72 Hours in New York City
72 Hours in New York City
They say it takes 10 years to become a New Yorker. That’s 87,600 hours. We have 72 hours. But you hardly have to become a New Yorker to have a good time in the city. In fact, becoming a New Yorker might give you less of a good time. Fortunately, that’s not the goal here. The goal here is to take 72 hours and pack as much of this dense, rich and amazing city into them as possible. If you’re planning a trip to NYC and wondering what to do, these three days will give you a great time and a broad sense of what makes New York City a historic, cultural, and American city. Contact us now to get a handle on planning.
Day 1: Manhattan
Breakfast | Absolute Bagels, Riverside Park
Start your morning with one of New York’s iconic, holey eats: bagels. Absolute Bagels is one of the best bagel shops in New York City, with every bagel served fresh and warm, and with a wide variety of quality toppings (or should they be called middlings?) to choose from. Mini-bagels with sweet and fruity spreads, like strawberry, apple and blueberry, are easy options for kids, while cream cheeses and smoked salmon bagel sandwiches satisfy those who need real filling.
The shop has few tables. Better to take your bagels to Riverside Park, which is just a short walk away, where you can sit on the grass or a bench and take your breakfast with a nice view.
Morning | The Cloisters and/or American Museum of Natural History
Before you take a deep dive into the concrete jungle, take a deep breath at The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park. The Cloisters looks like a cross between a European castle and monastery in a medieval forest. As it is an under-the-radar and underappreciated attraction in Manhattan, you’ll probably get its four scenic courtyards, elaborate stone halls, and large medieval art collection to yourself. The place is a bit out of the way, but well worth the trip.
After you’ve spent a couple hours at The Cloisters, you can head down to the American Museum of Natural History. The AMNH is the largest natural history museum in the world, full of engaging and fascinating exhibits devoted to life in the ancient past and universe. See an interstellar show of stars in the Hayden Planetarium, or walk among gargantuan dinosaur skeletons. The museum is perfect for families.
Lunch | Caffè Storico or Shake Shack
For lunch, you don’t need to venture far off from AMNH. Around the block, you can eat at Caffè Storico, an Italian restaurant that’s inside the New York Historical Society Museum & Library. So while you enjoy delicious and authentic Italian cuisine, you are surrounded by genuine nineteenth-century china from the Historical Society’s collection. Order a handful of the restaurants Venetian-style tapas, called cicchetti.
A more kid-friendly option is just across the street from AMNH. Shake Shack is a trendy fast-casual burger chain, which started as a simple food cart in New York, that’s known for its milkshakes and quality, hot-off-the-grill burgers. You can’t go wrong with a side of fries, either.
Afternoon | Central Park and/or The High Line
Take some time to walk off your lunch while stepping outside to enjoy Central Park, New York City’s green oasis. You can rent bikes and cruise along its web of paved paths, rent row boats to glide along the lake’s waters with an amazing view of the city before you, or you can simply find a nice spot in the grass to lie down. Central Park also has many historic sites, like Belvedere Castle, sculptures, playgrounds, fountains, and a zoo.
After, or instead of, Central Park, you can make your way down The High Line, an elevated-train-bridge-turned-green-space that snakes between and through towering buildings. Not only is The High Line a creative reuse of old infrastructure, it’s also a beautiful respite from the street-level bustle, with truly unique and stunning views of the city and Hudson River. One of the best places in New York City to catch a sunset.
Dinner | Katz’s Delicatessen or Gray’s Papaya
Longstanding New York City establishments are for dinner. Since 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen has been serving the best, thickest cut and meltiest pastrami-on-rye sandwiches in the world. They also serve other cured meats (all cured in-house and hand-sliced), cheesesteaks, burgers, hot dogs, knishes, soups and more. Katz’s service is famously cranky, but its food is too good. Even the people who gripe most about the service still have to stop in at Katz’s for a sandwich every now and then. Important note: when you walk in, you’ll be given a service ticket for which there’s a $50 fee for losing it.
Another iconic food option is Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, the undisputed champion of New York City hot dogs, in taste, quality, history, and serving fresh papaya fruit juice (there’s also orange, grape, non-alcoholic coconut champagne, banana daiquiri and piña colada) with hot dogs. Gray’s Papaya is an offshoot of the original Papaya King, which first opened in 1923 and has since been dethroned by Gray’s for the high seat of best grilled hot dogs and fresh fruit juice. Take your dog out for a walk in nearby Washington Square Park and wash it down by soaking in West Village.
Night | Times Square, Lincoln Center, Jazz Clubs, Comedy Cellar
Nightfall is when New York City really rises. It’s the best time to visit Times Square—when all its colourful signage really glows, and all the fame-hungry city geeks and freaks come out to give visitors a show. Most tourists just give it a quick walkthrough and go on their way, but it’s worthwhile to just find a table or bench and take it all in for a few minutes.
Once you’ve had your fill of Times Square, you can catch a high-class live music show at Lincoln Center. Or, if you want to hear some New York jazz, Blue Note (West Village) and Birdland (near Times Square) are two places where you can pop in, see who’s on stage (usually someone good) and soak it all in with a drink. If you’re up for a laugh, New York’s stand-up comedy scene is the best in the world, and Comedy Cellar its north star. At Comedy Cellar, you never know what famous comedian might show up to test out new material.
