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

Image courtesy of Friends of the High Line, credit: Iwan Baan
Image courtesy of Friends of the High Line, credit: Iwan Baan
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. From off-the-beaten-path museums to some of the city’s best public parks, there’s a world waiting to step out from Times Square’s shadow. Here are 12 show-stealing things to do and see in Midtown Manhattan.

Grand Central Terminal

Don’t mistake this Midtown mainstay for just another New York transportation hub. For 104 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.

Grand Central Terminal © Pixabay

Rockefeller Center

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

Enjoy drinks and views at St. Cloud Social

Perched high above the hustle and bustle of Times Square, St. Cloud Social 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.

Take in a show at Radio City Music Hall

Enjoy entertainment you can only find in New York City at Radio City Music Hall. The Christmas Spectacular with the Radio City Rockettes, Z100’s star-studded Jingle Ball concert, tapings of Dancing With The Stars: Live!, and much more await you at this Rockefeller Center venue.

Radio City Music Hall © Pixabay

Museum of Modern Art

On every art enthusiast’s bucket list you’ll find the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA as it’s known colloquially, an iconic institution housing nearly 200,000 artworks. With exhibitions and installations like ‘Degenerate Art’ and 2013’s ‘Rain Room’, MoMA is a must-visit Midtown attraction for contemporary thinkers. Top tip: explore this world-famous museum for free by participating in MoMA’s weekly UNIQLO Free Friday Nights.

Museum of Modern Art © Mike Steele/Flickr

Bryant Park

Trade Times Square (and its hectic atmosphere) for carefree fun at Bryant Park. Offering outdoor concerts and movie screenings during the summer, and ice skating and holiday shopping come winter, this 9.6-acre urban oasis is always in season.

Enjoy epic entertainment at Madison Square Garden

With the promise that “unforgettable starts here,” Madison Square Garden hosts a vast array of events, each of them 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. Like we said: epic.

Madison Square Garden © Emmanuel Milou/Flickr

The Museum at FIT

Fashion fans will love this niche museum, where the past, present, and future states of fashion take center stage, or, runway. At the Museum at FIT, you’ll come face-to-fabric with works from high-end designers like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood through unusual exhibitions such as Fairy Tale Fashion and the upcoming Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color.

New York Public Library

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 iconic twin lions who 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.

New York Public Library © Travis Wise/Flickr

Have afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel

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 root beer floats, pink cotton candy, and organic PB & J finger sandwiches.

Flatiron District

Culture vultures flock to this Midtown neighborhood, home to iconic architecture, nine 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.

Flatiron Building © Pixabay

High Line

Since 2009 when a stretch of defunct train tracks was reinvented as a public park, it’s become one of the most popular attractions in New York City. Combining art installations, a buzzy dining scene, foliage, flowers, and stunning city views, the High Line provides a nature escape with an urban edge.

Image courtesy of Friends of the High Line, credit: Iwan Baan