4 Days in New York Itinerary
Table of Contents
Even though I grew up 50 miles outside of NYC (and now live there) and took every chance to explore it, I still have so much on my New York City bucket list. This 4 Days in New York itinerary will help you pack in a ton in just a short amount of time!
This guide is broken down by day and includes tips on where to stay, what to do and most importantly, where to eat and drink! Make sure you’re prepared with excellent walking shoes and check out the New York City Pass for the best value access to over 100 New York attractions. It’s an easy way to save money during your days in New York.
New York City Travel Tips
- Currency: American Dollars
- Language: English
- Best time to go: April, June, September, December(the Holidays are magical)
- Electric: 120V, Plug type A
- Drive on the right side of the road.
- Tap water is safe to drink.
- Tipping: 12-20% is typical at restaurants.
- Don’t be afraid of the subway – get an app to help you, like city mapper or use google maps!
- If you stay in an outer borough, make sure you stay near a convenient subway station.
- To prevent looking like a tourist: Don’t stop on the streets for people trying to sell you tickets or make you watch their dance sequence.
What to Pack for 4 Days in New York City
What to pack for New York will vary depending on what time of the year you go. NYC gets all 4 seasons so what you pack for December will be different than what you pack for July. Always check the weather before you trip and don’t worry if you forget something, there’s so much shopping in New York, you’ll be able to buy what you need and then some.
What you’ll always need for a New York itinerary:
- A camera to capture all of your best New York moments!
- A cute day bag if you don’t want to make any trips back to the hotel. And this doesn’t mean you should carry a purse as well. Go with just one cute bag to look more city chic.
- Jeans.. because jeans are life.
- Comfortable shoes for walking, but please don’t where gym shoes, fashion sneakers are okay. My converse and adidas are my go to shoes.
- Shoes for going out.
- One nice outfit if you dine or drink anywhere fancy. Some clubs or old school establishments may have a dress code.
- A layering sweater. (even in summer you might need a light sweater for while you’re inside in the A.C. or if the temperature drops in the evening)
How to get to New York City
Fly, bus, train or even cruise into New York City.
Fly into NYC
There are 3 major airports in/close to New York City with the addition of Stewart Airport a bit further. All of these airports have public transportations in the city. Sometimes these airports can be a nightmare so just stay on your toes. JFK and Laguardia are both under construction which can make your life difficult so know where you are going. Please realize that the below travel times are estimations.
- JFK Airport – Takes about 1 hour to get to Penn station via public transportation and from Penn Station you have plenty of transfer options.
- Laguardia Airport– Takes 45 minutes to get to Grand Central or Penn Station on public transportation. Both stations have a ton of different transfer options.
- Newark Airport– This airport is just over the river in NJ. It takes about 40 minutes to get to Penn Station on public transportation .
- Stewart Airport- If for some reason you are flying into Stewart airport you need to coordinate with the NYC Express Bus. Purchase your tickets in advance and board with mobile ticket. Journey time to Port Authority in Manhattan is approximately 90 minutes.
The major Bus Station in NYC is Port Authority. It’s located in Midtown West next to Times Square. You can connect to subway stations A, C, E, N, Q, R, W, 1, 2, 3, and 7 trains, as well as the shuttle to Grand Central Terminal. Don’t be mistaken, the shuttle or S is a train, not a bus.
The main train stations in NYC are NY Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. Both are located in Midtown. Be careful when you are purchasing your ticket that you don’t mistake Newark Penn Station for NY Penn Station because Newark is in New Jersey.
How to get around New York City
Google maps will tell you all of the different way to get around the city and you can use it right on your phone! The Subway is the most popular form of travel for locals and is typically the fastest!
- Walk! I love to walk everywhere I can. There is always so much to see so when possible this is my favourite way to get around.
- Uber/Lyft is definitely your friend. Although not always cheaper than taxis, at least you know what you’re paying for. I find this much easier with groups because you decide you want to pay the price or not instead of just watching the meter. You will need to be careful at busy times like rush hour or when it’s raining for price surges.
- Taxis are personally not my favorite because if you get stuck in traffic the fare will just keep going up. Once you sit in the taxi you’ve already spent $2.50. Taking taxis in NYC can deplete your spending money pretty darn quickly.
