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3 Days in New York: Exploring the City as a First-Timer

July 6, 2023 By CityPASS

Are you planning your first-ever three days in New York and thinking that such a short time in the Big Apple might not be enough to savor the best the city has to offer?

Well, think again. We've compiled this handy guide to NYC to ensure you make the most of your short trip. And while three days might seem like a short time, it can be plenty if you know exactly what to do, where to go, and what to experience.

What To Do in New York in 3 Days

So, without further ado, here is your three-day New York City itinerary. Ready, get packed, go!

Tour the American Museum of Natural History

New York is home to some of the most stunning museums in the world, including the American Museum of Natural History. This vast museum features dioramas with animals from around the world, as well as fossils, dinosaur skeletons, and even a planetarium.

Some of its most notable collections include “Garden of Green” — a stunning collection of jewelry featuring green gemstones — and “What’s in a Name” — an eye-opening selection of insects from the museum library’s collection.

Pay a Visit to the Statue of Liberty

Unsurprisingly, one of the top things to do in New York City in three days is to visit Lady Liberty. We are, of course, talking about the Statue of Liberty. Situated on Liberty Island, this uber-famous New York landmark was donated by the people of France to the people of the United States back in 1886.

Over time, the statue has become one of the most iconic symbols of New York City and one of the most famous statues in the world. Once you've arrived on Liberty Island, you can walk around the statue and, if you feel energetic enough, even climb to the top, where a viewing platform offers sweeping city views.

After your visit, we recommend a quick trip to nearby Ellis Island, home to a fascinating immigration museum.

Explore the Most Popular Neighborhoods in the City

1. Greenwich Village

Depicted in many films, books, and popular culture, Greenwich Village is home to some of the most vibrant, history-rich, and eclectic spots in NYC. From comedy clubs to superb dining, from LGBTQ+ venues to beautiful parks filled with music, art, and culture, a visit to “The Village” is a must.

2. Upper East Side

The Upper East Side is another must-see Manhattan neighborhood that is affluent, posh, and surprisingly eccentric. Take a walk on the famous Fifth Avenue, where high-end boutiques, grand buildings, and luxury hotels contribute to that unique, world-famous vibe only this area can offer.

3. Brooklyn

A short trip from bustling Manhattan, Brooklyn will welcome you with a cozy, laid-back, village-like feel. Home to hip families, creatives, and old-time New Yorkers, Brooklyn features a vibrant ensemble of excellent food joints, tree-lined streets, verdant parks, and varied nightlife.

Choose From One of the City's Most Popular Observation Decks

1. Edge at Hudson Yards

Disclaimer: This observation deck is NOT for the faint-hearted. In fact, it’s one of the highest decks in the world, standing 1,100 feet above Manhattan and extending out 80 feet from the 100th floor of the building at 30 Hudson Yards.

Once on top, you can expect incredible views of the Hudson, the East River, and Lower Manhattan.

2. Top of the Rock

Another super-popular way to experience panoramic views of the Big Apple is from the top of the Rockefeller Center. Affectionately called “Top of the Rock,” this observation deck access is through the main entrance of the Rockefeller Center, which also features fine-dining restaurants and classy cocktail bars.

Top of the Rock offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, from which you can also admire the Empire State Building, one of New York’s most iconic skyscrapers and home to a fabulous observation deck in its own right.

3. Empire State Building

Having recently experienced a massive renovation, the new-and-improved observation decks at the Empire State Building are some of the most popular ways to marvel at this stunning city from above.

Enjoy Some Authentic New York Style Pizza and Other Culinary Delights

Arguably, you haven’t been to New York if you haven’t tried a slice (or more) of its world-famous New York pizza. While nobody is really able to explain why pizza is somewhat of a New York institution, the fact remains that grabbing a slice while on your three-day tour will instantly make you feel like an authentic New Yorker.

There are too many excellent pizza joints to count, but some of the best are Fornino and Di Fara. And if, after all that pizza, you are in the mood for something a little different, you’ll be pleased to hear that in NYC, you can find cuisines from all over the world.

Whether you're looking for Indian, Korean, Japanese, Brazilian, Mexican, or anything else, all your culinary dreams can come true in "the city that never sleeps."

Head Over to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The tragedy of 9/11 is forever immortalized in this dedicated memorial and museum, located exactly where the now-destroyed Twin Towers used to stand.

The memorial features two gigantic waterfalls situated in the original bases of the two World Trade Center towers. The water gushing from the waterfalls tumbles into two pools, with the names of the victims of this disaster printed all over their walls.

Below the pools is the museum, which tells the story of 9/11 and what happened in the aftermath. The museum features interactive exhibits and can be a powerful and emotional experience for visitors.

Grab CityPASS® Tickets To Visit NYC's Most Popular Attractions for Less

If you plan to spend three days in New York City, this guide offers inspiration on making the most of your limited time in such an incredible city.

Discover what you can do, see, and eat in New York in three days, including the most notable attractions, best food, and most exciting neighborhoods, with a New York CityPASS® ticket!

New York City Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in New York City, we recommend finding lodging near New York City's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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