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New York is a big city, so let's see what we can see & do in New York if we have just a few days. To avoid wasting time on subway and taxi rides, or any other method of transportation, try not to move from one side of city to the exact opposite.
Seven days in New York are not that many, but you can still see a lot of things, if you organize your time well. This below is supposed to be a rough draft. We thought we would choose a different area for each day leaving you the choice whether to add a visit to a museum or an attraction located in that area. During the fall / winter season the days are noticeably shorter, leave late afternoons and early evenings for panoramic views. For example, if you are visiting the area close to the Brooklyn Bridge, it can be nice to wait for the sunset and the first evening lights that illuminate the skyline of Manhattan, and for last a nice walk on the bridge.
Day 1: Lower Manhattan - Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Lower Manhattan has become a lively district with many attractions. Battery Park, as well the historic Pier A have been completely renovated. In May 2015, the new observatory at 102nd floor of the ONE World Trade Center was inaugurated, as well as the new shopping center and food district inside Brookfield Place, with shops, cafes, and restaurants. 14 years after 9/11, Lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center are reborn, and finally we are approaching the estimated end of construction planned for the second-half of 2017. The Memorial Pools and the 9/11 Museum are definitely worth a visit; it is now also complete the very expensive, and much controversial, Hub designed by the famous architect Calatrava – The "World Trade Center Oculus" that cost roughly $ 4 billion dollars ... but it’s considered a beautiful center! Last but not least, the historic Wall Street and the Financial Center with the Federal Reserve Bank and Trinity Church.
The Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport and the new Pier 17 & 15 are awaiting you to show you the NYC Bay in all its glory!! To be able to visit all these places, you should plan at least a day in his area, if you can plan well and wake up early, you can also add a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Memorial (Note that you will need at least 3 to 4-hrs to visit both islands, there is only 1 official ferry that takes you there, purchase tickets in advance otherwise they are sold-out, and especially in high season they have long lines, be prepared).
Day 2: West Village + High Line - Tribeca and SoHo - Meatpacking District
The West Village, as soon as you name it, it immediately reminds us of the Bohemian and artistic era of New York. When you visit the West Village, take a stroll on the High Line Park, the famous elevated park that opened in New York in 2009; admired, and if you can visit, the new Whitney Museum by the Italian architect Renzo Piano; walk around the trendy Meatpacking District, famous for its boutiques, and venture inside the Chelsea Market for a delicious snack.
The advice is to get around on foot (you can use cabs or subway when needed). What to see around here: Tribeca and Soho with the historic salt warehouses and cast-iron buildings turned into popular restaurant and famous stores, and trendy art-galleries; Chinatown with the lively Canal Street, take some time to do some shopping along the popular West Broadway in SoHo, walk north and reach Bleecker Street and get lost for a little bit in the Village, or at least until you find yourself in Washington Square Park and enjoy a well-deserved break in what is now known as the campus of the New York University! As you walk around the West Village make sure to reach the Hudson River Park, perhaps around 26th street and sit at the Frying Pan, a bar located inside a vintage boat docked on the river; after a drink and maybe a lobster roll, you can finish your day with a stroll along the River all the way up to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Photographing New York
Day 3: Lower East Side - East Village - NoLita and Little Italy - Union Square - Madison Square Park
The Lower East Side is possibly one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Manhattan, home to the largest immigration from Europe during late1800s and early 1900s, and then, in the 60's 70's becoming home of the New Wave and Indie Music. Ludlow Street, the road that is the most representative of this area, and also the home of the famous Katz's Delicatessen, who doesn’t remember "Harry Meet Sally"?, is now a major tourist attraction. Katz Delicatessen began as a kosher delicatessen in 1888! Walking up towards the East Village, you will start breathing in the music: Beat, Punk, and arts in general. Attractions: St. Marks Place, for book and video game lovers, make sure to visit St. Mark's Bookshop; Tompkins Square Park is hosting the Charlie Parker Festival in the summer; for those who love Vintage, the East Village is the epitome of Vintage Shopping:
Screaming Mimi's on Lafayette and 4th Street is among the most popular ones.
Upper Rust at 445 East 9th St. in here, you will find something to take home for sure!
The visit continues toward Union Square, where you can stop for a break in the beautiful park. Do not miss to entrance of the historic "Strand Book Store," it is on Broadway just off Union Square. The bookshop opened in 1927 and offers new and used books with discounts up to 50%, very rare first editions and millions of titles! Keep walking on Broadway until your reach Madison Square Park to enjoy Flatiron, and a quick visit to the Rizzoli Bookstore, although this is the new location (the historic one used to be on 57th street, but the city tore it down to build a luxury skyscraper) still has the interior of the old store, and if you want something to eat in the area, there is always Eataly for some Italian delicacies, or Shake Shack for the classic Burger.
