There’s never a bad time to take a bite of the Big Apple, but New York’s shoulder season, which falls during the months of March, April, May, September and October, may offer the best tourist experience of the year. Here are 10 reasons why you should avoid the summer and winter rush to see the city at its best.
- Better Weather
The spring and fall shoulder seasons in New York hit the sweet spot that avoids the city’s most extreme temperatures. New York does look pretty under a blanket of snow, but getting out and seeing the sights isn’t exactly comfortable when freezing wind is whipping all around you. And while warm, humid temperatures may feel nice at a tropical destination, New York isn’t exactly at its best when summer does its worst. Milder temperatures in late spring and early fall make for much better sightseeing.
- Fewer (Tourist) Crowds
New York is one of the most densely populated cities in the world at any time of year, and it earns its “city that never sleeps” nickname for a reason. There’s no “quiet” season in New York, but tourist destinations like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square are a bit less hectic during the shoulder seasons.
- Plenty of Outdoor Options
Good weather during shoulder season means that the city’s surprising range of outdoor attractions is more appealing than ever. From a stroll around Governor’s Island to a guided canoe trip on the Bronx River, it’s surprisingly easy to get outside and do something that feels a world away from the big city.
- Less Chance of Travel Disruption
Holiday season is a popular time to visit New York, but this time of year coincides with some of the city’s worst winter weather. Grounded flights, closed roads and subway shutdowns aren’t a guarantee, but they’re much more likely to happen in winter than any other time of year.
- Off-Peak Hotel Rates
Peak summer and holiday tourist season means skyrocketing hotel fees. During shoulder season, you may just find the luxury hotel deal of a lifetime.
- Farmers’ Markets in the City
There’s something especially charming about buying locally-grown produce in such a big city. Plus, these markets provide an affordable solution for breakfast and lunch, and they also allow chefs to source amazing ingredients for delicious dinners at local restaurants.
- Cooler Tickets to Hot Shows
Broadway show tickets are sometimes impossible to score without connections, but even popular shows are less in-demand at these times of year. If you really want to see a popular show during your visit, avoid peak season and go shoulder instead.
- Parades and Festivals
March and April bring a number of delightful festivals and parades to the city, including celebrations in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. October also sees some fun public celebrations, including the Village Halloween Parade, a fun destination for costume-crazed adults.
- Spring Flowers and Fall Colors
Despite its reputation as an “urban jungle,” New York has a surprisingly good relationship with nature. As such, it’s easy to see trees showing off their seasonal best in the shoulder season. There’s no better place to see flowering trees (including cherry blossoms) in spring and fiery leaves in fall than Central Park, the city’s backyard.
- Prime Access to Museum Exhibits
Museums tend to start their special exhibitions in the fall, meaning you’ll get front-row seats to traveling museum exhibitions during the fall shoulder season. In both spring and fall, you’ll enjoy fewer museum crowds and avoid long off-season closures.