2 days in New York City: a weekend in NYC itinerary

By Casey Makovich

Planning a weekend in NYC, but unsure what to do and where to go to maximize your time? As there's so much to see and do in New York City, it can be difficult to know where to go first - choose from some of our best ideas to get the best out of your flying visit.

This weekend in New York City itinerary includes:

  • Big Bus New York Sightseeing Tour
  • The Guggenheim Museum
  • Central Park (free!)
  • Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Empire State Building
  • Times Square (free!)
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Top of the Rock

💰 >>  See how you can save up to 50% on New York attractions 

🗓️ >>  Check out our example New York itineraries 

Day 1: Join a top-tier tour

Crosswalk sign NYC

Tours are ideal for first-time visitors to NYC, or for those who've been but not had a chance to explore much on previous visits. You'll get an overview of the city while learning about its fascinating history.

Option 1: Take a bus tour 🚍

A Hop On Hop Off Big Bus sightseeing tour gives you a comprehensive overview of the city's history, unique culture, and layout of all of the sites you want to go back to for a visit - all from the comfort of the top deck. Sit back and relax as this comfortable bus takes you around NYC, showcasing all of the big-hitter landmarks and hot spots that you may not otherwise get a chance to visit, like:

  • Empire State Building
  • SOHO/ Little Italy
  • Brooklyn Bridge/ City Hall
  • Wall Street/ Charging Bull
  • High Line
  • Madison Square Garden

Or, since NYC is one huge real-life movie set, you can hit the iconic movie locations trails with the NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour and see the famous backdrops to shows like Friends, and movies like Elf, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Miracle on 34th Street.

And there's plenty to see outside of Manhattan. On the NYC Bus Tour of Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, you'll delve deeper into the multicultural history of Harlem, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn, including seeing the birthplace of hip-hop, famous neighborhoods like Chinatown and Little Italy, and the Yankees and Mets stadiums.

Informative tour guides will narrate the tour with insider information and important facts about tour highlights.

Option 2: Join a walking tour 👣

Have your walking shoes ready? Get the perfect introduction to NYC with the all-out Top New York Sights Walking Tour. Over five hours you'll be guided around dozens of the city's top sights, including iconic neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown, architectural gems like the Rockefeller Building, institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, plus Times Square and Central Park. We've only just scratched the surface here, but check out the full listing - it's a doozy!

Option 3: Tour Central Park 🌲

Take a guided walk around one of the world's most famous green spaces with the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour. If you've ever wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Glee cast, see the Boathouse Café from When Harry Met Sally, feed the pigeons where Kevin met the bird lady in Home Alone 2 , and even more, you're in luck!

Central Park spans 843 acres, but don’t worry – if you want to go off-script and explore it on your own terms, you can get a sense of its culture and atmosphere. Outside of the tour, some of the top attractions here include the Strawberry Fields mosaic, Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Carousel, the Loeb Boathouse, and many more.

Pick a few you want to see and make a plan for how to tackle them in the time you have free. If it's a nice day, stroll through the Ramble or sit next to the lake. There's always so much happening in Central Park -- you won't be short of something to do. 

Option 4: Bike around Central Park 🚲

If you prefer to bike rather than walk, then this is for you! Central Park is an essential destination, and if you luck out and the weather is right, the Central Park Bike Tour by Unlimited Biking will be a great way to spend two hours of your precious time. You'll see the John Lennon tribute, the Jackie O reservoir, the Shakespeare Garden, and even more.

Option 5: Cruise along 🛥️

Enjoy sailing around the world-famous NYC landmarks: the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower, the World Financial Center, and many more. You can spend a relaxed morning, afternoon, or evening taking in fascinating stories and history from experienced and knowledgeable professional tour guides. Circle Line's Best of NYC Cruise gives you a great all-round view, focusing on Manhattan, or you can see NYC after dark with the Harbor Lights Cruise. If you prefer a whistlestop boat tour, the 50-minute Liberty Super Express Cruise hones in on the Statue of Liberty.

Day 2: Visit one place to see everything

What's your one unmissable place to visit? Choose from our top picks that give you a real feast for the eyes - and this time, you can take it from the top.

Option #1: Empire State Building

Easily one of the most iconic structures in all of New York City, in a crowded field – the Empire State Building. Ascend to the Observatory on the 86th floor for some of the best views of all New York. A visit here first thing is an excellent way to orient yourself in the city at large. You’ll see everything from above before you explore the city on the ground.

Leave a little time to marvel at the interior and exterior of the building itself: its Art Deco style is very distinctive. Everyone entering this attraction is required to go through a security line, so plan additional time into your estimation. We recommend reserving at least an hour at this attraction (not including wait time).

