My husband and I recently celebrated my thirtieth birthday in New York City in late January/early February. While this was his first time and my third in NYC, it certainly wasn’t our first rodeo sightseeing somewhere cold. But it was a little colder than expected—the day before our flight, an article stated that NYC would be colder than Russia and Alaska during part of our visit.
When we visit cities during the winter, we still love to walk around and do lots of sightseeing. So, appropriate clothes and outerwear are a must to be comfortable and to get the most of our time away. Although NYC would be colder than we expected, we didn’t stray from our usual cold-temp sightseeing wardrobes.
Whether you are planning a visit to NYC in the winter, have it on your bucketlist or are preparing for another cold-temp destination, use this guide to pack all the right clothes.
If you are heading to NYC, I hope you’ll find some helpful info here on sights to see and things to do!
(And, don’t forget to check out the last blog post of my 20s: 30 lessons from my 20s.)
What I Packed to Visit NYC in January/February
For this trip, I tried to pack light and smart because I know I end up re-wearing a few staple pieces of clothing when we vacation somewhere cold. The trick to every outfit is wearing a pair of leggings under your pants, thick socks (or several pairs of regular socks) and maybe even an undershirt.
Here’s my overall clothes packing list:
- Black jeans
- Blue jeans
- Black, heeled booties
- Beige, heeled booties
- Black, flat booties
- Footless tights
- Compression leggings
- Black “shape wear” tank
- Tan toboggan
- Black gloves (kind of furry)
- Black scarf
- Long, tan coat
- Short, tan coat with hood
- Beige teddy bear coat
- White, fitted turtle neck top
- Cowl-neck, cropped, black sweatshirt
- White, cropped sweatshirt
- Dusty rose, crop-neck sweater
- Ski socks (super thick and knee-high)
- Several pair of winter socks I already had
- White shoulder purse
- Black backpack
If you notice, I didn’t pack multiple scarves, gloves or hats. I was happy with the ones I packed, and I never wished I had brought more. My husband bought the ski socks prior to our trip, and I’m so glad he did! I didn’t have to wear a second pair with them, and I ended up wearing them every day almost. They did leave “ripples” under my jeans because of their thickness, but their warmth outweighed that little con.
Bonus, birthday night outfit
I did pack one outfit specifically for my birthday night. This outfit lacked warmth and functionality, but we planned to Uber around that night to avoid being out in the cold. I ended up wearing my scarf and long, tan coat with this outfit—no gloves or hat.
- Long-sleeve, black dress from H&M
- Nude panty hose
- White heeled booties
Where we stayed in NYC: Midtown East
We stayed at Park Central Hotel, just a few blocks south of Central Park, and we loved our stay here. The hotel was nice and cute, with a swanky little hotel bar/lounge. There was also a café open certain hours, though we didn’t purchase anything from it. (Next door to the hotel was a Starbucks and local bakery.)
The hotel was within walking distance to Times Square, 5th Avenue, Central Park, Broadway, a subway station and other attractions. My hubby surprised me and upgraded our room to a higher floor. The upgrade gave us a larger room with two queen beds and an extra window. We could see Times Square from one of our windows.
The hotel offered a texting service. So, when we requested a mini fridge, extra clothes hangers or more towels, we just texted the number, and the items were in our room when we came back to the hotel. We appreciated that feature.
I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone looking for an affordable, nice hotel in a convenient location.
What I Wore & What We Did in NYC During Winter
Day 1—Flight from Nashville to NYC
Blue jeans, black heeled booties, cowl-neck cropped sweatshirt, long coat and black backpack.
We planned on taking a car from the airport to our hotel, so I didn’t worry about wearing layers on the travel day. I did have my scarf, toboggan and gloves in my carry-on, just in case we got stuck walking a bit for some reason.
Upon arriving, we unpacked our bags, and I added my compression leggings, an extra pair of socks and my hat, gloves and scarf before venturing out.
We had plans for the evening, but wanted to get out and about, so we walked around our neighborhood and found some cute bars to try out.
Night 1—Dinner, Museum of Sex, Empire State Building
White turtle neck, beige teddy bear coat, short tan coat, tan toboggan, gloves, scarf, heeled black booties, white purse, ski socks and footless tights. (The footless tights were much warmer than my compression leggings!)
We went to Maria Pia, an Italian restaurant just a short Uber ride from our hotel, for dinner that night. I had the ravioli in vodka sauce, and it was absolutely fantastic! We planned to hit up the Museum of Sex, then the Empire State Building so I could 30 on top. 🙂
However, we didn’t realize the fine print said the actual museum closed at 9 p.m. We arrived around 9:30 p.m. and were only able to go into the novelty section of the museum. To kill time, we found an Irish pub nearby and hung out until about 11:30 p.m., when we walked over to the Empire State Building, which is open until 2 a.m.
It was so cold on top of the ESB, but so, so worth it! I got to turn 30 at midnight on top of the highest building in the city, and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Doll couldn’t take his hands out of his gloves, but I ran around like a crazy person (on adrenaline) snapping photos.
Day 2—Birthday lunch
Black workout leggings with footless tights underneath, white cropped sweatshirt with a blank shaper tank underneath, ski socks, flat black boots, long tan coat, gloves, black backpack, scarf and toboggan.