- The Subway/Bus is not always perfect but for the price it really is terrific. A subway or bus ride costs $2.75 to get anywhere. You could literally go from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn or from Queens to the Seaport for the same low price of $2.75. It will definitely help you fit more into your 4 days in New York City itinerary.
- The Ferry system. Yes, you heard me NYC has a ferry system! This is a wonderful option to stay above ground and see the city from the water for the same price as a subway ride. If the weather is nice it’s like a free cruise!
If you’re in NYC for a week you can buy an unlimited 7 day subway/bus pass for $33. Even if you’re only doing 4 days in NYC it’s probably still worth it as I’m sure you will take the subway or bus more than 12 times.
Where to Stay
You’ll want to stay somewhere central to everything you want to see in your 4 days in NYC, especially if it’s your first time in New York. I’d suggest somewhere in midtown or lower Manhattan verses Brooklyn because it will make it more convenient. With that being said, some of my favorite hotels are in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.
If you have your heart set on an outer burrow, just make sure the hotel in close to a convenient subway station!
Hotels in New York City
People love to ask for a “cheap” hotel, but those really don’t exist and if they do you probably don’t want to stay in them! However, there are some budget options! These are a few of the most popular hotels for each price range.
- Budget $
- Mid Range $$
- Luxury $$$
Must Try Foods during while in New York
When you think of New York you must think of all the food! For instance, we are most famous for our pizza, bagels and burgers along with plenty of international cuisines. If you’re spending 4 days in NYC you’ll definitely be able to fit a few of these delicious locations into your 4 days in NYC itinerary!
Where to eat Pizza in New York
If you fail to eat pizza during you 4 days in NYC, you’ve gone terribly wrong. Oh and please don’t waste your pizza calories on dollar slices or Sbarros, please!!
- Artichoke Pizza for the most decadent slice of well, artichoke pizza. No red sauce on this slice just creamy artichoke sauce.
- Joe’s Pizza for your classic New York slice.
- Prince Street Pizza serves a perfect square pepperoni slice.
Where to eat Bagels in New York
Bagels are my kryptonite. What can I say, I’m a total carb fanatic. There’s nothing like a fresh, still-warm bagel with cream cheese. Drool.
- Ess-a-bagel for old school bagels. Choose from dozens of cream cheese flavours, smoked fish or reuben.
- Russ & Daughters is a Jewish bakery and cafe best known for bagels with lox.
Where to eat Pastrami in New York
- Katz Deli is the spot for the best pastrami you’ll ever have. It’s a little intimidating walking in here. When you enter the deli you actually walk through a turnstile. You get on line at one of the “cutters” who are standing behind a raised counter and tell them what you want. The sandwich is $25 but you can probably share it, they give you a ton of meat with 2 pickles on the side.
Where to eat a Burger New York City
Whether you’re in the mood for a classic burger, or something with a twist, New York has got you covered.
- Emmy Squared for the best burger in NYC. Two dry aged beef patties in a pretzel bun. The most refined meat you will ever eat. The quality of the meat and richness coupled with the toppings make you savor every bite.
- Raoul’s for a French take on the burger. They only serve 12 a day and you must be sitting at the bar. Arrive when the bar opens at 5:00 to snag your seat. They start taking food orders at 5:30.
- Shake Shack is the best fast food burger in my opinion. Go to the original location at Madison Square Park which has outdoor seating only and a view of the Flatiron Building.
Where to eat Pasta
- Bar Pitti is a classic spot for home made pasta and Italian favourites in a casual setting. They don’t take reservations which I kind of love. The first time I went here I ended up sitting next to Uma Thurman! The specials are a big portion of the options, so pay attention to those!
Where to go for Coffee
New Yorkers take their caffeine seriously, so it’s no wonder there are plenty of cute places to have a coffee.
- Felix Roasting Co. has a regal and glam feel to it. A temporary escape from the streets of New York.
- Maman is a french chic cafe that gives you all the best vibes.
- Remi Flower and Coffee is one of my favorite places to grab a cup of joe. The setting inside a flower shop is lovely.
New York Itinerary: Day 1. Uptown Manhattan + Central Park + Times Square
Central Park Walking Tour
Start off day one at Central Park. Loeb Boat House, Bethsheda Fountain, Bow Bridge and Alice and Wonderland statue are all quite close to each other which makes it easy to see them all at once. They are also some of the best photos spots in Central Park. You can enter on East 72nd Street to see them all.