Option #2: Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

This one is firmly on the ground, but a feast for the eyes nonetheless: spend a chilled hour or two at one of the most popular art museums in the country. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is home to one of the greatest collections of modern art in the entire world. Some of the most famous works of art will be found in these galleries, including Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and Claude Monet’s Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond.

You’ll also see works by the biggest names in contemporary art, from Jackson Pollack to Cindy Sherman and beyond. Come here prepared to be inspired! Be sure to check out the gift shop, too, for some unique presents.

Option #3: Discover the One World Observatory

After a day spent touring NYC's hotspots, see it all from above in the One World Observatory. Located on the top floor of the One World Trade Center building - 102 stories up - you'll zip to the top in the Skypod elevator in less than a minute, and be rewarded with incredible views that you can savor. Raise a toast with a cocktail or mocktail and take in the breathtaking 360-degree views over New York, reaching out to Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and more.

🎟️ Getting in: Admission is available on all Go City® passes - and you can claim a discounted Go City cocktail, called the Sightseer!

Option #4: Go to the Top of the Rock Observatory

This perennially popular attraction is another way to get a great birds-eye perspective on New York City. If you feel like you didn’t get enough with your Empire State Building visit, head to the iconic Rockefeller Center and explore the amazing Top of the Rock Observatory - plus, you'll get one of the best views of the Empire State Building.

However short or long your trip, see it all with Go City® 

See our New York vacation itinerary series: 

📅 1 day in NYC 

📅 3 days in NYC 

📅 One week in New York 

🗽 >> Compare passes and sample itineraries 

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Discover our full line-up of New York attractions including The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock Observatory, the Statue of Liberty, and more.  

🤩 >> If you want to see and do as much as you can, our All-Inclusive Pass is for you.    

😎 >> If you want to pick just a few attractions and visit at your own pace, our Explorer Pass is the perfect option. 

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One Day in New York - Day Trip to New York Itinerary

1 Day in New York City - Sample Itinerary with The New York Pass® With The New York Pass, your sightseeing possibilities are endless. Choose from over 90 included attractions and create an itinerary tailored to your interests and what you want to do and see in the city. We put together a sample 1 Day in New York City Sightseeing Itinerary using The New York Pass to give you some inspiration to start planning your trip and to show how The New York Pass helps you save on combined admission to top New York City attractions. With The New York Pass you can get into all of the attractions in this itinerary for less than it would cost to buy tickets at each attraction. But remember, this is just one of the many 1-day itineraries you could create with The New York Pass – follow the itinerary below, or, visit any and as many of the other included attractions as you want. This Sample 1 Day Itinerary Includes: Big Bus New York Hop-on Hop-off Tour Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Radio City Music Hall Tour Empire State Building Big Bus New York Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Get a full overview of New York City by starting your trip off with a narrated tour of it all. On the tour, you’ll have a double-decker view of all the city’s top attractions, landmarks, sights, and layout so you can take note of any areas and attractions you want to go back to and visit. You’ll have access to the tour’s 3 routes: Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown and be able to hop on or off at any of the 25+ stops An on-board tour guide will direct your attention to notable sights while providing entertaining and educational narration along the way, so you’ll learn some NYC history, fun facts, unique culture, and more. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises (Seasonal) Get out on the water for some unique New York City views. Your New York Pass lets you choose from 6 Circle Line cruise options, but to get the most out of your day, choose one of the 2 options that will have you back on land before lunch: 30-minute BEAST Speedboat/Thrill Ride: zoom around the Hudson River at speeds of up to 45 mph on the 70-foot BEAST speedboat. You’ll cruise towards the Statue of Liberty while your captain performs tricks like sharp turns, twists, corkscrews, and more—all with Midtown and Lower Manhattan as your backdrop. 1-hour Liberty Cruise: get up-close views of the Statue of Liberty while learning all about the history and cultural importance of the statue and how she became an icon of freedom, hope, and liberty that extends beyond her physical presence in New York City from educational and entertaining narration. You get unbeatable views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, the New York City skyline, and more. No matter which cruise you choose, Circle Line’s knowledgeable guides will narrate your experience with fun facts and information, so you’ll learn some of the city’s fascinating and notable history while seeing the sights from the perspective of the water. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Explore American military and maritime history at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where you can climb on board four important historic vessels: the museum’s namesake aircraft carrier, Intrepid, the submarine Growler, the space shuttle Enterprise, and the British Airways Concorde. In addition to the four vessels, the museum features an Exploreum Interactive Hall, a hands-on exhibition space and education center dedicated to inspiring an appreciation for history, science, and all those who serve our country. Planet Hollywood - Save 15% Grab a late lunch and save 15% off food, beverages, and merchandise with your New York Pass at Planet Hollywood. You’ll get to dine in an atmosphere dedicated to celebrating all things Hollywood and movie magic with a hint of nostalgia for the films and celebrities of yore—a restaurant venue worth a visit on its own! Radio City Music Hall Tour Take a 75-minute tour of this world-famous entertainment venue and walk in the footsteps (or leg kicks) of legends, like its resident headline performers, the Rockettes. On the tour, you’ll get to meet one of the world-famous Rockette performers, see the celebrity-signed guest book, explore the revered Art-Deco interiors, learn some of the secrets of the show biz trade, and more. Empire State Building Finish your day of sightseeing off with a visit to one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, the Empire State Building. You’ll get some of the best views in the entire city from its 360-degree open-air observation deck and after a full day of touring, you’ll be able to put some context to the views you’ll get from above. During your visit, check out the Empire State Building Experience which includes access to the newly restored Art Deco lobby, the historical Dare to Dream and Sustainability exhibits before hopping in the elevator to the observation deck on the 86th floor. From the deck, you’ll have unobstructed views of the city in every direction from 1,050 feet above ground. Free, self-guided multimedia tours are available to help you identify buildings and landmarks along the skyline.
Shashia Mitchell
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Guide to Visiting One World Trade Center

