How to Spend the Perfect Mother-Daughter Weekend in NYC

Looking to bond with your mom or your daughter? No matter what age you are, a mother-daughter weekend getaway to New York City is sure to be a big hit, with food, shopping, and entertainment galore. The question is, with so many things to do, how do you possibly plan an itinerary? We’ve got you covered with the best activities for a weekend ladies' trip to the Big Apple. And with Mother's Day around the corner, we hope you book soon!

Friday Afternoon: Arrival

After a long work week, head to NYC via plane, train, or automobile. While New York’s three major airports are a fair distance to Manhattan (JFK and Newark are easily reachable by public transportation, while a cab is likely your best bet from LaGuardia), its two main train stations -- Grand Central and Penn -- are right in the heart of the action. Driving in is always an option if you live nearby, but be prepared for traffic heading into the city and sky-high parking prices.

Friday Afternoon: Check-in

A room at the Beekman.

A room at the Beekman.

If you’re only in town for a weekend, we suggest staying at conveniently located hotel -- this means Manhattan. For a luxurious Times Square stay, we recommend the five-pearl Knickerbocker, and for some downtown swank, we suggest the Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, which just opened in a renovated 19th-century building in 2016.

For other recommendations, check out our expert reviews and photos of 389 Manhattan hotels.

Friday Night: Dinner and a Show

Partake in one of New York’s time-honored traditions enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Book your tickets in advance for one of Broadway’s hottest shows, or consider using a last-minute ticket app like TodayTix to score a great deal. For your pre-show dinner, you can avoid the crowds and overpriced menus in Times Square and explore Hell’s Kitchen -- home to great spots like La Pulperia (Latin American/seafood) and Print (American). But, if you want to embrace the neighborhood’s kitsch, visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where waitstaff serenades diners.

Saturday Morning: Sightseeing

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wake up early and get ready for a morning of fun. For your tourist activities, you’ll have to decide which path you want to take. If you’re of the museum-going tribe, head to Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum, and many more. Looking to take in NYC’s architecture? Try one of the 2.75-hour AIANY Architecture Boat Tours. Want to wander the parks? Stroll the Highline in Chelsea, or make for the perennial favorite Central Park (we love the Conservatory Garden for a more leisurely activity, but little ones might enjoy the Central Park Zoo).

Saturday: Lunch

For lunch, try one of Manhattan’s two Eataly's -- the original location in the Flatiron neighborhood or the new location in the Financial District. Both offer sit-down restaurants, but you can also sample all types of Italian fare at their marketplace-style booths. Don’t miss the gelato for dessert!

Saturday Afternoon: Pampering

New York has hundreds of spas and salons with varying treatments. For an immersive experience for adults, try the Great Jones Spa in NoHo, which, in addition to treatment rooms, a salon, and a juice bar, has a wet lounge with a hot tub, a cool plunge pool, a steam room, and a sauna, not to mention a three-story waterfall at the center of it all. If you’re traveling with a younger daughter, consider dropping by Milk & Cookies Kids Spa and Salon on the Upper East Side for mother-daughter mani pedis.

Saturday: Dinner

There are practically limitless restaurants to splurge at -- Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Sushi Nakazawa -- but we recommend the newly reopened Union Square Cafe, a Danny Meyer classic. Just be sure to make a reservation well in advance for a prime-time meal. For a more family-friendly meal, try Max Brenner, also in Union Square, which offers a chocolate-themed menu.

Saturday Night: Late-Night Fun

If you're not tired yet, consider taking a trip to Top of the Rock (the observation deck atop 30 Rockefeller Center) or One World Observatory at the World Trade Center. There’s nothing like the view of the skyline at night. Alternatively, moms and adult daughters might want to enjoy one of New York’s famous cocktail bars -- our favorites include Attaboy and Blacktail -- or a late night comedy show. Comedy Cellar routinely has surprise guest appearances from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K, and Dave Chappelle.

Sunday: Brunch

After the long day yesterday, ask for a late check-out and sleep in. When you awake, indulge in one of New York’s famous brunches. Russ & Daughters Cafe on the Lower East Side offers Jewish comfort food -- yes, you need to get a bagel -- and some other local favorites include Jack’s Wife Freda, Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant, and Balthazar.

Sunday Afternoon: Shopping

A trip to New York isn’t complete without a little shopping. There are multiple options here, but they can be broken down into four main categories: Fifth Avenue, SoHo, department stores, and downtown malls. Fifth Avenue is, of course, known for its high-end stores. SoHo also has luxury brand names, but a fair number of independent boutiques as well. New York’s classic department stores include Macy’s (the largest department store in the world), Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys. Downtown has seen an interesting resurgence of shopping malls between the opening of Brookfield Place and Westfield World Trade Center -- two separate entities that are connected via an underground passage. At the former you'll find more luxe brands, while the latter has mid- to upper-range stores.

Sunday Afternoon: Departure

Though it may be hard to leave, just remember -- your next trip to New York is waiting right around the corner.

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