A 3 day New York itinerary: full of fun!

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After spending a few days in Washington DC, we flew from Reagan airport to JF Kennedy Airport in New York. We did not know what to expect as neither of us had ever visited New York before. My brother had visited it a few months before and fell head over heals with the city that never sleeps, so we had high expectations.

New York Itinerary

Our New York Itinerary – Day 1

Our Day 1 New York Itinerary included the following:

  • Visited the top of the Empire State Building,
  • Visited Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum
  • Saw the Statue of Liberty
There are so many exciting things to do in New York. Check them out here!

Also read about our trip to Ellis Island for a fun outing.

Empire State Building

Going up to the top of the Empire State Building was the number one activity on our New York bucket list. On our way there we came across shops selling the New York Pass, and after a quick consideration of the costs vs. benefits, we took the plunge and bought the three-day pass with VIP status.

Since it was still relatively early, the queue to the entrance of the Empire State Building was short, and we quickly found ourselves on the top of the building. The view from there was fantastic! We could see everything for miles and miles. Standing on the top of the Empire State Building, I knew I was in New York and that we were going to have a fabulous few days in the Big Apple!

View from the top of the Empire State Building

The Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum

From there we found the hop-on-hop-off bus. We looked at some of the free stuff the New York pass offered and decided to go to the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. Lucky we arrived about 30 minutes before the departure of the ferry. The queues were long, but we embarked just before it was time to leave. I enjoyed the trip on the boat, seeing New York from the water was seeing it from an entirely different perspective.

Ferry from New York to Ellis Island

Another benefit of the boat ride was the fact that we went past the Statue of Liberty and could take beautiful photos of the Statue of Liberty. We had decided not to go up the Statue of Liberty; seeing it for myself was enough for me. When we sailed past Liberty Island and saw the masses of people waiting to go inside the Statue of Liberty, I was grateful for our decision.

Statue of Liberty near New York

We spend a few hours at the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. I found the history of US immigration fascinating.

By the time we got back to New York, we were tired. We had supper from a deli close to our hotel. By the time we got back to our hotel room, it was 23:00 and we were exhausted.

We stayed at the Pod 39 hotel in New York. Here are other hotel options for New York.

Our New York Itinerary – Day 2

Here is what we saw on Day 2 of our New York Itinerary:

  • Times Square
  • The Downtown route of the hop-on-hop-off bus tour
  • The Uptown route of the hop-on-hop-off bus tour
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • 9/11 Tribute Centre
  • The night tour of New York City
  • Madam Tussaud’s wax museum
  • Supper at John’s Pizzeria near Times Square

Times Square

We woke up fresh and full of energy for our second day in New York and decided to have brunch at Times Square. We had brunch at the McDonalds at Times Square, but this alone was quite an experience – not because of the food – but the McDonalds had some exciting artistic exhibitions.

Art in the McDonalds near Times Square

Times Square was busy, even in the morning. It was great to see all the billboards and activity in the area.

Times Square in New York

Uptown Route of the hop-on-hop-off bus tour

From here we got onto the hop-on-hop-off bus and decided to do the Uptown route, then the Downtown route before deciding where we wanted to visit next.

In many countries, the city sightseeing buses use pre-recorded information systems, but in New York, we had live guides on every bus. I valued the guides as the stories they told about their lives in New York and what they thought was worthy of seeing was invaluable. Each of them had a different angle and different interests. I thoroughly enjoyed the commentary we had on each bus. They were all excellent and passionate about their lives in New York.

We drove past Trump International Hotel and Towers. Impressive, I must say!

One of the sights we saw while on the city sightseeing bus: Trump International Hotel and Towers

The guide showed us where John Lennon used to live. Yoko Ono apparently still live in the same flat. I found this interesting. Then we also went past Central Park and decided that this would be a place we could spend some time at.

Central Park as seen from the city sightseeing bus

We saw many museums scattered across New York as well as many beautiful churches.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as seen from the city sightseeing bus

The Uptown route ended at Times Square.

The downtown route of the hop-on-hop-off bus

We walked to the nearest stop for the Downtown Route with the hop-on-hop-off bus. On this route, we saw the flat iron building, which we had seen in movies many times.

The flat iron building in New York as seen from the hop-on-hop-off bus

We drove past New York University as well.

New York University as seen from the hop-on-hop-off bus

9/11 Memorial and Tribute Center

Eventually, we got off the bus at the 9/11 Memorial or National September 11 Memorial. We did not want to miss this, and it was as sad as we thought it would be. Seeing the many names on the memorial was an unreal experience. A picture cannot do it justice.

The 9/11 Memorial in New York

We wanted to go to the 9/11 Museum, but there were long lines, and we would have had only about 30 minutes inside before it closed. If we had more time to plan our trip, I would have bought tickets before coming to New York. Visiting the 9/11 Museum is something I will keep on my bucket list for a future trip to New York.

Instead, we ended up going to the 9/11 Tribute Center. This was an experience I can definitely recommend. The displays at the Tribute Center explain the event and its aftermath.

Sympathy cards from all over the world after the 9/11 event

We got back onto the hop-on-hop-off bus and finished the Downtown route. By this time it was getting darker. We decided to do another first for us and took the subway back to Times Square. This was exactly as we had seen it in the movies, but still a fun experience.

Madam Tussaud’s wax museum

Back at Times Square, we went to the Madam Tussaud’s wax museum. Neither of us had ever been inside one and we thought this was a good place to experience it. It was a lot of fun, we had our pictures taken with Morgan Freeman, Nelson Mandela, Oprah, and many other celebrities. It definitely brought out our fun and creative sides.

