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Are you asking yourself when is the best time to travel to New York? Hmmmm well, as you already know, choosing when to take a vacation isn’t always an easy decision to make. More options, more problems.
Let’s make matters even more complicated. New York has its own special considerations, and not just because it’s the largest city in the USA.
Geographically, New York City is located on the north East Coast of the United States, which means it’s home to four very distinct seasons. Now don’t get me wrong. I love living in this part of the country, mostly because of the diversity of the seasons. I get bored with the same weather over and over again. Yawn.
Yet New York’s four seasons also means that you need to have specific plans for all times of the year.
So how do you know when it is the best time to travel to New York? Keep reading.
Deciding the Best Time to Visit NYC
Honestly, the best time to travel to New York depends a lot on your personal interests and goals for your upcoming trip. I can’t give any single 100% certain answer without knowing you.
Furthermore, these interests and goals are especially important to consider if you’re a solo traveler in New York City and calling all of the shots.
Time for a few examples of what I mean. Think about your trip and then your goals.
Is saving on expenses in New York City a huge priority for you? Then avoid Christmas. How about spending time outdoors at places like Central Park or the Brooklyn Bridge? Avoid the height of winter.
Do you mainly care about parades and festivals? Summer is awesome. Are you mostly coming to see a specific Broadway Show? Anytime of year is good, but keep your eyes peeled for Broadway Week when 2 for 1 ticket deals are possible.
See what I mean when I say that the best time to travel to New York City isn’t the same month, or even season, for every person? It varies a lot from traveler to traveler.
So, as someone who lives close to New York and spends (too much) time in the city, I’ve broken down the four seasons you’ll experience when coming to this amazing place.
Then I’ve listed the main pros and cons for each of the seasonal periods.
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’ll determine the best time of year to visit NYC and feel confident planning an exceptional trip.
1. New York in the Summer
Ahhh, everyone loves summer! Warm weather, sunshine glaring in the sky til into the night, parades and festivals, and so much much more!
Now, although summer’s great, you might have to come to New York this time of year, because you literally have no choice available to you.
For example, if you’re a student or teacher, then summer might be on your only practical option for visiting New York City. It happens.
Pros of New York in the Summer
By summer, the rainy spring days are over. In early June, you’re still able to enjoy lovely weather with low humidity. Win/win.
Not to mention, you’ll also have lots of chances to enjoy cool parades and festivals in New York in the summer. A well-known example is World Pride which takes place in the last weekend of June. Do your research ahead of time, and try to go to at least one parade. The energy is unreal. And you’ll leave with new friends.
All of New York’s rooftop bars are thriving in the summer. And open air movie theaters? Are raging in popularity these days. Read reviews to find the best ones.
Summer is when New Yorkers go outside and stay outside.
Cons of New York in the Summer
I’ll be honest with you, though. With the exception of early June, summer is my least favorite time to visit New York City.
Why? Well, for me, the biggest con of visiting New York in the summer is the insane and unrelenting heat that settles over the entire city.
Yup, New York is smoking hot in the summer, especially July and August when heat indexes soaring over 100 happen on a regular basis. And wet heat is absolutely disgusting.
If your heart is set on summer, then come prepared and ready to combat the sun’s sizzling rays. During heatwaves, limit your time outdoors. Instead spend a few hours in large museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Natural History Museum.
Do the bulk of your outdoor sightseeing in the morning and evening. Afternoons are best indoors.
And for the love of god, make sure to apply sunscreen for your trip. Your skin will thank you.
Additionally, reserve accommodation with air conditioning if you’re coming to New York in the summer. Most reputable places have air conditioning, but it’s always worth it to double check ahead of time. The skyscrapers and concrete, as well as the sickening humidity, make air conditioning a requirement – even if you don’t normally use it in your home country.
2. New York in the Fall
Personally, I think fall is the most beautiful and comfortable time of the year to visit New York City.
I’m a sucker for Halloween, pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters, and orange leaves so I’m probably biased in saving that autumn is the best, best, best time to go to New York. But no really, New York at the height of autumn is the greatest experience ever.
Let me tell you all the reasons why.
Pros of New York in the Fall
Where do I even begin?
New York’s changing leaves are spectacular in the fall months. For such a large city, New York has a lot of extensive green spaces, including the famous Central Park. The fiery oranges and reds make for gorgeous photographs, as well as the perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic.
Even though spotty rain is possible, autumn ushers in very comfortable weather with low humidity. It’s easy to walk for miles without breaking into an awful sweaty mess.
