Midtown NYC Tips
What do you think about when you think of New York City? If the dazzling lights of Times Square, the hustle-bustle of the Grand Central Terminal, or the breathtaking skyline views of Manhattan from above come to mind, you’re thinking of Midtown, NYC’s most celebrated neighbourhood. Midtown is the city’s beating heart with lots of things to see and do – from admiring contemporary artworks at the Museum of Modern Art to experiencing the glitzy magic of Broadway shows. Technically, it all happens between 14th Street and Central Park South. We asked our local Flytographer’s in NYC what their best tips are for the busiest neighbourhood in Manhattan. What’s the next best thing to being a local yourself? Booking a stay at a hotel in NYC and setting off to explore the city by foot armed with the best things to do in Midtown. Let’s go! 👟
Table of Contents
Midtown Photo Spots & Tips
Midtown is not only the best-known neighbourhood in the city, it also ranks as one of the most photogenic areas of New York with an impressive collection of landmarks. Here are just a few:
- Times Square: Listed as one of the most instagrammable spots in NYC, the colourful, bustling intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue in central Manhattan had to open this list. We’re talking about Times Square, the city’s most vibrant spot. Immerse yourself in the sea of people and admire the iconic cluster of billboards, neon signs, and LED TVs. Don’t forget to climb up the TKTS staircase to get that classic shot pointing downtown. Times Square is also the perfect spot for enjoying people watching and soaking in the Big Apple’s unparalleled energy. ⚡️
- Flatiron Building & Madison Square Park: Another quite prominent intersection in NYC is 5th Avenue and Broadway, where you’ll find the historic triangular-shaped Flatiron Building. This unique beaux arts-style skyscraper was the first steel-framed building in the city and today it still evokes that turn-of-the-century charm. The building looks stunning from all angles, especially those that reveal its unique shape. The Flatiron Building sits across Madison Square Park, an urban sanctuary with lush trees, green grass and benches. The park is a delightful spot for a breather while exploring the area’s many trendy boutiques and high-end dining options. You can also get some stunning shots with the Empire State Building in the background — a double skyscraper deal! 👍
- Grand Central Terminal: You’ve certainly seen this one in countless movies, and its name probably rings a bell. The Grand Central Station, as it’s commonly referred to (even if the official name is Grand Central Terminal), is one of NYC’s most impressive buildings, stunning both outside and the inside. Intricately ornate, the limestone exterior was designed to symbolize the triumph of the railroad age and to look like a gateway to the city. From the outside, you’ll get some great shots featuring the contrast of this neoclassical masterpiece with the Art Deco grandeur of the Chrysler Building or the more modernist features of the MetLife Building right behind it. The interior was curiously modelled after Roman imperial baths but with a masterful circulation plan. Today, approximately seven hundred thousand people cross by the main hall every day, right below the impressive U.S. flag hanging from the ceiling. Despite the hectic atmosphere, it’s also an excellent spot for people-watching. 👀
Best Midtown Activities All Year Round
While in Midtown, you can experience some quintessentially New York activities. Here are some ideas:
- See a Broadway show: Are you ready for some theatre magic? You’re in the right place! Broadway is where you find the best-of-the-best in live entertainment. With its bright billboards and dazzling lights, the theater district has 41 majestic theatres with over 500 seats, each playing a different spectacle. 🤩 Your experience starts with picking a show. Then, visit the theatre’s box office, buy online, or, for last-minute purchases, try your luck and line up at TKTS. With tickets in hand, arrive at least 30 minutes before the show starts and enjoy the spectacle! 💃
- Admire modern masterpieces at MoMA: Commonly known as MoMA, The Museum of Modern art is a global reference for art museums and art galleries with extraordinary exhibitions, film screenings, and shopping and dining options. The highlights of their permanent collection include “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, drip painting works by Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol’s signature Campbell’s Soup Cans, to name a few. 🥫 MoMa also has other institutions in NYC: The MoMa Design Store in Soho and the MoMA PS1 in Queens. The latter features more experimental, thought-provoking art by living artists.
- See the Empire State Building: New York City is fascinating from every angle, but it’s even more mesmerizing from above. Luckily, the city has outstanding observation decks with panoramic views of its ever-changing skyline. Together with the Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building is one of the most recognizable symbols of New York City, and it offers the second-highest observation deck in the Big Apple. 🍎 From The 86th-floor outdoor viewing area, you have 360 degrees of non-obstructed views of the city. A little higher, from the newly renovated 102nd-floor glass observation deck, the views stretch out as far as the eye can see. A nice bonus is that the observation decks stay open late to offer you a glimpse of this magical city gleaming under the night sky. 🌃
- Rockefeller Center: Another iconic New York landmark is the Rockefeller Center and its open observation deck on the 70th floor. Like the Empire State building, from the “Top of the Rock,” as they say, you get breathtaking, unrestricted views of Manhattan and beyond — but from here, there’s something extra special: you’ll get to see The Empire State Building as part of the panorama.
