Weekend in New York – INSIDER GUIDE (January 2020)

Our guide to the BEST weekend in New York will show you all of the hidden gem’s New York has to offer so you can make the most of every day!

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It’s a good thing New York is the city that never sleeps because you’ll need the extra time to fit everything in! There is literally an endless list of incredible shows, hidden gems and iconic landmarks that have been gracing our movie screens for decades.

Whether you’re looking for an idyllic experience ice-skating in Central Park or a bona fide rave, we’ve compiled a jam-packed list of the best things to do in NYC this weekend.

Get packed, get pumped and head on a weekend adventure in a city known for being a dream destination!.

 

Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in New York

If you’re looking for a whirlwind weekend trip packed with activities or much-needed time out, NYC is the dream vacation spot. Whether you’re planning to chill in lush parks with a picnic or hit the pavement every day searching for the most underrated spots in New York, this is the city for you!

Weekend in New York

Welcome to our Weekend in New York Guide!

 

Know Where to Stay in New York

New York is famously known for its five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island), each with a unique atmosphere and fantastic attractions. While New York does have a top-notch subway system, it’s a good idea to remain central and find NYC accommodation close to the things you’re planning to do!

Most of central Manhattan is laid out well with Fifth Avenue as its equator and the main streets labelled for easy exploration. Midtown Manhattan is one of the best NYC areas to stay in because it’s nearby to so many NYC haunts and landmarks, as well a sprinkle of iconic New York skyscrapers.

The best place to stay for easy access to bars and eateries is Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This hipster paradise is a New York staple and home to a myriad of coffee shops, bistros and bars. With everything from pub grub to NYC’s finest cuisine, Williamsburg is the go-to stop for foodies.

We could go on about all the fantastic areas to stay in, but we’ll finish it off with the unassuming Meatpacking District, the perfect place for anyone interested in high-end wine bars and fashion. With household names lining its cobblestone streets and Chelsea Market nearby, as well as the amazing High Line, this fantastic New York area hits the sweet spot.

 

Our Favorite Hostel – American Dream Hostel

American Dream Hostel, New York

American Dream Hostel is our favorite hostel in New York!

  • Delicious breakfast served between 7 am and 11 am every morning.
  • Has a wonderful chilled atmosphere.

With a prime spot in lower Manhattan, this classic and comfortable hostel makes for the perfect NYC accommodation. Situated near the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park and a subway station for easy access to the rest of NYC, the American Dream Hostel checks all the boxes.

Check on Hostelworld

 

Our Favorite Budget Hotel – Hotel Mimosa

Hotel Mimosa, New York

Hotel Mimosa is our favorite budget hotel in New York!

  • Tasty Coco Bubble Tea is offered on-site.
  • The hotel is close to Madison Square Garden, Time’s Square and the Met.

This lovely gem in the middle of Chinatown makes for the perfect home-away-from-home. With a fantastic central location near the famous Brooklyn Bridge and just a stone’s throw from Little Italy, this welcoming hotel with an amazing view of the New York skyline is a perfect choice!

Check on Booking.com    Check on HotelsCombined

 

Our Favorite Splurge Hotel – The Peninsula New York

The Peninsula, New York

The Peninsula is our favorite Splurge Hotel in New York!

  • There is a curated art exhibition celebrating prominent artists throughout the hotel.
  • Enjoy delicious cuisine at the hotel’s on-site restaurant and rooftop bar.

Feel incredibly swanky at this first-class hotel in Midtown Manhattan. With a rooftop terrace as well as an incredible spa with an indoor pool, the hotel promises a luxurious experience. The Peninsula is nearby to Central Park, The Rockefeller Center and the Museum of Modern Art.

Check on Booking.com    Check on HotelsCombined

 

Know How to Get Around in New York

You could jump into a classic yellow taxi which is a well-trusted mode of transport! Being the most populated city in the world, NYC is also accessible by alternative taxis such as Uber and Lyft.

