Best Time to Visit New York: Month-by-Month Guide (+Photos)

The ‘city that never sleeps’, the bright lights and buzzing streets of New York make it like no other place on the planet. Featured in countless films and TV series, all its iconic sights and skyscraper-studded skyline make it a must-visit for many.

While Gotham hums with energy and endless possibilities all year round, there are of course better times to visit weatherwise. For many, spring and autumn have the most comfortable temperatures for sightseeing. Summer though has lots of fun festivals and outdoor activities to enjoy while the freezing cold Christmas season is also magical to experience.

To help you decide just when to go, let’s take a look at what each month in New York is like in terms of its climate, crowds and cultural events. We’ll also cover what periods of the year are cheaper or more expensive to visit.

What’s the Weather Like in New York?

Lying in the northeast of the States, its five boroughs are set at the spot where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The massive metropolis usually experiences all four seasons with its summers being hot and humid and winters cold and damp.

From June through August, average temperatures range from around 79 to 84°F (26 to 29°C) with heat waves now increasingly common. The city often feels rather hot and sticky during the summer though you can cool off in the parks or at one of its public beaches and pools. In contrast, December to March often sees temperatures drop below freezing at nighttime with snow sometimes falling too.

Both spring and autumn are milder with the former being a bit wetter and the latter drier. In general though, it rains quite consistently throughout the year in New York with each month seeing between 7 and 11 days of rain.

Best Months to Visit New York

New York

As you can see, there’s really no wrong time to take in its vibrant arts and culture scene and visit its world-famous sights such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park. It depends on your budget, what weather you prefer and what events are going on. NYC’s endless attractions, restaurants and entertainment options will always be there!

Aside from January through March when temperatures are coldest, the Big Apple sees tons of tourists arrive year round. Its absolute peak seasons though are from June to August and November to December. This is when many people have their summer holiday and huge events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s take place.

Both spring and autumn are still very popular times to visit, however, as the weather is nice, prices are a bit more affordable and there are slightly fewer crowds around. Its parks also look very picturesque thanks to either their blooming flowers or fiery fall foliage.

New York in January

New York Snow

Once Christmas is over and Times Square’s famous ball drop has taken place for New Year’s, January is a very quiet month tourist-wise in New York. Some lovely lights, decorations and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree do stay up for a week or two though. Many shops also have sales in January.

While it is pretty cold outside, averaging just 37°F (3°C), hotel rates are lower and there are almost no crowds around. It’s a great time to visit its many museums or ice skate and stroll about its parks if there’s snow. Both Restaurant Week and Broadway Week also take place if you want to catch a show or dine at a top restaurant without breaking the bank.

New York in February

New York in February

As it is just as cold, dark and grey as in January, February is also the off-season in New York City. With rain, sleet and snow all quite likely, you’ll want to wrap up warm or spend most of your time indoors at the MET or MoMA. Accommodation and airfares are cheaper, however, and the enticing deals for dining out and Broadway shows continue the first week.

Its numerous Chinatown neighborhoods also put on colourful festivals and dragon parades celebrating the Lunar New Year. February is also a good time to pick up tickets to watch one of the city’s basketball or ice hockey teams play. Fashionistas will instead want to see all the latest trends and looks modelled at New York Fashion Week.

New York in March

St. Patrick's Day Parade

With winter continuing into March, most people stay away as averages of 48°F (9°C) aren’t great for wandering about in. The days are slightly longer and sunnier though if you want to benefit from the cheaper flights and hotel prices. There are still barely any queues at the top attractions in New York like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.

The weather is usually quite unpredictable with snowstorms often still occurring, even in late March. Spring is in the air though with Macy’s Flower Shower at Herald Square, its flagship store, always attracting massive crowds. Otherwise, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade – the largest in the world – and all its accompanying pub crawls and parties is the month’s main event.

New York in April

New York april

April is when the crowds return to NYC as spring finally arrives. Besides ambling about Central Park and the city’s beautiful botanical gardens, you can see romantic cherry blossom trees dotted throughout its boroughs. Although it is one of the rainiest months, averages of 61°F (16°C) are much more comfortable for sightseeing.

Prices are higher now, particularly around the holidays and its elaborate Easter Parade along Fifth Avenue.

Numerous events are also held for Earth Day when vast swathes of the city go car-free and people walk, bike and play about in its streets. Before they get even busier, it’s worth heading up the Empire State Building or out to Ellis Island.

New York in May

New York in May

As April can still be a bit unpredictable weatherwise, May is an even better month to visit if you want warm, sunny days without the crowds of summer. You’ll still need to pack a jacket and umbrella as showers are pretty common. Aside from exploring its main spots like Times Square and Fifth Avenue, you can hike the High Line or take cruises along the Hudson River.