- Book a Flytographer photoshoot: Another fun way to experience Midtown Manhattan is experiencing a Flytographer photoshoot that doubles as a wonderful walking tour. What better way to capture your magical moments in this quintessential NYC neighbourhood? 🤔 There are plenty of landmarks and picturesque spots to explore, and our NYC-based Flytographers will guide you further through the best sites and hidden gems in Midtown NYC during your photo session. Then, all you have to do is relax and have a good time. Your photos will most definitely become memories cherished for a lifetime.
Spring in Midtown
Springtime in NYC is the time that locals and tourists alike enjoy being outdoors. After long winters, New York streets come to life, and locals flock to the city’s parks to enjoy the mild temperatures. Here are some tips for enjoying spring in Midtown: 🌸
- Walk along the High Line: An elevated park built on an old rail line, the High Line extends for over two kilometres and offers an alluring break from the chaotic hustle. From the 3rd story level, you can admire the uninterrupted views of the Hudson River on one side and the city’s skyline on the other. The park also has an exciting collection of public sculptures and community events, such as a farmer’s market. 👩🌾
- NYC’s rooftop bars: When New Yorkers can finally sit outside again, they take the elevators up to the city’s rooftop bars and restaurants. They vary from relatively affordable to very fancy and expensive. A rooftop bar gives you a fantastic experience with the feeling of reaching for great heights — just as the locals like.
- Admire outdoor art: Spring is the perfect time to put that light jacket on and explore Midtown on foot. And while you’re at it, why not look for some street and outdoor art? You can find great open-air art in the High Line and Central Park. NYC is also an open canvas with fantastic street art, surprising your visual sense when you least expect it. 😍
- The Vessel: Suppose you’re looking for something truly unique. In that case, the interconnected staircases of The Vessel in the Hudson Yards form an interactive artwork where you can climb up and admire the city from countless different perspectives and heights. It will be fun trying to pick a favourite view!
Summer in Midtown
Are you wondering what to do on a hot day down in Midtown? ☀️
- Bryant Park: Did you know Midtown can also offer places of natural refuge? A local’s favourite is Bryant Park, with beloved gardens that are beautiful in any season. In summer, you can enjoy many free activities, from concerts and movie screenings to playing board games and even an open-air reading room.
- New York Public Library: Summers in New York can get scorching hot, so it’s always good to have a place with air-con to escape when the heat peaks. The New York Public Library attracts bookworms and architecture enthusiasts alike. Say hello to Patience and Fortitude, the two stone lions guarding its entrance, admire the sensational architecture, and pick up a book to go on journeys in your mind. 📚
- Grab a tea at The Plaza: Another way to escape the heat during summers is to have an elegant mid-afternoon stop by the Palm Court at the legendary The Plaza Hotel. Inspired by the lush greenery of nearby Central Park, the room has an impressive stained-glass dome. The Plaza is famous for hosting distinguished guests from Truman Capote and Scott Fitzgerald to little Macaulay Culkin. The tea session is also commonly called Eloise Tea, after the character of the Eloise books written in the 1950s. ⭐️
Fall in Midtown
October in NYC is downright magic. To many, fall is when the city is at its prettiest. 🍂
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade: Every year the city of New York stops to watch the colourful Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, one of the largest parades in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for the spectacle, you’ll see floating versions of every major cartoon character, from Pikachu to Sponge Bob, parading down the street to lively music — kids, in particular, will love it. 🎈
- Ice skating at Rockefeller Center: There are many ice skating rinks throughout New York City, but the one at Rockefeller Plaza under the golden Prometheus statue is the most famous. In October, when temperatures drop, the rink opens up to everyone’s delight, signalling the start of the holiday season. ⛸
- Marvel at the changing colours of autumn: Weather in New York can be unpredictable during fall: some days are cool, some are warmer, and some are gray and rainy. But one thing is for sure — you’ll get beautiful foliage landscapes. In Midtown, there are several spots for you to get close to nature and admire the gold and red leaves in the trees, like Central Park, Madison Square Park, and Bryant Park, to name a few.
Winter in Midtown
There’s no time like December in NYC. That’s when the city dresses up for Christmas, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see it covered in a blanket of snow. ❄️
- Window shopping on Fifth Avenue: Fifth Avenue is one of the world’s most expensive addresses. Its boutiques throw a show unmatched during the winter holidays: elaborate displays that take window dressing to a whole new level. It’s an excellent idea to visit at night for that magical flair of festival lights. While you’re in the area, take a sneak peek inside St. Patrick’s cathedral and admire its neo-gothic splendour.
