If you only have three days in New York, you are going to need a New York itinerary that you can stick to. It must be packed with places that you really want to see while you are in town and the rest of the places are just bonuses. Start your New York itinerary by separating them by boroughs as well as days to make it easier.
New York City is made up of five boroughs situated at the spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Hudson River meets. Of the five boroughs, Queens is the largest, followed by Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Each with its own personality and attractions.
Queens boasts over 2.4 million residents and 150 different cultures. Popular attractions here include some of the best jazz clubs in the state as well as the Unisphere, MoMA PS1, and the Museum of the Moving Image as well as over 20 parks. Make some of these part of your three days in New York.
Brooklyn is home to more than 2.6 million people as well as being the birthplace of many celebrities. Some of these include Michael Jordan, Eddy Murphy, and Barbra Streisand. It also has some of the most visited tourist attractions like the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Prospect Park, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
The least populous New York City borough is Staten Island with only 500,000 residents. It's home to the Staten Island Zoo, Seaside Wildlife Nature Park, and Historic Richmond Town as well as the Staten Island Museum, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and several beaches. There is plenty to do and see here!
With a population of 1.5 million, the Bronx is another popular area in New York City. It is the birthplace of hip hop and rap as well as home to over 75 spoken languages. Some of the awesome attractions here include Van Cortland Park, the Bronx Zoo, Yankee Stadium, and the New York Botanical Garden.
Although it is the smallest borough in New York City, Manhattan is home to over 1.7 million people. It is also the place to go if you want to see the most famous attractions like Central Park, the Empire State Building, Battery Park, and Broadway as well as Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Wall Street, Radio City Music Hall, and Grand Central Terminal. We've listed below plenty of fun activities, for both sunny and rainy days.
Whether you are planning to visit the tourist attractions, parks, or a little bit of everything New York has to offer, you cannot bring your luggage with you as it will only slow you down! Take away the burden and leave your belongings with a luggage storage company for safekeeping while you explore the Big Apple.
New York City Itinerary - Day 1
Morning Museum Hopping in Manhattan
Although Manhattan is small, it holds the greatest number of museums, including over a dozen art galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art gallery in the Western Hemisphere and boasts some of the greats like Rembrandt, Goya, and Renoir.
The Museum of Modern Art is one of the most popular with works by Warhol, van Gogh, and Picasso. The American Museum of Natural History is another great place to spend a few hours where you can see everything from tiny fossils to huge dinosaur skeletons. This natural history museum is great for all ages.
If you are into ships, airplanes, and space, the National Historic Landmark Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum is worth the trip. Located in an aircraft carrier on the Hudson River, you can see a space shuttle, several planes, and a submarine to name a few. Before heading off on another adventure, grab lunch at Johny's Luncheonette.
Afternoon in Midtown Manhattan
Begin your visit to Manhattan Island with a trip to the Empire State Building, which is the most well-known building in the world. With 102 floors stretching up to 1,454 feet, it is also the fourth tallest building in the US. A trip here includes iconic observation decks on the 80th, 86th, and 102nd floors but don't miss King Kong on the second floor.
Next, check out the New York Public Library in Bryant Park, or take the ferry to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty UNESCO World Heritage Site and Liberty Island. See the New York City skyline from the crown of Lady Liberty, browse the museum, and visit Ellis Island while you are there. Take a few minutes to see the Grand Central terminal as well, which is an icon in the city.
The Rockefeller Center is another place to get a fantastic view of New York City. But there is one place you cannot miss in Manhattan and that is the World Trade Center, which was home to the Twin Towers. Located at One World Trade Center by Wall Street, the 9/11 memorial and museum are important spots to add to your New York itinerary.
Night Out in Times Square
Another famous place to visit in New York City is Times Square, which is well-known for its annual New Year's Eve Ball Drop. But there is more to do the rest of the year too. Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, and Grand Central Station are a few more New York icons right there waiting to be seen.
Times Square is also the New York City theater district. As the home of Broadway, you can see shows at Caroline's on Broadway, the Iridium, The Town Hall, and Don't Tell Mama. If you need to do some shopping, explore Fifth Avenue with all its incredible shops like Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, and Gucci.
In the middle of all this, you can also find St. Patrick's Cathedral. This incredible Neo-Gothic church dates back to 1879 and boasts some amazing architecture and artwork inside. Just to the north, visit the Guggenheim Museum to see works by Salvador Dali, Claude Money, Pablo Picasso, and over 1,000 more masters.
New York City Itinerary - Day 2
Morning in Central Park
Considered a New York City National Historic Landscape, Central Park is one of the most well-known parks in the world as well as the most visited park in the US. In fact, it has 843 acres of space with more than 100 attractions from art galleries to the zoo.
