23 Cute Things to Do NYC in January + Hidden Gems

Despite the cold weather, New York City in January can be a great time to visit. Since it immediately follows a very busy season in NYC, January means lower hotel prices and less crowded tourist attractions. Plus, it’s hard to deny the magic of a snowy afternoon in Central Park. From cozy hot chocolate dates to unique winter festivals, these are some of the best things to do in NYC in January!

I. NYC January Weather

NYC weather in January is frigid, as this marks the coldest month of the year. Average temperatures are in the 30’s during the day, and dip down to the mid-twenties at night. It’s not uncommon for it to get even colder than this, and strong gusts of wind make the cold air feel even more extreme. There’s a decent chance that you’ll get to see snow if you’re visiting NYC in January, though this varies a lot from year to year.

II. New York City in January Tips 

Planning what to wear in New York during the winter months is crucial to having a great time despite the cold. Pack your heaviest layers and winter accessories, as well as winter boots or sneakers since the sidewalks and subway stairs can get super icy during the month of January.

While this may not be the high season in New York, the city is still a year round destination. If you have your eye on any NYC events in January, book your tickets in advance, as shows tend to sell out quickly regardless of the time of year.

III. Fun Cute Things to Do in New York City in January

1. Company XIV ★

For one of the most unforgettable winter activities in NYC, go see a burlesque show at Company XIV! This hidden gem in Bushwick, Brooklyn puts on incredible performances, ranging from a risque version of the Nutcracker to an extravagant variety show. Inventive cocktails and champagne are also available, along with light bites. Advanced tickets can be purchased from their website.

  • Location: Theatre XIV and Cocktail Magique Theatre in Bushwick, Brooklyn
  • Admission: $85- $237
  • Date/s: Ongoing
  • Time: 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm for most shows

2. NYC Winter Festivals in January

From cultural celebrations to incredible music festivals, there are so many fun New York events in January to check out!

  • Restaurant Week: Over the last two weeks of January, dine on prix-fixe menus from some of the city’s most coveted restaurants. Hundreds of eateries throughout the boroughs take part, allowing New Yorkers to venture out to new restaurants, while enjoying a discounted price. 
  • Start of the Chinese New Year: While Lunar New Year is sometimes in February, it often begins towards the end of January (in 2024 it’s in February, while in 2025 it starts on January 29th). Celebrations include a Chinese New Year Parade, along with several events hosted by the Museum of Chinese in America.
  • Winter Jazzfest: For some of the best NYC concerts in January, reserve tickets for this popular jazz festival, happening from January 10-18. Performances take place at legendary venues across the city, and the line up includes historic jazz icons, along with incredibly talented newcomers. 
  • New York Jewish Film Festival: In conjunction with the Jewish Museum, this festival takes place at Lincoln Center from January 10-24, showcasing a range of international films that focus on the Jewish experience.
  • Winter Lantern Festival: Located at the Queens County Farm Museum, this festive light display takes place every evening through the first week of January. Over 1,000 artisan-made, Chinese lanterns will be illuminated, creating an enchanting pathway to explore.

3. Mia’s Cocina for Puerto Rican Cooking Class ★

For a delicious, indoor activity in New York in January, sign up for this Puerto Rican cooking class at Essex Market in the Lower East Side. Maria Bido is a talented caterer who teaches weekly cooking classes at the market, sharing authentic, family recipes that have been passed down by her abuela. New flavorful recipes are introduced each month, and there’s no doubt that her January dishes will be mouthwatering. 

  • Location: 88 Essex Street, Manhattan
  • Admission: $55
  • Date/s: Varies by week

4. Brooklyn Brainery Workshops

If you want to meet people who are living in NYC, then sign up for a fun class at the Brooklyn Brainery. These community run workshops offer a wide variety of affordable classes, ranging from embroidery and other crafting classes to tarot reading lessons. They have two different locations, with one in Prospect Heights and the other in Park Slope.

  • Location: Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn
  • Admission: Class prices range from $15 to $100+

5. The Comedy Cellar ★

In NYC, January is the perfect time to get out of the cold and spend a hysterical night laughing at this iconic West Village comedy club. Since 1982, talented stand-up comedians have been performing here, and many high-profile comedians even got their start here. The club is known for having surprise celebrity guests take the stage, so you never know who you might see!

  • Location: 117 MacDougal St
  • Admission: $25 on Fridays and Saturdays, $14-17 during the week

6. Special Bookstores in NYC ★

When you’re visiting New York City in January, taking a break from the cold by tucking into some of the city’s most charming bookstores is always a good idea!

