New York is an amazing city, with so many things to see and do it can be a little overwhelming if you have never been before. The following itinerary will help you maximize your time in New York by grouping key attractions together. People often think that Manhattan is quite small, after all it is an island, however it can take a reasonable amount of time to get from one neighborhood to another so this itinerary will help you avoid wasted travel time. This is a three day itinerary and each day starts from The Marcel at Gramercy Hotel located in the Flatiron district. This post focuses on the main attractions NYC has to offer, I will write a separate post on hotels, restaurants and places to drink.
Day 1: Flatiron, Empire State, New York Library, Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral & Central Park
Today you will walk approximately 3 – 4 miles, starting at the hotel head over to 5th ave and turn right so you are walking towards Central Park. You will see the following sites on your journey.
The Flatiron Building will be the first thing you see, it is located next to Madison Square Park. When the building was first completed in 1902 it was considered a groundbreaking skyscraper standing at 21 floors it was the tallest building in the city. The building was constructed on a triangular block and its name “Flatiron” comes from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. The building is known worldwide as the quintessential symbol of New York and it has been called one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world.
Empire State Building
The next building you will come across is the Empire State Building which was completed in 1931 and is 102 stories high. You can travel to the top of the building to the Observation Deck which offers great views of Manhattan, however the lines can become extremely long and the view is obstructed by a wire cage which encompasses the deck. I would recommend skipping a trip to the Observation Deck and opting for the Top of the Rock experience which will be discussed below.
New York Public Library (NYPL)
The next landmark you will happen upon is the NYPL which houses nearly 53 million items and is the second largest public library in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. The Library has an impressive exterior with two large lions guarding the entrance and a wonderful interior featuring wonderful places to kick-back and relax with a good book. Be sure to check out the Rose Reading Room and the Map Room.
Grand Central Station
From the New York Public Library you can take a minor detour from 5th ave and visit Grand Central Station. Used as a backdrop for many well-known movies and TV Shows including Gossip Girl, Bad Company, friends with benefits and many more. Grand Central Station was built during the heyday of American long-distance passenger rail travel. The station covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms which is more than any other railroad station in the world. Be sure to look up at the beautiful zodiac ceiling.
Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) & Radio City Music Hall
Heading back to 5th ave you will reach Rockefeller Center which is surrounded by some 200 flagpoles which display flags from countries in the United Nations. The centerpiece of the plaza is 30 Rockefeller Center, this building is where the famous Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper photograph was taken in 1932. I would recommend a trip to the 67th-70th floor observation decks which offer amazing views of downtown and Central Park. In winter an outdoor ice skating ring is set up in the plaza if you are up for a little excitement.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Across the road from Rockefeller Center you will see the imposing St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The stone has recently been cleaned and the cathedral casts a striking pose in stark white.
You are now in New York’s heart of luxury shopping, within a few blocks you have Saks Fifth Avenue (with the most impressive Shoe Salon I have ever seen), Bergdorf Goodman’s (with an amazing restaurant that overlooks Central Park), Tiffany and Co’s flagship store and many others. Even if you can't afford to shop at Chanel, Prada or Burberry you must take a stroll down one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.
Recommended: After a long morning of walking stop at the BG Restaurant located on the 7th floor of the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant which offers sweeping views of Central Park.
The last stop on the day’s tour is Central Park which was originally opened in 1857. It is located in the heart of Manhattan and is 843 acres in size. The park is beautiful in summer and winter and has many fun activities on offer. You might want to check out:
- Bethesda Fountain and Terrace
- Boat House Café
- Central Park Carousel
- Central Park Zoo
Day 2: Manhattan by Helicopter, Statue of liberty, Wall Street & the World Trade Center Memorial
Today you will walk approximately 3.0 miles, start by walking to the Metro station and hop on the downtown train to Whithall St.
Manhattan by Helicopter
If you want a bird’s eye view of the big apple and surrounding areas then a helicopter tour is a must. You will see Manhattan like never before as you travel up and down the Hudson River. Although the tours are not cheap the experience and views are worth it.
Statue of liberty
The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming immigrants to the United States since 1886 and was a gift to the U.S from the people of France. The statue is of a female figure representing Libertas (the Roman goddess) who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law upon which the date July 4th 1776 is inscribed. The statue is an icon of freedom with a broken chain that lies at her feet.
If conditions are favorable you can see the statue from the Free Staten Island Ferry however it doesn’t go very close so if you want to take some great photos be sure to buy a ticket. You have two options when purchasing tickets, do you want to get off the Ferry and walk around on the Statues Island. It’s a personal preference but remember once you are on the island it is hard to get good photos as you are too close.
Wall Street and Federal Exchange Plaza
The next stop on today’s tour is Wall Street and Federal Exchange Plaza. Wall Street is only 1.1km long and spans 8 blocks, it has over time become the symbol of the United States financial markets. Located on Wall Street is the New York Stock Exchange which is directly opposite Federal Hall. Federal Hall is a National Memorial and it was built in 1842 as the United States Custom House. It is operated by the National Park Service as a national memorial commemorating the historic events that occurred there.
Charging Bull Statue
The Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull is a 3,200kg sculpture that symbolizes aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. It is one of the most iconic symbols of Wall Street but be warned getting a photo with the bull may take patience as the line can become extremely long. Due to my inability to wait in long lines I do not have a photo to share with you.
World Trade Center Memorial
The new World Trade Center is built on the grounds of the original World Trade Center which opened in 1973 and was tragically destroyed in the September 11th attacks of 2001. One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and has now been officially opened to the public.
Recommended: A visit to the National September 11 Memorial is a must. The memorial is a tribute to the remembrance and horror of the 3,000 people killed in terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The Memorial’s twin reflection pools are the largest man made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the twin towers once stood. Surrounding the pool on bronzed paneling is the name of every person who died during the 2001 and 1993 attacks. Inside the Museum displays artifacts associated with the events of 9/11, while presenting stories of loss and recovery.
If you are looking for a designer steel head across to Century 21 one of New York’s largest discount department stores. Its directly opposite the memorial and there is always a bargain to be found inside.
Day 3: West Village, High Line & the Brooklyn Bridge
Today you will walk between 3-4 miles, from the Hotel you can take a leisurely stroll over to the West Village which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan. The neighborhood is a maze of small street lined with shops, cafes and bars. Here you will find Carries Apartment from Sex and the City down one of the tranquil tree lined streets. Right around the corner from Carries Apartment you will find Magnolia Bakery if you fancy something sweet to nibble on. You will also find the beginning of the High Line in this neighborhood.
Carries Stoop: 64 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014
Magnolia Bakery: http://www.magnoliabakery.com/
The High Line is a 2.3km park built on an elevated section of an abandoned New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Attractions along the line include different species of flora and fauna, murals, sculptures and more. In summer laze about on one of the many benches and enjoy the lush environment in the heart of a bustling city.
A trip to New York would not be complete without walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. From the Highline you can catch a taxi, hop on the metro or walk 2.4 miles to get to the start of the bridge. The bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge and is one of the oldest bridges of its type in the United States. It was completed in 1883 and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn.
If you liked this post sign up for weekly emails letting you know what’s new on the site!