4 Days in NYC: The Ultimate 4 Day New York Itinerary by a Local

Looking for the best New York itinerary? Follow this 4 Day New York City 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 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 tissue paper and cold medicine at 4am? Don’t worry many Walgreens and CVS are open 24 hours…. well you get the point!

New York City is a place with the most number of languages spoken in the US; it is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, sights, and experiences. There are literally unlimited amount of things to do and restaurants to try. Your challenge is to figure out what to do for 4 days in NYC given there are so much to see and eat!

In this detailed New York City 4 day itinerary, I will show you how to see the top sites and eat at the best restaurants from a local’s point of view. I will also give you practical NYC travel tips, like how to get around, how not to get scammed, and where to stay and eat (and not eat).

This four day New York itinerary assumes it is your first time visiting, and you want to see as much as possible. However, feel free to move things around and take things off the list as I am giving you a lot of options on what to do in NYC.

This blog contains occasional affiliate links, where I receive a small commission on sales of the products/hotels that are linked at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Best photo spots in New York City | Swings overlooking the Manhattan Bridge at Pier 35

Is 4 Days Enough for New York City?

4 Days is the perfect amount of time to see the most iconic sights and attractions 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, and many more.

However if you want to spend more time in New York City or you are the type to like to take it slow, then 7 days in NYC would be even more ideal for you.

Anything less than 4 days in NYC will be quite rushed, so I think 4 days is the best amount of time to spend in New York City for your first time.

4 Days in New York City: Itinerary Overview

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 a 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.

If this is your first time in New York City, I highly recommend getting a New York Sightseeing Pass to save money on attractions. You can see the review of all New York Travel passes here.

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.

Landing in NYC at JFK, the best airport to fly into in New York City
Landing at JFK

JFK and EWR (Newark) are really old and crappy. It is actually pretty embarrassing that New York City has such crappy airports.

LaGuardia was pretty bad but it’s been expanding in 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 you should fly into for NYC is entirely up to you, but I will talk about the pros 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 the 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

AirportTime to Times SquareCost
JFK International AirportBy 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 AirportBy 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
Train: $8.25
Taxi/ Uber: $60+ toll + tax + tip
LaGuardia AirportBy public transit: 40 min
By taxi/ Uber: 45 min
Bus + subway: $2.90
Taxi/ Uber: $30-38 + tax + tip

Read Next: How to Get to Times Square in Manhattan from JFK Airport

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 Citymapper downloaded. Google Maps is good for walking directions whereas City Mapper is best for transportation options and time. You can get around New York City by:

  • Taking the subway or bus (cheapest option)
  • Walking (free, obviously)
  • Taking the ferry or tram (depends on where you go)
  • Uber/ Lyft/ official yellow cab
  • Taking a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus
  • Biking (not the safest option in my opinion)

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.

You can also pay with a contactless card or Apple Pay. When you take 12 subway/ bus trips with the same device or bank card in a week, you’ll automatically ride free for the rest of the week. Again, I think this is better (and more flexible) than getting an unlimited Metrocard.

Read Next: My complete guide on taking the subway in NYC

Use Taxi Ride Share Services or just yellow cab in New York City

Uber and Lyft are very popular ride-share services in NYC. They compete with the yellow cab in New York City. If you don’t want to take Uber or Lyft, you can always use the Curb app to get an official taxi.

Times Square yellow Cab | Best New York City Itinerary

Do the Hop-on Hop-off Bus in NYC

If you are hopping around tourist attractions, you can consider a hop on hop off bus. One day hop on hop off bus is also covered by the New York Sightseeing Pass.

In my honest opinion I think the subway is way faster than a hop on hop off bus if you are planning to go from downtown to uptown. However, one advantage of the hop on hop off bus is that you can sit on top and see the view that you cannot see on a subway.

4 Day NYC Itinerary in Detail

Let’s dive right into my super detailed New York City itinerary for 4 days.

Day 1 in New York Itinerary: Lower Manhattan

Highlights of Day 1: Wall Street, 911 Memorial, Oculus, Chinatown, Statue of Liberty & Times Square

Lower Manhattan is the part of Manhattan that is below 14th street. The neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan include Financial District, China Town, Soho, Tribeca, 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.

