Last Updated on February 1, 2022 by Nellie Huang
Off on a weekend in New York? Here is my detailed guide on what to pack for New York in winter.
Winter is an exciting time to visit New York with the festive mood in the air, holiday decorations everywhere, and vibrant celebrations. We have traveled New York at Christmas twice, and can’t imagine visiting the city at any other time of the year!
The weather in New York can be unpredictable in winter, as New York is located on the eastern edge of a continent where different air masses collide. From December to February, the average temperature in New York is just above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). But during cold spells, the temperature can drop to about -10/-15 °C (5/14 °F).
For those who are heading to New York this winter, here is my detailed guide on what to wear in New York in winter — everything from the best parka to leggings and hand warmers!
Table of Contents
- New York Winter Packing List
- 1. Winter Coat
- 2. Warm Sweaters
- 3. Merino Tee or Thermals
- 4. Stylish Leggings
- 5. Cold Weather Boots
- 6. Wool Socks
- 7. Winter Hat
- 8. Scarf
- 10. Winter Gloves
- 11. Pajamas
- 12. Camera Bag or Crossbody Bag
- 13. Hand Warmers
- 14. Lip balm
- 15. Sunglasses
- 16. Sunscreen
- 17. Power Bank or Portable Charger
- 18. Organizing Cubes
- Things to Do in Christmas in Winter
- Where to Stay in New York
- Enjoy Your NYC Winter Trip!
New York Winter Packing List
I’m a strong believer in ‘less is more’. The less you travel with, the more convenient it will be to move around. Besides, you won’t be sweating much in winter, so you won’t need that much change of clothes.
I have compiled this packing list with all the essentials you’ll need for a winter trip to New York, without lugging a gigantic suitcase. All of the items below (except the winter coat) will fit into a small carry-on suitcase.
1. Winter Coat
Blend in with the New Yorkers and pack a stylish coat. I decided to leave my boring grey windproof jacket at home, and bought a new faux fur coat right before the trip. It made me look less shabby, and actually kept me really warm throughout our whole time there. Here’s the link on Amazon.
For something more practical, a long thigh-length down jacket is the most reliable (albeit expensive) option for winter travel. It is made with duck down, and it has a waterproof finish to keep you dry in the rain.
2. Warm Sweaters
On our winter trip to New York, I literally lived in my sweaters. I brought a couple of thick, cute ones that were super comfy and matched my denim leggings. This Scandinavian style sweater is my favorite winter clothing item. Check out this turtleneck cashmere sweater which looks really great with jeans.
3. Merino Tee or Thermals
The key to surviving New York in winter is layering: I recommend wearing a thermal underwear or Merino tee underneath your sweater and you’ll be warm and ready for a whole day in the cold. They’ll will help keep you toasty on those frosty days when the temperature drops below freezing.
4. Stylish Leggings
Leggings are a life-savior when traveling New York in winter. I wore my denim leggings several days in a row — they look just like normal jeans, but they’re super comfortable and keep me warm. Fleece-lined leggings in particular are perfect for extra cold days. If you don’t feel confident in them, you can also wear them under your jeans for an added layer.
5. Cold Weather Boots
If you want to look stylish like New Yorkers do, you definitely need to pack a pair of boots — whether rain boots, snow boots, UGGs. Forget high-heeled boots or fancy leather boots, as you’ll be walking a lot in New York, I would recommend something more practical and warm, such as Sorel snow boots. They are specifically designed to keep your feet warm and dry in the snow, and they are perfect for winter travel.
I have a trusty pair of ankle boots that have been with me for eight years. I wore them everyday on our recent New York Christmas trip and they were super reliable, as always !
6. Wool Socks
Make sure to pack a few pairs of woolen socks for your New York winter trip. Invest in some high quality wool socks that can keep your feet dry and warm even in a snow storm. I brought a pair of thin moisture-wicking socks and a pair of thick wool socks for the chilly nights.
7. Winter Hat
A hat is another essential item to pack for a New York winter trip. A beanie or a knit cap are some good options for hats, and they will help keep your head and ears warm. Try to get a fleece-lined one as that will give added protection from the cold. If you’re spending Christmas in New York, you may want to pack a Santa hat too!
I bought a winter headband to match my faux fur winter coat, and I got several nice compliments for it! I got it from a store in Mexico, but Amazon has a similar one.
A scarf is another item to wear in New York in winter — it not only keeps you warm but also serves as a fashion accessory. I usually go for woolen or knitted scarves that are super thick and comforting. This beautiful cashmere scarf with tartan patterns, for example, gives a luxurious look.
