Interested in how to spend a perfect weekend in New York City with the best things to see and do? Read on to discover all the great things you can do in and around New York City, from the best hotels to the best sites.
It’s quite difficult to pick just a few things to do, so don’t expect to see everything in one day. The goal here is just to highlight some of our favorite tourism options, but remember that if you stay just the weekend in New York City, you might have to make some tough decisions in what makes the list of things to do.
So here’s a guide for you (and anyone else who wants to spend a weekend in New York City)…
Table of Contents
When to Spend A Weekend in New York City
According to many, the best time to visit New York City based on weather would be between May and October. With regard to heat and humidity, September is probably the most comfortable month to visit the city with an average temperature of 75*F. Like most other places, July and August will be your hottest months with average temps in the low 80s F, but New York City offers plenty of things to do without being outside constantly.
If you are someone who isn’t necessarily opposed to any weather type, then there really isn’t a wrong time to spend a weekend in New York City. Each season offers something different and worth experiencing. For example, if you visit around Thanksgiving, you not only get to experience holiday decorations but you can also catch the parade! January and February might be really cold – like in the mid-20s F, but the hotel rates are usually a bit cheaper than the warmer months.
Where to Stay for Your Weekend in New York City
There are no shortages of hotels in New York City, so there’s definitely something to fit everyone’s budget. If you’re looking to really indulge yourself, there are several five star hotels in areas that are popular for sightseeing, dining, and nightlife. Most attractions are centered around downtown, so we recommend that you start your hotel search for your weekend in New York City in this general area.
Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection is a boutique Manhattan hotel located in the Theater District and very close to Times Square. Live piano music on Friday nights and a nightly social reception with cheese and wine are just some of the added benefits of this beautiful hotel. Also offered are fresh fruit, cookies, coffee, and tea throughout the day and a complimentary continental breakfast daily. And if you’re wondering if it’s a good place for couples… it has a 9.8 rating for a two-person trip!
You can stay in the heart of New York while at Millennium Premier New York Times Square. Just steps away from Times Square, the subway is a short three minute walk, Rockefeller Plaza is less than 0.5 miles away, and the Museum of Modern Art is only 0.6 miles away. In addition to all of the great tourist options within walking distance for your weekend in New York City, this hotel offers continental breakfast, with a full breakfast available at their Bugis Street Brasserie.
A more luxurious and pricey option would be The Chatwal for your weekend in New York City. Since this hotel is quite popular, it’s best to make your reservations in advance instead of waiting until the last minute. Guests at The Chatwal will enjoy personal butler service, luxury amenities, and quality customer service. Location-wise you’ll be just a three minute walk from Times Square and 15-20 minutes’ walking distance from Central Park.
A more reasonable option is Hampton Inn Times Square Central for those who are saving their pennies for other activities. This hotel is a great option is you’re looking for a standard hotel with the expected amenities. Like the other hotels we’ve mentioned, this is also very conveniently located near Times Square, Restaurant Row, and Macy’s.
What To Do During Your Weekend in New York City
Empire State Building
You’ve seen it in just about every rom-com set in New York City, but have you experienced it? While you can certainly enjoy the Empire State Building from a distance, it’s definitely something worth more closely checking out during your weekend in New York City. The 86th floor is the ever-popular open-air observatory which allows you to take in 360* views of the Hudson and Easy Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and much more.
If the 86th floor of the Empire State Building isn’t quite high enough for you, meander on up to the 102nd floor’s indoor observation deck for an incredibly view of Central Park. And if you want to truly appreciate this piece of architecture, don’t miss the exhibit on the 80th floor which honors the 3,400 people who built the almost 1,500-foot skyscraper.
This one is probably going to his you in the feels when you visit and leave you a bit reflective. This particular site goes by several different names – One World Trade Center, One World Trade, One WTC, Freedom Tower – but they all refer back to the main building rebuilt from the World Trade Center complex. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and in the top ten tallest buildings in the world.
If you’re spending a weekend in New York City, this is an imperative stop during your trip, in our opinion. For an up close and personal experience, you can grab a ticket to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum which is a must-see.
For a more in depth visit, we recommend a five hour all access tour of New York’s Ground Zero and 9/11 sites. This tour includes the 9/11 Museum, One World Observatory, and memorials such as the 9/11 Firefighters Memorial Wall. This particular tour is heartbreaking and will give you a deeper understanding of the tragic events and New York’s recovery.
