New York City is huge – not just geographically but experientially as well. For first-timers, the number of sights to be explored can be overwhelming. However, this guide will help you make the most of every day. Although we have mentioned quite a few things to see in a day, you are free to go at your own pace. This is a kid-approved guide so that your whole family is kept entertained.
In the morning (start by 8 am)
Stop 1 – Columbus Circle
This is a roundabout and traffic circle where several roads meet and where the centre of the circle has the statue of Christopher Columbus. There’s always a lot going on here – food, shopping, sightseeing etc. Before heading to your next destination you can grab breakfast around here at places with views of the statue.
Suggested places for breakfast: Bouchon Bakery or Tom’s Restaurant.
Stop 2 – Central Park / Museums
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, you can find solitude and peace at Central Park. This 843-acre park is home to everything including a swimming pool, 25,000 tree, an ice skating rink, 29 sculptures, the iconic Bethesda Fountain, the Central Park Zoo, biking trails, walking trails, picnic spots at Sheep Meadows, boating, the Alice In Wonderland Statue and the Belvedere Castle.
You can spend an entire day here, but picking out sights that you and your family love will be helpful.
For museum enthusiasts, in close proximity, you have three museums – American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art (most famous museum in the world). Pick the one that interests you and let the exhibits take you on a spellbinding journey.
Stop 3 – Trump Towers
A 664 foot high, 58 storey building acts as the headquarters for The Trump Organization. Additionally, the penthouse is the residence of the U.S. President, Donald Trump who earlier was a developer and businessmen when the tower was constructed. Take a while, glance at the building and surrounding areas before moving on.
In the Afternoon
Stop 4 – Rockefeller Center
(9 minute walk / 7 minute subway ride from Trump Tower)
Commissioned by the Rockefeller family, this is a large complex as about 19 commercial buildings. Several television studios, businesses, shops and restaurants call this building their home. The architecture is stunning with opulent walkways, floral displays, fountains and sculptures. During winters, the iconic Christmas tree and ice skating rink liven up the place. No visit is complete without visiting the observation deck on the 70th floor known as Top of the Rock Observation Deck. You will get panoramic views of the city’s skyline, Central Park, the Empire State Building, etc.
Stop 5 – Chrysler Building
(15 minute walk / 12 minute subway ride from Rockefeller Center)
New York’s skyline is not complete without this iconic art deco building. This 77-storey building is open to visitors to see either from the outdoors or the lobby where one can see a beautiful ceiling mural. The other parts of the building do not allow visitors.
After this visit, stopover somewhere along the way for lunch.
Stop 6 – United Nations
(10 minute walk / 10 minute subway ride from Chrysler Building)
Headquartered in New York, at the UN, you can take guided tours which last for about 45-60 minutes, visit exhibits, send a postcard with a UN stamp, browse the bookshop or purchase a souvenir.
Stop 7 – Grand Central Terminal
(10 minute walk / 10 minute subway ride from the United Nations)
An iconic beauty and transportation hub is often called by locals as Grand Central Station. It’s also a dining, shopping and cultural destination. There are many things to do here:
- The Main Concourse Information Booth Clock is a famous sign which we have all seen in movies
- Stare at the celestial ceiling mural
- Visit the Whispering Gallery
In the evening
Stop 8 – Empire State Building
(13 minute walk / 10 minute subway ride from Grand Central Terminal)
This building is an art deco skyscraper with 102 floors and observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floor. From the deck you have great views of the city, the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River, Central Park, etc.
You can also visit the 80th floor where the Dare to Dream Exhibit is held. It tells the entire story of the building.
You can also spend plenty of time around this area where there’s plenty of shopping, cafes, restaurants, etc. The largest Macys store is just round the corner and so is Penn Station. You can grab a quick meal at one of food joints nearby.
Stop 9 – Broadway
(24 minute walk / 13 minute subway ride from Empire State Building)
Broadway is a street in New York and is also known widely as the heart of the American theatre industry. Meander the streets and if time permits, catch a show. It will definitely create memories that are everlasting.
In the night
Stop 10 – Times Square (5 minute walk / 6 minute subway ride from Broadway) / Hell’s Kitchen (11 minute walk / 11 minute subway ride from Times Square)
Centre of the island of Manhattan is Times Square an entertainment centre, tourist destination and commercial intersection. Here you will be surrounded by flashing neon lights, immense billboards, soaring skyscrapers, food vendors, numerous stores for shopping, lots of cabs and hoards of people. Visit at night to soak in the true atmosphere and see the glitz of the neon lights. You can spend the rest of the evening here and there’s plenty to do for kids as well like toy stores, M&M world, etc. Also, you can grab dinner at one of the many restaurants here.
