First time in New York? Not sure what to choose from the huge range possibilities for things to do and places to visit? And you’ve only got three days.
Well, we had this problem and here’s what we did.
Day 1: Lower Manhattan
Statue of Liberty
We were naturally keen to see one of the US’s most iconic sights – the Statue of Liberty – and to see it close up. Our options were to catch a ferry directly to Liberty Island, where the statue is located, or to cruise past on a one hour cruise. We opted for the cruise – cost $US35 p.p.
Statue of Liberty cruise touts are thick on the ground around Battery Point at the southern tip of Manhattan. Having bought our tickets we were shuttled to Pier 36, 10 minutes away, near the Manhattan Bridge, from where we left for the cruise.
The trip passed beneath the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.
We passed close to Ellis Island, where thousands of immigrants to the US were processed upon arrival.
We then cruised close to Liberty Island and had plenty of time to take photos.
Returning we got good views of the New York skyline with the One World Trade Center standing majestically above all else.
Brooklyn Bridge Walk
We then headed to the Brooklyn Bridge to tackle the bridge walk. We did this, along with a lot of other folks, as it was a warm, sunny, long weekend Saturday afternoon, so the crowds were out enjoying the good weather.
The bridge walk is free and takes about an hour to go across and back, a little longer if you linger.
National September 11 Monument
We then walked the 15 minutes or so across Lower Manhattan from the bridge to the One World Trade Center and National September 11 Monument where we wanted to pay our respects.
The Memorial has two large reflecting pools which have the names of all who died in the attacks listed on the walls that surround the pools. It is a solemn and very moving place.
There is also a museum at the site.
We finished our first day by catching the subway to Midtown and enjoyed dinner at the quirky Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant in Times Square. (Note: For non-Americans this is a restaurant chain based on characters from the Forest Gump film found across the country).
Day 2: Central Park and Environs
Everyone’s heard of New York’s Central Park, but until you go there you may not realise just how vast it is. At 4 km (2.5 miles) long and 0.8 km (0.5 miles) wide it is one of the world’s great urban green spaces. Though, on a pleasant February winter’s day, it was more a brown space than a green space.
Joggers, cyclists, families with strollers and horse drawn carriages were all part of the mix.
We started in the south at 59th Street on the west side.
We headed up past the lake.
Before starting around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir then heading south down the Eastside.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
About halfway down the Eastside is the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met).
Entry is by donation. The suggested donation is $US25, but if you want to pay less (or more) you can. We spent several hours perusing the impressive collection.
If you have time there are lots of other options in and around Central Park including the American Museum of Natural History on the Westside, and the Guggenheim Museum, Jewish Museum, and Museum of the City of New York on the Eastside.
We finished the day back in Times Square before heading home to our motel.
Day 3: Midtown (More or Less)
The High Line
Several friends had told us to make sure that we visited the High Line, which we previously hadn’t heard of.
So, what is the High Line? It is a 10 metre high abandoned stretch of rail line that’s been transformed into an elevated walkway, parkland and playground.
We started at it’s northern end beside the Jacob K Javits Convention Center.
The full length is 2.3 kms (1.5 miles).
We walked the full distance finishing at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art.
The High Line is free.
Top of the Rock
After the High Line we strolled through the Meatpacking District (it used to be full of abattoirs) and fashionable Chelsea before jumping on a subway train heading Uptown to the Rockefeller Centre in order to go to the 70th floor observation deck, aka the Top of the Rock.
In this land of amazing skyscrapers there a several choices for awesome views – including the One World Trade Centre, the Empire State Building (of course) and the Top of the Rock.
We chose the Top of the Rock as we’d read that it had excellent views of Central Park and the Empire State Building. This turned out to be true.
The cost was $US34 p.p (taxes included).
Midtown Eastern Stroll
We then walked past Cally’s favourite skyscraper, the magnificent art deco Chrysler Building. The Chrysler Building was the world’s tallest building when it opened in 1930 until 1931 when the Empire State Building was completed.
We then did the short walk to the United Nations Building.
And we finished the day at the Urbanspace Vanderbuilt food hall in Park Ave.
Clearly, we made but a small scratch on the list of possibilities that exist in New York. We restricted our time to Manhattan, and didn’t have time to explore options in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island or other places, and of course there is much more to Manhattan than we have written about here. But we had to start somewhere and make decisions about where to spend our time. And we were very pleased with our choices.
We really enjoyed our short visit to New York. We had fabulous weather (with record warm February temperatures), we walked for miles, and caught the subway, which is the best way to get around.
Don’t worry, if you only have 3 days in New York, you can pack in plenty.
Ken and Cally