How to Spend 4 Days in New York: The Best 4 Day NYC Itinerary By A Local
Thinking about spending 4 Days in New York City and wondering what to do? Follow this 4 Day NYC itinerary written by a local to see the most iconic (and local) places and eat at the best restaurants in New York City especially if this is your first time in New York.
There is no place like New York City and if this is your first time in New York City you will probably fall in love with it and want to come back for more.
There is an energy to New York City that you simply cannot find anywhere else in the world. I have lived in London, Hong Kong, the Bay Area and spent extended periods of time in Barcelona and Cape Town. Yet among all those cities, the vibe is just not the same as New York City.
People say New York City is a city that never sleeps and that is true. Things are literally open all night (well most of the night….like 5am). Hungry? Restaurants and bars in New York City will be open; Need a new camera? Yup Best Buy is open 24 hours…. well you get the point!
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Who Is This 4 Day New York City Itinerary For?
This 4 Day New York City itinerary is intended for someone who is visiting New York for the first time and who is planning to spend a full 4 days in New York City.
If you want to see as much as possible in 4 days in NYC or see what local New Yorkers do then this New York itinerary is tailor made for you! I do try to put in different options since everyone has different interests and preferences.
Is 4 Days Enough for New York City?
4 Days is the perfect amount of time to see the most iconic spots in New York City for a first time visitor. You can also explore a few cute neighborhoods aside from the touristy sites.
With 4 full days in NYC, you will see iconic places like Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, etc.
What Does a 4 Day New York Itinerary look like?
Day 1: Lower Manhattan & Midtown
Day 2: Central Park & Midtown
Day 3: West Side & Midtown
Day 4: Brooklyn & the Villages
This 4 day NYC itinerary covers all the amazing attractions and much more! I also included map of each day to help with your NYC trip planning. The post and map include places to drink and eat in each location on this New York itinerary.
Day 1 in New York Itinerary: Lower Manhattan
Highlights of Day 1 in NYC: Wall Street, 911 & Oculus, Chinatown, Statue of Liberty & Times Square
Lower Manhattan is the part of Manhattan that are below 14th street. The neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan include Financial District, China Town, Soho, Tribecca, Little Italy, East Village, West Village, Nolita, Lower East Side, etc.
On the first day of your 4 days in New York you will cover some of the most iconic landmarks in NYC in Lower Manhattan and end your day in Times Square for some evening entertainment.
Depending on your personal preference, you may spend more time at some places or just skip over some things.
Walk Around Wall Street (1 hour)
Wall Street is the financial center of New York City.
In recent years most of the banks have moved away from Wall Street partially due to the flooding of Lower Manhattan a few years ago. But Wall Street is still cool to visit and will always be the financial center of NYC in people’s minds.
Situated in Lower Manhattan not too far from the ferry buildings, Wall Street hosts the famous New York Stock Exchange.
Some other famous sights in the financial district include:
- The Charging Bull
- Fearless Girl Statue
- Trinity Church
- Stone Street (for food and bars)
- National Museum of the American Indian
- Battery Park (view of Statue of Liberty) and Seaglass Carousel.
911 Memorial & Museum (1-2 hours)
911 Memorial is about a 10 minute walk from Wall Street.
911 Memorial area is probably one of the most sobering places in New York City because of the tragic terrorist attacks on Sep 11, 2001 that killed almost 3000 people.
If you happen to visit on Sep 11 (or the week before) you will see the two pillars of lights called Tribute in Lights that represent the Twin Towers in remembrance of the attack.
If you plan to visit the museum it takes about 3 hours, so you may not have time to do other things on this itinerary.
One World Trade Center (1 hour)
The One World Trade Center is built in place of the fallen twin towers and is the tallest building in the United States. A lot of financial firms have moved in since in order to show support.
The Oculus (10 min – 2 hours if you shop)
Not far from 911 Memorial is the shiny expensive transportation hub known as The Oculus.
The Oculus is designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava who also designed several buildings in Valencia. After years of delay and billions of dollars, the Oculus finally opened in August 2016.
Due to its unique design, the Oculus soon became one of the most instagrammable places in NYC. There are also tons of high end stores and even Eataly, the famous Italian themed grocery store and restaurant opened shopped there.
Stop by Manhattan Chinatown for Lunch
After visiting 911 Memorial, walk towards Chinatown. Immediately you will notice a completely different vibe from Downtown.