The public bus is also a good option, especially if you’re trying to get between the five boroughs. If you’re a first-time visitor, it’s a good idea to get a map of the bus routes!

One of the most well-known modes of transport is the New York Subway, which operates 24 hours a day. Check out one of the maps in the station to avoid any mishaps (although that’s all part of the New York experience)!

You can also try out one of the water taxis where you can travel via the city’s waterways. You can also cycle around the city streets and rental passes can be bought from the Citi Bike app or from one of the kiosks.

You can also make use of the super-touristy Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, which is perfect for sightseeing and getting your bearings in a new city. Finally, pop on your walking shoes and head out into the concrete jungle just like a true New Yorker.

 

New York Nightlife Guide

New York nightlife

New York has some amazing nightlife options!

 

If you’re looking for an unforgettable weekend in New York, check out our list of fun things to do in NYC this weekend. Between old school Jazz or modern urban hangouts, New York comes alive at night, so don’t miss your chance to join in!

 

Gotham City Lounge

  • Enjoy signature themed drinks like the Green Lantern.
  • Home to an amazing range of superhero collector’s items.
  • Take some ‘instagram-able’ pictures in front of their life-sized mural.

This slightly off-kilter pool bar is an underrated New York feature! Tucked beneath the tracks of the elevated M train, lies the Gotham City Lounge.

If you’re a comic book fan or even just looking for an eclectic NYC spot, you’ll find chilled vibes and next-level superhero memorabilia at this quirky dive bar. Keep an eye peeled for the bat signal aka a giant Batman mural outside and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Enjoy an animated night at one of New York’s most unique bars!

 

Chelsea Music Hall

  • Join in an old school swing dance session.
  • The uber-popular Mizon restaurant handles the music hall’s cuisine.
  • It combines old school with a mix of modern sounds to create a unique experience.

In the basement of the unmissable Chelsea Market is its underground music hall. Filled with smooth Jazz, gut-busting comedy nights with groups like The Juice, and fantastic musical performances, the Chelsea Music Hall has something for everyone!

You can also keep a lookout for the nights when a bona fide orchestra comes to play at the music hall. Join in the unbelievable Soul in the Horn, a weekly dance party and musical showcase, all to the sound of a horn-infused musical performance!

For a truly vibrant experience of New York’s music scene, head to the incredible Chelsea Music Hall!

 

Staten Island Ferry

  • Enjoy the fun atmosphere of a nighttime ferry ride.
  • Head for Roller Jam USA where you can skate the night away on Staten Island.
  • Perfect for For a unique view of the New York skyline.

If you’re searching for amazing things to do in NYC tonight, take a ride on New York City’s best ‘free bar’! Bring your drinks and snacks as you take a moonlit sail on the Staten Island Ferry.

With a stunning view of the lower Manhattan skyline all in lights, a nighttime ride on the ferry is a truly memorable experience! Head for the back of the ferry for the best view as it sets sail onto the Hudson River. You can see the incredible Statue of Liberty with her torch held high, the historic Ellis Island and Brooklyn Bridge with its garland of lights!

After your ferry ride, why not explore Staten Island for a while (but don’t forget to catch the ferry back before it closes for the night).

The Best Travel Backpack?!

Pssssst! Not picked the perfect travel backpack yet? The Broke Backpacker team has tried out over thirty backpacks this year! Our favourite carry on backpack is the Nomatic Travel Bag.

Read our full review!

 

New York Food Guide

New York Food

New York has a delicious food scene!

 

Give your tastebuds the New York experience at some of the best eateries in the city. With everything from next-level ice creams to picnics in the park, New York has some excellent grub!

 

Milk and Cream Cereal Bar

  • Enjoy some truly unique cones with multicolored designs.
  • This is the perfect place for a photo op with its simple and retro interior.
  • You can even grab a bowl of cereal (with some toppings and drizzles thrown in there).

Bring your favorite cereals to new life with modern twists and some incredible combinations!

