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  • solarastills

New York City - A 4 Day Itinerary

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

When you hear 'New York City", you immediately think of skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty and a city where you can party all night. NYC is truly all this and much more. Freshly returned from a 3 week trip to New York City, I have curated some top attractions which can be covered during a 4-day weekend trip. I have also purposely omitted some of the popular sites such as Statue of Liberty Tour, Times Square and Empire State Building tour, as I have assumed that you, the reader, has already visited NYC atleast once in the past.


>> Got a question about this New York City Itinerary that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.


Where To Stay:

Any hotel in Midtown Manhattan is a great option, as it is centrally located to all the sights and sounds the City has to offer. A word of caution that most NYC hotel rooms are extremely small and cramped compared to other parts of the United States. We stayed at the Marriott on 37th Street and 6th Avenue, and although it was within walking distance to Times Square, Broadway shows, Empire State Building and the subway, the Deluxe King room we had booked was extremely cramped for the two of us.

Day 1 (Brooklyn, midtown and downtown Manhattan) :

Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour : We love doing guided walking tours in any big city we visit. It is a great way to hear about the history of the place from a local, and at the same time, get tips on fun things to do and places to eat in the area. Our goto walking tour company is Free Tours By Foot , as they offer dozens of tours at popular destinations and the best part is, you decide how much you want to pay the guide at the end of the tour. They offer multiple walking tours in NYC, at various times of the day. If you want the flexibility of time, then they also have an audio tour option at minimal cost ($3). The Brooklyn Bridge tour we signed up for, was almost 3 hours long, took us over the Brooklyn Bridge with the guide providing an indepth history lesson about the bridge, followed by a visit to the DUMBO and historic Brooklyn Heights. I highly recommend this tour, as it is an easy way to explore Brooklyn for an otherwise novice NYC sightseer.

Julianas : Two of the most famous pizzerias in Brooklyn are Julianas and Grimaldis, once owned by the same pizza proprietor. Both serve NY style thin crust, coal oven pies. We had visited Grimaldis on a prior visit and decided to check out Julianas, based on our tour guides recommendation. At lunch hour, expect a long wait to be seated. The restaurant is small and cramped, but has a European vibe to it, with the waitstaff talking loudly in Italian. The personal pizza we ordered (they dont serve by the slice) did not disappoint, with its flavorful crust, generous sauce and toppings. The pizzeria's location close to the Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo makes it very accessible via subway.

Rockefeller Center Walking Tour : After lunch, if you are up for some more walking, take the subway to midtown Manhattan to start an audio walking tour of the Rockefeller Center. There are a number of audio tours available for The Rock, but the one we chose, and loved, was the free tour by Gesso. The tour starts outside the NBC studios on Avenue Of The Americas and points out all the delightful details that are nestled throughout the Rockefeller Center and surrounding areas. The recording is about 50 minutes long, but we took almost two hours to stop and admire the sculptures and artwork described in the tour. We had missed noticing so many facets of 30 Rock in our prior visits to NYC!

Baar Baar : This Indian Gastropub/restaurant came well recommended by friends in the Bay Area, so we had to give it a try for dinner. The restaurant is located off the usual tourist thoroughfare, in Lower Manhattan, but it is easily accessible by subway. The interiors are spacious and modern giving the entire place a fun vibe. Being NY Restaurant week, we decided to try their special prix-fixe menu which consisted of 4 courses. From the amuse buche to dessert, everything was flavorful and fresh, and the right portion for 1 person. The service was top notch and our waiter was constantly checking in with us and did not let a water glass go half empty. Just a delightful experience, all around. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the chef is the same as the one in Rooh in the Bay Area. This restaurant definitely deserves a Michelin star (or two). As you can see, I highly recommend this place the next time you are in Lower Manhattan.

Staten Island Ferry : One of the best "free things" to do in New York is to ride the Staten Island Ferry to enjoy views of Lower Manhattan from the water. The ferry runs every 30 minutes from the Battery Park terminal and takes riders to St.George Ferry terminal on Staten Island, and back, all for no cost. Along the way, it passes Liberty Island and gives the riders unparalleled sweeping views of Lower Manhattan skyline. We timed our ride to coincide with sunset and were rewarded with spectacular views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island and One World Trade Center, against the setting sun.

NY Ferry : For the ride back to Manhattan, we decided to forgo Staten Island Ferry, but instead hopped a ride on the NY Ferry, which would take us along the West Side of Manhattan and provide views of Midtown Manhattan, not seen from the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry ride cost us a menial $2.75. This was a great decision, as it was already nighttime and all the buildings were lit up, and we got a front row seat view of the Manhattan skyline in all its nighttime glory. We disembarked at Midtown West ferry terminal and headed back to our hotel.

Day 2 (Downtown Manhattan):

Greenwich village Food Tour : Greenwich Village is an iconic and charming neighborhood in New York City, famous for NYU, and its eclectic food scene. To unlock the secret food haven of this historic district, we ventured on a DIY food tour while strolling through its quaint streets. More details can be found here.

