Boats on Central Park

How To Spend Three Days In New York: The Perfect Itinerary

For millions of people around the world, New York City is a dream destination. They’re lured by the bright lights of the Big Apple, which is one of the world’s biggest metropolises.

There’s so much to see in New York, and no two days are the same. If you want to see the main attractions that you’ve always dreamt of such as the Empire State, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square as well as other lesser-known gems, then three full days is the perfect amount of time to spend in the city that never sleeps. And this itinerary is perfect for you.

Day One

The Oculus

Wake up early and ride the subway downtown to The Oculus. On the site of the World Trade Centre, The Oculus is a modern shopping center that also acts as the gateway to the One World Trade Centre Observation Deck and the 9/11 Museum.

Pay to go to the World Trade Centre Observation Deck if you want, it is the highest observation deck in New York after all. But this itinerary includes additional observation decks, and there’s only so much cityscape to take in.

9/11 Tribute Museum & Memorial

Right outside of The Oculus is the 9/11 Memorial.

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

Adjacent to this is the 9/11 Museum, which is built on the site of the twin towers. The museum is essential in making sense of the senseless in terms of one of the biggest tragedies to ever hit America. On display in the museum are various artifacts from the 9/11 attacks, and you can also take guided tours.

9/11 Memorial

Entry to the 9/11 Tribute Museum is $15, or free with the New York Pass and the Explorer Pass. If you book tickets in advance, you can skip the line. If you’re wondering whether or not the New York Pass is value for money, I’ve got a post about that just here

Wall Street

One of the most famous streets in the world, Wall Street is synonymous with money and power. Wall Street is a ten-minute walk from the 9/11 Tribute Museum, and you’ll pass Trinity Church on the way.

Wall Street

Unfortunately, you aren’t able to enter the New York Stock Exchange, but the building is impressive from the exterior. Don’t forget to get a picture with the iconic Charging Bull as well, symbolic of New York’s courage.

Battery Park

Battery Park

Walk five minutes south of Wall Street and you’ll reach Battery Park. The famous park is worth a quick explore, but don’t spend too long because this is also where you’ll buy your tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty

Statue Cruises is the only licensed company to ferry you over to Liberty Island (for the Statue of Liberty) and Ellis Island. The ferry’s run from Battery Park frequently throughout the day, click here for the timetable. Tickets start from just under $20 for an adult, or free with the New York Pass. You need to pass through airport-style security before you can board a ferry, so do be aware of that.

If you book in advance, you can get tickets to climb to the top of the statue’s crown.

Ellis Island

A lot of people just visit Liberty Island and then head straight back to the mainland, make sure to check out Ellis Island as well to find out so much interesting information about early immigration to the States. Definitely worth a visit even if the canteen isn’t.

Brooklyn Bridge

Once you’re back at Battery Park, walk east towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Make sure to walk by the waterfront as opposed to back through wall street and grab a late lunch in the Seaport District.

Seaport

When you’re on the Brooklyn Bridge, it’ll take you between half an hour and an hour to walk it depending on your fitness level and on how many photos you take. The pedestrian walkway of the bridge is 1.1 miles long. A cool fact about the Brooklyn Bridge is that when the chief engineer became ill, his wife Emily Warren Roebling took over. She is now seen as a pioneering female engineer and was the first person to cross the bridge, a week before it officially opened in 1883.

Brooklyn Bridge

DUMBO

The Brooklyn neighbourhood of DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass – has surged in popularity in recent years. DUMBO has a bunch of great places to eat and to explore. Check out the Manhattan Bridge Park and Jane’s Carousel, which is $2 for a ride.

Manhattan Bridge and Empire State Building shot from DUMBO

DUMBO is probably the most popular for the cobblestone street where you can frame a photo of the neighbourhood’s old industrial buildings, the Manhattan Bridge and the Empire State Building in the same shot. Don’t expect to get a photo without anyone else in it though, this has become an Instagram mecca in recent years. To find this perfect photo location, curve left straight as you come to the end of the Brooklyn Bridge and then follow the road back downhill to the river.