Not to mention, New York is home to some great festivals and parades this time of year. For example, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is one of the most famous parades in the world. It’s televised all over the world for a reason.
All in all, New York in fall is gorgeous.
Read More: 15 Best Day Trips from NYC in the Fall
Cons of New York in the Fall
Although it’s my favorite season in New York, fall is also popular with day trippers and other tourists. Accommodation costs rise in the fall months, which doesn’t make it the best time to visit New York City on a budget. This is even more important to consider on weekends.
Furthermore, packing can be a little bit of a challenge in the fall. The weather’s usually lovely, but it’s also very changeable. From living in this part of the country, I can say with confidence it’s likely you’ll experience warm temperatures one day and crisp cool temperatures the next. Make sure to wear easily layered clothing for your comfort.
Thanksgiving and Halloween are very popular times to come to New York. If you really want to save on costs, I would avoid those holidays. But more importantly, don’t come on these holidays if you hate crowds.
New York is packed all times of the year, but if long lines and jammed packed coffee shops stress you out, then skip Halloween and Thanksgiving. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Sold on Fall? Check Out My Guide for What to Pack for New York in Fall
3. New York in the Winter
Surprisingly, winter is another one of my favorite times of year to visit New York.
However, I enjoy snow. I don’t mind walking through snow for hours. New York transforms into a winter wonderful especially in December (which we’ll talk about at length). All in all. winter could be a great option for your urban adventure around the “big city.”
Pros of New York in the Winter
With the except of Christmas and New Years, costs tend to drop throughout the months of January, February, and March. You’re able to find some great deals in popular neighborhoods that you wouldn’t see at other times of the year.
Take advantage of these low cost opportunities if a winter trip is possible for you. The more you save on accommodation, the more you’re able to shop on Madison Avenue.
Not to mention, I also think the winter months are a great time to enjoy all of New York’s wonderful indoor cultural activities. For instance, I think going to the ballet or opera would be a quintessentially classy winter experience for you to enjoy.
Read More: 2 Days in New York Itinerary
Cons of New York in the Winter
First and foremost, although I love New York’s holiday decorations, events, and window displays, crowds swarm the city around the Christmas season.
You guys, you guys. I’m used to crowds. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the entire United States. However, the crowds surrounding the famous tree at Rockefeller Center, as well as the hoards that descending upon Bryant Park’s Winter Village to ice skate, still make me feel slightly panicky.
My advice is to explore other parts of New York if you come in December. New York City is so much more than Manhattan. I have more specific advice in my guide for New York in December that will be able to help you.
Finally New York in the winter is very cold. You don’t want to underestimate the wind chill and blizzards. Come prepared.
Love Winter? Check Out My Winter New York Packing List
4. New York in the Spring
Last but not least, another possibility is to visit New York in the spring! What’s nice about the spring is that temperatures rise above freezing and the likelihood of blizzards spoiling your visit greatly diminishes. In the earlier weeks of spring, it’s also still possible to find deals on accommodation. Be sure to pack a variety of outfits for NYC in spring because the weather is very changeable!
Pros of New York in the Spring
Spring is when the dead botany finally starts to lively bloom again. In late April, cherry blossoms are a common sight in New York City and absolutely beautiful to see and photograph. I’m a sucker for cherry blossoms.
During this time of year, outdoor activities start to become popular again with each passing day. Personally, I would check out the botanical gardens in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The vivid colors are healing for your soul.
Lastly, with the arrival of spring, comes baseball season. If you’ve always wanted to see a Yankees game, now is the time to go. Yankees fans are a lot of fun, and the stadium is a slice of Americana that is cool to enjoy in person.
Cons of New York in the Spring
Like the rest of the East Coast, rain is frequently in the weather forecasts in the spring. You know what they say about April showers bringing May showers.
April is actually the wettest month. Avoid New York this time of year if endless rain showers annoy you. For those who don’t care about rain, still pack a quality pair of good waterproof boots. New York is one the water, and sometimes drains overfill in heavy rain. You don’t want to soak your feet.
Nothing is worse than exploring New York City wearing wet socks. I shudder at the thought.
Bring a windbreaker and a strong umbrella for extra protection against the wet elements of New York’s spring weather.
I hope I helped you figure out when is the best time to travel to New York. How about you? When do you think you’ll visit the Big Apple? Share all of your thoughts and opinions in the comments.
As always, thanks so much for supporting my blog! Have great travels to New York!