Denzel Washington in Madame Tussaud's in New York

Night tour of New York City

When we purchased our New York Pass we had received a night tour as well, which included a trip to Brooklyn. We crossed on the Brooklyn bridge and it was like being in another world. There was so much more space than in New York!

We passed Grimaldi’s Pizza, which sells the best pizza in New York, or so we have been told. Even though we were hungry, we didn’t feel like standing in those long lines!

Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn

We stayed on the bus which drove around Brooklyn before heading back to New York City. New York at night is a must-see. Everything looks different when the sun goes down and the lights come on. Truly an experience not to be missed!

By this time it was getting late and dark, and we were hungry!

Supper at John’s Pizzeria near Times Square

The night tour ended at Times Square. We were hungry and tired. We asked one of the police offers nearby for a recommendation for somewhere to eat and he directed us to John’s Pizzeria, not far from Times Square. John’s Pizzeria had an extensive menu, but we ordered a salad and a pizza. It was delicious.

John's Pizzeria near Times Square

Our New York itinerary – Day 3

Day 3 was another busy day. Here is what our day 3 New York Itinerary included:

  • Shopping at Macy’s
  • Hotdogs from Gray’s Papaya
  • Central Park
  • Harbour Lights Cruise
  • Snacks from Cake Boss Cafe
  • Seeing Central Station

Shopping at Macy’s

The next morning we went to Macy’s as we had to do a bit of shopping for friends and family. The store itself was something to see and quite impressively large.

Gray’s Papaya’s hotdogs

Afterwards, we decided to go to Central Park, but first, we wanted to have a New York hot dog. We had done some research online and found Gray’s Papaya. Apparently, open 24 hours and something not to miss. They have a recession special which includes two hotdogs and two drinks for less than $5.

Gray's Papaya for cheap hotdogs and juice

We bought our recession special, added some sauces and walked to Central Park to sit there and enjoy it. I cannot say it was the tastiest hotdog I have ever had, but considering the price it was fine.

The recession special's Hotdogs from Gray's Papaya near Central Park

Central Park

After eating our hotdogs, we decided to walk through Central Park. It was a lovely place for a walk, and we decided to sit down and people-watch for a while. My partner fell asleep in the shade.

Fountain in Central Park

Central Park is the perfect place to spend a few hours. When you are in the park, it does not feel like you are in one of the busiest cities in the world. Children were sailing little sailboats in the fountains, some adults were rowing boats. There are plenty do to in Central Park.

Harbour Lights Cruise

Afterwards, we went to Pier 83 to wait for our Harbour Lights Cruise. While waiting we wanted to go to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum but they were already closed for the day. Still, the battleship was impressive from a distance. I would not mind visiting if I am ever in New York again.

Battleship at the Intrepdi Sea, Air and Space Museum

Before we knew it it was time for our cruise! We boarded the ship and started sailing. It was magical! The sun was setting, the temperature was cooling down and it was an appropriate way to spend our last evening in New York.

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises - ready for the Harbour Lights tour

The Harbour Lights Cruise was 2 hours long. We saw many bridges and the sunset gave us the opportunity to take amazing photos. This was a highlight of our time in New York! All too soon the Cruise came to an end.

Amazing photos while on the Harbour Lights Cruise

Cake Boss Cafe

We walked back to Times Square and saw a Cake Boss Cafe on the way. Not going in was not an option! We had to get some snacks from there.

Cake Boss Cafe near Times Square

Central Station

From Times Square we took the subway and ended up in Central Station. I thought Central Station was a beautiful station, especially the ceiling. Unfortunately, my photos of the decorated ceiling did not come out clear.

Central Station in New York

We walked to our hotel, bought some food along the way and enjoyed the goodies from Carlos Bakery before calling it a night.

Cake Boss Cafe goodies

Never in all our travels had we spent 3 days like those in New York. In New York being busy and being on your way somewhere is almost not negotiable. We found ourselves up early in the mornings and going to bed late at night. In-between getting up and going to bed we were busy sightseeing and exploring.

There is so much to see in New York, 3 days allowed us to just scratch the surface. But we will be back to see more and explore more of this amazing city!

Have you ever been to New York? What did you enjoy most about the city?

15 thoughts on “A 3 day New York itinerary: full of fun!”

  1. Great post! I really hope I’ll get to visit New York one day :). I want to see the Statue of Liberty and Madam Tussaud’s wax museum.

  2. New York is beautiful!! I remember being there, in the top of the Rockefeller Building! I visited New York just for two days and I can’t wait to come back soon and have the full new yorker experience! Thank you for sharing those pictures, it’s nice to remember such a beautiful trip!

  3. This looks like a great itinerary. I love the hop-on-hop-off buses but a lot of travelers wont use them because they consider them too touristy. Silly.

  4. So cool and such coincidence since we go to NYC also for 3 days in a couple of days.
    It is really great to see because we will probably see many similar things…
    The Hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya look really tasty, this seems to be a good tip – lets see, maybe I will also try out 🙂
    Trump Tower also looks very impressive.

  5. Love New York – there’s so much to see! A really helpful itinerary; we did the hop on hop off buses too! They’re really useful to get your bearings and get a flavour of the city if you don’t have much time. I’d like to go back to see the 911 memorial, amongst other things, as when I visited it wasn’t finished.

  6. I don’t think one can ever run out of things to see in New York. I would love to go back myself!

  7. I think the red buses are perfect when your time is limited and you need to see as much as possible!

  8. I have only been to New York the one time, but once I took a bite of the Big Apple, I cannot wait to visit it again!

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