New York City Weekend Getaway Guide: 48 Hours in the Big Apple

48 hours in New York City is doable, if that’s all the time and credit card damage you can swing. Here’s what to squeeze in

Credit: Flickr/Trey Ratcliff

If you’ve got only two days in NYC, stay in the heart of the action in Times Square

New York City highlights for a quick weekend trip include Times Square, Soho, Top of the Rock and the MOMA

A weekend in Manhattan sounds like bliss to some (who like to go hard and go home) and torture to others (who’d need two days just to do Century 21).

48 hours in New York City is absolutely doable, though, if that’s all the time and credit card damage you can swing. Here’s what to squeeze in.

Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel / Image: Courtesy Renaissance Hotel

Where to Stay in New York City

Manhattan’s a big place, so it’s a good idea to stay centrally in Midtown. Most neighbourhoods and attractions you’d want to visit are a quick subway trip away, or easily within walking distance.

And don’t bother packing the Carrie Bradshaw Manolos – you will need your comfiest walking shoes. Walking a ton is inevitable in the city that doesn’t sleep.

Consider staying in Times Square—for two days it’s buzzy and fun (if you stayed for a week the hyper-blinking neon and droves of tourists would drive you cuckoo).

Book yourself into the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel where the décor is hip (especially the ultra-chill lounge area one floor up from the tiny main floor check in) and the rooms are large and surprisingly quiet.

Be sure and download the Renaissance “Navigator” App to your smartphone. It’s like having your own concierge on hand wherever you go in the Big Apple – with tips on where to eat, where to hang, and more. Navigator’s website is updated often and is well worth a peek for insider tips before you arrive.

See Manhattan from the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center / Image: Flickr

Day 1: Times Square and Surrounding Area

You can’t see every museum or gallery in this short time, so an easy walk to the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) from the hotel is a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Afterward, especially on a clear day, go to nearby Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, especially if you’ve already taken in the view from the Empire State Building on a previous trip.

Feel like shopping? Since you’re right at the Shops at Rockefeller Center you can check out Anthropologie, Ann Taylor and other stores you can’t find in BC – and be sure and check out Bouchon Bakery for gorgeous French pastries.

Nightfall is the time to explore Times Square, so take advantage by kicking back in the Renaissance’s R Lounge at Two Times Square, with its floor to ceiling windows and the absolute best panoramic view of the dazzling streets where ‘the ball drops’ every New Year’s Eve. Sip a cocktail, and nibble a few “Blue Ribbon Classics” like the white bean hummus toast or grilled cheese panini.

Afterward, stroll the streets, or take in a Broadway play if you were smart enough to order tickets beforehand (or got a great same-day deal at the TKTS booth). And make sure you save room for a stop at world-famous retro-diner Junior’s, for a slice of unbelievable cheesecake for dessert.

Soho has some of the best shopping in NYC / Image: Flickr

Day 2: Shopping in Soho

Head to Soho by subway – today’s a shopping day. Aren’t you glad you wore those comfy shoes?

Fave shops are plentiful in this ultra-stylish neighbourhood, where high-end designer boutiques share real estate with some of the best cheap-n-chic labels of the world.

The mix of shopping opps in Soho is what makes it so appealing. Worth checking out is Madewell for fabulous jeans in loads of cuts and styles, slinky sweaters, and trends-of-the-moment that are chic, not silly.

Britain’s Top Shop has made a home in Soho now as well, so plan to spend some time in its multi-level boutique where all the trends (at decent prices) are covered. Don’t miss the shoe department.

All that trying on of clothes builds up an appetite. Carb fans will adore Mac Bar on Prince Street, where all they do is (you guessed it) macaroni and cheese. The Mac Lobsta’ (with chunks of lobster, cognac and mascarpone) and the Mac Quack (with duck confit and fontina) are delightfully gooey, decadent and rich. In sizes small, medium and large – just like sweaters.

Speaking of sweaters, hit up Uniqlo. Like a Japanese Gap, this multi-level shop carries great basics (like merino/cashmere cardigans for around $20), plus pretty much every trend for women and men at rock bottom prices. You’ll be glad you had lunch first. Plan to spend some time sifting through the racks; it’s well worth it. 

Interested in a little wedding dress shopping while in the Big Apple? Try the J. Crew Bridal Boutique, where you can sip sparkling water or champagne while you model gowns.

Even if, as your 48 hours come to a close, you leave New York City without shopping bags, you’ll undoubtedly be armed with tales of big-city adventures and a desire to go back for more.