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The Best Things to Do When It Snows in New York City

Category General

|by Mark Robinson |

There’s nothing like a snow day in the Big Apple

It’s winter time, and any trip to New York City this time of year needs to have a certain amount of flexibility built in to account for the ever-changing elements that can sometimes turn harsh and inhospitable. Not to worry – your trip does not have to be a buston account of unexpected winter weather. New York City is full of options for alternative plans to site-seeing and spending too much time in the cold and in the snow. Here are some suggestions of how to spend a snowy day in the Big Apple

Here are our tips for navigating a snowy NYC day (Photo: iStock)

Here are our tips for navigating a snowy NYC day (Photo: iStock)

Ice Skating 
Oh, that iconic cliché of ice skating in Rockefeller Center. It always seems to be tethered to the holidays, but ice skating is a possibility for the entire winter season (temperatures cooperating, of course, in some instances). The city is full of places for this form of frozen fun, including Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink in Central Park, the rink in Bryant Park, Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and the City Ice Pavilion in Queens.

See Some Theater
Theater might seem like an obvious choice for this list, but it is also a practically perfect way to spend a snowy day in NYC. Between Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, there are a plethora of offerings in the city that is undoubtedly the theater capital of the country. With a variety of places to get last-minute, discounted tickets, don’t let the weather ruin your day in New York. 

Visit One of the City’s Many Museums 
What city has a vaster array of museums than the Big Apple? From the Guggenheim to the Met, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Whitney, the accessibility of great art is at every turn. If art museums aren’t your favorite, how about the American Museum of Natural History or The Morgan Library and Museum for a compelling voyage into the past? If entertainment is more your cup of tea, The Paley Center for Media is bound to intrigue. The best part of all of these suggestions is that they are inside, sequestered from the elements. 

If your credit cards can handle it, and your feet are up to the challenge, there is plenty to keep you occupied on a snowy NY day in the myriad boutiques, specialty shops and department stores that pepper the city’s landscape. Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Barney’s and Nordstrom’s will have you spinning through a kaleidoscope of shopping bags, but there are also plenty of small establishments to patronize that are overflowing with unique, one-of-a-kind items. 

Eating your way through New York City may not sound like a thing, but why can’t it be? Much fun can be had enjoying a walking meal that explores a theme. Maybe your quest is to find the best slice of pizza in town, and you spend the day combing all the eateries within in a certain radius in search of it? Or, you could start your day with breakfast at a diner, have mid-morning pastry and coffee at a bakery, lunch at one of New York’s famous delis, and so on. Warm, delicious food combats the cold from the inside out, but it’s also a great way to experience the diverse cultural experience of the Big Apple. 

People Watching 
There is a touch of schadenfreude in this suggestion, but it’s worth it to note that the guests of New York become different people in the midst of inclement weather. The wind, rain, snow and ice make for a series of challenges for tourists to navigate. So, find a cozy place with a window, settle in with a cup of hot chocolate or herbal tea, and begin your people watching. The story that plays out before your eyes will always be a fascinating one, with an ever-changing cast of characters on par with a season of Game of Thrones

The Movies 
If you’ve lived most of your life outside of a big city, you can appreciate the novelty that comes from moviegoing in a place like New York. You aren’t merely stuck choosing from the eight offerings at the local cineplex, but instead enjoy countless options of films both mainstream and independent, foreign and domestic, contemporary and classic. The variety is astounding, and you could make a day out of seeing three or four different films. On 42nd Street alone, you have both the twenty-five screen AMC Empire and the Regal E-Walk Stadium 13. Why stand out in the snow and in the cold when you can be inside, nice and warm, eating popcorn and enjoying a flick or two?

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at

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