3 Day New York Itinerary - A guide to NYC Attractions and Electric Zoo
Updated: May 22
3 Days in New York City
There is so much to see and do in the bustling metropolis that is New York City. There are thousands of attractions from museums, to modern art galleries, world-famous restaurants, skyscrapers, and incredible broadway shows. You will never be bored in the city that never sleeps. But will you have time to explore it all? 3 days is nowhere near long enough to see everything it has to offer. Then again, even if you lived in New York City you wouldn’t have time to see it all. New York is an enormous city that can be overwhelming and confusing to navigate. The public transport system is your best chance of getting to all the sites you want to see but it’s not easy to figure it out. With some pre-planning and organization, you can be sure to cram as much as possible into your brief 3-day New York trip. Even if you are on a tight schedule, visiting New York is a must when you travel to the USA. Continue reading to see what we activities we packed into our 3 days in New York City.
Empire State Building
We start our 3 day trip to New York at LAX, we are taking a break from our West Coast Road Trip and flying to the other side of the US to see New York City. If you are on a limited budget but want to explore as much of the US as possible, Red-Eye flights are your best option. We scored a great deal on Student Universe for $320 return. The only issue was that we had to take the red-eye from LAX to New York.
When you land, your body clock will still be set to LA time which is now 4 am and you will be exhausted, wondering why you aren't asleep. If you don’t get any sleep on the flight then you will struggle to have any energy to get out and explore the city! So try and get some rest! You've got exploring to do. Luckily for us, we had a friend living in Hoboken, New Jersey and we were going to stay with him for 3 nights. He gave us complicated instructions on how to catch the Subway and get to his apartment. For rookie subway riders it was quite the experience. Be prepared for subway performers to come in and do crazy shows while you ride the train. We arrived at his apartment and had a quick nap to refresh before setting out to see New York. We were going from New Jersey back into New York City, this time we decided against the subway and took the ferry across We arrived at a friend's apartment in Hoboken and refreshed with a quick nap, then went out to see some of New York. Instead of taking the subway back into New York City, we decided to take a ferry ride across the Hudson River. The New York Waterway Ferry costs $7 per person, so it’s a little more than a subway ticket. But it’s an awesome way to see the city. You get an incredible view of the towering New York skyline and its nice to be out on the river, compared to the stinking hot subway. From here we made our way to one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York, Times Square. It was known as the “crossroads of the world” at one point and you can see why. It is a bustling hub of human activity, technology, shops, and entertainers.
You could spend hours in the madness that is Times Square. To help yourself navigate the area, check out New York City’s Time Square cheat sheet. They made Times Square a little less chaotic by organizing activities into designated areas. There are billboards and lights everywhere, it would be beautiful to experience Times Square all lit up at nighttime. Entertainers stroll the sidewalks looking to earn a buck. There are celebrity impersonators, Disney characters, and people walking round in body paint. We even saw the same backflip dance routines that we saw in San Francisco. Next on our list of things to do was to visit the Empire State Building. The Empire State buildings are arguably the most famous building in the world. It most definitely was at the time of its completion in 1931, it was the tallest building in the world for 40 years. You can pay $42 to go to the observation deck on the 86th floor. Where you get breathtaking 360degree views of the city. We were satisfied with our skyline views from the $7 ferry so skipped the observation deck.
One World Trade Centre
Wall Street + The Bull
Natural History Museum
The following morning we caught the train to the World Trade Centre. This was where we planned on starting our day of sight-seeing, we tried to get up early but were still so exhausted from the red-eye that we overslept a little. When we arrived at the One World Trade Centre Railway Station, we were amazed by the incredible architecture of it. It is the world's most expensive railway station valued at $4bn. This is where the memorials for victims of the twin towers begin. As you head outside of the railway station the memorials continue. There are two beautiful memorials created in the footsteps of the fallen towers. They have created two large pools, with manmade waterfalls cascading into the bottom of the pool, out of sight. The thousands of victim's names are engraved around the outside of the pool. It's extremely chilling.
There is a 9/11 memorial museum next to these fountains. “The Museum’s dynamic blend of architecture, archaeology, and history creates an unforgettable encounter with the story of the attacks, their aftermath, and the people who experienced these events.” The memorial fountains are free to walk around and view, but the Museum costs $26 for an adult.
After spending some time at the memorials, we walked through some food stalls and got a bite to eat. There was a world food market that had a wide range of unique foods to choose from for reasonable prices.
From the market, you could see more incredible architecture. The One World Trade Centre towers above the surrounding buildings. It is now the tallest building in the United States, built next to where the twin towers once stood.
We left the World Trade Center and walked towards wall street. It’s an easy 10-minute walk so its great to do these activities together. On your way down wall street stop and take a photo with The Bull and look at some of the old financial buildings. If you look anything like a tourist while exploring New York, you will get pitched to by street salesman, offering deals on transport and tours through famous attractions. They are persistent and seem to be on every corner. Avoid falling for these, you can most likely get cheaper deals online with websites like sightseeing pass
There are so many things to see in New York, it can be an absolute mission trying to see them all of them on a tight schedule. Especially if you aren’t familiar with their transport and subway systems.
If we go back to New York, I am going to buy a SightSeeing Pass. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see all the attractions we wanted to, like the Statue of Liberty or The Rockefeller Center. These passes ensure you get tours of all the attractions you want to see and are in charge of transport to and from these locations. It would’ve saved us a lot of stress.
From The Charging Bull, we made our way to New York’s only piece of greenery, Central Park. We took the line 4 Subway via Wall Street. We wandered through the famous park towards the American Museum of Natural History. This was one of the highlights of our trip to New York City. It was an amazing experience learning all about human culture, the earth, the universe, the natural world, and dinosaurs. We saw a dark space show in a 4D dome cinema which blew our minds. The whole museum was incredible and we wished we had spent longer here. I will definitely be returning to the Museum of Natural History in the future.
A few months prior, we had purchased single-day tickets to an EDM festival in New York. This festival is called Electric Zoo and ran for 3 days from the 30th of August to the 1st of September 2019. We got a ticket for the Saturday event on the 31st for $120 each. It was held at Randall’s Island and was an incredible setting for a festival. There are several stages, 10's of 1000’s of partygoers walking around. The New York City Skyline view in the backdrop, I highly recommend checking out Electric Zoo if you are in NYC at the end of August. We even watched DJ Diesel (Shaquille O’Neal) perform.
Transport to and from the festival was shocking, unfortunately. The traffic was so backed up on the way there, that we spent about an hour in a Lyft trying to cross the bridge onto Randalls Island. After the festival was an even bigger disaster. Exhausted partygoers pour out of the festival towards the bus lines. There was an hour-long wait for the public buses but we didn’t have any other options. Be warned Uber and Lyft do not operate outside Electric Zoo. Tip: Organize your transport to and from the festival before you go, this will save a lot of waiting around.
For a comprehensive guide on using airports and public transport in NYC, read this article.