Skip to Content

How to Spend THREE DAYS in New York City: 3-Day Itinerary

How to Spend THREE DAYS in New York City: 3-Day Itinerary

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

New York City has a reputation that surpasses all other cities in North America. It is full of beautiful historic buildings and is the pinnacle of pop culture– there’s a reason it’s on so many traveler’s bucket lists! 

With so much to do in New York City, it can be a little overwhelming to figure out how to spend your time. There’s the beautiful Empire State Building, some seriously good food at Chelsea Market, and the bustling Times Square, just to name a few! 

We had the chance to spend 5 days in New York City, and it was a blast! Whether you have unlimited time or just three days in NYC, you will be able to get a taste of what this city is so famous for. 

To help you sort through all of New York’s iconic attractions, we have put together a 3-day NYC itinerary. This will maximize your time so you can see the highlights of the city and help you save a few bucks along the way!

Don’t have time to read the full article? If you’re trying to see as many sights during your three days in NYC, consider purchasing The New York Pass! You can get cheaper entry prices for 100 of the city’s best attractions, such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Empire State Building. Then splurge on a dinner cruise on the Hudson or a scenic helicopter flight for the best views of NYC!

Day 1 in New York City

Get a New York City Bagel (breakfast)

Daniel with a bagel from Liberty Bagels in New York City
I was pretty excited!
The New Yorker Bagel from Liberty Bagels in New York City
This is known as the New Yorker!

Spending 3 days in New York City might as well be called a 3-day food tour because there is so much good food to eat!

One of the staple foods you must try is a New York City bagel. If you haven’t heard how iconic these bagels are, then let me tell you. Jewish and Polish immigrants brought over their traditional foods in the early 1800s, including the bagel. NYC bagels are kettle-boiled, shiny and crunchy on the outside and doughy on the inside. 

You’ll be hard pressed to find a tastier bagel anywhere else in the U.S. Liberty Bagels is perhaps the most famous bagel shop in New York City, so this is the perfect first stop on your 3-day NYC Itinerary. They have locations in Midtown, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue, so you’re never terribly far from one regardless of where you’re staying in New York.

Liberty Bagels is known for their amazing homemade cream cheese and colorful bagels for any occasion. We tried the bagel sandwiches; the New Yorker is stacked with roast beef, eggs, and hashbrowns on your bagel of choice. I was surprised that a bagel sandwich could be THAT good! But it left me thinking about bagels for the rest of the day!

Related Read: One of my favorite parts of New York was its incredible food culture. You can’t hit nearly enough restaurants in only 3 days, so consider taking a food tour in NYC so you can try a wide variety of foods and find some hidden gems!

Go up the Empire State Building

Bailey looks through the Binoculars on the 86th floor of the Empire State building viewpoint
Be sure to take advantage of the binoculars!
The Hudson river sits behind the city as seen from the Empire State Building in NYC
Empire State Building view!

The Empire State Building is the most iconic in the city’s skyline. It’s been featured in hundreds of films and TV shows and has become a symbol for New York City as significant as the Statue of Liberty. You can’t visit New York without making a trip to the very top of the Empire State Building!

The Empire State Building started construction in 1930 and was built in 1 year and 45 days, which is very fast for that era. Building this 102-story building was part of the “race to the sky” as nearly everyone was attempting to build the tallest building in New York City. The Empire State Building topped that and was the tallest building in the world for 40 years! It is 1,250 feet (280 meters) tall, and with its gorgeous Art-Deco architecture style, it has become a timepiece that New Yorkers have bragged about for decades. 

The best way to experience the Empire State Building is to visit the observation deck 86 floors up! This main observation deck gives the most beautiful views of the city below, and while you can visit another observation deck on the 102nd floor, we found the main deck to be impressive enough!