I may or may not have been slightly hungover this day, so we snuggled and snoozed in bed until around noon. Then we threw on clothes and just started walking until we found a restaurant that seemed yummy. We walked in and out of several pizza joints because there was no seating.
We eventually stumbled upon Stardust Diner, which we had no idea was a famous little attraction! The servers are all aspiring Broadway singers, and they take turns singing the entire time. I got to stand up while the whole restaurant sang me “Happy Birthday”—and I bet you already know I loved that!
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up before venturing out again.
Day 2—Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, 5th Avenue
Rusty rose crop-neck sweater with black shaper tank underneath, black jeans with footless tights underneath, ski socks, heeled beige booties, long tan coat, black backpack, gloves, toboggan and scarf.
Little did we know, the Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays, so that was a nice surprise! My main reason for wanting to visit this museum was to see “Starry Night” by van Gogh. It was the first painting I learned about as a child, and I’ve always loved it.
After the museum, we just went walking. We ventured into Central Park, along 5th Avenue and surrounding streets—just strolling hand-in-hand.
Upon getting back to the hotel, we had a drink in the hotel bar before getting ready for dinner.
Night 2—Birthday dinner, a big surprise, bar hopping
Nude panty hose, black H&M dress, white heeled booties, long tan coat, scarf and white purse.
Remember, we planned on Ubering around this night, so I wasn’t concerned that my birthday outfit wasn’t so functional for the cold.
Upon exiting the Uber at the restaurant, my sister and her boyfriend popped out and surprised me. My sister and hubby had been orchestrating this since December. She and her boyfriend flew all the way from LA just to celebrate with us—and celebrate we did!
We had dinner at Thai Villa that for my birthday, and it was ALL THE THINGS. We ordered lots of bottles of bubbly, and our server, Jay, helped make our evening so special. Because we had a party of four, we got to sit in a cabana-type booth. There were large, gold fixtures hanging from the ceiling, and the atmosphere was so dreamy.
We ordered family-style, and everyone loved everything. The four of us deemed Thai Villa as our “NYC spot,” and I already can’t wait until we’re all back there together.
My sis used to live in NYC, so she guided us around to all the coolest neighborhood spots. We hung out in Greenwich Village, SoHo and surrounding neighborhoods. Some spots we hit up included Marie’s Crisis (somewhat pretentious piano showtunes bar, but so worth singing along to Little Mermaid!) and Stonewall Inn.
Day 3—Brunch, Little Italy, Washington Square Park, Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial, Battery Park
White cropped sweatshirt with shaper tank underneath, footless tights, black jeans, ski socks, flat black booties, long tan coat, scarf, gloves, toboggan and black backpack.
My sis made us a brunch reservation at Miss Lily’s, a cute little Jamaican diner. It was so yummy! What I realized is that bottomless mimosas or other brunch drinks in NYC are common, but it works a little differently. A restaurant may offer a flat price for brunch and bottomless drinks, and you are limited to a certain amount of time.
So, we each ordered separate meals and bottomless drinks, which we were served for 1.5 hours—not bad!
After, ventured into Washington Square Park and onto Wall Street. We saw the New York Stock Exchange and the building where George Washington took his oath as the first president of the U.S. That was a cool thing to see!
We stopped by the 9/11 Memorial, which is an overwhelming experience every time I visit it. Then, we walked over to Battery Park, which is where you buy tickets for Statue of Liberty ferry ride or get a good view of Lady Liberty.
I had done the ferry ride on my first visit to NYC in January 2012, which includes a stop at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. When we did it, the Lady was under construction, so we didn’t hop off at her stop, but we still had the most spectacular, detailed views of her. I totally recommend this ferry ride, however, because it was so, so cold (much colder than my last January trip in NYC), we opted out of the ferry ride.
We then walked through Chinatown and Little Italy, and stopped for dessert and boozy chocolaty drinks at Café Napoli—the most darling Italian restaurant.
Night 3—Times Square and dollar pizza
After Café Napoli, we parted ways with my sister and Gavin, and we took the train up to Grand Central. We then walked to Times Square and found a restaurant near our hotel for a snack.
But you can’t visit NYC without getting a slice of pizza, and shoveling it in your face as you walk down the busy streets! We each got a slice of pepperoni from the 99 cent pizza shop and ate it off a paper plate while walking back to our hotel.
We spent our last night taking a birthday photoshoot in the room, then we turned off all the lights, drew up all the blinds and laid in the bed listening to New York City-themed songs while watching Times Square out of our window.
Day 4—Flight from NYC to Nashville
Upon waking up on our last day, we got some coffee at Starbucks (next door to the hotel) and walked around the surrounding blocks. I can’t recall what I wore this day, but I left my layers off because we planned to Uber to the airport.
All-in-all, my 30th birthday trip to New York City was the most magical, dreamy experience. I chose NYC for my birthday because I wanted to turn 30 in one of the most fabulous cities in the world with my lover. But, this trip surpassed every expectation I had for it.
Turning 30 on top of the Empire State Building, strolling through the city with the love of my life and being surprised by my big sister—I just don’t have the words. I couldn’t ask for a better end to my 20s and a better start to my 30s, and I feel so grateful and humbled that I was able to have that experienced.
Before we went on this trip, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be the same when we returned home. Not only because I would enter my 30s in NYC, but because I felt like I would be dipped into something magical and then removed. It was true.
I’ll be forever grateful for those three days in the city, and I haven’t been the same since.