SoHo Walking Tour : SoHo (an acronym for South of Houston) is New York City's prime shopping district. Prior to that, it was a famous artsy neighborhood of the 60s and 70s and still features many art galleries, although the high end couture houses are fast replacing these galleries. We followed another audio tour on the history of SoHo. The free audio tour, download once again from the Gesso app , uncovers hidden details and stories only longtime SoHo residents can tell.

Streets of Soho

Oculus: An easy subway ride from SoHo takes you to World Trade Center and the Oculus. The Oculus is a transportation hub and shopping mall built alongside the World Trade Center, and easily identified by its white steel wing shaped tips reaching towards the sky. Although there is no building in New York with such an artistic focus, the Oculus is much detested by most New Yorkers as it looks out of place and does not provide much curb appeal to the New York skyline, despite its high cost and construction delays. From the outside, it looks like a dragon bowing its head. However, the inside of the building provides the effect of being inside a giant whale. Just for all the controversy the Oculus has created, it is worth a visit, prior to, or after your visit to One World Trade Center.

Can you see the dragon bending down???

The inside of the Oculus looks like the inside of a giant whale

One World Trade Center : One World Trade Center, formerly known as The Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the United States, and the sixth tallest in the world. An architectural marvel, a visit to the One World observatory on its 102nd floor is an absolute must for any NYC tourist. Tickets get sold out very fast, especially for the sunset time slots, so plan on purchasing them a few days in advance. We timed our visit to witness the sun setting over New Jersey, across the Hudson River.

Day 3 (Upper and Midtown Manhattan):

Central Park Bike Ride : Central Park, in Uptown Manhattan, is the most visited park in the United States, and the most filmed location in the world. A cool way to explore the sights and sounds of over 800 acres of Central Park is by bike. We hopped on a guided bike tour of Central Park, with Unlimited Biking, who first set us up with bikes and helmet in their uptown location, just a block from Central Park. The guide was very informative and narrated the history and geology of Central Park, along with titbits of the buildings adjacent to the park. At a leisurely pace, the bike tour took about 2 hours to complete and provided us insights of this iconic New York landmark.

Central Park Lake

Broadway Shows : No trip to the Big Apple is complete without seeing one of its Broadway Shows. There are a number of famous shows for the picking, based on your interest. We decided to do a Saturday Matinee as we wanted to save the evening hours to watch the sunset. Our show of choice was Moulin Rouge, at the historic Al Hirschfield theater. We were so glad with our selection, as it was a spectacular show! The costumes, stage settings, acting and singing were top notch. All the original songs were interwoven with a medley of pop songs from Lady Gaga to Aha to The Police, making it extremely entertaining. This may be THE BEST Broadway show we’ve seen so far.

Summit One Vanderbilt : A short walk from Broadway/Times Square takes you to Summit One. Located 1000ft over the Grand Central Station, Summit One Vandervilt is the newest and most stunning observation deck in the city, offering 3 levels of unique and immersive viewing experience. The ticket price is a bit steep, especially if you opt for a blue hour time slot, but the entire experience is well worth the price. Sunset times get booked very fast, so plan on purchasing the tickets a few days in advance. The immersive experience is divided into 3 rooms. The first room is covered in mirrors from floor to ceiling giving the entire room an optical illusion.

The second room is filled with giant sized silver balloons.

The third floor is the open air deck with amazing view of the Chrysler building, Empire State Building and beyond. This high rise experience is the best value in town and you wont regret going.

Day 4 (Bronx and New Jersey):

NY Botanical Garden : The lush, 250 acre NYBG is a train ride away in the borough of Bronx. If you can time your trip accordingly, NYBG is free for all visitors on Wednesdays. Plan to spend atleast half a day, once it opens at 10am. Best time of the year to visit the Botanical Garden is in late Spring, when flowers are in full bloom, or during the fall, when the park is bursting with fall colors.

Bronx Zoo : The Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. Just like NYBG, it offers free admission to all visitors on Wednesdays. However, you need to purchase a free timed entry ticket on their website on the Monday prior. Since the zoo is adjacent to NYBG, it would be wise to combine your NYBG visit with the Zoo. The zoo opens at 10am and needs atleast half a day to see some of the main exhibits.

Hamilton Park : End your trip to New York City with the best views that will make you want to come back to this man made marvel again and again. When the sun has set, make your way across the Hudson River to Jersey City in New Jersey, and to Historic Hamilton Park. This Victorian Age Park was once the location of the famous Alexander Burr - Alexander Hamilton duel, in which Hamilton was wounded and later succumbed to his wounds. There are plaques marking this historic event throughout the park. The half mile long promenade offers, without a doubt, THE BEST views of the Manhattan skyline. You can easily spend hours oogling at the view across the Hudson River, and envying the homeowners living along the promenade who wake up to this stunning view. In my opinion, the only other city that can rival the Manhattan skyline is Hong Kong.

I hope this 4-day Itinerary will help you plan your next trip to NYC. If you have additional days to spare, I highly recommend a day trip to view the abundance of waterfalls in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. You can read all about it in my blog here.

Hit me up on Instagram @SolaraStills, if you have any questions about this write-up.


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