to be much warmer toward the end of the month than the beginning of the month.

Events in New York in June include NYC Pride, a full and boisterous celebration of all things queer; the costume-filled Coney Island Mermaid Parade, and the New York Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors’ Island.

New York in July

July is the hottest month in New York, and there are plenty of tourists in the city at this time. You can expect humid, sticky weather that can get uncomfortable for spending much of your time outdoors.

The average temperature in New York in July ranges from 68 to 84 Fahrenheit (20 to 29 Celsius), and the humidity can make it feel even hotter.

Events in New York in July include the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island; Shakespeare in the Park, with performances in Central Park, and Harlem Week, a monthlong celebration of New York’s coolest neighborhood.

Read More: 100+ Best Things to Do in Harlem

New York in August

August in New York is another hot and humid summer month. It’s also a month when many New York’s escape the city, so it might have a less-crowded feel in less-touristy neighborhoods. Tourist crowds begin to slowly disperse by the end of the month.

The average temperature in New York in August can range from 68 to 82 Fahrenheit (20 to 28 Celsius).

Events in New York in August include the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows in Queens, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in the East Village and Harlem, and the US Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

New York in September

September in New York marks the start of fall and is one of the best months of the year to visit NYC. The air is a comfortable temperature, there are fewer tourists in the city, and the leaves start changing color. It’s a wonderful time of year and when New York is at its best.

Average temperatures in New York in September range from 61 to 75 Fahrenheit (16 to 24 Celsius). Early September is much more like summer than fall.

Events in New York in September include the Festival of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, in Little Italy; the Armory Show, one of the world’s major contemporary art shows; and the fall edition of Broadway Week, when Broadway shows have 2-for-1 tickets.

New York in October

October is the best month to visit New York: full stop. It’s at the peak of fall, the leaves are all different colors, and everyone seems to be in a great mood. Prices and tourist levels begin to slowly drop and it’s the perfect weather for walking around outdoors.

You can expect average temperatures in New York in October to be around 50 to 64 Fahrenheit (10 to 18 Celsius).

Events in New York in October include the New Yorker Festival, where intellectual leaders come to give talks; New York Comic-Con, celebrating all things geeky; and of course Halloween, including the world-famous NYC Village Halloween Parade.

New York in November

November in New York is very much an in-between time of year. Fall is ending and winter is just beginning. You won’t really need to worry about snow at this point, unless there’s a rogue flurry, but it will start cooling down fast.

November can be a good time of year to visit New York because it’s not quite too cold to spend time outdoors. The Thanksgiving holiday, however, brings peak crowds and pricing.

You can expect the average temperatures in New York in November to range from 41 to 54 Fahrenheit (5 to 12 Celsius).

Events in New York in November include the New York City Marathon, which draws runners and spectators from around the world; the NYC Comedy Festival, which draws tons of big names; and of course the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

New York in December

December in New York is cold, but rarely very snowy. Some people think the best time to visit New York is during the Christmas season, so get ready for high prices and huge tourist crowds! If you enjoy the holidays, it can be a great time to visit New York, but it will be too cold to spend all of your time outdoors.

You can expect average temperatures in New York in December to be around 32 to 43 Fahrenheit (0 to 6 Celsius).

Events in New York in December include the Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular; the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting; and New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, via DepositPhotos

Best Festivals in New York

New York throws some great festivals, especially in the summer and during the holidays. People from all over visit New York just to experience some of the festivals that take place each year.

Honestly, there are so many different festivals that we couldn’t possibly include them all in this post. Instead, here’s an overview of the best and biggest events of the year:

NYC Pride: In June, millions of people take place in NYC Pride, a series of events celebrating the LGBTQ community, culminating in a parade through downtown Manhattan. Nobody does pride like New York City!

Halloween: The New York City Village Halloween Parade takes place on Halloween night, October 31st, each year in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. It’s a great opportunity to get creative and dress up in costumes and enjoy the parade and parties all around New York. 

Jazz Age Lawn Party: Located on Governors Island in June, this weekend-long event celebrates New York City’s prohibition era. It’s a fun opportunity to travel back in time, dress as someone from the 1920s, and enjoy an exciting and informative event related to American history. 

Coney Island Mermaid Parade: Held in June on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the Mermaid Parade is the largest art parade in the United States. It’s an unforgettable event and a great place to let loose and discover your inner sea creature. 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: Occurring on the fourth Thursday in November, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the world’s largest parade and famous for its enormous balloons and performances on parade floats.

Christmas: New York gets into the holiday spirit from Thanksgiving to New Years’ Day. Around Thanksgiving, you can find Christmas markets, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, shows, lights, and displays throughout New York. (Pro tip: the best place to see Christmas decorations is Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. They go ALL OUT.) The events that take place make it an exciting time to visit.

A mom and kid on the High Line, via DepositPhotos.

Best Time to Visit New York with Kids

Is New York a good destination to visit with kids? Absolutely. New York is one of the safest big cities in the US and it’s unparalleled in terms of fun kid-friendly activities. If you take your kids here, they will remember it forever.

The great thing about New York is that it can be fun to visit any time of year! The best time to visit with kids is either in the spring or fall when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold and there are fewer tourists.

Here’s a New York family travel hack: if you homeschool or follow a non-traditional school schedule, September is when the rest of the world is back at school. Get ready to enjoy kid-friendly attractions without the crowds.

Cheapest Time to Visit New York

The cheapest time to visit New York is during the winter months: January, February, and March. Accommodation are at their lowest prices. Flights and trains tend to be cheap, too, outside of holiday weekends like Martin Luther King Day. And a lot of Broadway shows have cheap tickets available (nope, not Hamilton so much, but pretty much anything else).

However, keep in mind that New York is cheap for a reason: winters here are harsh. As I wrote in my What NOT to Do in New York post, if you’re from Minnesota, you know what you’re getting into. If you’re from Texas, you’re going to struggle.

Overall Best Time to Go to New York

Overall, I think October is the best month to visit New York — but if you have leeway, late September, all of October, and early November are the best time to go to New York. You will absolutely love the big city at this time of year.

Planning a trip to NYC? Let me help!

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See all New York posts here.

Have you been to New York? What time of year do you think is best? Share away!

1 thought on “The Very Best Time to Visit New York (by a local!)”

  1. I love how you balanced your personal favorite without limiting the options. And the unique monthly suggestions with some lesser known festivals.

    I am in agreement that if you will only visit NYC once, do it in the autumn – encountering a snowstorm or heatwave can make for an unpleasant trip, especially for a once in a lifetime trip. Although truly, NYC is the best, pretty much 365 days a year (says a born and bred New Yorker).

    I was just in NYC the week before Christmas. And while I was watching some street performers in Times Square (I know – very touristy), and they were asking people where they were from, I just loved how many states were represented, and of course, some other countries. So truly, people from all over will find NYC is special anytime.

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