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What Shoes to Wear in New York Winter

August 31, 2021
what shoes to wear in new york winter

Let’s Talk: What Shoes to Wear in New York Winter

The first time I went to New York in winter I brought some cute, studded combat boots from Aldo and hot pink running shoes. When that snow and sleet started piling up on the streets, guess who was wearing her hot pink running shoes to dinner on a Friday night in Soho? This girl. Needless to say, the lesson has been learned. Unfortunately, the NY Times thinks it is a great idea to conduct their annual travel show the last weekend of January every year, so this California girl gets to come to New York just in time for an annual blizzard. Ok, I am being a tad dramatic but if they ever want to move it to let’s say…March? then I am ready to sign that petition. For all my moaning though, January in New York City isn’t all bad. With global warming at its finest, New York can get up to a solid 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Hotel prices are at an all-time low and you can stay at the best properties (ahem) Hotel Giraffe and the Library Hotel for very reasonable prices! But I digress…if you want to read my New York itinerary and hotel recommendation post, you can do that here, otherwise, let us get into appropriate footwear options so you know what shoes to wear in New York winter!

I lied. Before we get too far into this, I want to bring up one of the most disregarded, but essential items for winter in New York. Socks. More specifically, wool socks. Wool is not only a great insulator, but is also odor resistant (allegedly…my feet still smell after a long day of networking at the travel show), and moisture-wicking. Just Amazon Prime them and move on to shoes, a more difficult purchase.

New York Winter Shoes

Best Walking Shoes for NYC

I don’t care how sedentary you are in your natural habitat. My step count generally doesn’t make it past 1,000 five out of seven days a week and I still walk it out when I am in New York. For a brisk, but sunny winter day, you will want to wear some comfortable sneakers. I recommend either the Adidas Cloudfoam shoes or Allbirds Wool Runners.

Adidas Cloudfoam

I bought a pair of Daily QT sneakers for my three-month Europe trip and these shoes were such a dream, I felt like I was walking on clouds. Had to…

If you have visited my blog before, you may know that I have a terrible lower back. I threw out my back on my last two Europe trips (who knew spelunking at 29 years of age was too physically demanding?) and these shoes did not hurt my feet or back AT ALL during my 28,000- steps-a-day on cobblestones. I did not even break them in first which is a major travel faux pas. Whatever shoes you bring, have them well broken-in before you arrive.

I ended up buying the Cloudfoam Daily QT in black and another pair in white after returning from my trip because of the classic look and incredibly functionality. Unfortunately, Adidas doesn’t make this particular style anymore and they are extremely difficult to find. But, the good news is that Adidas does make a whole variety of Cloudfoam shoes and these alternatives get rave reviews as well. Some of the popular styles include the Cloudfoam Advantage Sneaker which is a true tennis shoe as well as the Cloudfoam Pure Sneaker. This particular shoe looks like more of your typical running shoe, but it is also known for being extraordinarily comfortable.

Allbirds Women’s Wool Runners

Disclaimer: I do not own a pair of these. But, so many of my fellow travel professionals wear Allbirds and speak so highly of these shoes that I just had to include them. These shoes will also be going on my holiday wish list. The Allbirds website will explain much more in depth, but basically these shoes are sourced from 17.5 micron superfine New Zealand Merino wool. Sounds fancy. Allbirds minimize odor (you don’t need to wear socks with them), regulate temperature, are machine washable, and have a low carbon footprint. 

Boots for New York Winter

Sneakers are great for a day of intense sightseeing when the sun is shining, but what do you do when the sun goes down and you have tickets for a Broadway show? Wait for it, wait for it…you put on your boots or booties, preferably waterproof boots with non-skid soles.

Expect to see New Yorkers on the streets donning two essential items: a Canada Goose jacket and a pair of Doc Martens. Now, I can think of a thousand reasons not to get the Canada Goose — namely that the jacket costs $1000 and I live in a climate that barely ever broaches 50 degrees — but if you do live in a place with colder weather, this might just be an investment you want to make. These jackets are the real deal. And as for the Doc Martens? Chunky boots are THE style right now. And the good news is you can easily find a pair on Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Zappos, and Amazon.

