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Katie Sagal

10+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan During Your Trip to New York City

Manhattan has so much to offer visitors – from world-class restaurants to college campuses to trendy art galleries. There’s so much, in fact, that it’s impossible to tackle it all in one trip. Visitors often find it helpful to confine their explorations to one neighborhood or region of the city, like the immensely popular Midtown Manhattan. If you’re looking for things to do in Midtown Manhattan during your trip to New York, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions, including...

  • Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock Observatory
  • Madame Tussuads New York
  • Madison Square Garden® Tour
  • Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
  • Harbor Lights Sightseeing Cruise
  • And more!

Save on Midtown Manhattan Attraction Admission

Admission to many of these top New York City attractions and activities and more are included on the New York City Explorer Pass®. Choose as you go from many top attractions and save up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Empire State Building

Image of Building, City, One of the most iconic buildings in all of NYC, the Empire State Building is a must-see on your trip to the Big Apple. Head to the top of this amazing observatory for unparalleled views of the city below – 1,050 feet below, to be exact! Don’t forget to scope out their recently restored Art Deco-style lobby, too. Getting In: Empire State Building tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Top of the Rock Observatory

Image of Building, Cityscape, Urban, City, Outdoors, Nature, Aerial View, Take a ride to the top of Rockefeller Center (or “30 Rock”) for more special views of NYC from above. The largely unobstructed 360-degree views of the skyline provide great photo opportunities for all – you’ll see sites like the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, Central Park, the Flatiron Building, and more. Only have time for one observation deck, but can't decide? Check out our post comparing the Top of the Rock vs. The Empire State Building. Getting In: Top of the Rock Observatory tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Madame Tussauds New York

Image of Glove, Boy, Male, Person, Teen, Female, Girl, This popular Times Square destination is a must-visit for Midtown Manhattan explorers. They've got amazingly realistic wax replicas of all your favorite celebrities from around the globe and across the city. Featured figurines include major icons like sports legends Derek Jeter, Lionel Messi and Serena Williams, actors like Johnny Depp and Sofia Vergara, and world leaders like Barack Obama and Pope Francis. Come here to snap a photo with two or three of your favorites! Getting In: Madame Tussauds New York tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass.

Madison Square Garden®: All Access TourTM

Image of Home of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, on top of countless concerts and events, Madison Square Garden is a cultural hotspot in NYC. More than that – it’s an important part of the city’s artistic and musical heritage, having hosted some of the most famous concerts in history. Check out their MSG’s Defining Moments exhibit to learn more about these events and other important occasions. A tour of this facility is a great way to go behind the scenes at this iconic venue, and even provides access to non-public areas. Getting In: Madison Square Garden Tour tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

Image of Military, Ship, Vehicle, Boat, Aircraft Carrier, Navy, Fans of military history or the history of aviation will treasure a visit to this unique attraction. Tour a massive hangar featuring 27 carefully restored aircraft, ranging from the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird to a 1950s-era MiG-17. A special must-see part of this attraction is the Space Shuttle Pavilion, which houses the world’s first successful space shuttle – the Enterprise. Be sure to also check out the Growler, the only American diesel-powered strategic missile submarine. Another great artifact here is the British Airways Concorde, the fastest commercial aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Getting In: Intrepid Museum tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Best of NYC Cruise

Image of Boat, Ferry, Vehicle, Person, This comprehensive cruise is a great way to see – as the name suggests – the best of the best in the Big Apple. A 3-hour excursion that covers everything from the Empire State Building to Yankee Stadium, this cruise is a wonderful choice for those looking for a thorough sightseeing excursion without the stress of dealing with NYC traffic on a bus. Getting In: Best of NYC Cruise: Circle Line Sightseeing tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®. A small upgrade fee also applies.

Harbor Lights Sightseeing Cruise

Image of Boat, Ferry, Vehicle, Yacht, City, Metropolis, Urban, Water, Waterfront, Person, Looking to infuse a little romance into your NYC explorations? Then a Twilight Sightseeing Cruise is your perfect option. Make unforgettable memories as you set sail around the New York Harbor just as the sun is setting, seeing absolutely stunning views of the illuminated city skyline. Of course, this isn't to say that families or friends won't enjoy this evening-time cruise! It's a great idea for all travelers, and the lighting makes for some striking nighttime photo opportunities. Getting In: Circle Line Harbor Lights Cruise tickets are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

Full Day Bike Rental

Image of Shoe, Bicycle, Cycling, Person, Vehicle, Adult, Male, Man, Backpack, Bag, Handbag, City, Cityscape, Urban, Meander around NYC with a full day bike rental from Hudson River Sightseeing. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the city – there are easy ways to roam around and really bike-friendly places like the 32 miles of trails around the Hudson River Greenway. It’s a great activity for families and couples. Getting In: Hudson River Sightseeing: Full Day Bike Rentals are included with the New York City Explorer Pass®.

The High Line

Image of City, Office Building, Urban, Condo, Housing, Person, Grass, By David Berkowitz from New York, NY, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
In search of more NYC green space? Head to the High Line, an immensely popular park constructed on the remains of an old elevated rail line. Providing amazing views of the city and the Hudson River, as well as a delightful stroll through cultivated garden space, the High Line is a must-visit attraction that locals also love. Be sure to check out their events schedule to see what’s going on during your visit! Getting In: Admission to the High Line is free.

New York Public Library

One of the most beautiful buildings in all of NYC is the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. This striking Beaux Arts building opened to the public in 1911 and today serves as one of the system’s four main research libraries. Pop inside to pay a visit to the famed Rose Main Reading Room, which feels like something out of a Harry Potter movie. Getting In: Admission to the New York Public Library is free, but you must have a library card to check out materials.

The Morgan Library & Museum

If you’re in search of more culture in Midtown, then a visit to the Morgan Library & Museum is a perfect choice. It’s smaller (and often less crowded) than some of the big name stuff uptown, but equally as fascinating to literature lovers and culture buffs. It boasts an impressive collection of historic manuscripts, rare books, prints, drawings, and paintings that once belonged to J.P. Morgan’s personal collection. Getting In: Admission to the Morgan Library & Museum is separately ticketed and is not included on the New York City Explorer Pass®. To purchase tickets and for more information about this attraction, please visit the attraction website.

Remember to Save on Attraction Admission

So there are our favorite choices for things to do in Midtown Manhattan and the surrounding areas during your trip to New York City. Don’t forget - many of these great attraction options and more are included on the New York City Explorer Pass®, which can save you up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. We hope you consider adding a few of these great attraction options to your NYC vacation plans.

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