New York City truly is the city that never sleeps. With 24/7 activities and a never-ending supply of restaurants, boredom is never an option. But how to choose? Take a look at our top options for a quick weekend to NYC.
Where to Stay
We recommend visitors skip Midtown and instead stay in either the Lower East Side (LES if you’re trying to talk like a local), the Financial District (for its proximity to the 9/11 Memorial), or Soho (trendy stores & unique restaurants). And save up to 60% off a Hot Rate® Hotel in NYC here!
If you want to pick your hotel in advance instead, try one of our favorites:
- The William Vale. An awesome new 5-star in Brooklyn with lux rooms and great views
- Arlo Nomad. Great new 4.5-star in Union Square area (hot tip: head to the rooftop bar to stand on a glass floor, 30+ stories off the ground!)
- The Beekman. A cool new 5-star in the Financial District (close to the Brooklyn Bridge).
What to Do
- Walk the Highline. This elevated 3-mile-long park sits on what used to be an old railroad track along the west side of Manhattan. Now, it’s a lush urban park with art fixtures and great views of the city.
- Wander Chelsea Market. Near the Highline sits Chelsea Market, aka a foodie’s oasis. Be prepared for packed crowds as you wander through the permanent food stalls but also food that is worth the wait. Grab anything from Israeli hummus plates to fish tacos and jostle your way to a seat.
- Head to Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg in the summer. For even more good eats, try out a Smorgasburg (there are now a few across the city). Each food market has tons of stands featuring everything from ice cream cones to pasta bagels.
- Apollo Theater. This historical music hall in Harlem is a New York City landmark renowned for its role in the emergence of jazz, swing, R&B, blues and soul.
- See a play on Broadway. If you haven’t seen a Broadway play, add it to your list. If you’re looking for a deal, head to Times Square the morning you plan to go to see which plays have same-day deals.
- Ferry from Brooklyn to Midtown at sunset. At less than $5, the ferry ride is a cheap and beautiful way to take in the Manhattan skyline. Pick it up in Brooklyn and ride to Midtown at sunset for some incredible views.
- Horse and carriage ride through Central Park. Central Park is huge so if you want to take it all in, try a horse carriage ride.
- The Williamsburg Music Hall. Looking for a new band to follow? Try a show at Williamsburg Music Hall to get a fresh dose of the latest indie rock.
- Museums. While the MoMA and the Met usually take centerstage for most well-known museums in NYC, the city has many others also worth your time.
- MoMA. The Museum of Modern Art is a massive museum that boasts what might be the greatest collection of modern art in the world.
- The Met. You could spend days wandering the hallowed halls of the Met so come in prepared to know what it is you’d like to see most. And if you get tired after all that walking, head to the roof for fresh cocktails and views of Central Park (summer only).
- The Whitney. The Whitney is a 20- & 21st-century American art museum with a jawdroppingly beautiful new building.
- The Guggenheim. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the cylindrical building for this museum, which is permanent home to Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern art.
- 9/11 Museum and Memorial. Below the site of the two World Trade Center Towers now lies an emotionally powerful museum dedicated to the events of 9/11.
- Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Our opinion? A severely underrated museum that takes a look at our nation’s immigration history.
- Bike Central Park. Another way to see Central Park is by bike. Pick up one of the many Citi bikes or bring your own. And if the weather is nice, don’t forget to get onto the lake via rowboat.
- Run West Side Highway. One of the most beautiful runs in the city, take this path all the way north for some epic views of the George Washington Bridge.
- Walk or bike the Brooklyn Bridge. Many tourists flood the Brooklyn Bridge for good reason, it’s stunning. Walk across to admire the bridge’s architecture and get some awesome city views. Squint and you can even see the Statue of Liberty.
- Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex. A 28-acre sports complex with a driving range, year-round ice rinks, turf fields and more. A sports-lover’s paradise.
- See a Game. New York City is proud of it’s sports teams. If you’re a fan, or even if you’re not, catch a game at one of these stadiums.
- Madison Square Garden. Home to the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Knicks (NBA), and the New York Liberty (WNBA).
- Yankee Stadium. Where the Yankees call home.
- Citi Field. Home to the New York Mets.
- Brookfield Place. SoHo is an awesome neighborhood for shopping but if it’s a high-end mall you’re looking for, try Brookfield.
- Great Jones Spa. Need a break from the hustle of NYC? Then head to this day spa for a day of hot stone massages and facials.
