New York City is a tourist’s dream. There is no shortage of museums, monuments, fine dining, nightlife and sightseeing wrapped up in one of the country’s most electric cities. Trying to make a shortlist for your New York trip can be tough, especially if you’re only in town for a limited period of time. This article will offer ideas about what to see and do for a single-day trip, a three-day trip and a five-day trip to the Big Apple.
1 Day in NYC
You can get a lot done in a single day in NYC (after all, it’s the city that never sleeps), but you have to be strategic. Trying to see the sights in one day is certainly possible, but you need to limit travel time and pick areas where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. To that end, you want to stay in Manhattan and leave the outer boroughs for another trip. In Midtown you can cover the major tourist sites like the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and Times Square. As you move north, grab a quick bite for lunch and stroll through Central Park. From the park, you can pick one of the many nearby museums, such as the Natural History Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As the sun goes down, head south through Midtown for Flatiron. This hip area has great bars and restaurants where you can plan your next trip to the Big Apple.
3 Days in NYC
While you can see a lot of New York in a single day, you ideally want at least a couple of days to really experience what the city has to offer. A three-day trip gives you more time to explore, although you’re still likely to stick to some of the most-traveled areas of the city. You should still visit all the main tourist sites highlighted above. Once you’ve done that, you can venture out of Midtown. Start by heading downtown to Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. These hip neighborhoods have great food and outdoor cafes that are excellent for people watching. In Chelsea you can also visit some of the neighborhood’s art galleries and check out Chelsea Market, a maze of great little restaurants that will make any foodie swoon. Head east and wander through Soho, perhaps one of the prettiest parts of lower Manhattan that has no shortage of cobblestone streets and European architecture.
Keep moving east and you’ll hit Little Italy. While this part of town has shrunk over the years as the Italian American community has left Manhattan, Little Italy is home to amazing restaurants and a great collection of bars. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the different pizzerias, delis and pastries shops that are open all hours. As you move south you’ll reach the outskirts of the Financial District, or “FiDi,” as the locals call it. This is Wall Street, the beating heart of the world’s financial markets and home of the New York Stock Exchange. The recently completed Freedom Tower and surrounding area offers great views of the water and lower Manhattan’s skyline.
5 Days in NYC
This is the trip that really lets you experience New York to the fullest. A five-day trip gives you enough time to explore Manhattan then move out to the boroughs. Aside from everything in the three-day trip, it’s time to add a little culture. Check out a Broadway show and have a nice dinner afterwards in the Theater District. Next, head over to Greenwich Village for some standup comedy. One of the largest clusters of comedy clubs in New York is located just west of NYU and has spawned some of the biggest comics. Many of these clubs are cramped and claustrophobic, but that means you’re up close and personal when the biggest names in comedy stop by to try out new material.
Now it’s time to explore outside of Manhattan. The most logical first choice is Brooklyn. Trendy Williamsburg is a quick trip on the L train and has a great collection of hip bars and restaurants. Stick around after the sun goes down for some of the best nightlife in Brooklyn. Also be sure to check out the up-and-coming Dumbo area and take that iconic picture with the Brooklyn Bridge. Head up to Queens to see a Mets game at Citi Field, a state-of-the-art ballpark built in 2009. If you want some peace and quiet, visit the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which boasts 300 species of birds across 9,000 beautifully manicured acres. Take the train up to the Bronx and check out the Bronx Zoo before seeing a game at Yankee Stadium.
The challenge in New York isn’t finding something to do. The challenge is making sure you see and do the most you can while you’re in town. This guide should give you a great starting point for planning a trip to the Big Apple, no matter how long you plan to stay. Don’t worry if you can’t cross off everything on your list; New York ages like a fine wine and gets better every time you visit.