What to Pack for New York
If you’re visiting New York City over the holidays or anytime in winter, you’ll want to bundle up! New York gets pretty cold in the winter time, especially around January and February and certain large streets like Broadway are wind tunnels where the wind seems to blow you away with each step.
New Yorkers are famous for wearing black, black and more black so if you’re puzzled on what to wear in Manhattan… think dark neutrals in variations of grey, black and navy. I’ve included all the essentials for what to pack for New York in the winter below!
NYC Winter Packing List: The Essentials
1. Warm Clothes
You’ll want to wear thick comfy sweaters, jeans and lots of layers for a a winter time visit to New York City. New Yorkers love a head-to-toe outfit in black, so black denim, a cozy thick sweater, and black puffer with blank ankle boots will have you fitting right in!
Definitely bring an extra thick winter jacket filled with down. Streets like Broadway are wind tunnels! I recommend bringing a “nicer” wool jacket for any night time events like going to a Broadway show or a nice dinner out but for sightseeing, you’ll be so much more comfortable in a puffy down jacket.
I swear by my Canada Goose Expedition – it’s an investment but one that’s been paid many times over in New York’s coldest months.
2. Comfortable Boots & Sneakers
For sightseeing, casual sneakers are handy but if you really want to blend in and dress like a New Yorker, you’ll opt for ankle boots or chic man loafers. I also love a good over the knee boot with a heel for a night out. They’re sleek, slimming and warm! You can find affordable over the knee boots here.
If it’s snowing, snow boots by Sorel are a good option. White snow turns quickly to black mush on NYC streets so you’ll definitely want to keep your toes warm and dry. It doesn’t snow too often here so I still get by with regular Hunter boots and thick socks.
3. Sunglasses and Hats
Yes, lots of New Yorkers wear sunglasses in the winter. More necessary? A cozy beanie or earmuffs to protect your ears. It gets cold in the city!
Gloves and Scarfs | Scarfs are also a must have, the thicker and longer, the better. I absolutely love Club Monaco’s cashmere scarfs for something luxurious and classic that you’ll wear forever. For more everyday, affordable options Nordstrom has a huge range of colorful options as well. It’s also a great idea to bring gloves for a winter trip to New York. Leather options are sleek but even better are gloves that work with phones. I recently picked up a North Face etip pair and all the glove fingers are touch screen compatible while the glove itself is super sleek. That way, you can still talk, text and google map on the go without red, raw and chapped hands.
Bag | If you’re visiting New York to sight see or shop, I recommend wearing a large, roomy zippered tote bag or cross body bag instead of a backpack. Most museums do not allow backpacks and will require you to check them in. On the subway, you don’t want to be keeping valuables behind your back!
If you absolutely must carry a backpack, I recommend taking your backpack off when getting in the subway and holding it in front of you. This creates more room for other passengers and also wards off quick fingered pickpockets.
Lip Balm with SPF | My lips are always chapped in the winter so these are an absolute must have! My favorite day balm is Lanolips (its an ultra moisturizing ointment balm); my night version is from Vaseline and my heavy duty must have is by French brand Aquaphor.
4. Travel Bags & Electronics
Suitcase | I love this super sleek hard case set from Raden luggage which comes with a phone charger and handy app that lets you know where your luggage is via GPS at any moment. It’s also quite shock proof, you can jump on it and the hard case actually absorbs impact and still stays sleek and sturdy.
Read more: The Best Carry-on Suitcases, Reviewed
Packing Cubes | I swear by packing cubes to keep my suitcase organized throughout my trips! I like to group clothing by color or function and pack each group of items snugly in their own cube.
Toiletry Bottles | Optional. I currently like these for shampoo and conditioner.
Portable Charger | Definitely a must! Some NYC subways have free wifi but still the majority of the city is not yet internet friendly. I currently use an iPhone 6S and this Anker portable charger to keep my phone fully charged at all times even though I technically live in the city and am not sight seeing. This charger is small and sleek with enough life to fully charge an iPhone 2x. Also I really love Anker’s products since they have great customer service. I once bought a product that ended up dying and they quickly sent me a replacement free of charge, so I highly recommend them!
Medications | Obviously pack whatever medication you need but don’t panic if you forget something. NYC has Duane Reade pharmacies practically on every other block that carry not only medication but basic toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo, fancier skincare products and even snacks and small grocery foods.
The Best Camera & Photography Equipment for NYC
The best lenses for capturing New York, in my opinion are something wide like a 35mm and a standard 50mm lens. A 50mm will be great for all your food shots while the wide angle can best capture Central Park in all its glory!
I bring a professional DSLR camera and a couple lenses to shoot all the photos you see on this blog. I also bring my spare battery, battery charger and extra SD cards. To keep everything organized, I use a memory card case and a travel accessories case so the wires, chargers and small things don’t get lost.
For underwater photos, I use a GoPro, backdoor floatie and dome. For video, I use a stabilizer and my iphone, along with an external battery. You can find all my gear here.
The Best Souvenirs from New York City
New York City has lots of typical souvenir stands and tons of visitors like to visit Fifth Avenue, SoHo and Chelsea for great shopping. For unique finds, you can check out Brooklyn’s flea markets and during holiday time, Union Square, Bryant Park and Columbus Circle have fun Holiday Markets. There’s also a unique vintage NYC holiday train that you can ride! It’s a special subway route and fun for kids.
Where to Stay in New York:
Most first time visitors base themselves in Times Square. I understand the appeal, but personally I think you’ll have a much nicer experience if you stay in SoHo, Chelsea or even Brooklyn!
1 | The NoMo Soho if you want a chic, downtown location.
2 | The Boro Hotel if you don’t mind being slightly farther in Long Island City and getting excellent city views.
3 | The Mandarin Oriental for understated luxury. I also really love Asiate restaurant inside!
4 | The Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn for hipster chic
You can check current NYC hotel deals via Booking.com – I book with them since they have a great cancellation policy and guarantee the lowest rates. For more advice on where to stay in New York City, I’ve previously written a neighborhood guide for the first time visitors and included Manhattan hotels under $200 per night.
Fun Day Tours in New York
Save this post by pinning it for later or read the full series:
New York City Travel Guides
An Insider’s Guide to New York City Museums
The Best NYC Furniture Stores for Every Budget
New York City Things To Do & Events
Cherry Blossoms on New York’s Roosevelt Island
NY Botanical Garden: Orchid Evenings
Trick or Treating on a New York Halloween
Institute of Culinary Education Class Review (+ Promo Code)
New York City Eats & Restaurant Reviews
Packing List Series