Travel

Classic New York City: What to See in Midtown

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City. Central Park. 5th Avenue. Times Square. So next time you head to the city, here’s what to see in Midtown!

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC!  | Teaspoon of Nose

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What to See in Midtown

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met has always been on my New York City list, but somehow I’d never seen the building, let alone set foot inside. So on a recent mother-daughter trip we knew we had to go! 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a little like the Louvre in that you can’t see it all in one day. We knew we watned to check out the Heavenly Bodies* exhibit, a temporary one but particularly well-timed with Ocean’s 8’s release this past summer. It was especially funny to go through that one with my mom, because she was raised Catholic and had different associations than me to the various costumes. 

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose
Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose
Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Another favorite was the Tiffany glass exhibit. I wasn’t familiar with the name, but once we saw it I knew I’d seen it. The scenes he created has this ethereal beauty, capturing the light in this gorgeous, slightly unreal way.

A few tips: 

  • Unless you arrive super early, there will be a line. You have to do the line (regardless of if you bought tickets in advance) for security. Once you’re in the building, look around: you may not have to jump into the next line. There are different lines for advanced ticket purchases, day-of purchases, and self-service kiosks for day-of purchases with credit cards. If you can’t find the kiosks, ask! We managed to avoid long lines by using these. 
  • Prioritize. You’re not going to see it all unless you never stop moving, and then I doubt you’d absorb much of the beauty. Look at the map and pick a place to start. 
  • Your ticket also gives you entry to The Cloisters and The Met Breuer. So if you have time, go check out the Cloisters the next day. I haven’t been but everyone I know who has raves about it! 
Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

If the Met isn’t enough, there’s a ton of other fantastic museums in midtown: the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and Museum of Natural History to name a few! Trust me, you’ll get tired of museums way before you run out of options. 

See a Broadway Show

Let’s be real: some people come to New York for the shopping, others for the museums, and others for the food. We came for the shows on Broadway.

love musicals. While applying to colleges, I actually thought I wanted to major in musical theater, and nearly went to NYU for just that. While I ended up choosing a different path (and loving it!), musicals still draw me. 

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

We saw three shows in three very different genres: Beautiful, Kinky Boots, and Phantom of the Opera. All three were incredible and I highly recommend each! My favorite was probably Phantom, only because I’ve been listening to that soundtrack since I was in utero and hadn’t seen in on stage before. It’s a classic for a reason, and it’s also a show where sitting in the mezzanine had an advantage. Just a thought if you’re buying tickets.

If you’d be interested in hearing more about how we got inexpensive Broadway tickets and how we picked the shows, let me know and I’ll write a post! 

New York Public Library

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose
Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC!  | Teaspoon of Nose

Hear me out: go to the New York Public Library! It’s a free thing to see (always a plus) and the building is beautiful, outside and in. Don’t miss the ceiling art on the top floor – gorgeous ornate details that rarely get used in modern buildings.

Just around back is Bryant Park, one of the cutest little parks in New York City. It has a grassy lawn, cafe tables, and even a carousel. It’s the type of place you’d come for an afternoon in the sunshine if you lived here, and even has games and a bar to keep you entertained!

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Times Square

Times Square is a classic! Plus, if you’re going to a Broadway show, you’ll probably pass through here anyway. It’s crowded and crazy and perfect. Be a tourist and climb the red steps, or if you need a quick bite to eat try one of the food stalls set up here. There way better quality than the hot dog stands, and not terribly expensive either.

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC!  | Teaspoon of Nose
Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Central Park

Did you really go to New York City if you don’t see Central Park

But seriously, it’s worth a walk through. From concerts to the zoo, ice skating or breathing in fresh air, there’s something for everyone. It’s also enormous, so odds are cutting through the park will at some point in your visit be the fastest way to get somewhere. 

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC!  | Teaspoon of Nose

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is another classic. I cannot recommend enough that you the NBC studios tour! I did it for the first time in college, and it remains one of my favorite things to do in New York City.

There’s also a ton to see here that’s free: the iconic ice skating rink with surrounding flags and statue is always a fun spot for pictures. Stick your head in the Lego store or walk around the corner to Radio City Music Hall

Across the street is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, worth a walkthrough if you enjoy architecture. I recently read a great book called New York: a fictional account of NYC over the centuries told through a series of families living in the area. It’s a great book to read just before you visit because you’ll take more notice of places like St. Patrick!

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Grand Central Terminal

Like Times Square, Grand Central is one of those spots that is so iconic it’s worth checking out once. The iconic ceiling is even better in real life, and the space feels almost romantic for its possibility: people coming and going, to the next adventure, the next sight, or just the next workday.

If you’re near Grand Central, make sure to stick your head around the corner to see the Chrysler building! I’ve never set foot inside, but it’s such a beautiful building that I always make sure I see it in-person every time I visit NYC.

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Shopping

I’ve mentioned it before but I’m no fashionista. So I knew buying something from Tiffany or Bloomingdale’s wasn’t in the cards this trip (or ever?), but you can still enjoy a look around! It was fun to look at the beautiful jewelry, even if most of it cost more than my car.

If you want to get a little more off the beaten path, head to the garment district! It’s just south of midtown and offers shop after shop of fabric stores and high-quality costume supplies. My mom sews and to her, it’s practically heaven.

Our favorite was Mood, and even if sewing’s not your thing it’s a beautiful place to roam the aisles and dream about what beautiful things get made from this fabric.

Midtown Manhattan is the quintessential New York City: here's what you should see in midtown NYC! | Teaspoon of Nose

Midtown Manhattan is a classic destination, and so many people come back for a reason! I always love exploring it – how can you get tired of a place like this??

If you enjoyed my suggestions of what to see in midtown, you should check out why I love the West Village!

What are your favorite things to do in midtown? Any suggestions for next time? 

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