I recommend purchasing tickets in advance, as the queue can get rather long if you wait to purchase tickets in person! Tickets to visit the 86th-floor observation deck are $48 USD for adults and $42 USD for children. You can make the experience a little more magical by visiting at sunset for $11 USD more or save some time and pick up a “skip the line” ticket for $92 USD. Or you can reserve tickets to check out both observation decks for $86 USD– so many options!

In true New York fashion everything stays open late, including the Empire State Building! You can visit from 8 am to 2 am, 365 days a year no matter the weather or holiday, so it can easily be part of your 3-day New York City itinerary.

Note: Only a certain number of people are allowed on the Empire State Building Observation Deck at one time, so if you just show up, you may be stuck waiting for your turn for hours! Book your timeslot online in advance to avoid this!

Visit the New York Public Library (quick stop)

Bailey stands out the front of the New York Public Library in New York City
So many shows and movies have scenes here!
Beautiful buildings inside the New York Public Library
It’s stunning!

Conveniently located just a short walk away from the Empire State Building, is your next stop on this itinerary!

If you like books, old beautiful buildings, or famous pop culture references, making a quick stop at the New York Public Library is a must! This Beaux-Arts architecture style is stunning, putting the New York Public Library easily on the list of “most beautiful buildings in NYC”. It dates back to 1897, and has two iconic lions that sit out front named Patience and Fortitude who love taking selfies with travelers! 

The New York Public Library is such a beautiful building that it has been featured in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 13 Going on 30, and Spider-Man. People can even get married at the library! 

You will first walk through Astor Hall, which is the most iconic room with its marble arches and grand staircase. Other notable rooms are the Rose Reading Room, which looks like it belongs in Hogwarts, and the Children’s Center. Here you’ll find the exact stuffed animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh! Everything in New York is iconic, even the library. 

If you’re a book aficionado, you can spend all afternoon here, but an hour should suffice as there is a lot to see in New York! Visiting the New York Public Library is a perfect rainy-day activity since it’s indoors.

Related Read: After your time in NYC, consider visiting Philadelphia! There is so much to explore in Philadelphia and is only 2 hours from New York– it’s yet another iconic city in the USA that is worth a trip!

Admire St. Patrick’s Cathedral (quick stop)

Bailey stands out the front of the St. Patrick's Cathedral
It’s so beautiful!
Inside the St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City
Inside the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City

Continuing down 5th Avenue, you’ll quickly reach St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a gorgeous neo-Gothic church dating back to 1879. This is a quick stop, but if you only have three days in New York City, you have to see as many beautiful buildings as possible! You’ll find dramatic steeples on the outside and ornate ceilings and carvings on the inside. The cross beams look like a ribcage, fitting into the “gothic” of the neo-gothic style!

You’ll probably spend 15 minutes gawking at this gorgeous church, and it is free to enter. It is right across the street from Rockefeller Center and close to the Museum of Modern Art and Grand Central Station, so it’s a great quick stop as you make your way through the city!

Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria (lunch)

Angelo's Coal Oven Pizzeria in New York City
Photo credit: Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria

Expanding on our “food staples of New York” theme of today, stopping for a New York-style pizza is next on the agenda! Possibly even more iconic than a New York City bagel, is a thin crust NY-style pizza. People know of this legendary pizza all over the country, and the best and most authentic pizza joints are right here in the city. 

Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria was opened by an Italian immigrant family in the 1930s, and has stayed in the family since! It is well-known all around the city as the thin-crust pizza joint, and people line up around the block just to eat a slice. 

What makes Angelo’s so tasty is their family recipe that uses the freshest ingredients. Every part of the pizza, from dough to sauce to toppings, had some sort of flavor I didn’t expect. It’s fired in a coal oven pizza, so it is perfectly toasted. It will be difficult not to stuff yourself because the food is so good!

Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizzeria is two blocks from your next stop, Central Park, so you can walk off all the pizza! It is open from 11:30 am to 10 pm on weekdays and until 11 pm on weekends. This certainly won’t be the last NY slice you have while exploring the city, but it might be the best!