Chinatown is an interesting place to visit as there is just so much history there. In recent years however the area has begun to be gentrified but you can still find the charm of old Chinatown here.
If you happen to walk by a park in Chinatown you will see all old Chinese people doing tai-chi, playing Chinese chess or simply lounging around.
What to eat and drink in New York Chinatown
If you are craving Southeast Asian food then head to West New Malaysia, Kopitiam or Nyonya for some yummy Malaysia dishes.
If you are looking for trendy cafes in Chinatown area, then stop by Round K by Sol, a Korean fusion cafe with good coffee and delicious brunch items. Their most popular menu items are K-BBQ Party Toast (pictured below), Chicken Sandwich, and Round Purple roll cake. The most popular drinks include the flat purple (pictured below), butter covered latte, and corn latte.
Chinatown has some great dessert places. One really famous place to try is the Original Chinese factory ice cream, one of the oldest business in Chinatown.
Statue of Liberty (1 hour – 4 hours)
After a nice lunch in Chinatown (or in the Oculus), come back downtown as you will be visiting one of the most iconic symbols of New York City: the Statue of Liberty.
At Statue of Liberty, you can:
- Tour the grounds only
- Access the pedestal
- Access the crown (needs to book MONTHS in advance)
If pedestal or crown tickets are sold out, you can still visit the grounds of Liberty Island.
Your ferry ticket will also include access to Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. If you plan to visit both islands, definitely start your day early so you have time to see other things in New York City on the first day of your NYC itinerary.
Alternative Ways to See the Statue of Liberty [For Free]
If you just want to see the Statue of Liberty and not take a tour, then you can take the free Staten Island Ferry and see it from the boat. Alternatively you can take the Governor’s Island Ferry (free Saturday and Sunday morning, otherwise $4) to Governor’s Island, and you will have the front seat view of Statue of Liberty.
Times Square at Night
End your evening in the famous Times Square, where you will be dazzled by a million lights and digital displays.
Times Square is also a place where you will not find local New Yorkers, we generally avoid Times Square like a plague. But as a tourist it is worth seeing at least once.
If you have never been to Times Square, you will find a lot of chain brands, restaurants, and other tourists at Times Square. Even tho as a local I don’t like Times Square, but I think it is still fun for visitors and someone who’s visiting New York for the first time.
Some of the shops you can find at Times Square include:
- The Disney Store
- Hersheys Store
- M&M Store
- Any many more chain stores
But beware that there are many scams and street artists at Times Square that want your money, these include:
- naked ladies with body paint
- people dressed up as Disney or Hollywood characters that take photos with you
- fake Chinese monks selling you blessed gold piece or talisman
- half naked cowboy with a guitar
- Madame Tussauds
- Dave & Buster’s
- The Ride
- Birdland Jazz Club
- Rooftop bars such as Elsie Rooftop, The Skylark
Watch a Broadway Show
There is a discount ticket counter (TKTS) at Times Square on 47th Street and Broadway under the red steps. The trick is to go there right before the show to avoid the lines.
Another way to get cheap Broadway show tickets is to just go to the theater the day of the show. They often have left-over tickets so you can get them at a discount.
Where to Eat Near Times Square: Hell’s Kitchen
Unfortunately since Times Square is such a touristy spot there actually aren’t many good restaurants. You will find mostly chain restaurants at Times Square so I do suggest that you walk a bit to Hell’s Kitchen, where locals love to eat at.
Some of the best places to eat near Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen include Los Tacos No.1, Pio Pio, Pure Thai Cookhouse, Totto Ramen, and Taboon.
There are also many gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen if you want to check them out.
Day 2 in New York City Itinerary: Central Park & Midtown
Highlight of Day 2: Central Park, Museums, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Herald Square
Now that you had a pretty eventful first day of your 4 days in New York, you gonna have an even more eventful and exciting 2nd day in the Big Apple!
You will start the day bright and early at Central Park and work your way down. It will be another day of a lot of walking but you will visit one of the best observation decks in New York!
Central Park (3 hours)
Central Park is arguably one of the most famous public parks in the world. It is a true haven in the busy and chaotic Manhattan. Locals love coming to Central Park to run, to walk, and to relax with their families.
Central Park is very popular for engagement photos and Instagram photos early in the morning. So you should start your day here (whether you want to take photos or just want to walk around or jog).