Alternative for dinner
After walking around Times Square, for dinner, you can visit Hell’s Kitchen, a neighbourhood. You can indulge in Pizza at Sacco Pizza and enjoy a tap beer at Valhalla, a local bar. If you want to sip on drinks with a view then make your way to Sky Terrace. It is located at the Hudson New York Central Park hotel (13 minute walk / 14 minute subway ride).
This brings us to complete an action-packed, fun-filled day 1.
Stop 1 – Breakfast
For breakfast, head to Tompkins Square Bagels. Else, stopover whenever possible and grab a bagel, it’s a New York City staple.
Stop 2 – Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island
This iconic landmark was given by France as a token of friendship and also stands as a figure that for millions of immigrants symbolises the American dream.
Try leaving early (around 9am) to the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island to avoid crowds and also so that you can visit other sites during the remainder of the day. A ferry takes you to the island and you can opt for a tour which lasts for about 40 minutes.
Stop 3 – Wall Street
(10 minute walk / 9 minute subway ride from the ferry drop point)
In the Financial District of Manhattan is Wall Street. It spans across 8 blocks and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, two of the world’s largest stock exchanges, call this their home.
Stop 4 – Trinity Church
(few minute walk from Wall Street)
Just as you walk down from Wall Street, you will come to this well-renowned parish church. Visitors are allowed on-site to pray, gaze at the stained glass and even take guided tours.
Stop 5 – Charging Bull
(4 minute walk from Trinity Church)
Also known as the Wall Street Bull, this bronze sculpture is popular spot for tourists. It is also widely photographed.
Suggested place for lunch – Halal Guys Cart
In the afternoon
Stop 6 – Ground Zero and 9/11 memorial
(10 minute walk / 7 minutes by subway from the Charging Bull)
Before the 9/11 attack, the previous World Trade Center stood at the ground which is now called Ground Zero. The 9/11 Memorial features names of the survivors on bronze panels. Here you can spend time at Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial, 9/11 Memorial Museum and the 9/11 Tribute Center.
In the evening
Stop 7 – Washington Square Park (30 minute walk / 15 minutes by subway from the 9/11 Memorial) / Chinatown and Little Italy (both are about a 23 minute walk / 18 minute subway ride from the 9/11 Memorial)
A public park, meeting place and a centre for cultural activity, Washington Square Park’s famous Washington Square Arch dominates the open-space. The surrounding buildings are part of the famous New York University. From people performing, to children playing, there’s always something to keep everyone entertained in this park. Plus, it’s also featured in a lot of movies!
If you do not want to spend time in the park, you can pass your time by wandering the streets of Chinatown and Little Italy. Chinatown is an eccentric neighbourhood – great for history, food, bargain shopping and a way to soak in the Chinese culture. Little Italy is the next-door neighbour of Chinatown. Famous for its food, the pasta here is delicious!
In the night
Stop 8 – Greenwich Village
(5 minute walk / 6 minute subway ride from Washington Square Park and 26 minute walk / 17 minute subway ride from Chinatown and Little Italy)
An entertaining neighbourhood, “the Village” is home to comedy clubs, a variety of restaurants, pubs, bars, delis and jazz clubs. Whether it’s for beer or food or a laugh, head to Greenwich Village for a fun-filled evening with appetizing food.
After all the fun and frolic, unfortunately, the day does need to end! Rest up and get ready for day 3.
In the morning
Stop 1 – The High Line / Brooklyn Bridge
Formally a rail track, today the High Line is a 2.33km elevated park. It’s a playground which features lush greenery, lovely wildflowers and outdoor art along with presenting walkers with stunning views of the city. After walking the High Line, you can spend time in the surrounding areas.
A famous landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension bridge connects Manhattan to Brooklyn (a borough in New York). It is an iconic structure and the views you get as you walk along the bridge of the skyline and East River are mesmeric.
In the afternoon
Stop 2 – Explore other boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, etc. / Bronx Zoo
In Brooklyn, Queens, etc. there are endless options for shopping, eating and sightseeing. You can easily get lost and end up spending a whole day there.
Bronx Zoo is one of the largest metropolitan zoo’s in the U.S. It has a wide and diverse range of animals and the premises also houses an aquarium. You can feed Sea Lions and penguins. The zoo closes at 4.p.m.
In the evening
Stop 3 – Walk around Soho / St. Patrick’s Cathedral / Mini golf at Pier 25
A prime neighbourhood for art, dining and shopping, Soho is where you can easily spend hours getting lost in the stores and fanciness.
A Neo-Gothic-style, St. Patricks Church is an iconic symbol, the seat of the Archbishop, is located in the heart of Manhattan. It is one of the largest Gothic Catholic cathedrals in the United States. Step inside to view the architecture, stained glass windows, giant organ, etc.
A fun activity for the whole family is mini golf. At Pier 25 there is 13,000 sq. foot park which has a mini golf area with 18 holes. It also features a cave, a stream, a waterfall, a pond, sand traps and footbridges.