How to spend a long weekend in New York?
Whatever you name it: The Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps, or the World Capital, there’s no denying that New York City is one of the liveliest and exciting cities on the planet.
For millions of people all over the world, exploring this multicultural metropolis has been a lifelong dream. The bright lights of Times Square, the independence represented by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and the human aspect of someone striving to make it big have all been depicted in Hollywood films and television shows for decades.
Three days in New York City might not be enough to see all the city has to offer – after all, it is massive – but they will be more than enough to see many of the city’s most iconic attractions.
The best way to get a sense of the city on your first visit to New York is to break it down into sections. So, without further ado, here is our recommended itinerary and travel tips for 3 days in New York City to help you make the most of your first visit to the city that never sleeps.
Day 1 – First Day
It’s time to get on the popular New York Subway and head to WTC Cortland Station after enjoying a delightful New York City breakfast.
One World Observatory
The One World Observatory was inaugurated in 2015 as a replacement for the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, and it has since attracted thousands of tourists every day.
It’s one of the best ways to begin your three days in New York because you’ll be able to see the city in all of its glory from the 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors of the USA’s tallest building.
Arrive as early as possible, as this is a very common attraction with long lines. The wait is worthwhile, and on a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire city.
9/11 Memorial Museum
After you’ve finished at the One World Observatory, head over to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which is just around the corner. This is one of those museums that is often crowded, so arrive as quickly as feasible and avoid the lines that will develop inevitably.
The 9/11 Memorial is a very moving place, and learning more about the tragedy that rocked the world is very upsetting. Whatever your point of view, it’s a sad chapter in history. We’ve visited many museums and memorials around the world, and the 9/11 Memorial was without a doubt one of the most well-thought-out and moving exhibits we’ve ever seen.
It would be a shame to spend three days in New York City without seeing The Oculus, a spectacular architectural marvel. It’s a stunning reinterpretation and replacement for the previous PATH train station, which was demolished during 9/11, and it’s just a short walk from the 911 Memorial and Museum.
You’ll undoubtedly spend a lot of time roaming at this futuristic train station, which also acts as a shopping centre and plaza. It’s a perfect way to unwind before heading out for a bite to eat and continuing your New York City discovery.
Take a short walk to Manhattan’s southernmost point and the popular Battery Park, where the tour ferries depart to take you to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Battery Park offers spectacular views of the waterfront and is a pleasant place to walk.
While it is mostly a relaxed environment where many people simply walk around or lounge on the lawn, there are a few highlights to see. If the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Skyscraper Museum spark your interest, they are both excellent places to visit in New York City.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will consume the majority of your afternoon, but it is one of the most rewarding sights to see in the region. The Statue of Liberty is a true New York City landmark, with the iconic ‘Lady Liberty’ symbolizing equality and prosperity for millions of international immigrants over the years.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United States from France in the nineteenth century, was dedicated on October 28th, 1886, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a must-see attraction in New York City. So line up and use your New York CityPASS to get your complimentary ticket.
The next stop is Ellis Island, which houses an interesting museum dedicated to the city’s immigration past. Be prepared for huge crowds as this is one of the city’s most famous and must-see attractions. Both Liberty Island and Ellis Island are fantastic experiences, so make sure you schedule enough time to visit both.
After your fantastic tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, it’s time to visit another famous New York City attraction: Wall Street!
Wall Street is the financial centre of the United States, and it has been used in hundreds of Hollywood films and television shows. So, what are your options on Wall Street?
First and foremost, sights such as the George Washington statue and the Federal Hall National Monument are worth seeing. The New York Stock Exchange is another interesting attraction on Wall Street that you should not miss during your three days in New York City.
Unfortunately, no one is allowed to enter the Stock Exchange. Nonetheless, the most important thing to do on Wall Street, however, is to take a picture with the famous Charging Bull! This must-see bronze sculpture is extremely successful, with thousands of eager visitors lining up to take a photo with the bull, which reflects business optimism.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge, located on the east side of Lower Manhattan, is just a short walk from Wall Street. And no trip to New York will be complete without a stroll.
