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 most of your three days.
Not planned your trip yet? Click here for my Planning your trip to New York City post.
Your First Day in NYC
Start off your first day in the Big Apple with a traditional (or is that stereotypical?) breakfast – the bagel. 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
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 stay 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? What should I do next time I visit?