Check out 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. Although you cannot go inside, you can still see the grandeur of this iconic building from the outside. It is an example of capitalism and something everyone should see when visiting Wall Street.

Christmas tree in NYC financial district

But the New York Stock Exchange is not the only thing to see on Wall Street. Some other famous sights in the financial district in NYC 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.

The best way to see Wall Street and understand what you are looking at is to take this 75 minute walking tour, as it shows you the famous buildings and banks and history behind the buildings. Otherwise just walking around Wall Street doesn’t give you too much context of why this place is important.

Seaglass Carousel at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan New York City - New York City itinerary and things to do
Sea Glass 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.

911 Memorial NYC
911 Memorial on Sep 11

There is the 911 Memorial Museum you can visit and it provides more information (including audio recording of people calling their loved ones when the planes hit).

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 (Optional: 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.

There is an observation deck on top with a panoramic view of NYC and New Jersey. If you are planning to visit other observation decks in NYC then you can skip this one as there are more iconic buildings you can visit.

You can read my complete review of the One World Observatory.

Both the One World Observatory and 911 Memorial Museum are covered in the New York Pass.

The Oculus (10 min – 2 hours if you shop)

The Oculus NYC itinerary Lower Manhattan

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.

Another new and cool thing to do near 911 Memorial is Mercer Labs, an immersive digital art experience that just opened up in February 2024. There are several rooms inside Mercer Labs, giving you completely different experiences through vision, sound, smell, and touch. The entire experience can take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.

You can read my complete review on Mercer Labs to see if it’s something that interests you.

Stop by Manhattan Chinatown for Lunch

After visiting 911 Memorial, walk towards Chinatown. Immediately you will notice a completely different vibe from Downtown.

NYC Chinatown street with lanterns | What to do in NYC for 4 days

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.

Another really cool spot that you will not find on any other NYC itineraries is the Museum at Eldridge Street, a beautiful Orthodox Jewish synagogue that is now a museum. The architecture is beautiful and worth a visit. It is also part of the New York Pass so if you have that you can enter for free.

What to eat and drink in New York Chinatown

If you haven’t eaten lunch yet, check out for some authentic Hong Kong style dim sum (Chinese tapas) at Jing Fong or head to Joe Shanghai or Joe’s Ginger for the famous soup dumplings.

If you are craving Southeast Asian food then head to West New Malaysia, Kopitiam or Nyonya for some yummy Malaysian dishes.

If you want a variety of food choices then head to Canal Street Market, a food court style space with a few cool and trendy vendors such as Joe’s Steam Rice Roll. Another popular food market among locals is Mott St. Eatery.

Canal Street Market Chinatown NYC

Joe's Steam Rice Roll Canal Street Market
Rice Roll

If you are looking for trendy cafes in the 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.

K party Toast and coffee at Round K by Sol in Chinatown New York City - Things to eat and do in New York City

Chinatown has some great dessert places. One really famous place to try is the Original Chinese factory ice cream, one of the oldest businesses in Chinatown.

Or you can just grab some bubble tea (otherwise known as boba milk tea or tapioca milk tea). Some of my favorite Bubble Tea places in Chinatown include Chun Yang, Moge Tea, and Tiger Sugar.

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.

Statue of Liberty Ferry Ride NYC Itinerary | Best 4 Days in NYC Itinerary

There are numerous legit and non-legit tours to the Statue of Liberty, so how should you choose? The only legally authorized ferry and tour company to visit the Statue of Liberty is Statue Cruises.

At Statue of Liberty, you can:

  • Tour the grounds only
  • Access the pedestal
  • Access the crown (needs to book MONTHS in advance)

If you are serious about visiting the Statue of Liberty and climbing it, you will need to make an advanced reservation on the official Statue Cruises website about 3 months before you visit.

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.

Statue of Liberty Ground Only Tour is covered in the New York Pass.

View of Statue of Liberty from Governor's Island, a NYC itinerary
View of Statue of Liberty from Governor’s Island

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 the 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.

