5-Day New York City Itinerary for First-Timers
How to organize your week in a way that maximizes your travel time, hits all the best stops, and allows you to fully soak up each neighborhood!
15 Places • 1 Save • ago
Free

The Big Apple, The Concrete Jungle, City of Dreams, City So Nice They Named it Twice. New York City is known by many names and has a reputation for its unique energy, historic charm, and killer bagels. Each of the five days are separated by location so you can minimize travel time and really get to know each of the neighborhoods.

Day 1: Midtown Manhattan

The Museum of Modern Art
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This museum has multiple floors filled with tons of different styles. However, if you know you are the type of person to look at a piece of art and go: “I could do that.”, this is not the place for you. And that’s ok. It’s important to know your tastes. If that’s the case, I would recommend a different museum in the area. On the other hand, if you are more of an art aficionado and love learning the messaging behind different works, there are lots of cool pieces here!

Top of The Rock
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This is the place to go for some incredible views of the city! There are a few benches on the upper levels, so I would even recommend packing in some snacks or a book and just soaking in the views for a little while. (Additionally, a great place to people watch. Although, that is true of almost everywhere in New York.)

Times Square
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There is so much to take in here! It’s crowded, loud, and chaotic, so if anyone in your group struggles with sensory overload, I would suggest making this part of your trip more of a drive by. That being said, there are always tons of street performers who are actually pretty entertaining! (So long as you accept the fact that they are absolutely trying to hustle you and enjoy the experience for what it is.)

Richard Rodgers Theatre
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I grew up doing theatre, so there may be a bit of bias here, but I think that catching a Broadway show is a must-do for everyone! Even if musicals aren’t really your thing, there are lots of shows that appeal to a wide audience and the performances are just so spectacular and immersive. We saw Hamilton and it was phenomenal! If you are new to theatre and not sure what to see, I would also recommend shows like The Lion King, Aladdin, Newsies, Les Mis, Legally Blonde, Dear Evan Hansen, Hairspray, Frozen, Mean Girls, and Into the Woods.

Day 2: Central Park & Upper East Side

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Without a doubt, one of my favorite experiences in NYC! This place is massive and full of so much incredible history. It’s pretty easy to get what I like to call “museum fatigue”, so we actually split up our visit through the day. We spent a few hours there in the morning, and another few hours there at night. (And can I just say? There is a uniquely magical feeling that accompanies walking around a museum at night! It’s much less crowded and just feels so much more special for reasons I seriously cannot explain.) If you do go The Met at night, be sure to pop up to their rooftop garden to check out some gorgeous skyline views!

Unlimited Biking Central Park
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Perhaps one of the most iconic locations in New York, Central Park lives up to the hype. It’s the kind of place you could wander for hours and still not see everything. At over 800 acres, this park is truly the heart of Manhattan. We rented bikes and did a couple laps around the park. There are wide, well-marked paths so even if you’re not a super confident biker, you don’t have to worry about weaving through the various types of traffic. We rented through Unlimited Biking, but this is a popular activity, so there are tons of companies nearby that rent out bikes!

Central Park Boat House
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If biking isn’t really your thing, you can also rent rowboats and gondolas and take them out on the Central Park Lake. We didn’t have time to do this personally, but we rode past the water, and it looked magical! Willow trees line the bank and create the perfect ambiance for a boat day. Their rowboats hold 4 people and go for about $20/hour. You can learn more about this experience here.

Day 3: Dumbo, Brooklyn

Wall Street/Pier 11 - Dumbo/Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1
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Dumbo is one of my favorite neighborhoods that we visited! It sits right at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and is home to a wide range of unique street markets. Outside of the Winter season, Dumbo hosts the Brooklyn Flea, one of the largest flea markets in New York City. Tons of vendors line the streets every Saturday and Sunday, and it’s the perfect place to find some truly unique treasures to remember your trip by.

Empire Fulton Ferry
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This park boasts some pretty spectacular views of the city and is also situated just under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a perfect place to picnic, watch the sunset, ride the carousel, and in the Summer, enjoy community activities. They frequently host outdoor movie nights or small music festivals, so be sure to check their event calendar for the dates that you’ll be visiting!

Brooklyn Bridge
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Of course, a day in Brooklyn isn’t complete without a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. You can rent bikes here as well to ride across, or take it at a more leisurely pace and walk across. This is my personal preference as you can easily stop to take as many pictures as you want and take it in at a more casual pace. You’ll want to consider which direction to start at. If you come from Brooklyn, you’ll have views of Manhattan in the direction that you’re walking, and vice versa. However, if you plan to walk halfway and then back, it doesn’t really matter. The bridge is just over a mile long, for reference.

Day 4: Chelsea, Manhattan

Chelsea Market
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The Chelsea Market sits inside a massive concourse, that is home to tons of unique food, shopping, and events. Be sure to check their schedule as well, as they sometimes host live music and fun classes here as well!

The High Line
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This surprised me as another highlight! At about a mile and a half, this feels like one of the most unique walks in the city. An old rail line converted into a pedestrian walkway, you’re a few floors up, among some really unique architecture and tons of gorgeous landscaping.