Explore Central Park (afternoon)

Bailey walks through Central Park in New York City
The park is huge!
Bailey and Daniel take a selfie in Central Park, New York City
Central Park!

After a busy morning exploring the city, a walk through Central Park will be a nice change of pace. You can also take a guided tour of Central Park to learn more about this iconic location and see its best attractions.

Central Park has been an outdoor haven for New Yorkers since it opened in 1858. It wasn’t in the heart of Manhattan as it is today, but it expanded just as the city has and now covers 1.3 square miles (3.4 square kilometers), which is 51 city blocks!

Central Park’s expansive area provides essential oxygen to the city, as well as home to hundreds of species of birds. It has become an important part of New York’s culture, where locals can find an escape from the concrete jungle, and it’s been featured in movies like When Harry Met Sally and Home Alone 2

Since Central Park is so big, there are some landmarks you can use to orient yourself. Sheep Meadow is a big grassy lawn that expands for 15 acres. If you’re here on a nice, sunny day, it is the ideal place to sit and relax in the grass. You will also find an old carousel that’s been around since 1871 and two skating rinks that are open from October to April!

But perhaps the most beautiful part of Central Park is the Belvedere Castle. This castle was designed in 1865 with no real purpose other than to be a beautiful part of the landscape!

You can rent bicycles to really cover some ground in Central Park, and to change it up since you’ve been walking all day! Bicycles can be rented for just $26 USD for the entire day! So if you have some extra time during your three days in New York, this is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

You can also get a little fancy and book a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park! A 45-minute carriage ride is $75 USD and can fit four people– what a magical way to experience Central Park!

See a Broadway show (night)

The packed Broadway Theater that shows The Book of Mormon in New York City
It’s such a fun experience to see the real Broadway!

You have to end your first day exploring New York City with a bang! Seeing a Broadway show is an experience that should be on every traveler’s NYC bucket list (even if you’re not a fan of musicals, like Daniel!). But even he was blown away by the production, logistics, and acting, I mean Broadway is world-famous for a reason!

We got tickets to the Book of Mormon and laughed the entire way, as it has the same writers as South Park. The set design and logistics of the show were seriously impressive – it made for a wonderful first Broadway experience! 

There are other iconic Broadway shows, if you’re into theatre, then this will be right up your alley! The Lion King is one of the most popular productions, and it’s been running since 1997. This show is the whole package with incredible music and gorgeous costumes, so if you can see this show you won’t be disappointed! Tickets to The Lion King start at $145 for the mezzanine level, and prices increase based on availability and seat preference. 

If you’re keen on digging into the behind-the-scenes of a Broadway production, this walking tour of Broadway Theaters will spill all the secrets. This tour is led by a true Broadway performer, who will tell of the history of Broadway and what it’s like to work in this industry. Tours are $39 USD and take off at 4 pm, finishing up just in time to catch a show!

Day 2 in New York City

Visit the Chelsea Market (late breakfast/morning)

Bailey poses for a photo inside the Chelsea Market in New York City
Inside Chelsea Market
Bailey eats a New York Slice on a food tour at the Chelsea Market
Yum!

As I said earlier, exploring New York might as well be called a food tour in itself, because there is so much good food out there! That’s why day 2 of 3 days in New York will start at Chelsea Market, which is a world-famous food hall. There are 40 different food stalls with cuisines from all over the world so you can find something new or perhaps an old favorite! 

Chelsea Market has been part of New York’s culture since the 1890s. It was built as the Nabisco Factory (which makes this the birthplace of the Oreo!) and changed ownership a handful of times over the years. The bottom level was converted into a food hall in the 1990s, and the building was bought by Google in 2018, but by that time the Chelsea Market food scene was well-established. Today, over 6 million people visit the Chelsea Market every year, so it truly is an icon in NYC’s culture!