At the Milk and Cream Cereal Bar, you’re invited to “treat yo’self” with every Froot Loop-topped ice cream creation. Enjoy any cereal from Apple Jacks to Frosted Flakes, which you can combine with some epic toppings.

Milk and Cream also offers some incredible signature ‘dishes’ including the Cookie Crisp Carnival (with everything from Oreos to cookie dough) or the P-Nut Jelly Crumble, a twist on the classic PB&J, just with Reese’s Pieces and Puffs!

Make this your stop for a sweet treat of the day, or even breakfast, this is New York after all!

 

Frankel’s Delicatessen

  • Enjoy a taste of home-cooked food at this New York staple.
  • Grab your food and then visit McCarren park for a picnic.
  • Don’t forget to try the oh-so-delicious latkes with their crunchy interior and creamy inside.

Head out for lunch at this classic, family-owned restaurant in Williamsburg!

Frankel’s chef has dug out some favorites from the family recipe box and added a twist to some traditional Jewish dishes. The Frankel brothers keep it simple with their tasty menu and decor, which is fresh and nostalgic.

With everything from the beefy hot pastrami sandwich or braised brisket, to homemade matzo ball soup, Frankel’s serves up some feel-good dishes.

 

Joe’s Pizza

  • The restaurant is run by the original Joe Pozzuoli himself!
  • According to trusted sources, the sauce is what makes Joe’s pizzas so delicious.
  • Joe’s pizza has been listed in Time Out and GQ as one of the best on earth.

It would be almost criminal to visit NYC and not have a slice of true-blue New York pizza!

This Greenwich Village institution serves up some tried and true (and unbelievably tasty) pizza! You can keep it simple with a margarita or go all out with a Sicilian Square.

Whether you’re grabbing a slice to eat and walk as you explore the city, or heading there for a late-night dinner, it’s the perfect spot for a taste of New York.

 

Sporting Events in New York

New York sports

New York has some really cool experiences for sports lovers!

 

For any sports fans looking for NYC events this weekend, the city always has something going on. From league giants like the New York Mets to the US Open, there’s something for the hardcore sports lovers to the budding enthusiast!

 

Catch a Knicks Game

  • The team has hosted famous players like Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson.
  • New York is home to 2 NBA teams, including the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.
  • The Knicks have become a long-standing New York sporting institution.

If you’re a basketball fan (or a keen visitor), you have to watch a Knicks game when you’re in NYC. The team usually has games from October through to June, as long as they make it to the playoffs. All home games are played at the incredible Madison Square garden where you can see the team in action!

 

Watch a Baseball Game

  • You can take a tour around the impressive Yankee Stadium.
  • Famous Yankees players include Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio, while the Mets had well-known players like Mike Piazza and Dwight Gooden.
  • The Yankees’ old mascot, Dandy, was created from the classic folk song, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Enjoy a taste of one of the USA’s great pastimes – a game of baseball. New York City is home to two national league baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets. If you’re not from the USA, brush up on your baseball rules and then head down to the stadium for a unique sporting experience!

 

Take in a New York Ice Hockey Match

  • Ice hockey season is between October and April.
  • The Rangers play home games in Madison Square Garden.
  • Prominent players include Wayne Gretzky and Brian Leetch.

You don’t often get to see an action-packed ice hockey game if you’re not from the USA, so take advantage of being in NYC and head to a New York Ranger’s game. As one of the ‘Original Six’ teams who competed in the National Hockey League, the Rangers have a long-standing reputation!

Gardens Neighborhood, Cape Town

You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.

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Weekend Cultural Entertainment in New York – Music/Concerts/Theatre

New York entertainment

There are plenty of shows and events in New York!

 

New York will never be short on incredible shows to watch or music to listen to, but we’ve compiled some of the best options on offer if you’re wondering what’s happening in NYC this weekend!

 

The Punderdome

  • Enjoy a unique form of comedy where puns are an art form.
  • The Firestone comedian duo runs the show!
  • The Punderdome has become a favorite at the Littlefield Theatre.

