12 Great Things to Do and See in Midtown Manhattan – That Aren’t Times Square

There is so much more to Midtown Manhattan than Times Square
There is so much more to Midtown Manhattan than Times Square | © Patti McConville / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Julia Goicochea
20 August 2020

Though it often receives top billing (those lights are hard to overshadow), Times Square is just one of many attractions in Manhattan’s Midtown area, and there’s a world waiting to step out from its shadow. From off-the-beaten-path museums to some of New York City’s best public parks, here are 12 show-stealing things to do and see in Midtown Manhattan.

Grand Central Terminal

Map View
© Robert Bye / Unsplash
Don’t mistake this Midtown mainstay for just another New York transportation hub. For more than 100 years, Grand Central Terminal has been one of the city’s most beloved attractions, thanks to its romantic energy, 35 eateries and breathtaking architecture. Highlights of this early-20th-century spot include the famous Whispering Gallery, the iconic clock and the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant.

Rockefeller Center

Building, Cathedral, Park
Map View

If you visit one spot in Midtown Manhattan, make it Rockefeller Center. Whether you want to tour the NBC studios, take a lap around the Rink at Rockefeller Center or check out the view from the Top of the Rock, you’ll find your ideal entertainment at this famous 22-acre (9ha) complex.

St Cloud Rooftop

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, American
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Perched high above the hustle and bustle of Times Square, St Cloud Rooftop grants guests all of the area’s excitement and none of its stresses. At this rooftop lounge, craft cocktails and beers from the bar’s own backyard pair perfectly with dazzling views of one of the world’s most famous – and flamboyant – attractions.

Museum of Modern Art

Art Gallery, Building, Museum, Opera House
Map View
On every art enthusiast’s bucket list, you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), a famous institution housing nearly 200,000 artworks. With exhibitions and installations such as Degenerate Art and 2013’s Rain Room, MoMA is a must-visit Midtown attraction for contemporary thinkers. Explore this world-class museum for free by participating in MoMA’s weekly UNIQLO Free Friday Nights.

Madison Square Garden

Music Venue, Sports Center
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With the promise that “unforgettable starts here,” Madison Square Garden hosts a vast array of events, each of which is epic. Cheer on the New York Rangers or the New York Knicks, see world-famous artists perform live or catch a mass led by the Pope himself – really. Epic.

New York Public Library

Library, Market, School
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Midtown, the entrance of New York Public Library, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
You don’t have to be a bibliophile to enjoy this storied (no pun intended) Manhattan attraction. Visitors from around the world come to the New York Public Library to pose with Patience and Fortitude – the famous twin lions that guard the building – snag a seat in the film-famous Rose Main Reading Room and attend celebrity book readings and coveted art exhibitions, the likes of which you’ve only read about.

The Museum at FIT

Museum, Memorial
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Fashion fans will love this niche museum, where the past, present and future states of fashion take center stage – or rather, runway. At the Museum at FIT, you’ll see works from high-end designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood through unusual exhibitions such as 2016’s Fairy Tale Fashion and 2018-19’s Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color.

Flatiron District

Map View
© David Becker / Unsplash
Culture vultures flock to this Midtown neighborhood, home to stunning architecture, several museums and plenty of independent stores. Highlights of Manhattan’s Flatiron District include Rizzoli Bookstore, the Museum of Sex and, of course, the Flatiron Building, one of New York City’s most famous features.

The Plaza Hotel

Hotel Restaurant, American
Map View
Afternoon tea travels all the way across the pond to the Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court, an Eloise-endorsed attraction catering to well-to-do diners. Give your legs a rest (and your stomach a treat) at the restaurant’s afternoon tea service, featuring two mouthwatering menus. With the New Yorker Tea, you’ll enjoy a taste of the Big Apple via black-and-white eclairs and lox and cream cheese bagels, while Eloise’s Afternoon Tea comes with vanilla iced tea, pink lemonade cotton candy and organic PB&J finger sandwiches.
These recommendations were updated on August 20, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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