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Presidents’ Day is one of the oldest American holidays. In fact, it’s been celebrated in some form in the United States since 1796!
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The day, which was originally intended to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, does tend to move around. What few people know is that George Washington’s birthday actually depends on the calendar you’re using – according to an old-style calendar, he was born on February 11th, while our more modern calendar has him born on February 22nd.
The end result is the same: a federal holiday, meaning you’ll have an extra day to spend some time in New York exploring. So let’s see more about how to enjoy Presidents’ Day in the Big Apple.
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What is Presidents’ Day?
First, let’s dive into what the holiday actually means to Americans, and then to New Yorkers. Though officially called Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday intended to honor all of those who have served in the office as president of the United States.
Originally held on February 22nd every year to honor the first president of the United States, George Washington, it is now held on the third Monday of February each year, where the date ranges from February 15th to February 21st. Though the official name of the holiday varies from state to state, it is largely intended to celebrate two of the most important presidents in American history – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
When is Presidents’ Day 2024?
This year, Washington’s Birthday or Presidents’ Day falls on Monday, February 19th, 2024.
What to Expect on Presidents’ Day in New York
Because Presidents’ Day is a federal holiday, government buildings will be closed and their official functions will be suspended for the day.
Where to Eat And Drink On Presidents’ Day In New York
Given the current health requirements, you can dine in at restaurants in and around the city. Since it is a holiday weekend, it is likely that the restaurants and bars will remain open, though it’s important not to rely on what their hours say on Google. Give them a call – or check their social media – to confirm when restaurants will be open on Presidents’ Day weekend in NYC.
New York’s Connection To Presidents’ Day
New York state is one of six states to still call Presidents’ Day “Washington’s Birthday.” In comparison, almost half of the state governments have renamed this day honoring the presidents to Presidents’ Day – or some combination of Lincoln and Washington.
In New York, public schools are closed from February 20th to February 24th for their Mid-Winter Recess.
In addition to those modern connections, 5 former US presidents were born in New York, and it is the final resting place for 6 presidents, including the nation’s youngest (Theodore Roosevelt) and longest-serving (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
Traveling to New York City On Presidents’ Day
Due to the holiday, certain parts of the city will be calmer on Monday, February 19th, 2024 then they might be during a normal workweek. The financial districts near Wall Street, for example, will likely have the day off, which could make for easier exploration (though it might be like the thrilling energy of a typical business day).
Many museums will be open, including the Met Museum, which is now open 7 days a week. It’s always a good idea to confirm the schedule beforehand, and even to buy tickets in advance, to make sure you get to see each of the cultural sites you’re excited about.
With weather temperature averages in the high 30s and low 40s and a lack of other big tourist draws during this time, this could be the perfect weekend for you to come visit NYC!
The Best Things to Do on Presidents’ Day in NYC
Looking for the best events and things to do on Presidents’ Day? We’ve got you covered!
Enjoy the Day in Central ParkPark in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
Central Park should not be missing from any Things to Do in New York in winter! The green lung of the city turns into a true winter wonderland during the cold season. It is therefore also a popular destination for New Yorkers. Stroll through the park under snow-covered trees and let yourself be enchanted by the play of lights on the frozen water surfaces in the evening.
Walking through Central Park in the cold is magical! If there’s snow, it’s even more amazing.
If you want to be more adventurous, start in Harlem and walk down Central Park towards Midtown. Too often we catch ourselves starting on Fifth Avenue at the Plaza Hotel in Central Park. There is so much more to explore than just that part of Central Park.
Spend the day with your family at the Brooklyn Children's MuseumMuseum in DumboAdd to myNY added
The Brooklyn Children’s museum was founded in 1899 and was the first museum developed only for kids. With many permanent exhibitions and attractions, there is always something to see or do here. Overall, it’s a great place for family outings with the young ones.
Children are encouraged to play and experience numerous activities and exhibitions.
9/11 MemorialBuilding in Financial District
Classic Harbor Line: Architecture Yacht CruiseCruise in ChelseaOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The architecture boat tour takes you around Manhattan in 2.5 hours. On a 30 meter long wooden ship in the style of the 1920s you can relax and learn a lot of interesting facts about the many small and large buildings of the city. The tour is super-relaxing and the price includes a drink (vino, soft drinks) and small snacks.
Enjoy a day with friends relaxing in an Irish pubBar in Midtown ManhattanOur HighlightAdd to myNY added
The bar Connolly’s Pub and Restaurant is an Irish pub like it is in the book and is for me one of the best pubs in New York. A huge, rustic bar, lots of colourful taps and tons of good whiskey immediately attract attention. The kitchen is also excellent. The burgers are a blast!
Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space MuseumMuseum in Hell's KitchenAdd to myNY added
The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum is the only floating museum in NYC. You will find a wide array of historically significant military and maritime vehicles as well as a collection of museum ships on this aircraft carrier which is docked on the Hudson River. This is great for kids and adults alike as it discusses and shows a wide variety of artifacts regarding the US military and maritime history.
Bateaux: Dinner CruiseCruise in ChelseaAdd to myNY added
Forget trying to snag a hard-to-get reservation at New York’s hottest restaurants du jour. Instead, indulge in a delicious 3-course dinner during the cruise on an all-glass boat around New York City that offers you an up-close look at the Statue of Liberty and other famed sites. As a live pianist plays relaxing music for you, take in the immense view of one of the world’s great cities, and enjoy a delicious pre-set dinner by the on-board executive chef. Upgrade to enjoy a romantic or first class VIP experience including a private table and French sparkling wine.
Visit the Time Out Food MarketFood Market in DumboAdd to myNY added
The “Food Market” concept proves to be a great success in New York City. In May 2019, the Time Out Market opened in Dumbo: and offers around 20 different vendors, 2 bars, a rooftop with an additional 4 restaurants. The food market in Dumbo on 55 Water Street is expected to be just as successful as its other chains such as the one in Lisbon. The absolute best thing about the location is the view from the balcony. It provides unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge.
Enjoy a family-dinner at Carmine's Italian RestaurantItalian Restaurant in Theatre DistrictAdd to myNY added
I love the concept of Carmine’s: the portions are huge and – like an Italian family meal – are meant to be shared. Just put them in the middle of the table, add a glass of red wine and you feel like in Italy! The waiters are super-nice and the restaurant itself is suitable for families with children. I was there with my family (2 children) and both of my friends were delighted.
My tip: These are the 50 Best Restaurants in NYC
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!