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New York City is one of those places that everyone dreams about. It’s in all of the movies and is on everyone’s mind what seems like 24/7. For such a tiny little island, though, there’s a million different things to do. There’s no way that you can fit it all into one short vacation (although you can definitely try). With only a few days on your hands, deciding what to do can definitely seem overwhelming, but not to fear! This four day itinerary should provide the perfect starting off point for planning your travels in the Big Apple, and hopefully make your life a little bit easier. So without further ado, here is what I like to call the perfect four day New York City itinerary.

Day One

Empire State Building

Empire State Building Telescope

Start your trip off right by doing one of the most iconic New York City activities out there. Take the trip up to the top of the Empire State Building! The views from the 86th floor are absolutely breathtaking. It’s also a great way to get acquainted with the city you’re going to be calling home for the next few days. If you can, buy tickets ahead of time. And make sure to get there as early in the morning as you can so you don’t have to wait in line for as long!

Flatiron Building

New York is rife with iconic landmarks, and the Brooklyn Bridge is yet another one of them, but still awe-inspiring all the same. Make your way there in the morning, and be sure to walk all the way across it if you have the time. You can take the subway to either end of the bridge, walk across, and then catch another train on the other side, so you don't have to worry about walking both ways if you're not about that life.
Once you’ve gotten a birds eye view of the city take to the streets and walk along 5th Avenue towards the Flatiron Building. This iconic piece of architecture is definitely not something that you want to miss. To get a better view make sure to take a step up onto one of the many concrete blocks along the street in front of it.

New York Public Library & Grand Central Terminal

New York City Public Library

On your way to your next big stop make sure to pop by the New York Public Library and Grand Central Terminal, both iconic landmarks of New York City and great photo ops.

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art is a definite must see while you’re in the city. The four floors are enough to keep you occupied for the afternoon, but not so overwhelming that you won’t know where to start. If you’re lucky enough to be around on a Friday you can stop by after 4pm. That’s when admission is free to the public – but you better be willing to brave the crowds. While I was there I went for their free Friday. Surprisingly, I actually found that the huge amounts of people there actually really helped the art to come alive. So if you’re up for the challenge I would definitely suggest it!

Day Two

Brooklyn Bridge 

Brooklyn Bridge & One World Trade Center

New York is rife with iconic landmarks, and the Brooklyn Bridge is yet another one of them. But it’s still awe-inspiring all the same. Make your way there in the morning. Be sure to walk all the way across it if you have the time. You can take the subway to either end of the bridge, walk across, and then catch another train on the other side. That way you don’t have to worry about walking both ways if you’re not about that life.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is easily my favourite museum in the world. It’s an insanely overwhelming place, with a million different things to see. You’ll definitely want to dedicate almost an entire day to it. Make sure to take a map when you get in the building. This way you can plan out what you’re going to see, and also to make sure that you don’t get lost! Take your time as you walk through the museum, and enjoy everything that it has to offer (even though there’s no way you’ll be able to see it all in one day).

Harbor Lights Cruise

After you’ve taken in as much art as you can bear for one day make your way over to Pier 83 on 42nd Street for the harbor lights cruise given by Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. The boat will take you all around the bottom half of Manhattan and back again. That way, you’ll have two chances to get the best photo possible, all while taking in the beauty of the city at night.

Day Three

High Line Park

High Line Park Flowers

Though the less famous of the two parks you’ll be visiting today, the High Line should definitely not be missed. The old elevated rail line turned park is a great walk to take, especially in the morning before the crowds get there. Enter at the Gansevoort & Washington Street entrance in the Meatpacking District and walk along to the end before taking a bus to your next destination.

Central Park

Central park

No trip to New York is complete without at least a short stop in Central Park. You could easily spend several days exploring this huge mass of land. But since you only have a few days in the city you’ll unfortunately have to devote only a short amount of time to it. Take a walk along one of lakes, check out the Alice in Wonderland Statue, and pretend to be royalty in Belvedere Castle. If you can, be sure to make your way north to south (towards 59th Street). That way you’ll be a lot closer to your next destination.

Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock

Empire State Building at Night

Many people enjoy the observation deck from the top of Rockefeller Center even more than that from the Empire State Building. Why? For the simple reason that you can actually see the Empire State Building from it.
The tickets for Top of the Rock are all timed. So if you buy them ahead of time you can be strategic and schedule your entrance for just before sunset. That way, you’ll be able to see the city both in the day and at night. As well as through the beautiful lens cast by the setting sun. I’d definitely suggest doing this, as there’s no way to guarantee you’ll be able to get in for sunset if you buy your tickets at the building.
If you have some time to kill before your timed entrance, you can take a look around the iconic Rockefeller Center, or even go skating if the rink is still around!

Times Square

Times Square at Night

Just a short walk from Rockefeller Center, Times Square is just one of those things that you can’t leave New York without having seen – even if it is one of the most tourist-y places there is. By being at Top of the Rock for sunset you’ll be able to see Times Square in its best light – at night – before heading back to your hotel.

Day Four

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Start your morning off with a trip to the newly opened 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Gaze up in wonder at the new World Trade Center. Take a moment to reflect as you read the names on the sides of the reflecting pools. While some might only want to stop for a quick moment to pay their respects, I would definitely suggest making the time for the museum as well. It’s incredibly well put together, and a great reminder of the tragedies that happened on that fateful September day.

TKTS South Street Seaport

Most people will head to the Times Square TKTS booth for discounted Broadway tickets. But I would highly suggest the alternative of the the South Street Seaport branch. Not only is it much less busy, but you can stop at on your walk towards your next destination and pick up tickets for that night! We didn’t even have to wait in line when we went. So it is definitely worth the short detour if you ask me.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty New York City Skyline

From TKTS make your way down to Battery Park, the southernmost tip of Manhattan. Once there, board one of the ferries to take you out to the Statue of Liberty. If you plan several months ahead you’ll be able to get tickets up to the crown, which is definitely a must do if you can. If you’re unable to get crown tickets you can probably still manage pedestal access, which I would also suggest. Make sure to look away from the statue and gaze back at the Manhattan skyline, which is seriously beautiful from this vantage point.
New York City Skyline
After you’ve taken in all that the Statue of Liberty has to offer hop on the same ferry you came in. This will take you straight to Ellis Island. The museum here is seriously fantastic, and offers a great insight into what many immigrants to the US had to go to. If you had ancestors who went through Ellis Island you can even look up their records, which is definitely a chance you should take. Just make sure you have their names on hand!

See a Broadway Show

Chicago Broadway NYC

Once you’ve made your way back to the mainland head back uptown. Once there, take your seats for the show that you bought tickets for earlier in the day. No matter what show you choose it’s sure to be amazing. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your last night in the city.

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Looking for the perfect New York City Itinerary? Well, if you have only four days in New York City then you're in luck - check out this post for the perfect itinerary for first timers and tips on what to do in New York City!