I’ve recently returned from a trip to NYC which was absolutely exhausting but absolutely worth it.
New York isn’t the kind of trip you take to get some R&R. In fact, you’d be best taking a few days off once you’re back home to get that, because if you’re heading here, you’re going to need it.
Here’s an itinerary I’ve made showing how to make the most of five quick days in New York.
Natural History Museum
It really is a must, but beware, you could spend your whole day here from open until close. Prioritise what you’d like to see and address the museum in that order. As the day goes on, assess how much time you have left versus how much of the museum you have left to see. If you decide it’s not worth it, hop out to Central Park and visit Strawberry Fields. You should at least check out the dinosaurs before you do head off though!
Basketball at the Garden
Even if you aren’t the biggest Basketball – or sports in general – fan, I’d still tell you to look at acquiring some tickets in advance for Basketball games at Madison Square Garden. You’ll have a really fun night even if you aren’t familiar with the game. Don’t be put off when you look at the seating plan and realise the only seats you can afford look like you’d need a pair of binoculars with you to see the court. It’s just not the case. Try and refrain from buying beer in the venue itself if you’re on a budget, you’d need a second mortgage for that. Have a few in a bar in the area before you head to the game then just soak up the atmosphere.
I’d definitely recommend taking the boat to Liberty Island and getting off on the actual island, rather than just sailing past for some pictures on the free Staten Island Ferry. Getting on the island and paying for the tour is worth it if you’re willing to stretch your budget for that, for the history of Lady Liberty, if not the Manhattan skyline views alone. The tour is so educational and is certainly worth the price.
The best way to get good value Broadway tickets is to join the queue of a TKTS booth. We waited forty minutes and got Phantom of the Opera tickets in the Orcho (pretty much the front row!) at a 50% discount. If that doesn’t justify a forty minute wait, I don’t know what will.
Grab a NY Breakfast
It’s another must. New York does some of the best coffee on the planet. A mug of the great nectar with a side of bacon is guaranteed to set you up for the busy day ahead.
Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Fifth Avenue… need I say more? Whether it’s just a window shop, or you’ve been saving for two years and flown over with an empty suitcase, it’s one of the best shopping experiences you’ll likely ever have.
Empire State Building
If I were to give out one tip about visiting the Empire State Building, it would be to aim to get there for around 30-60 minutes prior to sunset. You’re guaranteed amazing views and will have the experience of seeing New York City in daylight, then watch as it goes dark and the lights start to twinkle on one by one. The night-time views are even more spectacular. For me personally, the Empire State Building is one my favourite attractions to visit in NYC. I’d recommend anyone to put this at the top of their list!
Central Park has something to offer everyone. You probably want to visit here for at least one reason. The park is so full of character and taking a stroll through it pretty much guarantees you’ll come across something interesting. The problem is that it’s so big, it isn’t always so easy to just ‘pop in by’ and visit Belvedere Castle or the famous Friends fountain, so you’re going to need to set aside a couple of hours at least for this. The good news is that a lot of the attractions in Central Park are free to visit. Note the zoo unfortunately is not!
A Late Night TV Show
It’s actually pretty easy to get onto one of these. All you need to do is apply online and it’s totally free! If you hear back with the good news that you’ve bagged some tickets, you can check the guests due to be on (usually in the week prior to the recording you’re due to sit in for) and get excited at which celebrities you get to be in the same room as. Beware though, it’s a first come first served basis for entry, so you need to make sure you’re there sharp so you don’t miss out. Even if you have tickets, you still aren’t guaranteed admission until you’re there and checked in!
Though it’s an absolute tourist trap, Times Square is fantastic to see by night. Head up and just soak in the atmosphere (and really bright lights)!
Another personal highlight and recommended to add pretty far up your list – The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Situated on the Eastern edge of Central Park, the Met is huge. Like the Natural History Museum, you could spend your whole day here, for the cost of your time however, you can marvel at some classics from the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso, and Ancient Egyptian ruins. It’s worth it, and won’t take you long to realise why this is one of the most popular museums on the planet. Last year it bagged 6.7 million visitors. Yep. 6.7 million.
Top of the Rock
Although I’ve made it clear I prefer the Empire State Building in terms of skyscraper visits, there’s no denying that the Rockefeller Centre provides the best views of Manhattan, primarily because it includes the Empire State itself. That alone is guaranteed to get you that Pinterest perfect picture of the Big Apple and why I think you should really make it second on your list of places to visit in the city.
Grab Some Good Old NYC Food
I can’t miss this out but it’s an obvious one. Make sure you experience lots of the quirky food New York has to offer. Even if it is just a supersize slice of Pizza!