With at least 40 different food options, it can be a bit daunting to know where to begin. We decided to take a food tour of Chelsea Market because it lets you skip the line, picks out the best restaurants, and maximizes your tasting by giving smaller portions at a wider variety of places. If you’re a foodie, taking a food tour of Chelsea Market will be well worth it

While there were so many stand-out places, our favorites were the tacos at Los Tacos No. 1, and the Doughnuttery, which is also Kim Kardashian’s favorite donut spot in the city. But the main highlight was Filaga Pizzeria, as it’s run by Sicilian natives and they have perfected the thin crust method!

Taking this food tour of Chelsea Market will leave you full in belly and spirit. You can reserve your spot in advance for $84 USD per person, and this includes all of your food for 3 hours!

Walk the High Line Trail

The High Line Trail with views of the skyscrapers in NYC
The High Line Tour was so much fun!
View of New York City from the High Line Trail
The High Line!

The High Line is the perfect place to take a walk after you try so much yummy food at Chelsea Market (the trail starts just outside the market!) Plus, if you took the same food tour of Chelsea Market as we did, it will take you to the High Line as part of the tour!

In a city like the Big Apple, having expansive parks or walking space is somewhat of a luxury. The High Line is a unique innovation because it is a park built on top of deserted freight railway tracks. The city was set to demolish the structure, but the community petitioned to make it into a park, and so today we see 1.45 miles (2.3 kilometers) of unperturbed walking paths.

It is situated above the street level because it is on old freight train tracks, so you get unique views of the city that are rather beautiful!

The High Line stretches from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, right by Hudson Yards. This elevated park is accessible to all, as it has stairs and an elevator, so it is wheelchair accessible. As you wander through the High Line, you’ll find playgrounds, grassy areas, art installations, workout areas, and lots of places to eat and drink.

Unfortunately, we ate too much at Chelsea Market and were unable to try any of the restaurants along the route. We did grab some coffee at one of the conveniently placed stands. If we were able to fit any more food in our bellies, the Hearth on the High Line was a cute bistro/wine bar that had views of the Hudson River and looked like it had incredible food. There was also a cute South Asian ice cream shop, Malai Ice Cream, to go with New York’s diverse food culture.

Go on a helicopter flight over the city (afternoon)

View out the front windo on a helicopter on a helicopter ride in New York City looking down at Manhattan
New York City from the air!
Bailey smiles at the camera in a Helicopter in New York City
Just dress for a day in the city!

New York City can easily be added to the “most beautiful cities in the world” list. While it’s great to see it from ground level or even from one of New York’s many observation decks, how about seeing it from an aerial view?

Taking a helicopter tour over New York City sounds like an incredibly grand adventure and it’s more attainable than it sounds. If you’re only in New York for three days, you might as well make the most of your time!

We took a 15-minute helicopter tour over NYC, and I can honestly say it was one of the best tours I’ve ever taken! This flight felt much longer than 15 minutes as we got sweeping views of the city. Our pilot was really good at pointing out attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Empire State Building. And riding in a helicopter was an epic experience! 

I know it seems a bit crazy to spend $229 USD per person for a 15-minute activity, but I can promise you it is completely worth it! There are some other great helicopter flights over Manhattan and if you want a longer experience, you can check out this 30-minute helicopter flight which gives even more amazing views! And if money is no object, helicopter rides also make for some of the best private tours in NYC!

Trust us, whether it’s 15 or 30 minutes, you will be so happy you added a helicopter tour to your 3-day NYC itinerary!

Visit New York City’s oldest pub (afternoon)

Daniel poses for a photo at McSorley's Old Ale House in New York City
Cheers!
Four beers on a table at McSorley's Old Ale House in New York City
It’s an old school pub!

If you love history and beer, McSorley’s Old Ale House will be your favorite stop of the day. This is the oldest pub in New York City and was opened in 1854 by an Irish immigrant, John McSorley. One of the things I love most about NYC is there are so many unique hidden gems, who knew we’d be stepping foot into such a historic place? 