  • The Ripped Bodice: At this exclusively romantic book store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, you’ll find romance genres on the bookshelves, as well as select items made by other women owned businesses. 
  • The Lit Bar: This Black and Dominican-owned shop is the only independent bookstore in the Bronx and even features a wine bar inside the store!
  • Book Club Bar: In the East Village, this independent bookstore features a bar with an extensive menu of coffee, beer, wine, and cocktails.
  • Cafe con Libros: In Brooklyn, this Crown Heights intersectional feminist bookstore and coffee shop has created a welcoming community space, and hosts several literary events and speakers.
  • World’s Borough Bookshop: This mission-focused bookshop in Jackson Heights, Queens exclusively carries BIPOC-books, and is run by a first-generation Latino.
  • Argosy Book Store: This Midtown East bookstore has been in business since 1925 and is spread over 6 stories, carrying an extensive collection of rare and out-of-print books.
  • Astoria Bookshop: Located in Astoria, Queens, this queer, woman-owned bookstore carries a wide array of literature, along with several signed books by local Astoria authors and illustrators.

7. Best NYC Jazz Bars ★

One of the coziest things to do on a cold January evening in NYC is to visit one of the city’s many wonderful jazz bars.

  • Brownstone Jazz: A 19th-century, Victorian brownstone in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn is the magical setting for this intimate evening of live jazz performances. The night also includes open-mic sessions and a fish-fry buffet.
  • Lunatico ★: Located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, this cozy bar features nightly live jazz performances, inventive cocktails, and delicious small plates to nibble on during performances.
  • Ornithology Jazz Club ★: In this Bushwick, Brooklyn locale, talented musicians from across the country gather around a stunning Grand Piano and put on nightly performances. Delicious drinks are served, and there’s a revolving pop-up kitchen to dine from.
  • Bill’s Place: Legendary saxophonist Bill Saxton opened Harlem’s beloved jazz speakeasy in 2006, and it’s been thriving ever since. Reservations need to be made in advance, and it’s BYOB.
  • Parlor Jazz at Marjorie Eliots Harlem Apartment: From the comfort of her living room, Marjorie sits at her piano and puts on a delightful jazz performance every single Sunday. This incredible experience is free, though donations are welcome.

8. Ice Skating at NYC’s Best Ice Rinks

Ice skating in NYC is the best way to have fun outside in January, and there are several ice rinks around the city- some of which are even free if you have your own skates.

  • Central Park’s Wollman Rink: In the heart of Central Park, this picturesque rink requires advanced reservations online, and gets pretty crowded on the weekends. They also schedule fun programs for adults, including ice hockey and frozen yoga!
  • Bryant Park’s Winter Village Skating Pavilion: This popular rink is entirely free, though you will need to pay for skate rentals if you don’t have your own. If you’re not confident on your skates, you can sign up for their bumper cars on ice instead!
  • LeFrak Center in Prospect Park: Brooklyn’s most beloved ice rink overlooks the beautiful Prospect Park Lake. The rink opens at 11 am every morning, and advanced reservations are not permitted.
  • The Rink, Rockefeller Center: The city’s most famous ice rink allows for 40-60 minutes of time on the ice. It’s advised to reserve tickets in advance, otherwise you may have to wait in a very long line.

9. Holiday & Christmas Markets ★

If you want to keep the holiday season alive a little longer, visiting a holiday market is one of the best Christmas things to do in NYC, as many remain open in early January.

  • The Bushwick Market: While this year-round market isn’t Christmas-specific, during the first week of January it’s often still decked out in holiday decor. Open every day and located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, you’ll find a wide array of antiques and vintage souvenirs to browse through. 
  • Bryant Park Winter Market: This is one of the most popular Christmas markets in NYC, and remains open until January 2nd. Numerous stalls sell their artisan crafts, along with hot chocolate and delicious food from local vendors.
  • Holiday Market at the Oculus: Escape the cold at this indoor holiday market, located inside one of the city’s most talked about buildings. Keep in mind, the market is only open until January 2nd.
  • Amaze Market at the Amaze Light Festival: Head to CitiField for an unforgettable light display, where their holiday market sells countless souvenirs and unique gifts. The festival runs until January 8th, and tickets can be purchased online.

10. Sleep No More

This unique theatrical experience takes place in the McKittrick Hotel and tells the story of Shakepeare’s Macbeth. Each guest moves from various rooms as performances are taking place, allowing for an entirely different experience for each individual. The show will officially end January 28th, so this month is your last chance to experience it!

