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Three Days In New York City -- Three Day Visit To New York

Updated on May 24, 2012

3 Days In New York

Having only three days in New York City might feel like it's too short a visit because there is so much to do! But it is possible to see a lot of Manhattan in just three days. Thanks to New York's vast transportation system, the MTA, it's really easy to get around from one place to another. Also, New York City is set up like a grid (except for Lower Manhattan), so it's pretty easy to navigate.

Moreover, there are so many New York City attractions that no matter what, you're guaranteed to have a good time. Though I live in New York, I sometimes enjoy seeing it as a tourist. Even with having lived here for years, I still haven't seen everything there is to see! But here are my suggestions for fun things to do during a three day visit to New York City.

I've arranged it by neighborhood so that attractions are close together. I also include a lot of walking because, really, the best way to see Manhattan is to walk around it and experience the different neighborhoods.

SoHo New York

South Street Seaport

The High Line Park In NYC

Central Park Tour

Day One: Lower Manhattan

Unlike most of New York City, Lower Manhattan isn't arranged in a grid. The streets bend at funny angles and seem to go all over the place, and yes, it's often confusing. However, Lower Manhattan is full of beautiful water views, funky neighborhoods and great shopping. Here are some wonderful activites worth checking out. You can see these in any order you want. I highly suggest getting a good map, as well as a subway map, and then you can plan out your sightseeing in a way that works best for you.

1. Chinatown: New York's Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese neighborhoods in the United States. I love walking around it because I feel as if I'm in another country. I especially enjoy going into the little curio shops and seeing spices and items that I've never seen before. And, of course, you can get authentic Chinese food at any of the many restaurants.

2. SoHo: This eclectic, artsy neighborhood is south of Houston street, hence the nickname, SoHo. It's filled with little galleries, boutiques and unique restaurants, as well as some interesting-looking older buildings. I used to work in SoHo by Broadway and Prince Street and loved walking around the neighborhood during my lunch break. The best way to get right to the middle of SoHo is to take the subway. By the way, Houston is pronounced "How-ston" in NYC.

3. Greenwich Village: This is another funky neighborhood filled with cute shops and cafes. Shows like FRIENDS and FELICITY both took place here (though they actually filmed in California). There is an East Greenwich Village and West Village, but I tend to spend more time in the West Village. While visiting The Village, be sure to stop by Washington Square Park and New York University.

4. World Trade Center Memorial: I was at work in Manhattan on September 11. I vivdly recall the smoke coming from the Twin Towers and am still greatful that at the time, I worked in midtown and not Lower Manhattan. The city will never recover from such a tragedy, but we're trying to heal and now have the World Trade Center memorial, which pays respect to the victims. As I'm writing this, the Freedom Tower has yet to be completed, but they're building it pretty quickly and it's already lighting up our skyline.

5. Visit to Ellis Island/Statue Of Liberty: If you're in Lower Manhattan, you must get out onto the water at some point. From there, you get wonderful views of Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn. A great way to do this is to take a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue Of Liberty. You'll get the views and learn a lot about our country's immigrant history.

6. Brooklyn Bridge: Another fun way to see Manhattan in all of its glory is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I did this last year for a charity walk and it was amazing! Once you reach the famous spires, you'll see several historical markers that relay the bridge's history. And when you get to the Brooklyn side, make sure to stop for a slice of Brooklyn-style pizza, which is in my opinion, the best. One caveat: Beware of bikers as you walk along the bridge. There are many of them and they share the path with the walkers.

7. South Street Seaport: I'd suggest ending your day at the Seaport. You can watch the street performers, take a boat ride (I love The Beast, which is a fast boat -- so much fun!), take a walk along the water, shop or dine out at one of the restaurants along Front Street. The Seaport is especially nice to visit at sunset as you watch the sun setting over the Brooklyn Bridge and the water. You can also visit Bodies The Exhibition -- a cool exhibition that shows that inner workings of our bodies -- at 11 Fulton Street, which is right in the heart of the seaport.

Day Two: Midtown Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan is what most people think of when they envision the Big Apple. In Midtown, you have Times Square, Broadway, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station. In some ways, it's very touristy and there are, in fact, a lot of tourists around. But it's also fun, lively and just full of energy. I still enjoy visiting midtown, especially at night when all of the signs and stores are lit up. I love the colors and the sense that the city itself has come to life.

1. Times Square/Broadway Theater District: My suggestion is to start your day with a visit to Times Square, the famous spot where the ball is dropped each New Year's Eve. Get there in the morning and stop by the TKTS booth so you can nab some discount tickets to a Broadway show that afternoon or evening. After, walk around the area, checking out the theater marquees. Like I said, most of the shops and restaurants are very touristy so I personally wouldn't eat or shop there. But many of the stores are fun to check out if you've never been to NYC before and want some cute souvenirs.

