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Two days in New York, what to see?

My wife and I only have two days in New York and for one of those I may be jet lagged!  What are some good places to visit?  Preferably near each other so we can get around quickly using public transport.

We'd like to fit in Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty and possibly Central Park.  Having said that, we don't want to join cliche tourist trails, we'd love to mix in some off-the-beaten-track destinations :)

12 Answers

answered by
Kaydee from Brooklyn

For two days I'd start Day 1 at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art then walk into Central Park to see Belvedere Castle, walk by The Great Lawn and get a drink at The Loeb Boathouse Central Park then walk down The Mall til you exit the Park.  For a good view you can go to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center and then walk over to  Grand Central Terminal to see the main terminal. You can get a classy drink here at The Campbell Apartment and steak at Wolfgang's Steakhouse. Aside from Top of the Rock, these are all places locals go too.

Day 2 you could start at Staten Island Ferry in Manhattan and ride it for free to see the Statue of Liberty (not sure it's worth the time to go to the actual statue of liberty.  Then head to the 9/11 Memorial Museum (make reservations in advance.) After that I would get out of this neighborhood (nothing special) and check out other spots. You could go to the Meatpacking District and walk around this hip neighborhood. The Standard Grill and its biergarten are a solid spot for a meal and/or drinks. In this neighborhood you can also walk High Line Park - an old above ground railroad converted to a park.  For more walking check out cute shops, streets and cafes in the West Village and Nolita. I'd recommend John's Pizzeria or Lombardi's Pizza for authentic NY pizza pies. Or if you just want a slice try Joe's Pizza  My favorite bars in these neighborhoods are Wilfie & Nell in the West Village and Tom and Jerry's in Nolita. For food there's August in the West Village and La Esquina in Nolita.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  2. Belvedere Castle (attraction)
  3. The Great Lawn (attraction)
  4. The Loeb Boathouse Central Park (restaurant)
  5. Top of the Rock (attraction)
  6. Rockefeller Center (attraction)
  7. Grand Central Terminal (attraction)
  8. The Campbell Apartment (attraction)
  9. Wolfgang's Steakhouse (restaurant)
  10. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
  11. 9/11 Memorial Museum (attraction)
  12. Meatpacking District (neighborhood)
  13. The Standard Grill (restaurant)
  14. High Line Park (attraction)
  15. John's Pizzeria (restaurant)
  16. Lombardi's Pizza (restaurant)
  17. Joe's Pizza (restaurant)
  18. Wilfie & Nell (restaurant)
  19. Tom and Jerry's (attraction)
  20. August (restaurant)
  21. La Esquina (restaurant)
6 thanks

answered first by
Drew from Dallas

Andrew, glad you and your wife are able to come visit such an incredible city such as New York City. I would highly recommend visiting  Ground Zero it is an incredible memorial that truly memorializes the tragedy of 9/11. Visiting  Central Park and the  Statue of Liberty are also great options, but the Statue of Liberty is currently open this week (Oct. 13 -18) as it is being funded by NYC. It is considered a National Park and it could be closed at any time by the Federal Government due to the shutdown plaguing the country. Please check their website to be sure it is accessible during your visit. If you need an alternative attraction check out the  Empire State Building for an amazing view overlooking NYC. 

As for some places to eat in NYC there are so many options you cannot go wrong. My favorite place to grab a burger is a restaurant called  PJ Clarke's every time I'm in NYC I make it a mission to grab a burger here. While you are visiting Central Park, go grab a bite to eat at  Sarabeth's Restaurant. This is a great brunch spot and they have an excellent Cobb Salad. 

It is hard to do NYC in two days, but those are things I would try to knock out if all I had were two days. 

Hope you and your wife have an awesome time there. Try to grab a show in  Times Square Wicked or The Lion King are two great shows that are currently playing on Broadway! You can check out show times and purchase tickets on their website.


