I'll admit, after living in New York for two years, and making it a point to visit at least once a year ever since (to visit my darling old roommates and friends) I'd forgotten how to play the tourist in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Then, when I took my fiance, Rich, up for a wedding in New York recently, I planned all these activities that didn't include some of the BEST PARTS of the city. I just assumed he'd already seen it all as well. Turns out, he hadn't been since he was a young kid. “Can we go to Times Square?” he asked, (somewhat sheepishly), and from that point the weekend turned into something else. While I thought I'd hate it, I actually loved showing him some of the most touristy highlights. I put together our 3 day New York itinerary into a post for you guys in case you're planning your first (or 30th) trip to the big apple.
LB Note: I've linked to some popular/well-rated done-for-you tours in the itinerary below, but you can absolutely just walk around and buy tickets for these attractions, no tour guide required. Don't get intimidated! It's easily done on your own. Oh, and my one piece of advice when visiting NYC? Wear walkable shoes and bring a backpack or cross-body purse. You'll walk everywhere. And often you'll leave your hotel room in the morning and not return until the evening. Nothing is more miserable than walking around NYC in uncomfortable shoes and having to go back uptown to change!
3 Day New York Itinerary – For Newbies
Day 1 – Times Square
- Flight – Late Afternoon, arrive at Hotel for 3:00 Check-In (Read my Viceroy Central Park Review here. It's right in the heart of midtown (at 57th and 6th) so accessible to everything, but still close to Times Square!
- Afternoon – Explore Times Square @ Broadway and 7th (4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) If you want a more interactive experience you can hop on a bus tour.
- Dinner – Carmines @ 200 W. 44th (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) Seriously, the yummiest Italian Food. Served in family style dishes so bring your appetite and be prepared to share. Make reservations in advance if you have a party larger than 2!
- Backup dinner option – Sardis @ 234 W. 43rd Street. An NYC legend. On the pricier side, but it's a cool experience. Known for lots of celebrity caricatures on the wall.
- Take in a Broadway Show (8:00 – 11:00 p.m.) There's always lots to choose from. I'm partial to musicals 🙂 You can get tickets at a discount here, on StubHub (if there is a particular show you'd like to see) or the day of (often at a big discount) at the TKTS Booth in Times Square @ West 47th and 7th Avenue
- Dessert – Juniors Cheesecake @ 1515 Broadway If you feel awake enough for a stop, Juniors Cheesecake cannot be missed.
Day 2 – Mid-Manhattan
- Breakfast – @ Hotel (often this is the speediest option) or grabbing a Starbucks. If you want a great brunch option in Midtown, I like Kingside @ 124 W. 57th.
- Late morning/Early afternoon – The Empire State Building @ 350 5th Avenue is a must-do. Click here for admission + skip the line tickets.
- Back-up option – Nearby is also Rockefeller Center at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. You can do one/the other or you can knock those out in the same day if you want to do two iconic buildings/rooftops. Tickets for just 30 rock here, or you can buy a cute combo tour that does 30 Rock and Central Park!
- Lunch – The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park at E. 72nd and Park Drive North (Be sure to check out Central park after you eat!) or if you're staying near Rockefeller Center, here is a list of the best restaurants nearby depending on what you're in the mood for.
- Afternoon – The Museum of Modern Art is also in the vicinity at 11 W. 53rd Street. Not as big and overwhelming as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which takes a full day). You can knock this out in an afternoon. They close at 5:30 most days except for Friday when they're open until 8. Tickets + skip the line info here.
- Dinner – You can go super fancy at The Modern, the four dollar sign restaurant in the MoMa, or choose from one of these top rated gems.
Day 3 – Lower Manhattan
- Breakfast – In my opinion, there isn't much in the Financial District in the way of show-stopping food. On the way downtown, try Murray's Bagels @ 500 6th Avenue or brunch at While We Were Young at 183 W. 10th Street.
- Morning & Afternoon – All of these attractions are in Lower Manhattan and near-ish to each other: Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum – If you want to go up into the observatory, you'll need to book a ticket in advance, and the boat out to The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. LB Note: You can do one or usually 2/3. Doing them all is ambitious, but it can be done.
- Back-up option – If the weather is nice, you can easily walk the Brooklyn Bridge and back in about 1.5 hours! Stunning views + it's free!
- Dinner – recently tried Lafayette @ 380 Lafayette Street or NOMO SoHo at 9 Crosby Street (Literally, the cutest little restaurant-in-a-garden vibe, bad & bougey.) I'd only venture to these if you're not doing a harbor cruise at night and are headed back uptown.
- Evening – If it's warm enough, taking a cruise on the harbor at night is simply amazing. Bring a jacket for the wind!
I'm planning to do another post on the original 3 day New York itinerary I'd planned out for Rich that's geared more toward folks who want to try new neighborhoods and a getaway that resembles more of what locals live like. In the meantime, list your thoughts and/or favorite NYC places in the comments below!