Some of the most noteworthy photo spots in Central Park include The Mall, Bethesda Terrace, the Boat House, Belvedere Castle, the Wollman Rink.
If you are visiting New York with kids, there is Central Park Zoo, a number of playgrounds, carousel, and boat rowing in Central Park.
When is the best time to visit Central Park?
Central Park is pretty any season of the year and you will see why.
In the spring go to Central Park to check out the amazing cherry blossom and magnolias. You can also row a boat in Central Park starting in the spring.
In the summer there are free concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performance in Central Park.
In the fall Central Park is famous for its foliage, especially at The Mall.
In the winter Central Park transforms into a winter wonderland right after it snows.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Guggenheim (1-4 hours)
There are many world renowned museums housed on both sides of Central Park.
There is also a rooftop bar at the MET most tourists don’t know about, definitely check it out if you are visiting New York City in the summer.
Guggenheim is a famous art museum. The architecture of the museum itself is beautiful and unique and many people visit Guggenheim just for that.
Local’s Tip: if you visit the MET or Guggenheim, you can also stop by Ralph’s Coffee during the holiday as well as the beautiful Albertine bookstore.
American Museum of Natural History
If you have older kids with you (by older I mean 3 years and above), they would definitely love American Museum of Natural History.
This museum literally has multiple floors of exhibitions with one entire floor dedicated to dinosaur fossils! The famous blue whale is also at the museum. Even if you don’t have kids you would definitely appreciate AMNH.
In 2023 there is a new wing that opened at the AMNH, attracting influencers and families with its unique design and its butterfly interactive exhibit.
Walk down 5th Avenue (2 hours)
Fifth Avenue in NYC is a shopper’s heaven. It is literally a world renowned street lined by high-end department stores, designer boutiques and chain brands.
During the holiday season almost all the stores on Fifth Avenue decorate their storefront and display windows. Famous department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue decorate their display windows and changes the theme every year.
Saks is actually right across from Rockefeller Center and during Christmas time there is a light show on the facade of Saks every few minutes. It is one of the things you have to see if you are in NYC during the holiday season.
If you are traveling with children, then you would love 5th Avenue. There are so many kids friendly stores on 5th Avenue, especially around Rockefeller Center. The most popular ones include:
- FAO Schwarz
- Lego Store
- Nintendo Store
- American Girl
- Build-a-Bear Workshop
- FDNY educational center where kids can climb into a real firetruck
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (30 min – 1 hour)
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a famous cathedral located on 5th Avenue not too far from Rockefeller Center. It is located right next to the famous department store Saks Fifth Avenue.
It is the most famous and beautiful cathedral in Manhattan, many people actually get married there (but it costs a fortune).
You can attend a mass there, confess, or simply visit as a tourist and take the official self-guided audio tour of the cathedral to discover its beautiful architecture and understand its history and why it is such an important church in NYC.
Rockefeller Center & Radio City Music Hall (1-3 hours)
Very close to Fifth Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the famous Rockefeller Center.
Rockefeller Center is known for a number of things:
- Rockefeller Plaza with famous toy stores like FAO Schwarz, Nintendo Store, Lego Store, American Girl
- Iceskating Rink
From Top of the Rock you can see Empire State Building and the rest of downtown. You can also see Central Park on the other side. No view is more central than top of the Rock.
Pro-Tip: Visit Top of the Rock at sunset time is extremely beautiful, just beware of crowds. If you want to avoid crowds and take that instagrammable photo at Top of the Rock then you need to go early (9am opening) on a weekday.
If you are visiting New York during the holiday and Christmas, you should stop by Radio City Music Hall, where they perform the famous Christmas Spectacular The Rockettes.
Rockefeller Center area is very touristy and there really aren’t many good restaurants.
Therefore I suggest you take the F train down 2 stops to 34th Street Herald Square and check out that area, especially famous for K (Korea) town.
Your last stop of the night is Herald Square, a very vibrant, busy and lively square one avenue away from Empire State Building.
Herald Square is the home of Macy’s flagship store in New York City. During Christmas and holiday season, Macy’s puts on a fantastic window display.
There are also a million shops and restaurants near Herald Square especially Korean restaurants since K town (Korea Town) is literally next to Herald Square.
What to eat and drink in NYC K Town
Most of the Korean restaurants are concentrated on 32nd street between 5th and 6th Avenue although there are some outside of that one block.