If you’re looking for a beyond hilarious and, at times, cringe-worthy show, head for the Punderdome! Led by the suitably hilarious ‘alleged’ father-daughter duo, this beloved competition incites participants to bring their best pun game in a battle of wits!

The first individuals or teams to sign up at the door enter a pun-off to end all pun-offs as they go through 3 hours of competitive pun-making, which is judged by a human clap-o-meter until 2 winners remain.

This monthly competition takes place between May and September each year and is unmissable on a visit to NYC!

 

Watch a Broadway Show

  • You can find some incredible adaptations of famous movies including The Lion King, Frozen or King Kong.
  • You could see some big names from films doing a Broadway show.
  • Broadway shows can sell out very quickly so try and book in advance for shows in NYC this weekend.

One of the all-time best things to do tonight in NYC is enjoying an incredible show on Broadway!

This iconic theatre lane in Midtown Manhattan has become a New York stalwart and is known the world over as a place where incredible music and theatre is made. The majority of Broadway shows are musicals with some of the most recent favorites being Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.

You can even choose to get tickets to the avant-guard Off-Broadway or the truly non-traditional Off-Off-Broadway. Whether you’re heading for a long-running Broadway classic or something more edgy and intimate, catching some New York theatre definitely belongs on your NYC itinerary!

 

Brooklyn Bowl

  • It has an amazing history of performers including Elvis Costello, The Roots and Guns ‘N Roses.
  • Enjoy Family Bowl on Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm.
  • Delicious gourmet to classic bowling alley food is served up by Blue Ribbon.

Head to Williamsburg for a night out at the Brooklyn Bowl! With the winning combination as a vibrant music venue, restaurant and bowling alley, you get it all at the Bowl – one of the best things to do in Brooklyn this weekend!

Feel like a kid again at the 16-lane bowling alley alongside its giant dancefloor! The Brooklyn Bowl’s high-tech green construction and fantastic musical acts including the likes of Pk.Kid on 100% vinyl or Spinback Saturday featuring pumping Top 40 mash-ups.

With everything from themed tribute nights, original DJ mixes and live bands, the Brooklyn Bowl meets all your music needs!

 

9 Other Awesome Things to do in New York This Weekend

Make the most of your weekend in New York as you find the best in art, shopping and sightseeing! With an unending list of fun things to do, NYC is your oyster!

 

#1 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This museum hosts a huge collection of American art!

 

The stunning Metropolitan Museum of Art sits on the iconic Museum Mile, and is home to a permanent collection of over 2 million artworks. Incredible works from antiquities and prominent European styles sit alongside a huge collection of American and modern art! The Met’s collection also extends to the Cloisters, which is the home to art and artifacts from Medieval Europe, while the Met Bauer is where you’ll find some incredible collections of musical instruments, traditional dress and weapons from across the globe!

 

#2 – Central Park

Central Park

Stroll around this urban park in Manhattan!

 

Like a scene from a movie, Central Park awaits with its ice-skating rink turned fun park in the summer, an iconic fountain or incredible lake with tiny rowboats gliding along. The designated national historical landmark is the most visited urban park in the USA and, unsurprisingly, is known as one of the most filmed in locations in the world. Get lost in this all-season New York location on a Hidden Secrets tour or make the most of its gorgeous landscape with a photo tour!

 

#3- New York in Miniature

New York in Miniature

Want to see the city from the highest point? | image source: OptimumPx (Wikicommons)

 

Head to the Queens Museum of Art for a look at the Panorama of the City of New York, the world’s largest architectural model. Get a birds-eye-view of New York in the form of 830 000 tiny buildings as the city opens itself up to you in miniature. Visit all 5 boroughs in one day at this incredible historical attraction!

 

#4- Chelsea Market

This all-in-one food hall and shopping market makes for the perfect day out in New York! Beneath a collection of major media companies, including YouTube, lies a unique combination of traditional farmer’s market and hipster foodie paradise. Pick yourself up anything from classic artisan bread to personalized baskets this the Chelsea Market.

