This post lists the top ten January activities as well as family-friendly events, things to do at night, and of course, free activities since we love saving money. January is a fine time to visit New York City since crowds are small and lines are short, but much of the holiday spirit and activities are still going on. Pack a heavy coat, gloves, a wool scarf and warm footwear. The video below covers January weather as well as things to do. Be sure to check out our extensive list of Things to Do in NYC or our guides for other months for even more ideas.
No Pants Subway Ride January 7, 2018 (tentative date)
Get ready to freeze your behind during the annual Improv Everywhere event the No Pants Subway Ride. On the designated date and time meet up with hundreds of sparsely clad others. You’ll receive instructions from an Improv Everywhere representative, which is basically to start riding the subways…but leave your pants behind. The intent is to appear as if the participants do not know each other and it is pure coincidence that they are wearing winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants. See this video for the reactions of subway riders.
See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree until January 7, 2018 (kid-friendly)
Lucky for those coming to New York City the first week of January, you get a chance to see the stunning and gigantic Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The tree remains illuminated from 5:30 am until Midnight every day. The tree is located in the middle of the Rockefeller Center complex between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. These subways will take you there: B, D, F and M to Rockefeller Center; E or M to the 5th Avenue/53rd Street Station and 6 train to 51 Street Station.
While you are there, think about visiting the Top of the Rock where you get unparalleled views of New York City. See our post with details, prices and how to even get discounts. If you aren’t sure that Top of the Rock is the view you want, read our post comparing the 3 best observatory decks: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, or One World Trade Center Observatory?
Restaurant Week January 22 – Feb. 9, 2018
Enjoy a 5-star meal at a top New York restaurant and pay 1/4 of the regular cost! During Restaurant Week, more than 300 of New York City’s best restaurants offer a prix-fixe menu including 3 courses for a very low price, relative to their regular prices. Prices for 2018 are $29 Lunch / $42 Dinner.
The list of participating restaurants and reservations will be available on January 8. For more information and advice see our post on how to make the most of Restaurant Week.
Winter Jam in Central Park January 28, 2018 (kid-friendly)
At the park’s Winter Jam, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the Central Park Bandshell area is covered with blown-in snow. This is a great activity to bring kids to. You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding. There will also be live Ice Sculpting, Ice Bowling, Taste NY Winter Market / Warming Hut, Dodgeball and more! Bring equipment or borrow it free. Bring photo ID for sports or a legal guardian if under age 18. Free.
Shop for post-holiday bargains All month
January is an excellent time to shop for all kinds of items, from clothing to electronics and everything in between. Nearly every store will be running great post-holiday sales. You have likely heard of the main department stores like Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, and others. But we have some tips on other shopping areas that may not be as crowded and also offer even lower prices. TIP: Did you know that you do not have to pay tax on clothes and shoes that total $110 or under? A lesser-known fact by visitors to New York.
Ice Skate in Bryant Park’s Rink – Day or Night! (kid-friendly)
A beautiful location to skate at a beautiful price: FREE — that is, if you have skates. If you don’t have skates, rental prices are very reasonable. The lines to get in can be long, so plan for a wait, but well worth it. Surrounding the rink is Winter Village, stalls selling unique gifts and plenty of food stalls with seasonal treats. Just below is information on attending Winter Village. For information on ice skating hours and prices, click here.
Visit Winter Village in Bryant Park Until January 5, 2018 (kid-friendly)
NYC is filled with one of a kind pop-up markets in January, and some stay open beyond the New Year. Winter Village at Bryant Park (pictured on right) is one of the best holiday markets to shop for one-of-a-kind items including handmade winter clothing, sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, decorative items and more.
Winter Village is located in Midtown Manhattan so why not join one of our Midtown Manhattan Tours. If you can’t join us, please feel free to enjoy our Guide to 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan. We also have an audio tour with GPS. Click here for more information about our audio tours.
Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal January 1 – February 11, 2018 Free (kid-friendly)
If you cant make it up to the New York Botanical Gardens train shown above, this Train Show is more centrally located. You also get the double bonus of visiting the spectacular Grand Central Terminal layout features Lionel trains traveling through a two-level, 34-foot-long miniature New York City and countryside scene. Vintage trains from the museum’s collection, including New York Central models, travel all the way to the diorama’s the North Pole. Get all the information here.
While you are Grand Central you might want to spend some time looking around. You can do this on your own with one of our audio guides or self-guided tour, or join one of the many free Grand Central Tours offered. See our post What to See and Do in Grand Central Station.
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are a good way any time of the year to see a lot of the city in a little bit of time. They also help get you oriented to the layout of the city before you decide where you would like to visit more in depth. In January, a bus tour has the additional enticing feature of keeping you warm on days that are especially cold. Since they stop at the popular attraction locations, you can use the bus to move from destination to destination and it is a lot more interesting to look out a bus window then stand in a crowded subway. Our post The Best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC Bus Tours can help you decide which is best for you.
