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June 1, 2023updated Jun 19, 2023

When is the Best Time to Visit New York?

From New York Fashion Week to yacht shows, the Big Apple has a lot to offer throughout all four seasons.

By Silvia Pellegrino

It is difficult to quantify the amount of people who live in New York City, since there are almost 20 million residents. The Big Apple has a lot to offer, from cultural shocks to interesting contrasts and different and varied personalities. As a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, the city sees every day affluence of activities and sectors, from Wall Street to Broadway, Harlem to the Upper East Side.

Because of the thousands of different things to do and certain seasons are better for them than others. Also thanks to the presence of diverse communities, New York City is filled with seasonal traditions and vibrant cultures. Huge numbers of people, from the Republic of Ireland to Puerto Rico, have migrated to the city in search of a better life. The Statue of Liberty would have been the first thing many of them saw upon arrival. While so much has changed since the days of Ellis Island, Lady Liberty remains in place.

When it comes to the best time to visit New York, there isn’t a real set answer. The City that Never Sleeps is a destination one can visit all year round, however, there are some preferred seasons, like spring and fall. The former offers temperatures that are not too hot nor cold, and everything is in bloom. From flower shows to outside events, it seems like almost the perfect time to book a New York trip.

Overall, the Covid-19 pandemic has proved difficult for New York City, both economically and socially. The Big Apple was forced into hibernation and while it is yet to reach the hedonistic heights of pre-pandemic life, it remains one of the most picturesque cities in the world.

Exploring New York City is on many people’s bucket lists, but when is the best time to visit?

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Bow Bridge in Central Park, New York, with blossoming cherry trees
One of the main Spring attractions in New York is the blooming Central Park / ©Shutterstock

Spring in New York is considered part of the shoulder season. This means that tourism won’t be overwhelming unless there are special events or festivals. Hotels and accommodations are usually easier to find, and the usual attractions might be less busy.

The main advantage of this season is the temperature: not too warm, it still makes sightseeing and walking around pleasant and tourists can really admire the city waking up after the cold winter days. 

During spring, it is almost mandatory to visit attractions like Central Park or any other park in New York, like Bryant Park, as well as the Botanical Garden. April to June is also considered the best time to visit New York, first of all, to avoid long queues and huge crowds, and also because the sky is so much clearer and it makes looking at the horizon from the Empire State Building more nitid.

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When it comes to specific events, spring in New York City is a gift that keeps on giving. 

New York International Auto Show

From 29 March to 7 April 2024, all car enthusiasts can admire the most innovative automotive technology, from new models to the rarest exotic cars at New York International Auto Show.

It is annually held at the Jacob K. Javits Center, and this event has now been happening for 123 years. Although one cannot purchase the cars, information is available to make the purchase by visiting your local dealership.

Frieze New York

Since 2012, Frieze New York has been bringing art to New York every May. Held at Randall’s Island Park, this fair is different from conventional art exhibitions: there is a gargantuan tent, food and even an outdoor sculpture.

Art buyers and lovers can be inspired by the modern and contemporary style of every piece and will be able to attend in 2024, with dates to be yet specified.

The Orchid Show

Happening every year at the Botanical Garden, the Orchid Show offers a kaleidoscopic show organized and curated by designer Jeff Leatham. 

For the past 19 years, it has been running from February until May.

St. Patrick’s Day

Between one party and the other, St Patrick’s Day includes parades, pub crawls and a lot of sightseeing.

The parade is the main attraction, taking participants from 44th Street through to Fifth Avenue, passing in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to finish on 80th Street. 

Macy’s Flower Show

Macy’s Flower Show is an annual event that transforms Macy’s flagship shop into a blossoming ensemble of flowers. 

The intoxicating floral smell, the colors and the complex yet beautiful arrangements make this a unique and unmissable experience for tourists who visit New York in the spring, usually from the end of March until the first week of April.


Summer scene at Central Park with a view of the Central Park South skyline in midtown Manhattan, New York City
Temperatures rise and so does tourism during summer in New York / ©Shutterstock

At the peak of the high season, summer in the Big Apple is warm, sunny and busy. June is considered by many to be the best time to visit New York.

The months of June to August are also filled with events that make the city even more bright and colorful, such as the Fourth of July and Pride NYC. With the leaves on the trees turning green and no clouds in the sky, summer is definitely one of the best moments to visit New York.

Summer is also the best time for cruises around Manhattan Island and the Statue of Liberty. 

NY Philarmonic Concerts in the Parks

After two years of cancellations because of the pandemic, NY Philarmonic Concerts in the Parks started again in June 2023. These events are recurring every June.

It consists of a weeklong tour of all the Big Apple’s parks with classical music played by New York’s Philarmonic Orchestra. The shows are free, however, donations are welcome.

US Open Tennis

Every year, August through to September, the final Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year is hosted in New York. In 2023, it will run from 28 August to 10 September.

Taking place in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the US Open has seen Serena Williams’ last ever Grand Slam and Roger Federer’s exit from the scene too. 

Shakespeare in the Park

Taking place in the open-air theater inside Central Park, Shakespeare in the Park is among the free activities to do in New York City during the summer.