 

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American Dream Hostel
American Dream Hostel is a great family run place in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park district – a great central location!
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#5 -International Centre of Photography

Explore the world of image-making at the ICP, which is dedicated to preserving the legacy of concerned photography. Make your way through exhibits featuring photographs that have had a social or political impact on the world, as you learn about the community of artists, photographers and scholars the ICP has created. Experience the legacy and future of photography through the incredible dynamic exhibitions!

 

#6- Times Square

Times Square

This iconic New York street is a must.

 

Don’t miss this iconic New York attraction off your list! Take a Hop-On-Hop-Off sightseeing tour, and jump off at the vibrant and neon-infused Times Square. You can visit the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, where you can get up-close with the digital habitats of some amazing marine life. Then take a trip around the world (in miniature) at Gulliver’s Gate – a replica of landmarks from across the globe! If you stick around til midnight, you’ll see the billboards put on a stunning digital show in perfect synchronization.

 

#7- Museum of Illusions

Experience an unforgettable trick of the senses at the New York Museum of Illusions! Prepare to be amazed as you make your way through mind-bending illusions, holograms and installations. Like a lucky packet of photo opportunities, this collection of fantastic exhibits will have you in awe. The Rotated Room is definitely one for the books, which gives you a different view of the world as you pose in this topsy-turvy room!

 

#8- TV Show Taping

Wondering what to do in NYC this weekend? New York is the home to a plethora of late-night hosts so why not get tickets to one of their tapings! Most tapings are free and you can try to book a reservation online, or just rock up and see if there’s a space. Getting a ticket to the monologue rehearsal can also be an awesome experience. Get an inside look at some of the wittiest and most popular talk shows in NYC!

 

#9- Top of the Rock Observation Deck

Rock Observation Deck

Ready for an elevated NYC experience?

 

Get a unique look at the city from the ultimate vantage point on top of the Rockefeller Center! Take in the skyscrapers and landmarks of the skyline in NYC this weekend. Head up to one of the three unforgettable observation decks, including the Radiance Wall on Level 1 or the 70th-floor open-air deck for the perfect photo op!

Don’t forget to pack a good book!

New York: The Novel: This is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

 

New York Weekend Travel FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions if you’re visiting New York this weekend!

New York Weekend Travel FAQs

Read our New York Weekend Travel FAQs for more tips and advice!

 

#1. What should I pack for a weekend in New York?

  • New York follows the seasons like a champ so pack for the weather you’re going to get. In winter, you’ll be needing a super warm coat and shoes, as well as enough clothes to layer for the weekend.
  • In summer, it gets exceedingly warm so dress lightly and have enough clothes to change if you need to, and don’t forget to pack your sunglasses! It’s also a great idea to bring a blanket or towel with you for any picnics you might have.
  • In general, you’ll always need a pair of excellent walking shoes and an umbrella on the off chance you get caught in the rain!

 

#2. Can I get an apartment in New York for the weekend?

NYC is one of those places where accommodation is no problem, but it’s important to try and book in advance because of how popular the city is. From bachelor flats to palatial apartments, you can take your pick for a weekend away. Besides conventional booking sites, there’s also AirBnB where you can find some great options that won’t break the bank!

 

#3. Is New York safe for a weekend trip?

New York is considered to be one of the safest large metropoles in the USA with crime rates lower than the national average! However, petty theft and pick-pocketing does occur. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially on crowded midtown streets and packed subways. Try not to carry too much cash with you and be aware of your surroundings

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for travelers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in New York

Whether you’re heading on a 4-day NYC holiday or a weekend getaway to New York City, just jump right in! As one of the most visited cities in the world, NYC has so much to offer. It’s the home of incredible street art, museums galore and incredible cityscape that will have you snapping pics left and right! Whether you’re looking for a laid-back getaway or a jam-packed NYC experience, you’ll never run out of things to do in New York this weekend!

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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Our guide to the BEST weekend in New York will show you all of the hidden gem’s New York has to offer so you can make the most of every day!

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