I know. I have seen all the pictures from my friends on social media. What could be better than a pre-holiday winter weekend in New York where you can go watch the Rockettes Christmas show, see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, experience the decorated windows of Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s and even perhaps take a ride in a horse drawn carriage in Central Park in the snow?
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
What could get you more in the spirit? What could set you back more money? A hotel room in New York in December? Prepare to spend upwards of $600… plus all the extras. And it is hard to navigate all the other tourists in your way.
So I have a great idea. Go to New York in February and experience all the fun the city offers in the winter (and indoors) without breaking the bank. Recently I scored hotel rooms in Midtown (55th and 7th) at a 5-star hotel through Hotels.com for $150 a night. Crazy, I know. But deals are out there. Plus, airfare to New York is not as pricey in February. The weather can be snowy and cold. But here are some great ideas on things to do when it might be too cold to walk those 15 blocks (plus remember taxis and Ubers are easy to hail that time of year):
Go to the Half-Price Ticket Booth in Time’s Square and get your tickets to the Broadway show of your dreams! There is so much out there right now. Big stars doing great things. You may not be able to get tickets to To Kill a Mockingbird, but I bet you can get tickets to some great plays or even last year’s Tony award winner, The Band’s Visit (which I personally adored).
Head to an indoor market for a late afternoon lunch and browsing. Try Eataly, the vibrant Italian indoor market. There are two locations (one in the new World Trade Center and one in the Flatiron District). Both offer great browsing and eating. Or head to Chelsea Market, located in the former National Biscuit Company factory, where you can shop and eat and even arrange an eating walking tour.
Arrange for a private tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The EmptyMet tour allows you to see The Met before it opens to the public with a guide. They take you to the highlights and then you can fill in the blanks on your own.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Go to one of the smaller museums you often miss. Visit the Frick Collection on the upper westside and see Henry Clay Frick’s collection of Old Master paintings and European sculpture and decorative arts in his own Gilded Age Mansion. Or get a feeling for the history of the city at the Museum of the City of New York. Both are great and different experiences. For an offbeat experience you might try the miniature world, Gulliver’s Gate.
If you like cats, go to the Japanese cat café, Koneko on the Lower East Side. They have 18 kittens and serve Japanese influenced food along with beer, wine and sake. Who would have thought?
Play like you are in London and have high tea at the Plaza Hotel, the Russian Tea Room, the Four Seasons or the Ritz Carlton. Guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day. Or just find that incredible restaurant where you have trouble getting a reservation and have a nice long meal there. It will be so much more pleasant without the big holiday rush. If you have saved enough money on your hotel room, you can try Le Bernardin or Eleven Madison Park or Gramercy Tavern. All culinary experiences. Even great pizza at John’s of Bleecker Street is better when it is cold outside.
Shop indoors at Saks, the Shops at Columbus Circle or Brookfield Place at Battery Park. All of these have great browsing and lots of unique things to buy. So there is lots to do in New York that can fill up anyone’s itinerary for a weekend—even if it is cold outside. Don’t be afraid to make New York your weekend destination in February. You will find that there is so much that the city offers that is more fun when you are not rushed, the crowds are diminished and you are not exceeding your credit card limit (except on that wonderful meal).