- Loeb Boat House – The row boats are seasonal and only open from 10 until sundown. I’ve gone there for about 11:30 and didn’t have to wait too long. The row boats are $15 for 1 hour plus a $20 deposit. CASH ONLY
- Bethsheda Fountain is a beautiful fountain with 2 sweeping staircases on either side. You’ll definitely recognize this spots from the movies!
- Bow Bridge is another classic spot. It’s a cast iron bridging acting as a connection between the two sides of the lake.
- Alice and Wonderland Statue comes straight out of the Lewis Carrol storybook. A bronze statue of the characters Alice, the white rabbit and the Mad Hatter.
- Belvedere Castle is somewhat of a hidden gem, even though it was created in 1872. You can get a view of the The Great Lawn from the observation deck.
Subway Stations closest to Central Park include West 92nd St. (B, C), East 92nd St.(Q, M, R), West 86th St.(1,2), East 86th St. (4,5,6, Q) West 81st St. (B, C), West 72nd St. (B,C)East 77th St. (4,5,6), 59th St. Colombus Circle(1,2,3), 57th St./7th Ave (N,Q,R,W), 57th St. (F), 5th Ave/59th St. (N,W,R).
Food near Central Park
Food inside the park consists mainly of take away vendors selling hot dogs or pretzels. The two sit down restaurants are Loeb Boat House and Tavern on the Green both of which are classic American restaurants with a mid range to high end price point and atmosphere. This is a common theme for many of the restaurants surrounding Central Park. Obviously, if none of the above suit your taste it may be worth grabbing bagels and snacks before you enter the park. There happens to be a handy food market at Colombus Circle called Turnstyle Underground Market with a variety of to-go options.
Must Visit Museums
- The Met (Upper East Side) or Metropolitan Museum of Art has a $25 admission Fee. Located on the Eastside of the park. If you plan on doing many of the top attractions and museums it may be worth purchasing the New York City Pass. Fast travel option at many locations to skip the line!
- National History Museum (Upper West Side) Entrance to the museum is on a “pay as you wish” basis. This museum is located on the west side of the park.
- MoMa (Midtown) or the Museum of Modern Art.
Times Square + Broadway Show
Can you really spend 4 days in New York without seeing Times Square and a Show?! I like going to Times Square at dusk because it’s amazing to watch the lights come alive, however it will be very busy around this time. If you are planning on seeing a show You can prebook your tickets or take a chance at the discount ticket booth in the middle of Times Square.
New York Itinerary : Day 2. Midtown Manhattan + Grand Central + Empire State Building
Start off day 2 of your 4 days in New York with a walking tour in midtown. It’s a great way to get your bearings and learn some interesting facts about New York City. There are so many options to consider from history tours to food tours or very niche ones like a Superhero tour. An additional option is to do a self guided tour with the help of this NYC itinerary. I’ve listed these New York itinerary locations in the order from North to South.
Radio City Music Hall is a performance venue where you can see a variety of shows. From the famous Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular to comedy performances to musicals.
Rockefeller Center is home to Top of the Rock Observation deck and ice skating rink. This is the where the Rockefeller Tree is housed every holiday season. Millions of people flock to New York City during the holidays to take part in this tradition as well as others.
A walk through Grand Central Station is a must during your New York itinerary! This massive commuter hub has a gorgeous main hall with a starry blue sky. Restaurants and bars are scattered through out the terminal including the classic Cipriani, Grand Central Oyster Bar and The Campbell Bar.
Choose between the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock for an amazing view. Both are expensive but it’s the kind of thing everyone should see once. However, I don’t think you need to do both. The Empire State building just had a massive renovation but if you want to actually see the Empire State Building in your view than the top of the Rock is a better option. If you don’t feel like spending the money on either of these, you can always opt for a cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars.
Madison Square Park is one of the prettiest areas in Manhattan and one of my favourite locations to take photos. It’s home to original Shake Shack and has a perfect view of the Flatiron Building. Eataly is across the street if you’re in the mood for seasonal Italian. Serra Birreria in Eataly is a seasonally themed rooftop popular with tourists.
