Discover the BEST time to visit NYC! I'll take you through each month and season. Learn what to expect when it comes to weather, crowds, events, and prices.
NYC is one of those destinations that almost everyone will visit at some point in their life. It’s the most iconic tourist destination in America, is known for being the melting pot of cultures, and has a solid museum, restaurant, fashion, and nightlife scene.
Like most tourist destinations, when you visit Manhattan can make or break your trip...which is why you're smart for researching the best time to visit NYC. Go at the wrong time and you may find yourself battling insane crowd levels and peak hotel prices. Visit at the right time and you’ll find the perfect mix of lower crowds and nice weather. It’s important to take events, holidays, weather, and peak tourist season into consideration before booking your airline tickets.
I’ll take you through each season and my personal favorite months to visit New York City. Don’t start planning your trip to the Big Apple before learning the BEST time to visit NYC!
Continue reading the best time to visit NYC or save it for later!
Short answer: early fall and late spring are the best time to visit NYC
NYC IN FALL – SEPTEMBER THROUGH NOVEMBER
hands down the BEST TIME of year to visit New York City
NYC in fall is glorious! Early fall is by far the best time to visit NYC in general. Early September will see temperatures in the 70s and October will hover in the mid-60s. Perfect weather for sightseeing and walking around town without getting overheated or sticky. Patios are filled with diners as locals want to enjoy meals alfresco before the weather turns cold and grey.
Central Park is alive with runners and bikers taking advantage of prime workout temperatures. Expect the leaves to start changing colors and turning the city into a palette of oranges and yellows in late September and October.
I’ve gotten lucky and found a few hotel deals here and there in early fall, but don’t expect it. Prices stay average this time of year as are the crowd levels. Once you pass Labor Day weekend, you’ll see a normal level of tourists. The combination of weather, crowd levels, and prices, makes this my personal favorite and the absolute best time to visit NYC.
Go for November if you put a higher importance on lower hotel prices and crowds (outside of Thanksgiving). Hotel prices will skyrocket during Thanksgiving weekend as tourists are coming to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Temperatures are ok for sightseeing in November with lows in the low-40s and highs in the low-50s.
Events to watch out for, cue high crowds and hotel prices, are the NYC Marathon and the Thanksgiving Day Parade, both in November. Visit in late August/early September for the US Open if you’re a tennis fan.
See the NYC Official Guide for all noteworthy events of the year.
NYC in Spring – March through May
Spring is the second-best time to visit NYC for good weather and decent crowds
NYC in spring is my second favorite and the next best time to visit NYC. The only reason spring is a step below fall is that there’s a higher chance of rain and grey skies…and since NYC is a city where you are outside walking from place to place a lot…that can really make a difference in your experience.
If you visit in spring, aim for late April and May. March is still very cold with temperatures in the low-30s to high-40s and the days are still short. April and May see a higher chance of rain than March, but the temperatures are much more enjoyable. April sees lows in the 40s and highs in the 50s while May ranges in the 50s and 60s with a few days in the low 70s.
If you’re looking for patio weather, definitely go for May. No matter what month you visit in spring, be sure to pack an umbrella. I’ve visited NYC in spring several times. I have never experienced a downpour, but almost always see a few days where it’s drizzling here and there and the sky remains gloomy.
Tourist levels are a bit lower in spring compared to fall, but not substantially so. March will be the least crowded since it’s still cold. Avoid Memorial Day in May as the city feels especially touristy that weekend. Locals leave for the Hamptons or other destinations outside the city and tourists use the long weekend as an excuse to visit NYC.
Avoid holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter weekend if you want to skip high crowds.
NYC in Summer – June through August
NYC in summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid with a guarantee of high crowds
Summer is NOT the best time to visit NYC. It can be hit or miss when it comes to weather. Temperatures look perfect, ranging from the high 70s to low 80s, but what most tourists don’t take into account is the high humidity. 80 degrees in NYC can quickly become a hot, sticky mess. The underground metro can be stifling at times and a crowded rooftop bar no longer sounds like a fun night. Add the guarantee that crowds and hotel prices will both be high and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t visit NYC in spring or fall.
Another thing to note is the smell. Businesses and restaurants pile their trash on the sidewalks since there a no alleyways. You can imagine what those mountains of waste smell like after baking in the heat for several hours.
Jake and I have visited NYC in summer several times because I found a last-minute flight deal. We’ve had some trips where the weather was amazing and not humid at all. We’ve also had several experiences where we were changing clothes every few hours because we were literally drenched in sweat.
I still have memories of feeling so bad for Jake as I watched sweat drip down his arms and legs…no joke. Unless you get lucky and find some crazy good travel deals and are willing to risk hot temperatures and humidity, I would save your visit for spring or fall.
If you decide to chance it and visit NYC in summer, you’ll be rewarded with some fun summer events. Shakespeare in the Park is held from late May to early September, 4th of July is celebrated with bang, and the New York International Fringe Festival is in August.
Last time Jake and I visited NYC we stumbled upon Summer Streets. From 7:00 am to 1:00 pm on three Saturdays in August, much of Park Avenue is closed to traffic and open for bikers and pedestrians. This is one of my favorite summer memories. Jake and I rented Citi bikes (we usually do a 24-hour pass), and rode from Midtown to Central Park. We loved seeing everyone out enjoying the traffic-free zone!
NYC in Winter – December through February
NYC in winter is fun for the holidays…and freezing
NYC in winter can be blustery and cold. Temperatures range from the 20s to low 40s. If seeing the Rockettes, ice skating at Rockefeller center, and enjoying the Christmas decorations along Fifth Avenue is high on your priority list, then it might be worth it to bear the cold temps. Keep in mind that the holidays are also peak tourist season and come with some of the highest hotel prices of the year.
When I think of NYC, I picture enjoying views of the city from rooftop bars, biking over Brooklyn bridge, enjoying the sunshine in Central Park, and strolling the streets. None of these activities are enjoyable in frigid temperatures and icy winds. Save your visit for a time of year that offers trees covered in leaves, busy rooftop bars, and weather suitable for exploring the city by foot.
Also, keep in mind that winter is not the best time to travel to New York if you are worried about flight delays and cancellations. This is the time of year where weather can really have a negative impact on flight schedules.
Visiting NYC in winter really only makes sense if you plan on spending a lot of time indoors at museums, shows, etc., and finding a hotel steal is a priority (after NYE). Consider booking your trip in late January/early February to sync with NYC Restaurant week!
I hope this guide on the best time to visit NYC helps you decide the best season and month for your trip. No matter when you go, Manhattan is sure to keep you busy with sights and events. If you’re like me, you might choose to visit during each season so you can decide for yourself the best time to go to NYC.
See my other NYC blog posts!
Do you live in NYC or visit often? Let me know your thoughts on the best time to go to NYC in the comments below!
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