Day 2: Brooklyn
Breakfast | Russ & Daughters
Russ & Daughters is another long-standing NYC establishment, opened in 1914. Smoked salmon, pickled herring and other appetizers are its main trade. For breakfast, their smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels are a classic. They’re even called “The Classic” on the menu. The original store has no seating, but there’s Russ & Daughters Café just around the corner with seating.
Morning | Governors Island and/or Dumbo
Governors Island is a large car-free park that’s a short and cheap ferry ride from Manhattan’s southern tip. Once you get to the island, you can rent bikes, kayaks, visit the historic Castle Williams and Fort Jay, and much more, all with the best possible view of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and New Jersey.
Afterwards, you can head to Dumbo (ferry service from island to Brooklyn on weekdays only). Dumbo is short for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and it’s a trendy Brooklyn neighbourhood known for its shopping, arts, culture and scenic Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Lunch | Front Street Pizza
If you haven’t yet had a slice of New York style pizza, this is the time and the place. It’s not quite top of the line, but it’s good, and you don’t have to stand in line. In classic New York fashion, the pies are fresh out of the oven, the savoury slices are big, toppings are generous, and when you have one, best to hold a slice by the crust and bend it in half into a sort of pizza-taco. You can also try the pizzeria’s heroes and calzones.
Afternoon | Coney Island
Coney Island is another New York attraction that’s a bit out of the way, but well worth a visit. Not only is it one of New York’s best beaches, its boardwalk is lined from end to end with family and community activities for all. The New York Aquarium there plays a regular acrobatic sea lion show. Go for a scream on one of Luna Park’s rollercoasters, or play some sideshow games and win prizes. Colourful parades often turn the boardwalk into an especially festive stretch. And of course, enjoy the beach and watch the sunset.
Dinner | Suzume, Delaware and Hudson, or Nitehawk Cinema
For dinner, take your pick of hip and trendy restaurants in one of New York’s hippest and trendiest neighbourhoods—Williamsburg. Nearly every restaurant there is trying something different, and no matter where you eat, it will be an experience.
Suzume is a Japanese-Hawaiian place that specialises in ramen, sushi, and tacos.
Delaware and Hudson is a farm-to-plate restaurant with a fixed dinner menu that features American Mid-Atlantic dishes, created by early colonists who combined their old recipes with a new continent.
Nitehawk Cinema is a dine-in movie theatre that serves full-service gourmet meals with screenings of new blockbusters, indie releases and retro favourites or oddities.
Night | Williamsburg
After dinner, walk through Williamsburg’s hip nightlife. Brooklyn Bowls is a nostalgia-trip bowling alley that triples as a bar and music venue. Weekends are more kid friendly.
Stop by the Mini Mall, where you can browse through some trendy boutiques that sell handmade goods, antiques, books and music. Make a quick visit to the small City Reliquary Museum, a two-room museum that’s packed from corner to corner, floor to ceiling, with New York artefacts.
Day 3: Flushing, Queens
Breakfast | Golden Shopping Mall
As Manhattan’s old-time Chinatown is becoming old hat, the Flushing neighbourhood in Queens is bursting with life, and at the belly. The best Chinese food in the country is in Flushing now, and that’s ‘Chinese’ as in food from every conceivable province in China. At the Golden Shopping Mall, you have every corner of Chinese cuisine crammed into five floors. Have a dumpling-buried, dim sum breakfast at Golden Shopping Mall.
Morning | Queens Botanical Garden and/or Chinatown
After the lively and delicious bustle of breakfast at Golden Shopping Mall, you’re due for a peaceful walk through the Queens Botanical Garden. It’s 40 acres-worth of small gardens with plants and landscaping from around the world.
When you are ready to rejoin the world, you can go for a walk in Flushing’s Chinatown, which is so diverse and multilingual that you’ll feel like you’re not even in the US.
Lunch | White Bear, Fu Run
For lunch, it’s more of the best Chinese food that’s not in China. If you’re still feeling a hunger for dumplings, you can visit White Bear, a simple, no-frills shop with homemade wonton dumplings that win rave reviews. At Fu Run, you’ll get a taste of China’s heartier, meatier northern Dongbei-style cuisine.
Afternoon | Fang Gourmet Tea and Flushing Meadows Corona-Park
Settle your lunch with some of the finest teas from China, served with all the authentic stylings of Chinese tea culture. Then, go for an afternoon in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the former site of the World’s Fair in 1964. Besides enjoying the open air and green grass, you can go fishing at Meadow Lake, visit the zoo, get an adrenaline rush at a skate park, visit art museums and other cultural institutions.
Dinner & After | Mapo, Queens International Night Market
Mapo is heaven for homesick Koreans in New York. For you, it’s a chance to eat hearty Korean BBQ that’s as good as it gets for not being in Korea. The speciality is kalbi, which is marinated and boneless beef ribs that are barbequed over a charcoal pit that’s right on your table.
If you happen to be in Flushing on a Sunday Night, during the open season for the Queens Night Market, that’s a much better, much more varied, option. While Asian cuisine certainly takes centre stage, you’ll also find speciality foods from many other corners of the planet. When you’re well and full, there’s plenty of booths selling local crafts.
If you want to live these 72 hours rather than just read about them, click here to start planning your way there with one of our travel consultants.