McSorley’s Old Ale House has hosted some famous patrons, such as Abraham Lincoln, Harry Houdini, and John Lennon. Today, you can see an original “wanted” poster from Lincoln’s assassination and a pair of handcuffs belonging to Houdini. 

This pub survived prohibition by making “near beer” in bathtubs that had such little alcohol content that the government permitted people to drink it still! And women weren’t allowed in the pub until the 1970s, even though it was partially owned by a woman.

McSorley’s has had a long and fascinating history, that’s for sure!

When you visit now, they keep some of the history alive by only offering two types of beer – light or dark. It has that gruff Irish-New York vibe, so don’t be offended if they don’t smile and say hello when you walk through the door. Beers are served as double-fisted rounds, but each beer is only $5.50, a steal for New York prices!

Visiting McSorley’s was a fun and truly intriguing stop, and I was happy to sit down for a bit, as there is a lot to see in 3 days in NYC!

Go for dinner in Little Italy (dinner)

Daniel enjoys a pasta dish from L'Amore Restaurant in Little Italy New York City
I love Italian food!
People eat dinner in Little Italy New York City
It’s such a trendy area!

New York City is certainly a melting pot of cultures, so after experiencing an Irish Pub, you can check out Little Italy for dinner! After a busy day of exploring, a slow, romantic dinner in Italy is a fantastic way to spend an evening. Plus, it’s about as close to authentic Italian cuisine as you’ll find outside of Italy itself!

Spend some time exploring Little Italy, and you’ll melt into this charming corner of New York. There are quaint bakeries and amazing restaurants everywhere you turn, and you’ll find specialty shops with authentic Italian ingredients. This area is full of street art from the LISA Project Murals, which is a nonprofit organization that works to bring a diverse group of artists to Lower Manhattan. Head down Mulberry Street to find my favorite mural of Audrey Hepburn!

But you’re here for dinner, and you will find no shortage of amazing restaurants. We ate at L’Amore Ristorante and feasted on pasta and wine– it doesn’t get much better than that! The ambiance was charming and we enjoyed the music, great service, and pretended we were in Italy for a bit!

If you want to explore Little Italy further, you can take this food tour to find the best restaurants and hidden gems. You also get to explore Chinatown, for a totally different type of cuisine and vibe! This tour is $70 USD and allows you to try more in both of these iconic neighborhoods– perfect if you’re on a tight timeline (like only 3 days to see all of NYC!).

Go to a Speakeasy (night)

Daniel rings the phone at Please Don't Tell Speakeasy in New York City to gain entry
The pay phone to get into Please Don’t Tell!
Bailey enjoys a cocktail at Please Don't Tell Speakeasy in New York City
Cheers!

For a fun night out on the town, hitting a speakeasy is central to New York’s culture. Speakeasies have been a tumultuous part of New York’s history since the Prohibition Era began in 1919. The government prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol over rising concerns about its effect on people’s health and morals. But, in true New York fashion, bars weren’t going to go down without a fight. 

Organized crime groups began opening up hidden bars behind legally operating businesses. They got the name “speakeasy” because people had to speak softly to evade the attention of the authorities. While alcohol became legal again in 1933, speakeasies remained a large part of New York’s bar culture. We had a ton of fun searching out speakeasies, and while some aren’t nearly as well hidden as they once were, they all have a unique vibe that’s a great addition to your 3-day NYC itinerary. 

The coolest speakeasy we visited in NYCC was Please Don’t Tell. It’s situated behind a hotdog restaurant and the entrance is through a telephone booth. You go in and dial 1, and the door opens up to a 1920s-style bar. It has great specialty cocktails and a cozy vibe, but you better make reservations beforehand because it is very popular amongst locals. 

We also checked out The Woo Woo and had a blast there! It is near Times Square and mirrors the divey vibe this area had in the 1980s before it became the commercialized tourist hub it is today. 