All the bars and karaoke places are all in K town and they tend to get super crowded Friday and Saturday night.
Check out Jongro or Baekjeong NYC for Korean BBQ, BCD tofu house for tofu soups, Her Name is Han for unconventional Korean food, Grace Cafe for dessert, Poncha for Korean bar experience (order the watermelon soju), Cloud Social for rooftop bar.
Head to K town NYC at night and I guarantee you will have a good time.
Day 3 in New York Itinerary: Mid-Town Manhattan
Highlights of Day 3 in NYC: Chelsea Market, the High Line, Hudson Yards, NYPL, Grand Central, SUMMIT One, Flatiron & Eataly
On Day 3 of our New York Itinerary we will mostly stay around west side and midtown area.
Chelsea Market (1 hour)
Start your day from Chelsea Market, a cool indoor food market on the west side of Manhattan.
There are a ton of food vendors, restaurants, clothing stores and artsy pop ups in Chelsea Market. It’s a great place to eat a bite before all your adventures.
Best things to eat at Chelsea Market:
Los Tacos No.1: literally the best taco in New York City. Even if you don’t like tacos you would love this one! Order the beef and pork taco, those are the most flavorful!
Sea Food Market: get the fresh oysters or steamed lobster, you won’t regret it, trust me.
Gelato: there are a lot of gelato places in New York City but this one never fails to impress.
Little Island & Pier 57 (1 hour)
If you have time, another popular attraction in New York City near Chelsea Market is Little Island and Pier 57. Both are relatively new attractions in Manhattan.
They are only a couple of blocks away from Chelsea Market.
Little Island is a recreational island “away from Manhattan”. Built at the former historic Pier 54 where Titanic survivors docked. It is now a green space where you can enjoy free public events or just relax and enjoy the view of the Hudson River.
Pier 57 is the newest food hall in Manhattan. Right across from Little Island, Pier 57 is both a food market and a public educational space in the Google building.
There are 16+ food vendors at Pier 57 offering unique and diverse cuisine; most of the chefs and vendors are small independent businesses or women-owned business.
The High Line Park (30 min – 1 hour)
Right next to Chelsea Market is the High Line.
The High Line Park is a 1.45 mile walk that was converted from a former New York Central Railroad spur; it is now a public park.
There are some popular photo spots on the High Line and you can see all the fancy and expensive apartments next to the High Line on your walk.
You can just walk for 20 minutes or you can walk all the way to the edge and go straight to Hudson Yards, but I think the most interesting and popular part of the High Line is the first 20 minutes.
Hudson Yards & Edge Observatory (1-3 hours)
Hudson Yards is a relatively new area on the west side of Manhattan (now can be reached by the 7 train). Due to the nice shopping center, the Vessel, Edge and the 7 train, Hudson Yards has become a very popular place to visit in New York.
However the Vessel is closed to the public due to high number of suicides. But you can still see it from the ground (you just can’t climb up).
The view from Edge is quite amazing and I highly recommend a visit although it does get quite crowded.
Other things to do at Hudson Yards include:
- Check out the designer stores in the mall
- Grab lunch or snack at Mercado Little Spain, a foodcourt under the mall
- The Shed, an art center
Bryant Park & New York Public Library (2 hours)
After you are done with Hudson Yards, take the 7 Train for 2 stops to Bryant Park 42nd Street station.
Bryant Park is a nice little urban oasis in the middle of midtown and it is my favorite lunch spot!
It’s a great spot to people watch and relax in the summer. On nice summer nights there are free movie nights on the lawn of Bryant Park.
In the winter Bryant Park is transformed into an alpine winter village with an ice skating rink, tons of vendors, cozy igloos, and holiday shops.
There is also a carousel at Bryant Park that are open all year round as well as other attractions like magic shows, juggling lessons, etc.
New York Public Library (30 min – 1 hour)
Located right next to Bryant Park is the famous New York Public Library (NYPL). It is the library in the Hollywood movie The Day After Tomorrow.
The architecture is grand and the interior of the library is beautiful and intricate.
You can enter for free to all levels at the NYPL, but the most famous Rose Reading Room requires a tour if you want to take photos. The tour is free but you need to go early to get a spot.
The NYPL also has the original Winnie the Pooh collection so if you are a fan don’t miss that!
Grand Central Terminal (10-30 min)
Grand Central Terminal is a famous transportation hub in New York City. It was featured in Gossip Girl in the opening scene.
