What to Wear in NYC – Your New York City Winter Packing List
Planning to visit New York during the winter and wondering what to wear and how warm you will need to dress? As a New York local, I have personally experienced more New York winters than I would have liked. So, if you were feeling unsure, don’t worry because I have you covered with my ultimate New York Winter packing list to help you prepare for what to wear during your winter trip!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What to Wear in NYC – Your New York City Winter Packing List
- When is the Winter Months in New York
- What are the Temperatures during the Winter in New York
- New York Winter Packing List Breakdown
- Other New York Packing List items
- Getting Around New York in the Winter
- Common New York Winter Questions
- New York Winter Packing List Wrap-up
When is the Winter Months in New York
Technically, the winter season in the USA does not start until December 21st. However, you can begin to feel cold weather temperatures in early November in New York – especially at night.
So, the winter months are generally November – March. Depending on the year, towards mid-March, we can start to see some Spring temperatures in New York. Or, we can have a gaint snowstorm in March. It is really a toss-up.
One thing to keep in mind is that the weather in New York can be really sporadic. It will be freezing when it is supposed to be hot, and then feel like the dead of winter when it should be Spring.
What are the Temperatures during the Winter in New York
Knowing how cold it gets in New York will help you better understand this winter packing list. These temperatures are in Fahrenheit and an overall monthly average.
- November Temperatures in New York City: High 55 F; Low 42 F
- December Temperatures in New York City: High 44 F; Low 31 F
- January Temperatures in New York City: High 39 F; Low 26 F
- February Temperatures in New York City: High 43 F; Low 29 F
- March Temperatures in New York City: High 52 F; Low 36 F
If you are visiting in December, you can expect near-freezing temperatures. And if you are visiting in December, you should also check out my NYC in December guide, along with my Best Things to do on Christmas Day in NYC, Best NYC Christmas Trees, and Best Christmas Decorations in NYC! The holidays in NYC are one of the most magical times to visit!
Additionally, in Manhattan, the buildings create wind tunnels and block the sun, making it extra chilly.
I have always found February to be the most brutal in terms of cold, but on average, apparently, the coldest month is January.
As a good rule of thumb, always check the weather forecast for New York at least one week before your visit.
New York Winter Packing List Breakdown
Now that you have an idea of when the winter months are in New York and just how cold it can be, let’s get into all the things you should pack for visiting New York!
Sweaters and Layers
Starting with your top half, you will learn quickly that layering is important in New York during the wintertime. Walking around in the city will be Brick (New York Slang for cold/freezing), but then when you walk into a store, a cute NYC Cafe, etc., you will likely want to peel a layer or two off.
I usually recommend a base layer long sleeve shirt, and warm sweaters to put over it. A base layer top can be merino wool or a synthetic blend. I personally like Smart Wool, which comes in both men and women. What’s great about merino wool is that it has the ability to keep you really warm and is also moisture-wicking.
If you’re someone who runs warm, you may be okay with layering with some thin sweaters.
Pants and Bottoms For Winter
When packing for your pants, again, you will want to layer on the bottom as well. A pair of merino wool long johns or fleece-lined leggings (I even used these for the Arctic Circle) are the best way to help keep your legs warm. You can wear a pair of jeans over your thermals in typical New York fashion.
If you want to make more of a fashion statement, you can never go wrong with the color black in New York, or you can go a little festive if it’s the holidays with these leggings.
For the ladies, you can sometimes get away with a sweater dress, long boots, and layered warm socks. Although, if I am being honest, I have only done it for photos and put on pants right after. I wouldn’t generally recommend it, unless it was a warmer day.
Warm Winter Jacket
Now, onto your outer layer! A warm coat is a must on your New York packing list. I would highly recommend a waterproof jacket that is very warm and insulated. You can always take layers off if you get too warm, but if you’re too cold, it can be brutal in NYC.
I’ve been surviving the New York winters for over 10 years with my Burberry Puffer coat. Other good winter coat brands include Fjallraven (my new jacket that I love; runs big – I ordered an xxs) North Face (my old jacket), Patagonia, and Columbia. Make sure your winter jacket is insulated and has a hood to keep you warm on the coldest days. Every so often, the temperatures can go down to the single digits.
