New York City is a totally vast, exciting and incredible city to visit in the United States. That being said, one of the most popular areas of New York has to be in the beating heart of Manhattan; especially in Midtown. Trust me, there are so many best things to do in Midtown Manhattan that you won’t want to leave this area when you visit.
With amazing things to do in New York, I wanted to share some of our absolute favourite spots in Midtown that you shouldn’t miss.
This way, you can totally focus on all the exciting things to do when you arrive. All without getting overwhelmed with the planning element during your New York visit.
Have the most amazing time in the Big Apple; and specifically Midtown Manhattan!
1.) Grand Central Terminal
First up, no first visit to New York is complete without a trip to Grand Central Station. Visiting is one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan if you’ve never been to the city before.
Grand Central has been serving people for over a hundred years and stands proudly in the heart of Midtown. Considered one of the most beloved train stations in the United States, there are other famous spots which can be seen in the vicinity like the Whispering Gallery, the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant and the iconic clock which you can’t miss.
Best of all, Grand Central is also located near the Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building and Empire State Building. This means you can visit them all with ease in one trip.
Interestingly, keep your eyes peeled on the painted roof of Grand Central. Although it was a mistake, one amazing thing about this terminal is its ceiling which was painted ‘mirror-inverted’. This meant a few little mistakes happened when painting. Look out for the astrological signs that are positioned in reverse.
2.) Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock)
Taking years to build (almost a decade), The Rockefeller Center is one of Midtown Manhattan’s most iconic buildings.
It’s a hugely popular building to visit throughout the year, especially at Christmas when all the lights, Christmas tree and ice rink adorn the square around the building. It’s totally lovely but can get really busy. So, if you don’t like crowds, maybe visit earlier in the morning and avoid weekends.
Oh, and don’t forget to book tickets to Top of the Rock, with epic views all across New York. For me, I’d say it’s one of my favourite viewpoints in the whole city. You get a great perspective of Manhattan and the Empire State Building.
It’s incredible to visit at sunset and watch the twinkling lights come to life across Manhattan. Just be sure to book these tickets in advance and before you visit. These timed entries fill up fast.
3.) Morgan Library
The Morgan Library and Museum are totally beautiful to visit and one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan that’s often forgotten by some visitors.
On a self-guided tour inside, you can check out the reading room, and the history of the library and learn more about its place in Midtown Manhattan.
Visits will take around 60 minutes… but can take longer if you read every single sign as Yaya does!
4.) The Chrysler Building
Often regarded as the most eye-popping skyscraper in New York City, seeing the Chrysler Building is definitely one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan. For me, it’s one of my favourite buildings in all of New York and can’t be missed.
This iconic building was built in 1930 and was once the world’s tallest building. However, this changed when the Empire State Building was constructed. It was built by William Van Alen.
Now, you won’t really head inside the Chrysler Building, so it’s best to spot it as you venture to SUMMIT One or Grand Central. All of which are close by.
Oh, and if you love the historical architecture of Midtown Manhattan, be sure to pop over to see the Flatiron Building that’s easily reached via the subway from the Chrysler Building.
Built all the way back in 1902, it’s one of the first skyscrapers to be ever built in New York… if not the world.
5.) Times Square
Love it or hate it, visiting Times Square is one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan if it’s your first visit to the Big Apple. It’s totally iconic, busy, overwhelming and so New York!
With its continuous development and change through time, one thing that remains about Times Square is the fact that it will never be without people around.
Oh, and don’t forget to book tickets to a Broadway Show (lots are around Times Square).
To get discounted day tickets for a Broadway show, head to the TKTS booth that sells officially available seats for the day. It’s a great way to see a show in New York and is situated below the red steps in the heart of Times Square.
6.) Central Park
Okay, so technically Midtown Manhattan ends right on the border of Central Park. That being said, you can’t be venturing out to all the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan without going here.
Honestly, Central Park is a landscaped public park and is the first one of its kind to be made in America. This is also one of the most famous places in New York City so expect a lot of other visitors. Though, it never really feels busy as it’s so vast.
Make sure to go ice skating in the winter months, row on the lake in the summer months and stroll the paths that meander the lovely gardens inside the park.
7.) One Vanderbilt (SUMMIT One)
Another skyscraper in New York City is One Vanderbilt, one of the newer shiny buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Still to this day, One Vanderbilt is branded as one of Midtown Manhattan’s tallest buildings.
Best of all, you can get to see the awesome views from One Vanderbilt by booking these tickets for SUMMIT One. It’s a pretty shiny experience and there’s also lots of art and cool installations at the top, too.
The views, as you can imagine, are just incredible, too.
8.) The Guggenheim Museum
Yes, I know! The Guggenheim Museum is more Upper East Side than Midtown Manhattan. Though, it’s totally easy to visit if you’ve already ventured into Central Park and fancy a gander at some world-class art.
Once inside, you’ll spot amazing pieces by Manet, Chagall and Picasso all waiting to be seen. It’s incredible. Just make sure to book these Guggenheim tickets at peak times. This way, you won’t have to worry if the galleries get to capacity.
Don’t forget, the Guggenheim Museum is famous not only for the paintings and other artworks found inside of it but because of the building’s main structure as well. It is a spiral structure which holds one of the world’s largest collections of Mapplethorpe.
Love art? Then be sure to grab these tickets and get inside the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It houses world-class collections of art and is a perfect spot to visit if you don’t fancy trekking up to the Guggenheim.
You can literally spend hours inside and it’s an art-lovers dream spot. Though, even if you’re not into modern art, I’m almost certain you’ll love it.
Afterwards, head down to Chelsea Market on the subway or taxi and grab a bite to eat.
We loved Buddakan for dinner (the room is gorgeous), the seafood spots inside the market and the Speakeasy of Bathtub Gin that’s a few minutes way away.
10.) New York Public Library
Whether you love books so much or not, visiting the New York Public Library is one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan.
This famous Manhattan attraction is mostly known for the twin lions guarding the building which a lot of tourists take a picture of and with.
Another remarkable spot inside the building is the Rose Main Reading Room so might as well check this specific area for an amazing photo moment.
Best of all, you can book a free one-hour guided tour of the New York Public Library. It’s a great way to have a nosey inside and totally amazing.
11.) Empire State Building
Built back in 1931, the Empire State Building still stands to this day as a symbol of innovation and ambition in America and of Americans. It’s a sight that’s known the world over and one of the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan for views.
You see, this viewpoint towers over Manhattan and is easily one of the most famous viewing platforms in the United States.
Make sure to book these skip-the-line Empire State tickets and seize the opportunity to ride the elevator going to the deck near the top. It’s totally stunning and well worth visiting.
12.) Highline and Vessel
Perched overlooking the city, the Highline is a great way to follow if you’re walking up the west side of Midtown Manhattan.
It follows the old rail that once followed this route and is a great way to see New York from a completely different perspective.
Best of all, the walk can be as long or as short as you like. There are plenty of access points, making it easy for most abilities.
Oh, and don’t forget to spot the Vessel once you get to Hudson Yards. Although currently closed to enter, it’s well worth seeing this unique installation.
13.) Bryant Park
If you want to stay away from the crowd and the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhatten, be sure to head to the small (but lovely Bryant Park.
In the summer, Bryant Park holds outside concerts and movie screenings, and when winter comes, people can ice skate and shop for the holidays in the area, too. It’s always got something going on.
Another good thing about this park is that it is located next to the New York Public Library. So, before going to the library, you can spend some time here chilling.