It’s the largest city in the U.S. by millions of people, and there’s a reason why so many call it home. New York City is packed with culture — so many sights to see that most of us grow up watching on TV and in movies. The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. The Brooklyn Bridge. With so much to do, you’ll have to keep going back to get the full picture. Keep in mind that there’s no one way to visit New York City. Enjoy it at your own pace, though be sure to keep up a brisk stride on the sidewalks! I’m assuming you carved out at least a three-day weekend for your trip, but don’t fret – this itinerary is broad enough so you can pick and choose what might suit you best if you have less time. Here are some ideas to get your Big Apple weekend trip started:
Stop by a delicatessen or a place like Murray’s Bagels on Sixth Avenue for a bite to eat before making your way downtown.
Once you’re there, be sure to pay a visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum (admission starts at $26 for adults). And — you can’t miss it — but also take a moment to be in awe of One World Trade Center. At a patriotic 1,776 feet tall, it’s the sixth tallest building in the world and a symbol of incredible resilience.
Lower Manhattan is also home to the Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington swore in as the country’s first president. The memorial has artifacts like the slab of balcony he stood on and the Bible that he used during the swearing in way back in 1789.
Other must-sees in Lower Manhattan include the New York Stock Exchange, Trinity Church, the Woolworth Building and some more neighborhoods that we’ll revisit on Sunday.
Next, take a stroll through Battery Park and head over to the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride to the island, which provides excellent views of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline. While I’d certainly recommend spending a whole day at Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island, the cost to get there isn’t worth it for just a quick photo.
Once you return back to Manhattan, enjoy a bike ride or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Take a spin on Jane’s Carousel, a restored ride from 1922 in Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Spend time on the piers along the East River.
The rest of the day should be spent exploring Brooklyn. Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Coney Island are a few favorites, but the list could go on ad nauseum.
Spend the first half of your day in Queens. Stop by a diner like the 24/7 Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, a historic neighborhood in the borough.
Spend the rest of the day in the Bronx (by the way, congrats, you’ve hit all five New York City boroughs). Maybe catch a Yankees game (or stay in Queens, home of the Mets). Maybe go to the Bronx Zoo, adjacent to the New York Botanical Garden. Relax a bit by strolling the streets because your final day is going to be as busy as your first!
Back in Manhattan, catch a show at the Apollo in Harlem, the Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side or at any of the many theaters on Broadway.
Now for a few more Manhattan must-dos…
Central Park, of course. The Alice in Wonderland sculpture near E. 74th Street is a favorite, but renting a boat is a solid option. No matter what you choose, it’s tough to go wrong.
Rockefeller Center. I implore first-time travelers to New York to skip heading up to the top of the Empire State Building and instead visit the cheaper Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. The views are stunning in every direction, but best looking at the Empire State Building toward Lower Manhattan.
Take a shot with the Flatiron Building, while you’re at it. Built in 1902, the triangular tower right by Madison Square Park is a sight to behold.
Keep heading south and end your day with a meal in Little Italy or Chinatown.
The best thing about visiting New York is the city truly has something to do for everyone. Sightseeing, sports, parks, history and so much amazing food and fun. Plus, it’s the city that never sleeps, so you can enjoy most of those things (especially the food) around the clock.