Chelsea Market has a ton of artisan shops and food. Shop at Artists & Fleas then grab a lobster roll at the Lobster Place. The Highline is one of the most incredible urban parks in the world, and somewhere that both locals and tourists enjoy. The elevated park is 1.45 miles long on the West side and built on an old train path. This is a FREE attraction. My favourite part of the Highline is actually right near Chelsea market. Enter the Highline on 16th street for some epic photo spots.
So many galleries in Chelsea, this could be a whole other day in New York. Check out the Chelsea Galleries exhibitions listing for ideas.
Hudson Yards is the newest neighborhood in NYC. This is where you can see the Vessel. At the moment it doesn’t cost anything to visit the Vessel, but you have to book a ticket. Some tickets for the Vessel are kept for release on the day so i f you can’t book in advance make sure to get there early.
Hudson Yards also has a huge shopping mall with designer stores, and the Jacob Javits Center.
See a sports game in the evening for the ultimate NYC atmosphere.
What’s more New York than a ball game? Depending on the season, you can add one of these sports games to your NYC itinerary. Don’t underestimate how much the temperature can drop at night, sometimes even in the summer. You’ll want to pack at least a light sweater with you.
- Mets of Yankees (baseball) – From late March/early April through late September/early October.
- Knicks (basketball) – From October through April.
- Rangers (hockey) – From October through April.
- Jets or Giants (football) – From September through December.
New York Itinerary: Day 3. Lower Manhattan, Financial District and Statue of Liberty
It took me so long to explore all the way downtown Manhattan including Tribeca, Wall Street, and the Seaport, but now I really enjoy it! I don’t remember ever going to Ellis island or Liberty island, but I’ve put it on the top of my summer list!
Tribeca or “triangle below canal street” is a neighborhood with a different vibe. It’s a quieter and more family friendly location than most Manhattan neighborhoods located all the way on the West side.
Form this area there is easy access to Pier 25 which has a mini golf course, park and Grand Banks, a bar on a stationary boat!
The Financial District in New York is actually one of the more confusing locations to navigate in Manhattan with many more short, broken streets than it’s midtown counterpart.
- The Oculus is a mall and transport hub with a striking modern design.
- The 9/11 Memorial
- One World Trade Center + One World Observatory
- 11 Wall Street is the address of the New York Stock Exchange, but the Wall Street district is 8 blocks wide.
- The Charging Bull is a very popular photo spot so you may have to wait in line to snap your pic.
The Seaport District is a historic and seriously cute part of Manhattan. There are restaurants, shopping and experiences going on year round.
Statue of Liberty
From Battery City Park on the tip of Lower Manahattan you can take a ferry right over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Ferry tickets are $19.25 per adult and there is no extra fee for pedestal access. You get two for one with this tour to the Liberty Island and Ellis Island!
Happy hour drinks in Financial District
Spend happy hour with the New Yorkers who work in the financial district. Get in before the crowds to grab a seat at the bar.
- Stone Street is a pedestrian cobblestone street in the financial district.
- Dead Rabbit is must visit bar consistently winning best bar in the world.
New York Itinerary: Day 4. Downtown Manhattan + Brooklyn
End your 4 days in NYC with a trip downtown and then over to Brooklyn. I’ve added Brooklyn to the list because it really has become so popular. Gone are the days that a trip to New York means only visiting Manhattan. If you only have 4 days in NYC it’s difficult to explore the other boroughs too much, but squeezing in Dumbo and Williamsburg is totally doable for your New York itinerary.
If you’re feeling up for it, downtown is another great location for a walking tour. It’s a very diverse area of NYC and is where the best food is! I’ve listed some notable places to eat here but obviously there are soo many more.
- Maman is a french chic cafe.
- Russ & Daughters is the go-to spot for bagels and lox.
- Butcher’s Daughter is a tasty healthy cafe joint.
- Katz Deli is known for ultimate pastrami sandwich in an old school setting.
- Raoul’s is a classic french New York institution.
- Emmy Squared has the best burger in NYC.
- Balthazar is an iconic French brasserie.
- Momofuku Noodle Bar by David Chang.
West Village/Greenwich Village
The West Village is trendy area for clubs and restaurants. Home to the “Meatpacking District” a popular clubbing area, as well as Washington Square Park, IFC Center, The Stonewall Inn and Smalls Jazz Club.
- The Garret is a speakeasy behind a Five Guys! It can get crowded, but it’s worth a try for this secret location.