Countless exciting events are also held over a couple of weeks, showcasing the very best of the Bronx. Ninth Avenue hosts its long-running International Food Festival with the Intrepid Museum putting on music performances and military displays for Fleet Week. Prices steadily rise as visitors flock to New York for Memorial Day weekend. This marks the unofficial start of summer when its beaches reopen and many people head to Coney Island.

New York in June

New York in June

June is the start of the peak season when prices are higher and all NYC’s hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are packed. While long queues and large crowds do form at its main sites, averages of 79°F (26°C) are ideal for both sightseeing and outdoor activities. An even livelier ambience reigns with people relaxing in its parks and lots of big events taking place.

With 9 hours of sunshine and 15 hours of daylight a day, you have more than enough time to see iconic landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and Rockefeller Center. As the weather is so good, it’s worth hitting up its beaches or catching a Yankees’ MLB game.

Hundreds of concerts and plays are also put on for both SummerStage and Shakespeare in the Park. The Tribeca Film Festival also attracts plenty of people as does the Pride March at the end of June.

New York in July

Brooklyn Bridge Park

With temperatures rising still further, July starts to feel a bit too hot and sticky in New York. Both hotels and flights are much more expensive with massive crowds thronging about Fifth Avenue, Times Square and Coney Island. Despite this, summer is one of the most popular times to visit as people have holidays and all kinds of fun events are going on.

While sudden, short-lived storms and long, sweltering heat waves can occur, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying its outdoor concerts and theater performances. Epic fireworks shows also light up its famous skyline for the Fourth of July with parties taking place all around the city. Other than catching a baseball game or Broadway show, there are countless events to attend for Harlem Week, celebrating one of Gotham’s coolest neighborhoods.

New York in August

New York in August

August is very similar weatherwise with its long, hot, sunny days being perfect for lounging in parks or splashing about in one of its public pools. Many people head to the Jersey Shore for its beaches and boardwalks or to Coney Island’s old-school fairground rides. As it is quite humid, lots of New Yorkers leave for the Hamptons or the Catskills so the city’s streets feel a little less crowded.

Both accommodation options and airfares remain pricey, however, with hordes of tourists still massing about its main attractions. Aside from SummerStage and Shakespeare in the Park, there is the outstanding Charlie Parker Jazz Festival to enjoy. You can also watch the world’s top tennis players at the US Open or see one of the city’s baseball or soccer teams play.

New York in September

New York in September

Once the summer holidays are over and the kids are back in school, flight prices finally fall. Hotels are just as expensive as always as the autumn months are often considered the best time to visit New York. Averages of 75°F (24°C) are lovely for strolling about Central Park or along Fifth Avenue and across the Brooklyn Bridge.

September also has tons of events going on with Broadway Week again offering two-for-one tickets to shows. Interesting contemporary exhibits are displayed for the Armory Show with the West Indian Day Parade and Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy being other typical NYC festivities to take part in. The NFL season also starts if you want to watch the Giants or Jets play at the MetLife Stadium.

New York in October

new york autumn

October is arguably an even better month to visit as its fiery fall foliage looks so spectacular in Central Park. With 7 hours of sunshine a day and averages of 64°F (so 18°C), conditions couldn’t be better for sightseeing. Its main tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building are still pretty busy though with hotel rates also remaining high.

The Big Apple’s jam-packed events calendar doesn’t let up with its wonderful Wine and Food Festival being a must for foodies. There is also its prestigious Film Festival and quirky Comic Con taking place. The Halloween Parade through Greenwich Village is loads of fun to see or take part in as everyone is dressed in such cool, creative costumes.

New York in November

New York Marathon

As temperatures continue to fall and the days turn darker and shorter, New York finally sees way fewer visitors arrive. If you want to avoid the worst of its huge crowds and high prices, it’s not a bad time to visit. Its autumnal foliage still looks amazing with fewer queues forming at its main sights and museums.

While the weather is still decent, the New York Marathon takes place towards the beginning of the month. If you don’t fancy running yourself, you can always cheer the contestants on as they navigate its memorable route.

The laugh-a-minute New York Comedy Festival is also on in November. Towards the end of it, prices rise and people flock back to the city for all its Thanksgiving celebrations. Besides watching Macy’s famous parade, you can skate about the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center and see its colourful Christmas tree light up.

New York in December

New York Christmas

The holiday season is a special time in New York with lovely lights and decorations popping up everywhere. Aside from touring all its cozy Christmas markets and strolling around a hopefully snowy Central Park, make sure to browse Fifth Avenue’s beautiful shop window displays. Fantastic performances of The Nutcracker are put on with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular also attracting thousands of theatergoers.

All these exciting festivities do come at a price, however, as hotel fares and flights shoot up again. Averages of just 43°F (6°C) and the frequent rain mean you’ll want to wrap up warm or spend more time in its many museums. There are some sunny days though so it’s usually not too bad. To welcome in the New Year, thousands pack into Times Square to see the ball drop. Countless other epic parties and fireworks shows are also held all around the city.

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