All you need to know about visiting the One World Trade Center, 9/11 Museum & Memorial and One World Observatory. Plan your trip now. When planning your visit to New York City, One World Trade Center – also known as Freedom Tower – must be on the bucket list. Located in the New York City’s bustling financial district in Downtown Manhattan, it offers some of the most breath-taking views across the city up the One World Observatory and it is home to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. It’s also one of the most unique places to enjoy sunset cocktails and fine dining – so any experience of this modern landmark will offer something to remember. Everyone remembers where they were when they found out about 9/11 so what better way to honor this day than to pay homage to the victims at the Memorial & Museum. Situated on the site of the original World Trade Center, the 9/11 Museum uncovers the story of this ill-fated day with over 10,000 artifacts on display, as well as interviews of 2,000 first-hand accounts, photographs and family testimonies. The One World Trade Center’s Museum also features a Permanent Collection with exhibitions of items donated as well as the incredible account from John Stiastny, one of few survivors of the national disaster. The Foundation Hall contains a segment of the surviving wall of the original structure of the World Trade Center and visitors can still see inscriptions, memorials, and missing posters from the aftermath in 2001. Outside visitors can also see the two memorial pools on the North and South end, the 80-foot Tridents columns as well as International flags which were suspended in the lobby of the original Twin Towers prior to the devastating incident. You can easily spend half a day at the site if you then head up the 102 stories to the One World Observatory. The elevator takes just 47 seconds and, on the way, up you can enjoy a dynamic display learning of the transformation of New York City from its original settlement and bedrock to the concrete jungle of today. At the top, the Forever Theatre audio-visual exhibition thrusts you into the vibrant city life and the interactive displays and presentations will help you get to know Gotham’s rich culture and unique history. Don’t miss the Sky Portal, a glass floor that looks down onto the streets beneath you 100 stories below... Be warned: if you have vertigo this will be a challenge! Indulge in an evening to remember at ONE Dine, One World Trade Center's New York’s ultimate dining and drinking experience. The New York themed menu is a fun way to celebrate something special and guests are welcome for a cocktail, bar snack or a gourmet meal. Tip: you will need an Observatory ticket to enter and make a dinner reservation. Of course, you won’t want to forget your camera for shots of the iconic skyline which, by day or night, is one of the most breathtaking vistas in all of New York. You can also make the most of a professional photographer for a take-home souvenir and visit the souvenir shop full of One World Trade Center-themed gifts. A trip to the Big Apple during the holiday season is one of the best times of the year to experience the iconic city in all its cheer. One World Trade Center's Winter Onederland promises a giant snow globe, Santa Visits, family-friendly Christmas displays, as well as Christmas themed drinks and dining - fun for everyone! If you plan on visiting the One World Trade Center’s 9/11 Memorial & Museum you can visit between 9AM – 8PM daily. To visit the One World Observatory, it is open 9AM – 9PM 7 days a week with last admission 8:15PM (check website for amended holiday hours over Christmas & New Year and during the summer months). ONE Dine is open for meals from 12PM – 9PM daily with last reservations at 6:45PM. Nearby you can also visit the iconic Statue of Liberty and historic Ellis Island Immigration Museum to make the most of your New York experience. If you plan on arriving by Subway, the stop is Fulton Street/Park Place or enjoy a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour experience and jump off at stop 11, 12, or 13 on the Downtown route. Alternatively, the address is 180 Greenwich St. World Trade Center should you be arriving by Taxi or car.
Shashia Mitchell
Dusk view of the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock observatory
Blog

