Looking to see all the sights for your first-ever weekend in NYC? We’ve got you covered with a 2-day itinerary designed to help you make the most of your time. I know from experience that planning a weekend in New York City isn’t easy! You’re probably asking yourself a thousand questions, like what museums should you visit? Where should you eat? What’s on your “must see” list? What places are okay to save for your next visit?
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New York City is by far my favorite city in the world. I have visited NYC more than 20 times. I’ve taken almost every tour and tried every sightseeing pass. And I’ve made a few mistakes along the way (12-hour days + brand new shoes don’t mix!). With that experience, I’m going to share with you exactly what to see in New York in 2 days. A weekend is the perfect amount of time to get to know New York. Honestly, I’m excited for you! I’ll never forget my first trip to New York City, and I hope that with this 2-day New York City itinerary, you’ll get to make your own unforgettable New York memories, too.
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NYC Itinerary: Day One
Day 1 of your NYC 2-day itinerary is all about Manhattan. It includes Central Park, the High Line, Times Square, and much, much more.
In a few areas, I include options, like museums to visit or tours you can add on. These activities can add more time onto your itinerary, so depending on your energy levels (or if you’re traveling with kids), it may make sense to adjust other areas of the schedule.
Given that you’ve got a fun-filled day ahead of you, it’s important to make sure you eat well throughout. We’ve included recommendations for lunch at Hudson Yards and dinner when you get to Madison Square Park. These are just suggestions, though!
One of New York’s many joys is discovering your favorite food spots hidden throughout the city, so if something catches your eye or you’re feeling a little grumble in your stomach, just go for it.
The Perfect First Morning in NYC
01 Start Your Day in Central Park!
Your time in New York starts with one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions: Central Park.
Known for its famous ice skating rink, its baseball fields, its running track, and its endlessly looping trails, Central Park is worthy of hours of exploration.
Since we’re kickstarting our NYC weekend itinerary, we’ll need to focus on the highlights for this trip. Our favorites include Bethesda Terrace, a large plaza and fountain that are often filled with performers, and Bow Bridge, a serene spot to take in the park, the city, and maybe snap a selfie.
02 Option A: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met for short, deserves its place as one of the most famous art museums in the world. Its collection spans ancient times to contemporary collections, and includes Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Asian, European, and Modern Art.
03 Option B: Museum of Modern Art
Hands down one of the most creative, compelling museums in New York, the Museum of Modern Art is a showstopper. With impressive permanent collections and ever-evolving exhibitions, as well as a can’t-miss gift shop, the MoMA is well worth your time.
04 Stroll Down Millionaire's Row
There may be no city in the world that does glitz and glamor quite like New York.
One of the places they do it best? 5th Avenue.
Also known as Millionaire’s Row, this is both New York’s most expensive shopping street and some of the world’s most costly retail spaces. Some of the famous names that line 5th Avenue that you may have heard of: Saks 5th Avenue, Apple, Prada, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, Versace, and so many more.
Even if you don’t want to go on a shopping spree, just strolling by these stores is an eye-opening way to start your New York adventure.
05 Visit the Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center, known also as 30 Rock, is one of the cultural centers of New York.
If you’ve wanted to visit Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, or you’re visiting during Christmas and you want to see the big tree, Rockefeller Center is the place to be. Or, if you’re fans of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, you definitely need to swing by!
An absolute must during the winter season, Rockefeller Center has plenty to offer all year round, too, from seeing live tapings of shows to going to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to soak up the Midtown Manhattan views.
You can find out more about Rockefeller Center at their official website.
06 Marvel at St. Patrick's Cathedral
New York City has a number of captivating churches. On this 2-day NYC itinerary, you’re going straight to the most impressive one: St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Located on 5th Avenue right alongside some of the most well-known brands in the world, this landmark church has been drawing attention since construction finished in 1879.
Starting with its size, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a sight to behold as it takes up 50th and 51st streets and 5th and Madison Avenues. It’s adorned with bronze doors, Neo-Gothic architecture, thousands of stained glass windows, and twenty altars (two of which were designed by Tiffany & Co.!).
For more on the history of this Catholic cathedral in Manhattan, visit their official website.
07 Visit The Exciting Grand Central Terminal
While you may visit a lot of subway and train stations while you’re in New York, there’s no terminal quite like Grand Central Terminal in Grand Central Station.