Drew J.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ground Zero (attraction)
  2. Central Park (attraction)
  3. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  4. Empire State Building (attraction)
  5. PJ Clarke's (restaurant)
  6. Sarabeth's Restaurant (restaurant)
  7. Times Square (metro area)
5 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Erika from Bethlehem (Pennsylvania)

I’m not sure where you are planning to stay, but given what you definitely want to do (GZ, SL, CP) I recommend splitting your days between Downtown and Uptown or East and West so you can see everything NYC has to offer most efficiently, and without falling asleep on the subway :)  And a note on your “must-see” spots – be sure to reserve the Ground Zero and Statue of Liberty tickets in advance.  This step is required, otherwise you will not be able to explore these sites.  

While you are near Ground Zero, stop by St. Paul's Chapel and Trinity Church.  They were often photographed on that somber day, as many people took refuge there.  

I also suggest walking to Wall Street to see the New York Stock ExchangeFederal Hall National Memorial, and the Federal Reserve building.  Lots of history here.   Big Onion Walking Tours has a great tour of this area.  Check out is website for details on this tour.  (Side note:  Big Onion tours also offer interesting looks at other neighborhoods.)  If you are spending lots of time here, stop in for a snack and a beer at Fraunces Tavern, whose building has roots dating back to the Revolutionary War. 

Further afield but still downtown, the Lower East Side (LES) is an off-the-beaten-tourist-track neighborhood (for now anyways) that is easily reached by subway from Battery Park (SoL) or Ground Zero. It’s a bit more gritty than its western neighbor, Soho, but has even more local flavor.  If you like museums, the Tenement Museum provides a look at immigrant life at the turn of the century.  (The museum is a good accompaniment to Ellis Island if you end up stopping there during your Statue of Liberty visit.)  Also on the Lower East Side is the New Museum for contemporary art.  Food options are abundant as well.  Katz's Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters  are LES staples offering some traditional New York dishes.  Move west into SoHo for some boutique shopping.  

If you like live music then stick around this neighborhood into the evening and see who's playing at  The Bowery Ballroom, an intimate venue with a selection of up and coming bands.  

Another option is to go West, and take the subway from Ground Zero or Battery Park up to Chelsea.  Chelsea is home to the High Line Park, the former elevated train line that brought meat from midtown down to, you guessed it, the meatpacking district.  It’s been renovated to a garden, and has lots of food options and even a wine bar.  You can walk from Chelsea south to the Meatpacking District where you can wander through the off-the-grid streets into the West Village.  All of these neighborhoods are less touristy with lots of options for shopping, eating, and drinking.  Consider  Chelsea Market for a snack if you're hungry.  

If you enjoy live entertainment in the evening then stop by The  Duplex in the West Village for a variety of colorful options.

Like beer as much as I do?  Then take the subway straight to  Brooklyn Brewery for a tour and a taste (or two!).  

While you are uptown in Central Park, wonder up to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir or a bit more peace and quiet, and don’t forget to stop by the The Central Park Boathouse to rent a paddleboat so you can wave to all those tourists by the Bethesda Fountain.  If you plan to visit the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is on the eastern edge of Central Park, I recommend that you finish on the rooftop bar (summer months only).  It’s a beautiful view of the Park you just wondering through, and not many tourists are aware of it!

If you want to see the New York skyline, and don’t mind a bit of touristy in your schedule, then book a visit to the Top of the Rock.  It’s an alternative to waiting in that horrifically long line at the Empire State Building, and you get to bring home a picture of the iconic building!

I can keep going on and on, especially when it comes to food and drink, so if you would like some more recommendations just let me know what you like/dislike and I'll fill in some blanks.   

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ground Zero (attraction)
  2. St. Paul's Chapel (attraction)
  3. Wall Street (attraction)
  4. New York Stock Exchange (attraction)
  5. Federal Hall National Memorial (attraction)
  6. Big Onion Walking Tours (attraction)
  7. Fraunces Tavern (attraction)
  8. Lower East Side (attraction)
  9. Tenement Museum (attraction)
  10. New Museum (attraction)
  11. Katz's Delicatessen (restaurant)
  12. Russ & Daughters (restaurant)
  13. SoHo (neighborhood)
  14. The Bowery Ballroom (attraction)
  15. High Line Park (attraction)
  16. Chelsea Market (attraction)
  17. Duplex (attraction)
  18. Brooklyn Brewery (restaurant)
  19. Central Park (attraction)
  20. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (attraction)
  21. The Central Park Boathouse (restaurant)
  22. Bethesda Fountain (attraction)
  23. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  24. Top of the Rock (attraction)
4 thankscomments (3)

answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

Since you have two days, I'd dedicate one to walking around downtown and one to uptown. While the iconic sites are well-known for a reason, walking gives you the best feel for the city and how the different neighborhoods fit together.  Hopefully the weather is nice for you!