The pedestrian walkway is about a mile long and is kept separate from the zipping cars on your side, allowing you to cross safely. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of your first day in New York City is a great way to relax into the evening.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Once you’ve crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, head west to begin your exploration of Brooklyn’s incredible borough. Begin by strolling through Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has recently been revitalized and is now one of the city’s most popular destinations.
It spans 85 acres along the Hudson River on Brooklyn’s west side, and there are always activities going on there. However, if you arrive late at night, the best thing to do is sit and take in the scenery, which includes some of the best views of the New York City skyline.
Dinner in DUMBO
When you’ve done taking photos of the New York City skyline, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and explore the trendy DUMBO neighborhood.
DUMBO (which stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a fantastic neighborhood to visit, with some of the best views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
Walking around and taking in the air is the best thing to do when you’re down here. This is also a great place to eat dinner before wrapping up the first day of your three-day New York City itinerary.
Day 2 – Second Day
We’ll start the day with a relaxing stroll along The High Line, one of New York’s most exclusive and relaxing spots. Take the subway to 34th Street-Penn Station or 23rd Street Station, then walk west.
Walking on the High Line
The High Line is an experience you should not skip, particularly if you want to get away from the bustling crowds of New York City for a few hours.
This high pedestrian walkway is a public park constructed on the site of an old freight rail line, and it’s pleasingly quiet compared to the traffic below, with its high platforms winding through a small part of Manhattan.
Empire State Building
Take a taxi or walk the 1 mile to the Empire State Building for a glimpse into New York’s past from the edge of one of the world’s most iconic structures. The Empire State Building opens at 8 a.m., and we suggest arriving about that time to avoid the crowds, since it is one of New York’s most famous destinations.
A single hour can make the difference between standing in a long line and being able to walk right in. One of the best parts to do is to look down on the city from the Empire State Building observation deck. As wild, hectic, and noisy as New York City is, there’s a sense of peace when you’re looking down on the sprawling metropolis from above.
American Museum of Natural History
This museum is a massive complex of over two dozen connected buildings. It’s such a massive repository of information that you won’t be able to see everything in it even though you devote an entire year to it.
There are tens of millions of objects on display at the museum, including some of the most interesting pieces of human and natural history. You’ll know about Lucy, a million-year-old ancestor of ours, as well as the Great Blue Whale, rainforests, and much more.
Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (commonly known as “The Met”) is one of the world’s most visited art galleries and is located in a beautiful building opened on February 20, 1872.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses over 2 million pieces of art from over 5,000 years of history. Work from Ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages, and even Japan, as well as American art from the 17th century to the modern-day, can be found here.
Central Park, known as New York’s backyard, is unquestionably one of the city’s most famous locations. You’ll want to get out into nature and walk around this vast, spectacular park after spending many hours in the nearby museums.
It’s incredible to see that New York has prioritized preserving the city’s most beautiful scenery, despite its location in the heart of Manhattan, in what is clearly prime and costly real estate. There’s plenty to see in Central Park, from the Strawberry Fields to the Belvedere Castle and the Zoo.
If you enjoy shopping and fashion, you must go to Fifth Avenue, which is located just across the street from Central Park on the east side.
From Chanel to Louis Vuitton, you’ll find every chic luxury brand here, and if your budget allows, you’ll almost certainly walk away with something that will cost you much more than you care to think about.
Any ride to NYC should include a stop on Broadway, and no matter how tired you are, you should still try to catch a show.
If you want to see a play, be sure to schedule ahead of time because the best shows will sell out months in advance.
Following your Broadway performance, make your way to Times Square, which is where New York’s energy truly awakens.