Me underneath the Manhattan Bridge

Once you’ve explored DUMBO, have dinner in one of the neighbourhood’s eclectic restaurants and head back to your hotel using the metro system.

Day Two

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

No visit to New York is complete without the Empire State Building. The skyscraper, which was once the tallest building in the entire city, is infamous from appearances in countless movies from King Kong to Sleepless in Seattle.

Empire State Observation Deck

Ascend to the 86th floor for the open-air observation deck with amazing views of the whole city. On a clear day, you can see five different states; New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. If you pay extra, you can ascend further to the 102nd floor, but this isn’t open air.

Prices start at $42 for an adult, or free with the New York Pass.

Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village

After you’ve checked out the views from the Empire State Building, head over Greenwich Village. This diverse neighbourhood is a really immersive experience. Shop (or window-shop) at 5th Avenue, check out the Washington Square Arch, and then grab something to eat at Chelsea Market.

The Whitney Museum of Modern Art

Whilst most tourists will head straight to MOMA, the Whitney Museum of Modern Art is less crowded and more immersive. You could easily spend well over 2 hours strolling around the Whitney Museum taking everything in, even if this kind of thing isn’t usually your kind of thing.

Tickets cost $25.

Catch a Broadway show in the Theatre District

Whilst the pretty big price tag might put some people off, for many catching a show in New York is an experience that they’ll never forget.

Times Square

Times Square at night

When the show is over and it’s suitable dark, head to Times Square which will be illuminated by a multitude of billboards. I’m personally not a fan of Times Square, but if you are going to visit, make sure it’s at night when it’s all lit up.

Times Square at night

Day Three

The Vessel

Officially opened in March 2019, the Vessel is relatively new. The elaborate structure rises 16 stories and is comprised of 154 flights of stairs with 2,500 steps and 80 landings. The Vessel is probably more impressive to look at from the outside of it, rather than actually climbing it, but it’s pretty impressive all the same. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, they’re free, but if you buy on the day you’re likely to be waiting a while because only 700 people are allowed entry at the same time.

The Vessel

After your visit head to a nearby café in Hudson Yards for some brunch.               

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History in New York

From The Vessel, take the metro to Times Square and then change to the red 1 route to 77th Street to get to the American Museum of Natural History. Arguably New York’s most well-known museum, the American Museum of Natural History is worth a visit to check it off your list, but I personally found it pretty disappointing and it pales in comparison to London’s Natural History Museum.

Entry to the museum costs $23 for an adult, but is free with the New York Pass.

If you’re looking for an alternative, try the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, which is a ten-minute walk away from The Met.

Central Park

Me in Central Park

After you’ve left the Museum of Natural History, walk towards The Met which is at the opposite side of Central Park. On the way grab a hotdog for a couple of dollars from one of the many vendors that you’ll find. There’s no need to hurry, so take your time and have a proper wander around the park.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met Museum

Known internationally for Anna Wintour’s annual Met Ball, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an absolute revelation. Even if you’re not that into art, you’ll still be enticed by the well laid out exhibits and end up spending much longer here than you thought. And it’s probably way more accessible than you thought.

Entry tickets are $25, which is valid for three consecutive days at the three Met locations spread across the city. Entry is free with the New York Pass.

Top of the Rock

As the day draws to a close, head back downtown towards central Manhattan. Not as popular as the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre will offer a similar review but crucially, you’ll see the iconic Empire State Building in your panorama.

You’ll already have visited the Empire State Building on your first day to take in the impressive views of the city during the day, but this is the city that never sleeps, so it’s well worth taking in the Top of the Rock at night.

Tickets are $38 for an adult, and it’s an extra $10 to visit during sunset. You can visit the observation deck up until 11pm. Entry is free with the New York Pass.

 

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