Best Things To Do In Nyc On Your First Visit
We created a list of top things to do in NYC that you shouldnt miss while visiting this ever-growing city. Some are super touristy , like the Top of the Rock and the MET, but some are hidden gems, like an amazing Greenwich Village Food Tour and an off-the-beaten path graffiti neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Whether its your first time in New York or you already have your favorite pizza place, this guide is for you!
New York City is full of things to do. You could literally spend a lifetime in this city and do something different each day. With so much to see, it can be overwhelming trying to plan a trip to this beast of a city.
Resist the urge to dive into the depths of the Internet where youll only wind up confused with big bags under your eyes.
We have you covered with everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to New York City. Grab a cup of coffee, a pen and stay for a while.
If its your first time in NYC weve rounded up a list of the top sights as well as some hidden gems. Were also sharing some cant-miss NYC foods and where to try them, because FOOD = LIFE. Plus, were including the costs of each activity because, well, the Big Apple aint cheap and its nice to know how much money to expect to budget.
Whether youre traveling on a budget or with luxurious taste, this is the ultimate list of things to do in New York City.
/11 Memorial & Museum
The Memorial was designed by NY-based architect, Michael Arad, who was chosen as the winner of an international design competition in 2003, which drew 5,201 entries. The Memorial is comprised of twin pools representing the approximate footprints of the Twin Towers. We use the word approximate because the pools are actually 31% smaller than the footprints of the original towers. The architect, who was just 34 years old at the time he won the competition, called his submission Reflecting Absence.
The twin pools are surrounded by bronze parapets bearing the names of the nearly 3,000 victims who died on September 11, 2001, as well as the six people who died in the February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center . More than 1,000 people were injured that day, including many first responders.
While the Memorial is a public space accessible at street level to all, the Museum requires timed admission tickets and has hours of operation .
Most of the Museum artifacts are located 70 feet below ground, the bedrock foundation level for the Twin Towers. These include a burned and damaged NYC fire truck, as well as steel tridents from the facade of one of the Twin Towers.
National Museum Of The American Indian
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
This stunning Beaux-Arts building was built as New York Citys customs house where importers declared their goods.
It is now home to the National Museum of the American Indian museum.
The four monumental sculptures on the building’s front side symbolize international commerce with each of the four female figures representing a continent: Asia, America, Europe, and Africa.
Continue south on Whitehall Street until you reach the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
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One Day In New York: Afternoon
3 pm Another thing you cannot miss during one day in New York City is Times Square. More than 50 Million people visit Times Square annually with more than 60 Million passing through its highly frequented subway station Times Square / 42nd Street. Approximately 460,000 people, many of them tourists, pass through Times Square on its busiest days. See all the bright and shiny advertisements and take the typical picture everybody has from their last New York trip. For a great view over Times Square go up on the red stairs.
4:30 pm After having seen one of the busiest parts of Manhattan its time to take the Subway to Brooklyn to see another top New York City attraction: The famous Brooklyn Bridge! To get there, take the 2 or 3 train towards Brooklyn and get off at Clark Street. Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do when you spend one day in New York City. We particularly love walking over the bridge towards Manhattan, as this gives you amazing views on the Manhattan Skyline.
See The Best Of The City With This 1
So, youre going to New York City but you only have one day to spend there? No problem. While I would recommend spending at least four days in NYC, you can get a taste of the Big Apple even if you only have one day in New York City. Just follow this one day in New York itinerary to see all the top sites in New York city in one day. Its perfect for those visiting New York City for the first time.
Please note that some of these sites may be closed or operating on adjusted schedules because of COVID-19 concerns. Make sure you double check before your trip to prevent disappointment.
Dont miss the Statue of Liberty on your day in New York City.
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New York City Nightlife
Tip to the wise: drinks in New York City are very expensive, I once paid $22 pre-tip at a bar. It was a gentle reminder to keep my personal problems to a minimum.
Top 3 bars to visit in New York City
- BlackTail: Call me biased, but Im a sucker for bars overflowing with plants. But lets get real, youre not here to talk about plants. The drinks at BlackTail are out of this world! Any libation your heart desires can be found on the novel-sized menu here. In addition to the drinks, the décor in this place takes you back to simpler times with thick leather booths and beautiful paintings. But my friends, I do not wish to lead you astray, you need a drink to justify paying the price. Coming in at $18 a pop .
