If you paid attention to the weather reports from New York last winter, news of “Bomb Cylones” and excessive amounts of snow might have convinced you to put off your trip until the spring. But winter is also a magical time in the city, when the crowds thin out and you actually have a chance of finding more affordable rates at hotels and getting into the busiest restaurants (especially during NYC Restaurant Week from January 21 to February 8, 2019).
Here’s AFAR’s selection of the eight most exciting things to do in New York this season, from the Upper East Side to Williamsburg.
Explore Williamsburg before the L train shuts down
This winter will be your last chance to take the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn before it shuts down for 15 months from April 2019 to repair damage to the tunnel caused by Hurricane Sandy.
It won’t be impossible to get between the destinations (the MTA is implementing extra bus and ferry service). However, if you’ve been meaning to explore the evolving neighborhood, you should go this winter. Not only did the first U.S. Hoxton Hotel open in Brooklyn in September 2018, but the rooftop cocktail bar inside a water tower at the Williamsburg Hotel across the street is also expected to throw open its doors any day now. 97 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, thehoxton.com
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Warm up with Taiwanese breakfast at Ho Foods
Japanese ramen joints have been a go-to winter staple for years. But in-the-know New Yorkers flocked to Ho Foods when it opened last January in the East Village to warm up with a bowl of Taiwan beef noodle soup made with bone and marrow broth cooked for 24 hours. Now, the tiny 10-seat restaurant also serves Taiwanese breakfast from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekend with house-made soy milk (served hot, cold, sweet, or savory), turnip cakes, and more comforting food perfect for a chilly weekend in New York. 110 East Seventh Street, Manhattan, hofoodsnyc.com
Escape the cold inside the city’s museums
It almost seems sacrilegious to spend a day inside a museum when you could be sitting outside in one of New York’s parks in warmer weather. But this winter, you can while away an entire day wandering from museum to museum to catch several exciting exhibits. The Whitney Museum of American Art is hosting the first Warhol retrospective by a U.S. museum since 1989 between November 12, 2018, and March 31, 2019 ($25). Over at The Met, Jewelry: The Body Transformed runs from November 12, 2018, to February 24, 2019, and features 230 items of jewelry across the museum’s ancient, medieval, and contemporary collections ($25).
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Dine with a view of New York from 60 floors above
Ever since Danny Meyer opened his newest restaurant, Manhatta, last summer in a skyscraper 60 stories above Lower Manhattan, it has been one of the harder reservations to secure. While its $78 three-course prix fixe is well priced, most agree the views are better than the food. If you don’t want to commit to a full meal, try walking in for a seat at the bar where you can order items à la carte and still enjoy the sights. 28 Liberty Street, Manhattan, manhattarestaurant.com
Experience a once-in-a-lifetime meal
On December 5, 2018, the world’s currently ranked top three chefs will come together for a special dinner event at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall. During your meal at “Once Upon a Kitchen,” you’ll eat courses prepared by Massimo Bottura of Italy’s Osteria Francescana, Joan Roca of Spain’s El Celler De Can Roca, and Mauro Colagreco of France’s Mirazur. For dessert, Christina Tosi of New York’s Milk Bar (and two-time James Beard Award Winner) will prepare something she’s created specifically for this event. 1356 Broadway, Manhattan, from $2,500, eventbrite.com
See To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway
Starting on December 13, 2018, Jeff Daniels will take on the role of Atticus Finch in a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel with a script by Aaron Sorkin. While tickets to the play are already starting to sell out, if you can’t make it to New York this winter, don’t worry. You can still purchase a spot to see this one through July 2019. 225 West 44th Street, Manhattan, broadway.com
Carb-load at the first Ole & Steen bakery in the United States
Copenhagen’s famed Lagkagehuset Bakery is opening its first U.S. outpost just a few blocks from Union Square in late January 2019. Renamed Ole & Steen after its founders’ first names for easier pronunciation, it will feature plenty of pastries stuffed with cinnamon and marzipan, plus classic Danish rye bread. 873 Broadway, Manhattan, oleandsteen.co.uk
Atelier Ace, the studio behind the hotel group, is opening its first nonbranded spin-off property on the Lower East Side in February 2019. Sister City, as the 200-room hotel will be called, is now taking reservations from February 15, 2019, onward and rates start at $199 per night. Featuring minimalist Scandinavian design, the hotel will also have a restaurant by chef Joe Ogrondek called Floret and a rooftop bar. 225 Bowery, Manhattan, sistercitynyc.com
>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to New York