Day 4: Midtown - Times Square - Empire State Building - Rockefeller Center
It is the most touristy area in New York, this does not mean the most interesting, but it certainly offers many attractions for you to visit and one of the most important Museums of Modern Art in the world: the MoMa. So, in total freedom we list only the MUST SEE:
The Museum of Modern Art, or simply called MoMa. The visit can definitely occupy even 3 to 4 hours if you are a fan of Modern Art, or just 1 hour if you want to just say: “I was there” and maybe catch a paint or two of your favorite artist (i.e.: don’t miss the Starry Night by Van Gogh).
Climb the Empire State Building to the 86th and 102nd floor, well ride the Elevator that is.
The New York Public Library and Bryant Park. The beautiful park, which includes markets and many events during all 4 seasons.
Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.
The Grand Central Terminal, still the largest station in the world and the Chrysler Building.
Then, continuing East arrive in front of the UN headquarters, the United Nations and not far away, at E 51st Street, you can find the Pedestrian Crossing from where to see the East River and Queens with the famous Pepsi-Cola sign. Strolling along Fifth Avenue to Central Park; Carnegie Hall, this year celebrates its 125th year and finish with Times Square with the Theater District and Broadway.
I recommend at this point to think about the Special Package Free Style-NYC Hop On Hop Off that includes the Loops valid for 3 days of Downtown, Uptown and Harlem, and Brooklyn and the Night Tour, The Ferry sails along the Hudson River and offers 4 stops to hop off and hop on at your leisure, Admission Ticket to 3, 5 or 7 chosen Attractions - You choose!
Beginning from Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center, where you can enter to reach the 3rd floor for some panoramic views of Central Park, and if you love music and jazz book for a night at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at the Lincoln Center, even if you don’t want to book a table, you can go and just sit at the bar for some good music and great Central Park views by night. It’s almost impossible to just mention one Avenue to walk up the Upper West Side, you will have to zig-zag a bit if you want to check out this neighborhood, start by walking on Broadway to reach the Lincoln Center with the Metropolitan Opera of New York, keep going till you reach the Beacon Theater and then move to Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue to reach the famous "The Dakota”, still home to Yoko Ono, and go inside Central Park to visit Strawberry Field. Keep walking along Central Park West to the Museum of Natural History in New York, you could spend a whole week inside this museum ...
Continue north, to reach The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Columbia University and then up to the famous 125th Street in Harlem with the Apollo Theater. Harlem has plenty to see, both for the architecture and for its history of Music and Soul Food. For those who want to deepen their knowledge of Harlem, we recommend to spend at least half a day here. Turning to East Harlem, walk down along the Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue with the most important museums from the Met to the Guggenheim, El Museo del Barrio, the Museum of the City of New York, the Neue Galerie New York, and the little jewel Frick Collection.
If you want to do everything in a day, excluding admission to the museums, I recommend booking the Uptown Hop On Hop Off Loop that basically does this entire tour with several stops along the way leaving you free to get on and off the bus wherever you want along the Loop. See the map of the Red Loop.
If the weather allows it, plan to spend at least half a day in Central Park, there is so much to see and it is the heart of New York. Plus, several Museums to see while you're in the area, you have choices both in the West and the East Side, from the Museum of Natural History to the Metropolitan Museum, and the Guggenheim; if you are not up for a museum visit, you can instead visit the elegant Upper East along Madison Avenue with its many shops and famous designers and boutiques or the elegant Park Avenue, and the popular Lexington Avenue, Third and Second, less elegant but equally, and perhaps more, interesting.
Day 7: Brooklyn - Bronx - Queens
After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, you can enjoy the skyline of Manhattan from Brooklyn Park, and continue visiting Brooklyn Heights with the beautiful Promenade, then you can walk north to the artistic neighborhood of Dumbo and Williamsburg ... I remind you that Brooklyn is not just a New York district, is a full-fledged city and if you want to truly visit this area you will need more than a day; if we then add Queens, there is so much to see, lots more. If you only have 7 days to spend in the city, I suggest you book a walking tour of a day that brings you to the heart of the most interesting places in Brooklyn and Queens, or the classic Contrasts Tour, by bus with tour guide, that also takes you to the Bronx.