New York – 10 great things to see and do in winter
Winter Bargains in New York
Always thrilling, always something new to see, New York is a destination on everyone's bucket list. Prompted by Norwegian.com's incredible low fares, my most recent visit was all about what the city has to offer in winter. The answer: bargains!
First of all those airfares - norwegian.com has daily 787 Dreamliner flights from London Gatwick to JFK with economy fares starting from just £149 one way. The flight is around 7 hours so flying out daytime is a breeze - two films and a meal and you are practically there. The return flight leaves at 10.30pm and flying home overnight is always tougher so you might want to consider upgrading to Premium for extra comfort and sleep potential. You also get the bonus of use of an Airport Lounge (Korean Air) at JFK and a generous 2 x 20kg bag allowance - perfect if you plan on doing lots of shopping. Premium rates start from £419
Accommodation is also much cheaper in January/February. Most hotels operate ‘dynamic pricing’ meaning the rates fluctuate daily according to supply and demand. That makes it harder to judge a bargain but a room that might cost $500 in high season could well be less than half that in winter. We stayed at two great value properties both around $150- $170 per room per night in January/February: The Hilton Brooklyn and the Roger Smith in midtown Manhattan. Both great properties and extremely well placed for public transport, sightseeing and dining.
If you plan on doing lots of sightseeing, and especially if you are a first timer and want to tick all the tourist boxes, you should consider investing in the New York Pass. Also on sale in winter (save up to $70) this one pass gives you free entrance to over 90 attractions including ferry trips, walking tours, hop on/hop off bus tours and major attractions. Better still, often there is a option to skip the ticket line at the busiest places. A 3 day pass costs $199 per adult – with standard ticket prices to most attractions averaging $25 if you plan to do more than 3 a day you will undoubtedly save money.
New York is awash with restaurants and, if you do your research it is possible to eat out cheaply. But if you are serious about food and want to try some of the top name restaurants, consider timing your visit to coincide with NYC Restaurant Week – actually it runs for more than two weeks (this year Jan 23 to Feb 10). There are close on 400 participating restaurants, each offering a set lunch and/or dinner menu showcasing the best of their cuisine at a bargain price. In almost all cases, it is a 3 course menu with 2 or 3 choices for starters, mains and dessert. Lunch fixed price is $29 and dinner $42, representing a saving of between 30-50% on normal menu prices. It’s best to book in advance but you can also try your luck on the day.There is also a summer Restaurant Week – keep an eye on nycgo.com for dates and more information.
In addition, there is also NYC Broadway week (this year Jan 17 to 05 Feb), swiftly followed by NYC off-Broadway week and, new for this year, NYC Attractions week, giving 2 for 1 tickets to over 70 attractions, tours and performing arts venues.
A guided walking tour is a fabulous way to get to grips with the city. We took an Urban Adventures tour called Tenements, Tales & Tastes, a fascinating insight in to the immigrant populations that have made New York the city it is today. The 3 hour guided tour cost $69 and would have been worth the money for the guide’s insight alone. Adding value though was the fact that, along the way, we got generous tastings of ethnic dishes from each of the communities – pork dumplings in Chinatown, prosciutto and mozzarella in Little Italy, Knishe in the Jewish Quarter and finally pretzels and beer in a German beerkeller. No lunch needed after that!
There is no doubt New York can be eye wateringly expensive but, timing is everything. If you are looking to take a bite of the Big Apple on a budget, winter is definitely a good time to go.
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