New York City Itinerary - Times Square

If you have never been to Times Square, you will find a lot of chain brands, restaurants, and other tourists at Times Square. Even though as a local I don’t like Times Square, 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
  • H&M
  • Loft
  • 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

Other popular attractions at Times Square include:

  • Madame Tussauds
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • The Ride
  • RiseNY
  • Birdland Jazz Club
  • Rooftop bars such as Elsie Rooftop, The Skylark

Most of these attractions are covered by the New York Sightseeing Pass or the New York Pass.

Times Square at night NYC

Watch a Broadway Show

New York is famous for Broadway Shows and you will pretty much find any performance you want in NYC.

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.

You can buy Broadway tickets directly online at the official website.

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.

If you want to watch Hamilton or some other really popular Broadway Shows but don’t have the money for $500 tickets, download the Hamilton app (Hamilton only – it got so popular they had to make their own lottery app) and also the Broadway show lottery website (for other shows).

Some of my favorite Broadway shows include:

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 are 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 (2-3 hours)

Central Park during fall foliage

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 (and Fountain)
  • The Boat House
  • Belvedere Castle
  • The Wollman Rink

Pedicab Tour & Biking Tour in Central Park

Pedicab tour is probably one of the best things you can do in Central Park as a first time visitor. Your guide will show you around the park and tell you about the history, apartments owned by famous people, film locations and other interesting facts and landmarks in the surrounding area. We did it when I first moved to NYC and it was definitely a highlight!

Book your pedicab tour here as they are quite popular.

If you are not a fan of pedicab tour, the Central Park biking tour is also a great option to learn more about the park. You get to bike around Central Park yourself following a licensed tour guide and learn about hidden gems and famous monuments in Central Park.

Book your Central Park biking tour here.

If you are visiting New York with kids, there is Central Park Zoo, a number of playgrounds, carousel, and boat rowing in Central Park.

Central Park Foliage on the pond with boat

Central Park Zoo is exclusively covered by the New York Sightseeing Pass. Bicycle Rental within Central Park is also covered.

When is the best time to visit Central Park?

Central Park is pretty any season of the year and you will see why.

  • Summer in Central Park means picnics, free concerts and Shakespeare in the Park performances
  • Fall in Central Park greets you with beautiful foliages and amazing weather
  • Winter transforms Central Park into a winter wonderland, especially after a snow storm. You will see kids sledding down the hill and cute dogs running around

The Metropolitan Museum of Art & Guggenheim (1-4 hours)

There are many world renowned museums housed on both sides of Central Park.

On the “right” (east) side of Central Park are two famous museums in New York City, the MET and Guggenheim. For this part of the itinerary, I suggest you only pick one of the two museums to visit, otherwise you won’t have time to do much else on the itinerary.

The MET needs no introduction as it is the most famous art museum in New York City. You can literally spend a whole day at the MET if you want since there are so many exhibits on multiple floors. My favorite exhibits at the MET are the Egyptian Art, Asian Art and Greek and Roman Art.

Even if you don’t like art, you would probably enjoy the MET since it’s not just paintings, but also cool sculptures and artifacts.

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. Personally I don’t really understand the contemporary art inside Guggenheim, so I would choose the MET over Guggenheim, but many people who are into modern art do enjoy Guggenheim.

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 (2 Hours)

American Museum of Natural is located on the west side of Central Park. It is my favorite museum in New York City.

If you have older kids with you (by older I mean 3 years and above), they would definitely love the 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 both influencers and families with its unique design and its butterfly interactive exhibit. Besides the butterfly exhibit, another really cool exhibit at this new wing of AMNH is the Invisible World, a super cool interactive digital art experience. You should get tickets for it ahead of time and try to go on a weekday to avoid crowds.

American Museum of Natural History and Guggenheim are both covered by the Go City Passes and New York Sightseeing Pass.

Walk down 5th Avenue (1 – 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.

Christmas in NYC Decorations | Taxi decoration fifth avenue

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 change 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 fire truck

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.

St. Patrick's Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue in New York City

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:

During the holiday season the largest Christmas tree in NYC is at Rockefeller Center and there is a nice ice skating rink. (Check out my blog on the best places in NYC during the holidays!)

