The lights, the sounds, the attractions… everything about the Big Apple is going to excite your soul. Bustling with creativity and innovation, you’re sure to create great memories throughout your weekend in New York City. It’s impossible to see and explore all of NYC in three days, so without further ado, here’s the NYC itinerary we’ve created, so you can experience the best of the best and ensure your weekend in NYC is unforgettable.
Consider Buying a New York City Tourist Pass
As you start planning your trip to New York City you’ll begin to see admission fees to popular tourist sites will quickly add up. Fortunately, like most major tourist cities, New York offers some great tourist passes that can save you a lot of money on attractions.
The main difference between the two passes is that The New York Pass is day-based, meaning you buy the pass for a certain number of days, and can then visit as many of the 100+ available attractions as you want within your chosen number of days.
The New York Explorer Pass on the other hand, while valid for 30 days, limits you to a certain number of free attractions. So if you buy a two attraction pass, you can only visit two of the 85+ included attractions
|Pass / Features||The New York Pass||New York Explorer Pass|
|Attraction- or Day-Based||Day-Based||Attraction-Based|
|Included Attractions||100+||2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10|
|Validity||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 Days||30 Days|
|Price||from $134||from $64|
|Check Pass||Check Pass|
Whether either pass is worth buying greatly depends on how many attractions you want to visit while in New York City.
Let’s assume you visit the following attractions on your 3 days in New York City:
- The Met = $25
- MoMA = $25
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck or Empire State Building = $38 or $42
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island = $19.25
- 9/11 Memorial Museum = $28
- Madame Tussauds = $37
- 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Bus = $69
Those seven attractions, without any passes, total up to $245.25. The New York Explorer Pass would save you $67.25 and the The New York Pass would save you between $111.25 and $41.25, depending on the number of days on the pass.
As you can see, both passes provide a great value for anyone who wants to see a lot of attractions on their trip. However, make sure to do the math and see if purchasing a tourist pass will truly help you save money.
Where to Stay in NYC
You’ll never run out of things to do during your weekend in New York City, but we want to make sure that where you rest your head at night is as world-class as the attractions. We highly recommend you book your stay at The Lexington New York City to experience just that.
Graced by the presence of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and other international celebrities, this historic hotel lets you live in opulence without breaking your budget. Just five blocks from Grand Central Terminal, The Lexington New York City is exclusive, unique, and fabulous in every way. With a style reminiscent of the Jazz Age, you’ll be welcomed by chic designs, a renowned art collection, and live jazz on Friday from 5-8pm. Get ready to relax in sophistication as the superior amenities and personalized service perfect your weekend in NYC.
Once you’ve dropped your bags off, your New York City adventure truly begins!
Start off your weekend with everyone’s number one spot on their NYC itinerary – Times Square. Huge billboards and flashing lights await you as you’re welcomed by notorious sights and people. From the One Times Square building, where the New Year’s Eve ball drops, to the Naked Cowboy, you’ll be blown away by all that Times Square has to offer. We highly recommend a visit to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Madame Tussauds, and M&M’s World. Once you’ve seen all your favorite places and are left in amazement, it’s time to head to dinner.
You’re headed to Broadway tonight, so take advantage of some of the best food in Midtown for dinner. Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay will light up your taste buds at his brasserie Bar Americain. But if Mexican is more your style, head over to the delicious and festive Toloache. Now that you’re happy and full, let’s explore the Theater District.
Note: Allergic to gluten? Check out our comprehensive guide to the best gluten-free restaurants in NYC here.
Seeing a show on Broadway is an experience some can only dream of, and with 41 different theaters decorating Broadway, it’s time to make this dream come true. With some of the most famous plays and musicals in the world, such as The Lion King and Hamilton, we’re sure no matter what show you choose, your experience on Broadway will be unforgettable. After you’ve laughed, cried, and clapped, head back to The Lexington NYC for a nightcap at The Mixing Room, their swanky cocktail bar, to end your night with some smooth jazz melodies and a cocktail.
The first full day of your weekend in New York City has arrived and it’s time to explore Central Park. With a host of things to do in this gorgeous and historic park, it’s the perfect way to escape from the city and maybe even catch a concert. Some of our favorites are the cutting edge Central Park Zoo, the whimsical Belvedere Castle, and of course, the Bethesda Terrace. For the music lovers, don’t forget to head to Strawberry Fields, the memorial to world-famous Beatles’ artist John Lennon. Just adjacent to Strawberry Fields, you’ll be able to see The Dakota, the previous home of Lennon and wife Yoko Ono. You could spend your whole New York weekend trip in Central Park, but now it’s time to head back into the concrete jungle.
New York Public Library
Maybe going to a library doesn’t bode excitement for some, but once you step into its impressive and absolutely stunning interior, you’ll understand why the New York Public Library made it on our NYC itinerary. After you’re done marveling at the grand architecture, take a quick wander through the library to explore its many paintings, book collections, and treasures, like the Rose Reading Room or Astor Hall (if you have time, we recommend the free one hour tour). As you exit in amazement, you’ll be glad you added this library to your New York City itinerary.