If you’re really into the speakeasy scene, I recommend taking this speakeasy tour! You get to find true hidden bars and are led by a local who tells all about their history. Plus, you get to skip the line and don’t need to make reservations, so you can see more! Drinks are at your own expense, but you can book this tour for $35 USD.

Day 3 in New York City

Breakfast at Johny’s Luncheonette (breakfast)

For your final morning on your three days in New York City, we have the perfect classic diner breakfast spot– just like you’re in Seinfeld! Johnny’s Luncheonette has been run by Johnny himself for 20 years and has that fast-paced, crowded vibe, a true reflection of New York itself! 

Johnny’s Luncheonette was listed in the top 10 brunch spots in the city by Manhattan Magazine, so you know it’s going to be amazing. You can find classic diner fare, like giant fluffy pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and bacon with bottomless coffee refills. I loved the family atmosphere, and you could tell some of the customers have been coming here for years. Johnny’s is widely popular for a reason, it has everything you could want out of a classic diner experience!

You can go here for breakfast or lunch, as it’s open from 8 am to 2 pm every day of the week! While there are a ton of diners in NYC, Johnny’s is hard to beat!

Related Read: While exploring the east coast, also plan to spend 3 days in Toronto! There are some great tours in Toronto that will give you a look at its lively culture, almost lively enough to rival NYC!

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise (morning)

The Statue of Liberty as seen from a cruise in New York City
We loved the Statue of Liberty cruise in New York!
Building on Ellis Island on tour in New York City
Ellis Island!

Throughout your three days exploring New York City, you’ll see some pretty iconic sights. But few are as notable as the Statue of Liberty! Lady Liberty is a symbol of the United States’ freedom and independence, which this country is so well known for. It was gifted from France to celebrate friendship and 100 years of independence, and so it was proudly constructed in the New York Harbor in 1886. 

From around the turn of the 20th century, there were thousands of immigrants sailing into New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty would be the first thing they saw. Immigrants would be processed at Ellis Island until the station was shut down in 1954. It is now a museum and memorial, and easy to visit both iconic locations because they are right next to each other!

Since you need a boat to reach the Statue of Liberty, booking a tour is the easiest way to see both. We took this tour, which included a ferry ride, entrance to both museums and a guide– which we were grateful for because there is a lot of history I didn’t know about! Plus, it saves you a lot of time so you don’t have to wait in a long line to purchase tickets. All these reasons combined make it one of the best sightseeing tours in New York City!

This tour was great because it’s flexible. You can choose whether you want to take a 30-minute, 2-hour, or 4-hour tour, although I recommend the 4-hour option so you have enough time to see everything. There is a ton of interesting history here, so you don’t want to be rushed! You can book this 4-hour tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for $79 USD per person.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum (afternoon)

A man inside the 911 museum looks at a steal beam that fell during the World Trade center terrorist attack
9/11 Museum!
The 911 Memorial and Museum outside Memorial with the skyline of NYC in the background
The memorial!

The 9/11 Memorial is a significant stop while in New York City, and while it is certainly more of a somber activity, I didn’t feel like I could fully understand the city’s culture without visiting. The attacks on the Twin Towers shook the entire world and had a long-lasting impact on the city. Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was a touching experience that shows how resilient this city is, and gave a deeper understanding to the event itself.

When you first enter, you’ll see two huge pools that were constructed where the towers sat. The victim’s names are etched into the side of the pools, and when you see just how large the pools are and how many names are written, it puts into perspective the scope of the tragedy. This memorial is free to enter, but I found that visiting the museum really drove it all home. 

The museum is made up of artifacts from the attacks, such as rubble from the building, the victim’s belongings, old news and media reports, and first-hand accounts of the attacks. We spent about two hours wandering through the museum and exploring the memorial. You can purchase tickets for the museum in advance, as it has specific time slots to enter, but once you’re in you can stay as long as you want. 

Museum tickets are $33 USD for adults, $21 USD for seniors, and $27 USD for children. You can purchase tickets in advance here

If you purchased one of New York’s Attraction Passes, such as the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, or the Go City Explorer Pass, admission to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is included. 

