New York Best time to visit and what to pack

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Best time to visit

Knowing the best time to visit New York is a critical aspect of vacation planning. Imagine the perfect weather, with fewer crowds and cheap rates. Magical, isn’t it? New York is one of those destinations where a lot happens no matter the season, so here’s more on when is the best time to go there.

Best time to visit overall – Fall Season

People agree that the best time to visit is during fall or the months from late September up to early November, mainly because the weather is fantastic, crowds have thinned out considerably, and prices have dropped. In addition to that, the fall colours make the city even more beautiful.

The weather is nice and perfect for strolling outdoors, although there may be some days when you need a light jacket. No bones about it, New York is an expensive city, but hotel prices are much lower during fall compared to the summer months, and you are well away from Thanksgiving and New Year’s which can be costly too.

The best fall colours peak during late November, perfect for seeing the foliage in Fort Tyron Park, Prospect Park, and Central Park.

Another great time to visit – Spring Season

New York in spring is another great time to visit as the city slowly wakes up from its cold, winter slumber. Flowers start to bloom, and you’ll see bare trees gradually coming to life with leaves beginning to shoot up. The spring season begins in April and lasts through early June.

That being said, there can be a few rainy days during spring, so when you go out for a stroll, you might want to take a light jacket and an umbrella with you.

Japan may be synonymous with cherry blossoms, but New York also has cherry blossoms that tend to bloom at the end of March or the beginning of April, signalling the start of warmer months. Some of the best places for viewing cherry blossoms are the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Central Park, and Roosevelt Island.

Tourist numbers are still not that high during this time, queues are shorter, and weekday attractions are not that full to the brim. The weather is pleasant, and everywhere you look, the views are spectacular. Considered the shoulder season, events and festivals start seeing a spike in crowd numbers.

Best time to visit for low prices – Winter Season

The best time to visit the city varies from one traveller to another. If the definition of best to you is cheapest, January to February are the best months because they have excellent combinations of discounts and low prices on flights, hotels, musicals and shows.

However, winter in New York can be eternally long and bleak, but the city looks magical after a fresh snowfall, especially Central Park and neighbourhoods with brownstones. Taking beautiful photographs during this time is easy but if the snow is too deep, the city can grind to a halt. Should you come during winter? Only if you are ready to brave the cold, and remember that good winter boots are beyond essential.

The average hotel price in the city is about $300 per night, but that can easily fall to about $190 per night during this low tourism period. Likewise, when it comes to flights, the cheapest time to purchase is from early January until early March. January to March is also the best time for dining out, and Broadway shows are not only more affordable, but much easier to come by. Restaurant Week takes place in the 2nd half of January, and provides deep discounts on food too.

Worst time to Visit – Summer Season

The city can be glorious during the summer months, but on the other hand, it can be scorching hot and unbearably humid. New York is a city of contradictions during this time. On the one hand, there is a profusion of festivals, outdoor dining, rooftop parties, and events that you’ll have difficulty deciding which one to join if you’re there for only a few days.

On the other hand, the soaring temperatures can make your time in the city miserable. Waiting for a subway on the platform can make you sweat profusely, and getting on subway cars without air-conditioning is an entirely different story. Exploring parks and outdoor spaces are agonising to do, and you’ll find yourself often visiting museums and doing indoor activities just to escape the sun.

However, because the children are out of school, summertime is hugely popular with families, making it a costly time to visit. Rest assured though, that there is plenty to keep parents and children entertained during this time.  

What to Wear and Pack

A hot destination for all kinds of travellers from all over the world, New York City is a place where you can do all sorts of things. Planning and packing for your trip to the Big Apple depend on the weather and the activities you’ll be doing.

Always check the weather forecast before you start planning your wardrobe. Once you know the weather, you can then focus on sorting out the items of clothing you need for your trip.

New York is notorious for weather changes

In New York, it is not uncommon to be hot one day and cold the next so start with a base of everyday pieces such as shirts, denim jeans, and skirts. Based on the time of the year, you can then swap out a few things. More on the seasonal wear later.

Comfortable shoes are a life-saver

When in New York, you’re expected to do a substantial amount of walking to explore its wonders. You’ll be traipsing through cobblestones streets, running up and down stairs, getting on the subway, and navigating through uneven and cracked sidewalks. Uncomfortable shoes can result in painful blisters, so make sure that the family has comfortable flats, durable boots, sandals, or sneakers, depending on the weather. Heels are appropriate for evening dinners nearby your hotel or when you take a cab.

