February in New York City: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

 TripSavvy / Ellen Lindner

There are many reasons that February brings visitors to New York City. Many come to enjoy the Lunar New Year celebrations, some have a romantic escape planned for Valentine's Day, and others, despite the often frigid days, are bringing their kids to explore the city because they are on school break. Although the weather makes it a little less comfortable for walking around, with proper planning and packing, you can still have a great time in New York City, despite the cold.

Since it's cold and non-peak season in New York City, you can find bargains on accommodations and discount flights. Additionally, if you time your trip right, you can dine at some of New York City's best restaurants at a significant discount during New York City Restaurant Week.

Throughout the year, the cultural neighborhoods of New York City have tons of character and rich flavors—Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Italy, to name a few. Chinatown erupts into a festive celebration for the Lunar New Year every year, as this date usually falls in February (though sometimes it's in January), and it brings with it a variety of parades and celebrations to experience.

New York City Weather in February

February is a bit warmer than January, but not by much. It is one of the coldest months in the city, and the near-constant cloud cover and tall buildings only make it feel even colder than it actually is. There's typically at least one cold spell where the temperature never gets above freezing, but you may also get lucky and visit during a sunny day (especially if you're visiting later in the month).

  • Average High: 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius)
  • Average Low: 29 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 degrees Celsius)

It's less likely to rain or snow in February as the month goes on, but both events are possible. When the right conditions mix, an especially cold day combined with a storm can cause a February blizzard. Thankfully, these are usually predicted with at least a few days' notice, so be sure to check the forecast before you head out.

What to Pack

To keep your body warm, dress in layers. It will typically be warm in stores, on the subway, and at indoor attractions. But, since it is nearly impossible to visit New York City without spending time outside, pack warm and waterproof clothing, including sweaters, hoodies, a heavy jacket or coat, hat, earmuffs, scarf, gloves, and insulated waterproof boots. Warm feet make a world of difference when you're walking and exploring, especially if there's a possibility of snow on the ground.

February Events in New York City

If you don't mind the cold, New York City continues off of the holiday season with even more special events planned throughout February.

  • According to American lore, groundhogs across the country (most famously Punxsutawney Phil) emerge from their dwellings on February 2 and judge whether winter is waning or if we have six more weeks to go. The Staten Island Zoo has its very own groundhogs and holds an early-morning ceremony to celebrate Groundhog Day
  • Ice skating in New York City is iconic. Whether you are skating under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center or amid the evergreens of Central Park's Wollman Rink, ice skating is often depicted on a picture-perfect New York City winter postcard.
  • In February, Chinatown celebrates Chinese New Year, bringing out dragons, dancers, and the city's best Chinese food. The 2021 Chinese New Year Parade was postponed to a to-be-determined date.
  • The city celebrates Restaurant Week twice a year, with hundreds of New York's best restaurants offering discounted prix fixe meals between January 25 and 31, 2021, for the winter version. All of the meals for the 2021 event are available for pick up or delivery, so you can enjoy the best of the city's food from home.
  • New York Fashion Week takes place in February. While scoring tickets to the hottest shows are usually tough to come by, the 2021 event from February 14–18 is taking place virtually, making it more accessible than ever before.
  • The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is usually held every February at Madison Square Garden, and dog lovers adore seeing the diverse breeds at this iconic venue over the course of a week of events. However, the 2021 event was postponed to June and moved to an outdoor location in Westchester County.

February Travel Tips

  • The main disadvantage of traveling to New York City in February is the weather. It will be cold and you may even get snow, which means the walkways and roads may be slippery and hazardous. When it is very snowy or slick, transportation challenges are likely, such as canceled or delayed flights.
  • Despite the cold, New York City is always a favorite pick for Valentine's Day, so, do not be shocked if you have difficulty booking last-minute travel plans.
  • New York City public schools are not off just for a three-day weekend during Presidents' Day, but have the whole week off. Some attractions may be extra busy since students across the city aren't in school.
  • When the February chill is too much to take, head inside. There are tons of museums and galleries to visit in Manhattan, including the two behemoths alongside Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History.
  • New York City is the place for shopping. You can hopscotch past the shops of Fifth Avenue, or stay entirely indoors and peruse the high-end boutiques at the Oculus of the World Trade Center.
  • The best way to get around on a cold day is taking the subway. You'll stay warm instead of walking around in the cold and, in the case of snow, the delays aren't as disruptive as street-level transit, such as taxis.