2. Empire State Building: This famous building is one of the tallest in the world and has a fabulous view from the top. Take the elevator up to the observation deck and hope it's a clear enough day to see all of Manhattan.

3. The Chrysler Building: I actually think that this is art deco skyscraper is more attractive and interesting-looking than the Empire State Building. It's worth it to walk over to it to see it up close and to take some photos.

4. Grand Central Station: This huge train station is functional and gorgeous! I'm here so often that I don't usually think about its appearance, but once in a while, I like to look up at the ceiling and around the station so that I can appreciate the craftmanship. Architecture buffs can take a tour of the station, as well. My parents -- who live in the city -- took the tour and say that it was fascinating.

5. 5th Avenue: This is one of the most glamorous streets in Manhattan. Walk up it, taking time to window shop or splurge in the fancy stores, which includes Tiffany & Co. If you have kids, or are a kid at heart, check out the toy store FAO Schwarz. During the Christmas season, it's fun to look in the store windows and see the amazing displays that these luxury stores put out.

6. Museum Of Modern Art (MoMa): I'm a big fan of modern art so I love this museum. Though it's fairly large, it isn't so big that it's overwhelming. You can easily see several exhibits in an hour or two. Make sure to check out the outdoors sculpture garden.

7. Bryant Park: This smallish park is a nice, relaxed place to hang out and grab a cup of coffee from a sandwich stand. In the summer, movies are shown in the evenings. In the winter, a skating rink is set up, as well as little holiday shops. It's also right next to the famed New York Public Library, so you can check that out, as well.

8. The High Line: This is a newer park, which was constructed over old train tracks. This means that it's elevated. It's a beautiful spot to hang out and people watch.

9. Hell's Kitchen: Once upon a time, this was a dangerous area. Nowadays, it's a trendy neighborhood full of great restaurants and is right near the theater district. If you're attending a Broadway show , I recommend trying one of the restaurants on 8th, 9th or 10th Avenues (between 40th-50th Street). In this area, you can get every cuisine imaginable, from African to Turkish. If you'd prefer to dine out at the Hard Rock Cafe or something more touristy that's in Times Square, by all means, but if you're like me and prefer a meal that's a little more quiet and less money, then Hell's Kitchen is a good bet.

Day Three: Central Park

I'm not kidding when I say that you need almost a full day to see Central Park. It's huge. And while the park itself is vast, it's filled with and surrounded by many interesting sights. Here are a few worth seeing, though it's also nice to just wander the park and take in the scenery. If you have kids, there are dozens of playgrounds so there is plenty to keep families busy.

1. The Plaza Hotel: I recommend heading to the Plaza, which is right next to a park entrance. The restaurants and shops inside of the hotel are expensive, but it's a beautiful building. Take a few minutes to walk through the lobby so you can see the architecture in this old gem. Then you can head right into the park.

2. The Central Park Zoo: This zoo is small, but very well put together. My favorite building is the rain forest exihibit, where you can mingle with tropical birds, fish and monkeys. It takes about an hour and a half to see the entire zoo.

3. The Central Park Carousel: This old fashioned carousel is gorgeous and so much fun to ride!

4. Charles A. Dana Discovery Center: Here, the park has seasonal exhibits and special events.

5. The Central Park Boathouse: Here, you can rent a bike or boat. My husband and I enjoy renting rowboats and then getting a view of the park from the water.

6. The Delacorte Theater: This is where Shakespeare In The Park is performed during summers. It can be difficult to score the free tickets to this event, so if you want to attend a performance, get ready to stand on a long line.

7. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art: This is my favorite museum in New York City and is on Central Park's East side. I especially love the Egyptian hall.

8. Museum Of Natural History: This is another wonderful museum, especially for kids. Note that it's on Central Park's Western side so it's not near the Met. I love the planetarium and the hall of gems. Children (and adults) will love the dinosaurs!


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    • nextstopjupiter profile image


      6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      Thanks for this hub, it brought back memories of my visit to NY in 1998.

    • ladeda profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a great Hub. I went to New York for five days and there really is a lot you can see and do in a short amount of time if you plan correctly!

    • Dawnrichard profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice to see your hub about New York City. now i have decided to write a hub about new york. I have written a lot of hubs for different places but i will write to new york someday. Thanks for sharing such a nice hub and inspiring me too.


    • HawaiiHeart profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow - seems like so many great things to do! Hope to visit one day!


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