Opened in 1913, Grand Central Terminal is both a transpiration hub and a shopping and dining center.
Some of the most noteworthy shops at Grand Central includes Apple, Magnolia Bakery (get the banana pudding), hidden bar and a Christmas market during the holidays.
Many couples go to Grand Central to take engagement or wedding photos so it’s a great instagrammable spot in NYC.
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt (2 hours)
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is more than just an observation deck with a nice view, it is interactive and engages with all of your senses with their 3 story space. It is also the most child friendly observation deck in New York City.
Stop By A Floral Cafe for Coffee
If you end up going to SUMMIT One, in the area there is a beautiful coffee shop with a flower shop inside. The coffee shop is called Remi43 Flower & Coffee and their prettiest drink is the lavender latte.
Flatiron Building (10 min)
Take the train (or simply Uber since it’s easier) down to Flatiron to end your night with some delicious food (also because there aren’t many good restaurants near SUMMIT One that I would recommend).
Flatiron Building was once the tallest building in Manhattan at its completion in 1902; it is now a landmark building located right next to Eataly and Madison Square Park.
The name Flatiron comes from the fact it resembles a clothes iron.
Eataly (1-2 hours if you eat there)
Eataly is one of the most famous food markets in New York City. It is an Italian themed grocery store plus food court.
Everything inside Eataly resembles of what you can buy from Italy since a lot of the items are imported from Italy, at a premium price of course.
There are a number of restaurants in Eataly that are pretty good, but reservation is needed if you don’t want to wait over an hour.
The Original Shake Shack
If you don’t want Italian food but are craving for some authentic American food, look no further than the original Shake Shack.
Located in Madison Square Park (on the left side of the Flatiron building is you are facing the building), this Shake Shack is always busy and for good reasons.
Order the Shack burger with a milk shake on the side. People love their burgers but love the milk shakes even more.
Other Food in Flatiron that are super famous include Noda (Omakase), Cote (Korean steak house), Jua (Korean-fusion). They are all bookmarked in the map above.
Day 4 of New York City Itinerary: Brooklyn & the Villages
Highlights of Day 4 in NYC: Brooklyn, Soho, West Village, Greenwich Village, East Village & LES
On the last day of your 4 days in New York trip, you can explore several trendy neighborhoods in New York City that are popular among locals.
Brooklyn Bridge & Dumbo (1-3 hours)
Brooklyn Bridge has always been one of my favorite places in New York City because of the architecture and design. Of course Brooklyn Bridge is another super instagrammable place in New York City that you can’t miss.
Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge is the best way to experience Brooklyn Bridge.
There is a walking and biking path spanning from Lower Manhattan all the way to Brooklyn (see map above for the exact location).
You can either walk a little bit on the bridge or walk across the entire Brooklyn Bridge which takes about 25 minutes (~1.1 miles). If the weather is pleasant I really do encourage you to walk the whole bridge.
Seeing Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Bridge or Dumbo
If you are not interested in walking across Brooklyn Bridge then you can either take the subway directly to Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo or see Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Bridge.
Manhattan Bridge is a bridge that is parallel to Brooklyn Bridge. Most photographers take night shots of Brooklyn Bridge, the cars under and one World Trade Center.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful public park in DUMBO Brooklyn that is pretty much under the Brooklyn bridge.
Many photographers come to Brooklyn Bridge Park for both wedding and engagement photos.
From Brooklyn Bridge Park, you can downtown New York City skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and the statue of Liberty (although kind of far away).
If you are hungry, be sure to stop by the Time Out market at Brooklyn Bridge to get some food. There is a large variety of vendors in the market so you will definitely find something you like. The best part of the Time Out Market is that you can go up to the roof and get an amazing view of Manhattan.
In addition, if you have children, or you just want the famous instagram photo, head over to the carousel (seen in the photo above)!
Bonus View of Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo
There is a famous photo spot in Dumbo that everyone goes to for an iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge.
If you are interested in visiting this spot to get the iconic shot of Manhattan Bridge, head to the intersection between of Washington Street and Water Street (see map).
Explore Soho in Manhattan (1-3 hours)
After spending some time in Brooklyn Bridge Park, take the subway to Soho (stands for South of Houston) to do some shopping (or window shopping) or grab brunch, something New Yorkers love to do.