Central Park has more than its fair share of activities so you may want to spend the whole day here instead of just the morning. Just to get a glimpse of what the park has to offer, there are 26 baseball fields, 12 tennis courts, six soccer fields, four basketball courts, and four volleyball courts.
If you are not into sports, Central Park also has several concert venues, eight lakes and ponds, walking trails, and picnic areas as well as a Discovery Center, Belvedere Castle, and Columbus Circle. There are also quite a few eateries (including fantastic vegetarian restaurants) where you can enjoy lunch before heading to Staten Island.
Afternoon in Staten Island
As New York City's most popular island, Staten Island is full of fun things to do from beaches to museums and everything in between. The first thing to note here is the free Staten Island Ferry. You can get some fantastic views of all the highlights on your way across the New York Harbor to Manhattan and back, not to mention the Manhattan skyline.
But you don't want to leave Staten Island yet! There is so much to see and do here. It is known for its Arts District featuring places like the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, the Botanic Gardens, and the Newhouse Gallery as well as St. George Theater, Staten Island Museum, and the Great Hall. Be sure to add some of these to your NYC itinerary.
Your city pass will get you discounts on a walking tour and will even score you some free attractions. The Staten Island Zoo is one of them and it has the largest collection of rattlesnakes in the world with 39 different kinds. The National Lighthouse Museum is also one of the famous buildings to see here.
Nightlife in Brooklyn New York
Seeing the Brooklyn Bridge at night is stunning, to say the least. The view is amazing no matter where you are in New York City. Visit DUMBO, which is also known as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. You will have your choice of eateries, shopping, and entertainment no matter what time you are out.
From May through August, as soon as it gets dark, Rooftop Films starts up at over a dozen venues in New York. A popular one is the roof of the Brooklyn Tech on Fort Greene Place where you can join hundreds of other film buffs on a roof in the dark.
New York City Itinerary - Day 3
Morning in Queens
You cannot have the perfect New York itinerary unless you have Queens on there. One of the main attractions here is the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. This 140-foot-tall globe was built for the 1964 World's Fair and is still a popular stop for tourists.
This park is also home to the Queens Museum, the New York Hall of Science, the Flushing Meadows Carousel, and the Queens Zoo. If you enjoy baseball and happen to be in town during the season, get some tickets to a game at Citi Field, home of the Mets.
For some fun in the sun, head down to Coney Island Beach where you can enjoy three miles of sandy beach with lifeguards and concession stands. It is also home to the New York Aquarium, Deno's Wonder Wheel, and Luna Park at Coney Island. These are some of the most popular New York attractions for kids.
Afternoon Park Hopping
New York has plenty of natural spaces to enjoy as well. From Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to Central Park to see everything else. But the best way to enjoy a variety of attractions is by walking the High Line. This unique park and trail run 1.5 miles from Chelsea to the Hudson Yards.
The High Line gets its name from what it is, which is one long elevated park that used to be a rail track. Running alongside George Washington Street, there are a variety of restaurants, retail shops, and other attractions here. If you are into art, there are over a dozen galleries in Chelsea and further up the line.
Just off the High Line, the Hudson River Park has 400 acres of waterfront piers, forests, and trails. Between the High Line and Hudson River Park, you should stop in at the High Line Hotel for a drink or a bite to eat. This historic hotel boasts some fantastic amenities too if you are looking for a place to stay.
Night Clubbing in the Bronx
New York City is full of nightclubs, dance centers, and bars. But the Bronx is legendary for some of the best nightlife in the city. Starting with the casual bars and pubs, The Bronx Beer Hall on Arthur Avenue is known for its casual and comfortable atmosphere and cold beer.
The Bronx Alehouse is also a casual spot on West 238th Street where you can choose from an array of IPA beers as well as cocktails and inexpensive food. If you want to dance, Sans Souci Club Le Noun is a Latin nightclub on East Clarke Place that is packed all night long.
For loud music, live DJs, and Latin dancing, try The Tropicana Club on Home Street off Westchester Avenue. The Lotus Hookah Lounge on White Plains Road is one of the most popular spots with a variety of flavors of tobacco. They also have food and drinks and plenty of music as well as live DJs on the weekend.
See the Empire State Building and More
Everyone wants to save money and New York is not known for its inexpensive living. Before you start on that New York City itinerary, get a New York Pass with up to 45% savings at certain attractions and New York City icons like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the Top of the Rock to name a few. You can even visit the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. Be sure to check out activities at night, which you'll find in our guide here.
There are many other small but noteworthy attractions you should see during your 3 days in New York if you have time. The Skyscraper Museum at Battery Park is an interesting space full of amazing architecture and skyscraper replicas. Or take a walk down Canal Street where you can visit Little Italy, Chinatown, and a number of great eateries as well as retail shops, especially in Little Italy.