Welcoming 750,000 visitors every day, Grand Central Station is the second most popular spot in NYC (Times Square nabs the number one slot). Yes, trains and subways connect through the Grand Central 42 St. stop, but that alone doesn’t explain the sheer numbers.
What draws visitors to The Terminal is what makes it a National Historic Landmark: it is simply stunning. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style with sweeping ceilings and ornate touches, Grand Central Terminal is a beautiful home to stores, restaurants, and more.
Plus, if you happen to be visiting New York during the holidays, Grand Central Station is a must-visit thanks to its Holiday Fair and seasonal wreaths, garland, and festive lighting.
For more about the market, dining concourse, and shops, visit Grand Central Terminal’s official website.
Choose Between Two of The Best Museums!
As a note: New York may be one of the best cities in the world for museums. In fact, we’ve outlined all of our favorite New York museums here. With your 2-day NYC itinerary, however, we know you don’t have time to visit them all, so we’re recommending two of the best here.
The Perfect First Afternoon in NYC
01 Soak Up Some Greenery in Bryant Park
When you’ve got a day filled with skyscrapers and historic buildings to enjoy, it’s important to take time to soak up the greenery, too. While Bryant Park may be small, it is one of the most loved by New Yorkers. Located by the esteemed New York Public Library between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, this important park is often called Manhattan’s Town Square.
Winter activities include ice skating, holiday shopping, iceless curling, and a tree lighting show, and summertime fun includes sunbathing, picnicking, and movie watching.
02 Visit The Impressive New York Public Library
You may not be able to fit too much book-reading into this 2-day NYC itinerary, but that’s no reason not to visit the impressive New York Public Library. As the second-largest public library in the U.S. (the Library of Congress down in D.C. takes 1st place), the NYPL has over 50 million items across 92 locations. Once you get past the sheer scale of the items they’re taking care of, let yourself be won over by the architecture.
Done in the same Beaux-Arts style as Grand Central Terminal, it features marble arches, a grand staircase, and plenty of art and murals. Just be sure to keep your voice down while you’re wandering around it because people do use it for reading and studying!
03 Option A: The Edge
Take advantage of one of New York’s best views at the Edge, the world’s highest outdoor observation deck. At over 1,100’ high and extending 65’ feet into the air, the Edge offers unparalleled views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.
04 Option B: The Shed
The Shed is both Hudson Yards’ art venue, featuring dance, concerts, plays, and more, as well as home to Cedric’s at The Shed, a full-service restaurant. If there’s an exhibition you’re interested in seeing, this could be worth a visit!
05 Wander Above The Streets at The High Line
And now, it’s time for one of the absolute gems of New York: the High Line. Built on a historic rail line that carves through the city, the High Line is part public park, part gardens, part experience. The perspectives that it gives you of the city, the pockets of quietness you’ll find, and the smiles you’ll see from the people discovering this new side of New York combine for a remarkable experience. It’s more than just being above the streets and away from the traffic. Walking the High Line lets you feel more connected to the built city in a way few other cities around the world can pull off.
06 Visit Little Island, a Park on The Hudson River
Most of the parks we’ll visit on your NYC 2-day itinerary are tucked in and around towering, magnificent buildings. What makes Little Island so unique is that it’s a park that popped up just on the Hudson River.
Made from the remains of Pier 54, this floating park is indeed little – you can walk it in just 15 minutes – but that only adds to its charm. Filled with green spaces that change to reflect the seasons, rolling hills, and well-designed pathways, this is a much-needed natural pause in the middle of a mighty, industrial city.
07 Try a Delicious Slice of Pizza in Greenwich Village
Known more formally as Greenwich Village, the Village is one of New York’s most recognizable cultural spots.
Though these tree-lined streets are now home to cafés, restaurants, and boutiques, this was the beating heart of the ‘60s counterculture movement. Filled with student energy courtesy of the adjacent New York University and the always-bustling Washington Square Park, the Village feels like New York. There are plenty of good eats to be had here, too. If you’ve been holding out for a New York slice, now’s the time to dig in! For my money, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza is one of the best in the city.
08 Drop by Energetic Washington Square Park
What makes Washington Square Park such a unique place to visit during a New York City weekend is how energetic the park is. More than just a public park known for its iconic arch and fountain, it’s a gathering place for people from Greenwich Village, the students from NYU, it’s a performance space for amateurs and professionals alike, it’s a battle ground for chess players of all ages, and so much more. While it may be easier to stop and stay a while during the warmer summer months, any visit to the park is a memorable one.