Grand Central Station
Home to the most platforms in the world, Grand Central Terminal is also one of NYC’s most-visited tourist attractions. The bold Beaux Arts architecture and the majestic interior are nothing less than stunning. Full of lofty arches and elegant marble, even if you don’t need to catch a train, it’s worth seeing during your weekend in NYC because Grand Central Terminal is so much more than just a train station. With the amount of things you can do here, including taking a selfie on the marble Grand Staircase, whispering secrets in a corner of the Whispering Gallery, exploring the Grand Central Market, and of course gazing in awe at the majestic night sky celestial mural on the ceiling of the main concourse, you can easily spend hours in this 104-year-old depot.
Lunch: Grand Central Station
Once you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, head downstairs to the dining concourse for some culinary excitement. Since 1913 the renowned Oyster Bar has had only one specialty – serving the freshest seafood in New York, so seafood lovers prepare to be amazed. Another great option is to indulge in a tasty Nordic dish at The Great Northern Food Hall. Next, it’s time to spread your cultural wings and experience some of the greatest museums in the world.
Met, MoMA, Guggenheim, etc.
Housing more museums than you can count, it’s essential to visit at least one museum during your weekend in NYC. Tourists and locals alike love flocking to the prominent museums such as The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art), MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History, but there are lesser-known museums like the Museum of the Moving Image, Museum of Mathematics, and the Louis Armstrong House that are sure to impress as well that are sure to impress as well. Maybe you won’t have time to see all of the museums during your weekend trip to New York, so if you only have time to see one, we highly recommend the Met.
Recommendation: Popular museums like The Met, MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History can get very busy, especially on rainy or cold days, so it makes sense to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance. You can buy skip-the-line tickets for The Met here, for the MoMa here, for the Guggenheim here, and for the American Museum of Natural History here.
Once you’ve seen what the NYC museum scene is all about, it’s time to get into your “Empire State of Mind”.
Rockefeller Center & Empire State Building
It’s observatory deck time! Marvel at the NYC skyline at sunset atop one of New York’s most famous buildings, either the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center. We personally prefer the views from the Rockefeller Center because not only can you get the Empire State Building in your picture but you will also get a nice view over Central Park. However, no matter which building you choose you’ll surely be in for a treat. There may be a little bit of a wait, but no weekend in New York City is complete without some selfies on an observatory deck.
Recommendation: Avoid wasting precious vacation time waiting on long lines, and buy your skip-the-line tickets in advance. You can buy skip-the-line tickets for the Top of the Rock Observation Deck here and for the Empire State Building here.
After one of the best views you’ve ever seen, it’s time for some of the best food you’ll ever taste. With so many top-rated restaurants in Midtown, we’ve chosen some of the best so you can dine in elegance during your weekend in NYC. Currently ranked 17th on the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Chef Eric Ripert welcomes you to his elite and luxurious French restaurant, Le Bernardin. For authentic Indian cuisine and a wonderfully personalized dining experience, Spice Symphony is the place you need to be. If your taste buds are craving a perfect steak, Club A Steakhouse awaits. While you’re waiting for your steak, their Club A Bacon appetizer and their beet salad shouldn’t be missed.
After dinner, it’s time for some window shopping on one of the best shopping streets in the world, 5th Avenue.
If window shopping isn’t your thing, head to the East Village for a drink. Don’t know which bar to choose? PDT and Death & Company are some of the coolest spots in the city. PDT aka Please Don’t Tell is a trendy bar hidden in a hot dog restaurant. Once you enter the hot dog restaurant, find the phone booth, dial one, and get prepared for the best cocktails you’ve ever had. Or you can step back into the speakeasy era with a visit to Death & Company. Previously voted the Best American Cocktail Bar, from the bartenders in bow ties and suspenders to the menu, everything about this place is unique and upscale.
After a long day of exploring, time to head back to The Lexington NYC for a good night’s sleep! You have a big day ahead of you!
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
You can’t spend a weekend in New York City without catching a glimpse of Lady Liberty, one of America’s greatest icons. For an up close and personal encounter with Lady Liberty, take the ferry from Battery Park to Liberty Island. If you’re up for a challenge, you can even climb the 393 stairs to get to her crown and gaze out over the city. For a great taste of history, don’t forget to check out the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. The exhibits give a voice to the more than 12 million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island.
Recommendation: Ferry tickets to the Statue of Liberty can sell out quickly, so to avoid disappointment make sure to buy your ferry tickets well in advance here. If you want to learn more about the Statue of Liberty and about the history of immigration on Ellis Island, consider booking a guided tour.
If you’re looking to spend a weekend in NYC and stay on a budget, the Staten Island Ferry is a free alternative that gives you a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. Though you won’t be able to get on the island, you’ll cruise past it and be able to get some great pictures.