This event was created by Joseph Papp in 1954, and it is a festival showing William Shakespeare’s work in the Delacorte Theatre. 

Go to Gitano Island

Tourists could also take the ferry to Gitano Island, on Governors Island, which is one of the best nightlife hotspots in the city, with Mexico-inspired bars and restaurants and even a DJ tent.

Surrounded by palm trees, the Gitano Garden of Love is also the perfect spot for a romantic evening.

Attend a show at Forest Hill Stadium

If you like music and fresh air, this is the activity for you. The open-air stadium Forest Hill usually re-activates in summer from May until October.

Acts like Bon Iver, Norah Jones and The National have all performed there and many more will next year too.

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Yellow and orange leaves on trees in Central Park, New York, in the fall
Halloween and New York Fashion Week are the main Fall events in New York City / ©Shutterstock

If you like a calmer and less hectic holiday, fall is the best time to visit New York. The air is chillier and the tourists are thinning out.

Fall is part of the Big Apple’s shoulder season like spring. Many argue that the months of September through to the end of October are the best time to visit New York, as the temperatures are cooling down and the air is not so humid anymore. 

Sunsets in New York are often more colorful during fall. Tourists may see and photograph them from prime locations across the city, with Brooklyn Bridge Park and any rooftop, like 230 Fifth, being among the best.

New York Fashion Week (Spring and Summer collections)

In September, Fashion Week returns to New York with the biggest names in design introducing their new collections for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

The New York Fashion Week is one of the most exclusive design events one can attend, where celebrities always have a seat and designers can showcase their creativity. Getting a spot on the guest list is worth it.

The Metropolitan Opera

Starting in September through to May, the Metropolitan Opera is definitely one of the most elegant and moving experiences happening in New York during fall.

Some of the most notable performances happening every year are Carmen by George Bizet, Julie Taymor’s The Magic Flute and rarest of all, Le Comte Ory, by Gioachino Rossini.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Jack O’Lantern Blaze is the perfect fall activity if you like walking. This exhibition usually happens in two locations, Hudson Valley and Long Island. 

In the Hudson Valley, an 18th-century landscape awaits to walk through a display of over 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns, all hand crafted by a team of artisans. Light shows are also included, with synchronized lighting and even an original soundtrack.

Green-Wood Cemetery

In Brooklyn, this historical cemetery might be the eeriest attraction in the fall months. Spread across 478 acres of hills, this cemetery is home to over 570,000 graves. 

Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and is very beautiful with its gothic aesthetic and stone sculptures. Every October and November, many events like light shows and magic shows are organized to make one’s Halloween the spookiest it can be. 


Holiday decorations outside the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan, during the time of the second-largest point drop of the Dow in history.
Christmas in New York City can be a magical time / ©Shutterstock

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s… New York City literally lights up during the months of December through to February. The white snow reflecting the streetlights and Times Square’s over-the-top lights sets the mood for one of the highest tourism moments for the city.

With a hot chocolate in hand, one can wander around the Big Apple sure to find something to do. From museum dates to a spa day, the city does not slow down even during the coldest months. In fact, winter is arguably the best time to visit New York.

A stroll through New York’s park is not out of the picture, weather permitting. But there are so many more things to do in the city during this magical time of the year.

Winter celebrations in New York are a must, but what are the best ones?

New York Boat Show

This is the perfect annual event for yacht lovers. Every January at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, dozens of boats are showcased for experts and even finishing enthusiasts.

The New York Boat Show hosts the latest and most innovative new entries in the boating world, and it even provides daily seminars about fishing and boating. In 2024, the event will run from 24 until 28 January. 

New York City Ballet 

The New York City Ballet events are back every November for six weeks with their winter repertoire. Classics like The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker are performed to the highest standards. The experience also includes workshops for children and even workshops about ballet itself. 

Serra by Birreria’s winter pop-up

On a covered rooftop overlooking the city, Serra by Birreria at Eataly Flatiron offers its customers a unique experience. Intertwined vines, white flowers to imitate snow, and the intoxicating smell of fondue are the protagonists of this journey.

It offers a winter-focused menu, with melted cheeses, truffle, mulled wine and eggnog. 

Eat at Nowadays

Located in Bushwick, Nowadays offers the ultimate winter experience. In heated yurts with heated tables and warm food, it is perfect for people who hate the cold. 

The drinks are warm too, from hot chocolates to hot spiced toddies. Every night there’s also different entertainment, including DJs, live sets, workshops about music production and more.

Heated greenhouses at Pier 17

From igloos that have been converted into restaurants to heated greenhouses in this instance, New York loves heated clear structures. At Watermark Winter Wonderland on Pier 17 in Manhattan, visitors get a view of the East River.

Visitors enter one of the numerous private glasshouses through a lit tunnel, where they will spend the evening dining in elegance while enjoying winter-themed foods like cheese fondue or even s’mores. Everyone can also enjoy viewing the top Christmas movies on the enormous screen.

[See also: The Best Restaurants In New York]

The Elite Traveler Holiday Gift Guide has launched with over 100 ideas across 10 categories. Visit the Elite Traveler Holiday Gift Guide here.

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