What I love about Rockefeller Center is actually Top of the Rock observation deck. I personally think this is the best view of any observation deck in Manhattan because Rockefeller Center is located right in the middle of Manhattan.

view from Rockefeller Center in the morning

From Top of the Rock you can see the Empire State Building and the rest of downtown. You can also see Central Park on the other side. No view is more central than the 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.

Rockefeller Center window shot | how to spend 4 days in NYC

Top of the Rock is covered by the New York Sightseeing Pass and New York Pass.

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.

Radio City Christmas Decoration - Best Christmas Spots in NYC

Herald Square & K Town for Dinner

The 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.

Herald Square

Your last stop of the night is Herald Square, a very vibrant, busy and lively square one avenue away from the 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.

Read Next: amazing places in NYC to see during the holidays.

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.

Christmas in NYC Macys Believe Sign and the most instagramm

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 for Korean BBQ, BCD tofu house for tofu soups, Her Name is Han for unconventional Korean food, Grace Cafe or Prince Tea House for dessert, Poncha for Korean bar experience (order the watermelon soju), Cloud Social for rooftop bar. There is also a food mall on 32nd street where you will find a variety of cheap Korean food and street food.

Head to K town NYC at night and I guarantee you will have a good time.

Day 3 in New York Itinerary: Midtown 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 the 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.

Chelsea Market in New York City

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!
  • Seafood 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.
  • Ayada: for really good Thai food
  • Very Fresh Noodles: this is the perfect place to get some hand pulled noodles and beef noodle soup

In addition, ARTECHOUSE is located at Chelsea Market, a really fun interactive digital art experience. Tickets is included with the New York Pass as well.

Little Island & Pier 57 (1 – 2 hours)

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.

Little Island New York City

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.

View from Pier 57 with NJ

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.

New York City Pier 57 Food Hall

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 businesses.

For more information on Pier 57, read my detailed Pier 57 guide.

Walk the High Line Park (30 min – 1 hour)

Right next to Chelsea Market is the High Line.

the High line view New York City

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.

You can always do a Chelsea Market and Highline tour so learn the history and try the best food!

Hudson Yards & Edge Observatory (1-3 hours)

hudson Yards Xmas Lights

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 Vessel at Hudson Yards

One of the most famous things to do at Hudson Yards is the Edge, an observatory overseeing Manhattan and New Jersey. It is an observatory that is largely outside, so make sure you visit on a nice day.

The view from Edge is quite amazing and I highly recommend a visit although it does get quite crowded.

The Edge Observatory is covered by the Explorer Pass and New York Pass. Both of these two passes let you visit Edge one hour before it opens to the public, so you can take amazing photos without people.

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 food court 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.

Christmas in New york Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink

There is also a carousel at Bryant Park that is open all year round as well as other attractions like magic shows, juggling lessons, etc.

Read More: All You Need to Know About the Bryant Park Winter Village

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.

Rose Reading Room at the New York Public library
Rose Reading Room

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 transportation hub and a shopping and dining center.

Grand Central Terminal New York City best things to do and itinerary

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.

Grand Central Tour

A really popular thing to do in Grand Central Terminal is actually to take this tour to find all the hidden spots and secrets in Grand Central. Apparently there is a hidden tennis court in Grand Central, I bet you didn’t know that!

If you want to learn all the secret spots in Grand Central, book this tour here.

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt (2 hours)

SUMMIT One Transcendence 1

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is the newest observation deck in New York City and it is possible to enter from Grand Central Terminal.

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.

SUMMIT One Transcendence 2

Learn more about this observation deck and how to get the best photos with my detailed SUMMIT One guide.

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.

Remi43 Floral Cafe lavender latte drink instagram cafe in NYC

You can read more about this cafe as well as other floral themed cafes in New York City on my blog.

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 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 when you are facing it), 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 foods 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.

Walking across Brooklyn Bridge NYC Itinerary
Brooklyn Bridge at 8am

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.

View of brooklyn Bridge and One World Trade from Manhattan Bridge NYC itinerary

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.

Sunset from Brooklyn Bridge Park NYC Itinerary

From Brooklyn Bridge Park, you can see the downtown New York City skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty (although kind of far away).

Brooklyn Bridge at Sunset with view of downtown Manhattan

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.

