Itinerary Planning Idea #3 Exploring Lower Manhattan
Yes, Times Square needs to be seen, but it should also be left. New York City has so much more to offer first-timers! Take the subway down to Lower Manhattan and do a bit of exploring.
Whether you want to shop in Soho, see classic NYC in Greenwich Village, eat well in Chinatown, or want a detailed Lower Manhattan itinerary, youll glimpse more of the real Manhattan by heading away from midtowns more touristy spots.
A few iconic sights should not be missed while youre at Manhattans southern tip. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must! Stroll along the pedestrian promenade to admire the New York City views and wonder over how such an impressive structure was built before the days of power tools.
Pro Tip: Many visitors like to head into Brooklyn and get pizza at Grimaldis. The pizza is delicious, but if you prefer not to wait in long lines, see my recommended pizza stops in the Lower Manhattan itinerary above.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum remembers and reflects on the events and the lives lost during the terrorist attacks. The experience is emotional but poignant and so well-designed.
The reflecting pools are in the original tower footprints with the names of victims inscribed around the edges. The museum houses artifacts like a damaged firetruck and the personal anecdotal accounts of the day. The memorial and museum simultaneously honor the fallen, inspire a sense of Patriotism, and encourage a continuing faith in the goodness of humanity.
Take A Free Ferry Ride
TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins
If you want great views of the Statue of Liberty without spending a dime, ride the Staten Island ferry from Manhattan’s South Ferry terminal. The 25-minute ride is completely free and will give you phenomenal views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline. Once you’re in Staten Island, you can just wait on the ferry to take it back to Manhattan.
See The Statue Of Liberty For Free
If your budget is tight, skip the Statue of Liberty tour altogether. Instead, take the Staten Island Ferry and brings you right past the statue. Just check out the picture above to see the sweet view youll get right next to the sightseeing cruises!
Insider Tip: Be sure to grab a spot on the upper deck on the right side of the vessel as you leave Manhattan.
You can either get right back on the return ferry once you arrive in Staten Island, or wander around a bit and grab lunch at one of the affordable Sri Lankan restaurants in the area. The ferries depart every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour and are 100% free.
And even if your budget isnt super tight, this is a good, less-touristy option.
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Arrival Into New York City
New York City has 3 airports nearby, JFK, Laguardia, and Newark Liberty in New Jersey. If your flight arrives into JFK or Newark, it is possible to take commuter trains and/or the subway to get into NYC.
Visitors arriving into Laguardia, on the other hand, have fewer public transportation options. If taking a taxi or car service from Laguardia, brace yourself for at least an hour ride into Manhattan as the traffic can be horrendous in this area depending on the time of day your flight arrives.
New York City taxis are available at JFK and Laguardia. Its a flat $52 fare from JFK plus tolls and tip. The fare is calculated by the meter for rides from Laguardia. You will pay to sit in traffic. To save money, book a ride with the most trusted shuttle from the New York Airports. Theyre comfortable, reliable, and far cheaper than a taxi.
If you live in the northeast and are coming for your first visit to New York City, youre better off taking a commuter train like Metro-North, NJ Transit, or Amtrak into the city. Or, for an even cheaper option, take a bus directly to New Yorks Port Authority Bus Terminal, just 1 block from Times Square.
New York Itinerary 5 Days
- Day 1: Check-in, Times Square, Hell Kitchen, or Free Tour around the area
- Day 2: Contrast Tour, visit the neighborhood of NYC
- Day 3: Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, 11/9 Memorial, Empire State, Highline
- Day 4: Top of the Rock, Central Park, a musical
- Day 5: Woodbury Commons, shopping at the outlet.
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Watch A Broadway Show
TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins
Nowhere does theater bigger or better than Broadway! Take a stroll through Manhattan’s Theater District, off-shooting the Times Square area, and you’ll be spoiled for choice, with marquees set aglow with ads for the latest shows and stars . The options are plentiful and ever-changing, with the hottest tickets requiring booking well in advance.
Of course, Broadway’s pricey, so do try to scout for savings. Hit up the TKTS booth in Times Square for same-day theater ticket discounted at up to 50 percent off or, time your visit to coincide with the biannual Broadway Week to nab two-for-one deals on select shows.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library’s main branch was designed by architects, Carrere & Hastings, in the Beaux Arts style. The library, with its impressive rooms, is a prominent city attraction that has been featured in many movies and TV shows over the years.
