NYC is huge, where entire neighborhoods could take a week plus to explore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great feel for the city and have a blast in two days. Keep reading to learn all the best things to do on a weekend in New York City!
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On your first day in the Big Apple, it’s probably best to stay primarily in Manhattan. Concentrating on 5th Avenue will give you tons of things to do and give you a chance to get used to the city.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the best museums in the world. Meticulously organized, beautiful exhibits, and generally not ridiculously crowded. It is very large, and if you like museums it’s a good idea to pick out a couple of places you want to see ahead of time.
If you show up as it opens, you’ll be able to make a beeline to popular exhibits like the Egyptian Wing and get a stunning experience with fewer loud tourists. Also, make sure you look into the visiting exhibits. Some of the best exhibits I’ve been to (Daguerreotypes, Tales of Genji, and Tolkien) all vanished within a few months or weeks.
For those looking for souvenirs, the gift shop is also one of the best ones in the US.
Walking around the MET can be as exhausting as it is informative. You’ll want to get something to eat before continuing on with your day. There are all sorts of great, if a bit expensive, places in this area. The absolute best, however, is Sant Ambroeus.
Who knew a simple sandwich could be elevated to such a delicious, delicious degree? Their prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella sandwich relies on fantastic ingredients speaking for themselves – and it works. Their coffee and hot chocolate selection is also fantastic.
I wouldn’t recommend staying here to eat, though. Head to the next place on this list:
No visit to NYC could be complete without a foray into famed Central Park. Being right around the corner, it’s the perfect place to walk and snack or to find a handy bench with a great view.
Central Park is huge, but there are some specific places that can be nice to visit. The Jacquelin Kennedy Onassis Reservoir is a nice, idyllic circuit. Cleopatra’s Needle is just behind the MET and is one of the famed Egyptian Obelisks that have found their way to illustrious places such as Rome and London.
If you’re looking for a good place to stay in NYC, I’d also recommend looking for somewhere nearby the park. It makes for fantastic morning or evening strolls, and there is accommodation for a variety of budgets. Hostels and hotels can find themselves just a stone’s throw from the quiet in the city.
Once you’ve finished your walk in the park, you can head to one of the other museums in the area like the Guggenheim, or make sure your feet are really tired and head out on one of the fabulous pub crawls the city has to offer.
Literary Drinking Tour
Now that you’ve started to get a feel for the big city, it’s time to check out one of the boroughs in more detail. Walking tours are fantastic to begin seeing more than just what’s in front of your face. You have no idea how many watering holes catered to the literary world, the history that has happened around every corner, and the stories those walls can tell.
The Literary Pub Crawl company has tours in three locations, Brooklyn, Greenwich Village, and Times Square. While most of their tours do concern literature, if you’re more of a history nerd they have a Bohemian tour in Greenwich that covers fun topics like rebellions and secession movements.
The tours are reasonably priced at around $35 per person and last a couple of hours. They typically involve 3-4 pubs so prepare to bring some extra cash to pay for drinks. They employ experts, and you don’t have to be super informed on the local literature to have fun and learn something.
One of the best ways to maximize your foodie journey through NYC is to head to one of the markets. Gotham West Market is one of the best in the city and provides a variety of multicultural options in one place. Get your appetizer from the Japanese place, the main from the Italian, and some ice cream for dessert!
It’s nice to be able to maximize one meal by sampling three different offerings. Especially if you’re not used to the variety, it might be your first time trying something like Afro-Fusion. A market takes the stress out of trying something new (and Afro-Fusion is delicious, by the way).
Open until 9 PM, it’s a great way to end the day. The windows provide great views of the sparkling city.
Now that you’re more familiar with where you are, and recovered from whatever journey it took you to get here, it’s time to hit some of the most famous sites. To start, catch the subway to The Battery, where the ferries depart to the islands strewn between New Jersey and New York State.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Perhaps the most recognizable site in New York City is the Statue of Liberty. A UNESCO World Heritage site, a symbol of America, this site is a must-see. And, if you’re headed here, you should also go to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island is where most of the history of immigrants into the United States is recorded. The museum is one of the most interesting I’ve ever been to. You will play the part of a just-arrived immigrant to the US as you walk from exhibit to exhibit which details the process everyone had to go through.
There are many different types of tickets for these attractions and it’s important to pay attention to what you actually want to do. If you want to go inside the Statue of Liberty to visit the museum, you will need to get a pedestal ticket. You can’t bring any bags inside so make sure you have cash on you to put your purse or backpack in a locker.
Going to the top to visit the Crown is also an additional fee. Not every ticket comes with a visit to Ellis Island, so make sure what you are getting. Additionally, there are “Hard Hat” tours of Ellis Island that are much more expensive but take you to the old Ellis Island hospital for a darker side of the island’s history.
For a bit of a high-class experience, consider splurging a little on one of the city’s afternoon tea options. A staple of higher-end hotels, you don’t have to stay the night or spend the big bucks to get in on the luxury.
Afternoon tea is a British tradition that has made its way around the globe. Expect a selection of sweets and savories delivered on a tiered tray, with a side of tea, coffee, or champagne. The rooms and décor are often beautiful and some have lovely views of the city.
Popular choices are the King’s Carriage Hotel, inside the MET, the Four Seasons, and the Ritz. Prices will range from around $26 per person, to over $100, depending on the place and the options you select.
Catch a Show
One of the best things about NYC are the entertainment options. Whether it’s a Broadway musical, the Rockettes, ballet, or an opera, you should look for tickets before you go. They don’t even have to be super expensive. The MET Opera and Ballet frequently has tickets in the $30 range that are actually pretty decent!
Plan ahead, though, since NYC is famous for all of this and the tickets can sell out fast.
Don Angie for Dinner
There is so much Italian food in NYC, and just about all of them are delicious and authentic. But if you want to be certain you’re getting the best of the best, Don Angie is here to put your mind at ease.
They’re so good, they’ve even received a Michelin Star! But you wouldn’t know it from their prices, which have remained fairly standard. Most dishes are around the $30 mark.
The top-quality dishes with ingredients like Mezcal-braised chicken, Nduja, and Sicilian olives (which make up the Sourdough Pasta Cacciatore) are sure to whisk you away to the Italian island of Sicily.
And that’s is for your weekend in NYC!
Guest author: Emily is a travel blogger who tumbles about the globe looking for new working abroad and travel experiences. From South Korea to Ireland, she wants to see – and talk – about it all!