Tick off the tourist must-dos, hangout with the locals and get lost in the trend-setting neighbourhoods in the city that’s always ahead of the curve. This is our guide to experience New York City in 4 days.
See the iconic sights on your first day with a tour of New York’s big attractions. In the heart of NYC is the Empire State Building, which opens at 8am. Head to the 102nd floor and take in New York’s most breathtaking views from its highest open-air observatory, which provides unforgettable 360° views of the city and beyond. Learn the fascinating history of the building’s construction, restoration and sustainability plans.
If you’d prefer to see the Manhattan skyline by night, tours of the building are open until 2am. Grab a coffee and a toasted onion bagel with lox, tomato, onion and scallion cream cheese from the popular Ess-A-Bagel and head north up Fifth Avenue, stopping to browse at flagship designer stores including Tiffany & Co and Bergdorf Goodman. At 42nd street you’ll find the magnificent New York Public Library – visit the free exhibitions and relax in the Main Reading Room.
Head East to Manhattan’s hub of activity at Grand Central Terminal, a labyrinth of subways, underground shopping concourses, a food court and inspiration for many movie locations. Spend the rest of your day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (closed Mondays) and finish observing the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Times Square, located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
The best way to experience the ever-changing vibe of New York is to meander through the eclectic mix of neighbourhoods in Manhattan. Spend the day on your own urban walking tour, starting in the colourful Chinatown jam-packed with hole-in-the-wall dumpling restaurants and open-air fish markets. Pick up some quirky souvenirs in one of the many loud stores then head to Nolita, short for North of Little Italy, where you can browse designer boutiques and sip espresso from one of the movie-set like sidewalk cafes.
Aim to have lunch at family-owned bakery Rocco in Greenwich Village – a neighbourhood loved by New Yorkers for it’s metropolitan edge but intimate feel. Reward tired feet in the nearby hip East Village area with happy hour at Proletariat where you’ll find an unusual mix of beer cocktails on tap. Peekish? Satisfy your appetite in the adjacent West Village where you can rub shoulders with celebs and chic locals at Fedora where you’ll find classic American dishes and amazing cocktails.
If you didn’t overdose on cocktails, beat the crowds and make an early start to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The short boat ride which departs from Battery Park, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, and Liberty State Park in Jersey City departs every half an hour from 8 30am until 3 30pm. If you want to visit the Statue of Liberty museum as well as the grounds reserve your tickets in advance as it gets busy.
Allow five to six hours to experience the popular NY tourist attraction then return in the afternoon to pay your respects at the 9/11 memorial site and see where Big and Carrie from Sex and The City got married at New York City Hall in Lower Manhattan – all within walking distance.
Top off your day with dinner and drinks at late-night hotspot Tribeca. Atera on 77 Worth St attracts the hip crowd and serves up stylish cuisine in a contemporary setting.
Whatever the season Central Park is a sight to behold. Take a morning run, stroll or guided tour along the beautifully kept walkways in the 843-acre park which is an urban oasis from the bustling streets of NY. And if you’re a flora fanatic The New York Botanical Garden is worth the trip to Bronx. After a morning getting back to nature, prepare a further feast for the senses at an afternoon or evening Broadway Show.
Whether you’re into dramas, comedies or musicals, you’ll find them all in the City’s Theatre District. Choose from world-famous long-running shows like Jersey Boys and Les Miserables to new smash hit musicals such as Roald Dahl’s Matilda. If you want to see your favourite film stars in the flesh book tickets to the Audience to see Helen Mirren or see Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men in The Heidi Chronicles.
The TKTS Discount Booth in Midtown sells same-day theatre tickets, where you can get up 50% off the full ticket price. Finish your four-day extravaganza with a take-away New York pizza slice and, if you you can muster any energy, a dance at the super fun 1 Oak club in the Meatpacking district.
What’s your quintessential New York experience?
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