Winter Antiques Show January 19–28, 2018 hours vary
This is the most prestigious antiques show in America and held at the historic Park Avenue Armory. Now in its 64th year, the show highlights an eclectic mix of works dating from ancient times to the present day. Click here for the specific information on hours, directions to the Armory and more. Tickets are $25 for each day and include the show’s 270-page catalog.
Below are a few ideas for keeping yourself entertained at night. For more ideas, see our post on Top 10 Things to Do in New York City at Night and our New York Night Tours. Also, be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of these other ideas are possible at night.
NYC Broadway Week January 16 – February 4, 2018
Get 2-for-1 deals on select theater shows during this week. Surely one of the best deals in town! Click here to find out more information. Don’t worry, if you aren’t here in January, there are plenty of other ways to save big on Broadway shows. See our post on How to get Broadways tickets at discounted prices.
Ice Skating at Night Days and hours vary by venue
In New York City you have many choices of where to ice skate, at varying prices and all different hours. Ice-skating at night is extra fun. Nothing brings out the fun of winter as a loop around a rink, or a fall on your behind under the holiday lights of the Big Apple. To find out the many places you can go skating in the city, see our post on Where to go Ice-skating in New York City.
Winter Jazzfest January 10 – 17, 2018
The festival features 100 bands and musicians playing at 11 venues in Greenwich Village. Buy a day or weekend pass. A marathon on January 12 and 13 with two unique kick-off events—a Dutch jazz-punk outfit the Ex at LPR and jazz-funk ensemble at Webster Hall. Let these smoking hot jam sessions warm you up this winter. Get all the information here: Winter Jazzfest. Ticket prices vary from $35 – $160.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of free things you can do in New York City in January and year round. Check our comprehensive post about Free Things to Do in NYC. Also, be sure to check out the other sections of this post, as many of these other ideas are free.
Hear some Gospel Music!
Since January is a non-tourist season you will have a much easier time getting into one of the top Gospel services in New York City. On Sundays, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem is one of the most popular services to attend to hear this inspirational music. It’s free to attend but there are many rules to abide by such as adhering to the dress code and staying through the entire service. Find out more about this church as well as others where you can hear Gospel music in New York, read our post Gospel Music in Harlem and the Rest of New York City.
Attend a TV Show Taping
Totally free, totally fun! And totally easier to get a seat in January when the tourist season is over. Being in the studio audience of one of your favorite shows is possible. We have compiled a list of New York TV Show Tapings along with how you can get tickets. Here is a sampling: Good Morning America, The Today Show, Rachel Ray Show, The View, Live! with Kelly Ripa, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration January 14, 2018
A free panel discussion about Dr. King’s legacy and how his teachings affect us today at Apollo Theater. Find out the details at WNYC’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. Afterwards, explore the neighborhood with our Harlem Audio Tour. Take a look at our A Harlem Visitors Guide for suggestions. We also offer a pay-what-you-like Harlem tour on various days of the week. For other celebrations of Martin Luter King Jr.’s Day check the schedules for these venues who have various activities honoring this great man. The Museum of the City of New York, Brooklyn Academy of Music: BAM and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
For lots of other activities, check out our posts Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in New York City, our 3-day itinerary for families and our list of over 100 things to do in New York City which includes dozens of kid-friendly activities.
Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden Nov. 22, 2017 – Jan. 15, 2018 Prices vary
It’s worth taking a bit a slightly longer subway train ride to see these G-scale mini-trains circle 150 of New York City’s landmarks along a half-mile of track. See the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center re-created with only natural materials like bark and leaves.
This year’s theme is Midtown Manhattan and showcases New York’s iconic skyscrapers and other architectural beauties. For more information, click here. After seeing the mini-version of Midtown Manhattan, join us for a pay-what-you-like tour of the real size Midtown Manhattan.
National Geographic Ocean Odyssey 226 West 44th Street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue
New to the list of tourist attractions, this Ocean Odyssey opened in October 2017. You will stay warm while you take a deep dive into the ocean. Using photo-real animation with giant projection screens and immersive sound, your simulated ocean voyage will feel real. This is a great activity for families with children as there is a great deal of interactive technology including touch screens, holograms, and games involving ocean conservation/research. They are open daily Sunday–Thursday until 10:00 am to 10:30 pm and Friday & Saturday from 10:00 am until 12 midnight. (Last ticket sold one hour prior to closing). Tickets with a reserved time slot cost: $39.50, seniors $36.50, children 12 and under $32.50. Buy your tickets in advance or you will have to pay $20 more! Get all the information here.
Visit a tourist attraction without the crowds
Below are indoor kid-friendly experiences Keep your little ones warm and entertained. These attractions are quite fun for grown-ups too! Click on the links below to be taken to our posts where you will find useful information such as best times to go, prices and hours, discounts, directions to get there and other nearby activities.