3 days in NYC: an itinerary for first-timers

Grab a slice of New York life in three days
By Casey Makovich

Visiting the Big Apple for the first time? There's so much to see and do, you'll want to get organized. Here's our guide to spending three days in New York.

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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Fall in New York City: Take a Tour

When does fall start? Fall officially starts September 23rd, 2019. There are exactly 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of light on this day. The word "fall" gradually overtook use of the word "autumn" in the U.S. in the 1600s, influenced by poetry and literature describing the "fall of the leaves". When does fall end? December 22, 2019, when the U.S. enters the winter solstice. The seasons may have changed, but that won't stop New York from being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. And with the crowds thinning out and weather cooling, this could be the best time see this iconic city. This list of New York City fall tours will make sure you see the best sights in town. When visiting NYC in the fall, wrap up in a light knit and jacket and a scarf; pack an umbrella in case the skies open. Then grab a steaming coffee and kick through the leaves on an outdoor walking tour. Fall Walking Tours Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour Take an adventure through the United States' 1st major landscaped park and discover 843 acres of beautiful scenery. The orange leaves falling from the trees make for a memorable 2-hour tour in Central Park. Greenwich Village Walking Tour Explore the bohemian capital of New York City, Greenwich Village. You'll get a chance to stroll through Washington Square Park and pass some of the city's most interesting dining options. Why not find out what seasonal options they have on the menu? High Line-Chelsea-Meatpacking Tour Get a new view of New York City as you walk on the High Line, which is an elevated park/walkway stretching throughout Manhattan's Midtown section. This walking tour also takes you to key areas in Chelsea, showcasing the history of the Meatpacking district. Fashion Windows Walking Tour Tour the city in style as you venture to some of New York's most famous and iconic storefronts. You'll get a first-hand look at high-class fashion on 5th Avenue in the "Fashion Mecca of the Eastern Hemisphere". Perhaps you are interested in a bicycle tour. There are many bike tours as well as bicycle rentals that can give you a front-row seat to New York's gorgeous fall scenery. Fall Biking Tours Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tours & Rentals Similar to the walking tour, Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tour is a 2-hour excursion in New York City's Central Park. This tour allows you to enjoy the outdoors and explore an iconic landmark. If you're looking for the perfect spot to get a picture or two, head over to the area known as Pond at Central Park South between 5th & 6th Avenues. Gapstow Bridge there lights up with colors making it a favorite fall spot for photographers. Hudson River Sightseeing Bike Rentals Take your time enjoying the sights of New York City in the fall with a 24-hour bicycle rental. Experience picture-perfect autumnal landscapes and stunning undisturbed views across to Manhattan - the perfect photo taking opportunity. Experience Chinese dining and decorations in Chinatown at its best. And visit Time Square: one of the brightest and most popular areas in the world. Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals & Tours Choose between a full-day bicycle rental and a 2-hour guided tour of Brooklyn Bridge with Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals & Tours. Indulge in the scenery of the city while riding to the Statue of Liberty, set against the gorgeous skylines of Brooklyn and Manhattan. As you can see, there are many great opportunities for sightseeing in New York City during the Fall Season. Whether you prefer to tour the city by bike or on foot, the New York Pass makes it easy for you to visit your favorite destinations and plan out your itinerary. For more ideas on attractions and tours in New York City, click here and view a full list of tours offered on The New York Pass.
Go City Expert

Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection

When the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright subverted typical art gallery layouts with a spiral ramp, he opened up a new perspective for enthusiasts of avaunt garde art everywhere. "I think the legacy of this building is in the message that architecture does not have to lie down and play dead in front of art," said Paul Goldberger, an architecture critic for The New Yorker. "That there are other ways to show art than in a neutral space. That an architect can do something, that's powerful in itself, and that enhances the experience..." © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Sixty years on, the Guggenheim is celebrating Frank Lloyd Wright’s contribution to the enjoyment of art with its first-ever artist-curated exhibition. Presented by Cai Guo-Qiang, Paul Chan, Jenny Holzer, Julie Mehretu, Richard Prince, and Carrie Mae Weems, the collection highlights works of art from the turn of the century to 1980. What is Artistic License? Artistic License presents nearly 300 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and installations. Some of these works have never been exhibited before and engage with contemporary hot topics. Think early modernist dreams of utopia and the charged political debates of the 1960s and ’70s as just some of these themes. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation The artist collective curating the exhibition have drawn upon their own practises and influences when selecting the artworks. In this way, every one of the six ramps in the rotunda is a starkly new reading of the collection. Curator profiles and what to expect Cai Guo-Qiang Influences and work: Eastern philosophy and contemporary social issues. Featured artists: Featured artworks include Vasily Kandinsky’s Munich(ca. 1901–02), Piet Mondrian’s Blue Chrysanthemum (ca. early 1920s), Mark Rothko’s still life Untitled (Still-Life with Rope, Hammer and Trowel) (ca. 1937), and works on paper by artist Hilla Rebay, who was also the Guggenheim’s first director. Installed salon style. Location: High Gallery and Rotunda Level 1 Themes: Primordial passions that ignite the creation of art on paper by artists known for their abstract or conceptual practices. © 2019 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Paul Chan Influences and work: Experimental projects. Chan is known for a diverse practice that ranges from animated video projections to charcoal drawing, public performances, and haunting sculptures. Featured artists: Chan’s selections range from Fernand Léger’s late painting Starfish (1942) to Lawrence Weiner’s conceptual work (1970), and from Willem de Kooning’s canvas ...Whose Name Was Writ in Water (1975) to Laurie Simmons’s photographs of dollhouse-scale bathroom scenes from the 1970s. Location: Rotunda Level 2 Themes: Bathers in Western art history and ideas about water, relationships between pleasure and the human body. Exile in the canon of twentieth-century art will also be explored. © Laurie Simmons Jenny Holzer Influences and work: The deconstruction of how meaning is created in Western culture’s patriarchal, consumer-oriented society. Featured artists: Lee Bontecou’s sculptural relief Untitled (1966), Louise Nevelson’s monumental wall sculpture Luminous Zag: Night (1971), Adrian Piper’s self-portrait The Mythic Being: Smoke (1974), a selection of Chryssa’s neon works and a canvas from the 1960s and ’70s. Location: Rotunda Level 6 Themes: This presentation illuminates gender disparity and the exclusion of women from art history. Holzer has selected works made exclusively by female artists. © Adrian Piper Julie Mehretu Influences and work: Large-scale paintings and works on paper. Mehretu’s work is inspired by global urban landscapes, political unrest, and modernist history. Featured artists: Featured works include Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Crucifixion (March 1962), Romare Bearden’s gelatin silver print (photostat) Evening 9:10, 461 Lenox Avenue (1964), Matta’s painting Years of Fear (1941), and David Hammons’s body print Close Your Eyes and See Black (1969)—a recent acquisition. Location: Rotunda Level 4 Themes: This presentation reflects on how trauma, displacement, and anxiety in the decades after World War II found expression. © 2019 The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London Richard Prince Influences and work: Prince pioneered the use of appropriation in his early photo-based works and “Monochromatic Joke” paintings to comment upon the way desire is created and perpetuated in the mass media. Featured artists: Featured works include those by Martin Barré, Conrad Marca-Relli, Georges Mathieu, Kenzo Okada, and Judit Reigl, among others. Prince has also included two canvases by Stuart Sutcliffe (an early member of the Beatles). Location: Rotunda Level 3 Themes: The stark similarities in the formal qualities of the museum’s international holdings of abstract painting and sculpture from the 1940s and ’50s. He raises the question of how, ultimately, taste is formed. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Carrie Mae Weems Influences and work: Interrogations of systems as they relate to the constructions of power, race, gender, and class. Featured artists: Featured works include Joseph Beuys’s installation Virgin(April 4, 1979); Franz Kline’s Painting No. 7 (1952); Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Gray) (1969/70); examples from Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series, which she began in 1973; and Martin Puryear’s sculpture Bask (1976). Location: Rotunda Level 5 Themes: The formal and metaphoric use of a strictly black-and-white palette across different decades, mediums, and genres. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn June 18: Cai Guo-QiangJuly 30: Jenny HolzerSeptember 24: Julie MehretuOctober 8: Paul ChanNovember 19: Carrie Mae WeemsDecember 17: Richard Prince Enjoy free entry into the Guggenheim Museum with The New York Pass. Need another art fix? Check out our MoMA blog.
Suz Pathmanathan