09 Come to Union Square
As you arrive at Union Square, you’re being welcomed fully back into the bustling, beating heart of New York City. Union Square, located at 14th Street and 5th Avenue, is one of the city’s more recognizable centers.
The park itself is a small oasis of green surrounded by buildings where you’ll find a bustling produce market four days a week. Nearby, one of the city’s most famous bookstores, The Strand, offers a collection of books that could span 18 miles. Plus, a collection of taverns, bars, and bakeries could tempt you with a mid-afternoon drink or dessert, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
10 Come to Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park
Time for a quick stroll up Broadway to get to Madison Square Park and the Flatiron Building. The Flatiron, so-named because it looks like something you’d iron your clothes with, is an iconic 1902 building from architect Daniel Burnham. It’s one of my favorite spots to take an “only in New York” photo!
From there, you’ll head to Madison Square Park and you’ll have a choice to make. If you’ve ever heard of Shake Shack, the delicious burger chain with some of the best milkshakes (and I’ve tasted a lot of milkshakes!), then you’ve got to pay homage to the very first Shake Shack that opened here in Madison Square Park. If you’re in the mood for an Italian meal in one of the most interesting markets in New York, make sure to stop by the Eataly Food Market for a bite.
11 A New York City Must-See: The Empire State Building
We’ve saved one of the best moments of your weekend NYC itinerary for the evening: the Empire State Building. Even from the street level, the Empire State Building has a magnetic presence. You’ve undoubtedly seen it during the day from different vantage points throughout the city. Now, you’re here at the base of this 102-story Art Deco beauty.
Depending on your schedule, you may decide to opt out of heading to the observation decks. However, if you have the time, we highly recommend it. From learning about the history of its construction and the city around it to the expansive views that can include up to five other states, this is a terrific way to end your day in New York.
12 End Your First Day Surrounded by Colorful Lights at Times Square
There’s no place like Times Square. Always filled with energy, Times Square is New York. The iconic filming spot for countless movies and TV shows, the always-on billboards, and the sight of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, it all comes together at Times Square.
With over 330,000 visitors each day, Times Square is an energizing way to cap the beginning of your New York adventure. From here, the night is yours. If you’ve been hoping to see a Broadway show, you’re now only blocks away from the heart of it! Just head north and you’ll be at your theater in a few minutes.
13 Option A: Summit One Vanderbilt (best observation deck in NYC)
While it’s hard to go wrong with observation decks in New York, Summit One Vanderbilt’s is the best one. Opened in 2021, this is the first observation deck on the East Side of Manhattan, meaning it offers remarkable views of the East River, the Chrysler Building, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Plus, if you manage to make it in time for sunset, you will not regret it!
14 Option B: The Refinery Rooftop
Another great way to wind down after your action-packed first day in New York is with the Refinery Rooftop, a bar in Midtown Manhattan.
With great views and even better cocktails, you’ll want to grab reservations at this popular evening spot – just in case!
Check out the menu and make your reservations at the Refinery Rooftop here.
Spend Some Time at The Remarkable Hudson Yards
From the classic institution, you’ll wander past Times Square (don’t worry, you’ll be back – we’re saving it for that just-right moment!) to Hudson Yards, a modern development that’s seriously impressive.
Known to locals for being the biggest real estate development deal in U.S. history, it’s become an attraction all its own with 14 acres of public space, gardens, and a park, as well as a hotel, mall, and the eye-catching The Vessel, a bronze sculpture that stands 15 stories tall. With its mix of stairs, flights, and landings, there’s an Instagram-worthy spot just waiting for you. To make the most of your time, you’ll have two options to choose from:
Soak up One Last View of NYC
If you want to soak up one last view of NYC, we’ve got two fun options laid out for you below.
NYC Itinerary: Day Two
Let’s get started on Day 2 of your 2-day NYC itinerary! You’ll start today in Manhattan before setting off for some adventures on Ellis Island and Brooklyn before returning to finish the day soaking up the city.
Even more than Day 1, today you’ll find tempting treats at nearly every stop of your journey. Our advice for Day 2: read through the guide once and see what sounds good to you (choosing between a SoHo brunch and a delicious meal in Little Italy is never easy!) and make some notes.
Then when you’re walking around, you’ll have a better idea of whether to give into temptation – or to hold out a little longer!
