5 Ways to Handle Winter in NYC
Another year has come and gone, and that means another New York winter is upon us. I barely remember summer and fall––how did we get here so quickly?
When I moved to New York City, I was not ready for the winters that would come along with living here. I assumed that I’d need a winter coat along with other standard winter gear, such as a pair of snow boots, maybe a pair of dress boots, as well as gloves, a hat, scarf, etc. But, in reality, I was clueless about how severe New York winters can be. (And that’s coming from someone who grew up in Pennsylvania and lived through feet of snow every winter!) I wish someone told me what to expect before I was knee-deep in the winter of 2008.
If you’re moving to NYC from a warm-weather climate, I encourage you to be prepared for sub-zero temps, snow, slush, ice, and high winds. If you’re moving to NYC from anywhere, even places that experience winter every year, I encourage you to prepare yourself too. Case in point – recently, I met someone from Utah who told me that New York feels colder than Utah, even though the temperatures say otherwise. No, our winters aren’t typically as brutal as Chicago’s, but they can be a close second, depending on how Mother Nature behaves any given year.
All that said, here’s a few ways to handle winter in NYC–– the rip-roaring Arctic air and snowy weather that New York knows too well. “Don’t ever leave the apartment” is one solution, albeit not a very practical one. (Although, if I’m honest, I’ve done it a few times.)
A pea coat or biker jacket? Fashionable outerwear sounds attractive, but nothing will keep you warmer than down feathers. In fact, a down coat and a pair of waterproof boots will be your best friends during any NYC winter. I suggest a lighter-weight version and a heavy, parka-like coat. And you won’t be alone in your snowman jacket as you meander around town. You’ll see New Yorkers sporting down beginning as early as October and as late as April, depending on when spring arrives.
Along with the right coat and boots, you’ll need a few warm hats, scarves, and several pairs of gloves too. And while you’re at it, throw a flannel shirt and cozy cardigan sweater into the wintry mix. If you hate the poofiness of down, then opt for lots of layers instead.
Walk less and ride the subway more.
There’s nothing worse than standing outside on an icy day to wait for a bus. Ten minutes can seem like 30, and you won’t feel your fingers and toes by the time you board. The subway, however, is underground in most of Manhattan and even some of the boroughs, so the temperature will always be warmer on the platform than it is on the street. On January days when the real feel is in the single digits, that could mean double digits underground.
Since the subway works best for uptown and downtown routes (north and south) in most instances, and buses work best for crosstown commutes (east and west), save your pennies for taxis and car services on those abominable days when waiting for a bus is out of the question. And, I’d leave Citi Bike for the spring, summer, and fall.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve noticed New Yorkers cross-country skiing in Central Park. Yes, as much as we complain about the cold, we do get out there on occasion and embrace the season. From ice-skating to long-distance runs, and building snowmen to sledding, you’ll have plenty of adventurous options to choose from here in the city. Like many locals, don’t be afraid to traipse through a polar vortex and embrace the insanely cold temperatures. So I guess the adage works in this instance: “If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.”
On the coldest days, stay in.
Netflix! Use January and February to binge on Emily in Paris (love it!), The Crown, or The Queen’s Gambit. Read a bestseller. Cook a gourmet meal. Get some extra sleep. Work on home improvement projects such as repainting a room or house cleaning. Take an online course. The list goes on. You can discover or catch up on a host of activities during winter months, thus keeping you toasty and busy at the same time.
Escape the city.
One of the no-brainer ways to handle winter in NYC is to get out. Take a drive to a warmer spot or even a place where you won’t be exposed to the frigid weather. While air travel isn’t the most responsible choice at the moment due to the pandemic, driving (in dry weather) is relatively safe.
Winter at the beach can be lovely––consider the Hamptons, Jersey Shore, or perhaps Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Or make your way to the Sunshine State for some real warmth. I recommend Vero Beach, a long drive (but a quick flight post-pandemic), totally worth it and doable with two drivers. Just be sure to mask up if you stop for gas, supplies, or to use a rest area on the way.