There is not a bad time to visit New York City but there are better times to visit. One of my absolute favorite times to go (after December, of course) is in February. I know what you might be thinking but trust me, for so many reasons, New York in February is a fantastic time to visit the Big Apple. Just think about the cheapest time to visit and not having to share the city with so many of your closest friends. Now, I have your attention, right?
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New York in February
New York in February features so many fun activities. From the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show to Valentine’s Day specials and Fashion Week, there is something for everyone. I personally have visited the last three years in a row as it’s my annual solo trip and I always find new things to do!
Reasons to Visit New York in February
1 | It’s cheaper.
I didn’t say cheap. I said cheapER. We all know NYC and cheap will never belong in the same sentence. However, February is the low season for New York. Because of this, flights, accommodations, shows, etc. often lower their prices.
2 | Fewer crowds.
The rush of the holiday season is over, it’s the dead of the winter, and before tourists visit for spring break. Therefore, it’s much easier to get photos or prime viewing spots and not wait as long in lines.
3 | Plenty of events.
Don’t think just because it’s winter there isn’t anything going on. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Read on for both annual and evergreen events happening in New York in February.
February NYC Annual Events
These are some of the exciting annual events that occur in February in New York. I highly suggest trying to catch one during your trip!
Known for being one of the most romantic cities in the United States and the world, you must know that the Big Apple has a plethora of Valentine’s Day specials to get your romance on. You can even make a Valentine’s week out of it!
From romantic hotel packages to fancy spas and delicious Valentine’s afternoon tea menus in NYC, there is nowhere better to celebrate the holiday of love!
However, for an unusual Valentine’s activity unique to New York in February, watch the weddings and proposals that happen on February 14th in Times Square right by the annual Valentine Heart installation.
Kelly Ripa watching Ryan Seacrest (hidden) and Will Ferrell (back to camera) on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan
For talk show enthusiasts, attend a taping of their Valentine’s special for a cool experience. It can be tricky trying to find out when that episode will tape but awesome if you can score tickets as I did for LIVE with Kelly and Ryan.
TIP: Don’t forget to record the show before you leave home if you know ahead of time. If you happen to score tickets after arriving in NYC, ask someone back home to record it for you!
If Radio City Music Hall is of interest, see who might be in concert on Valentine’s night. You just might find a romantic Valentine’s themed show with Josh Groban (featuring an interview of Dr. Ruth which was hilarious) as I did in 2020. One year, I went to a Latin concert that week. I have a broad range of musical interests!
Left: Window on 6th Avenue | Right: Macy’s Window on 34th Street
As you’re walking all about the city, keep an eye out for Valentine’s window decorations. Who says NYC shops only decorate for Christmas?
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is an annual televised event watched by millions worldwide. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. But, did you know that you can attend the prestigious show at the famous Madison Square Gardens? Well, you can…and I did!
Best in Breed-Maltese, Toy Group
There are different kinds of tickets that allow you to attend the breed competitions as well as the two-night live show events. I attended (and recommend) the last night as it encompasses best-in-show. Thankfully, that year it also included the Toy Group which appealed to me as a Toy breed owner! You can even go early to meet the dogs and their owners!
NY Pet Fashion Show
Calling all pet and fashion lovers! If humans can have fashion shows, why can’t pets? Now, you know if it exists, it exists in NYC, right? So, if you love furbabies and the latest fashion…and more specifically furbabies IN the latest fashion, you might want to attend the NY Pet Fashion Show.
The best part? The show is an animal rescue benefit! That alone makes me want to attend on my next February trip. Their website states “World Couture for Animal Rescue”. Getting to watch pets wearing couture while benefitting animal rescue is definitely something I’d like to sign up for!
Winter Broadway Week
Twice a year, NYC holds Broadway Week with the winter edition usually occurring the end of January through almost mid-February. What does this mean? Two-for-one admission tickets to select Broadway shows, of course! And no, unfortunately, Hamilton hasn’t been included so far. Show participation changes each year but typically includes a mix of classics and newer shows.
Winter Fashion Week
Continuing on with the “winter week” theme, there is also Winter Fashion Week. The actual big events you are thinking of aren’t open to the public but there are some other events that are. If fashion is your thing, there are ways to score tickets.
Winter Restaurant Week
Rounding out the trio of “winter week” events, there is none other than Winter Restaurant Week which is fantastic in New York City! Seriously, there are so many unique restaurants in NYC that participate in this delicious event.
Read more about NYC Restaurant Week and see what specials it has going on and how to participate!
National Pizza Day
Everyone loves pizza! I’m definitely in the camp that thinks NY style pizza is the best. Its thin, cheesy goodness is delectable and I’d run out of room if I tried to list all the places to get the best pizza in NYC!