  • Location: The McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea
  • Admission: $140+
  • Dates: January 3-28, 2024

11. Snowy Winter Wonderland Parks in NYC ★

If you’re not sure what to do in New York City in January if it’s snowing, then head straight to one of the city’s beautiful parks to experience a magical winter wonderland!

  • Prospect Park: This breathtaking park in Brooklyn is huge, and provides countless, tree-lined pathways, lawns and a lovely lake that becomes even more enchanting in the winter.
  • Central Park: The city’s most iconic park becomes even more magnificent when it’s draped under a blanket of snow. If there’s enough snow, this is also a prime spot to go sledding!
  • Fort Tryon: Located in Washington Heights, this gorgeous park overlooks the Hudson River and its tranquil setting will make you forget you’re even in the city. 

12. Indoor/Heated Rooftop Bars

Visiting NYC in January doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some of the city’s best rooftop bars. Many are either indoors or heated, creating a cozy ambiance without sacrificing any views. 

  • Boom Boom Room: Situated on the 18th floor of the Standard Hotel, admire views of the High Line and Hudson River from one of the Meatpacking District’s trendiest rooftops.
  • Panorama Room: Take in a unique view of lower Manhattan from this swanky cocktail bar, located at the top of the Graduate Hotel on Roosevelt Island. The rooftop bar has a gorgeous indoor space, as well as a large patio if you need some fresh air.
  • One Hotel in Brooklyn: Harriet’s Cocktail Lounge sits at the top of this stunning DUMBO hotel, overlooking the river and Manhattan skyline.
  • The Ainsworth: This Midtown Manhattan hidden gem is never very crowded, and features a gorgeous outdoor patio along with a cozy indoor area. They offer a varied menu, perfect for going out for drinks or enjoying a delicious dinner.
  • Manhatta: Located on the 60th floor, this high-end restaurant in the Financial District provides expansive views of the city from their floor-to-ceiling glass windows, along with delicious New American cuisine.
  • Overstory: Inventive cocktails and light bites are served at this retro chic bar in Manhattan’s Financial District. From the 64th floor, admire panoramic views of the city on their amazing wraparound terrace.  

13. Best Shopping in NYC

January in NYC is the best time of year to go shopping, as most stores will have huge sales since they need to move holiday inventory.

Hudson Yards is one of the city’s newest shopping centers, and a perfect one-stop-shop with over 100 stores. You can also spend the day perusing trendy shops along the cobblestoned streets of Soho, or walk along Fifth Avenue to marvel at enormous designer stores. For a mix of independently owned shops as well as brand names, take a stroll around Williamsburg, Brooklyn instead.

14. Best NYC Museums

Warm up with an afternoon inside one of the city’s amazing museums, and keep in mind that there are also tons of free museums in NYC to check out!

  • The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA): New York’s best modern art museum is located in Midtown and contains over 200,000 works spread over three main floors. Plus, admission is completely free on Friday’s after 4 pm. 
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met): Admire more than 5,000 years of art at one of the most famous art museums in the city, located on the Upper East Side. Stop by their rooftop for a revolving exhibit, along with incredible views of Central Park. For a guided experience, you can book this tour.
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum: Pay a somber visit to this World Trade Center museum, which documents the tragedy of 9/11, while honoring the lives that were lost.
  • American Museum of Natural History: In the Upper West Side, explore the world of science and history at one of the city’s most beloved museums. Get tickets to see the wide mix of permanent exhibits, temporary installations, and a very impressive planetarium. You also have the option to book a guided tour.
  • Intrepid Museum: This American military and maritime history museum is located at Pier 86 along the Hudson River. Explore several exciting exhibitions, including the famous Intrepid aircraft carrier and the space shuttle Enterprise!

15. Cute Hot Cocoa Spots in NYC

One of the best things to do in January in NYC is to tuck into one of these cozy cafes and warm up with a delicious hot chocolate. 

  • MarieBelle: This European style cafe in Soho is known for their artisanal hot chocolate, which is made from pure cacao shavings.
  • Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain: This restored 1920’s apothecary in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn offers a number of specialty hot chocolates to choose from, including s’mores and salty caramel.
  • Daily Provisions: Known for using a delicious Vesta Chocolate ganache to make their signature hot chocolate, this convenient cafe has 4 locations throughout Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
  • Angelina Paris: This famous patisserie from Paris has made its way to NYC, serving delicious hot chocolate and French pastries just beside Bryant Park.
  • Sugar Hill Creamery: This popular ice cream shop in Time Out Market is best known for their delicious ice cream, but in the winter they make an amazing hot chocolate with torched marshmallows.
  • Dominique Ansel: This beloved bakery has two locations in Manhattan and is famous for their blossoming hot chocolate flower made from marshmallows. 
  • The Chocolate Room: In Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill, warm up inside this cozy cafe and choose from classic cocoa with marshmallows, dark chocolate, spiced dark hot chocolate, and white chocolate flavors, along with your choice of milk alternatives.