Local’s guide: the street Houston does not pronounce like the city Houston, it rather is pronounced “House-Ton”. Don’t make the mistake of calling it Houston as the city in Texas as locals will give you a dirty look and immediately categorize you as “tourist”.
Soho is located very close to Chinatown in Lower Manhattan but the vibe is completely different. Soho is a really cute yet fancy area full of designer boutiques, nice restaurants and cute cafes. Many photographers and influencers come to Soho to take photos early in the morning.
If you want to shop at regular chain stores you will find them on Broadway between Canal Street and Houston.
But the real gem are the smaller streets in Soho, such as West Broadway, Sullivan, Thompson where you can see the real charm of Soho. High end designer stores like YSL, Chanel and other cute French boutiques are all situated on these side streets. These streets also have super cute galleries, coffee shops and stores that you should check out.
Have brunch in Soho
See West Village, the Cutest Neighborhood in NYC
If you ever watched Sex and the City or Friends (or both) then you would be interested in visiting West Village.
As the name implies, West Village is on the west side of Manhattan. It is a very nice and wealthy European style neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants. Some of the main attractions in the West Village include:
- The Friends’ apartment (90 Bedford Street)
- Sex and the City apartment (66 Perry St, New York, NY 10014)
You cannot go inside of these apartments so most people just want to take a look at the building and take photos outside.
You can also grab bagels at this super trendy place called Pop up Bagel! The minimum you can get is 3 for $12, which is actually a really good deal.
Lastly one of my all time favorite sushi (omakase) restaurants is in the West Village! It’s called Sushi Nakazawa and I have been there twice since it is just delicious. It’s definitely pricey but totally worth it if you are celebrating a special occasion in New York City.
Washington Square Park is a city park located just a few minutes walk from the West Village. If there is one good place to people watch in New York, that place is Washington Square Park.
Washington Square Park is where a lot of NYU students, locals, and street performers hang out.
You literally will never be bored when you are in Washington Square Park, as there are performances, protests, proposals, student events going on all the time.
On a nice summer day, many locals like to sit by the fountain (or on a bench) to chill and hang out.
Stop by Union Square
If you have time, you can walk to Union Square and check out the farmer’s market (open M, W, F and Saturday) and Strand Book Store, a landmark shop in NYC specializing in new, used and rare books.
Union Square is pretty interesting for people watch too. During the holiday season, there is a very cute holiday market at Union Square.
See East Village
Continue walking east from Washington Square Park or Union Square is the East Village.
East Village is a unique and exciting neighborhood in lower Manhattan. It is very close to NYU so it is known for its young and lively atmosphere and vibrant dining scene.
The East Village is also a great place to shop and dine. With an array of unique and trendy shops, a huge variety of cool restaurants, dessert shops and bars, East Village is one of the best places to eat in New York City among locals (be sure to check out St. Mark’s).
Lower East Side (LES)
Another cool neighborhood you can check out is Lower East Side.
Lower East Side is usually not on a NYC tourist’s radar but locals LOVE going there for food and drinks.
LES is right next to Chinatown and Soho, so if you want to fit LES in on day 1 you certainly can!
LES is best known for its bars and party scene as well as cafes.
Best Food & Drinks in Lower East Side
Great eats in LES include the Meatball shop, Beauty & Essex (brunch and drinks), Souvlaki GR (Greek food), Petee’s Pie Company (pies), Lazy Sundaes (Milk tea), Super Moon Bakehouse and of course ice cream.
Or if you want iconic food in New York, head over to Katz Delicatessen (featured in many movies and films such as When Harry Met Sally…) to get some pastrami sandwich or go to Russ’s Daughter for their lox and bagel.
What to Eat in NYC in 4 Days
Just to make it easier for you, I am summarizing some of the best places to eat in New York City. Just keep in mind that I do not recommend very touristy restaurant unless they are super iconic. Anything I recommend I have tried personally and liked. There are just so many good restaurants in New York City I can’t list them all.
