This was my second time in New York with friends. Follow along for the spots you can’t miss in the city that never sleeps and tips on where to eat.
This time around, we spent our entire stay exploring Manhattan. As you might remember from my previous visit, NYC is such a big city you need at least a week to scratch the surface.
Find below the new locations I discovered this weekend.
What to see in Manhattan
Grand Central Terminal
Our weekend sightseeing began at Grand Central Terminal. This busy commuter rail terminal located in Midtown Manhattan is one of the busiest in North America, with over 500,000 daily passengers. Built in 1903, its Beaux-Arts design inspired by the Paris Opera stands out together with the famous lobby and main staircase. In case you have a sweet craving, check out Magnolia Bakery (see below ‘Where to eat in New York’).
Very close to Grand Central Terminal, on Lexington Avenue, lies the iconic Chrysler Building. Personally, I found it one of the most beautiful skyscrapers in New York. With its distinctive stainless steel needle and Art Déco–style, the building was constructed by Walter Chrysler, the head of the Chrysler Corporation, and served as the corporation’s headquarters from 1930 until the mid-1950s.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue with East 42nd St. This elegant building houses millions of books and is actually the second library in the United States after the Library of Congress. Besides its large lobby featuring marble stairs, the main reading room is a must.
Next to the library is Bryant Park, a green space surrounded by skyscrapers. During the summer, make sure to check out the famous Bryant Park Movie Nights!
Empire State Building
Going down Fifth Avenue we passed by the Empire State Building, one of the tallest and most impressive skyscrapers in New York. After its meteoric construction in just two years, it opened in 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression. At first it was so difficult to rent its offices that it was nicknamed the Empty State Building. Its observatory attracts millions of tourists, so make sure to buy your tickets well in advance!
Walking down Fifth Avenue, we reached the Flatiron Building, another iconic building in NYC whose name derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. This triangular 22-story steel-framed landmarked building was one of the tallest buildings in the city upon its 1902 completion.
Considered one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world, Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare in Manhattan housing exclusive hotels, shops and museums.
Laying on Fifth Avenue, St Patrick’s Cathedral is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and its construction was completed in 1906. The building is completely surrounded by skyscrapers and is also currently under construction. It can accommodate up to 2,500 people.
Located between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan, Central Park is probably the most famous urban park in New York and a true oasis in the middle of the city. On the east side of Central Park (known as the Upper East Side), you will find two of New York’s most important museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art (nicknamed “Met”) and the Guggenheim Museum.
Even though I disliked Times Square the first time I visited last month, I came here again with my cousin who was also in town. We checked out the massive M&Ms store on Broadway and had pizza nearby (see below ‘Where to eat in New York’).
Home to immigrants from southern Italy in the late 19th century, the Little Italy neighborhood has lost a lot of territory to neighboring Chinatown. Its population of Italian descent has shrunk to around 5,000 people nowadays. The most authentic vibes and restaurants are concentrated around Mulberry and Hester streets.
Deriving its nickname from ‘South of Houston Street’, this former industrial neighborhood has turned into a modern area full of cafes, boutiques, elegant designer shops and lofts housing art galleries. The main feature of the neighborhood is its cast iron architecture, making it the highest concentration in the world. For the real SoHo, explore Greene St and some of its most significant buildings such as the Singer Building, The King and The Queen.
Also located in the Lower Manhattan area, Chinatown is New York’s largest and most colorful ethnic neighborhood. Today, more than 200,000 Chinese reside here, and the shops and sidewalks teem with exotic foods and herbs.
Exploring Chinatown is like fully immersing yourself in Asia.
You will find signs written in Mandarin and buildings with oriental details. The original streets of the Chinese settlement in the neighborhood are Mott, Pell, Bayard and Canal.
Where to eat in New York
These are the spots I ate at during my second round in NYC:
- Magnolia Bakery: located in the Lower Dining Concourse at Grand Central Terminal, I bought something sweet for breakfast on Saturday morning. It was delicious and right what I needed to kick off my day!
- Miss Favela: we had such a fun time at this Brazilian restaurant next to the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. Expect authentic Brazilian cuisine (mandioca frita com queijo, bolinho de bacalhau or grilled meat) as well as live music and dancing clients!
- Famous Original Ray’s Pizza: conveniently located a few steps from bustling Times Square, this branch of Ray’s has been in business since 1964 and includes eight locations around Manhattan. Together with my cousin, we had a few decent slices of pizza here.
- Deluxe Green Bo: we had a good lunch at this Chinese restaurant (you guessed it, in Chinatown of course).
- Transportation from Washington DC to New York: this time around we tried the Greyhound Peter Pan bus company instead of Megabus. Unfortunately, our experience was worse than the previous time I visited New York, since we were stuck in a traffic jam for quite a long time.
- Accommodation: during our weekend visit, we stayed at an Airbnb near Flushing Ave (in Brooklyn).
What other spots do you recommend for my next trip to New York? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below!