Almost everyone considers New York City to be a bucket list destination. The city’s iconic status has been solidified in music and film for almost a century. People fall in love with this city from afar, and for most travelers, one visit is not enough.
There is always a new attraction, or a new trending neighborhood that’s competing for your attention, time, and money;
This means that there is no such thing as too much time in the Big Apple, but three days in New York City is just enough time to understand this diverse destination.
An ideal three day guide to New York City includes landmarks that have stood the test of time along with other cultural attractions worth visiting.
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 classic New York City delicatessen is an institution based on tradition and quality. Classically prepared bagels from places like Ess-a-Bagel or H&H Bagel are softer and more chewy than the fare from more modern establishments, and are found in almost no other city.
Most places that cater to New York City’s morning crowd have minimal seating and hundreds of people grabbing sandwiches, so be polite to everyone and don’t hang around.
Instead, head down to Central Park for a picnic-style breakfast.
After eating, 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.
The park is home to many more rustic bridges and almost thirty sculptures, including Cleopatra’s Needle; an Egyptian obelisk, and a statue of Hans Christian Anderson.
This scenic stroll eventually leads to the Midtown Manhattan districts where some of the most popular attractions in the city are concentrated.
Home to interesting artwork and shopping options, Rockerfeller Center is especially magical around the Christmas season when it’s home to the iconic skating rink and Christmas tree.
The real attraction is the Top of the Rock observatory. At almost eighty stories high, it’s considered by many to have the best view from a skyscraper in New York City.
Views are beautiful in every direction, and includes stalwart structures like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in one direction, to the entire length of Central Park nestled between brownstones and other urban buildings in another.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.