10 Things to Do This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is an American holiday created to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. The holiday marks a time of reflection, solidarity and unity and a true celebration of life. So whether you call New York home or you're simply visiting for the holidays, here are 10 tips and suggestions for this Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day Parade There's nothing like a parade in New York City: there's a reason why these parades are broadcast all over the world. While this parade might not receive the same kind of attention as the New Years or Thanksgiving Day parades, this is still a great (and free) event to take in with the family. It takes place on Monday. The largest of the parades, in Queens, starts at Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard at 2 p.m. The 151-year-old parade in Brooklyn, that begins at 78th Street and 3rd Avenue at 10 a.m, is the most historic parade in the U.S. Empire State Building There's nothing like a visit to the Empire State Building. Whether you've done it before or this is your first time, a view from the observation deck on the Empire State Building is well worth it. Memorial Day weekend marks the kick-off of the summer travel season, so visits will greatly increase. Take in the view now, while it's comparatively quieter. Glow Party NYC Memorial Day Weekend If you're a night owl and looking for a destination to dance Sunday night into Monday morning, the Glow Party NYC Memorial Day Weekend is where it's at. The party takes pace at the Sound of Brazil on 204 Varick Street. You can RSVP for free until 11.30 p.m. the night before (visit Ticketweb.com for that). There are also complimentary glow sticks offered at the venue. After all, it wouldn't be much of a glow party without your own personal glow stick. There's no cover charge to enter until after 12 a.m. Memorial Day Fair Here's a great activity for you and the entire family. It takes place the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend and runs from 12-5 p.m. Located at the Sunnyside Gardens Park, you'll find a collection of live Americana music, a magician, live performers and all kinds of other acts. There are arts and craft vendors, small rides for young children, and plenty of food for you to enjoy. When you want to get outside of the city and have a bit of fun in the sun, make sure to check out the Memorial Day Fair. 9/11 Memorial and Museum Memorial Day in New York is a day of remembrance, so try and make some time to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is a somber location, yet an important one. The beautiful location where the former Twin Towers once stood is a reminder of what the country has been through and solidarity in the face of crisis. Both the memorial and the museum are free to enter. Memorial Day Weekend Rooftop Day Party Cocktail drinkers and free-spirited dancers unite. The Memorial Day Weekend Rooftop Day Party is exactly what you're looking for, particularly if you're not looking to stay out too late. This event takes place on Sunday and runs from 3-10 p.m. You'll find the day party at Hudson Terrace, 621 W 46th Street. There is a $10 cover charge to enter (you can purchase tickets ahead of time at Ticketweb.com). Live DJ.s will be performing and there is complimentary Hennessey for the first hour of the show (so get there early). This is an event for 21+ Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises New York City truly looks good from every angle. While you may have seen it countless times from within, have you ever seen it from the water? The Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise shows off the iconic NYC skyline and gives you a full two-and-a-half our tour of the Island of Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. The tour will be guided so you can listen to the history of the city as the cruise traverses the water around New York City. Memorial Day at the Museum at Children's Museum of Manhattan There are a number of events taking pace at the Children's Museum of Manhattan (212 W. 83rd Street) over the course of the weekend. You can take part in crafting a sculpture that will be dedicated to departed loved ones. You can also take part in the Star-Spangled Wind Chime event, where you will make your very own Memorial Day wind chime. These events are for children five years of age or younger. It is a drop-in event, so you don't need to RSVP your spot (although it is a good idea to show up early to make sure you get a good seat). The statue sculpting begins at 10 a.m. (and you can stop in at any time up to 5 p.m. throughout the weekend). The wind chime event is on Monday and runs from 1-1:45 p.m. Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tours Looking to be a bit more active this Memorial Day Weekend? Why not head out to Central Park and book a two-hour bike tour. It's a fun way to explore the park and, with a guide, you'll learn about the park's extensive history. Top of the Rock Observatory Think of this as the opposite of the Empire State Building view. The Top of the Rock is located in the Comcast Building and gives you a perfect view over Central Park and of the Empire State Building. Take in the panorama of the city an hour before sunset to see the buildings in daylight clarity. Then watch the sky's palette change and the city sparkle in darkness as the sun dips away. These are just 10 of the best options for what to do in New York this Memorial Day weekend. Chances are, you'll find something that fits your needs, whether you're visiting with the family or you live in New York and just want something out of the ordinary to do. Looking for more things to do? Check out our blog on The Statue of Liberty Museum?
Suz Pathmanathan

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