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge (afternoon)

bailey walks along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
A must do!
Bailey poses for a photo along the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City with Manhattan in the background
The views are magnificent!

New York City has a lot of iconic sights, as I’m sure you’ve learned from reading this blog! So to add yet another legendary stop to your 3-day NYC itinerary, head to the Brooklyn Bridge. This bridge is famous because of its beautiful design and its construction paved the way for modern bridge engineering tactics. It’s been in dozens of movies, inspired other bridges, and is a lovely free activity in New York City, which you don’t find very often here!

The Brooklyn Bridge offers incredible views its whole length. You can see nearly all of New York’s skyline and gawk at the stone arches and gorgeous architecture. It is the main route from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights, which allowed the city to continue to grow upon its completion in 1883.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is beloved by locals and tourists alike. If you visit in the early morning or after work hours, it gets rather crowded as 30,000 pedestrians walk across the bridge every day. The Brooklyn Bridge extends for 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) which is a nice length to enjoy the scenery and check out the vendors along the way.

You can reach the Brooklyn Bridge by taking the subway to Chambers St. Station or the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stops. You will get really close to the entrance of the bridge at either of these!

Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise (dinner)

Bailey enjoys her dinner with the Statue of Liberty in the background during the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise in New York City
It was a gloomy and rainy day but magical!
The band play music on the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise
The band!

We saved the best for last to wrap up three days in New York City! Taking a dinner cruise along the Hudson River was by far my favorite thing we did while exploring NYC. I’ll take any excuse to dress up and have a fancy dinner, and going on a luxury cruise with the New York skyline lit up in the distance made this experience even more incredible!

There are quite a few dinner cruises in NYC, but we chose the Bateaux New York Premier Dinner Cruise. Out of all the dinner cruises we’ve taken throughout our travels, this one was easily our favorite! We spent three hours sailing around the Hudson River on an all-glass boat, so we got to see the Statue of Liberty lit up, as well as the skyline come to life as the sun set. It was so beautiful, you’ll just have to see it for yourself. 

While the views were great, we were excited for dinner! This dinner cruise brought their A-game with a gourmet three-course meal, specialty cocktails, and yummy dessert! Out of all of the food we ate in NYC (which was a lot) this was actually the best meal we had. The ambiance was just as good as the food, as they had a live band and singer that took the experience to the next level.

I recommend this dinner cruise to anyone traveling to New York City! The Bateaux Dinner Cruise was worth every penny, from the high-quality food to the high-quality views. The cost of a dinner cruise is anywhere between $200 to $300 USD, depending on the time of day and how far out you book. The earlier you book the cruise, the cheaper it is, so I recommend booking the Bateaux Dinner Cruise in advance to secure your spot!

Visit Times Square (night)

Crowds of people in Times Square in New York City
Times Square!
Times Square in New York City at night
It’s such a cool place!

To finish off a jam-packed three-day NYC itinerary, visiting Times Square will be an evening you’ll remember for a long time after. There is no wrong time to visit Times Square, it will blow your mind at any time of day, but I think it’s even more impressive at night. It is quintessential New York, it’s loud, chaotic, there are a ton of people, and giant screens and lights all over. When people imagine New York City, this is what they expect!

It is entertaining simply to walk around Times Square and take in all the sights, but it’s also a bit overwhelming! Taking a tour, like this Night Bus Tour, is a great way to see Times Square and other iconic New York Sights all in one swoop. As the city that never sleeps, it is only fitting to take a tour that showcases its nightlife! You can also take this walking tour, which lets you dive into the Broadway theater district that surrounds Times Square for a smaller and more intimate look at the area. 

Times Square is the lifeblood of the city and encapsulates all that makes New York such an iconic place! These tours are a chance to see a little bit more and is the perfect finale to three days in New York City.