- The Dead Rabbit: This little gem is oft considered a swanky version of an Irish pub. This bar came up time and time again from our friends. The menu is full of creative drinks with even more creative names. The drinks promise to please and palate and run around $17 a pop, pre-tip.
- has been around forever and comes highly recommended. Its a cash-only establishment with an upright piano in the middle of the room. A lively pianist serenades visitors every evening, and all are encouraged to sing along. Sing loudly, no one will be able to hear you anyways.
Night Itinerary: Dinner A View And A Night Cap
The options available for dinner in New York City are virtually endless. Home to some of the world’s finest restaurants, as well as many more affordable choices, it’s hard to suggest just one place to have dinner, but if you’re in the mood for some of the best Chinese food in the United States, head on over to Chinatown.
Chinese food in New York City is famously delicious, and surprisingly affordable. Two local favorite Chinese restaurants are Wo Hop and Oriental Garden . Wo Hop serves classic Chinese-American cuisine from lo mein to chop suey, in a plain below-street-level location while Oriental Garden focuses on fresh Chinese seafood that’s still swimming in tanks when you arrive. You can also check out some Recommended Chinatown Restaurants for some other ideas.
Getting There: From the West 4th Street Subway, take the B or D downtown 2 stops to the Grand Street Station. Exit on Grand Street and walk west, crossing Bowery. If you’re heading to Oriental Garden, take a left onto Elizabeth Street and walk two blocks. If you’re heading to Oriental Garden, take a left onto Mott Street and walk two blocks.
Getting There: From the recommended restaurants above, you can take the B, D, F, or V train uptown to 34th Street. Walk one block east to 5th Avenue and take a left. The entrance to the Empire State Building is on 5th Avenue between 33rd & 34th Streets.
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Rock And Rockefeller Plaza
From the Dining Concourse, take the escalator back upstairs and check out the beautiful lobby of 30 Rockefeller Center before exiting. The fantastic mural on the main wall is called American Progress and was created by Jose Maria Sert, a Catalan artist, and completed in 1937. Abraham Lincoln is the tall figure in the top hat . The building looming in the background is the very building you are standing in .
A quick aside for art history lovers: The Rockefellers originally awarded this very prominent commission to a famous Mexican muralist named Diego Rivera, who was a well-known Communist. His sketch for the mural was approved, but as the giant fresco was nearing completion, Rivera decided to add the face of Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. This act of artistic propaganda, needless to say, did not please his famously rich and very capitalist patrons. After refusing to remove Lenin, Rivera was quickly fired, his mural covered up, then unceremoniously chiseled off the wall piece by piece .
Now look up at the ceiling. Jose Maria Sert, who gladly replaced Diego Rivera, painted this incredible work as well. It is simply called Time. The colossal figure in the center is Present, who is flanked by Past and Future. He strikes a difficult balance between mankinds past failures and accomplishments and the uncertain prospects and hopes for the future.
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Make The Most Of Your Trip To New York
Yes! Youre finally going to New York City. The only problem is that you have only one day to cover all the most famous New York attractions. To begin with, that is nowhere near possible, but we have come up with a suggested itinerary that will allow you to get a great overview of the city and help you guide your way through the concrete jungle. Our one day in New York itinerary covers the most important places, landmarks, and buildings as well as bars and restaurants recommended by locals. This combination will help you to spend 24 perfect hours in New York City.
|Other New York Itineraries|
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Walking Tours Of New York City
One of our favourite ways of exploring a city is on a walking tour, and New York is no exception. A good walking tour will pair you up with a knowledgeable city expert, and is a really good way to either get an introduction to a city, or to hone in on a particular topic that interests you.
Weve taken a number of walking tours in New York, all of which we did with Take Walks, our favourite walking tour company. We taken walks with them in cities all around the world, and have always had a good time.
- A tour of the Broadway Theaters with a behind the scenes look at the Disney New Amsterdam Theatre!
- A tour of TV and Movie locations across Manhattan, including a tour of the NBC Studios
Naturally there are lots of other walking tour companies and options. If you invest in a New York Pass for example, this includes a number of walking tour options. There are also a wide range of walking tours available here on Viator and here on GetYourGuide.
An Epic Guide To 4 Days In New York City
Planning to spend 4 days in New York City?
As someone who has visited the New York more than 20 times before finally moving to NYC,Ive definitely learned a thing or two about making the most out of 4 days in New York City.
