3 Days New York Itinerary

3 Days New York Itinerary – What Nobody Tells You

So, you’re planning a trip to New York City, and you want to make the most out of your 3 days New York itinerary there.

Trust me, I get it.  

The Big Apple is overwhelming, and finding the perfect itinerary can feel like an impossible task.  

You’ve probably scoured countless blogs and guides, yet you’re left wondering if you’re missing out on something special. 

I remember my first solo trip to NYC.  

I hit all the major attractions but felt like I was merely scratching the surface.  

Then, a friendly local pointed me to a hidden jazz bar in Harlem, and suddenly, the city’s heartbeat became palpable.  

That experience transformed my trip from a checklist of tourist spots to an unforgettable adventure. 

In this guide, I’m sharing my 3 days New York itinerary packed with insider tips and hidden gems that most guides overlook.  

You’ll discover not only the iconic landmarks but also the lesser-known spots that make New York so unique.  

Let’s discover what you won’t find in typical itineraries and reveal the secrets of the city that never sleeps. 

Getting In and Around New York City 

Traveling to and navigating around New York City can be an adventure in itself.  

Whether you’re flying in or exploring the city once you arrive, there are tips and tricks that can make your experience smoother and more enjoyable. 

Let’s look at them below: 

LaGuardia Airport

Flights and Airports 

New York City is served by three major airports: JFK International, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty International.  

Each has its own quirks and best practices for a seamless arrival. 

JFK International Airport 

JFK is the primary airport for international flights and offers a wide range of amenities. 


Use the AirTrain for a seamless transfer to the subway. It’s efficient, affordable, and connects you directly to multiple subway lines. 

Unlike taxis or ride-shares, the AirTrain avoids traffic, making it a faster option during peak hours. Plus, you’ll save money and get a taste of NYC’s public transportation system right away. 

LaGuardia Airport 

LaGuardia is ideal for domestic flights but has a reputation for congestion. 


Avoid peak hours to skip the notorious traffic. If you must travel during rush hour, consider taking a shuttle to a nearby subway station. The Q70 SBS (Select Bus Service) connects LaGuardia to the E, M, R, and 7 subway lines quickly and efficiently, often faster than waiting in traffic. 

Newark Liberty International Airport 

Newark Liberty is a good alternative for both domestic and international flights, often less busy than JFK. 


The NJ Transit train offers a quick and affordable route to Manhattan. It’s often less crowded than other options and drops you right at Penn Station. This is a hidden gem for many travelers, providing a reliable and scenic route into the heart of the city without the hassle of road traffic. 

Best Accommodations in New York City

Finding the perfect place to stay in New York City can be just as overwhelming as choosing what to see and do.  

While Midtown Manhattan is a popular choice due to its proximity to major attractions, it’s also crowded and pricey.  

For a more authentic and memorable experience, consider staying in less touristy but equally charming neighborhoods.  

Here are some hidden gems that offer a unique slice of NYC life. 

Long Island City

Long Island City 

Long Island City (LIC) is a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood located just across the East River from Manhattan.  

Known for its stunning waterfront parks and vibrant arts scene, LIC is an excellent alternative to Midtown. 

You can also enjoy spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline from Gantry Plaza State Park. 

Recommended hotels: The Boro Hotel and Paper Factory Hotel. 

The Boro Hotel boasts modern design and rooftop views, while the Paper Factory Hotel offers quirky, industrial-chic accommodations. 

Lower East Side 

The Lower East Side (LES) is an eclectic mix of history and hipster culture. 

Once a gritty immigrant neighborhood, LES is now home to some of the city’s best nightlife, galleries, and eateries. 

Remember to take a stroll down Orchard Street for boutique shopping and visit the Tenement Museum for a glimpse into NYC’s immigrant past. 

Recommended hotels: The Ludlow and Hotel on Rivington. 

The Ludlow offers a luxurious yet bohemian vibe, and the Hotel on Rivington features sleek, modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. 


Williamsburg in Brooklyn is a haven for artsy vibes and vibrant nightlife.  

Known for its hipster culture, street art, and indie music scene, Williamsburg offers a cool, laid-back atmosphere just a short subway ride from Manhattan. 


Spend an afternoon exploring Smorgasburg, an outdoor food market with dozens of vendors offering delicious bites. 

