Here’s a list of things I take my friends to do when we have a weekend in New York. Nothing crazy, but a good list of things I think are must-see iconic touristy spots without breaking the bank. I’m writing this during COVID season, so I’d typically give a list of cool shops and restaurants, but unfortunately so much is closing. Anyways, put your walking shoes on and load up those MetroCards; let’s hit it!
** if you plan on doing all of this, get a weekly MetroCard. It’s currently $33, but is worth it if you plan on a jam-packed weekend. **
+ The World Trade Center and the accompanying museum is a must-see. I like to take people in the morning because the events happened in the morning in 2001, and also because it’s not quite busy yet. I suggest booking tickets online for the museum. If you’re at all into history like me, watch Rising Ground Zero before your trip. It makes you appreciate the grounds soooooo much more.. I promise!
+ Soho is always a great follow-up to the WTC. I like to work my way up the city when I take people (especially because I’m usually trying to teach them how to use the subway-taking uptown trains most of the day makes it easier to learn IMO). I didn’t get the hype on Soho when I first moved, but then after some exploring, realized it is pretty cool. I love taking people to Ruby’s Cafe or for a coffee at The Real Real. If you’re in any way into fashion, spend some time in Soho browsing the stores. Make sure to wander off from Broadway, that’s where all the cool stuff is!
+ Central Park is another stop on the list. Mostly out of convenience, I mostly take people to the 5th ave/ 59th street corner. I was a huge Eloise fan and, if you are too, go to the Plaza Hotel first. There is a little market downstairs that has a variety of food and pastries. Get a snack, check out the Eloise store, and try to wander around the hotel a little (sometimes they won’t let you). After the Plaza, walk around Central Park a little or rent CitiBikes. Riding bikes around Central Park is super fun, but beware of all the hills! It’s definitely a decent workout.
+ From 59th, walk down 5th ave to Rockefeller Plaza. Those stores are so fun, especially around Christmas, and literally employ hundreds of employees (which always blows my mind- I heard Louis Vuitton has over 300!!!). Get a ticket to go to the top of Rockefeller Center or just take a look around. Whatever you do, you absolutely MUST stop by Magnolia Bakery. I genuinely don’t understand how people say it’s overrated- get some banana pudding and tell me it isn’t amazing.
+ If your feet aren’t falling off yet, go to Times Square. It’s the most enjoyable if you go really late at night because there aren’t as many tourists, but still all the lights. Look for the New Year’s ball hanging and get a slice from Joe’s (not the BEST pizza, but iconic and pretty solid).
+ Another day on your trip, start the day off at Chelsea Market. Again, not as busy in the morning, but just as fun. There are so many cool food options and, if you’re really wanting to eat there, plan your visit around lunch, but beware of crowds! Check out the Artists and Fleas section and look for the semi-hidden YouTube HQ.
+ Take The High Line walk from Chelsea Market to Hudson Yards and take a look around the mall and the vessel. If you walk on The High Line a little past Hudson Yards, there are great photo-ops with the vessel in the background!
+ I usually like to take people back around Chelsea after Hudson Yards to show them my school and my daily routine. The Flat Iron isn’t a must-see in my book, but a cool part of history. Around The Flat Iron, Eataly is a great place for lunch and a good time to walk around in. The marble inside the middle area of the market is the original marble and tile floor- they found it when they were building Eataly behind layers of that awful 70’s plaster. The rooftop restaurant is also great and decorated around whatever season it is making it another great photo-op stop.
+ If you’re not down for Chelsea, go to the Met or at least the steps. Yes, it’s basic, but the surrounding streets are home to some beautiful brownstones and that part of Central Park is another great scenic spot.
+ On a clear day or night, make sure you walk across The Brooklyn Bridge. It’s so pretty and offers some insanely gorgeous views of the city. I like to start on the Dumbo side (Dumbo stands for: down under the manhattan bridge overpass) for no particular reason, but the subway is right on the other side.
+ Another fun day is a Brooklyn day. I love taking people to Domino Park, the piers, walk around to some of the shops, and to get a fried chicken sandwich at Sunday In Brooklyn. Best Pizza is pretty good and, if you’re there during sunset, get some to-go margs from Mole and sit on a bench on the pier.
+ The Brooklyn Navy Yard is neat, but if you plan on going, make sure to get tickets for a tour of the Brooklyn Grange. It’s a rooftop farm and is pretty cool to see. The tours are generally pretty small and they have cute merch making it a chill and less touristy stop.
There really is so much to do in NYC, that’s part of why it’s the city that never sleeps! There’s so much more to do that didn’t even make it on the list, but hopefully this is a good start for you to plan your trip. Enjoy it!