If you’re visiting New York in February, you could celebrate National Pizza Day in the Big Apple if you are there on February 9th. Trust me, I celebrate it in NYC every year and, in my opinion, there is no better place to do so!
TIP: For an extra special treat, take Scott’s famous pizza tour led by Scott himself! Sign up in advance, however, as they fill up fast. Can’t get to NYC and still want to celebrate National Pizza Day? No worries, try ordering these pizza kits or taking these virtual pizza classes.
Chinese New Year
Photo Credit: Steve Sanchez Photos | Shutterstock.com
If you visit New York in February, you have a higher chance of celebrating the Chinese New Year during your trip. Occurring between late January and mid-February according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the holiday only seems to come around in January every 2-3 years.
NYC has one of the best (if not the best) Chinatowns in the entire country. No better place to celebrate the Chinese New Year than to head down to the parades and indulge in delicious dim sum afterwards!
Central Park in Winter
Columbus Circle and Central Park
Central Park is one of the most iconic attractions in one of the most iconic cities in the world. It’s beautiful any time of year. However, its winter wonderland version is a whole different level of beauty. During one of my annual trips to New York in February, I woke up to a snow-covered Manhattan.
Excitedly, I got dressed and made a beeline for the park and thoroughly enjoyed everything from watching the squirrels play in the white fluffy snow to the ducks walking across the half-frozen ponds!
Photo Credit: Donald Bowers Photography | Shutterstock.com
In addition to a snow-covered Central Park, keep an eye out for the Central Park Conservancy Ice Festival. Frequently held in February, this unique festival features sculptors using chainsaws to transform a giant block of ice into some of the most iconic statues and sculptures in the park.
Ice Skating in New York in February
February in New York sees the continuation of ice skating season. There are a few different options to hit the ice in Manhattan and all offer their own famous scenery.
Of course, The Rink at Rockefeller Center is absolutely the most iconic. In my opinion, it’s the prettiest of all rinks in NYC. Although small and frequently crowded, visiting New York in February offers the chance to skate this rink with fewer of your close friends. A hotspot for celebrations, be on the lookout for proposals. A good precipitating clue is when they start slowly clearing the rink either partially or fully.
The next most popular location for ice skating rink would be in Central Park. While there are two rinks in the Park, the Wollman Rink is the one you want to skate. Most popular due to its location, it features a unqiue (and famous) backdrop of skyscrapers and trees.
Photo Credit: ELEPHOTOS | Shutterstock.com
Last but not least, hit the ice at Winter Village at Bryant Park. Located very close to Times Square at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street, its stunning backdrop features the NYC Public Library with a glimpse of the top of the Empire State Building!
You might also like: WHERE TO FIND THE COOLEST STREET ART IN NYC
NYC Classics in February
Now that I’ve introduced the February calendar, I know (especially if it’s your first time to NYC) that you might want to visit some of the iconic attractions for which the city is so famous.
One World Observatory
I highly suggest going to the top of Freedom Tower and taking in the views from One World Observatory. My favorite time to go is about an hour prior to sunset to watch the beautiful colors dance over the city. Golden hour has a beautiful “red hour” to it that I’ve never seen anywhere else. After sunset, the blue hour is gorgeous and then the city truly comes alive with lights dancing everywhere.
Prior to heading up the Tower, definitely visit the 911 Museum. It is quite moving and something that every American should see. Also, it takes a good two hours (at least) which makes it great for wintertime.
TIP: You want to be at the TOP an hour prior to sunset so this means factoring in time to get through lines and security. Thankfully, this late in the day in February, the lines aren’t overly long. Also, I recommend purchasing tickets in advance to get your desired time and the ability to skip-the-line. Use the NY Sightseeing Pass to save money!
Museums Around Manhattan
Continuing on with museums, there are SO many great ones in NYC. Some of my favorites are The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Ice Cream Museum, and Spyscape.
TIP: If there are certain exhibits you want to see in multiple museums, plan a day (think rainy ones!) to museum hop. Also, look for ways to score discounts with the NY Sightseeing Pass.
Empire State Building
You can’t go to New York City and not go to the Empire State Building. I don’t think this needs any further justification. Making it even easier, the NY Sightseeing Pass includes the ESB to help your budget. Also, if you are there on Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to see the ESB’s “heartbeat”. For that night only, it glows red and pulses like a heart beating!
TIP: For returning visitors who have been up before…if visibility is bad or questionable, try it anyway for a different perspective. You might get the unique experience of being up there by yourself with cool, mysterious views. Just sayin’…
Statue of Liberty
Also, another icon that doesn’t need help, the Statue of Liberty is something visitors just can’t miss. Take a Circle Line Cruise for great front-row seat closeups. Yes, it’s cold in February, but it’s nice to have the views to yourself without having to fight for a spot at the rail.
