Written by Peta Arthurson
As an expat living in New York City, playing tour guide is one of the things I have come to know I will do many times a year when a friend or a family member comes to visit. Having had around 10 batches of visitors over the last 2 and a half years, I’ve put my guide hat on many times! If you have a friend in town for 3 days, you want to show them as much as possible to make sure they not only fit it all in, but have a great time and a lasting memory of New York, here is my definitive guide to NYC! Its jam packed, and get ready for a lot of walking!
Day 1 – Downtown
For spectacular Manhattan and midtown views, catch the East River Ferry from 34th Street Midtown (or LIC Queens or Brooklyn!) to DUMBO. After you get off the ferry, grab an ice cream and walk on up to the Brooklyn Bridge and over into the city. Stop for the obligatory selfie on the bridge but watch you don’t get hit by a cyclist! When you get into downtown, you will be near city hall and the NYC court houses. Here you can have your Law and Order moment on the courthouse steps.
From here, walk on over to the World Trade Center. With a heavy heart, you can visit the museum and fountains.
Walk downtown on Broadway to Wall Street to see the Stock Exchange and the George Washington monument and around to Bowling Green (on Broadway) to see the Wall Street Bull. Near the bull, enjoy the architecture of the Natural Museum of the American Indian with statues to powerhouses of the world. The exterior features forty-four columns, each decorated with a head of Mercury, the Roman god of commerce. On the buildings huge entrance pedestals are four large sculptures—seated female figures representing America, Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Walk through Battery Park where you can see the Statue of Liberty and stop for lunch at Pier A – A spectacular pub offering great drinks and pub food overlooking the harbor. You can also see many squirrels running around. One even ran up my friends leg!
Walk over to the Staten Island Ferry and catch the free ferry out to Staten Island, cruising past the Statue of Liberty. Cruise Back to Manhattan. Alternately you can pay for the ferry to the Statue and walk around her.
Show your friends the unique South Street Seaport area currently undergoing a great rebirth post hurricane sandy.
In the evening, try historic Stone Street for a meal and a drink at the many local pub and restaurant options with great atmosphere.
Day 2 – Chinatown to Midtown.
Catch the train to Grand Central Terminal. Walk around and admire the architecture and the ceiling of the main concourse. Find the dark unpainted patch from the days of smoking allowed in the terminal. Catch the 6 Subway to Canal Street. Walk the streets of Chinatown where you will be offered lots of handbags and watches! Then walk north up Mulberry street through Little Italy to see some of the best New York Italian.
From Little Italy you can walk west to Prince / Spring Street to take in some of New Yorks best shopping in Soho before walking north to 14th street Union Square. While in Union Square, challenge a local to a game of chess, where you place a wager on the game. If they win, they keep your money, if you win they pay you! My brother lost twice in 5 minutes! I hope you do better!
Walking north on Broadway to 23rd street, show them the architecture of the Flatiron Building.
A short distance away North to 5th Ave and 27th street, for something completely different is the Museum of Sex. The shop itself is a lot of fun but if you have time for the museum, it’s certainly an entertaining and eye opening exhibition of physical love through the ages. Right now they also have a bouncy house of breasts!
Walking north on Fifth Ave to 48th street to take in a sunset at Rockefeller Center. Instead of paying the fee to go to the viewing platform, take the elevator to the Rainbow Room, a beautiful bar at the top of the rock where you can enjoy a wonderful cocktail for the same price of entry and enjoy the exact same view! Across the road is the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral open to explore and light a candle.
Take your pick from the many wonderful restaurants in the area. Take them to a sports game, Ice Hockey and Basketball are always entertaining. Take in a late night Jazz performance.
Day 3 – Central Park, Times Square & Broadway
By now, the feet are starting to hurt, and maybe even the head depending on the night before!
Download the Central Park App. Take the B or C train north to 96th Street and enter Central Park. Walk in to the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir and if you are feeling up to it, run or walk the 1.58 mile track around it. From here walk south to the Shakespeare Garden to see the Romeo & Juliet and The Tempest statues at the Delacorte Theatre. Walk around the theatre to the Belvedere Castle and go up to the top of the castle for some great views. You might see some rare birds in the area, we saw a Red Tailed Hawk on our last visit. Walk down past The Lake and over to Strawberry Fields where there is a monument to John Lennon. Most likely there will be a busker playing classic Lennon songs adding to the atmosphere. Glancing over to the Central Park West you will see The Dakota Apartments, outside which John Lennon was assassinated and Yoko Ono still resides. Head East around the lake to the Boathouse where you can stop for a well-deserved beverage and perhaps hire a boat for a paddle around the lake. Head south to Central Park Zoo to visit the animals and the on the South West corner you can visit Columbus Circle Shops. Visit the 35th Floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for the Lobby Lounge where you can enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee with a view over Columbus Circle and Central Park.
Head back and get changed for your evening out. Take the 1 train to 50th Street and visit the R Lounge at Two Times Square at the Renaissance Hotel for the best views looking down over Times Square. Enjoy a cocktail and a snack while watching the madness and screens below. When you are ready, head down into Times Square (more obligatory selfies!) and walk through the lights. Enjoy the sights of the costumed characters and the Naked Cowboy might be around too. He did pick up my mother in law and run away with her!
At the end of the night you can always take in a comedy show at one of the many clubs around the city where many of the greats including Seinfeld and Chris Rock started out.
Collapse and congratulate yourself on taking your friends around the city in 3 days! I know there is so much more to see and if your friends have more time I would make sure to visit Harlem to see an Amateur night show at the Apollo and a Gospel Tour, to Brooklyn to visit the hipsters, Bronx Zoo, art galleries, TV tours like Sex & the City, interactive theatre such as Queen of the Night or Sleep No More to many more rooftop bars / Ice Skating season dependent, and so much more! This city really caters to anyone’s taste so enjoy making your 3 days schedule for your friends so that they fit in as much as they can. Hopefully they loved it like you do and will visit again for more of the off the beaten track items.