Fall in Love with New York City: The Perfect 7-Day Itinerary
Arts & Culture
New York City
One of my favorite quotes is from Chef Francis Mallman, who explains, "I have two lovers in life...The city of Paris, and potatoes." I couldn't agree more, except I'd trade Paris for New York City. Sorry, Paris! Je t'aime, truly I do, but there simply is nowhere in the world like New York City. Having lived there for 15 years, I know its ability to capture the hearts of visitors from all over the world. The perfect destination for food, culture, theater, and the arts, the city dishes up something for everyone. Each neighborhood boasts its own personality and offers something unique to enjoy. Whether escaping for a couple's getway, enjoying a family vacation, embarking on a group tour, or finding the freedom that comes from a solo trip, it's impossible not to fall in love with The Big Apple!
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Where to stay
Walker Hotel Greenwich Village
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Hyatt Centric Times Square New York
Located just steps from bustling Times Square, this upscale hotel offers contemporary rooms, a chic rooftop bar and a spa.
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Thompson Central Park New York
Chic property nearby Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art with sleek rooms and suites.
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Day 1: Arrive in NYC
If it's your first visit to NYC, spending some time in the heart of the city may be in order, which could bring you to Times Square and the Theater District.
Once you've checked into your hotel, you'll want to explore some of what makes this area so energetic and exciting. If you're eager to jump right into the action, take some time to explore Times Square. I promise, you've never seen anything like it! While some visitors find that one visit to Times Square is enough, you will definitely want to check it out at least once!
If you're looking for a calmer introduction to New York but still want to explore this area, take advantage of everything the Theater District has to offer. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Some of my favorites are on 9th Avenue between 44th and 52nd Street, including some of the most delicious Thai restaurants around (I'm a fan of one in particular - Yum Yum Too), but there are also plenty of other options on restaurant row, located on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
After enjoying a delicious dinner, take in one of the great Broadway plays or musicals that make this area so famous.
Day 2: Midtown highlights
When you wake up, you will be excited for your first full day of exploring the city! If your hotel is in midtown on the west side, you might want to check out Route 66 Cafe. It offers a casual, but delicious breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere.
Then, you're ready to explore some of the other midtown highlights. While the Empire State Building tends to get the most attention, I am a big fan of Rockefeller Center. For some of the best views the city has to offer, The Rockefeller Center Top of the Rock Observation Deck is the way to go, and the lines to get to the top are often far less than for The Empire State Building.
If you're up for some shopping, you could check out the many stores in the area. There are plenty that line 5th Avenue. For other midtown sights you won't want to miss, check out St Patrick's Cathedral (stunning!) and Bryant Park.
After a day of exploring all that the midtown area has to offer, it's time to enjoy dinner. The options are endless, but Cucina 8 1/2 is a fun and delicious way to go! It's hard not to find a delicious meal in NYC, so let your stomach lead the way!
Day 3: Explore Central Park and the Upper West Side
For your third day in NYC, a visit to Central Park and the Upper West Side will not disappoint!
You will most likely be hungry for breakfast, and there's no better way to go in NYC than bagels. Once you have tried a NYC bagel, you'll wonder why any other city or state even tries! Depending on where your hotel is, you could take the subway or a taxi up to the Upper West Side and check out Absolute Bagels on Broadway. Amazing! Or, check out the bagels at Zabar's, a NYC tradition. You'll have a hard time finding disappointing bagels in NYC, so find one that calls to you and try it!
Next, take a walk over to Central Park. You could spend a full day (or more!) exploring this amazing park, and if your visit falls in the summer, you may want to try your hand at getting tickets to see Shakespeare in the Park. Otherwise, some of the top attractions in the park include Strawberry Fields, Conservatory Garden, Central Park Resevoir, Bow Bridge, The Carousel, and Belvedere Castle, just to name a few.
After enjoying all that the park has to offer, you might be hungry. I recommend Patsy's Pizza on 74th Street and Columbus. NYC is known for its pizza, and you won't want to miss this gem!
Otherwise, for Spanish style tapas and delicious cocktails, check out Ella Social on Columbus Avenue.
The Upper West side is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in NYC, and you can easily spend the day strolling along the streets, enjoying the gorgeous brownstones, and walking through Central Park.
Day 4: Brooklyn
Stay in Manhattan your entire trip... Fuhgeddaboudit! (That's Brooklyn speak for, Forget About It!)
By this point in your trip, you might be feeling adventurous! If that is the case, definitely take a subway or a taxi to Brooklyn. Or better yet, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan side to the Brooklyn side!
There are so many great neighborhoods in Brooklyn to explore, it's hard to choose just one. Some of my favorites include Park Slope, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Caroll Gradens, Windsor Terrace, Cobble Hill, and downtown.
In order to make the most of your day in Brooklyn, I recommend checking out Prospect Park. With all of its beauty and energy, this gorgeous park definitely gives Central Park a run for its money.
If you find yourself here on a Saturday, you should definitely check out the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market. And if exploring the downtown area, you could check out BAM theater - the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Plenty of great theater and film options.
You won't be disappointed when it comes to the food in Brooklyn either. My personal favorite is Le Paddock in Windsor Terrace, a delicious but unpretentious French spot. For the best bagels you'll ever eat, check out La Bagel Delight in Park Slope. You could also check out Frankie's 457 in Carroll Gardens, Miriam in Park Slope, or Miss Ada in Fort Greene.
Day 5: Union Square and Greenwich Village
On day 5 in NYC, I suggest putting on your walking shoes and exploring two of my favorite areas - Union Square and Greenwich Village.
There is always something fun to see and do in Union Square, including the Union Square Farmer's Market. It is also home to my favorite Barnes and Noble anywhere, if you're just looking to relax, check out some great books, or get some coffee/tea. Often times in Union Square, you will find an array of musicians and street performers, which always makes for a fun NYC experience.
After hanging out in Union Square, make your way over to Greenwich Village. This is a beautiful neighborhood, and some of the best attractions include the NYU campus, Washington Square Park, Bleecker Street, and MacDougal Street. The architecture in this area is beautiful, so you will want to save plenty of time to stroll the streets and observe.
For dinner, you could check out Minetta Tavern, although you'll have no difficulties finding a restaurant that calls to you just by walking around.
Day 6: The city's best museums
When In NYC, you'll want to make sure to hit at least a few of NYC's best museums. Maybe partly because of its beautiful location on the upper west side, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Museum of Natural History, but you also won't be disappointed with The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney, The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or any of the city's other amazing museums. I encourage you to consider what type of art appeals most to you, and maybe choose two museums to explore in one day. NYC houses some of the most amazing art in the world, so you won't want to miss out.
Day 7: Dealer's choice
On this final day in NYC, decide what neighborhood or activity excites you most. Some options include exploring SOHO, hanging out in the east village, trekking to Astoria, Queens, or taking the subway or taxi up to Harlem. The options are endless!
By this point in the trip, you're a NYC expert (maybe a tired NYC expert, but an expert, no doubt!). So let your inner guide lead the way, and make your last day in NYC the best one yet!
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New York City.