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What to do in Manhattan on a Weekend Getaway

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New York City is considered one of the “greatest cities” in the world. From chic shopping centers to Broadway performances and jaw-dropping architecture, the “Big Apple” attracts many thousands of visitors every year.

New York City’s most famous borough, Manhattan, has many different attractions that are sure to satisfy everyone. Here are a few you would not want to miss out on during your weekend getaway.

What to do in Manhattan in 36 Hours

Central Park Zoo entrance

Visit Central Park Zoo

To start off your weekend, head on down to the Central Park Zoo, for memorable animal encounters. The Tisch Children’s Zoo exhibit is home to the adorable babydoll sheep that are often seen cuddling with their peers.

Meanwhile, the black storks hang around the rivers performing an entertaining show of craning their necks in all directions.

You’ll get a sense of their life in the marshy areas of the zoo watching for a few minutes. Before you leave, be sure to catch the cute sea lions at their pool near the Central Garden.

Enjoy the entertaining tricks they perform to catch their food from their feeders at 11:30 pm, 1:30 pm or 3:30 pm.

Sprinkles cupcakes.
Sprinkles cupcakes. Photo by Suvana Samadi

Treat Your Tastebuds at Sprinkles

Your next stop is on Lexington Ave between 60th Street and 61st Street, where Sprinkles sweet shop is sure to please with addicting, sugary cupcakes. Their cupcakes vary in size and flavors such as cinnamon, carrot and chocolate.

Their unusually sized, tasty cupcakes will fill you up with delicious cake topped with exquisite melt in your mouth frosting. Open from 10 am to 8 pm, this cupcake shop makes an enjoyable break for refueling for the evening.

Manhattan Times Square

Take in Times Square

As the sun goes down the lights go up in Times Square. As you walk around, admire the spectacular billboard advertisements around you offering a glimpse of different aesthetic worlds. Many of them are for Broadway performances, so be sure to take note of the ones that catch your eye.

In addition, be sure to check out the electrifying performances on the streets, including hip-hop dance routines and beautiful guitar playing.

There are also many people dressed in costumes as your favorite characters from your childhood like Mickey Mouse, Superwoman and Batman.

Before leaving Times Square, grab something special at the souvenir shops to help you remember your time in this dazzling part of the city.

Roosevelt Island Tramway

Fly Through the Air on the Roosevelt Island Tram

Take a trip from the city to Roosevelt Island. You could easily take the subway to get there, but why do that when you can take a trip through the air with an aerial view of New York City?

If you want to take pictures of the sights that would make others jealous of your Instagram, I recommend taking a trip to Roosevelt Island on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. It’s open from 6 am-10 pm and is enjoyable at any time of the day.

However, I personally enjoyed going there with my family in daylight because the lighting is perfect for snapping some beautiful pics of the structures around you.

Manhattan Roosevelt Island

Explore Roosevelt Island

Once on Roosevelt Island take in a satisfying view of the East River on your walk around this peaceful town. Be sure to gaze at the flowers as well, including the lovely cherry blossom trees in spring.

If you want to get more photos of the beautiful nature around you, taking the Roosevelt Island Red Bus will allow you to capture more extraordinary sights of the entire island.

You can stop by the Smallpox Hospital, which is a very interesting sight covered in ivy. Its architecture gives off an ancient, gothic slightly spooky vibe. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd also knows how to impress visitors with its incredible architecture.

Made out of stone and brick, the unique building is not only eye-catching on the outside, but also stuns visitors with its arch-shaped ceiling and its stained glass windows on the interior.

what to do in Manhattan

Watch a Broadway Musical

Watching a Broadway musical with extremely talented performers is one of the best ways to end your day in Manhattan. With its aspiring scenery, stunning choreography, and beautiful singing, the show can take you to another world.

You can buy tickets for a Broadway musical at the “Tkts” booth in the center of Times Square. Remember to dive into the music and the world, as if you were living there to have the most enjoyable experience possible.

Silky Kitchen  meal
Silky Kitchen Photo by Suvana Samadi

Dine at Silky Kitchen

Dive into an authentic Chinese dish at the Silky Kitchen near Times Square. This small NYC restaurant provides you with a variety of options for a delicious meal. You can choose to have rice, noodles, or noodles with soup.

You can also choose the level of spiciness for your dish. Recommendations include  “Stir-Fried Chicken w/ Chili Paste” with dry-mixed noodles on the side or the “Hot & Sour Vegetable” dish with a medium level of spiciness.

Either of these menu items will dance on your tongue.  Make sure to stop by this restaurant between 11 am to 8:45 pm to gobble up some spicy noodles with yummy vegetables, or munch on some tasty rice with mouthwatering chicken.

One World Trade Center

Look in Awe at One World Trade Center

It’s a brand-new day, and the weather doesn’t look so bad outside. It’s time to head over to One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, where you can look up at this stunning architecture.

Commonly referred to as “Freedom Tower”, this new tower stands in place of the original World Trade Center which was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001.

After 20 years, the 9/11 memorial nearby stands to honor those who died in the attack. Be sure to visit this memorial to honor the lives lost and focus on the comforting sight and sound of the waterfall for a bit.

Staten Island Ferry

Ride the Staten Island Ferry

Next, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry to see views of the city from the water. As the ferry moves away from Lower Manhattan, you can see a beautiful view of One World Trade Center and the architecture around it. Enjoy the rhythmic patterns of sight and sound of the water around you.

You may be entertained by this more than you would think, and the city sights around you will catch your eye as well. The best part is that you won’t have to pay a single dollar to take the trip.

Remember to be on the lookout for the Statue of Liberty as you enjoy this smooth, peaceful journey on the waters of New York City.

NYC is huge and exciting but if you only have a couple of days here's what to do in Manhattan in 36 hours.  #NYC  #Manahattan

Enjoy the Sunset at Little Island

A perfect end to your 36 hours in Manhattan is watching the sunset from tranquil Little Island. A place of balance between nature and architecture Little Island is connected to Lower Manhattan by a wooden bridge.

I would recommend taking a nice stroll around the park and going up the three different sets of steps that begin at the park’s center. When you arrive at the top of each set of steps, you can see different views of the city and the Hudson River.

I personally enjoy coming here during the spring or the summer to gaze at the pretty flowers that have bloomed. In addition, you can visit this magnificent “island” anytime between the hours of 6 am and 1 am.

Book This Trip

Start planning your exciting vacation to Manhattan, NYC today. Get prepared with knowledge on how to get around, hotel and VRBO accommodations, the best shops, local restaurant reviews and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.

Plan even more fun with unique Manhattan activities, skip-the-line tickets to major attractions, expert-led tours and foodie experiences through GetYourGuide. Find more information and book your dates here.

For exclusive flight discounts, car rental options and vacation packages check out CheapOair.

More helpful links:

Author’s Bio: Suvana Samadi is a writer from East Brunswick, New Jersey. She has traveled to many different places, including Paris and Bangladesh. She loves to write, in all different forms, and especially has a love for writing about the places she has traveled.


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