Most of our family and friends that visit spend 4 days in NYC and my husband and I have taken them on more tours that we can count! We tend to visit the same spots with first time visitors to New York City and I wanted to share the list here for anyone planning a trip.
New York City is large, make no mistake about it, so theres no way youre going to see everything during your first visit. Relax and give yourself some grace, youre going to have a heck of a time regardless!
With 4 days to spend in New York City, Im sure youll see enough to fall in love with NYC and count down the days until your next visit because New York City is downright magic!
With that said, lets jump right in.
Who is this itinerary for?
This guide is for first time visitors planning to spend 4 days in New York City. This guide will cover most of the iconic spots, as well as local gems.
This 4 days in NYC itinerary will guide you through the top sights and food spots you simply cant miss for your first visit to New York City. This itinerary should give you a robust feel for the best of NYC and will definitely give you reason to return for more!
Is 4 days in New York City enough time?
The honest answer is no, but its better than nothing so well take it!
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One World Trade Center
Housed in lower Manhattan is the One World Trade Center. This stunning work of architecture is built on the location of the original Trade Center that was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Pay a visit to the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Then, you can take in some memorial time and get a unique view of the city that never sleeps.To get more details on your one day tour New York City, give us a call and well help you get all the details.
The Boathouse & Bethesda Terrace
One of my favorite places to visit in Central Park is the Boat House and the Bethesda Terrace. For film lovers, youll instantly recognize these two spots from many movies filmed in New York. I love watching the toy boats
The fountain near the Bethesda Terrace dates back to the 1850s. Ive often come here just to sit and take in the views.
Be sure to walk along the lake as the best view in my opinion is close to Bow Bridge where Manhattans skyline reflects back at you.
A Night Out In Greenwich Village
For a huge variety of restaurants and nightlife, the Village is THE place to go.
Heres our self-guided Greenwich Village Tour including a neighborhood guide with suggestions of where to eat, shop, and see live music or comedy.
If you are interested in a more thorough exploration of this cultural and historical neighborhood, we offer several pay-what-you-wish guided tours.
To eat at your own pace, here is our self-guided Food Tour. No matter how you choose to explore Greenwich Village, we guarantee that you spent time in this one-of-a-kind New York neighborhood.
Optional Nyc In A Day Side Trip
Okay, because you have a lot to see and not a lot of time for this one day in New York City itinerary, some tough choices need to be made.
So, depending on how much you NEED to see the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center, you could always skip this part of my one day in NYC post and go right to the afternoon section.
Because it really all just depends on what you NEED to see and where your interests lie. But, if you do want to see Lower Manhattan, then Id prioritize the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center Museum and Memorial/Occulus since theyre both kind of right there.
Statue of Liberty To get the best free views of the statue of liberty, Id hop on the Staten Island Ferry. Not only is it totally free, but this ferry runs twenty-four hours a day and has departures from Battery Park every 15 to 30 minutes. The ride itself also only takes about 25 minutes , making this a great addition to any one day in New York City itinerary.
The World Trade Center Museum and Memorial If youre really short on time but still want to see the World Trade Center, then you could always skip the museum and just see the Memorial itself. Its a really somber but beautiful tribute to all those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks. Its also free to visit and well worth your time if you only have one day in New York City.
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Which Museum: Met Or American Museum Of Natural History
If you have a short time in New York or arent much of a museum person, we would encourage you to choose just one. We saw both, albeit briefly, and wished we would have spent more time in just one so we didnt feel as rushed.
Both museums are impressive and everyone has differing opinions on which is the best. We felt like the American Museum of Natural History was better for families with children, while we personally enjoyed the MET a bit more. Bonus: The rooftop bar at the MET has nice views!
Insider Tip: The MET has free hour-long highlight tours every 15 minutes between 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have a short amount of time, this is a good way to get the inside scoop on some of the museums most noteworthy pieces.
The guide did a good job of showing us very different pieces from wood carvings to paintings to stained glass to armor to statues. Its a good way to pack a lot into a short amount of time!
Foodie Tip: If you go to the American Museum of Natural History, dont miss the famous cookies at Levain Bakery just a few blocks away. You wont regret it!
Metropolitan Museum of Art : $25 per person or FREE with NYC CityPASS
American Museum of Natural History: $28 per person or FREE with NYC CityPASS