New York City, a concrete jungle where dreams are made of, the city that never sleeps, the Big Apple. It’s known as many things, but something that is obvious beyond a slogan, New York City is known for it’s energy. People it say it all the time, NYC has a special energy. They’re right! It’s a city in constant motion, a true bustling metropolis. With that energy and motion comes endless options – lots of to eat, lots to see and lots to explore. If your’re visiting NYC, you likely want to know how you too can get in on that energy, how you can spend a fantastic weekend like a true New Yorker. I’ve got you covered! Below, I’m sharing a 3 day itinerary with you, exactly what to do during a weekend in New York City, how you get the full expereience, and the full energy from the top to the bottom of Manhattan, and more.
Technically New York City is made of 5 burroughs, but this weekend guide is focused on Manhattan, because trust me, there is more than enough to fill your agenda.
Three major airports service NYC – LaGuardia, JFK and Newark. I prefer to fly in and out of LaGuardia. It’s close to the city (great views as you fly in) and has been newly renovated. You can easily take a cab or ride shares from the airport into the city, which is usually around $50/60. Once you’re in the city, you can of course still take cabs and ride shares, but they add up quickly, and NYC traffic is on another level, so you’ll spend a lot of time looking at taillights. The fastest, and cheapest way to get around New York City is the subway. Thanks to modern technology you don’t have to worry about carrying maps anymore and plotting out how to get around (which I have done in NYC!). Simply plug your destination into your phone GPS, select Public Transportation and it’ll tell you exactly which train(s) to take. It’s a little intimidating at first, but you”ll catch on quick. Just be very aware of your surroundings and watch your belongings, to keep you and your stuff safe. I’d recommend getting a multi-day pass, it’s easy and will save you money in the end.
Now, that you know how to get around, let’s talk about all the fun you have in store for the weekend…
Fly in on an early Thursday morning flight. You can sleep on the plane, and you’ll have the whole day to explore. Once you arrive, make your way to your hotel – they can hold your bags until check-in since you’ll be quite early. With this itinerary I recommend staying in mid-town Manhattan. It’s busy and touristy, but it’s also right in the middle of the island, making it easy to walk many places and to hop on a subway to many others.
Take a walk through Times Sqaure heading north to enjoy lunch at the home of the famous frozen hot chocolate, Serendipity. You’ve probably seen this hotspot in many movies, including it’s namesake, Serendipity. It’s eclectic and whimsical and a perfect spot to start your weekend. I make it a point to visit every time I am in town! Be a rebel and get dessert before your meal, because you must try one of frozen hot chocolate options. For lunch, I can’t recommend the french fries enough! A burger or salad to go with them is ideal. If you’re a party of 2 or more, think about splitting. The portions are big, and after your big pre-meal treat, you won’t have a lot of room in your belly.
Walk off your lunch with a stroll through Central Park, then shopping along Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Plaza, as you make your way back to your hotel in mid-town. After a busy travel morning and some retail therapy, you’ll want to unpack and relax before a night out on the town!
If you’re planning to see a Broadway show while in town, I recommend going on your first night. It frees up your plans for the next two nights, because you may want to see a second show, or you may find something fun you want to do while you’re out exploring. You can buy tickets in advance, or take your chances with a street vendor. If you go this route, be smart – make sure you know where your seats will be and that they are not “restricted view.” (I have definitely fallen victim to this! Thankfully, my “restricted view” seats were 3rd row and we only lost visibility to a sliver of the stage.) Hold firm on the price you are comfortable with, which means you need to research beforehand, so you know what the going rate is for the show you want to see. (If you need help picking a show, see my recent recap on the Tony Awards and my favorite shows of 2022.) Here’s a little tip if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of your factor actor post show, head to the stage door, where most of the cast will exit. Since you’ll be all dressed up for the show, make a stop on the way at a chic rooftop bar for a drink and an appetizer. The best rooftop bars near Times Square are the posh Skylark, the open and airy Top of the Strand and the whimsical Magic Hour.
Be a true New Yorker and eat late, post show. It’s the city that never sleeps, so you’ll have options (just not sushi after 10pm in mid-town – trust me, I’ve tried). Then head back to your hotel for a restful nights sleep, as you have two days left of fun afterall!
Travel is often quite tiring and draining on the body, so start the morning with a relaxing facial at Face Gym in Bloomingdales. Face Gym is known for helping you get glowing skin, and a younger, more defined appearance. They were a saving grace for my skin during the many months of wearing masks during the pandemic, and not only helped me keep my skin fresh, but helped me look 5 years younger. (Check out my post, 5 Minute Facelift: At Home Face Massage for Face Gym tips to use at home.) While you’re there, you might as well do some shopping at the famed Bloomingdales.