City views are plentiful in NYC. Instead of just hitting Top of the Rock like everyone else, try one of these alternates.
- The rooftop of 2 Gold St. Because you really can’t beat free.
- One World Trade Center. It might be a bit pricey to enter but once you reach the top and look out the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, you won’t regret it. Drink in views of all of Manhattan from its southern tip.
- Any rooftop bar. New York has tons of rooftop bars, most of which have awesome views (not to mention great cocktails). We like Hotel 50 Bowery rooftop in Chinatown for its unimpeded views (it’s the tallest building in the area) of the bridges, freedom tower, and the Empire State Building.
What to Eat & Drink
New York City has a seemingly endless variety of food. From street food to Chinese to corner Jewish delis, you really can’t go wrong. We’ve narrowed it down to our favorites in each category:
- Street food: Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th Ave. There’s a reason this chain street food stand is expanding all over the country. The sauces really make it amazing.
- Diner: Kellogg Diner in Williamsburg. Full bar and open 24/7—what more could you want from a diner?
- Hot Pot: Famous Sichuan in Chinatown. Get the 2 flavor hot pot!
- Brunch: Lil’ Frankies in the East Village. Channel your inner-Seuss and try the green eggs and ham at this popular Italian restaurant. Or just get a pizza. Brunch has no rules.
- Sushi: Sushi of Gari. You might have to empty your wallet at Sushi or Gari but the omakase just might be worth it.
- Italian: Lilia’s in Brooklyn. An Italian cocktail bar with pasta to die for. Try the Mafaldini (pasta with pink peppercorns).
- L’artusi in West Village. A classic Italian restaurant in the West Village books up weeks in advance. If you’re lucky enough to get a table, try the tagliatelle bolognese and an olive oil cake to round out your meal.
- Pizza: Pasquale Jones. This is a contentious category as choosing the best pizza in New York is nigh impossible. We like Pasquale Jones for its thin crust margherita and clam pizzas.
- Vegan: By Chloe. This trendy food spot makes vegan food so delicious, your meat-eating friends won’t even complain.
- Poke: Pokéworks. A former Top Chef contestant from Hawaii helped design their specials. Tasty, fresh and fast.
- Secret Restaurant: Dinnertable. You have to walk through a bar to get to this cozy secret restaurant serving up Asian fusion delights.
- La Esquina. For no-frills eating, grab a taco from the upstairs taco stand. But if you want something a little more seductive, head downstairs to La Esquina’s brassiere. Dark, intimate atmosphere with amazing Latin American food.
- Pancakes: Clinton Street Baking Company. Fluffy pancakes with just enough crisp on the edges make this a breakfast-must.
- Cookies: Levain Bakery. These cookies are so good they’ve made national news. You’re going to want to take some for the road.
- Jewish deli: Russ & Daughters. In a city full of amazing Jewish delis, it can be hard to stand out. Russ & Daughters does just that though. Keep it simple and get the salmon and lox bagel.
- Soup Dumplings: Joe’s Shanghai. Joe’s Shanghai has won award after award for its Shanghainese cuisine, particularly it’s juicy soup dumplings. Come with a hungry group of friends ready to try everything.
- Ramen: Ippudo. Incredible ramen (with an incredible wait).
Coffee & Tea
- Cha Cha Matcha. This pink tea shop is a millennial’s dream with matcha drinks that live up to the hype. Try a Ginger Turmeric Latte (complete with matcha palm tree on top).
- Birch. Drop into a Birch shop on a hot New York summer afternoon for a cold brew pick-me-up. In the winter, try a latte with one of their many alternative milk options.
- Devoción. The Columbian espresso at this coffee shop in Williamsburg is worth crossing the bridge for. Plus, the ambience inside its sunlit space is perfect for chatting with friends or huddling down to work.
- Mr. Purple at the Hotel Indigo in LES is one of the best rooftop bars (think young and tragically hip).
- Salvation Taco Rooftop Bar
- Happy Hour: Fresh Salt in the Financial District.
- Cocktails: Rochelle’s in LES.
- Lounge: Pianos is a staple in LES or Lavo.
- Speakeasy: Apotheke.
- Best bar with music: Pulqueria.
- Cutest bar: The Wren.
- International Bar: Felix.
- Best bar in Brooklyn: Westlight at the William Vale.
- Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery.
- Club: Hudson Terrace.