If you don’t already know, I’m one to travel far and fast. I go for the see as much as possible approach, rather than taking my time and getting an in-depth experience. This does make my travelling quite chaotic, but I feel like I would be bored if I didn’t travel this way.
This leads me to take many weekend trips to different cities! For about a weekend each, I’ve been to Ottawa, Montreal, New York, Vegas, Chicago, Iceland, and more! I love travelling quickly – it allows me to discover places I will want to return to in the future and spend more time in.
New York is a bucket list destination for many people that I know – and it should be! The city is quite exciting, with incredible food, shopping, and sites to see! But, it is quite expensive. This drives me to typically only stay for a weekend. Staying for such a short period of time forces me to strategically plan what I’m going to see. I’ve been successful in catching many highlights in a single weekend, and this post is about one of the routes I took to do it!
1. Central Park
On your first, second, fifth, or on your hundredth visit to the city, Central Park is always a must visit. I’ve always found this park so incredible – an 800+ acre park in the middle of a huge city?! It is the perfect way to escape from the craziness of the city, without actually leaving the city!
I especially love visiting the park in the fall when all the leaves are starting to change. It is so gorgeous for a calm walk through! Maybe you’ll be able to catch an event, a concert, play some sports, or even visit the Central Park Zoo!
2. Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Center is a definite highlight of Midtown Manhattan. With plenty of shopping, dining, and activities, it is one of my top places I like to visit if I’m in New York for a weekend. My favourite time to visit here is in the winter when there are giant Christmas decorations, hot chocolate booths, a skating rink, and a GIANT tree! But, any time of the year you can check out the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and get incredible views of the city. You’re ought to find some great restaurants to eat at, and plenty of shops to explore!
3. Times Square
Ah, Times Square. If you follow me on instagram, you would have seen my latest post describing my love-hate relationship for Times Square! It is absolutely wonderful to visit and such an incredible experience, but wow is it ever busy! It is definitely a place I like to stop at and take a few pictures, then run away as quickly as I can! But, if you deal with crowds better than I do, there are so many billboards to check out and there are so many giant shops to discover in this area. I recommend checking out the giant M&M’s store – it is quite the experience!
4. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is also a must visit on one of your first trips to New York! If you’re looking for some of the best views of the city, the 86th and 102nd floor observatories have incredible 360 degree views of the city.
You’ll have a great view of Central Park, the grid design of the city, and a views of up to 80 miles away! The view is great either early in the morning as it opens, or at night so you can see the beauty of the lit of city from above.
5. Flatiron Building
I’ve always found the FlatIron building so interesting! I tend to visit this area every time I go to New York City. The building itself is incredible and has such fascinating architecture – super skinny in the front, and wider in the back! I recently discovered that if you can see the top of the building from above, it looks like the bottom of a flat iron!
Aside from the building itself, the area has a bunch of nice restaurants, including one of my favourite Michelin Star restaurants, Junoon! If you like Indian cuisine and have the budget, I highly recommend checking it out. There’s plenty of other restaurants nearby as well, and lots of shopping as it is really close to the fashion district.
SoHo, referring to “South of Houston Street”, is a really cool neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan. It is a world famous shopping and art district, boasting designer boutiques, art stores, and incredible restaurants. You’ll wander through cobbled streets, admiring the cast-iron architecture of the buildings lining the streets.
Many shops have their flagship stores here, and you’re bound to see many popups appear from time-to-time! There are so many great cafes around this area as well.
7. Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful cable-stayed/suspension bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. There’s access for vehicles to cross of course, but there’s also a great pedestrian walkway that is the scene of many photo ops! Walking across the bridge will give you great views of the river and of the New York City skyline!
8. World Trade Center
If you can make it to Lower Manhattan, you must go visit the World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial. There’s a museum you can walk through, or you can opt to pay your respects at the two giant pools, which are constructed at the footprints of the old Twin Towers.
The design of these pools are incredible – they are not only the largest man-made waterfalls in the US, but they are also designed to shut out the sounds of the city. The walls of the pools have the names of all the victims of the attacks engraved into them. It is a chilling monument to visit, but I definitely suggest going to see it.
If you aren’t already exhausted from shopping, there is a shopping center at the World Trade Center complex as well, containing many chain stores and boutiques.
9. Battery Park
Battery Park is home to many statues and memorials, and a great view-point of the Statue of Liberty. It’s a great park to wander through to admire all of the monuments, commemorating various historical figures and wars. If you have time, you can opt to hop on the free Staten Island Ferry to both check out the Island, and also admire the stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.
To me, if you are visiting New York for the first time and for a short period of time, these are definitely the highlights! After the first few times I visited, I strayed from these hotspots and checked out different areas around New York. Now when I visit, I typically set to find new restaurants and coffee shops to hang out at!
What is your favourite thing to do in New York? Let me know in the comments!