Although colloquially known as the main branch, the proper name is actually the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. It opened in 1911 to immediate acclaim. An enormous library, the Main Reading Room alone stretches two city blocks, and the Periodicals Room holds 10,000 current magazines. The collection at this location is vast, to say the least.
Location: Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, New York
Stretching for eight city blocks from Broadway to South Street is the world famous Wall Street. This street and the surrounding area are home to some of the most important exchanges in the world, including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Also located nearby are the impressive Trinity Church and Federal Hall. Look for the bronze statue of Charging Bull at Bowling Green, on Broadway. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Financial District and a popular photo opportunity for visitors.
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Days In Nyc: The Ultimate 4 Days In New York Itinerary
Trying to put together the perfect 4 days in New York itinerary for your first visit to the city? You have your work cut out for you!
New York is alive in a way that few cities are. It is intense, enormous, intricate, invigorating, and ever-changing.
Restaurants, storefronts, fadsthey all come and go with ease in New York. Yesterdays Instagram sensation is todays quiet dessert shop is tomorrows closed business.
A generation ago Little Italy thrived, now whats left of the neighborhood has been given over to tourists, and the Italian community is over on Arthur Avenue.
On and on New York goesin every neighborhood and every borough, change is the constant heartbeat of the city.
And yet, there is the iconic side to New York as well: the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge: any first trip to New York is likely to include those.
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But ultimately, no one person experiences New York the same way, because New York isnt quite the same city to any one person .
After many visits to New York, often led around by our local loved ones and occasionally dragging them off to see iconic sights theyd rather skip , this is what we know about New York: its just as incredible as everyone says and just as overwhelming, too.
Intrepid Sea Air And Space Museum
One of the most underappreciated places to visit in New York, this museum shows how the USA has dominated the waves, the air and space itself. Take a walk around the tightly packed US submarine, the USS Growler, wander around the eponymous USS Intrepid air carrier and then go on the roof to view the Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and round out the day with the Space Shuttle Enterprise. All members of your group will learn so much about the inhabitants of these machines and weapons lived, as well as other secrets that have been a part of their history. Not to be missed under any circumstances.
Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, United States
Cost of tickets: $30 for adults aged 1364 $28 for seniors aged 65+ $23 for children aged 512
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Cheap And Free Things To Do In New York City
Here is a list of my favorite things to do in New York City on a budget Some things have been covered in my 4 days in New York itinerary, but some may also need repeating!
You will be paying an arm and leg for food in New York even groceries cost more in NYC but with this list, you will be equipped to spend 4 days in New York without feeling like youre always pinching pennies.
Check Out Trinity Church
The historic Trinity Church is still an active Episcopalian parish, and the Gothic revival building immediately sticks out on Wall Street as distinctly different from the more modern skyscrapers that surround it.
Hamilton fans will no doubt recognize Trinity Church, whose cemetery holds the Founding Father and his family. Hamilton was also involved with the church life, whose history predates the formation of the USA.
The church and its grounds are free to visit, so be sure to take a peek inside during your 4 days in New York.
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Day 6 Afternoon / Evening
A helicopter ride or a sporting event will take up most of your day, but there is still time left to explore lesser toured neighborhoods, such as SoHo, Little Italy, Nolita & Chinatown. Simply stroll through the neighborhoods and get to know their individual charms. What youll find? Shopping spots, beautiful buildings, great food and street art around every other corner.
- Gelso & Grand Italian Cuisine $$
- Great NY Noodletown Chinese Cuisine $
Day 6 Morning / Afternoon
One of the most memorable experiences we have made in New York was taking a helicopter ride. The view from the helicopter beats all viewing platforms. Flying over the concrete jungle gives you a totally new perspective of New York. If a helicopter ride is a little too expensive, a great alternative is attending a sporting event. New York is home to some of the best sports teams and there is always a game going on.
