New York, New York. Nicknamed the city that’s so good they named it twice, you’ll never be short of things to do in New York City if you find yourself on this side of the Atlantic. Whether you’re just passing through or visiting for a few days, the Big Apple is bursting with sights and attractions to help you fill those Manhattan minutes.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of our top suggestions of ways to spend 48 hours in New York.
Things to do in New York: Our Picks
Immerse Yourself in Central Park
Is there anything more mesmerising than people watching? Central Park is just the place to do it; from the speed walkers to the marriage proposals, al fresco business meetings to outdoor exercise classes, it’s all happening in this 840-acre stretch of green space right in the heart of Manhattan.
Hire a bike to cover as much of the area as possible, or visit Loeb Boathouse where for just $20 an hour you can pile in a rowboat and give your arms a real workout. No matter how you choose to soak up the atmosphere, Central Park will leave you feeling a million miles away from the buzz of the big city, if only for a few hours.
See the Bright Lights of Broadway
While there’s no shortage of options to things to do in New York once night falls, there are few as iconic as catching a show on Broadway. From musicals to family favourites, there’s something for everyone. Buy your tickets in advance, or if you really want to add an element of the unknown to your time in the city, rock up to a TKTS booth on the day and take your pick from some last-minute availability. You can get up to 50% off if you buy same-day tickets, and the booth is right in the heart of Times Square, which, let’s face it, you’re going to stumble across anyway during your trip to the Big Apple.
Empire State Building or Top of the Rock?
We’ll put it out there now: New York City has some amazing views, and one of the hardest decisions you’ll likely encounter is where to catch the best vistas. As soon as you start investigating things to do in New York, you’ll realise that people generally fall into one of two categories when they answer this question – Empire State Building or Top of the Rock. The bad news is that we’re not likely to make your decision any easier with our assessment, not least because they are both as epic as each other.
You see, the Empire State Building is the star of the Manhattan skyline and only from the Top of the Rock can you get those pinch-yourself views of it. Time your visit to coincide with sunset if you want the money shot. Later, when the skies are dark, the curtains have closed on your choice of Broadway show, you’ve stood on the red steps of a neon Times Square and you’ve eaten the finest pizza New York has to offer, it’s time to tick the Empire State Building off your bucket list.
Venture into New York’s Notable Neighbourhoods
Manhattan may feel like the natural place to spend the bulk of your time in New York, but there’s no shortage of nearby neighbourhoods that are also well worth a look. As you’d expect from a city of this magnitude, each one has its own unique personality and you’d be hard pushed to find any two that are the same.
The Meatpacking District is located in the far west side of Manhattan, bordered by Chelsea to the north and the West Village to the south. Take your pick of what time to visit this neighbourhood, it’s buzzing all hours of the day and night. Chelsea Market is one of the best haunts, with food, drink, shopping and culture all under one roof.
Speaking of shopping, you can’t go far wrong in SoHo. Previously where NYC’s art scene flourished in the 1970s and 80s, but nowadays it’s where you’ll find luxury boutiques and independent designers doing their thing. There’s still the odd gallery to be explored, but in the present day, it’s more of a mecca for anyone in need of some retail therapy.
Upper East Side is where you need to visit if history and culture are your bag. Wander the tree-lined streets where you’ll discover the Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue. The Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art and lesser-known collections await – and there’s no shortage of coffee shops if you want to rest your legs and sip on a hot cup of joe.
Where to Grab a Bite to Eat in New York
Eating out in New York City is an integral part of your Big Apple experience. With such limited time to explore, we thought we’d share some of our favourite grab-and-go style eateries that will ensure you don’t miss a precious minute of your time.
If you find yourself in Greenwich Village, Mamoun’s Falafel should be your go-to place to eat. You won’t be surprised to learn that falafel is the order of the day here – this family-owned restaurant has been serving the area since 1971. This unassuming eatery is also home to Mamoun’s Hot Sauce, which is well worth slathering all over your freshly-made falafel if you feel your tastebuds can handle it.
New York and bagel – a match made in culinary heaven if ever we’ve seen one. You won’t be hard pushed to find a decent doughy delight as you pound the streets of the big city, but we thought we’d offer up one of our favourites to help narrow the field a little. Hudson Bagels in West Village serves up fresh bagels day in, day out and while we’d argue they are lip-smackingly good served up plain, there’s also a host of toppings to choose from. Cream cheese, hummus, avocado – it’s all here for the taking.
Cupcakes are another foodie must-have when you’re in New York. Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street will likely have a long queue forming outside when you walk past, owing its fame to its appearance in the hit TV series, Sex and the City. Although there are several Magnolia Bakery locations scattered across the city, this one is the original, having flung open its doors back in 1996. Once you’ve beaten the queue, the next challenge will be deciding which cupcakes to go for. We can highly recommend the red velvet, and you can never go wrong with classic vanilla.
Bleecker Street Pizza
While you’re in the neighbourhood, you might as well grab yourself a slice of pizza. It’s another rite of New York foodie passage, and Bleecker Street Pizza is one of the best we’ve encountered. Selling pizza by the pie or the slice, you can sit inside or get yours to go. Be warned, you’ll never look at pizza in the same way again.
Take a look at our selection of cruises from New York by clicking here.
Have you ever visited New York City? Let us know what your top tips are in the comments below.