Start Your Second Day in NYC
01 Explore Soho and Little Italy
Day 2 starts with one of our favorite spots in New York: SoHo!
SoHo, or South of Houston (pronounced How-ston, not Hue-ston), is filled with visual treats good eats, and great shopping.
Start your day off with a breakfast at either 12 Chairs (a fusion of Middle East cuisine and breakfast classics) or Banter NYC (a healthy brunch choice). From there, keep your eyes peeled for both the permanent street art and the more temporary sort.
Even if you’re not big on shopping, looking into some of SoHo’s shops is an experience in and of itself. With cast-iron buildings, cobblestone streets, and brick walls, it’s worth poking around.
For a taste of New York how it used to be, you’ve got to spend some time in Little Italy!
Thanks to its roots of Italian immigrants from Sicily and Naples coming in the 1880s, this area around Mulberry Street became one of the areas most tied to the idea of New York.
While there’s plenty of history and culture still in the air, we’d be misleading you if we didn’t tell you the best thing to do here was to eat!
Start hungry at standouts like Emilio’s Ballato, Parm, Rubirosa, and Lombardi’s. Then make sure you save room for some sweets, like gelato at La Bella Ferrara or a cannoli at Caffe Palermo.
02 Take a Stroll Around Tribeca
With its fascinating blend of centuries of history and modern pop culture, a stroll through the Tribeca neighborhood is always a good time.
The history includes beautifully preserved Federal Style townhomes that date back to the 1820s and plenty of Civil War-era architecture. Those classic constructions make the backdrop for one of the most popular comedies of all time, Ghostbusters (1984), which visitors can celebrate at the fire station used for filming at 14 North Moore Street.
It’s also one of the best areas in NYC to go shopping, with a handful of timeless used book stores, great vintage shops, and boutiques. If you somehow made it through Little Italy without digging in, then you’ll definitely find a great bite to eat here.
03 Take Some Time at 9/11 Memorial & Museum
One of the most important stops you’ll make during this NYC 2-day itinerary is to the 9/11 National Memorial.
This museum is located next to the World Trade Center and designed to honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the attacks on September 11, 2001, as well as the bombing on February 26, 1993. It is also a moving tribute to those who risked their lives to save others, as well as the support that New Yorkers showed to each other in the difficult times that followed.
Given the more serious nature of this stop, I encourage you to take your time moving through it. Visitors often share that they spend between 30 minutes and two hours making their way through the memorials.
04 Enjoy a Breathtaking View From One World Observatory
One World Observatory offers a truly unmatched view of New York. With 360° views from over 100 stories up, there is no higher building in New York from which to look out over the city.
Designed as the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex, One World Trade Center is more than just an interesting place to visit, it’s a powerful reminder of the history of the World Trade Center.
It is also impressive, standing as the tallest building in the United States – and the seventh-tallest in the world. Almost as stunning as the view? The elevator ride up! It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fast, shooting you up 102 stories in just 47 seconds.
For more information about the One World Observatory, including information about tickets, head to our complete guide.
Make The Most of Your Second Afternoon
01 Say Hello to Lady Liberty
More than just a fascinating stop on any first-time visit to New York, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island are an essential part of American history.
For more than 30 years in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Ellis Island was referred to as the “Island of Hope” because it represented the chance for immigrants to start a new life in America. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French that was dedicated in 1886, is located on Liberty Island and became a symbol of freedom and democracy.
Taking the ferry out to Ellis Island and being able to spend time learning about and exploring the Statue of Liberty may be one of the most powerful moments of your 2-day NYC trip.
The ferry itself only takes about 15 minutes to arrive at Ellis Island, and getting to the top of the Statue of Liberty only takes about 20 minutes.
02 Visit The World's Most Famous Financial District
Home of New York’s financial center – and known the world over – Wall Street makes for one of the more interesting stops for any 2-day NYC itinerary.
For fun photo opportunities, you’ll definitely need to head to the Charging Bull, the bronze statue on Broadway just north of Bowling Green.
As for the New York Stock Exchange, you’d need to get here by 9:30am on a weekday to hear the opening bell. Otherwise, the historic building is still well worth a photo!
You can also pay respects at the 9/11 Memorial that rests where the former Twin Towers used to stand. This open air plaza is a powerful tribute to those that lost their lives, and the memorials can be a surprisingly quiet place even in such a busy part of the city.