Day 5: Lower Manhattan

9/11 Memorial & Museum
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The most powerful museum experience I have ever had. Harrowing and humbling, but oh so worth it. You learn so much about the sacrifices of “ordinary” humans and it’s such a crucial moment in American history, but New York City in particular, and you get such a sense of the resilience of the people who have lived here forever. I cannot recommend this enough.

Little Italy
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I would recommend Little Italy under one condition: you attend The Feast of San Gennaro! This is an annual festival hosted in the Little Italy neighborhood. We stumbled upon this while we were here and I can confidently say we ate one of our best meals here. There are tons of delicious street food options, fun parades, and a famous cannoli eating contest to behold during this time! It’s typically hosted in September, which is such a magical time to visit, as you get the warm Summer weather without the insane Summer crowds.

Statue of Liberty
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I have never been someone who enjoys doing things simply because “If you go to New York, you just have to…”, but I will say that the Statue of Liberty is one slightly cliche activity that I think is worth it! Because the statue sits on an island, you get a quick boat ride included in the price of your ticket. This grants you unmatched views of the city! Liberty Island itself is beautiful. This is another place that is great to slow down at. You can sit somewhere with a great view (after scoring an ice cream cone, of course!) and just people watch. There’s so much more history surrounding the Statue of Liberty than I ever knew, and I enjoyed learning about it.

Bonus! Our Best Bites:

Where We Ate:

Anita Gelato (Manhattan, Upper East Side)

Gelateria Gentile (Manhattan / Brooklyn, multiple locations)

Veniero’s (Manhattan, East Village)

Citizens of Chelsea (Manhattan, Chelsea)

Bo’s Bagels (Manhattan, Harlem)

Los Tacos No. 1 (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Chela (Brooklyn, Park Slope)

Pietro Nolita (Manhattan, Nolita)

Local’s Favorites:

Kat’z Deli (Manhattan, Lower East Side)

Rubirosa (Manhattan, Nolita)

Junior’s (Manhattan / Brooklyn, multiple locations)

Sara Beth’s (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Carmine’s (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Trattoria Dell’arte (Manhattan, Midtown)

Prince St. Pizza (Manhattan, Nolita)

5 Napkin Burger (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Halal Guys (Manhattan / Brooklyn / The Bronx, multiple locations)

* * *
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Seattle-native passionate about pastries, yoga, and authentic travel experiences.
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5-Day New York City Itinerary for First-Timers
How to organize your week in a way that maximizes your travel time, hits all the best stops, and allows you to fully soak up each neighborhood!
15 Places • 1 Save • ago
Free

The Big Apple, The Concrete Jungle, City of Dreams, City So Nice They Named it Twice. New York City is known by many names and has a reputation for its unique energy, historic charm, and killer bagels. Each of the five days are separated by location so you can minimize travel time and really get to know each of the neighborhoods.

Day 1: Midtown Manhattan

The Museum of Modern Art
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

This museum has multiple floors filled with tons of different styles. However, if you know you are the type of person to look at a piece of art and go: “I could do that.”, this is not the place for you. And that’s ok. It’s important to know your tastes. If that’s the case, I would recommend a different museum in the area. On the other hand, if you are more of an art aficionado and love learning the messaging behind different works, there are lots of cool pieces here!

Top of The Rock
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

This is the place to go for some incredible views of the city! There are a few benches on the upper levels, so I would even recommend packing in some snacks or a book and just soaking in the views for a little while. (Additionally, a great place to people watch. Although, that is true of almost everywhere in New York.)

Times Square
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

There is so much to take in here! It’s crowded, loud, and chaotic, so if anyone in your group struggles with sensory overload, I would suggest making this part of your trip more of a drive by. That being said, there are always tons of street performers who are actually pretty entertaining! (So long as you accept the fact that they are absolutely trying to hustle you and enjoy the experience for what it is.)

Richard Rodgers Theatre
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

I grew up doing theatre, so there may be a bit of bias here, but I think that catching a Broadway show is a must-do for everyone! Even if musicals aren’t really your thing, there are lots of shows that appeal to a wide audience and the performances are just so spectacular and immersive. We saw Hamilton and it was phenomenal! If you are new to theatre and not sure what to see, I would also recommend shows like The Lion King, Aladdin, Newsies, Les Mis, Legally Blonde, Dear Evan Hansen, Hairspray, Frozen, Mean Girls, and Into the Woods.

Day 2: Central Park & Upper East Side

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

Without a doubt, one of my favorite experiences in NYC! This place is massive and full of so much incredible history. It’s pretty easy to get what I like to call “museum fatigue”, so we actually split up our visit through the day. We spent a few hours there in the morning, and another few hours there at night. (And can I just say? There is a uniquely magical feeling that accompanies walking around a museum at night! It’s much less crowded and just feels so much more special for reasons I seriously cannot explain.) If you do go The Met at night, be sure to pop up to their rooftop garden to check out some gorgeous skyline views!