10. Winter Gloves
Gloves are also important for keeping your hands warm in the winter. There are a variety of different gloves that you can choose from, including leather gloves, woolen gloves, and thermal gloves.
I recommend getting a pair of gloves with touchscreen pads so you don’t need to take them off to snap photos on from your smartphone.
Not all of New York’s apartments are well heated, so it’s a good idea to pack some warm pyjamas for your stay. For my trip, I brought along a pair of Just Love Plush pajamas that kept me warm even without putting on the heating in the apartment.
12. Camera Bag or Crossbody Bag
A crossbody bag is perfect for carrying your essentials when you’re out and about in New York City. I like to use my Olympus camera messenger bag because it’s compact and hands-free. Plus, it’s big enough for my camera, extra lens, wallet, SD cards, and iPhone.
For a stylish but practical crossbody bag (if you’re not carrying a camera), check out this beautiful leather crossbody from LOVEVOOK. It has plenty of room inside for all of your belongings and comes with a chain strap.
13. Hand Warmers
If you’re visiting New York during the winter, it’s also a good idea to bring along some hand warmers . These little packets of heat can come in handy on those really cold days, and they’re perfect for keeping your hands warm while you’re waiting for a taxi or walking around the city. You can get them online at affordable prices, and they usually last for about eight hours.
14. Lip balm
It’s also important to pack lip balm for your New York winter trip because the cold air can dry out your lips and cause them to crack or peel. You should put on lip balm before leaving the house and throughout the day when you feel like they’re getting dry again. I like to use this EOS lip balm because it’s really moisturizing and comes in a variety of different flavors.
Even though it’s winter, the sun still shines brightly in New York City. Make sure to bring along a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare. I like to pack my sunglasses in my bag so that I have them with me whenever I need them.
Since the sun is still out during winter, you’ll also need to pack sunscreen . The sun’s rays are just as strong in winter as in summer, so make sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. I like to use a moisturizer that has sunscreen built into it, since it saves me from having to bring along both products separately.
17. Power Bank or Portable Charger
I never travel without my power bank. This is particularly useful in New York when you’re on the go all day. The INIU portable charger holds enough power to charge my iPhone for 7-8 times and it’s light and easy to carry around.
18. Organizing Cubes
If you’re like me and you like to be organized when you travel, then packing cubes are a must-have for your New York winter trip. These little cubes can help you organize your clothes and belongings in your suitcase, and they make it easy to find what you need when you’re packing and unpacking. I usually use these packing cubes from Amazon whenever I’m going on a longer trip, but any type of cube will do the job.
Things to Do in Christmas in Winter
Every Christmas, New York City magically turns into a winter wonderland with ice rinks, Christmas markets and music everywhere. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, watching the Christmas light show at Saks Fifth Avenue, and drinking hot chocolate at Rolf’s are some of the reasons why we love spending Christmas in New York.
Here’s just a summary, click to read a full list of the best things to do in New York at Christmas.
- Go ice skating in Rockfeller Center
- See the Rockettes at Radio City Musical Hall
- Admire the Christmas Lights on Fifth Avenue
- Meet Santa Claus at Macy’s
- See the train show at the Grand Central Terminal
- Eat at New York’s most Christmasy restaurant, Papillon Bistro
- Visit Bryant Park Winter Village
- Catch the Lights in Dykers’ Height, Brooklyn
Where to Stay in New York
Hotels in New York are pricey, as you’d probably imagine. I recommend staying in Manhattan as most attractions are located there, but Brooklyn is a cheaper alternative and also easily accessible.
Budget: The Paul Hotel NYC-Chelsea
A short walk from the Empire State Building, The Paul Hotel is a chic budget hotel with tiny rooms but stylish designs. It boasts a sun terrace and lots of hangout space. Check the rates here.
Mid Range: Moxy NYC East Village
Super slick and stylish, this Moxy branch boasts unique designs and affordable rooms with a central location. Its onsite bar and restaurant has a particularly cool look. Check the rates here.
Luxury: Warwick New York
A historic hotel in midtown Manhattan, the Warwick (pictured) is one of the most prestigious hotels in New York. It’s just a block from Central Park, and it’s home to the famous Mural’s on 54th restaurant. Check the rates here.
Apartment: Mint House at 70 Pine
Families or friends traveling in a group will love this spacious 2-bedroom apartment housed in a historic landmark building near Battery Park. It has a fully equipped kitchen and enough sleeping space for six. Check rates here.
Enjoy Your NYC Winter Trip!
So there you have it — my list of what to pack for New York City in winter! I hope this article was helpful and that you have a great trip to New York. If you have any questions or additional suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Read more of my US articles to get idea for your next trip:
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