View from Time out Markets Brooklyn in New York City - Best things to eat and see in New York City for a perfect NYC itinerary

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. 

Dumbo iconic shot of Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn for Instagram spots in NYC

If you are interested in visiting this spot to get the iconic shot of Manhattan Bridge, head to the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street (see map).

Don’t feel comfortable exploring on your own? Check out this Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo Guided Walking Tour to explore this trendy neighborhood.

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.

L’Appartement Sézane SOHO NYC Itinerary
L’Appartement Sézane

But the real gems 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.

Things to do in New York City | cute Soho Bookstore

Have brunch in Soho

If you want to be like New Yorkers, have brunch in Soho! Head to either Balthazar, Sadelles or Jane or check out my New York City brunch guide (there are just way too many brunch places in Soho).

You should make a reservation at both places if you are there on a weekend, otherwise expect an hour or longer wait during prime brunch hour.

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:

You cannot go inside of these apartments so most people just want to take a look at the building and take photos outside.

Cafe-Flor inside photo with flowers and plants most beautiful cafes in NYC

West Village is another great neighborhood to get coffee, brunch (or lunch), drinks and ice cream. Some of the cutest floral cafes are located in the West Village, so if you are tired, definitely chill at one of these beautiful coffee shops.

Alternatively you can check out the super tiny coffee shop called Fellini Coffee, it is literally the thinnest coffee shop in NYC.

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.

Check out my NYC Ice Cream Guide & NYC Brunch Guide for more information.

People Watch at Washington Square Park

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 in New York City one of the best places to go in NYC

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, and 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. In the spring there are a ton of cherry blossoms and magnolia at the park, making it a beautiful place to stop by.

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.

What to buy and Eat at Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square is pretty interesting for people watch too. During the holiday season, there is a very cute holiday market at Union Square.

Read Next: What to buy and eat at the Union Square Holiday Market

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).

Some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the East Village include:

  • Apollo Bagel: this bagel place is super viral, so expect a wait. Their bagel is made from sour dough and it is really really crispy on the outside
  • Soothr: This is one of the best Thai places I’ve tried in New York City
  • Evil Katsu: Quick Japanese styled cafe known for their Katsu sandwiches
  • Hanoi House: One of my favorite Vietnamese places. It’s on the pricey side but their pho and other dishes are really good
  • Librae Bakery: this is another super popular neighborhood bakery known for their unique croissants
  • Lady Wong Pastry & Cakes: Super good southeast Asian dessert place

Lower East Side (LES)

Another cool neighborhood you can check out is the Lower East Side.

The 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 sandwiches or go to Russ’s Daughter for their lox and bagel.

Check out my New York ice cream guide because there are so many cool ice cream shops in LES.

There is a nice whiskey bar there called Copper & Oak and they have a great collection of whiskeys from all over the world.

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 restaurants 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, L&B 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 is just SO much to do and so much to eat in NYC.

If you have more than 4 days in NYC, check out my One Week in New York Itinerary.

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.

Governor’s Island

Riding a bike on Governor's Island with view of Manhattan

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 from the end of August to mid September, you should go to Queens to watch the US Open.

You will need to get game tickets online in advance but there is always a free day for families (and everyone else) to visit the grounds on a weekend. There are tons of activities that day as well as free games (of lesser known players). 

Where to Stay in New York City

I will not go too in detail 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
  • Soho
  • 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.

I highly recommend Hyatt Place Long Island City and LIC Hotel for Long Island City and Residence Inn in Weehawken. You can take the ferry from Weehawken directly to Manhattan and the hotel also has free breakfast.

Is New York City Safe?

New York City is a relatively safe city, even for solo female travelers. There has 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 hang out in the touristy areas in Manhattan, 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 is viral on Instagram then you can expect to pay quite a bit for drinks.

Attractions cost between $30-50 a person in New York City. But you can actually save a lot of money on attractions by purchasing one of the New York City attraction passes.

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.

Want an offline and ads free copy of this itinerary? You can now purchase a PDF copy of this New York City itinerary without ads (but with all the other information and photos).

Make your purchase here and have access to this itinerary anytime and anywhere.

Read My 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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