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Itineraries for Your Trip to New York City

New York City locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in New York City for First Timers

Curated by Michele Laufika former NYC resident of almost 15 years.

Planning an inaugural trip to New York City can be daunting. From museums to Broadway, from the Bronx to Brooklyn, there is an endless amount of things to see and do. I lived in NYC for almost 15 years and still haven’t experienced it all. I now visit with fresh eyes, playing tourist throughout my old stomping grounds.

Must-see NYC landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty and must-do activities such as strolling Central Park should be included on any itinerary, but you have enough time to go beyond the basics. Cluster your visit by neighborhood and take advantage of the subway. Here’s how to experience the best of New York City in three days.

Expect warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Spring and fall are temperate.

If you only have time for one thing, make it Times Square. It’s an iconic site that's worth seeing at least once.

Day 1

Many of New York City’s popular landmarks are clustered around Midtown Manhattan. Starting at 34th Street, head to the top of the Empire State Building for city views. Then, travel north (on foot, via subway, or by cab), passing by Bryant Park, to Rockefeller Center. Here, you’ll also find Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Go 10 blocks north to Central Park to take a horse-drawn carriage ride, rent a bike, or stroll the pathways to see sights like Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and Bethesda Fountain. At night, venture down to 42nd Street to see Times Square lit up.

Day 2

Head downtown and take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and nearby Ellis Island. Following that, visit Lower Manhattan's September 11 Memorial & Museum. You can also go to the top of One World Observatory for panoramic views.

Then, either stay in the area and walk around Wall Street and the Seaport District or head north through Chinatown and Little Italy, followed by shopping in SoHo. Finally, stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge (a 30-60 minute walk depending on your pace) and explore that borough. When you're done, take the subway back to Manhattan.

Day 3

On your final day, wander along The High Line, an elevated park on the city’s west side, and explore Greenwich Village and the West Village, including Washington Square Park, always buzzing with locals and tourists. Browse the Whitney Museum of American Art and hop over to Little Island, one of NYC’s newest attractions.

Later, travel to the Upper West Side to visit the American Museum of Natural History on 81st Street or head to the Upper East Side to roam The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Cap off your visit with an evening Broadway show.

See more things to do in New York City