When I visited Orlando in October 2017, I had a three day layover in New York. This was my first visit to the Big Apple and with so much to see and so little time, I had to be prepared! From my research, here’s what I’d recommend doing to make the best of 3 Days in New York.
Not planned your trip yet? Click here for my Planning your trip to New York City post.[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kScV7HwnAp4[/embedyt]
Your First Day in New York City
Start off your first day in the Big Apple with a traditional (or is that stereotypical?) breakfast – the bagel. What a way to start your 3 Days in New York. There are so many places around the city to grab a quick bagel to go, you’ll find one close to your hotel. Munch it on the way to Times Square! You can’t go to NYC and not take in the lights of Times Square, the place is crazy! Get that ‘standing in Times Square’ photo for your Instagram profile. Be sure to check it out at night too!
I’m a big fan of getting a bus tour in a new city, I always look out for the routes. Get on the bus near Times Square, get your bearings and see the city from a different perspective. I like checking out the stops and seeing if there’s anything I’d like to see. If you like the look of somewhere then get off, if it’s rubbish then hop straight back on. The bus tours also give you a bit of history of New York and a bit of a background to the tourist attractions and each district.
Quick Tip: Check out Groupon first though for some good deals.
Next up, head to Top of the Rock, the observation deck at the cool Rockefeller Centre. If you’ve bought the New York CityPASS then you have to book your time slot in advance so head along early on the day you want to go up. If you do try and go straight up then you might face a wait time of a few hours. I’d recommend trying to get tickets to go up just as it’s getting dark. There’s a bar on the 65th floor that we didn’t get round to visiting but it looked amazing.
On your Second Day in NYC
A tour of Ground Zero was one of the things that I really wanted to do on my visit. 9/11 was the biggest event of my life and I can vividly remember the events of that day. When I was walking home from school I met my Dad who took me home, telling me what had just happened in New York. I sat in our house and watched as the second plane hit the Twin Towers. I wanted to learn more about that day, the people involved and I wanted to visit the memorial.
The 9/11 Museum opens at 9am and I’d recommend getting there for that time to avoid the queues. I paid an extra $20 (£15 / €17) on top of the CityPASS that I purchased in order to get the guided tour. The tours start every 15 minutes and last for around two hours. The tour describes the events of the day in detail along with stories behind the items on show. It’s something you can’t miss. You should definitely check out the amazing memorial too, it bears the names of all of the victims of that day.
If you visit New York you have to see the Statue of Liberty right? I’ve heard that actually going to the statue isn’t that great so we took the decision to take a boat cruise out. We paid $10 (£8 / €8) extra on top of our New York CityPASS tickets to get the better seats at the top of the boat. It gave us a good view of the statue as we passed it and it was a nice way to spend an hour and a half away from the hustle and bustle of New York.
Quick Tip: You can also take the Staten Island ferry out to the Statue of Liberty for free but you don’t get the tour information.
Another way to avoid the busy streets of Manhattan is to visit the vast Central Park. The park itself is around 850 acres and starts at 59th Street and ends on 110th Street and it’s in the centre of New York! Unbelievable! Take time to chill and wander around the park. There’s so much to see and the nature is really cool. You can hire bicycles or even get taken round in (very expensive) horse and carts.
Your Last Day in the Big Apple
You can’t go to New York and not go up the iconic Empire State. You’ve seen it on the news, on TV shows and in films. You have to go up! On our first day we passed the Empire State building at around 10.30am and the queue was around the next block. We gave it a miss. The Empire State opens at 8am so I would say try and get there for opening to avoid queuing. The views are phenomenal! You cannot miss the Empire State building.
After your visit to the Empire State Building, take your credit card for a walk down Fifth Avenue. Are you looking to treat a loved one? Buy a special Christmas gift? Splurge on yourself? Well this is THE place to shop in New York. You’ll pay for it though! You’ll find Armani, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany amongst a wide array of other luxury shops.
What better to way to end your 3 Days in New York than see a show on Broadway or take in some sport? Order your tickets early though. You’ve got a great selection of musicals on Broadway: Wicked, Hamilton, The Lion King, Aladdin and more. If musicals aren’t your thing then you’ve got a chance to watch basketball, baseball, American football or football (soccer). Tickets for these events can sell out and the prices can vary greatly with the best seats in the house going for $100s. We watched Wicked and I have to say it was something special.