Recommended hotels: The Williamsburg Hotel and The Hoxton. 

The Williamsburg Hotel combines industrial design with plush comforts, while The Hoxton offers stylish accommodations with a local flair. 

Navigating New York City 

Getting around New York City can be a daunting task, but with the right strategies, you can navigate like a local.  

From the vast subway system to convenient ridesharing options, here’s how to make your travels across the city seamless and efficient. 

3 Days New York Itinerary - NYC subway

Public Transportation 

The NYC subway is the fastest and most cost-effective way to get around the city.  

With 24/7 service, it’s a reliable option whether you’re heading uptown, downtown, or crosstown. 


Download the Citymapper app for real-time updates. This app not only provides subway schedules but also suggests the best routes, taking into account current service changes and delays. Additionally, it offers walking, biking, and bus route options, making it a comprehensive tool for navigating the city. 

Taxis, Uber, and Lyft 

While taxis and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are convenient, they can also be expensive, especially during peak hours. 

So, use ridesharing during off-peak times to save money. 

Peak hours typically include weekday mornings and evenings when commuters are traveling to and from work.  

If you need a ride during these times, consider walking a few blocks away from busy areas or taking the subway for part of your journey to avoid surge pricing.  

Also, carpool options within ridesharing apps can significantly cut costs if you’re willing to share your ride with other passengers. 

Day 1: Central Park, Upper East Side, Midtown  

Your first day in New York City will take you through some of its most iconic areas but with a twist.  

We’ll explore the hidden gems of Central Park, delve into the charming Upper East Side, and discover the secrets of Midtown. 

3 Days New York Itinerary - Central Park

Central Park 

Central Park is a vast green oasis in the heart of Manhattan, offering more than just the usual attractions like Bethesda Terrace and Strawberry Fields. 

To truly experience the park’s magic, venture off the beaten path. 

Conservatory Garden: This formal garden is an often-overlooked gem in the northeast corner of the park. 

It’s divided into three smaller gardens, each with its own unique style: Italian, French, and English.  

The peaceful atmosphere and beautifully manicured lawns make it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll. 

Shakespeare Garden: Located near the Delacorte Theater, this enchanting garden is filled with flowers and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works.  

It’s a tranquil spot that’s perfect for a quiet moment of reflection amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. 

You can also rent a bike for a unique perspective.  

Biking through Central Park allows you to cover more ground and discover hidden corners that you might miss on foot.  

There are several bike rental shops around the park, and you can also use the city’s Citi Bike program as a convenient option.  

Don’t miss the scenic views from the Harlem Meer and the rustic charm of the Ramble. 

The Met Cloisters 

The Met Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe.  

Located in Fort Tryon Park, it’s a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. 

Don’t forget to soak in the views of the Hudson River as they are stunning and often overlooked.  

After exploring the museum’s impressive collection of medieval art, take a moment to wander through the park’s paths and enjoy the scenic overlooks.  

The combination of art, architecture, and natural beauty makes the Met Cloisters a truly unique experience. 

Midtown Hidden Gems 

Midtown Manhattan is known for its skyscrapers and bustling streets, but it also harbors some delightful hidden gems that offer a quieter, more relaxed experience such as: 

Bryant Park

Bryant Park 

Bryant Park is a serene oasis surrounded by skyscrapers. Known for its lush green lawn, it’s a perfect spot to unwind. 

You can also enjoy the free Wi-Fi and take advantage of the park’s seasonal activities.  

In the summer, you can find outdoor movie nights, and in the winter, the park transforms into a charming ice-skating rink and holiday market.  

Don’t miss the beautiful Reading Room, where you can borrow books and magazines for free. 

The Morgan Library & Museum 

The Morgan Library & Museum is a hidden treasure that often escapes the typical tourist itinerary.  

Originally the private library of financier J.P. Morgan, it’s now a public institution housing rare books, manuscripts, and works of art. 

Take your time to explore the intricate architecture and the fascinating collection of rare books and manuscripts.  

The library’s main room, with its soaring ceilings and richly decorated interiors, feels like stepping into another era.  

The museum also hosts rotating exhibits and events, adding a dynamic element to your visit. 

Day 2: Hudson Yards, Chelsea, Broadway  

Your second day in New York City takes you to some of its trendiest and most vibrant neighborhoods.  