Additionally, adding a fleece jacket is also a great option if you are visiting New York during the coldest months.
Like your winter jacket, you will also want to pack waterproof boots, or at the very least, water-resistant boots. It may not be snowing, but it does get pretty wet, and nothing is worse than walking around with freezing wet feet.
The streets in New York City get cleared rather quickly of snow, so you probably won’t have to bring your snow boots, but if your snow boots are extremely warm, it is not a terrible idea. Also, after a lot of snow, there are generally a lot of water puddles from melting snow.
I would also choose a pair of boots that have a good grip on icy streets. Oh, and even don’t bother with heel boots. You will be walking so much, you should choose shoes that are very comfy and warm.
New York Winter Accessories
Now that your base layers are covered let’s talk about some winter accessories. Starting off with my favorite, Darn Tough Merino Wool socks. These are my absolute favorite socks, and they help keep your feet nice and warm. I personally get the cushioned option.
Also, adding a beanie or hat to keep your head warm is a must for any winter New York packing list. It can be very windy during the winter months in New York, so relying on your jacket hood can be annoying.
Gloves are another must when visiting New York City during the winter. I would recommend gloves that still allow you to use your phone, since you will likely want to take a ton of pictures during your visit!
I never leave the house without a warm scarf during the winter in New York. It gives you an extra layer of protection and adds the finishing touch to a stylish New York outfit because we New Yorkers are all about accessories.
If you forget gloves, a scarf, or a beanie, you will find them being sold by street vendors, however, the quality is not great, so it’s a good idea to pack them with you instead.
Last but not least, don’t forget to bring hand warmers. I also like having the toe warmers as well! These can be a lifesaver!
Other New York Packing List items
Other New York City packing list items you should remember to bring include:
- Chapstick/ lip balm – Don’t forget this, but if you do, go to Duane Reade or a bodega.
- Portable Charger for all your photos – Find the most Instagrammable Spots in NYC here!
- Universal Adaptor if you are traveling from outside the States.
- Reusable Water bottle
- Liquid Travel Bottles – I always add electric tape around the cap and seal just in case it leaks.
- Airtags in case your luggage gets lost.
- Hand Lotion is essential for winter in NYC.
- Hand Sanitizer is great for cleaning your hands after riding the subway.
- Packing cubes – the set I have. I use them to separate dirty clothes and organize my suitcase.
- Small Crossbody Bag for women
Getting Around New York in the Winter
Now that you know all the things for your New York winter packing list, I wanted to add some additional New York tips, including how to get around.
While you will likely still find yourself walking a bit, the cheapest and best way to get around New York is by utilizing the subway as much as possible. You will also find the subway stations are a tad bit warmer, so it can be a good escape from the cold. Here is my guide on navigating the NY subway.
You also have the option of a Yellow Cab or Uber/Lyft. If you are not in a rush, this can a “warm” option. I wouldn’t really recommend it, however, since it usually takes longer than the subway and it is more expensive.
Common New York Winter Questions
Yes, the winter can be a great time to visit New York. During the holidays, NYC is a very popular destination to visit. Outside the holidays, you will find better pricing on hotels and flights if you enjoy museums, it’s a perfect time to visit.
January and February are the coldest months to visit New York. The temperatures generally hover around 36 degrees Fahrenheit and below.
New York gets the most snow in January and February, although you can see snow in December and March.
Yes, you can expect below-freezing temperatures, however, if you layer your clothing, you will be fine to explore!
New York Winter Packing List Wrap-up
This concludes my NYC winter packing list. I hope this guide has really helped you plan your NYC winter outfits while keeping you warm! If you are having second thoughts about visiting New York City in the winter, don’t! As long as you layer up correctly, you will be just fine!
Plus, aside from wandering around Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Times Square, and crossing the Brooklyn bridge, there are tons of times you will be indoors, all nice and toasty.
Furthermore, New York is one of the shopping capitals of the world. So if you didn’t pack warm enough, there are tons of stores to go shopping in!
I’d also recommend checking out my guide for rainy days in NYC, which is full of indoor activities that can help you escape the cold!
If you haven’t found a hotel yet, here is my breakdown of the best hotels in NYC by neighborhood!
Check out more detailed guides for The Big Apple:
Have any questions about this NYC winter packing list, or feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments below!