Street view of Times Square neon signs and NYC yellow taxi
Casey Makovich

3 days in NYC: an itinerary for first-timers

If you’re going to be spending three days in New York City for the first time, you’re going to want to experience the essentials. Central Park. The Statue of Liberty. Pizza slices as big as your torso. Stunning panoramas that, up until now, you've only seen on TV or in the movies.

This sample 3 days in NYC itinerary includes:

  • Central Park
  • Top of the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

But what do you do first? This three-day New York City itinerary will help you get a taste of what the city has to offer, and have you going home feeling like you got the most out of your first visit.

Looking for things to do in New York City?

Trust us. Standing in line for a ticket and juggling entry slips can waste valuable sightseeing time. It can also get expensive if you're intent on seeing everything the city has to offer. With The New York Pass®, you get admission to more than 90 attractions in the city with an impressive discount, compared to paying at the gate of each attraction.

With three days to use your pass, you can take your time and experience the best of NYC at your own pace or visit as many sites as you want each day. A sightseeing pass can help save you money and time so you can spend more of it in the city. Sounds good, right?

✈️ Buy The New York Pass® ✈️ 

NYC itinerary: day 1

Let’s kick things off with a visit to one of the most New York places: Central Park.

A view of blossom trees in Central Park, NY
Central Park in the springtime

Take a tour of Central Park

If you've never taken a guided tour before, now's a good time to start. Not only are walking tours a great way of meeting new people, but local experts always offer a wealth of insight. This guided tour will reconfirm your 'Elite Tourist' status. Central Park, as a sprawling green oasis featured in countless movies and TV shows, provides no end of interesting and fun facts.

Visit the same spots used to film iconic scenes, take a walk over all of the bridges, and enjoy the gorgeous statues and fountains located all over the park.

👉Tip: Make a reservation beforehand for any tour, and get there about 15-20 minutes before it leaves.

🎟️Getting in: Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

Rockefeller's Top of the Rock Observatory

Enjoy a 70-story ride up an elevator to the top of Rockefeller Center. It houses a three-story observatory giving you a 360-degree view of the entire city, so be sure to take pictures of yourself and the skyline. Make everyone jealous back at home. It's a win-win!

👉Tip: Look up - you'll see the crystal chandelier in the mezzanine that’s actually an inverted version of Rockefeller Center. Also, check out the Breezeway Step light display.

🎟️Getting In: Top of the Rock tickets are included with the New York Pass®.

Madame Tussauds in New York

Visit famous people from different eras. You’ll find exquisitely detailed life-like wax figures of actors, musicians, and other classic figures from history. It's also a great place to take photographs with celebrities and prank all your friends back home by pretending you met them in real life. 

👉Tip: Stop by the interactive exhibits on display like the amazing Ghostbusters Experience and Kong: Skull Island.

🎟️Getting in: Madame Tussauds New York tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

NYC itinerary: day 2

Let’s get out of Manhattan and explore one of the other boroughs.

Brooklyn has a vibe all its own and makes you feel like you’re stepping into a different world. Rub shoulders with young hipsters (the median age of a Brooklyn resident? A spritely 34.7 years) and eat a Tootsie Roll where it was invented - right here. And with over 700 arts and culture institutions in this borough alone, you won't be short of interesting things to do. But, first things first:

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and visit DUMBO

Take a guided tour of the Brooklyn Bridge; you'll want a guide full of stories about its history. Then head into DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), one of Brooklyn's trendiest neighborhoods.

Explore the wares offered by different vendors and check out the restaurants offering various styles of cuisine; there’s always some sort of event going on at any given time. You'll get an awesome view of Manhattan from here, so take as many pictures as you can!

👉Tip: Reconnect with your inner child by taking a ride on Jane’s Carousel.

🎟️Getting in: The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Neighborhood Tour tickets are included with the The New York Pass®.

A view of Brooklyn Bridge, NY
Take a tour of the Brooklyn Bridge

Step into Williamsburg

If you’re able to tear yourself away from DUMBO, head over to Williamsburg for more Brooklyn exploration. Get a glimpse of some real New York street art, and stop by the various clothing boutiques in the neighborhood where you can find real vintage style.

Find out more about the history of Brooklyn and its evolution into a mecca for young, upwardly mobile people. Not everyone in the area is happy about gentrification. Hear both sides of the argument for and against the new side of the area.

👉We recommend: Visiting Mast Brothers Chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Finish off the day by strolling through all the beautifully maintained gardens; you’ll find different types of plants and horticulture techniques in each one. Then, take a load off and enjoy some plant-based cuisine at the Yellow Magnolia Café.

👉Tip: if you’re there in April, visit Cherry Esplanade to see all of the gorgeous cherry blossoms in bloom. Stop by the Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival if it’s going on while you’re there.

🎟️Getting in: Brooklyn Botanic Garden tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

NYC itinerary: day 3

On the final day, we head back to Manhattan and finish things off in style. The choice is yours: go to the site of New York’s biggest heartbreak, or visit the biggest icon in the world.

Statue of Liberty view from the river
See the iconic Statue of Liberty

Take in the Ground Zero Museum Workshop

This workshop has images and artifacts documenting one of the worst days New York has ever experienced. You’ll hear about the stories behind these items, and get the chance to take home a piece of this history.

🎟️Getting in: Ground Zero Museum Workshop tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

Pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

After leaving the workshop, head over to visit the 9/11 memorial, set up on the site where the Twin Towers once stood. View exhibits highlighting the differences in New York before and after the tragedy. You’ll also get the chance to hear directly from a survivor of that day.

🎟️Getting in: 9/11 Memorial & Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

❗We'd recommend doing this or Ellis Island. Even though they're near each other in the Financial District, each site takes around four hours to walk around. Your feet will thank you!

Visit Ellis Island and the Statue Of Liberty

Get the arrivals-eye view of New York and see what immigrants saw: Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. You’ll take a cruise from Battery Park, getting the chance to view other NYC landmarks on your way to Ellis Island.

Once there, read up on the stories of the millions of people who made their way to America looking for a fresh start. Then take pictures of Lady Liberty herself, gifted to the US in 1886 by France to mark the abolition of slavery. Once there, don't forget to visit the Statue of Liberty Museum.

👉Tip: Take in the 10-minute Immersive Theater experience.

🎟️Getting in: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

❗Tickets to the Statue of Liberty pedestal and crown are sold separately and require advanced reservations.

See the very best of New York

In just three days in NYC, you can immerse yourself in some of the most iconic sights and landmarks with The New York Pass®, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets.  

✈️ Buy The New York Pass® ✈️ 

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