The best things to do in New York
Planning a visit to New York City and want to make the most of it? We’ve put together a New York City itinerary to help you.
From cruises and tours to museums and the great outdoors, our itinerary will help you to get a real slice of New York life
We’ve put together all of the “must-see” and “must-do” New York City attractions and organised them into one easy-to-follow ‘Best of New York City in 3 Days’ itinerary.
Not only will this 3-day itinerary save you time and eliminate stress on your trip, it will also save you money.
This itinerary includes:
- Empire State Building
- Circle Sightseeing Liberty Cruise
- Museum of Modern Art
- Top of the Rock
- Radio City Music Hall
- American Museum of Natural History
- Central Park Bike Tour
- Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour
- 9/11 Tribute Center
- SHARK Speedboat Ride
Remember, this 3-4 day itinerary is just one of the many ways to experience New York City. Finding your own little gems can sometimes be even more exciting.
The New York City Explorer Pass® gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests. Plus another advantage is the cost savings, helping you to save up to 45%.
First Stop – Empire State Building
Begin your day with a visit to one of the most iconic buildings in all of New York City – the Empire State Building. Ascend to the 86th floor of this architectural marvel for some of the best views and photo opportunities.
In addition to being a fascinating structure, the Empire State Building is also steeped with historical significance. There’s a lot to offer for architecture buffs, for example, with regards to its art deco décor. Don’t forget your camera and make sure you don’t drop it when taking those pictures of the New York City skyline.
Extra tip: Plan the timing of your visit to the Empire State building, if timed right just before sun set you will get to see how the city transforms from day to night. It is quite magical to watch.
Getting In: We recommend reserving at least 2 hours for this attraction. This early in the morning elevator lines should be modest, but they will add to your overall time spent at the attraction.
Second stop – Statue of Liberty
Next you’ll want the chance to see another one of New York’s famous landmarks – the Statue of Liberty. Of course, it can often be difficult to get great photos from Liberty Island itself because you’re just too close to the statue.
A local secret is that you don’t have to pay expensive cruise fares to get great pictures. Jump aboard the Statten Island ferry for free which passes right by the impressive Status of Liberty.
Lunch in Hell’s Kitchen
Feeling peckish after your ferry trip? Then head east into the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. Although it was once a developing neighbourhood, today it’s filled with hidden gems and delicious restaurants, from Italian to Irish and, of course, New York-style pizza.
Third Stop – Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Spend your afternoon in one of the best art institutions in the world – the Museum of Modern Art. Located in an airy and contemporary space, their significant collections of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, and more are thought-provoking and inspiring.
The world’s greatest artists are all represented at this museum. You’ll see works by Monet, Warhol, Seurat, Dali, Picasso, Pollack, and more. Be sure to check out the gift store before you leave!
We recommend reserving between 2-3 hours for this attraction to make the most of it.
Dinner in Midtown New York City
Midtown New York is one of the busiest areas of the entire city, and it’s filled with tons of restaurant options for you to choose from. You could choose to dine at the MoMA’s own Modern restaurant, or wander mere blocks away for choices as diverse as French, Chinese, Cuban, Greek, and contemporary American fare.
Day 2 in New York City
First Stop – Top of the Rock
Now it’s time for a whole new aerial view of New York from the Top of the Rock. It’s one of the most popular things to do in all of NYC, and it’s truly a unique perspective on the city.
The Top of the Rock actually has three floors of indoor and outdoor observation decks, plus 360-degree views of the city below. Some of the landmarks you’ll be able to spot from this vantage point include the Chrysler Building, the Freedom Tower, Central Park, and more.
We recommend reserving between 1-2 hours for this attraction. Anticipate modest wait times this early in the morning. Also prepare for the cold winds, but trust us its well worth it.
Second Stop – Radio City Music Hall
If you leave New York without touring this iconic theater, you’re really missing out. Radio City Music Hall is one of the best-known venues in the music industry, and it’s famed around the world for its performances and productions.
Take a “Stage Door Tour” of NYC’s premier concert venue and see behind the scenes stuff like the Celebrity Guestbook and the “Great Stage”. Don’t forget to scope out the art deco architecture!
This tour lasts 1 hour.
Lunch in Midtown
It’s impossible to exhaust your restaurant options in Midtown, so try out someplace new for lunch. You’ll find everything from salads and sushi to pasta and pizza, so whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll be able to enjoy it for lunch. So explore and see where your taste buds take you.
Third Stop – American Museum of Natural History
This attraction is a favourite with adults and kids alike. The American Museum of Natural History is filled with natural wonders, historic artifacts, and exciting, interactive exhibits that span a vast array of subjects.
Some of the highlights of the museum include their impressive collection of dinosaur fossils, a beautiful room filled with gems and minerals, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and their detailed dioramas of various animal life.
We recommend reserving between 2-3 hours for this attraction. There is a LOT to see.
Forth Stop – Central Park Bike Tour
Next, explore the great outdoors with a bike ride through Central Park. A Central Park bike tour is an ideal way to get some fresh air and an eco-friendly way to tour one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.
Some of the many of the top Central Park attractions you’ll see on your tour include the Cherry Hill fountain, Strawberry Fields and Imagine Mosaic, Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle, and the Great Lawn.
If the weather isn’t suitable for a bike tour there are others ways in which Central Park can be explored.
Dinner near Central Park
Whenever you tire of biking or feel the need to refuel, stop for dinner in one of the many restaurants that are just a few short blocks away from Central Park. You can choose to venture East or West, but expect things to be a little more expensive along Park Avenue and Madison Avenue.
First Stop – The Beautiful Brooklyn Bridge
This is another one of those can’t-miss landmarks you’ll want to make sure you get a chance to see before leaving NYC. There are again tours and experienced and insightful guides to get a real feel for the area.
You’ll learn about the inspiring and exciting history of this iconic bridge, plus get a chance to explore the boutiques, shops, art galleries, and tasty restaurants in Brooklyn.
Advance reservations for yours are required.
Second Stop – 9/11 Tribute Center
Founded by the September 11th Families Association in order to commemorate the lives lost in this tragic event, the 9/11 Tribute Centre is a meaningful and poignant attraction.
At this centre, you’ll be able to hear the story of 9/11 from those who were there that day – family members who lost loved ones, recovery workers, nearby residents, and 9/11 survivors. This tour includes a visit to the Memorial.
Lunch in Downtown Manhattan
Explore the area a bit south and east of the 9/11 Tribute Center for some great downtown Manhattan lunch choices. If you haven’t had a chance to try a slice of New York-style pizza yet, now’s your chance!
Third Stop – SHARK Speed Boat
Lower Manhattan is perhaps most famous for Wall Street, but the neighbourhood is about much more than finance. The area has seen some of New York City’s, and the nation’s, greatest triumphs—the inauguration of the country’s first president, the founding of its first bank—and some of its greatest heartaches. But in true NYC fashion, Lower Manhattan has emerged stronger than ever and now plays host to world-class cultural attractions, a thriving restaurant scene and scintillating shops.
Dinner on the Lower East Side
Since you’ll be right in the neighbourhoods after disembarking from your cruise, check out the eclectic dining scene of the Lower East Side. There are lots of Asian options, plus some Italian (both high end and inexpensive), Mexican, and steakhouses.
So there are our suggestions for how to make the most of your three days in NYC, if you have 4 days we suggest adding in some time for shopping in some of New Yorks most famous shops. Ride a little, cruise a little, tour a little, and explore a little – it’s all here