I’ve written before about how Midtown isn’t my favorite – I’d much rather chill and stalk celebrities in the West Village, or have an ice cream in Brooklyn.
But that doesn’t mean Midtown isn’t an incredible place for so. Especially considering all the free things to do in the area!
It’s something you must do at least once in your life, immerse yourself in the crazy-fast paced lifestyle, the typical New York pictured abroad (I think the expression “New York minute” came around with Midtown in mind). But where to start, you ask?
Top of the Rock – Rockfeller Center
Start your day with a bang at the best panorama point in New York City. This is perhaps the most iconic of all the things to do in Midtown! A few tips to get the best experience possible:
- Buy your ticket online.
- Book an early slot to get the best possible light and beat the crowds.
- There are three different viewing platforms – make sure to go all the way to the top for the best unobstructed views.
- Don’t hesitate to ask security guards to identify landmarks for you – they’re quite passionate about their city.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Built in 1858, this is one of the oldest religious buildings of New York City, and also one of the most interesting. It takes up a whole city block and can hold more than 2,200 people! If you want to see it scaffolds-free, be quick – it was announced earlier this year that the Cathedral would be undergoing major refurbishment works for the next five years.
Good to know: it’s one of the few places in New York City that are free of charge.
Grand Central Station
Say hello to the world’s largest train station! With than 67 tracks tantalizing more than 48 acres, it’s quite an understatement to say that it’s a massive building. Additionally, it’s also the 6th most visited attraction in the entire world, with more than 21 million tourists every year.
But there is much more to this train station than big numbers – quite a bit of history went on in there, in fact, as well as many little details that wouldn’t normally catch anyone’s attention.
New York Public Library
Again with big numbers: with 53 millions of book, it’s the second-largest library in the United States, only behind the Library of Congress. The New York Public Library is indeed quite fascinating:
- The building dates back to 1895 and was officially opened in 1911.
- It features 121 km of shelves, and it took a year to move and install the books that were in the old libraries around the city.
- The two lions at the entrance are named Patience and Fortitude.
- The Library appeared in a number of series and movies, like Seinfeld, Sex and the City, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Ghostbusters.
- The most important item in the collection is the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with movable type back in the 1450s (!!!).
- Visiting is entirely free of charge!
Museum of Modern Art
While New York is plastered with incredibly interesting museums, I have to say that the MoMA is my favorite one of all. I’m not a huge fan of paintings in general, but this museum houses so many of the “you have to see it once in your life” big-ticket paintings that it definitely makes for an interesting afternoon. Key pieces include:
- The Scream by Edward Munch
- The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
- Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso
- Water Lilies by Claude Monet
- Campbell Soup Can by Andy Warhol
See Jimmy Fallon or Saturday Night Live at NBC Studios
This one requires a bit of preparation, but if you play your cards right you could end up in the legendary NBC Studios! All you need to do is book your ticket in advance for either Jimmy Fallon (easy to get) or Saturday Night Live (hard to get). Does it get more New York iconic than seeing a live taping of Saturday Night Live? I don’t think so!
And what better way to wrap up a day in Midtown than taking in the chaotic Times Square at night?
This is a really unique place on Earth, not necessarily by size, but by the sheer animosity that fill up the square when the sun goes down. It seems like everybody just got out of a Broadway show, or going to a fancy cocktail club, or in a cab on their way to a secret restaurant opening.
Or, most likely, getting pickpocketed. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!
Whether you are in Times Square to take in the lively atmosphere, to get your picture taken with the naked cowboy or to simply tick it off your bucket list, it’s the kind of thing you HAVE to do at least once in your life. And it doesn’t disappoint!