- Wilfie and Nell
- Village Tavern is a whole in the wall dive bar.
- Dante NYC opened it’s doors in 1915 and has been a class New York establishment for years.
Lower East Side or LES
The Lower East side is one of the most electric areas in NYC. I like it’s grit and mix. There are certainly some iffy looking establishments, especially in Alphabet city.
Soho is where the fashion crowds hang out. Designer stores and trendy bars fill the streets. Artists & Fleas, The Apple Store and MoMa Design Store, Pearl Street Market are some of the most notable.
- Sweet and Vicious is great for frozen margaritas and outdoor space.
- The Backroom NYC is a prohibition style bar serving cocktails in cute tea cups.
Little Italy/ Chinatown
Known for hand pulled noodles, bubble tea and Canal street shopping. If you’re looking for a great rooftop try the Crown at 50 Bowery.
- The Crown at 50 Bowery is a rooftop with one of the coolest downtown views in Manhattan.
- Peachy’s is a chic lounge under a Chinese restaurant.
The Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum is a really cool and lesser known Museum amongst tourists. It’s where you can learn about the immigration and migration to NYC through apartment and walking tours. Super informative and unique!
Take a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. I like to do this myself every few months! It will take you about 1 hour to walk over the bridge. Please don’t walk in the bike lane, you will get yelled at by commuters!
You’ll have the option of seeing the Brooklyn Bridge and the entire skyline when you get to the other side and explore the Dumbo area.
- Time Out Market – Hand selected food joints by the editors of Time Out Magazine all under one roof.
- Washington Street Vantage Point – Arguably one the most Instagrammable places in NYC.
- Amazing views of Manhattan Skyline line this part of Brooklyn. You need to get out of Manhattan to truly see it all!
As you may have heard, Williamsburg is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. Places like the Brooklyn Brewery, Smorgasburg, vintage stores and plenty of bars and restaurants will keep you busy for the rest of your day and night! Here are a few notable bars and restaurants in Williamsburg.
- Pies and Thighs serves, you guessed it, fried chicken and delicious pies!
- Eat at Sunday in Brooklyn for super popular brunch. Yummy dishes like their Sunday Pancakes or Crispy Fried Chicken.
- Go to Maison Premiere for oyster happy hour.
- The Bedford has one of the best burgers ever. It’s made with a mac and cheese bun!
- Skinny Dennis is a live music bar and one of my favorites in all of NYC for its super casual vibe.
- The Knitting Factory is another live music venue. The bar and the stage areas are separated by glass so you can easily grab a drink with a friend and be able to hear them talk while keeping and eye on the performance and still be
- Freehold serves coffee, cocktails and beats wit ha living room like and an outdoor space.
- The Water Tower at the Williamsburg Hotel has uncompromised skyline views of Manhattan.
- The Woods is great for dancing and tacos.
Evening Activities to add to your NYC itinerary:
- See a sports game – Baseball, Hockey, Basketball or Football game depending on the time of year.
- Go to a Broadway Show
- See a Comedy Show
- See Live Music
- Rooftop Bars- Typically open air rooftops open sometime in May.
Alternative New York itinerary ideas:
Other activities for 4 Days in NYC:
- Attend a live taping
- Explore filming locations.
- Take a food tour
- Roosevelt Island is a great spot to visit in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in season. Make it an adventure by travelling across on the cable cars from Second Ave and East 60th St. Use your Metrocard just like you would for the subway.
- Astoria is the trendiest part of Queens right now, known for it’s Greek food!
- Flushing has the second biggest Chinatown in NYC and it’s definitely a place for foodies.
- Long Island City is an up and coming area with quite a few good breweries to check out! MoMa PS1 is also here which hosts music events in the summer. Head to East River Park for a view of Manhattan.
- The Rockaways are home to the best of NYC’s beaches. The best way to get here is by taking the ferry! Jacob Riis Park is one of my favorite spots because of the other amenities and food on offer.
- Greenpoint is a great alternative to Williamsburg because it’s still a little under the radar. Try hanging out on the Barge if its a nice day.
- Prospect Park has plenty of events like Smorgasburg and Prospect Park Soiree.
- Coney island is a classic boardwalk and seaside neighborhood with the famous Cyclone Rollercoaster and Nathan’s hotdogs.
- Taking the Staten Island Ferry is free and you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.