New York City – one of the most interactive, buzzing, and sprawling cities in the world. Every neighborhood has something different, each brimming with an array of people who call the Big Apple home. With so much to see and do, NYC is one of the most popular destinations in the world.
While always a busy place, things do quieten down somewhat in January after the holidays. However, NYC always sparkles, and visiting at this time of year means you’ll be more likely to escape the usual crowds. There are plenty of things to do in NYC, with enough indoor attractions that allow you to escape the January weather.
From cultural museums and famous restaurants to the more unique and fun things to do in NYC like local bars and cigar lounges, we’ll take you through the very best.
The Morgan Library & Museum
The Morgan Library & Museum is a bookworm’s paradise, with thousands of manuscripts shelved across practically every wall. Where there aren’t books, you’ll find exquisite renaissance and medieval artwork representing a rich part of history. Plus, the entire building exudes a dark academia vibe.
The Morgan was once the private library to cultural benefactor and avid collector Pierpont Morgan, who began gathering notable pieces of literature and paintings from as early as 1890. The library stands between Madison Avenue and 36th Street, where it was built in 1902. A magnificent Italian Renaissance-esque palazzo, the architecture exudes elegance and the world of academia.
Fast forward to modern day New York and the library has expanded from a private holding to a vast museum to be perused and enjoyed by the public. It’s open to explore Wednesday-Sunday for a small fee, allowing visitors to marvel at the countless stacks of books across several grand rooms. Keep your eyes peeled for notable items like the handwritten score of Mozart’s Haffner Symphony and the only surviving manuscript of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
You would be hard pressed to come across an NYC guide that didn’t recommend The Met, and for good reason. As the biggest museum in the US, you can expect a vast selection of exhibits, an abundance of original artworks, and countless artefacts from civilizations around the world.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most visited museums in the world. It hosts a rotation of detailed exhibits across several large rooms, each showcasing the work of a particular artist or point in history. You can expect to enjoy exhibits like Dutch Masterpieces and Surrealism Beyond Borders should you visit this January.
One of the most notable parts of the museum is the Temple of Dendur – an Egyptian temple that is more than 2,000 years old. For the art-lovers among you, you’ll no doubt be thrilled to come across some original pieces by Vincent van Gogh, including his Straw Hat self-portrait from 1887. The museum is one of the best indoor attractions in NYC, but we wouldn’t turn it down when the sun is shining either.
Blue Note Jazz Club
Many of you will likely have heard of the Blue Note Jazz Club, probably through hushed tones of wonder. New York’s most popular jazz club has been the hit place for jazz musicians to sing and play since the 1980s.
Visitors can enjoy the soulful tunes of the Blue Note every night of the week, with extended hours on weekends. Only the very best musicians are invited to grace the stage, so you can be sure of seeing pure talent. After following in the footsteps of great artists like Ray Charles and Sarah Vaughan who came before them, you might just catch a glimpse of the next jazz star.
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Grand Central Terminal is busy all year, but this somewhat-hidden restaurant isn’t quite as overwhelmed with bookings in January. More than 100 years old, Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant features a mile-long bar and 450 tables to sit at and feast on decadent seafood.
The restaurant chefs are notorious for handpicking freshly caught fish from New Fulton Fish Market every morning to create the most delicious seafood dishes. The specialty, of course, is the oysters, with more than 30 varieties to choose from. When you’ve finished with your meal, head to the saloon bar for cocktails.
The Met Cloisters
The Met Cloisters are among the most beautiful examples of architecture there are in the city, and yet they are a somewhat overlook NYC attraction. A separate part of The Met, the Cloisters is the only US museum dedicated solely to art and architecture of the Middle Ages.
Step inside and you’ll be dazzled by the breathtaking craftsmanship of the five medieval-inspired cloisters. Using original techniques and styles, the architecture is as much to be admired as the artwork inside, much of which depicts settings of French monasteries or notable moments in folklore. Once you’ve gazed at every piece, it’s worth glancing outside the cloisters over the Hudson River – the view alone is worth the visit.
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is so expansive it covers four blocks. At such a size, you know it’s brimming with fascinating artefacts.
Think of almost anything from the natural world and you’ll most likely find it here. The museum boasts an extensive collection of taxidermy and an entire hall dedicated to aquatic life that includes a full-size model of a blue whale. As you might expect, the most popular part of the museum is the dinosaur floor, which is known for it humongous T-Rex skeleton.
Aside from animals, the museum has designated areas to human civilization. Discover more about the history and culture of Native American Tribes and uncover the rich past of Peru and ancient Egypt.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
The world was left distraught after the horrors of September 9th, 2001, and countless people from around the globe now come to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum throughout the year to pay their respects.
Built on the foundation of the twin towers that were hit, you’ll start your visit in the museum, which encourages a meditative approach to ponder on what happened here. Tour guides will explain and pinpoint important moments during the attacks before taking you outside to the memorial – the twin reflecting pools.
The pools feature the largest artificial waterfalls in North America and are each just shy of an acre in size. Lining the pools are the names of the 2,977 people who lost their lives in the attack, each carved into shining bronze. For a peaceful way to end your visit while pondering the past and looking to the future, spend time in between the trees of the Memorial Glade and make sure to pass the pear Survivor Tree.
Casa de Montecristo
Head down to 2nd Avenue in Manhattan and you’ll find Casa de Montecristo, one of the finest cigar bars in NYC. With many people cooling off after the holidays, you’ll likely have more space to yourself when you stop by to light up a smoke.
Slide into one of the plush leather booths or sinkable armchairs and one of the onsite aficionado’s will come take your order. Casa de Montecristo is a cigar lounge that has it all, from Nicaraguan to Connecticut wraps varying in strength from mellow to full-bodied. Some areas of this NYC cigar bar are quiet and secluded, while others will give you a view of the TVs, often screening a football or basketball game. If your team wins, it will be all the more enjoyable with a smouldering premium wrap in your hand.