New York City is one of those places that is likely on everyone’s list to visit, especially for us women. The allure of the high fashion, the bright lights, and non-stop nightlife has everyone hungry for a taste. It’s the perfect destination for a girls getaway and in this post, I’m sharing the best things to see and do to have the ultimate girls weekend in New York City.
How to Get To New York City
Depending on where you are coming from driving or taking a bus may be an option. If you are driving, however, be aware of high parking fees and difficulty in finding a parking space. New York City also has a major train station, as well as a port frequented by some cruise lines.
There are three airports in the area; JFK and La Guardia in New York, and Newark in New Jersey. Personally, I prefer La Guardia as it is closest to Manhattan and not overly crazy busy. If you arrive here expect to spend about 30-45 minutes to get into the city by taxi (depending on traffic). All of my visits in NYC have been short, 3-day visits, so I want to get as much time as possible. Most airports also offer a shuttle bus service, however, depending on others’ destinations and traffic the ride may end up taking a couple of hours. If you aren’t in a rush or have longer, say 5 days or more to explore, you can save some money by taking advantage of one of these shuttle buses. Your best bet is to book online in advance (try Super Shuttle) to cut down on waiting time.
Girls Weekend in New York City: Where to Stay
For your girls weekend in NYC, you probably want to be in Manhattan. Manhattan is rather large, so try to pick somewhere close to a subway station or closest to the main sights you want to see. I like staying near Times Square as it is very central and a lot of fun to walk through at night. It’s also close to Broadway theatres and numerous restaurants. If you can afford to splurge on a hotel, I highly recommend The New York Renaissance by Marriott in Times Square; the lounge overlooking Times Square is the perfect place to relax with a drink and some appetizers after a busy day and the view through the floor-ceiling glass windows can’t be beat!
For something more affordable, try the Four Points by Sheraton Midtown. It’s only a couple blocks from Times Square this hotel has fantastic customer service (free bottled water and cupcakes anyone?) and a cool sky bar.
A third option which I also liked was the RIU Plaza Times Square. It’s a large and busy hotel but rooms are clean, comfortable, and breakfast is included in most rates. Plus it’s only a block from Times Square.
Girls Weekend in NYC: Where to Shop
Shopping is a must for any girls weekend in NYC because New York City is a shopaholic’s dream come true. From the fancy high-class stores on 5th avenue to trendy boutiques in the boroughs, there is something for everyone to be had.
Not to miss is, of course, is 5th avenue. Take a peek at the luxury goods in Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Avenue. Keep up with the techies and the innovative apple store, and of course, find your perfect diamond at Tiffany’s. Even if you could never in a million years afford anything on 5th avenue it’s worth the walk to window shop and just experience for yourself. The area is full of tourists and dreamers, so don’t worry about not belonging; you will be greeted and welcomed the same as everyone else.
If you happen to visit during the holiday season, then you absolutely HAVE to walk down here and check out the amazing window displays. Word of warning; the crowds are insane, especially on weekends, so make sure you have time and don’t need to leave in a rush.
For discount luxury goods, pop into Century 21 on Broadway. While reviews are mixed, those who are willing to spend the time and do a little digging have come out with some great finds.
For something more budget-friendly, be sure to head down to the flagship Macys store at Herald Square. With two buildings at 9 floors each there is plenty to choose from for both men and women, and as an added bonus they frequently have sales. Here you can also find the world’s largest shoe floor with brands to fit every budget.
Girls Weekend in NYC: Where to Eat
Breakfast at Tiffany’s used to just be a movie, but now you can actually eat in this famous 5th avenue store. The Blue Box Cafe opened in November 2017 and is a fun brunch pick for a girls trip to NYC. It did shut down temporarily but is set to re-open in 2023.
Reservations open online 30 days in advance at 9am EST and book up quickly, but if you are lucky enough to get a table, it’s definitely worth it and the perfect place to have a meal for a girls trip to NYC. It’s a small but cute cafe with a varied menu offering different breakfast, lunch, and even afternoon tea options. Learn more here.
For an afternoon break while shopping head the restaurants in Macys or Bergdorf Goodman. Whether you are looking for a meal or a small treat, these venues make a great place for a little rest. The BG restaurant offers gorgeous views over Central Park while Stella’s restaurant in Macy’s offers a beautiful skyline view by the Empire State Building. Or, if you’re in Central Park head to the MET and, weather permitting, go up to their rooftop martini bar for a refreshing drink and a bite.
If you really want to spoil yourselves, then indulge in an English tradition New York City Style and have afternoon tea. There are plenty of choices around the city ranging from a traditional English tea to Asian inspired menus such as that offered at the Mandarin. To avoid disappointment, most places recommend making reservations ahead of time. If you can afford the splurge, afternoon tea at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel is delicious and perfect for a special girls trip to New York City.
While there is no shortage of restaurants, of any variety, in New York City, it can be tricky to find a good meal pre/post-Broadway show. My personal favourite is John’s Pizza on 44thW. Located in an old church, the venue is gorgeous with fast service that will have you out in time for the show. And their pizza, in a constant battle as one of the best in the city, is to die for. Be prepared to wait a bit though as this is a popular spot and they do not take reservations. If you’re not seeing a show, come a little later (around 8pm) and you will find a much smaller crowd.
Another of my favourites in the same area is Trattoria Tre Colori. Again, you may have to wait a while (although you can make reservations online) but the pasta here is delicious making it one of my top go to places to eat in New York City.
As for something sweet? You can’t leave New York City without trying Junior’s Cheesecake!
Girls’ Night Out in NYC
In the city that never sleeps there is plenty to do at night, even if dressing up and hitting the club isn’t your thing. A Broadway show is always a great way to spend an evening. If you have your heart set on a certain show, book online in advance. Top seats will run you over US$300 but you can still sit in the Orchestra for half of that. Low-end tickets tend to run around the US$50 mark depending on the show. If you don’t care what you see, and you’re up for anything, join the TKTS queue in Time Square to get discount last minute tickets on any shows that haven’t sold out. The earlier you arrive, the better.
My favourite shows (so far!) is The Lion King!
On a nice night, why not get dressed up and head to a rooftop bar. There are plenty around the city, ranging in price. For a budget-friendly option head to the Lounge at Pod 39 in Midtown for some incredible views of the Empire State Building. Before heading anywhere though, be sure to check the dress code. While some venues are casual others have high expectations.
Broadway shows and bars aren’t your thing? Then why not take this opportunity for a bit of sight-seeing. Depending on the season, boat cruises offer night tours for breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline lit up against the night sky. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building are also open late for night time views. And of course, Times Square is pretty amazing at night.
Touring Around New York City
New York City has so much to see and do, but here are a few of my favourite suggestions that are perfect for a girl’s trip to NYC.
New York City is home to many celebrities and serves as the set for a multitude of films and tv shows including Sex and the City and Friends. Choose your favourite and take speciality tours that will lead you around the city to the top film spots. Try a Sex and the City Tour like this one.
You can even do a Sex and the City themed night out here.
One of my favourite NYC tour companies is A Slice of Brooklyn. Foodies will love their pizza or chocolate tours. Or, if you are visiting NYC at Christmas, then the Dyker Heights Christmas tour is a must!
One of my favourite ways to site-see around New York is by taking a boat cruise. It’s relaxing, with awesome views, and is perfect for escaping the crowds (and the heat if you are visiting during the summer!) Book your boat cruise tickets here or sunset harbour cruise tickets here.
New York City has a ton to offer and cater’s to everyone’s interests. A girls trip to New York City is the perfect way to spend a weekend with your best friends.
A Note on Travel Insurance in the USA
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.