There we go, three amazing days in the Big Apple! What did you do in New York? Can you think of anything else to include within 3 Days in New York?
Feel like you’re missing a hotdog and slice of pizza!
There is no place like New York City. I remember our first visit, we spent the first day thinking “what a rude place” by the end of the second day we were wondering how we can immigrate and live in NYC. It has an indescribable energy and vibe that can not be matched by other cities.
You covered a lot of the must see good job. I bet you want to go back and tick the rest off.
Thanks for sharing. Keep travelling and blogging. Adventure is better when shared with friends.
Hotdog and slice of pizza is a given ;), my bad! It really is such a unique city and with that comes the volume of tourists which makes it unbearable at times too! Thanks for your comment Anthony 🙂
The New York CityPass was a great help and an awesome value-for-money offer, indeed. We also seized the opportunity to queue up in the morning for some remaining broadway tickets for the shows of that night – great bargain!
Good tip on the broadway tickets! Great way to get cheaper tickets
Thank you for an awesome blog, I am heading to NY next Dec, reading your ideas and tips was very helpfull especially the NY citypass. I am looking forward to the Broadway musical too.
I’d love to visit New York in December! Hope your trip goes well 🙂
Thanks for this blog – will probably be heading to NY in 2018, so this is getting bookmarked. What about the food scene there?
I’m not a big foodie to be honest but we were staying near Hells Kitchen and there was a wide range of restaurants. There were the usual fast food places but some really nice restaurants too. One restaurant that I can remember was the West End Bar & Grill for a quick meal before Wicked and that was relatively priced and quite nice
NYC is my dream destination and your post was so inspiring, David! Your post is an excellent guide which I will definitely use when being there. Are three days enough to see all the highlights?
Thanks Agness! There was still so much we could’ve done so we could’ve easily filled another day or two. With that said I didn’t leave disappointed that I missed anything so three days is probably the minimum I’d say!
We will certainly pass by New York on a trip to that part of the continent, and in all probability, it would be for a couple of days . This post will be of help then. Travelling to a big city can be overwhelming if you don’t do indepth research.
Looks like a perfect itinerary to me. You have included the likes of empire state building , central park and other important iconic places without visiting which one will feel like the trip is incomplete. At the same time, you have kept a balance, not adding too many things in the list. I will save it for future reference
Feel like I read this right on time, I’ll be going for a 3 day trip to NYC for new years and have been looking into things to do. Going to the top of the rock is definitely on my list, thanks for the tip on the best time to visit. I also didn’t know you could take the Staten Island ferry for free, I’ll need to look into that
NYC at New Year’s will be amazing! Enjoy 🙂
I have not been able to visit Big Apple yet but I imaging that I would need many days to explore everything I want to see there. It’s such a big city with so much to see. I would love to go there soon!
What a great itinerary for a few days in the city!! Next time you go, I’d encourage you head out to Brooklyn – there’s a bunch of really great, more off beat stuff in the other boroughs. I particularly like Bed Stuy in Brooklyn and Astoria Queens. 🙂
Brooklyn was one area we didn’t get to! Thanks for the tips. Would a day be enough in Brooklyn?
I live in NY, these are great spots, but there is still so many! Glad you enjoyed your first visit, and bagel here in the city
Thanks for sharing. Seems like you enjoyed your time in NYC. Come back next time and explore Brooklyn too. Groupon is also very useful for doing things in the city when you’re on a budget.
Great tips. NY is one of my favourite cities and there are just so many things to do when you only have a short amount of time.
Finally made it to New York this year after a lifetime of dreaming about it! Needless to say, I fell in love with the absolute madness of it. I could’ve planned better, but I ate pizza, saw a broadway show and fit in a few sights along the way. Now I’m itching to go back. I’ll have to bookmark this post for my return, and hadn’t even thought of checking Groupon so thanks for the tip! 🙂
It truly is a place like no other. You managed to eat pizza, saw a broadway show and saw the sights. Sounds like you had a great time in NYC! You’ll have to let me know how your return goes when you get a chance to go back! Groupon is a good option wherever you are – I’ve used it in Europe, the USA and Dubai.
This is a great blog with useful information. Thanks for sharing with us.