Perfect Weekend Itinerary in New York City

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Advisor - Elise Cocozzo
Curated By

Elise Cocozzo

  • New York City

  • New York

  • City Travel

  • Active Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Entertainment

  • Nightlife

Sunset scene in Dumbo
Curator’s statement

Whether your New York is composed of Meg Ryan visions from “You’ve Got Mail” or your New York is made up of a million ordinary or special moments, I’m convinced that New York lives in many of us. This is just one possible adult-forward itinerary, built for a fairly new visitor to the city, in hopes that you have a mix of “you gotta see it” and “you wouldn’t know unless Elise told you.” Here we go. A perfect New York itinerary (like this one) is thoughtful to location. New York is best seen on foot and nothing ruins a New York City weekend than consecutive 40 minute taxi rides to get from one spot to another.

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Day 1: Be a downtown tourist

Brooklyn Bridge with NYC skyline at sunset.

Welcome to the greatest city in the world! Start your morning at Ground Zero and pay a visit to the 9/11 Museum. It’s very well done and can get busier later on, so I like to start here. Plan to spend about an hour and a half here and make sure to budget enough time for the end of the museum, where all the artifacts are. You could spend way longer here, but I encourage putting a firm stop time on it so you don’t tap out for the rest of the day.

After the museum, catch the ferry at nearby Pier 11 to Brooklyn. It’s a quick trip and a fun way to travel, especially on a nice day! You can buy the tickets online or right there. The ferry will drop you right at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge, a perfect spot to mosy around — pop by Pebble Beach, Jane’s Carousel and the cobblestone streets of downtown Dumbo.

If I’m doing this itinerary, right now I’m a bit peckish and it might be a nice time to grab a pie from nearby Juliana’s or Dellarocco’s and/or a scoop from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Before leaving Brooklyn, be sure to grab a cocktail at nearby Harriett’s Lounge for amazing city views! I always recommend a few overpriced cocktails at a bar with a perfect view as opposed to tickets to stand at the top of a tall building.

Once you’ve had your cosmo, walk over the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan! Many make the mistake of walking the bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn; this means you don’t see the city skyline as you mosy. Now you know!

After a quick regroup at the hotel, I would spend the evening in the West Village. For dinner and late night cocktails, I have different recommendations based on your reservation vibe! Eating in New York is simply the best. Happy to point you in the right direction. Tonight might be a good night for live jazz, comedy or both, with a side of espresso martini.

Day 2: Be an uptown tourist

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

An uptown day has to start on the Upper West Side strictly because you’ll fall in love with it. I would start with an early reservation at Cafe Luxembourg, where you can pretend you’re in Paris. From there, unlock Citi Bikes at 72nd street and the entrance to Riverside Park. Take a leisurely, quick ride past the “You’ve Got Mail” garden and catch my pup Walter at one of the dog parks on the waterway. After passing by the “You’ve Got Mail” garden, I would go up to 87th street and park the bikes at a docking station on 87th and West End Avenue. From there, you’ll have a perfect walk through the beautiful brownstones of the West 80s and you’ll pass the Museum of Natural History before entering the park. Enjoy your walk through Central Park as you make your way to the Met! To me, an hour at the MET is non-negotiable for a New York City trip. Make sure to see the Temple of Dendur and take a picture on the rooftop! When arriving at the museum, you can stop by the information desk, where they’ll have a list of the guided tours for the day. There are often multiple free tours happening at once, all just a quick hour. I highly recommend it as a wonderful way to learn a bit, see a bit and not get lost!

If you aren’t completely museum’ed out, the Gugghenheim is a very easy museum to buzz through in an hour and you’ll pass right by it. The building itself is beautiful and circling around is a fun way to view art.

After two museums, you’ve earned a cocktail. Bemelman’s Bar, in the Carlisle Hotel, is a must. They have a “mini-tini” at lunchtime, which is my order (think martini, but tiny and appropriate for any time of day). There is original artwork from the Madeline illustrator adorning the walls; it’s the only place to see his work outside of the books. If you’re up for a spendier lunch, their dining room is divine! You’ll have about 5 waiters attending to you, very old school New York.

Now it’s time to window shop at 5th Avenue and stop in at Tiffany’s, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Plaza Hotel. My lunch recommendation in this area is La Bonne Soupe. I grew up lunching here after seeing the Rockettes and it’s still the best french onion soup in the city. You can count on me ordering the steak sandwich on a perfect baguette!

Depending on where you’re located, now might be a nice time to head back to the hotel, regroup, and get ready for the evening. A New York visit isn’t complete without a Broadway show! For pre or post theater drinks, I recommend Bar Centrale, a lovely little speakeasy on 46th. Be sure to make a reservation over the phone one week beforehand and politely request one of their two (perfect) window tables. A pre or post Broadway bite is best spent at Joe Allen, a family favorite and a spot of many beautiful memories for me. Don’t skip on the banana cream pie.

Need to Know

There’s still so much for you to see and do in New York! A weekend is just not enough time to experience this amazing city, but this itinerary gives you a good head start. If you have a few hours before heading out, or you have a few more days to spend in Manhattan, do reach out! I’d love to help you maximize your time in the greatest city!

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Jenny Kager’s guide, Fall in Love with New York City: The Perfect 7-Day Itinerary.

Advisor - Elise Cocozzo

Travel Advisor

Elise Cocozzo

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New York City (NYC).