NYC winter bucket list: Must-dos in the city this season

Even though it's cold and the days are short, there's still fun times to be had.

And while you can't sit out for movies on the green or hit up a rooftop bar, you can sample the city's hot chocolate, do shots inside an "ice cage," play shuffleboard in a bar with palm trees and get your hygge on.

Don't shy away from the outside world this winter. Embrace the cold and cross these items off your bucket list instead.

Pretend you're on vacation with some shuffleboard

If you'd rather be in Florida than walking through a winter wonderland, try Royal Palms. For $40 an hour for a group of four (or more), patrons can play on 10 shuffleboard courts in the warehouse-like space while a DJ plays music. The bar also has signature cocktails, which are all named after famous shuffleboard players. Shuffleboard Bob "tastes like a vacation in a Mason jar," according to Jonathan Schnapp, the co-owner of Royal Palms. (514 Union St., Gowanus, Brooklyn,

Sip some great hot chocolate

Don't let winter go by without getting at least one memorable mug of hot cocoa. Swing by the City Bakery in February for their annual Hot Chocolate Festival, which brings a different flavor of hot chocolate each day. You can also head into Two E at The Pierre for a taste of its spiked Haute Chocolate menu or drop by Jacques Torres for his infamously rich chocolate chaud. And of course, if the long lines and cold temperatures don't bother you, winter is always the best time to share a giant goblet of Serendipity 3's famous frozen hot chocolate. There is a big selection out there, so don't miss out.

Treat yourself to a good old fashioned movie night

It can be easy to pass up the big screen for the comfort of Netflix at home, but New York is full of unique movie theaters that make hitting a screening a true event. Head to one of the many theaters the city has to offer, like downtown's Angelika Film Center (18 W. Houston St., Manhattan), to grab some popcorn and watch a flick.


Get out of town

But not too far out of town. There's so much to explore in New York State, from gorgeous landscapes to architecture. Take a day trip to a unique museum outside of NYC, visit a historic house upstate or check out the beauty of frozen Niagara Falls.

Go ice skating at one of NYC's many outdoor rinks

If you want to brave the cold for some activity on the ice, the city is full of public ice skating opportunities during the cold months. While The Rink at Rockefeller doesn't come cheap, entry at Bryant Park's is free.

Play in the snow (if we get any)

Resist the urge to shut yourself inside if the snow begins to fall. Head out to find a snowball fight, build a snow creature with a neighbor or head to a park to go sledding.

Visit one of NYC's three cat cafes

Get cozy and snuggly with the kitties at one of NYC's cat cafes. There's the OG Meow Parlour (46 Hester St.), plus Koneko (26 Clinton St.) and The Brooklyn Cat Cafe. Cuddle up with a cat and maybe even take one home to keep you warm at night.

Take a spa-cation

Queens' favorite house of relaxation, Spa Castle, has a Manhattan outpost called Premier 57 (115 E. 57th St.). It's a good way to get warm, really warm, when outside is nasty. A day pass, which is $75, give you access to hydrotherapy pools, saunas, steam rooms and a swim-up bar. Other features include a sleeping room and a cafe.

Cozy up at a bar with a fireplace

As the cold months hit and the chill is powerful enough to keep even New Yorkers indoors, warmth and coziness become prized characteristics of all the restaurants and bars that boast them. And topping the list of what adds warmth and coziness to a space: a fireplace. See you at one of NYC's many options.

Warm up with booze at an icy bar

This is one way to get warm. At Mehanata Bulgarian Bar (113 Ludlow St.), there's an "ice box" section where, for $20 you get to dress up in authentic Bulgarian army uniforms and drink as many shots of vodka -- up to five -- as you can for two minutes -- while everyone watches. It's only open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Or, if you'd rather drink in a cold place in peace, try the Minus 5 Ice Bar (pictured) at the Hilton in midtown, where you'll need a parka indoors. Maybe when you come out the cold weather won't faze you.