Related Read: Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States, and not too far from NYC! It is well known for its historic monuments, but we had a fun experience taking a Washington D.C. River Cruise for a totally unique perspective of this city!

Know Before You Go

Bailey looks through the Binoculars on the 86th floor of the Empire State building viewpoint
The Empire State Building Observation deck is included in the New York CityPASS®
A man inside the 911 museum looks at a steal beam that fell during the World Trade center terrorist attack
So is the 9/11 Museum!

What are the New York Passes you can buy?

NYC Passes are a great option if you’re planning on doing some major sightseeing while visiting New York City. You’ll essentially pay one flat fee for the pass, and have admission to various sites covered. It actually ends up saving you almost 50% of sightseeing costs, which is fantastic as traveling in New York can get quite expensive! There are a few different passes to choose from, so let me break them down.

The New York CityPASS® covers entrance to 5 attractions, which is perfect if you are planning on hitting 1 to 2 sights every day on your 3 day NYC itinerary. It already includes the Empire State Building Observation Deck and the American Museum of Natural History, and then you’ll select three more attractions from a pre-set list. This pass is valid for 9 days and is $138 USD, which for 3 days of sightseeing is a pretty good price! 

The New York Pass covers over 100 attractions and has prices tailored for how many days you’ll be using it. This is my top pick, as you can choose a 3-day option for $249 USD and have unlimited access to New York’s best sights. The New York Pass has the most extensive list of attractions and gives you a lot of flexibility as you plan your 3 days in NYC. 

The New York City Explorer Pass by Go City allows entry for between 2-10 attractions, depending on which tier you choose. This is great if you have a handful of “must-sees” or enjoy tours, as there are a lot to choose from with this option. Prices start at $79 USD for 2 attractions and go all the way up to $264 USD for 10 attractions, depending on how much you want to see! The Explorer Pass by Go City covers a lot of sights, so check out what they offer before you decide on which pass to purchase!

Can you explore New York City without a car?

taxis parked on a busy street in New York City
Taxi is one of the most popular ways to get around for both locals and tourists!

Yes, this is actually the best way to explore New York City. You can use public transportation and walk to all of the main sights. The subway system is used by travelers and locals alike, just add some extra time into your itinerary to figure the system out. You can download the NYC Subway App and get a 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metrocard for $34 USD, and trust me, you’ll be using that a lot! 

Most of the time, you can take the subway close to whatever attraction you’re going to see, then walk a few blocks to find it. Uber and taxis are also an option if you don’t want to take the subway.

Is it safe to visit New York City?

Overall, New York is a safe city to explore. As with any major city, use caution at night, don’t carry valuables or large amounts of cash on you, and use your smart-traveler senses. If an area feels sketchy– it’s probably best you get out! But for the most part, New York is safer to visit than many movies and TV shows like to depict it – so don’t stress and enjoy your NYC trip!

Where to Stay in New York City

TBA Times Square Hotel Room
Our room at Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – classic, clean, and comfy!

New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.

Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!

Motto by Hilton – $$$

Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood only 600 meters from the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes.” In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views!

Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax. You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – $$

Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal – it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square!

Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book online here!

Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $

For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $100 USD per night.

You can check prices and book Nap York online on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in New York City
Thanks for reading!

You’re going to have a full, but amazing 3 days in New York City! We recently visited NYC and did all of these activities, which made for a super fun experience. With a city as large and iconic as New York, you’ll be wishing you had more than just three days, but that just means you’ll have an excuse to come back soon. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, and I hope you found it useful as you plan your itinerary. We have a lot more blogs about the USA and Canada, so check out our other blog posts. We have spent a lot of time traveling through North America and love sharing our experiences, here are some that can inspire your further travels!

15 Things to Know BEFORE Visiting The Edge NYC Observation Deck

The BEST 3 Days in Washington, DC: A 3-Day Itinerary

The 3 BEST Niagara Falls Tours from New York City

5 BEST Bike Tours in Toronto