Now that you’re back on land, get excited to head to Wall Street. From the ferry port you’ll head uptown through Battery Park. Make a quick stop in Battery Park to check out the Castle Clinton National Monument. Designed to prevent a British invasion, the fort has been transformed to be a great sight for visitors of all ages. Once you arrive on Wall Street, make your way to Federal Hall. Built in 1700 as the city hall, it’s where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.
Before you leave Wall Street, you have to snap a picture of one of the city’s most photographed works of art. Visited by thousands daily, the iconic Charging Bull sculpture must make its way into your photo album.
On your way to the next destination make sure to make a stop at the historic Trinity Church. If you can believe it, the Trinity Church used to be the tallest building in New York City
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Probably the most impactful thing you’ll experience throughout your weekend in New York City, these powerful tributes commemorate the lives lost in the tragedies of the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Featuring the largest man made waterfalls in North America, outside you’ll find two reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of everyone who passed in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are engraved around the pools. Lines can get super long, so it’s best to buy tickets ahead of time for the museum. Though a solemn experience, it’s definitely a must on your NYC itinerary.
Lunch: Chinatown or Little Italy
It’s time to eat! What are you craving? We say hang around Lower Manhattan and take advantage of the deliciousness in Chinatown or Little Italy. You’ll truly feel like you’ve switched continents if you choose lunch in Chinatown. The award-winning Joe’s Shanghai is the best spot in Chinatown, hands down. With so many famous dishes you may have a hard time choosing, but make sure you start with their soup dumplings. If you decide on Little Italy, make a beeline to Rubirosa. This family-run restaurant has some of the best pizza and pasta you’ll ever taste.
Your weekend trip to NYC is almost over, but we’ve picked some of the best remaining options so you can end your New York City itinerary on a high note!
Option #1: Explore Lower Manhattan
Where the whole city began, Lower Manhattan boasts tons of history and a thriving entertainment scene. You should definitely take a visit to the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in the United States. If you want to explore the different neighborhoods NYC has to offer, check out trendy areas of SoHo, Greenwich Village, and East Village.
Want to rest your feet for a bit? Head to Greenwich Village and relax in Washington Square Park. There’s always something happening here, so even if you’re sitting you’ll still be entertained by musicians, street performers, and a host of other interesting characters. Such a beautiful and diverse area, it’s a wonderful place to grab a drink, shop, and explore.
Option #2: Chelsea Market & The High Line
Enter the Meatpacking District and stroll through Chelsea Market. One of the greatest indoor food halls in the world, Chelsea Market also houses a shopping mall, a grocery store, offices, and a TV production facility. Make sure you keep track of the time as you can easily spend hours here and not even realize it. After you’re done exploring Chelsea Market, head up to The High Line. This public park was created on top of an abandoned and elevated railway and it hosts some really great events and programs for people of all ages. The High Line also has some spectacular features you’ll want to get on camera, like overlooks, a sundeck, and a super cool amphitheater-type area with fabulous views. Maybe not as well-known as Lower Manhattan, you’re in for a unique treat if you spend some time at Chelsea Market and The High Line during your weekend in NYC.
If you must end your trip here, we trust you’ve had a more than amazing time! We highly recommend grabbing a delicious bagel and cream cheese for your journey back home, as it’s the perfect way to end your weekend trip to NYC. Not ready to leave The Big Apple, and want to create some more memories? Keep reading!!!
Dinner: Greenwich Village
You’ll love dinner in New York’s bohemian neighborhood. Even the pickiest eater could find something they love here. Some of our absolute favorite restaurants are Gotham Bar and Grill and Minetta Tavern.
Awarded its fifth three-star review by the New York Times in 2010, Gotham was the first New York restaurant to achieve such a feat. Chef Alfred Portale has been long celebrated for his innovative and artful dishes, and this is one of those places where no matter what you order, you’ll be happy about it. Along with their perfectly cooked steak, pork chops, etc., their oysters and shrimp are to die for.
If you haven’t seen any celebrities yet and want to up your chances, head to Minetta Tavern. Paris meets New York in this Michelin star rated restaurant. You can enjoy your typical tavern food or indulge in their upscale French dishes. There’s no better place to have your last dinner during your weekend in New York City than in Greenwich Village.
Comedy Cellar or Jazz Club
If you’d like to spend a little more time in the Village, there is so much more to see. One thing we recommend is laughing until your stomach hurts at Comedy Cellar. Hosting some of the best comedians in the city, if you pick the right date you may even see a comedy great like Chris Rock or Ray Romano. If you’d like to chill out before heading home, then a jazz club is the place for you. Our favorite is Village Vanguard. Open since 1935, it’s definitely one of the greatest jazz clubs you’ll ever experience. They typically bring in world-class jazz artists, and you are always in for a fantastic performance.
And this is where your awesome weekend in New York City must come to an end.
We know it was short, but we’re sure you saw the best of the best of New York City. If you’ve found some extra time, or find your way back to NYC again, be sure to explore the many other great things to do in New York City that you’re sure to be glad you added to your NYC itinerary. New York City really never sleeps, so it’ll be ready whenever you plan your next trip.