New Yorkers are also all about their Frye, L.L. Bean, and Hunter boots, so if you want to fit in, I recommend purchasing a pair from one of these brands. There is a reason these brands are popular; the quality is top notch. Steve Madden also has some trendy and waterproof options at a more affordable price point since I know these others are an investment. Color-wise — as I say in my New York Winter Packing List post, — the rumors are true…New Yorkers love their black. Hence why the hot pink running shoes were disastrous. If you are debating on color, black is probably your best bet or if you want to be really stylish, mix black and brown like these boots and you’ll add a nice pop of color to your winter attire. 

Before I forget, let’s talk about heels. Don’t do it. Even if it’s not icy or snowy, sidewalks can be slick from residual wetness. You need soles with traction, especially going up and down the steps of the subway, and heels will only complicate that matter even further. If you are a ride or die heels girl, then bring the lowest possible heel that is acceptable to you.  

L.L. Bean

Frye Boots

Steve Madden

what shoes to wear in new york city winter

Rain Boots

Hunter boots are the go-to rainboots for New Yorkers. If you are traveling to New York, they would be pretty bulky to pack, so I would look at the weather forecast prior to your trip, and if it seems like it is going to rain for a good portion of it, wear your rain boots to the airport and bring a comfy pair of socks for the flight. Make sure these boots fit you well –you don’t want them to be an afterthought — because you may be stuck in them all day and night if that rain keeps on coming. These Hunter boots are also great for the day after a snowstorm or blizzard when the residual effects of the storm are still in effect.   

Snow Boots: Best Shoes to Wear in Snow

Ever heard of a fun little term called black ice? According to the Weather Channel, the most basic definition of black ice is a thin coat of highly transparent ice. So…if it is transparent, why is it black? “It’s called black ice since it looks black, like the color of the road pavement it forms on.” Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by black ice. Mine is raised people. And I imagine most New Yorkers reading this will have theirs up too. How do you avoid it? You can’t, but walk slowly, be cognizant, and wear shoes that are made for this sort of thing. Sperry and Sorel boots are two excellent brands and the go-to snow boots for New Yorkers. While I can’t guarantee you won’t fall on your buttocks, footwear-wise, you would be doing what you need to do to help prevent that from happening.    

shoes to wear in New York winter



Ugg Boots

I told my best friend in New York (shoutout to Caroline) that I was writing this article. Along with some great tips from her that I have already included above, she also mentioned that she wears Ugg boots with grips on the bottom on sunny, brisk days when she wants to keep toasty, but supported on the slippery sidewalks. These probably aren’t the best travel shoe as they would be super comfy on the airplane but not at all suitable for a day of sightseeing. However, I wanted to include these Ugg boots for anyone reading this who may just have moved to New York or are looking to purchase a new pair for home. Even in Los Angeles, I wear Uggs during our chilly 65 degree winter; but, if I get caught in a rainstorm (which obviously almost never happens due to our drought), I slip and slide in my non-grip Uggs all the way down the street. So, thank you for your insight Caroline. My next Ugg purchase will definitely be ones with grips on the bottom.

Have you ever been to New York during the winter season? What was your most useful pair of shoes to wear in winter? Can anyone top my hot pink shoe fiasco? Share in the comments below!


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1 Comment

  1. Elizabeth Skelton on October 20, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Jennifer, My slip and slide story goes back many years when I had a job transfer to New York from San Francisco in late Fall. I was in my naive late 20’s, packed all of my thin clothing and Givenchy slingback heels (yummy creamy pink and classy stitching). No one warned me about the salt thrown on the sidewalks, and all of my shoes and boots got permanently stained with the white salt discoloration! Not to mention the slipping and sliding; I’m lucky I didn’t fall and twist an ankle! Of course, everything I owned to wear was worthless in New York!

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