The Best Time to Visit The Top Of The Rock

The Rockefeller Center – aka 30 Rock – is the iconic Art Deco centerpiece of Rockefeller Plaza, a glorious, skyscraping work of art that, at a whopping 850 feet high, ranks as one of the Big Apple’s tallest buildings. It’s no wonder then that the uppermost floors (67, 69 and 70, to be precise) have been given over to observation decks collectively known as the Top of The Rock. We’re talking 360-degree views across the entire city to Long Island, New Jersey and even – on clear days – as far as Connecticut. And (spoiler alert!) if visually stunning 1930s Art Deco treasures are your bag, you’ll also enjoy uninterrupted close-up views of the Empire State Building from up here. Read on for our guide to the best times to visit the Top of The Rock. Opening hours Top of The Rock is open every single day of the year including holidays from 9AM to 11PM. Come rain, hail or shine, you can whiz heavenwards in the glass Sky Shuttle elevator, reaching the 70th floor in less than a minute. Guests can visit the observation decks for as long as they like during operating hours, but the latest entry to Top of The Rock is at 10:10PM. Check the Top of The Rock website for the latest opening hours before making your booking. A Go City attraction pass gives you access to the Top of The Rock’s three observation decks with their uninterrupted views of the Big Apple. The 67th floor deck has a large indoor space plus north and south-facing outdoor terraces. Floor 69 has yet more outdoor space, but it’s the fully outdoor 70th floor, right on top of the building, from where you’ll enjoy the clearest views of NYC icons including Central Park, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler Building and the Hudson. Best time to visit the Top Of The Rock As with many of the Big Apple’s most popular attractions, the best times to visit Top of The Rock tend to be early in the morning or late in the evening if, that is, your primary objective is to beat the crowds. If, on the other hand, it’s heart-soaring sunsets you’re after (and quite frankly why wouldn’t it be?), you'll need to head to the Top of the Rock about an hour before dusk, and expect lines. 3PM–9PM tends to be the busiest time of day for precisely that reason. Just after the 9AM opening is when you’ll get the most private experience, as the morning sun glints and gleams on the Empire State Building and across the skyscrapers of Midtown. Crowds also tail off after sunset meaning that beyond 9PM is the best time to see the city lights illuminating the Manhattan skyline. Beautiful though this time of day is, do note that unlit areas like Central Park will be visible only as large dark patches on the ground after nightfall. Generally speaking, Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the quietest days. Holidays and weekends (especially Saturdays) are when Top of The Rock is at its most busy. Visit during the festive season to pair your visit with a pilgrimage to the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which is displayed on the plaza (but not visible from the Top of The Rock itself) from mid-November until early January. Getting to the Top Of The Rock There are oodles of ways to get to the Top of The Rock with ease. Most straightforward are the multiple subway services that call at the 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center station (B, D, F and M trains) as well as additional trains to 49th, 50th and 51st Street stops. Discounted parking is also available at Rockefeller Center SP+ garage which you’ll find at 25 West 48th Street. Enter 30 Rock on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Tickets Pre-book tickets direct on the Top of The Rock website to avoid having to wait in potentially long lines at the box office on the day. There are a few different ticket options available, ranging from general admission to the three observation decks to a VIP skip-the-line experience that includes a guide and a peek into 30 Rock’s glitzy Rainbow Room restaurant, a favorite with New York’s rich and famous for nearly a century. You can save money with a Go City Explorer or All-Inclusive pass for New York attractions, which includes entry to the Top of The Rock in addition to many more landmark attractions across the Big Apple. These include the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Where to eat Dining options at the Rockefeller Center are plentiful and run the gamut from family favorites to fine dining. There are grab’n’go sandwich bars and those with a sweet tooth can get their fix from any number of bakeries, cookie stores and ice cream vendors. Check the Rockefeller Center website for the most up-to-date list of restaurants and to find out how to book. We love Le Rock for chic Art Deco style and French fine dining. Or choose Ace’s Pizza on the center’s rink level for Detroit and Sicilian-style slices to share with family and friends. In brief... Want to beat the crowds? Visit as close as possible to opening time (9AM) or come after 9PM to experience the best of the glittering Manhattan skyline after dark. Book tickets online in advance to avoid having to wait in line at the box office and you’ll be speeding skyward in that lightning-fast glass elevator before you know it. Uninterrupted 360-degree views await on the 70th-floor open-air observation deck right at the top of the building. Get the Go City attraction pass to make great savings when visiting this and other popular New York City attractions! Useful links Buy tickets online Get the Go City attraction pass for New York Visit the Top of The Rock with Go City Official Top of The Rock website
Stuart Bak

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