Best Pizza in NYC: Joe’s Pizza, Lucali, Julianna’s, Prince Street Pizza, Scarr’s Pizza, LYB Spumoni Gardens, Di Fara Pizza (get the square slice), Paulie Gee’s
Best Bagels in NYC: Ess-A-Bagel, Liberty Bagel, Tomkin Square Bagel, Sadelle’s
Best specialty food in NYC:
- Russ & Daughter (known for their lox, not their bagel)
- Katz’s Deli (split with someone, the pastrami sandwich is so big)
- Chocolate and walnut cookies from Levain
- Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery (I know people know them for their cup cakes, but banana pudding is the real star)
- Burger from Minetta Tavern
- Tacos from Los Tacos No.1 (multiple locations)
- The Halal Guys
Best Steakhouse in NYC: Peter Luger, Quality Meats, Keen, Cote (Korean steak house, it is so good omg). Tourists love going to Gallaghers for their cheap lunch special, but as a New Yorker, me and my friends have never heard of it *shrug
Best Sushi Omakase Places in NYC: Noda (my favorite), Sushi Nakazawa (my 2nd favorite), Sushi Ikumi, Kura, Sushi by M
Other amazing restaurants in Manhattan not frequented by tourists: ABC Kitchen, ABCV (vegetarian), L’Artusi, Marea, Quality Italian, Jungsik (Korean fusion), Soothr (Thai), Pure Thai Cookhouse, Chili (Chinese)
To be honest it is pretty sad to see tourists keep asking “where to eat near Times Square”. Times Square is probably THE WORST place to eat in New York City! Most restaurants are chain restaurants with mediocre food and inflated prices.
Seriously, do yourself a favor, get out of Times Square. Go to West Village, Soho, East Village, Lower East Side, K Town and even Brooklyn and Queens to find some amazing food. You are missing out on so much if you just want to eat around Times Square.
What to do in New York City if I have more than 4 days in NYC?
This 4 Day New York City itinerary I have here is really to cover the most well known landmarks of the city plus a flavor of trendy neighborhoods that locals hang out at. But there are just SO much to do and so much to eat in NYC.
In general I would recommend checking out Brooklyn, Governor’s Island and some parts of Queens if you have more than 4 days in New York.
A great thing to do in New York City in the summer is to visit Governor’s Island. This is not something tourists usually do and it’s more of a locals activity.
You can rent a bike and picnic on Governor’s Island while overlooking the Statue of Liberty. You can also rent a luxury camping “tent” to stay overnight on Governor’s Island or go to a luxury spa.
Brooklyn & Queens
Lastly if you want to venture outside of Manhattan during your visit to New York City, you can explore Brooklyn, namely Williamsburg and Green Point, both are very trendy and popular in recent years.
Or if you want ethnic food, then venture out to Queens (Jackson Heights for India, Thai, Tibetan and South American cuisine and Flushing for authentic Chinese food).
If you are visiting NYC end of August to mid September, you should go to Queens to watch the US Open.
Best Airport to Fly into NYC
New York City area has 3 major airports:
- John F. Kennedy (JFK): the main international airport located in Queens
- Newark International Airport (EWR): the large international airport located in New Jersey
- LaGuardia (LGA): the smaller airport located in Queens
If you are flying into New York City from another country, most likely you will be flying into JFK or Newark. La Guardia is mostly for domestic flights.
JFK and EWR (Newark) are really old and crappy. It is actually pretty embarrassing that New York City have such crappy airports. LaGuardia was pretty bad but it’s been expanding in the recent years and the terminals are quite new (at least Terminal B). So LaGuardia is the nicest airport in the NYC area now. Do not have any expectations for Newark (literally the worst) and JFK though.
Which airport should you fly into for NYC is entirely up to you, but I will talk about the pro and cons of each airport.
If you are staying in Manhattan, it actually doesn’t matter which airport you are flying into.
If you are staying in Long Island or Brooklyn and eastern Queens, it is best to fly into JFK.
If you are staying in New Jersey or west side of Manhattan, then Newark International Airport is the best New York airport for you.
If you are staying on the east side of Manhattan or western Queens (near the water), then La Guardia is the most convenient airport to fly into.
If you want to utilize public transit, then JFK and Newark are the best airports to fly into.
|Time to Times Square
|JFK International Airport
|By public transit: 1 hour
By taxi/ Uber: 1 hour+ (depends on traffic)
|Public Transit: $11.15 – $19
Taxi/ Uber: $70+ toll + tax + tip
|Newark International Airport
|By express bus: 45 min (depends on traffic)
By train (NJ transit): 50 min – 1 hour
By taxi/ Uber: 45 min (depends on traffic)
|Express bus: $18
Taxi/ Uber: $60+ toll + tax + tip
|By public transit: 40 min
By taxi/ Uber: 45 min
|Bus + subway: $2.90
Taxi/ Uber: $30-38 + tax + tip
Getting Around New York City
New York is a very walkable city, but there are many other transportation options. But regardless of what you do, you should have Google Maps and City Mapper downloaded. Google Maps is good for walking directions whereas City Mapper is best for transportation options and time.