After all that relaxing and shopping, you’ll need to fuel up before your next adventure. Brunch is always better with a view, so head west to Columbus Circle. Tucked into the Time Warner Center, among The Shops at Columbus Circle, you’ll find Bluebird London. The decor is stunningly chic, and the views overlooking the circle and central park are just as nice. They are noted for tea (scones, mini sandwiches and all those tea things), which is definitely a fun experience, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
After a delicious meal, you’ll take the subway to a hidden gem in New York, a place most tourists never step foot – Roosevelt Island. This island to the east of Manhattan is home to apartment buildings, a few restaurants, a hotel, the long gone New York City Mental Health Hospital (now apartments), a still functioning hospital and lots of nature! A welcome center is steps away from the train station, where you can gather info on what to see and do while on the island. They offer free bus transportation, and it’s also just a great place to walk and enjoy some peace amidst the biggest city in the U.S. No matter where your adventure on the island leads, you must make a stop to the Graduate Hotel before heading back to Manhattan. This super funky hotel has a beautiful art deco meet’s 1980’s rooftop, the Panorama Room. And panoramic it is, with what some might say are the “most stunning views of Manhattan,” myself included. The food all looked delicious, but I can tell you with certainty the drinks are excellent. The Sunra (a mix of Tequila, mezcal, Topo Chico, salted lime cordial and Electricdust) was by far the BEST cocktail I have ever had – and I have had a lot! After you’ve enjoyed your drinks and the view, head back into Manhattan on the funicular. Yes, you read that right! The funicular connecting Manhattan and Roosevelt Island takes you high above the East River, so close to the Queensboro Bridge you can almost reach out and touch it. Bonus: you can use your subway card to ride!
The day has been busy so far, so you might want some downtine in the hotel to relax before a scene stealing dinner. One thing NYC knows how to do right is deck out a restaurant. Dining is not only about the food, it’s about the overall ambiance – the experience. Lamia’s Fish Market totally sets the tone for a great meal. From the minute you enter you feel transported. Are you under the sea, in an old fish market, on a boat – who knows, you might feel a combo of them all. The decor is immersive, the food is delicious, and this restaurant puts you in the center of some great nightlife, including the Lower East Side and NOHO.
It’s the last full day, so we have to make it fun! Today we’re heading downtown, to see a new side of the city. Start with breakfast in SOHO. If you make your way to the intersection of Kenmare and Bowery, there will be plenty of adorable little eateries to select from. It’s a popular loacation for breakfast, so put your name in at Two Hands, Charley St. or The Butcher’s Daughter. (If you love avocado toast and acai bowls, you are definitely in the right neck of the woods!) While you wait for your table, you can wander through nearby Chincatown and watch as the vendor set up shop and bring the neighborhood to life.
Once you have had your fill of breakfast goodies, it’s time to step into an NYC fashionista’s shoes and do some shopping in SOHO. Here you’ll find a mix of high end stores, European chains, and local boutiques. It’s a completely different feel from any other part of the city and just a great place to wander and explore. If you get hungry, or tired from carrying all those shopping bags, you’ll have plenty of options for a snack break. For anyone like me, whose tummies just can’t handle gluten, or for any sweets lover in general, be sure to visit Posh Pop Bakeshop. Years ago, after doctor’s orders to cut gluten, I felt like I was missing out and not getting to enjoy sweet treats I used to love. (This was before gluten free options were abundant.) I found Posh Pop and literally thanked them for doing what they do! In this fully gluten free facility you can find cookies, cakes, pies, even a beloved favorite – monkey bread. It is probably the best gluten free bakery in New York City. You’ve walked a lot over the last few days, so you’ve definitely earned this yummy reward!
We will cap off this lovely weekend with a drink at a classic bar, known as a favorite to many celebrities, the Waverly Inn, followed by dinner at Budakan, which gained fame on Sex and the City. Owned by a former Vanity Fair editor turned restaurateur, the Waverly Inn is tucked below street level on a very quiet street in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood. It gives off old-school east coast vibes. It’s a little snooty (including the bartenders), but with billionaires, socialites, move stars and fashion designers as frequent guests, what can you expect. It’s a great spot for a cocktail at the bar! Be sure to leave room in your tummy for a great meal at Buddakan, just a neighborhood north in Chelsea. If you’re an SATC fan, you’ll probably recall Carrie and Big’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Well, it was held at none other than Buddakan. It’s a total scene – the music is blasting, the lights are dim, and the people watching is amazing. The food was really good too. I recommemd sharing, as the portions are very mixed in size, and don’t be shy asking for a table in the heart of the restaurant – not tucked into a back room. After dinner, head back to your hotel and get some rest before an early flight out in the morning.
This weekend guide is just a peek into all that you can do and see in NYC, heck, in Manhattan alone. It’s a bustling place with endless opportunities, and truly an energy unlike anywhere else. Whatever you don’t get to on this vist, well, you’ll just have to come back!
For more tips on what to do and see in NYC, check ouy my guide, “In A New York Minute: What To Do In NYC On A Time Crunch.”
Signed with Style,
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