If you’re planning to visit New York City in the winter, you’re going to need to pack the right items. In this post I’m sharing everything you need to pack for a winter trip to NYC.
As a part-time New Yorker, I’ve spent a handful of winters in the city. Prior to that, my husband and I would frequently travel to the Big Apple as tourists to take in the city during the holidays and into the new year.
Visiting New York City in December is super festive and magical. Things slow down in January and February, but these months can be a great time to experience the city at a slower pace, and usually at a more affordable price. Since the city is usually its coldest in January and February, the best activities include museum hopping or seeing a Broadway show.
Although cold weather is a given this time of year, packing for a trip to New York City in winter can actually be a bit tricky. New York City can be really cold, but the weather can also be sporadic, and restaurants and shops can be quite warm.
Here’s your complete New York winter packing list so you can enjoy the city while staying warm and comfortable.
Packing List for NYC in the Winter
What to Wear in New York City in Winter
Obviously, what you ultimately pack for your trip really depends on the activities you’re planning. If you’re heading upstate or to the mountains for a skiing trip, pack snow gear. If you have a few special dinner reservations, pack a pair of heels and some jewelry to dress up your outfits.
As a ground rule for what to wear in New York City in winter, dress in layers. It can be very cold outside, but shops and restaurants are usually hot, and you’ll likely want to take of your coat.
Neutral colors like gray, navy, tan, and black are an essential part of a New Yorker’s uniform, and really be worn and for most things around the city.
These are the basic essentials of what to pack when you visit New York in the winter:
Without a doubt, pack a handful of sweaters. The winter days in NYC will surely be cold, and if you’re out walking for most of the day, this is what you’ll want to wear.
If you get cold easily or aren’t used to the cold, you may want to pack a few short sleeve tees to layer under your sweater. Or if you get too hot, you’ll be able to take off your sweater.
Layering Turtlenecks or Long Sleeve Tees
Tighter fitting, layering turtlenecks are a major winter wardrobe essential of mine. They work them on their own during warmer winter days or layered under a sweater for cold days.
I love wearing a fitted turtleneck with a pair of wide leg pants and a long coat; it’s a chic outfit that works for the day and for dinner.
A few of my favorites include:
You may think you need to be bundled up extra warm during a winter trip to NYC, but that’s not always the case.
I actually find myself avoiding sweaters when I go to dinner. Restaurants tend to keep temperatures warm, so a blouse and a pair of jeans is often what I’ll wear under a winter coat.
Jeans are a must-have suitcase staple for New York City. Pack dark denim wash and black; both will work for day and night.
A Warm Puffer Coat
If you don’t already own a puffer coat, get one.
I recommend investing in a high-quality version and not skimping here. A puffer coat will likely be your most worn item in your trip, and you don’t want a cheap version that isn’t going to keep you warm.
Aritzia makes great puffer coats for men and women in a multiple colors and lengths. My husband has one and I frequently borrow it.
Bernardo is a great, more affordable option. I own several of their puffer coats and many of them fold down to be pretty packable.
You can’t go wrong with a classic black puffer coat. A longer style will keep you warmer than a shorter one, but length is really personal preference.
A Wool Coat
I also recommend packing a wool coat so that you have a dressier outerwear option.
I just upgraded my black wool coat this year to this one. It runs large, so size down at least one size. I wear and XS and there’s plenty of room for a bulky sweater.
Winter Shoes to Wear in NYC
A pair of leather, waterproof boots is a must. These are the number one pair of shoes you should pack for your visit.
NYC weather in the winter is unpredictable, and it can snow or rain sporadically. Leather boots will keep your feet warm, and they’re much more durable than suede.
Look for a pair of boots with a lug sole so that you won’t slip. These lug sole boots have been a part of my NYC-shoe collection for years.
A pair of leather sneakers is always a safe bet in a walking city, so it’s worth packing a pair.
Unless there’s snow in the forecast, you don’t need to pack snow boots. Your leather boots should suffice.
In case you do need them, I always recommend Sorel snow boots.
If you’re visiting NYC in winter, especially during the holidays, chances are you may want to dress up for a few things.
Plans pending, don’t forget a pair of dressy shoes or heeled boots.
Cold Weather Accessories
Now that we’ve got the clothing essentials and shoes out of the way, let’s not forget the icing on the cake: cold weather accessories.
A Beanie and Scarf
The tall buildings in the city can create wind tunnels, making I feel much colder than it actually is.
Stay cozy with a beanie and scarf.
It’s also a very good idea to pack gloves. I personally am partial to cashmere-lined leather gloves; they keep your hands much warmer than the regular knit ones.
When your feet are warm, so is the rest of your body, so make sure you pack the proper socks!
Wool socks or cashmere socks will keep your feet nice and cozy during an NYC winter.
I always recommend slipping a pair of tights in your suitcase. For one, they take up minimal space, and two, they provide an excellent extra layer of warmth without the bulk.
On extremely cold winter days in New York City, I’ll wear a pair of tights under my jeans.
For even extra warmth, try a pair of tights with fleece lining.
Don’t Forget to Pack These
Low temperatures, wind, and heat from NYC radiators will likely leave your lips feeling dry.
I stock several sticks of Carmex lip balm across my bags – it’s one of the only products that I feel really protects my lips, and if needed I’ll also put it on cracked skin near my nose or hands.
A Crossbody Bag
I always recommend a crossbody bag for anyone who travels to New York City.
It likely as a visitor you’ll be out all day and may accumulate some shopping bags. A crossbody bag keeps your hands-free, and your purse strap won’t also slide off your shoulder in the middle of crossing Fifth Avenue.
I also personally like knowing that my bag is secure across my body so that nobody can grab it from my shoulder.
For the most part NYC is generally safe, but it is a walking city after all, and things happen. If you’re at all worried about this, a crossbody bag is essential. (I always take crossbody bags when traveling internationally for this reason, too!)
This zip-top crossbody tote is a great travel purse. It’s large enough to fit a small camera, a wallet, gloves, and even some purchases you may make.
It’s also a good idea to bring a portable phone charger with you. On days when I’m out and about in NYC for several hours or all day, I definitely bring mine.
You can find subway routes on Google Maps and Apple Maps, so if you’re doing a lot of exploring and train riding, you don’t want your phone to die.
On winter days where it gets extremely cold in New York City, gloves may not be enough for you.
The unsung NYC winter heroes are these packable, disposable hand warmers. They heat up almost instantly and you can toss them in your pockets or stuff them into your gloves for extra warmth.
Tips for Packing for NYC in Winter
Visiting New York City in the winter may be cold but can still be a lot of fun. In fact, I love the slower pace of the city and dropping by the coffee shop for an afternoon hot chocolate.
Here are some extra winter packing tips to help you on your journey:
- Wear your heaviest or bulkiest pieces on the plane, like boots and heavy coats. This will free up a lot of real estate in your suitcase to pack other essentials like sweaters or jeans. (And it may help you stay under the suitcase weight limit!)
- Utilize packing cubes. Winter clothing can be bulky, fluffy, and sometimes hard to fold. Packing cubes help contain your pieces and provide you with addd space for an extra sweater or two.
- Layers are your BFF.The benefit of layering is that you can be warm when you need it, and also comfortable when you need it.
- Just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean you’ll be freezing. This sort of goes along with the point above, but your body temperature does warm up a little when you walk around the city – even in the winter cold. It’s also unlikely that you’ll spend a full, straight, 8-hour day outside in New York City. There are so many great shops and restaurants to pop into to warm up for a bit.