- Visit Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree: The Rockefeller Center is also a fantastic spot during the Christmas season, especially after the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. This mid-November tradition of the arrival of a giant tree began in 1933 and it has become the city’s most famous holiday attraction. 🎄
- NYE Ball Drop: Another New York tradition in Midtown is watching the ball drop in Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The area gets jam-packed, so you have to get there early, but when the time comes to party, you can count down and celebrate with New Yorkers and visitors from all parts of the world. Confetti fluttering down from all sides makes the experience even more fascinating. 🎉
Restaurants in Midtown
New York is a city at full speed, but that’s not to say locals don’t also stop to appreciate the finer things in life once in a while — and when they do, that usually means good food. 😋
- The Modern at MoMA: Some say that food is an edible art form. Do you agree? Then head to The Modern, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art. Besides a refined, ever-changing menu, it offers some inspiring views of the famous sculpture garden. Reserve in advance.
- Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant: Did you know you can escape the hectic pace of the Grand Central Terminal by heading to the lower level and find exceptional seafood? The Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant has been in the same spot for nearly one hundred years, and they’ve been perfecting the menu ever since. Legend has it that the chef heads to the New Fulton Fish Market every morning to pick the freshest seafood he can find. 🦞
- N.Y. Pizza Suprema: With so many Italians moving to the city, NYC had to develop its own pizza tradition. New York-style pizza is served large, wide, and in thin slices that are foldable yet crispy. To taste an authentic New York slice, try N.Y. Pizza Suprema, across the street from Penn Station. It’s among the best in town, with a seemingly endless menu and fast and friendly service. 🍕
Cafes & Bars in Midtown
Sometimes a caffeine fix or a drink is just what you need while sightseeing around Midtown. Here’s a shortlist of our favourite Midtown coffee shops and bars.
- Bibble & Sip: Founded by the owner of a communication and design company with a passion for baking, Bibble & Sip in Hell’s Kitchen is inspired by Asian flavours and has gourmet coffee, espresso and, of course, pastries. Spoiler alert: you might get a friendly llama, their motif animal, winking at you with your coffee. 🦙
- Stumptown Coffee Shop and The Lobby at The Ace Hotel: The Stumptown Coffee Shop at the trendy, retro-cool Ace Hotel has a great feeling and social energy. You can enjoy your caffeine fix in the coffee shop or the hotel’s incredible lobby. The latter becomes The Lobby Bar in the evenings; the crowd is a mix of artsy types and tech entrepreneurs from all over.
- Monarch Rooftop Bar: You’ll feel on top of the world at Monarch Rooftop Bar on the 18th floor of the Marriott Courtyard Herald Square. The biggest attraction is the incredible open vistas of the Empire State Building, but they also have friendly service and an impressive cocktails list. Dress upscale and trendy. 👛
Other NYC Tips
A favourite tip for travel, especially in an area as dense as Manhattan, is to utilize your phone’s mapping app like Google Maps. 🗺 Be sure to save any and all things that pique your interest in the city — snacks, meals, streets, shops and boutiques, theatres… all of it! Moving toward the stars saved in your phone not only gives you direction where to go next, but also makes sure you’re never “stuck” somewhere without a great option for food or entertainment. Whether you are exploring Greenwich Village, Brooklyn, SoHo or Central Park – It’s a lifesaver!
What are your thoughts on those megabus tours? Are you a bus sightseeing lover or a hater? 🚌 A nighttime NYC bus tour is a surprisingly, fun, pain-free way to see the city from a different (and higher!) perspective. They’re perfect for families, solo visitors, girls trips, and more. The best part about the nighttime tour is it’s only about an hour, and you get to see everything at sunset and/or lit up. You also get prime visibility of the Times Square signage (at eye level), and a bird’s eye view of some really exquisite apartments and shops that normally are too high to gaze into from ground level. 😉
Capturing Memories in Midtown
There’s so much more to see and do in Midtown Manhattan and the other NYC neighbourhoods. You might also want to see a spectacle at The Radio City Music Hall or the New York Knicks playing at the Madison Square Garden. Perhaps you’re into more architecture? Then head to East Midtown to admire the modernist lines of the Headquarters of the United Nations. 🌎
To make your visit even more memorable, book a Flytographer and experience this great NYC neighbourhood with a unique photoshoot session. 📸
“Amanda is AMAZING! She was early, outgoing, funny, professional but felt like a longtime friend at the same time. We met her in Central Park, she knows it so well. She was terrific with my girls and captured the most amazing photos for us. She had us laughing and made it so much fun. We weren’t having the best time in NY, she really helped us out a lot and made our trip so much better. I can’t wait to print every photo and put them all over our house and my office. Definitely going on our holiday cards. I will tell everyone I know that goes to NY to book with Amanda!”
“Sehee was sweet, flexible and amazing to work with! She made us feel very comfortable in front of the camera and gave clear instructions and guidance. She helped us pose but also let us take a few silly photos. She knows all the best spots to shoot and worked so efficiently. Thank you so much, Sehee!”