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New York City is one of the most expensive cities to visit in the world. But it’s also one of the best cities to visit in the world, thanks to its incredible food scene, entertainment options, countless top-notch museums and endless attractions. No wonder it’s a must-visit destination for many families. A visit to the Big Apple is more affordable than ever this winter. For the first time ever, the city has aligned three of its signature tourism programs — NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week — under a new umbrella program called NYC Winter Outing. It runs Jan. 21 to Feb. 10, 2019. 

Snowy New York City
New York City in the winter. (Photo by Julienne Schaer / NYC&Company)

NYC Winter Outing Makes the City Affordable for Families

Ideal for families on a budget, these initiatives allow for savings on some of NYC’s best activities: eating at acclaimed restaurants, seeing Broadway’s best shows and experiencing everything from going to the top of the Empire State Building to exploring the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The discount offers opened for booking on Jan. 9, 2019, so you can start planning your ideal trip immediately. And trust us, these discounts are not limited to places that you would normally never want to go to — some of the city’s most popular restaurants, shows and attractions are included.

New York City
Broadway (Photo by Eric Hsu / NYC & Company)

Restaurants with special prix fixe menus ($26 for a two-course lunch and $42 for a three-course dinner) include Keith McNally hotspot Augustine, the recently opened Bluebird London inside the Time Warner Center and the family-friendly-but-still-hip Loring Place. Just be sure and check the restaurant’s usual prices to determine if the Restaurant Week menu is actually worthwhile — some spots aren’t all that expensive to begin with, so make sure to get your money’s worth.

An undeniable saving though is the Broadway shows offering two-for-one tickets — acclaimed shows like Dear Evan Hanson, Book of Mormon and The Waitress are all available (but will probably sell out quickly). Also easy savings, Must-See Week offers two-for-one tickets to, well, must-see attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, the New York City Ballet and the Rink at Rockefeller Center, as well as for tours like the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and Gray Line Bus Tours. These deals are all in addition to all the amazing free and cheap things to do in New York that are always on offer — no special initiative needed.

New York City Hornblower Cruises
Cruising New York City’s waterways. (Photo courtesy of Hornblower Cruises and Events)

Especially helpful for planning and ideas are the mini-tinies on the Winter Outing home page that offer various itineraries (maps included!) like Go Big or Go Home and the family-friendly Walk on the Wild Side, which suggests visiting the Bronx Zoo, eating lunch at Sarabeth’s and catching the Lion King — all worthwhile experiences and all with discounted tickets and meals during the Winter Outing time period.

Another program that can save you some money on a visit to New York in the offseason is New York City Hotel Week. From Jan. 4 to 14, 2019, Hotel Week offers rooms for as low as $100 or $200 a night — significant savings over many regular rates. If you’ve got a trip to NYC coming up next week, you can book a room at the Freehand New York (just watch out for tiny rooms), Chinatown’s family-friendly Hotel 50 Bowery or any of the Library Collection hotels from $100+ per night. This is a great way to try out a hotel not on your points program. You can also always pay with fixed-value points and take advantage of the discounts and keep your cash safe.

If none of those properties work for you, here are some of our other ideas to use your hotel points at family-friendly NYC spots or put your Marriott free night certificates to use in NYC while jumping on the discounted meals and activities.

(Photo courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott, Manhattan/Central Park)
(Photo courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott, Manhattan/Central Park)

You Don’t Need to Visit NYC in the Winter to Save Money

But maybe you really don’t want to suffer through NYC’s chilly winter weather just to save a few bucks. Luckily, there are other times of the year when the city empties out and hotel prices drop. Early July is a good bet and November (except during the New York City Marathon weekend) tends to be less expensive. And avoid September, October and early December when prices really soar. Also pay attention to location — if you’re willing to forgo sleeping in Midtown, you can often spend less (Mommy Points is partial to Union Square).

How to Dine for Less

Aside from hotel prices, a ton of money is often spent on dining out in New York. Aside from Restaurant Week, look into dining at upscale, more expensive spots for lunch (or even breakfast) instead of dinner when it’s often easier to score a reservation at popular spots during those times. And check out Queens for a wonderful and diverse food scene that is incredibly affordable. Don’t forget: Some of the city’s most iconic food is also its most affordable: bagels, pizza and hot dogs will never break the bank.

New York City hot dog cart
(Photo by Juanmonino / Getty Images)

Bottom Line

New York City has so much to offer families. Check out NYC Winter Outing to find out if the savings are enough for it to make sense for your family to plan a winter trip to the ‘City That Never Sleeps’.

Looking for more trip planning advice for New York City? Here are some resources:

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