5 Overlooked NYC Midtown Attractions

New York City might be the most exciting city in the world, and Midtown is where a lot of the action happens.

Many of NYC’s most famous attractions are here, including Broadway, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Museum of Modern Art, but there are plenty of overlooked NYC Midtown attractions as well. There’s a lot more to see and do than just the famous iconic spots.

From interesting museums to cool nightclubs and hidden park areas, Midtown has a lot of entertainment options of all kinds. Check out our list of five overlooked attractions in Midtown Manhattan that will keep you away from those huge crowds.

Museum of Arts and Design

Located near the corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle on 59th Street, the Museum of Arts and Design doesn’t get as much attention as the Museum of Modern Art. But, the Design Museum is worth checking out because of its specific focus on design and craft elements.

Current attractions include “The Art of the Mannequin” and a “Pathmakers” exhibit that highlights the contributions made by women to the worlds of arts and design from the 1950s through today.

NYC Midtown Attractions: Birdland

Named for the legendary Charlie Parker, Birdland opened in 1949 and immediately became a hot spot for live jazz music. The club has moved locations a few times over the years, but it now packs in patrons at its 44th street location near Times Square.

Hearing jazz music in an old-school candlelight setting is a great way to experience a taste of nostalgia and one of the very cool NYC Midtown attractions.

Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

ice skaters - attractions in midtown manhattan
The ice rink is one of the top NYC midtown attractions.

The home of NBC Studios and the Top of the Rock observation deck, Rockefeller Center itself is well-known as a tourist destination. But not everyone is aware that during the winter, guests can ice skate on an outdoor rink beneath the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

Rates are under $30 per person when the rink is open from October to April, and private lessons are available. The rink is limited to 150 skaters at a time, so it won’t get as crowded as some other NYC holiday attractions.

Discovery Times Square

The Discovery Channel has its own museum featuring displays that range from the human body exhibition Body Worlds: Pulse, to the immersive Hunger Games presentation featuring props, costumes, and hands-on experiences from the adventure film series.

Past exhibit subjects include King Tut, Harry Potter, the Titanic, and Leonardo da Vinci. Discovery Times Square is located on W. 44th Street and is open until 8 p.m. (or later) seven days a week.

Paley Park

There aren’t a lot of public parks within Midtown proper, and the biggest (Bryant Park) can get loud and crowded. While much smaller, Paley Park is worth visiting. It has a falling water display with locust trees and flowers that help create a brief break in the nonstop chaos of NYC. Visitors can sit at the tables to eat or socialize at this peaceful park on E. 53rd Street.

One last tip: If you plan to explore Midtown Manhattan, check out La Bernardin restaurant for great French food, Beer Culture for quality craft beer, and the Archer Hotel for affordable Midtown lodging.

For further reading, here’s an additional list of my favorite lesser-known New York City places, including Riverside Park and the Irish Hunger Memorial. And if you’re willing to head to the Upper West Side, here’s a story about my visit to the Seinfeld diner.

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