From the futuristic architecture of Hudson Yards to the creative hub of Chelsea, and the dazzling lights of Broadway, the 2nd day’s itinerary uncovers the secrets of these dynamic areas. 

Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards 

Hudson Yards is a new addition to Manhattan’s west side, known for its sleek skyscrapers and innovative urban design. 

The Vessel: This honeycomb-like structure is an architectural marvel and offers a unique interactive experience with its winding staircases and spectacular views. 

Do note that it was closed in 2021 after a lot of people committed suicide at the site. 

But it’s scheduled to re-open in late 2024, which is a can’t miss opportunity for you. 

The Edge: Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get the best photos at The Edge, the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, which offers unparalleled views of the city. 

The experience of stepping onto the glass floor with the city beneath your feet is both thrilling and unforgettable. 

Chelsea Market New York

Chelsea Market 

Chelsea Market is a foodie’s paradise, but there’s much more to explore beyond its gourmet offerings. 

This vibrant marketplace features local artisans and vintage vendors, offering everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing. 

It’s the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind memento from your trip. 

As you wander through Chelsea Market, keep an eye out for the rotating art installations and quirky shops that add to the market’s eclectic charm.  

From specialty bookstores to artisan boutiques, there’s always something new to discover. 

Little Island 

Little Island is a unique floating park on the Hudson River, offering lush green spaces and stunning views. 

Arrive at sunset for the best views. 

The park’s location on the river makes it an ideal spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting a beautiful glow over the water and city skyline. 

Broadway and Off-Broadway 

While Broadway is famous for its big-name shows, Off-Broadway offers a more intimate and often more affordable theater experience. 

Check out TKTS booths for discounted same-day tickets. 

Located in Times Square and other parts of the city, these booths sell tickets for both Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at significant discounts, making it easier to catch a great performance without breaking the bank. 

Day 3: Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn 

On your final day in New York City, we dive into the rich history and vibrant culture of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  

While many attractions in these areas are well-known, we’ll uncover some lesser-known gems and offer tips to enhance your experience. 

9/11 Memorial & Museum 

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a poignant tribute to the lives lost and the resilience of the city.  

While the main exhibits are widely recognized, there are lesser-known elements that add depth to your visit. 

Book tickets in advance to avoid long lines.  

This ensures you have ample time to explore the exhibits, including the Survivor Tree, a symbol of hope and rebirth that many visitors overlook.  

The tree, which survived the attacks, has been replanted and now stands as a testament to resilience amidst the memorial. 

Wall Street New York Itinerary

Wall Street 

Wall Street isn’t just the heart of New York’s financial district; it’s also steeped in history.  

Beyond the iconic Charging Bull and New York Stock Exchange, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. 

Explore the historic Fraunces Tavern. This charming tavern dates back to 1762 and is where George Washington once dined.  

It now serves as a museum and restaurant, offering a fascinating glimpse into America’s Revolutionary past. 

Visit the Museum of American Finance for intriguing insights into the history of Wall Street.  

This museum delves into the evolution of the financial system and showcases artifacts that tell the story of America’s economic growth. 

DUMBO Brooklyn


DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn is famed for its breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Manhattan Bridge. 

Visit the Time Out Market for great food with a view.  

Located in the historic Empire Stores, this market offers a variety of delicious eats from some of the city’s best such as Juliana’s Pizza, Jacob’s Pickles, Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, and Clinton St. Baking Company. 

Enjoy your meal on the rooftop terrace while taking in the stunning vistas of the East River and Manhattan Bridge. 

Brooklyn’s Hidden Gems 

Brooklyn is a treasure trove of hidden gems that offer a different perspective on the borough’s vibrant culture.  

From artistic waterfronts to lush parks, here are some must-visit spots. 

Red Hook 

Red Hook is a waterfront neighborhood known for its unique, artistic vibe and stunning views of the Statue of Liberty. 

Must-visit: The Red Hook Winery and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. 

Enjoy locally produced wines and some of the best key lime pies in the city while soaking in the artistic atmosphere. 

Prospect Park 

Prospect Park, designed by the creators of Central Park, offers a more local and laid-back experience compared to its Manhattan counterpart. 


The Audubon Center offers free nature programs. These programs are perfect for nature enthusiasts and families, providing educational and engaging activities that highlight the park’s diverse wildlife and natural beauty. 

