How to spend Three Days in New York City

Everyone wants to visit New York City at least once.

The city’s iconic status has been solidified in music and film for almost a century. People fall in love with this city and for most travelers, one visit is not enough.

There are so many new attractions and so many changing neighborhoods that compete for your attention, time and money that it’s almost impossible to decide how to spend three days in New York City.

There’s no such thing as too much time in New York City, but what do you do when you only have a few days in the Big Apple?

Here’s our plan for spending three days in New York City that includes New York City landmarks that have stood the test of time along with some other visit-worthy cultural attractions.

manhattan from brooklyn heights

THREE DAYS IN NEW YORK CITY – DAY ONE

Start the day with breakfast at one of the many delis on the Upper East Side.

The NYC delicatessen is an institution based on tradition and quality. Traditionally prepared bagels are softer and more chewy than regular bagels and are found in few cities other than New York City.

Most places that cater to New York City’s morning crowd have minimal seating and hundreds of people grabbing sandwiches, so don’t hang around.

Take your sandwich and head down to Central Park for a picnic-style breakfast.

Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States and is always bustling with tourists and joggers.

joggers in central park nyc

The park is home to many rustic bridges and almost 30 sculptures, including Cleopatra’s Needle; an Egyptian obelisk, and a statue of Hans Christian Anderson.

After breakfast, take a leisurely stroll through Central Park and get pictures of “Gapstow Bridge”, a stone bridge that’s picturesque in every season, and “Strawberry Fields”, a tribute to John Lennon.

How to spend three days in New York City

Head down to Midtown Manhattan and visit the Rockefeller Center.

The many stores on the lower floors are the perfect place to stock up on souvenirs and cool memorabilia.
Top of the Rock an observatory that’s 79 floors high offers a stunning and expansive view of the Big Apple.

While the view in every direction is remarkable, the best view is definitely seeing Central Park nestled within the buildings of Manhattan that could keep you staring all day.

view of central park seen from the empire state building

Walking South West you’ll come across the Chelsea Garment District, home of the Chelsea Market; a block long and block wide indoor food market.

There’s delicious food on sale as well as high quality ingredients and desserts.

Chelsea Market - Three Days in New York City

The High Line Park is an aerial garden built on an old railway line. It’s over a mile long and it accessible via a staircase near the Chelsea Market.

high line park new york city

Further south, you’ll find districts like Tribeca, SoHo, and Chinatown, areas where the grid pattern that’s typical of Manhattan no longer make sense. Don’t get lost, and scope out the food because this is a great area to have dinner later.

three days in new york city - exploring downtown

At the most Southerly part of Manhattan Island you could catch the free ferry to Staten Island. On the ferry, you’ll get a close enough view of the Statue of Liberty, as well as a picturesque view of the skyscrapers of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.

view from the Staten Island Ferry

THREE DAYS IN NEW YORK CITY – DAY TWO

With its concrete canyons and many things to do, some people never leave Manhattan when they’re in New York City.
Don’t be like those people.

Brooklyn is a borough with diverse attractions from beaches and boardwalks, to beer and burgers.

Take the C Train from Manhattan to Brooklyn and get this cool shot of the Manhattan Bridge between these buildings in the “DUMBO” neighborhood.

This shot of the bridge is one of the pics that you need to take when in New York City

Manhattan Bridge DUMBO

Venture a short distance to “Brooklyn Heights” to catch what is possibly the best view of the Manhattan skyline. The view is spectacular at any time.
During the day, shiny blue towers pierce an azure sky, and at night the lit windows in each building shines on a dark velvet backdrop.

Manhattan skyline seen from Brooklyn Heights

At that part of Brooklyn you’ll be close to the New York City Transit Museum, the largest U.S. museum devoted to urban public transportation.

You could also visit some iconic Brooklyn spots like Smorgasburg; a flea food market, or Brooklyn Bowl; A bowling alley that features live music and food.

A tour of the Brooklyn Brewery is also a great idea since you get to sample and then buy great beers like the iconic “Brooklyn Lager”, and the New Year’s Eve worthy “Brooklyn Sorachi Ale”.

Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale

There’s a lot that you could do before you take the scenic walk back into Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge.
There’s always pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the bridge and it’s a scenic walk whether it’s day or night.

three days in new york city

Brooklyn is also home to some amazing pizza places. Try out some pizza and then try a slice in Manhattan.
Follow our guide to finding the best pizza in NYC.

The best pizza in New York City

THREE DAYS IN NEW YORK CITY – DAY THREE

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States.

With a permanent collection of over two million works, you could easily take an entire day to peruse all of the artwork…. and still completely miss sections!

View of Central Park from the Met

The collection includes works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art - Things to do in New York City

Head South to the Empire State Building where you could get dinner and a few beers at Heartland Brewery and then see the city at night from the observation deck.

empire state building

Of course there’s lots more stuff that could be done in NYC, and three days in New York City is definitely not enough, but we managed to fit in quite a few of our favorite iconic New York City landmarks in our guide.
If you have more time and want more ideas, check out some more New York City Travel Tips.