Unlimited Biking Central Park
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

Perhaps one of the most iconic locations in New York, Central Park lives up to the hype. It’s the kind of place you could wander for hours and still not see everything. At over 800 acres, this park is truly the heart of Manhattan. We rented bikes and did a couple laps around the park. There are wide, well-marked paths so even if you’re not a super confident biker, you don’t have to worry about weaving through the various types of traffic. We rented through Unlimited Biking, but this is a popular activity, so there are tons of companies nearby that rent out bikes!

Central Park Boat House
@allierawlings
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Details

If biking isn’t really your thing, you can also rent rowboats and gondolas and take them out on the Central Park Lake. We didn’t have time to do this personally, but we rode past the water, and it looked magical! Willow trees line the bank and create the perfect ambiance for a boat day. Their rowboats hold 4 people and go for about $20/hour. You can learn more about this experience here.

Day 3: Dumbo, Brooklyn

Wall Street/Pier 11 - Dumbo/Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

Dumbo is one of my favorite neighborhoods that we visited! It sits right at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and is home to a wide range of unique street markets. Outside of the Winter season, Dumbo hosts the Brooklyn Flea, one of the largest flea markets in New York City. Tons of vendors line the streets every Saturday and Sunday, and it’s the perfect place to find some truly unique treasures to remember your trip by.

Empire Fulton Ferry
@allierawlings
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Details

This park boasts some pretty spectacular views of the city and is also situated just under the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a perfect place to picnic, watch the sunset, ride the carousel, and in the Summer, enjoy community activities. They frequently host outdoor movie nights or small music festivals, so be sure to check their event calendar for the dates that you’ll be visiting!

Brooklyn Bridge
@allierawlings
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Of course, a day in Brooklyn isn’t complete without a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. You can rent bikes here as well to ride across, or take it at a more leisurely pace and walk across. This is my personal preference as you can easily stop to take as many pictures as you want and take it in at a more casual pace. You’ll want to consider which direction to start at. If you come from Brooklyn, you’ll have views of Manhattan in the direction that you’re walking, and vice versa. However, if you plan to walk halfway and then back, it doesn’t really matter. The bridge is just over a mile long, for reference.

Day 4: Chelsea, Manhattan

Chelsea Market
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

The Chelsea Market sits inside a massive concourse, that is home to tons of unique food, shopping, and events. Be sure to check their schedule as well, as they sometimes host live music and fun classes here as well!

The High Line
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

This surprised me as another highlight! At about a mile and a half, this feels like one of the most unique walks in the city. An old rail line converted into a pedestrian walkway, you’re a few floors up, among some really unique architecture and tons of gorgeous landscaping.

Day 5: Lower Manhattan

9/11 Memorial & Museum
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

The most powerful museum experience I have ever had. Harrowing and humbling, but oh so worth it. You learn so much about the sacrifices of “ordinary” humans and it’s such a crucial moment in American history, but New York City in particular, and you get such a sense of the resilience of the people who have lived here forever. I cannot recommend this enough.

Little Italy
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

I would recommend Little Italy under one condition: you attend The Feast of San Gennaro! This is an annual festival hosted in the Little Italy neighborhood. We stumbled upon this while we were here and I can confidently say we ate one of our best meals here. There are tons of delicious street food options, fun parades, and a famous cannoli eating contest to behold during this time! It’s typically hosted in September, which is such a magical time to visit, as you get the warm Summer weather without the insane Summer crowds.

Statue of Liberty
@allierawlings
Add to
Details

I have never been someone who enjoys doing things simply because “If you go to New York, you just have to…”, but I will say that the Statue of Liberty is one slightly cliche activity that I think is worth it! Because the statue sits on an island, you get a quick boat ride included in the price of your ticket. This grants you unmatched views of the city! Liberty Island itself is beautiful. This is another place that is great to slow down at. You can sit somewhere with a great view (after scoring an ice cream cone, of course!) and just people watch. There’s so much more history surrounding the Statue of Liberty than I ever knew, and I enjoyed learning about it.

Bonus! Our Best Bites:

Where We Ate:

Anita Gelato (Manhattan, Upper East Side)

Gelateria Gentile (Manhattan / Brooklyn, multiple locations)

Veniero’s (Manhattan, East Village)

Citizens of Chelsea (Manhattan, Chelsea)

Bo’s Bagels (Manhattan, Harlem)

Los Tacos No. 1 (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Chela (Brooklyn, Park Slope)

Pietro Nolita (Manhattan, Nolita)

Local’s Favorites:

Kat’z Deli (Manhattan, Lower East Side)

Rubirosa (Manhattan, Nolita)

Junior’s (Manhattan / Brooklyn, multiple locations)

Sara Beth’s (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Carmine’s (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Trattoria Dell’arte (Manhattan, Midtown)

Prince St. Pizza (Manhattan, Nolita)

5 Napkin Burger (Manhattan, multiple locations)

Halal Guys (Manhattan / Brooklyn / The Bronx, multiple locations)

* * *
CURATED BY
Seattle-native passionate about pastries, yoga, and authentic travel experiences.
Send A Tip
Support Allie Rawlings’s work.
Select your tip amount
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Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
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