Best Time to Visit New York 

Choosing the right time to visit New York City can make a significant difference in your experience.  

Each season brings its own unique charm and set of activities, so it’s worth considering what you want to get out of your trip.  

Here’s a closer look at what each season offers and why visiting during the shoulder seasons might be your best bet. 

Spring in New York City, from April to June, is a delightful time to visit. 

The city comes alive with blooming flowers, particularly in places like Central Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  

Street fairs and outdoor markets begin to pop up, offering local crafts and foods. 

The Tribeca Film Festival in April is a major highlight, drawing cinephiles from around the world. 

Summer, from July to August, is bustling with tourists. 

The warm weather is perfect for rooftop bars, outdoor concerts, and beach trips to Coney Island or the Rockaways.  

Major events like the Fourth of July fireworks and SummerStage concerts in Central Park are not to be missed. 

However, the heat and humidity can be intense, and attractions can be crowded. 

Fall, from September to November, is another fantastic time to visit. 

The weather cools down, making it pleasant to walk around and explore.  

Fall foliage in Central Park is breathtaking, and events like the New York Film Festival and the Village Halloween Parade add to the city’s vibrant atmosphere.  

Plus, the Marathon in November is a spectacular event to witness. 

Winter, from December to March, transforms the city into a festive wonderland. 

The holiday season is magical with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, ice skating in Bryant Park, and the festive windows of department stores.  

January and February are quieter months with fewer tourists, which means shorter lines at popular attractions. 

Best Season to Visit New York

Shoulder seasons, aka spring and fall, are ideal for visiting New York City.  

During these times, the weather is pleasant, the city is less crowded, and you can enjoy seasonal activities without the overwhelming tourist crowds.  

Spring offers blooming parks and street fairs, while fall provides crisp air and beautiful foliage, making it perfect for exploring the city’s outdoor spaces.  

Additionally, accommodations are often cheaper, and you’ll have a more relaxed experience navigating the city. 

Must try Foods and Drinks in New York 

New York City is a culinary paradise with an incredible range of food and drink options.  

From iconic eats that define the city’s food culture to unique dining experiences that offer something special, there’s something for every palate.  

Here’s a guide to some must-try foods and dining spots that will make your NYC trip unforgettable. 

Ess-a-Bagel, what to eat in New York

Iconic NYC Eats 

No trip to New York is complete without indulging in some of the city’s most iconic foods.  

Bagels, pizza, and deli sandwiches are quintessentially New York and each has its own beloved spots that locals swear by. 

Bagels: For a taste of classic New York bagels, head to Ess-a-Bagel. 

Their bagels are perfectly chewy and delicious, especially when topped with their homemade cream cheese or lox. 

Pizza: New York-style pizza is legendary. 

Grab a slice at Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village, a local institution that has been serving up the perfect slice since 1975. 

Deli Sandwiches: Katz’s Delicatessen is an institution for a reason. 

Their pastrami on rye is a must-try and embodies the rich history and flavor of New York’s Jewish delis. 

These iconic spots can get crowded, especially during peak times. 

Visit early in the day or late at night to avoid long lines and ensure you get a fresh, hot bagel or slice of pizza. 

Unique Dining Experiences in New York 

Beyond the classic eats, New York City is brimming with unique dining experiences that offer something out of the ordinary.  

Whether you’re looking for a rooftop bar with a view, a themed restaurant, or a bustling food hall, NYC has it all. 

Rooftop Bars: For a drink with a view, visit 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. 

With its panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and cozy igloos in the winter, it’s a memorable spot to unwind. 

Themed Restaurants: Step into a different world at places like Jekyll & Hyde Club, a spooky, interactive dining experience that’s fun for all ages. 

Food Halls: Explore the diverse culinary offerings at Chelsea Market, where you can sample everything from fresh seafood to artisanal donuts. 

For a truly unique treat, try the secret burger at The Spotted Pig in the West Village.  

This off-menu item is renowned for its juicy flavor and is a favorite among locals and food critics alike.  

Be sure to ask your server about it when you visit, as it’s not listed on the regular menu but is well worth the ask. 

Exploring these culinary delights will not only satisfy your taste buds but also give you a true taste of New York’s rich and diverse food culture.  

Enjoy the flavors and experiences that make NYC a top destination for food lovers around the world. 

