10 Fun Winter Activities in NYC, Washington DC and Philadelphia
After the hustle and bustle the month of December brings is behind us – there is still plenty of winter to be had in the Northeast. Truth be told, winter is just getting started here. And just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean all the joy, excitement and good times get packed away with the Christmas decorations. In fact – if you head to one of three of the most popular metropolitan areas this side of the good old USA – you will find plenty to still be jolly about well into spring. Check out our top ten fun winter activities that you can partake in when you book a trip to New York City, Washington DC and / or Philadelphia in the early months of 2022, and some you can even catch while you are visiting at the end of 2021!
1. New York Restaurant Week
Whether you’re a foodie or not – i.e. – you either live to eat or eat to survive – Restaurant Week in New York City is for everyone. How so? Because everyone eats of course – so why not eat at some of the most well-known restaurants in Gotham at a cost considerably lower than the rest of the year? Kicking off January 18th and going through February 13th – restaurant “week” is actually 27 days – so don’t let the name full you. And what is the draw during this timeframe? Three course, pre-fixe meals at fabulously discounted prices at select fine dining establishments. And bonus! This winter’s Restaurant Week (they hold one in the summer as well) is being held the same dates as NYC Broadway Week when you can grab two for one theater tickets – talk about the perfect time to head the city! Reservations open up January 11th so mark your calendars now!
2. NYC Winter Jazzfest
When fans of jazz talk about not-to-be-missed festivals, you can be certain NYC Winter Jazzfest is on the list. The 2022 event spans ten days and features over one hundred groups and over five hundred musicians at twelve venues. Started in 2005, it began as a one day / one location event that has grown larger and more memorable each year. Happening January 13th to 22nd – the talent is beyond impressive, and its attendees gather from around the globe. The festival opens with a two day marathon where you can take in as many venues as you like starting in the early evening and going until the wee hours of the morning. And don’t just expect old school jazz – this is one jazz festival that dabbles in contemporary, forward thinking and innovative jazz – which come to think of it, are three words that also describe the city it calls home each January!
3. Get the Best Hot Chocolate in NYC
Yeah – it gets cold here in the winter. Luckily NYC is home to tons of delicious hot chocolate options – but we’ve narrowed it down to three. First there’s Levain Bakery. Known for their ridiculously scrumptious cookies – the cocoa here doesn’t disappoint either. It’s a simple blend of dark chocolate and milk – with almond and oat milk substitutes available – whipped to perfection. Next is Blue Stripes Urban Cacao which was founded by Oded Brenner – yes that Brenner of Max Brenner fame. At Blue Stripes you can pick from a variety of options including Vanilla Cream for you fans of those other beans, Mexican Hot Chocolate and Keto or sugar free versions that are equally as satisfying. And finally, we cannot talk about cocoa in the city without mentioning Serendipity 3. I – a self-proclaimed chocoholic – tried their infamous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate for the first time two years ago. Three words – Heaven. On. Earth.
4. Chinese New Year in NYC
Exactly one month after the party that is Times Square on New Year’s Eve is but a memory – Chinese New Year comes roaring in – literally – as it’s the Year of the Tiger. Since it’s based on the Lunar calendar the date differs, with 2022’s occurrence landing on February 1st. Each year NYC’s Chinatown ushers it in with an elaborate and oh-so-colorful parade called the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival. Taking place on February 6th, the parade is filled with colorful Dragon and Lion dancers, Asian acrobats, musicians and magicians, festive floats and so much more. Starting in Little Italy, it winds its way through the streets of Chinatown and when it disperses near Sara D. Roosevelt Park the fun continues with a cultural festival featuring live performances of all types. In addition, you can also find smaller events being held throughout the streets of Chinatown during this time of celebration.
5. New York Fashion Week
Question: What attracts more than 200,000 attendees each year and generates more revenue for NYC than the U.S. Tennis Open and the New York City Marathon? Answer: New York Fashion Week of course! Taking place February 10th through the 14th, Fashion Week is the social event of the season. While tickets for “Super Bowl of Fashion” are hard to come by – you may be lucky enough to score one for one of the open-to-the-public events where you can sit in the audience while the hottest designers on the planet showcase their designs for their fall/winter collections – while possibly spying some of Hollywood’s fashion forward celebrities that are always in attendance. Fun Fact – those big names you see in the front row are paid to be there by the designers– sometimes up to as much as $100,000. Sorry – should you get in – you don’t get compensated – but you do get bragging rights!