It is not a square, but rather a point where 7th Avenue and Broadway meet to form the four quarters that surround it. There are a lot of street performers who work for tips, churches that perform gospel music, pricey yet fantastic restaurants, and so much more.
You can still sit and watch the crowds if you don’t want to participate in the whirlwind of people and energy.
Day 3 – Third & Last Day
The last day in New York City will be spent exploring the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan.
One of the most common myths about Little Italy is that the only reason to go there is for the delicious food. In reality, Little Italy has a lot of things to see and do that are just as good as anywhere else.
Some of New York’s trendiest clothing stores, as well as some of the city’s best bars, can be found here.
A long weekend in New York isn’t complete without a trip to Chinatown, which is conveniently located across Canal Street from Little Italy. This is a great attraction for everyone because it combines tradition, culture, and scrumptiousness.
The entire district feels like one massive attraction, which is fascinating to consider given that it is also home to the world’s largest Chinese population outside of Asia. A large variety of authentic restaurants, funky little stores, and street markets with a general sense of community can be found here.
New York City Hall
The City Hall of New York, which is one of the oldest in the United States, is just a 15-minute walk from Chinatown. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture, and its design is one of New York City’s most recognized. It’s been used in several films and television shows, and it’s as well-known as many of the city’s other landmarks.
If you’d like, you can also take a tour of City Hall and learn more about its fascinating past. You’ll learn about the inner workings of the New York City government, including the Mayor’s and City Council’s offices.
Greenwich Village, like many other parts of New York City, has been featured in many films. You’ll have to stop by if you’re on a quest to see all of the city’s most popular sights.
In the 1960s, the entire village was a neglected haven for artists and bohemians, and it is now one of the city’s most fashionable neighborhoods.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is just a 5-minute walk away, where you’ll be met by a stunning marble arch, an impressive fountain, and a plethora of lovely, shady trees.
The place where several of New York City’s avant-garde artists congregate, where people play chess, and there are plenty of happy children playing around.
There’s something unsettling about standing next to a lifelike sculpture of someone you’ve read about or seen on TV. It’s not only about taking selfies with the wax figures; it’s also about the environment and appearance.
Unlike most other museums, Madame Tussauds invites visitors to engage. Remember, instead of standing idly by and staring at the figures from afar, you’re urged to stroke them, take photographs of them, and strike various amusing poses.
Bryant Park, located only a few blocks from Times Square, is a relatively quiet spot despite its proximity to the heart of Manhattan.
You’ll enjoy the large lawn surrounded by beautiful gardens, and it’ll almost feel like you’re in a haven amid the city’s turmoil.
Though it isn’t as lush and green in the winter, it is one of the best Christmas decorations locations in New York City.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The cathedral was built in a splendid (and striking) style in the second half of the nineteenth century. The exterior, however, began to crumble due to years of wear and tear, pollution, and acid rain.
The city wanted to revamp the beautiful structure both inside and out, and the project cost about $200 million.
That might seem to be a large sum of money, but once you step inside, you’ll see that it was well worth it.
It’s a must-see destination with a lot of intricate details, but it’s also religiously and historically significant.
Rockefeller Center, located just south of Central Park on Manhattan’s east side, is one of the city’s very good locations, as it houses numerous and significant studios for various networks and shows.
The Rockefeller Center is a place where you can quickly get lost, with everything from the NBC building to the Radio City Music Hall and even the American Girls Doll Store.
This is also where the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is recorded, and if you’re a fan, you may be able to sit in on a live show.
Top of the Rock
The perfect way to finish your 3-day New York City itinerary is to take in a beautiful evening sight of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock observation tower.
It’s a sight to see as more and more lights in Manhattan come to life as the evening draws in. Nevertheless, make sure you have plenty of time to get there, as it gets very busy in the evenings.
Overall, seeing New York from such a high vantage point is one of the most memorable ways to see the world. We believe the view from this vantage point is superior to others because you can see the famous Empire State Building lit up across the street.