Cultural Experiences in New York 

New York City’s cultural landscape is as diverse as its population, offering a rich tapestry of experiences that go beyond the typical tourist attractions. 

From lesser-known museums to vibrant live music venues, these cultural gems provide a deeper understanding of the city’s unique character. 

Museums and Galleries 

While the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA are must-sees, NYC is also home to many lesser-known museums and art galleries that offer fascinating insights into various aspects of the city’s history and culture. 

The Tenement Museum New York

The Tenement Museum: This museum on the Lower East Side provides a unique look at immigrant life in NYC. 

Through guided tours of restored apartments and personal stories, visitors gain a deeper appreciation of the challenges and contributions of immigrant families. 

The Morgan Library & Museum: Located in Midtown, this hidden treasure houses a collection of rare books, manuscripts, and artwork. 

The stunning architecture and rotating exhibitions make it a must-visit for book lovers and history buffs. 

Neue Galerie: Situated in a historic mansion on Fifth Avenue, this gallery focuses on early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design, including works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. 

Many smaller museums offer free or pay-what-you-wish hours, usually in the evenings. 

Check their websites before visiting to take advantage of these deals and avoid peak times. 

Live Music and Entertainment 

NYC’s live music and entertainment scene is legendary, offering everything from jazz clubs to indie music venues and comedy clubs.  

These spots provide intimate settings where you can experience the city’s vibrant cultural life up close. 

Jazz at the Village Vanguard - New York trip

Jazz at the Village Vanguard: This iconic jazz club in Greenwich Village has hosted some of the biggest names in jazz since 1935.

Its cozy atmosphere and world-class performances make it a must-visit for jazz enthusiasts. 

Bowery Ballroom: Known for its excellent acoustics and eclectic lineup, this Lower East Side venue is a favorite among indie music fans. 

Check out their schedule for up-and-coming bands and established acts. 

The Comedy Cellar: For a night of laughs, visit The Comedy Cellar in the West Village. 

It’s a small, intimate venue where top comedians often perform unannounced sets. 

You never know who might show up! 

Arrive early at The Comedy Cellar to secure a good seat.  

Shows often sell out, so booking tickets in advance is highly recommended. 

The venue also has a no-cell phone policy, ensuring you get an uninterrupted comedy experience. 

Shopping in New York 

Shopping in New York City is an adventure in itself, with a mix of high-end boutiques, thrift stores, vintage shops, and local markets.  

Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs or the latest fashion trends, NYC has something for everyone. 

Unique Boutiques and Markets 

For a truly unique shopping experience, explore the city’s diverse array of boutiques and markets.  

These spots offer everything from one-of-a-kind antiques to handmade goods. 

Brooklyn Flea: This market, held in various locations around Brooklyn, features a mix of antiques, vintage clothing, handmade goods, and delicious food. 

It’s the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and support local artisans. 

Beacon’s Closet - New York

Beacon’s Closet: A beloved thrift store with multiple locations, Beacon’s Closet offers a curated selection of secondhand and vintage clothing. 

You never know what treasures you’ll find! 

Artists & Fleas: Located in Chelsea Market and Williamsburg, this market showcases a variety of local artists and designers. 

It’s a great spot to pick up handmade jewelry, art, and other unique items. 


The best time to visit markets like Brooklyn Flea is early in the day.

Arriving early gives you first dibs on the best items and helps you avoid the later crowds. 

Don’t be afraid to haggle a bit with vendors for a better price on vintage finds. 

Final Thoughts, 3 Days New York Itinerary 

New York City is a treasure trove of iconic sights and hidden gems.  

With this 3-day itinerary, you’ll experience both the must-see attractions and the lesser-known spots that make the city truly special.  

From the serene corners of Central Park to the bustling markets of Brooklyn, you’ll uncover the secrets that make NYC an unforgettable destination.  

Dive into the heart of the Big Apple and discover the experiences that nobody tells you about, making your solo adventure uniquely yours.  

Whether it’s savoring a secret burger, exploring hidden museums, or enjoying the view from a lesser-known rooftop bar, this itinerary ensures you see New York in a way that even some locals might not have.  

Embrace the magic and mystery of the city, and let your journey be filled with unexpected delights and unforgettable memories. 

Also, read 7 UNEXPECTED Things to Do in New York at Night.

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