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Midtown Manhattan Skyline | © Anthony Quintano/WikiCommons
Midtown Manhattan Skyline | © Anthony Quintano/WikiCommons
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How To Spend A Day In Midtown, NYC

Picture of Dana deLaski
Updated: 9 February 2017
Midtown, Manhattan is a strange place. It’s home to many of the tourist attractions that people travel from all over the world to visit, but it’s also home to most of the office buildings, fast-walking businessmen, and high-rises that give New York the reputation as an unfriendly concrete jungle. So while time in Midtown is often inevitable during a trip to NYC, it can be painful if not done right. That being said, it’s full of hidden gems, so read this guide for information on how to enjoy your time in this neighborhood.

If you’re looking for a quick breakfast bite, Midtown has outposts of many of the exceptional NYC bakeries. Perhaps the best and most unique is Breads Bakery, which has a kiosk at Bryant Park. It’s true that you’ll have to get your goods and eat them in the park (which doesn’t sound so bad), but Breads has the best babka in the city.

For a heartier meal, try The Smith. While it is a chain and there’s a Smith in every neighborhood, it’s still really, really tasty. They’ve got the brunch foods you want in a modern, fun atmosphere.

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After breakfast, you’ll want to check something touristy off your list. If you can’t leave NYC without seeing Times Square or the Empire State Building, you’re lucky that they’re all within walking distance of each other. That said, consider checking out the New York Public Library or Grand Central Station – they’re both beautiful architectural structures that provide much to explore.

For lunch, you can’t miss the Burger Joint, hidden in The Parker Meridian Hotel. The Burger Joint is a classic example of why Midtown can be such fun – it’s full of obvious attractions, yes, but if you do a little digging, you’ll find there is a lot beneath the surface.

If you’d rather keep your options open, head to Urbanspace Vanderbilt. The Urbanspace team has single-handedly turned NYC into a city of food halls, but no one is complaining. Their Midtown outpost is fantastic – you can get beloved Roberta’s pizza, OddFellows ice cream, empanadas, ramen, a lobster roll, and more. In a neighborhood known for its minimal food selection, this is truly a diamond in the rough.

If you haven’t been to MoMA, you should spend your afternoon there. It’s a popular attraction, yes, but for good reason. And if you haven’t been to Top Of The Rock, it’s another can’t-miss sight. NYC locals love it just as much as tourists, as it truly has the best view of the city.

The pace of life in this part of town can be exhausting, so make your evening a relaxing one. Dinner at The Upsider is an excellent choice – a super cool restaurant that you’d never expect to find in this part of town. If you missed a burger for lunch, get one here.

After dinner, chances are you may have Broadway tickets, and if so, your night is set. If not, you may be looking for a drink with a view, and the one good thing about all the tall buildings in this neighborhood is that there are a plethora of rooftop bars. Pod 39 is an excellent choice for something young and fun (plus they have tacos), or check out the rooftop at The Refinery Hotel or The Skylark for something more upscale.

Midtown can be tough. It’s crowded, it’s not pretty, and can be an exhausting place to spend a day. And while it’s home to many of the essential tourist spots in the city, it’s also full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.