03 Take Some Classic NYC Pictures on Brooklyn Bridge
Get your cameras ready, because walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is going to set you up for some of the most classic NYC photos.
Built between 1869 and 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is NYC’s oldest suspension bridge. From this majestic 5,989’ bridge you’ll have the chance to see Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, the East River, Governors Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, and your new friend, the Statue of Liberty!
For both locals and visitors alike, the Brooklyn Bridge is a popular spot. Because of that, you’ll want to be courteous of other people, especially if you’re trying to catch the perfect selfie angle.
If you’re taking your time and snapping pictures along the way, give yourself about an hour to finish the walk. If you’re planning to power through it and just take a few photos, you can expect to cross in 25 minutes or so.
04 Enjoy Amazing Views of The Manhattan Skyline From Brooklyn Bridge Park
After finishing your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s time to start exploring Brooklyn!
This 85-acre sustainable park is situated right along Brooklyn’s East River waterfront. In addition to having spectacular, unobstructed views of Manhattan (among other things, you can see the beautiful World Trade Center as part of the skyline), the Brooklyn Bridge Park has plenty of fun, free activities. With an impressive nine lawns, the park is the ideal spot for a quick break during an adventure-packed two days in New York.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is also one of the best places to see sculptures and art outdoors in New York, with displays and installations that are refreshed regularly.
For more on what you can do while you’re at the park, including upcoming events, visit their official website.
05 Take a Picture of The Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO
When you’re spending 2 days in New York, you have to make sure you seize the moment to get the best photos possible.
One of the most iconic spots? This DUMBO Manhattan Bridge view you find on Washington Street. Already one of the most eye-catching bridges in New York, the Manhattan Bridge connects Downtown Brooklyn with Lower Manhattan.
What makes this spot so unique is its combination of old, new, and New York. You’ve got trees poking out from the sides of red brick buildings, cute cobblestone streets, and the modernity of the Manhattan Bridge in the background. Not only that, you should also be able to see the Empire State Building, too!
FYI – Wondering what DUMBO means? No, there’s no connection with the animated Disney movie! It’s an acronym that stands for Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass!
06 Explore Some of The Best Restaurants at Time Out Market
One of the many joys of visiting New York is experiencing some of the world’s best restaurants all throughout the city. When you’re planning a weekend itinerary for New York, however, you’ve got to head straight for the Time Out Market.
This mouthwatering marketplace features more than 20 unique food concepts with two floors of restaurants and bars.
Once you’ve eaten your fill downstairs, be sure to check out the Roof Top Bar. It’s quite a New York moment to be sipping on one of their Signature Cocktails as you take in the Manhattan skyline!
Get ready to visit Brooklyn’s Time Out Market by checking the full list of dining and drinking options here.
07 Take The NYC Ferry Back to Manhattan
From Brooklyn, it’s time to make our way back to Manhattan – and we’re going to do it in style on the NYC Ferry.
The ferry, which only takes about 10 minutes to cover the 2 miles between the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Wall Street / Pier 11 Landing, is more than just a convenient option. From this New York City expert, this actually has one of the best views of the New York skyline you can get.
While the views of New York from the Empire State Building and 30 Rockefeller Center are impressive, seeing the city grow in size as you approach it on a ferry is one of our favorite parts of this 2-day NYC itinerary. Make sure your cameras are ready, because with just 10 minutes, you’ll have to get your pictures quickly!
08 Let The Day End in The Lower East Side
We wrap up your whirlwind 2-day NYC itinerary with an evening in the Lower East Side, or the LES (as the locals call it).
Given that it’s a popular destination for drinks, dinner, and music, it’s only fitting you spend your last evening in New York here. From a neighborhood that gets much of its character from the vibrant blend of cultures – including Jewish, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, and Irish – the Lower East Side is a wonderful blend.
Enjoy a taste of one of the most famous Jewish delis in town by grabbing a table at Katz’s Delicatessen. To get the full experience, we recommend a pastrami on rye with mustard, juicy (meaning… fatty).
After dinner, head up to the cloudM Rooftop bar, enjoy a finely crafted cocktail, and sit back as you take in the beauty of the sunset and evening of New York.
10 Tips for Visiting NYC for First Time
Your first visit to NYC is going to be unforgettable, there’s no doubt about that.
Make sure it’s unforgettable for all the right reasons by following these 10 tips, and your NYC weekend will go as smoothly as possible.
