New York City. The city of dreams, the city that never sleeps, the city that will knock you off your feet if you don’t have a plan. If you’re on a time crunch and still want to hit all the major destinations, this guide will make sure you make the most of your short trip. So get in your best New York City mindset because the hustle is real and the energy of the city can get intense!
The only way to see so much in so little time is to plan out your day by borough or area. There are different areas of the city within a mile of each other but all with endless amounts to see and do. Fun fact: most boroughs have a literal translation. For example, SoHo is the area “South of Houston Street”. NoHo, take a guess. East Side, West Side, Upper, Lower, well, you get the idea.
1. Central Park (Uptown)
This is the most iconic park in New York City and there is so much to do! Start at the South End at the Central Park Zoo. It’s only $18 per adult and you’ll get to see animals that hopefully you won’t see anywhere else in Manhattan. My favorite area is the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. You can rent rowboats and then enjoy a nice brunch at The Loeb Boathouse with a beautiful view of the park. Many New Yorkers bring a picnic and hang out on Sheep’s Meadow – a large area of grass with a great view of the city skyline. Bike tours and rentals are available daily from 8am to 8pm (Apr – Aug) and 9am to 6pm (Sep – Mar). If you have time, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and pretend you are Cinderella!
2. Midtown (34th – 57th Street)
You’re not accomplishing your role as an ultimate tourist if you don’t visit Midtown. Here you’ll find the staples: Times Square, The Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center. The views from the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center) are equally as beautiful. The lights in Times Square remind you of why New York City is also known as “the city that never sleeps”. Make sure to visit Grand Central Terminal (click here for a full calendar of events) and the New York City Public Library, the second largest public library in the United States. Every corner is a picture perfect moment but watch out for fellow ultimate tourists!
3. Tribeca (Downtown)
Check out the views of the city from the 100th floor at the One World Observatory in the new Freedom Tower, now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Then take a somber but beautiful stroll through the Ground Zero Memorial and Museum and pay tribute to all the heroes and lives lost in 9/11.
Money, money, money! See where money talks at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street and the historic Charging Bull – a symbol of financial freedom in America. Down the street, find Battery Park to enjoy views of the New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty. Highly recommended – take the Staten Island Ferry to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty up close for FREE!
Walk a few blocks and you’re at the Brooklyn Bridge. If you have time, walk on the bridge and get some great photos!
4. Chelsea/Little Italy
Let’s be honest, New York City is a great place to stuff your face, and no trip would be complete without a slice or two (or three) of the famous New York pizza. For a small slice of heaven and other unique eats, head to Chelsea and Little Italy.
In Chelsea, head to Artichoke Basille’s Pizza where you can try a slice of pizza that is as unique as it is authentic. Quickly becoming a New York favorite, you should expect to endure long lines, but as soon as you take that first bite you will forget about the trip, the line, and the calories! Next, head to The High Line in Chelsea, an old freight train rail repurposed as a 1.5-mile long linear park with views of the Hudson River. Walk along the train tracks to the Chelsea Market and check out all the unique restaurants and retail shops (be sure to visit The Lobster Place… yum!).
Head over to Little Italy and take a stroll through Mulberry Street, where you can go window shopping for authentic pasta dishes, creamy gelato, and oven-fresh pastries. Make sure to check out Mario Batali’s Eatery, an entire building full of handmade pastas and sauces, and the closest you will get to real Italian outside of Italy.
When it comes to tackling the Big Apple, don’t be afraid to take it by the horns. There sure is a lot to see and do in NYC but by following our guide you’ll be able to make the most of your short trip in this iconic city.
What are some of your favorite landmarks and places to visit in New York City? Leave us a comment below, we would love to hear all about it!
Written by Priscilla Lam