- 12 Chairs Middle Eastern Cuisine $$
- BoCaphe Vietnamese & French Cuisine $$
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New York City On A Budget: 17 Money
Its true: New York City aint cheap! Accommodation is notoriously expensive, and food can add up if you dont know where to find cheap eats! But theres good news: Weve rounded up our top tips for traveling to NYC on a budget so you dont come home from the Big Apple completely broke! Read up on money-saving advice, cheap places to eat and free things to do in New York City.
New York City is notoriously expensive, but that doesnt mean you cant stick to a budget. There are plenty of free things to do in NYC and other ways you can save money during your trip.
Weve put together our best money-saving tips for traveling in NYC so you dont come home from vacation completely broke!
Whether this is your first time visiting New York City or The Big Apple feels like your second home, these tips will help you travel NYC for cheap!
Disclaimer: There may be some affiliate links on this page, which means when you click we get a small percentage of the purchase at no extra cost to you. This allows us to keep sharing great travel tips, so feel free to click away!
Stop #: Guggenheim Museum
Welcome to the work of art filled with works of art!
The fabulous, swirling white helix of a building it totally unique in it surroundings of townhouses on the Upper East Side, and within its walls you’ll discover even more treasures. Home to the works of Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Pissarro, Renoir, and more, its an impressionist-enthusiast’s dream and hosts the finest temporary exhibitions too.
Viewing priceless art always stirs up an appetite, and happily there is the fabulous Café 3 within the museum that has stunning views over central park to enjoy while you break for coffee and cake.
Getting in:Guggenheim Museum tickets are included with the Go New York pass.
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Out Of The Way If You Need To Stop On The Sidewalk
If theres one thing New Yorkers are notorious for, it is moving fast and being abruptor even rudeon the street.
Theyre not rude, theyre just busy, and wondering why in the world someone is staring around like a lost puppy in the middle of their commute!
If you need to stop on the sidewalk to check directions, especially if youre in a crowded area, step off to the side first.
See The City From Above
There are countless ways to explore New York City, but seeing it all from above is a truly mesmerizing experience. Whether you choose to climb atop its famous landmarks or just stroll the High Line and Brooklyn Heights Promenade, youre in for an unmatched visual feast.
For a memorable experience, its worth braving the crowds at Top of the Rock or the Empire State Buildings 86-story-high deck, but some of the most extraordinary observatories in the city are its panoramic rooftop bars, where you can enjoy million-dollar skyline views for the price of a cocktail.
Other spots that offer equally jaw-dropping sights, albeit from different perspectives, include the Brooklyn Bridge, Belvedere Castle in Central Park, the Mets Roof Garden, and One World Observatory at the top of One World Trade Center, to name but a few.
For a unique outlook of NYC, take the Roosevelt Island Tram, which winds its way above the East River, providing unique vistas over the East Side of Midtown Manhattan. The aerial tramway connects the Upper East Side with the quiet Roosevelt Island, and the 4 min ride costs just $2.75 one way .
If you want to see the Big Apple from an even broader perspective, almost nothing can beat a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Though not cheap, this exhilarating experience allows you to capture epic shots of New York City and gives you memories that will last a lifetime as you soar past some of the worlds most iconic landmarks in style and comfort.
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Avoid The Tourist Traps In New York And Dont Buy Anything Off The Street
There are a lot of tourist traps in New York and some people will tell you anything to get you in the door. If youre walking through a heavily trafficked area and someone gives you a flyer for an attraction promising you that youll see Aziz Ansari for $0/$5, dont believe it. Those comedy nights rarely include anyone famous and many of these shows are free as long as you meet the $15 drink minimum.
Similarly, there are a lot of restaurants that CLAIM to have authentic food, but the ones that are authentic dont need to assert that they were the first or the best. The real ones will be FULL with locals waiting for a table, so use Yelp to find the real thing.
Dont buy stuff, especially water bottles, on the street. I always check if the bottle has been previously opened, however paying more than $1 for a water bottle is a rip-off. No matter how thirsty you are, keep walking to the nearest bodega. The CVS down the street, as well as the local bodega, are good places to buy a bottle of water. Paying with a card shouldnt be a problem. I wrote a guide about finding the best souvenirs in New York on a budget, so skip the aggressive street sales and go straight for stores with set prices.
If someone offers you something on the street, please dont take it whether its drugs, fake designer purses, or an offer for a massage. You know it wont end well.
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- New York Public Library & Bryant Park
- Times Square
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