- Wear comfortable clothing – To make the most of a 2-day NYC itinerary, you’ll need to be on the move. While you may want to dress your best for the photos, make sure that you’ve got shoes that you can use for miles of walking and layers of clothes to stay comfortable.
- Charge your phone – From taking videos of the Statue of Liberty to scanning your digital tickets, your phone is going to get a workout while you follow this NYC weekend itinerary. Charge it before you go and keep it in airplane mode when you’re not expecting calls, and you’ll be in great shape.
- Use the subway – One thing I’ve learned over my years of visiting NYC: New York City is almost *too* walkable! Don’t forget to save your legs and take advantage of the easy-to-use public transportation system in New York.
- Keep your head up – For one, there’s so much amazing architecture in New York City that you can appreciate when you’re alert to your surroundings. Another, more practical reason: there are a lot of people walking around, and you’ll need to stay active to avoid running into them.
- Grab a sightseeing pass – As a way of saving time and money for your weekend NYC trip, a NYC sightseeing pass is a great option. We share our tips for picking the best NYC sightseeing pass for your trip here.
- Stay in a hotel near transportation – New York City is one of the easiest big cities in the world to get around. The only trick? Making sure you’re near public transportation. With some hotels, you might have a great view or a great rate, but they could leave you spending more time getting to where you want to go.
- Plan your eating – There’s no shortage of delicious eats in New York City. When you’re coming for your first trip, do yourself a favor and reserve a restaurant or two. This will make sure that even if you get off your itinerary a little bit, you’ll still leave your trip having checked off some boxes.
- Stop by a park – With museums, buildings, and sports being some of NYC’s major draws, it can be easy to overlook some of the city’s true gems: its parks! Make sure to save some time to stop by Central Park, Prospect Park, Washington Square Park, and others to see a greener side of the city.
- Don’t rent a car – First of all, the public transportation is so good that you don’t need a car to get anywhere you want to go. Second, having to deal with parking will take away from the fun of your weekend. From difficult-to-find spots to overnight parking charges, save yourself the stress and enjoy a car-free weekend in NYC.
- Eat pizza and bagels – We save our best tip for last. Make sure to start one of your mornings with a bagel or egg sandwich, and include a stop for a New York slice during the day.
Easy Ways To Get Around NYC In A Weekend
If you’re planning a 2-day weekend itinerary for NYC, then you’ll need to know the best ways to get around the city. Some brave travelers want to spend the whole weekend walking, and while we commend them, our legs and feet need a break every once in a while!
Here are our four favorite ways of getting around NYC for the weekend:
- NYC By Subways and Buses – New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates throughout all five of NYC’s boroughs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Grab a MetroCard from any of the automated machines and getting around the city will be easy!
- NYC by Taxi or Rideshare – With the availability of taxis and rideshares, you really have no reason to rent a car while you’re in NYC. New York’s iconic yellow taxis can be hailed from the street or requested through apps like Curb. You can also use your favorite ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
- NYC by Bike – When the weather is decent, biking around New York City can be one of the fastest and most enjoyable modes of transportation. Whether you rent a bike for your full stay or take advantage of Citi Bike, NYC’s bike-sharing system, it’s a wonderful way to see the city.
- Hop-on, Hop-off Bus – For a way of getting around NYC that’s geared toward your itinerary, a Hop-on Hop-off NYC Bus could be your best bet. Cheaper than taking the taxi to each stop, better suited to any weather, and with a better view than the metro, these buses are ideal for tourists planning a 2-day NYC itinerary.
Best Tours to Experience New York City in 2 Days
A self-guided New York City tour gives you plenty of freedom to see the city exactly how you want. Still, there’s something to be said for a guided tour to reveal more of what makes New York City so special.
From themed tours all about pizza to general tours that give you insights into the history and culture of New York, there’s something for every interest. See below for some of our favorite guided tours:
- Hamilton Musical Walking Tour – Before you see the musical on Broadway, walk the steps of Alexander Hamilton throughout New York City. Highlights include Thomas Jefferson’s home, King’s College and Trinity Church.
- New York: Central Park Movie Sites Walking Tour – Visit one of the most iconic filming sites in the world: Central Park. This guided NYC tour takes you to where famous scenes from Home Alone 2, Ghostbusters, Harry and Sally, and more were filmed.
- Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour – New York knows how to put on a show! Anyone who enjoys theater, stage, and New York City history will enjoy this guided tour.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: 4-Hour Guided Tour – Did you know part of the Statue of Liberty was crowdfunded? And no, not with Kickstarter! This story and plenty of other fun facts about the Statue of Liberty are revealed during this interesting 4-hour guided tour.
- Greenwich Village Pizza Walk – If pizza is on the top of your 2-day NYC itinerary, then sign up for this Greenwich Village and Little Italy walking tour. You’ll enjoy slices of pizza from 3 different stores while learning about the culinary history of the area.
Best Neighborhood To Stay In New York City For 2 Days
When you’re coming to New York City for the weekend, you can make the most of your limited time by choosing the right NYC neighborhood to stay in.
To help you with your decision, we’ve outlined the best areas to stay in New York City for 2 days, along with who they might be best for!
- First time In NYC? Stay in the Theater District – For a lively look at New York’s highest-energy area, the Theater District between 42nd Street and 50th Street to the west of Sixth Avenue is ideal. While also great for seeing a Broadway show, its main subway stop – 42nd Street Broadway – connects to many other lines throughout the city.
- Want to see all the NYC sights? Stay in Midtown – Want to enjoy lots of New York’s cultural institutions without having to travel to and fro on the subway? A Midtown stay connects you with shopping, theater, and museums at walking distance.
- Visiting NYC with family? Stay in the Upper West Side – Being close to Central Park, Natural History Museum, and a quieter part of town is the ideal combination for families exploring NYC for the first time.
- Coming for New York’s nightlife? Stay in the Meatpacking District – When you like to plan your trips around bars and clubs, stay in the Meatpacking District and enjoy bars that don’t close until 4am on the weekend.
- Traveling with foodies? Stay in SoHo – If your trip orbits around fine dining and some of New York’s best food choices, staying in the SoHo and Tribeca areas will put you right in the heart of the culinary scene.
- Looking for NYC’s quieter side? Stay in the Upper East Side – From families needing a quieter area to settle in during the evenings to those who like a nice break after a long day of exploring, the residential Upper East Side and Lincoln Center provide travelers with a calmer stay (and some of the city’s most beautiful architecture!).
3 Things To Know Before You Go
- Grab Tickets Ahead Of Time – New York is a city full of energy, so it can be tempting to just go with the flow and see what happens when you’re there. However, for trips as quick and action-packed as this NYC weekend itinerary is, we highly recommend buying tickets in advance to save time in line. With a sightseeing pass, you’ll save even more time. We’ve compared all of NYC’s best sightseeing passes for you here.
- Follow Our Maps – While it’s easier than ever to open up a map on your phone and see what’s around you, our maps were designed to help you make the most of your trip. Bookmark this page and save our maps, and you’ll have an easy-to-follow guide right in your pocket.
- Buy This Itinerary – The Big Apple is a lot to take in, and we want you to stay in the moment! By buying this New York City itinerary – along with beautifully designed maps, insider advice, and locals-only tips – you don’t ever have to worry about what’s next. Just enjoy!
FAQs About Spending A Weekend in NYC
Is it worth going to New York City for a weekend?
A weekend is an excellent amount of time to experience what New York City has to offer. It’s especially ideal for a visit because you won’t be dealing with the workday hustle and bustle, and the majority of museums will be open.
Is 2 nights in NYC enough?
2 nights is more than enough time to discover New York City. By spending full days in the city, you can focus on everything the Big Apple has to offer.Whether it’s during the week or the weekend, you’ll have the opportunity to check out different parts of the city, spend time in a museum or two, and enjoy some of the city’s famous restaurants.
How much money do I need for 2 days in NYC?
According to past travelers, the cost per day of a vacation in New York City is around $240. Average costs include $37 on meals per day and $39 in transportation. Much of this budget will also go to your hotel stay, so depending on the quality and location, you can either save or splurge accordingly!
Can you walk all of Manhattan in a day?
Yes, it’s possible to walk Manhattan in about 12 hours. If you go for it, be sure to stop for snacks! To enjoy the trip, plan out interesting activities that can double as breaks along the way. For example, walk through Central Park so you can stop for a picnic or on a park bench, but save the museums for another day when your legs are fresher!
What is the best month to visit New York City?
There are two great times for your first visit to New York City: the spring and the fall. From April to June, you’ll find New York’s weather is the best and increasingly longer days. In November and December, you can see the city’s beautiful fall colors and its unique celebrations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!