TIP: For a free option, take the Staten Island Ferry. Just be aware that there are no closeup views and the ferry runs on a schedule so you will have 30+ minutes (or longer if you want to explore Staten Island) before returning to Manhattan. Use the NY Sightseeing Pass for discounts to visit the Statue itself.
On Location Tours
Left: Who ya gonna call? | Right: Friends (exterior) Apartment
Admittedly, this attraction might not be one you thought of but it IS one that is a classic year-round activity and should definitely be on your radar. Why? Movie and TV show tours are popular in NYC and On Location Tours does them quite well.
In February, board your heated bus (bring hot chocolate and snacks) and enjoy different tours in a cozy, comfortable environment. Don’t worry, there are times to jump out to see things up-close but then you escape back to the warmth of your heated bus!
TIP: There are many to choose from but the NYC TV & Movie Tour is a fantastic general tour and perfect for everyone. Are you a Friends fan or a SATC fan? There are tours for those too!
Weather in New York in February
Not surprisingly, it’s cold.
Temperatures average in the 30s-40s during the day and 20s-30s at night. Note these are averages and can be higher and/or lower. I’ve experienced both 50s during the day and teens at night during my various February trips.
Snow chances are typically highest in February with accumulations on average of 1-3 inches. That said, it still isn’t a frequent occurrence and is more common at the beginning of the month. While I have experienced flurries several times, I’ve only seen good snow of 3-4 inches on one of my February trips.
Where to Stay in NYC
There are polarizing opinions on this based on preferences alone. If this is your first visit or you are visiting NYC solo, I would recommend mid-town for easy convenience to almost everything mentioned in this post.
Mid-range: I love staying at this Hilton Garden Inn in Times Square. I am one who loves being near the action and walking everywhere. It’s my personal preference to watch the ball drop at New Year’s which is then on display all year long!
Airbnb: These work a little differently in NYC but there are options for Airbnbs in Manhattan.
Where to Eat in NYC
Food, glorious, food! I have to admit that food is one of the top highlights of my trips to New York in February. In full honesty, the food is good all of the time but I personally love the Valentine’s specials so many offer.
Pizza: My favorites are Joe’s Pizza, Ray’s Pizza, Kiss My Slice, Artichoke Basil, and 2 Bros. Pizza. All of these can be found in mid-town and are perfect for grabbing a slice or an entire pie.
Afternoon Tea: There are many fantastic opportunities that I highlight in my guide to afternoon tea in NYC.
Sweets: Milk and Cookie Shot, Frozen S’more (Dominique Ansel Bakery), Frozen Hot Chocolate (Serendipity 3), Crazy Milkshakes (Black Tap), Banana Pudding (Magnolia Bakery). This is only scraping the top of a gigantic barrel of sweet options in NYC.
Asian: Dim Sum (Nom Wah Tea Parlor), Sushi Donut (Poketeria), Ramen (Ichiran).
Italian: It’s New York and good Italian food can be found everywhere. Little Italy is a great place to start!
Unique: Trying to list the best restaurants in New York is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, these are some of my favorite unique restaurants in NYC.
Cocktails: Chocolate Cherry Martini (Carmine’s). Also, most rooftop bars will have a special Valentine’s drink.
TIP: Occasionally (doesn’t seem to be every year), some pizzerias do heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s. I have yet to find one but wanted to throw it out there.
What to Pack for NYC in February
Packing for New York in February doesn’t have to be difficult. However, it does need to include warmth! A relative term that varies with each individual, modify this list as it applies to you.
Packable Down Coat: The single, most important thing in my suitcase for winter trips. It needs to have a hood and be on the longer side.
Waterproof Boots: Trust me, whether it snows or rains, you will be glad to have waterproof boots. Personally, I wear my hiking boots for rainy/snow days because they go above my ankles and are comfortable to walk miles in. I also make sure I have my favorite Ugg boots (only water resistant) which are what I wear most of the time in winter. Hey, they’re 15 years old, have walked many miles, and are still going strong!
Fleece Leggings: I wear layers and so fleece leggings are always part of my leggings duo I wear in winter.
Crossbody Purse: I travel with this purse everywhere and I love it because it will fit under my down coat if it’s raining.
When possible, nail art is always a fun way to celebrate any holiday or season. These are photos from two of my February trips to New York!
As you can see, February in New York really is a great time of year with plenty to see and do. I absolutely love the fewer crowds and cheaper prices. Add in the fun Valentine’s specials and the chance to see Central Park in all of its winder wonderland glory…how could winter in NYC be any better?
When is your favorite time to visit NYC (outside of Christmas)? Have you been to New York in February? If so, what am I missing from this list? Let me know below!
‘Til next time…