6. New York Boat Show
Ahoy mateys! Whether you’re in the market for a new watercraft or not the New York Boat Show is definitely worth checking out. Cruising into town and docking at the Javits’s Center from January 26th through the 30th it’s billed as the oldest and one of the largest boat shows in the US. What to expect? Pretty much any type of vessel you can think of will be represented – from personal watercrafts – i.e. – jet skis to sailboats to sportfishing boats to luxury yachts – with over 400 models on display from approximately 500 exhibitors. And this is one of many winter activities that are family friendly, so bring the kids! They can partake in activities such as building a model boat, riding in a power-boat simulator and even climbing aboard some of the boats including working United States Coast Guard vessels where they’ll meet the crew and learn about life at sea.
7. Enchant Christmas in DC
What happens at a major league baseball field once the season is over? If it’s the Nationals Park – home to the Washington Nationals and located in our nation’s capital – then it’s a holiday event not to be missed! Enchant Christmas in DC – dazzling visitors now through January 2nd, is a magical transformation of the field into a winter utopia. Here you can skate on the ice that forms a trail filled with millions of lights taking you around the field – where your favorite players no doubt once stood, wonder through a maze that sparkles like the diamond it is built on, enjoy fresh baked goods and other treats, warm and cold beverages and shop local vendors in the marketplace, take in the nightly music and entertainment, let the kiddos participate in arts and crafts and of course – visit with two of the jolliest folks on earth – Santa and Mrs. Claus.
8. US Botanic Garden Outdoor Holiday Display 2021
While you’re in DC make sure you also check out the US Botanic Garden’s Outdoor Holiday display which is in full bloom until January 2nd. Located on the grounds of the US Capitol, this year they are taking it outside as the Conservatory and public restrooms are closed due the pandemic. In addition to holiday lights adorning the trees and bushes as well as evergreens, winterberries and other plants associated with Christmas placed around the Garden, visitors will also be treated to an outdoor train display – which will have its cars chugging along through agricultural scenes from the US and around the globe – all uniquely made from different parts of plants. And don’t miss the chance to peek in the windows of the Conservatory which will also be decorated for the holidays with thousands of brightly colored poinsettias and some of our capitals most famous monuments also created out of plant parts.
9. Mummers Parade in Philly
Only in Philadelphia will you see the super-fun spectacle that is the Mummers Parade held annually on New Year’s Day since 1901. What can you expect to see? Participants – thousands of them – from around 40 or so local clubs called New Year’s Associations – dressed in flashy, ornate, over-the-top costumes performing as they head down the city streets complete with instruments, props and scenery. Divided into five categories — Comics, Wench Brigades, Fancies, String Bands and the Fancy Brigades – each division competes for prizes in several categories, including best float, costumes and more. And while they perform all throughout the parade – there are also three designated performance areas along the route. And the fun doesn’t end after this eight hour (yes eight hours!) parade. Most of the groups head to South Philly to continue the party while the Fancy Brigades head to the Convention Center to continue their performances in a Broadway-esque type show.
10. Longwood Winter Wonder Exhibition
Forty-five minutes outside of Philadelphia you’ll find one of the world’s most enchanting gardens, Longwood Gardens, which, come January 22nd switches out of holiday mode and goes full on winter wonderland. Truth be told I’m not a fan of winter but there’s something about breathing in the crisp, cold air that truly invigorates me and replaces my disdain with gratitude for the changing seasons here in the Northeast. And at Longwood you get to choose your environment because Winter Wonder takes place both indoors, in the Conservatory which is filled with colorful blooms such as African violets, orchids and Concord Blues as well as outdoors underneath the clear blue sky and quite possibly blanketed in pure white snow. Also, indoors? Live musical performances scheduled throughout the winter months. It may get dark earlier in winter but a visit to Longwood is sure to brighten your day. This exhibition runs through March 27th.
Ready to get out there and kick those winter blues with some – or heck – all – of these fabulous winter activities? Well, the terrific team of travel experts here at Beyond Times Square are ready to help you do it! So, pull out your puffer coat, mittens, scarf and hat and give us a call to get your winter getaway to New York City, Philadelphia or Washington DC booked today!