Don’t be overly casual

Compared to the rest of the country, people in New York tend to dress up more so if you want to blend in and look more like a local when out and about, you’d want the family to look not only comfortable but well put-together too. However, you should never sacrifice comfort for fashion.

Essentials for every season

Spring

Spring in the city is tantamount to chilly mornings and evenings that are even colder. However, it’s the prettiest season because you’ll see colourful flowers and a background of the ubiquitous yellow taxis and towering skyscrapers. It’s a sight unlike any other. However, the weather can be fickle and just like autumn, we recommend layers. What’s appropriate to wear in weather like this? Think pants, skirts, cardigans, lightweight shirts, sweaters, rain jackets, and blazers.

Summer

If going to New York during the summer months or from June to August, remember that it’s hot and humid. Pack light clothing and lightweight materials such as shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. Cotton is a perfect material. Summer is the time for a myriad of outdoor festivals and concerts so don’t forget to lather on the sun cream, wear your sunglass, and a sunhat.

Autumn

When travelling to the city in autumn, think layers. Autumn weather has mild temperatures and breezes but the temperature can also drop without warning. A lightweight scarf, jacket, long-sleeved tops, and jeans would make a great ensemble for sightseeing. However, take note that temperatures can significantly plunge once the sun sets so when going out during the evening, make sure to bring warmer and thicker jackets.

Winter

It goes without saying that winters in New York can be bitterly cold. However, there are times when it is clear and crisp. An integral part of the family’s winter wardrobe are gloves, hats, winter coats, scarves, and boots. During bitterly cold winter days, you’ll need thermal underclothes, especially for children when spending a great deal of time outdoors.

Other essentials to pack

Aside from other clothes, there are other necessities that families can’t do without when going to New York City. We’re rounded up a few.

Baby carrier to stroller

Most families will likely be travelling around the city by public transport so families with small toddlers or babies should bring baby carriers or prams. Note that not all subway stations have lifts. You should also bring the pram when exploring the city on foot. The city is easily navigable with prams and it’s quite handy for when you’re at the airport.

Portable booster seat

Useful for both the subway, taxi, and car hires, a portable booster seat is a great essential to add to your packing list. It keeps the little ones safe during taxi rides and airport transfers.

Collapsible water bottle

Do your bit in saving the environment and ensuring that everyone is well-hydrated through the entire day of sightseeing by taking collapsible water bottles. it can be easily packed and whipped out when you see refilling stations.

Umbrella

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, it can abruptly rain in New York and you don’t want to be caught outside with the kids without any protection from the rain showers. Opt for a compact umbrella that can be tucked easily into your daypack.

Medicines

Without your doctor’s notes, it can tricky to get replacements for your drugs, especially overseas. Doctors in New York tend to be more expensive too, so pack your medicines carefully. Aside from your prescription, you might also want to include diarrhoea and motion sickness medicines, antacids, decongestants, and antihistamines.

Bug Spray

Mosquitoes are not uncommon in the city, especially during the hot summer months. Bug spray is an essential that should be added to your packing list. You might also look into bringing mosquito patches.

Travel adapter

No self-respecting traveller should be caught without an adapter. The standard electrical voltage in New York is 100V and the standard sockets in the city and the whole of North America are two-prong. Depending on where you are coming from, you may need a travel adapter.

Sun cream

Sun cream is another must, regardless of the season. You might not realize it but even on cloudy days, the sun can be intense and when you’re visiting the city for the first time, you’ll be spending a great amount of time outdoors. You’ll need protection.

Ziploc bags

Ask parents anywhere and they will tell you that Ziploc bags are lifesavers. You can use them to store snacks, small toys, crayons, dirty clothes, shampoo bottles, and many more. Make sure you have some in your case.

Power bank

You’re probably going to use Google Maps frequently to navigate the busy streets of New York and your camera to take hundreds of photos. Remember to take your power bank with you when going out because using data can easily drain your phone’s battery.

Hand sanitiser

Regardless of where you’re headed, it’s always a great idea to have a hand sanitiser in your bag, with or without children. There are occasions when you can’t wash your hands before snacking or when you’re on public transport. With the hand sanitiser tucked in your bag, everyone can clean their hands when they need to.

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