16. Visit the Breweries in New York City

One of the top things to do in New York City in January is visit a local brewery. There are tons around the city, and it’s a great way to support a local business while sampling craft beers.

17. Go on a Food Tour

Foodies visiting New York in January should definitely hop on a food tour! It’s a great way to discover amazing local businesses and sample some of the city’s delicious cuisine.

  • Chelsea Market and High Line Food Tour: On this 3-hour, small group tour, explore the High Line before sampling some of the most decadent specialties in Chelsea Market. Afterwards, you’ll be taken to Hudson Yards for a look at its impressive architecture.
  • Greenwich Village Walking and Food Tasting Tour: Explore hidden gems throughout the neighborhood (including the famous ‘Friends’ apartment) while savoring some of the city’s best pizza, falafels, artisanal cupcakes and more!
  • Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour: Immerse yourself in two neighborhoods that are known for their amazing cuisine, while visiting local haunts rather than just tourist hotspots. This tour lasts 3 hours and features a mix of sit-down meals and on-the-go bites.
  • New York Walking Food Tour: Choose between a Greenwich Village or Little Italy and Chinatown tour, and fill up on delicious, classic New York tastings. On either tour, your guide will explain New York’s history as you walk around.

18. Indoor Luxury Spas ★

With the cold temperatures in NYC, January is the perfect time to treat yourself to a spa day! These are some of the best spas in the city if you need to decompress:

  • AIRE Ancient Bath Spa: Situated in a restored textile factory from 1883, this luxurious spa in Tribeca features a number of thermal baths at varying temperatures, as well as massages.
  • Sibui Spa: This Tribeca spa uses a mix of ancient and contemporary healing techniques and practices. Various treatments, massages, and facials are offered, along with a heated swimming pool.
  • World Spa: Spa experiences and traditions from cultures around the world are represented across three floors. Try out a Finnish sauna, a Japanese onsen, Himalayan salt therapy, and much more at this unique spa located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

19. Nuyorican’s Poets Cafe

For the past 50 years, this iconic cafe in the Lower East Side has served as an inclusive haven for artists and performers. While most well known for its weekly poetry slams, the historic cafe also hosts musicians, actors, and visual performers across varying genres. 

Update: The day after its 50th anniversary, the cafe has announced that it will be temporarily closing its doors for a 3 year, $24 million renovation project. 

20. Winter Outdoor Day Trips from NYC

If you’re looking for easy winter getaways from NYC without a car, these fun guided tours all include round trip transportation, making a trip out of the city seamless!

21. Winter Cruises

Take in striking views of the skyline from the water on one of these festive winter cruises! Because of their popularity, these tours do sell quickly and dates are limited, so try to book tickets well in advance.

  • Manhattan Architecture Cruise: Listen to a narrator from the American Institute of Architects explain the city’s most historic landmarks as you cruise by iconic sites like the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building! A complimentary glass of wine, beer, or soda is included on your 3 hour excursion.
  • NYC Skyline Bateaux Cruise: Sail past the city from a breathtaking, all glass boat as you enjoy a decadent 3-course dinner. The romantic night will also include live jazz and dancing!
  • NYC Dinner Cruise: Float down the Hudson and East River as you admire the city’s most notable landmarks while enjoying a delicious buffet dinner. The evening’s entertainment will also include a live DJ and interactive games.

22. Watch a Broadway Show

Seeing a Broadway show is the perfect way to spend a few cozy hours indoors, while watching  an impressive performance! From the Lion King to Sweeney Todd, you’re bound to find a show that peaks your interest during your visit. For discounted tickets, head to the TKTS booth in Times Square on the same day as the show you’d like to see. If your visit falls after January 16, take advantage of Broadway Week- an annual festival in which almost all shows offer 50% off or 2 for 1 tickets.

IV. Related Blog Posts

V. About the Author: Shea Glaser

Shea was born in NYC and has called the city home for most of her life. Her work as a travel-focused content creator has taken her around the globe, but her heart always brings her back home to New York City. You can usually find her drinking coffee in Brooklyn, hiking somewhere Upstate, or running up to pet a stranger’s dog. Follow her on Instagram @sheaglaser.

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