I'd do Central Park the first day. If you or your wife are interested in art in the least, I'd also recommend a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  (Keep in mind the admission price is a suggestion - any small donation gets you in.)  From here, you could go north to Harlem or south to Midtown.

The second day, I'd start with a 9:00 AM visit to the Statue of Liberty, then do Ground Zero.  Afterwards, I'd walk north, through Chinatown, Little Italy and Soho.  If the first two don't interest you, take the train up to SoHo instead and then visit Greenwich Village, but if they do, I find the most interesting part of Chinatown New York is below Canal (Bayard, Mott, and Pell Streets).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central Park (attraction)
  2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  3. Harlem (neighborhood)
  4. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  5. Ground Zero (attraction)
  6. Little Italy (attraction)
  7. SoHo (neighborhood)
  8. Greenwich Village (neighborhood)
  9. Chinatown New York (neighborhood)
4 thanks

answered by

If you're willing to visit Brooklyn, check out the The Bushwick Collective Five Pointz at the Jefferson St L train station. Every wall in the area is covered with murals by street artists from around the world. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around too, including  Roberta's which is a short walk through even more street art in post-industrial East Williamsburg.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Bushwick Collective (attraction)
  2. Roberta's (restaurant)
3 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Frances from Atlanta

You should definitely visit Strawberry Fields in Central Park. Never pass up the opportunity to visit the famous Strand Books.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Strawberry Fields (attraction)
  2. Central Park (attraction)
  3. Strand Books (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Johanna (TravelEater) from Canada

Lots of great advice here already for your short visit. It really depends, of course, on your interests!  

You might find it useful to scan my list of NYC recommendations - I've bold/underlined what I always go back to each visit (plus there are lots of restaurant recommendations, by neighbourhood, so you can avoid eating in a tourist trap).

For a 2 day visit, I would:

- walk the  Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan

- stroll around  Central Park and visit the  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

- visit  Union Square Park in the late afternoon / early evening to people watch, then head to  Union Square Cafe for dinner (or lunch at the bar if I can't get a reservation) 

- visit the lions (just statues, but sometimes dressed in scarves, top hats or Yankees caps) outside the main branch of the  New York Public Library and check out the free exhibit inside (always changing, almost always wonderful), plus gaze at the ceiling in the reading room 

- wander one or two neighbourhoods, such as the  East Village or the  Meatpacking District

- check if Smorgasburg is running in  Williamsburg on the Brooklyn side for a fantastic food cart feast

- if it was my first time in NYC, I'd stop in  Times Square for a 5 minute "yikes, this is packed!" gawk

- if you're keen to see the Statue of Liberty, just cruise by on the (free!)  Staten Island Ferry

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brooklyn Bridge (attraction)
  2. Central Park (attraction)
  3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (attraction)
  4. Union Square Park (attraction)
  5. Union Square Cafe (restaurant)
  6. New York Public Library (attraction)
  7. East Village (neighborhood)
  8. Meatpacking District (neighborhood)
  9. Williamsburg (neighborhood)
  10. Times Square (metro area)
  11. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  12. Staten Island Ferry (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Annemarie from New York City

Two days isn't a lot of time here, but if you're looking for some sites that are in the middle of it all, so you don't have to waste time commuting, I want to recommend visiting High Line Park, an elevated park on the west side of Union Square Park. If you get hungry, there's excellent snacking shops below the park at Chelsea Market, but it gets packed during daytime hours.