Tons of grassy areas, bike paths, public art displays, soccer fields, basketball courts, and more is what you’ll see at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Not only will you be able to take in the view of the actual Brooklyn Bridge, but you’ll be able to get in some recreational activities that will leave you feeling rejuvenated during your weekend in New York City.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty is quite possibly the most famous copper statue in the world and is an obvious American symbol. We recommend taking a 60-minute sightseeing cruise which takes you around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. While the cruise won’t get you up close and personal to the actual statue and island, it does give you an incredible view of these icons while enjoying some time on water. If you have a little bit more time, we absolutely recommend visiting both of these places first-hand and getting pedestal access to the statue.
Remember during your weekend in New York City that the city itself is surrounded by water and seeing the sights from the boat is a great experience! New Yorkers love the water surrounding New Jersey and the Statue of Liberty, as well as the Empire State Building, so seeing all of these sights on a boat must be a bigger experience. Our personal recommendation is a champagne sunset cruise on a yacht since it’s a one of a kind experience and you’ll be able to enjoy views of the city at the most beautiful time of day.
New York City Musuems
To make the most of your time, we strongly recommend you checkout one of the many museums in New York City, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you only had time to see one, the Met is highly recommended, but if you have the time and desire, you should definitely visit the Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim during your weekend in New York City.
Grand Central Park
Like the Empire State Building, Central Park is often shown in New York City set movies and TV shows. This is for good reason – it’s amazing! It’s a huge park at 843 acres and is the fifth largest park in the city. The park has three sections and five visitor centers, so if you’re not quite sure where to start, you can ask the helpful staff at one of the visitor centers. There are so many areas and features to check out, or you can wander the paths and enjoy the beautiful water areas.
As you can see by the picture below, the fall season is something to behold in Central Park, but there really isn’t a bad time of year to spend a weekend in New York City visiting Central Park.
There are a variety of tours you can take advantage of in Central Park for your weekend in New York City, as well:
Pro tip: A lot of visitors fight the crowds to enter the park around 59th Street, but we suggest entering at 72nd Street and Central Park West, then heading up to Strawberry Fields. From there you’ll be able to see a ton of other areas without the influx of people.
New York City CityPASS®
Perhaps you’ve heard of CityPASS… they have a presence in most of the major cities around the United States, so of course they have one for your weekend in New York City. The neat thing about CityPASS is that is allows you to visit several different attractions at a discounted cost. We’d recommend the the New York City CityPASS since it offers the highest savings and is a bit of an “easy button” for you. This particular pass gets you into six attractions of your choice, which are outlined below…
- Empire State Building (General Admission (86th Floor Observatory) Plus Bonus Night General Admission)
- American Museum of Natural History (General Admission, including the Hayden Planetarium Space Show or a giant-screen movie in 3D and 2D)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (General Admission for three consecutive days at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Includes Audio Guide on your first visit.)
- Guggenheim Museum (General Admission) OR Top of the Rock (General Admission)
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Flex ticket for one Statue Cruises ferry ride to and from Liberty Island and Ellis Island and admission to Ellis Island Immigration Museum) OR Circle Line Cruises (Admission to one Landmark, Harbor Lights, or Liberty Cruise, or The BEAST Speedboat Ride)
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (General Admission and Space Shuttle Pavilion) OR 9/11 Memorial and Museum (General Admission)
It is important to note here that the CityPASS is good for general admission only to the above attractions, so any extras will have to be covered on your own, but the savings upfront means you can splurge on some of the extras! And if you’re spending more than the weekend in New York City, the CityPASS is actually valid for 30 consecutive days from first use, meaning you don’t have to cram four attractions into a single day.
If you have more time to explore than just a weekend in New York City, there is no shortage of activities to take advantage of. If you plan your trip really well, you can easily explore all the highlights of New York City in just a weekend!. If you’re looking for tips on traveling on a budget, we recommend checking out our article that could help with your New York City planning. One other helpful tip we can offer is how to find discounted airline tickets if New York City isn’t within driving range for you.
If you are looking for something that might not be as touristy or for something outside the norm, we’ve listed out our 12 favorite things to do for a weekend in New York City in hopes that they inspire you to look outside the super obvious the next time you visit New York City.
Looking for more travel tips? FlightVillage has you covered!