As most of you will know I went to New York earlier this month to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday and be with him to experience his first trip to the United States which was quite exciting in itself. As it was his first trip we tried to cram in as much as we could to allow him to have a good overview of New York City and do/see as much as possible so here’s my 4-day itinerary for New York.
Of course, you can arrive in the city at any time but to maximize your time choose the 6.20am Norweigan flight from Gatwick South terminal which arrives around 9 am local time in New York’s JFK airport. If you’re a returning ESTA visitor you’ll be out of the airport with your bags in a matter of 20 minutes, but do allow some extra time if you’re travelling on your ESTA for the first time.
Once you’re out of the hotel get a taxi straight to your hotel in the heart of Manhattan. We chose to pre-book a taxi with Holiday Taxis as sometimes the queues can be long and it’s a risk that you take, plus our way meant that it was another cost we didn’t have to worry about during our journey. I always like to stay pretty central in Manhattan and have stayed at the New Yorker a few times now as it’s in a great location just a block from Macy’s, about 2-3 blocks from the Empire State Building and a short distance from Time Square. It’s also one of the most reasonably priced hotels within the area.
Once you’ve left your bags at the hotel take a 15-minute walk up to Time Square to catch your first glimpse of the square and then head to City Kitchen to grab some lunch. Here you can indulge in burgers, Thai food, sushi, Mexican and so much more, although make sure you end your meal with a doughnut from Dough as they’re incredible. By now you should be full and it should be about 130pm so head across Time Square to the Big Bus Tours offices to grab your tickets for a sightseeing tour.
You can pick up the Downtown Tour at stop number one just outside where you’ll spend just under 3 hours getting a fantastic overview of the huge city from Time Square and the Empire State Building to Battery Park and the World Trade Centre. The tour will finish around 430pm so you can choose to head to your hotel, check in and have a nap or just straight over to the Uptown Tour which is about 2 hours long. Whichever option you choose you’ll be done by 6.45pm when you can head over to the Empire State Building for some beautiful nighttime views over the city. To save time you can get access to the Empire State by purchasing a CityPass, and make sure you take your camera as the views are stunning.
By the time you reach the ground again chances are you’ll be hungry so head to the Tik Tok Diner which is connected to the New Yorker hotel and have your first dinner in Manhattan. We chose to spend a few hours exploring the shops just up from the hotel but seeing as it’s been a long day already chances are you might just want to sleep.
Awake this morning refreshed and ready to leave your hotel around 830am to walk the High Line down to Chelsea Market. The old rail lines run above the city of Manhattan and provide a lovely half hour walk through the city with artwork through for you to see. Once you arrive at Chelsea Market at 9am grab yourself some breakfast (and a brownie for later from Fat Witches) as you explore the wonderful stalls full of local independent artists.
Hop on the metro just a block from Chelsea Market down to Ground Zero to join a 90-minute walking tour which begins at 1030am from St Pauls Chapel. The tour will not only serve as information about 9/11 but also explain about the buildings which once stood there and what has been rebuilt, it is an emotional tour but it really shows you how much thought and attention went into the new buildings.
After a little shopping hop back on the metro at 1 pm at the World Trade Centre and get off at West 4 Street Washington Square where you will minutes away from Joe’s Pizza one of the best pizza joints in New York which was even featured in Spiderman. Once you’ve munched away on a slice (or two) head around the corner to Cookie Do for a sweet treat of Cookie Dough. There is likely to be queues at both places but don’t let this intimidate you as they move pretty quickly.
Once you’re fed and watered take a nice walk down to Battery Park where you can get on the Liberty Cruise boat at around 330pm to head over to the Statue of Liberty. Loads of people say the Staten Island ferry is enough but I really don’t agree with this as you’re still pretty far away and the views from the island itself are so much better. If you purchase a CityPass this will be included if not it’s just $18 which includes an audio guide.
When you’re back in Manhattan head over to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk over its iconic structure. You can choose to walk up to the bridge or jump on the metro from Bowling Green (in Battery Park) to Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall, we did the later as our feet were starting to ache. You’ll arrive in Brooklyn around 6 pm where you can jump back on the metro all the way over to Christopher Street where you can grab a drink and get ready for dinner at Jekyll and Hyde, a themed restaurant and bar full of crazy actors and a fun atmosphere. I’d suggest booking your table here in advance as it gets pretty full, we opted for an 8 pm meal and we were out and back to our hotel by 10 pm.
Start off your day at 8 am with breakfast at Best Bagel and Coffee a few minutes from your hotel as you then walk over to the Rockefeller Centre for a morning look out over the city. Morning’s are a great time to beat the crowds and get a stunning view out over Manhattan, and this is another attraction which is free with your CityPass. By 930am you’ll be back down on the solid ground so you can make a leisurely walk up to Central Park where you can walk around the park exploring or you can jump into a mini sightseeing bike where your rider will show you around loads of cool sights (something I couldn’t recommend enough).
Once you’re done in the park take a walk over to Lexington Avenue a treat yourself to an incredible cupcake from Sprinkles. At this location, the branch has an ATM machine where you can purchase your cupcake from 24 hours a day, trust me it’s seriously cool. Once the sugar has kicked in walk up to explore The Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met where you should arrive by 1130am. This is the largest art museum in the whole of America so take a look at the layout beforehand and choose the specific areas you want to explore as it’s pretty much impossible to do it all. Again this attraction is included in the CityPass.
Once you’ve seen all the art jump on the metro at around 2 pm from 77 street to Grand Central Station to see the stunning station and grab yourself a hot dog or pretzel from a street vendor, or both if you’re hungry. Once you’re back on the metro at 3 pm head to 34 Street Hudson Yards and walk to the Intrepid to explore the Air, Sea and Space Museum – another CityPass attraction – where you’ll get to see a real British Airways Concorde, Enterprise the NASA prototype shuttle, The Growler submarine and numerous planes used in wars and investigations. Once the Intrepid shuts at 5-6pm take a nice leisurely 30-minute walk back to Time Square to do some shopping and have dinner at Olive Garden.
Chances are by day 4 you’ll be a little exhausted so start the day off by having a facial at 830am at Heyday along Broadway where you’ll get completely pampered (keep your eyes peeled for a solo post all about my experience). Once you’re done at 930am head to The Smith restaurant a few doors down for a sit-down breakfast to fuel you for your day ahead.
Once you’re done at 11 am jump on the metro at 23rd street straight up to the Museum of Natural History where you can explore a lot of exhibitions including my favourites; the Space and Dinosaur areas. This is another attraction which is included in your CityPass and you can easily spend hours here but 2 and a half hours is about enough. At 230pm walk down to Radio City Music Hall where you can have a tour around the incredible venue which plays host to the Radio City Rockettes at Christmas time. The tour will take you on a guided tour explaining the history of the stage and what goes on at the iconic venue.
At 4 pm make a walk to Westside Steakhouse for your final meal of the trip where you can indulge in fresh seafood, a juicy burger or amazing steaks. Once you’ve eaten either head to Madison Square Gardens to take in a sports match (Ice Hockey or Basketball) or make a beeline for the Theatre District to watch a show on Broadway, although bear in mind it’s best to book any of these activities beforehand.
And that’s it, the perfect way to spend 4 days in New York. Are you exhausted yet?!