Or, save your appetite and walk around St. Mark's Place, a strip in the east village with a variety of interesting food shops like Mamoun's Falafel, delicious chocolate egg creams at Gem Spa, the infamous noodle dishes at Xi'an Famous Foods, deep fried hot dogs at Crif Dogs, and spicy noodles at Ramen Setagaya. This area is also considered the birthplace of New York punk, so you'll see some historical grungy remnants mixed in with chic lunch-goers from Billboard, J Crew and Aol, whose headquarters all call the same block home. It's a great space for sightseeing. Grab a hot chocolate from Bluebird Coffee Shop and enjoy the view.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. High Line Park (attraction)
  2. Union Square Park (attraction)
  3. Chelsea Market (attraction)
  4. St. Mark's Place (attraction)
  5. Mamoun's Falafel (restaurant)
  6. Gem Spa (attraction)
  7. Xi'an Famous Foods (restaurant)
  8. Crif Dogs (restaurant)
  9. Ramen Setagaya (restaurant)
  10. Bluebird Coffee Shop (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
Courtney from Los Angeles

I highly agree with the above suggestion of Bemelman's--it's a true New York classic and if you go on a Monday night you can catch Woody Allen playing at the  Cafe Carlyle in the same hotel. Not cheap, but a lot of fun. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cafe Carlyle (attraction)
2 thanks

top answer by
katie from Brooklyn

I think a good way to get a mix of tourist and non-tourist activities is to mix in some lesser known (or even just classics that have good food) restaurants and bars with the traditional landmarks and museums.

Something that is very New York, but that not a lot of tourists take part of, are the smaller speakeasy type bars. Attaboy and the Back Room are two that come to mind and could be fit in after visiting Ground Zero.


The Dark Room

Also near Ground Zero is a place called NY Vintners which holds wine pairing dinners that can be really fun.

New York Vintners

A traditional steakhouse is always a nice addition to a NY visit. My favorite is Keen's for very old-school NY but Quality Meats has an amazing menu and a younger vibe.

Quality Meats

Keens Steakhouse

And a martini at a classic bar would be a nice touch, maybe after Central Park. Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle has live music and a fantastic martini. 21 Club is another of my favorites.

'21' Club

Bemelmans Bar

Something else really unique and special, if you dont have the time or means for a full tasting experience, is the dessert tasting at Per Se. It's $60/person and a TON of courses. Plus the service makes the experience so special. It's a great location if you'd like to check out Columbus Circle or Lincoln Center.

Per Se

And my favorite activity to take friends when they visit is a show at Upright Citizens Brigade. It is a small, hole in the wall type improv comedy club and the shows are always so fantastic. The late night ones I find to be the best, but they all have their own fun spin.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

One more place to stop by is Eataly. It's a fantastic large Italian market that has amazing food and a rooftop beer garden.


And a visit wouldn't be complete in my book without a visit to Levain Bakery for one of their amazing cookies. It's a great place to visit on the way to Central Park or the Natural History Museum.

Levain Bakery

Hope this helps!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Attaboy (attraction)
  2. The Dark Room (attraction)
  3. New York Vintners (attraction)
  4. Quality Meats (restaurant)
  5. Keens Steakhouse (restaurant)
  6. '21' Club (restaurant)
  7. Bemelmans Bar (restaurant)
  8. Per Se (restaurant)
  9. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (attraction)
  10. Eataly (restaurant)
  11. Levain Bakery (restaurant)
10 thankscomments (2)

answered by
beata from New York City

After seeing  Ground Zero take a walk along Hudson River down to the ferry that will take you to  Statue of Liberty. When you come back keep Statue of Liberty trip head up to  South Street Seaport where you can grab some good food. Tones of restaurant to choose from.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ground Zero (attraction)
  2. Statue of Liberty (attraction)
  3. South Street Seaport (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

If you want to do some great people watching, SoHo is a great place to grab a coffee or cocktail and just be completely entertained. The  Soho Grand Hotel is a great old stand by for cocktails and fun. Plus there are a ton of great places to eat a drink in the area. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. SoHo (neighborhood)
  2. Soho Grand Hotel (hotel)
1 thankscomments (1)

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