Take the Subway or bus in New York City
Locals walk and take the subway (aka the train). The New York City subway runs on a grid, from North to South (uptown vs downtown) and East to West (any train going to Brooklyn is pretty much east or south).
You can purchase a subway card at the machines in the subway station (each ride is $2.90) or buy a week long subway card. But personally I think it’s better to pay individually since you will be walking around a lot and may not make it worth it to get a 7 day subway unlimited pass.
Use Taxi Ride Share Services or just yellow cab in New York City
Uber, Lyft, Via are very popular ride share services in NYC. They compete with the yellow cab in New York City.
Do the Hop-on Hop-off Bus in NYC
Best Hotels to Stay in New York City
I will not go too in details since this deserves a separate blog post.
But in general tourists love to stay at:
- Times Square
- Rockefeller Center Area
- Central Park area
- Herald Square
- Downtown (financial district)
Personally I am not a fan of Times Square (I don’t think any New York locals are) but I understand why tourists want to stay there. I think staying near Rockefeller Center or Herald Square is even better than staying at Times Square.
But if you are set on staying at Times Square because you think it’s the most convenient (it is ok, other areas are just as good), then I would highly recommend the following hotels:
If you want to stay near Rockefeller Center, then I highly recommend Radio City Apartments. It is reasonably priced, has large rooms and a kitchenette, perfect for families!
If you are looking for more budget hotels when visiting NYC, then I would actually recommend looking into Long Island City in Queens or hotels in New Jersey near Weehawken. Both areas are well connected by public transportation to Manhattan and you can save hundreds of dollars during your day.
Is New York City Safe?
New York City is a relatively safe city, even for solo female travelers. There have been news on how dangerous New York City is and they are mostly fake news.
Like any large city that you would travel to, you should always be aware of your surroundings and it is best to not wander around late at night by yourself.
Certain areas of New York can have a lot of homeless people but they are generally harmless although occasionally there may be crazy ones that yell and shout at people.
It is true that there have been incidents of people getting pushed off the subway platform, so always stand near the wall and away from the edge and be aware of your surroundings.
I have never encountered any pickpockets in NYC during all my years of living here so I don’t think pickpocketing is a big issue in NYC.
If you just hadng out in the touristy areas in Manhattan it should be no issues in general. But of course use caution and common sense when traveling. Even though I say New York City is pretty safe, would I walk around by myself at 12am? Probably not.
4 Days in New York City Budget
New York City is probably one of the most expensive cities you can visit in the US (besides San Francisco).
Hotels in Manhattan generally cost between $250 – $350 a night during high season (slightly cheaper in the dead of winter like February).
A meal can cost as little as $10 or as much as $50 per person excluding tips, which is another 20% (yup, 15% tip is not gonna cut it in NYC). Of course if you decide to go to Per Se or Chef’s Table, then you are looking at $500 a person for a meal 🙂
There are definitely cheap eats in NYC, that’s why it is possible to spend $15 or less per person for food.
Drinks cost from $15-$25 a person at most bars; if you opt for a more “popular” bar that are viral on Instagram then you can expect to pay quite a bit for drinks.
The cheapest thing in New York City is probably the transportation; subway fares are $2.90 each ride and Ubers are generally less than $20 if you ride within Manhattan. And yes, they recently increased the MTA subway fare from $2.75 to $2.90.
Travel Insurance for New York City
I usually get travel insurance before any trip as you never know what could happen (hiking injuries, theft, flight delays, lost baggages, etc) and you don’t want to end up paying for everything out of pocket.
In addition if you are not from the US, you probably don’t have American medical insurance. Medical costs are extremely expensive in the US, a trip to the ER can easily cost you $1000 (if you get an ambulance, that’s another $1000).
To get that peace of mind and not worry about all these unfortunately things from ruining your trip, you should consider getting travel insurance.
World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
Other New York City Articles
If you want to check out other cool things to do and see in New York City, here are some other articles that may interest you!
New York City Itineraries & Things to Do
Christmas and Holiday Season in New York City
New York City Seasonal and Family Friendly Articles
How to Save Money Traveling to NYC
New York City Food Guide
Other New York City Guides
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