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Best New York City 3-Day Itinerary

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New York City gets tens of millions of tourists every year. Even with the pandemic, 22.3 million people paid visit to New York City in 2020. There are so many things to do in New York City, and if you’re only visiting for 3 days, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out how to spend those precious 72 hours. I’ve created a 3-day trip New York City itinerary to help you make the most of your time here. Whether you’re visiting the city for the first time or fifth, I hope this blog post will inspire you to create your own unique NYC experience.

Table of Contents

Day 1: Hit Up the Touristy Spots

If you’re thinking, why would I want to go to the touristy spots in New York City? Hear me out. In 2019, the city hosted 66 million visitors. So in a sense, there are no non-touristy spots in New York. Even the most popular places are still worth a visit because they are most likely things you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

What are the top touristy spots to hit up in New York City?

1. Little Island

nyc 3 day itinerary little island
Little Island in Chelsea District

Located in the Chelsea District, Little Island is like a tiny floating city in the middle of Manhattan. Standing on the island, you get an unobstructed view of the Hudson River. There’s also free performances in the summer.

The island is open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm daily, and reservations are required in the spring and summer when it tends to be the most crowded.

2. The Vessel

vessel nyc
The Vessel

The Vessel is one of the coolest things you can see in New York City during your 3-day itinerary. The sculpture reminds me of a ribcage, and though you can no longer go up the structure due to safety concerns, you can still see the beautiful piece from the ground level.

Wanderer Tip: Visit in the month of December and see the Vessel light up for the holidays!

3. Brooklyn Bridge

viv the wanderer brooklyn bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

I didn’t understand the hype surrounding the Brooklyn Bridge until I went on it myself and got panoramic views of New York City, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve ever had!

The walk across the bridge takes about 20 minutes – or longer if you’re stopping to take pictures 🙂

Day 2: Eat Your Way Through New York City

If you’re a foodie, New York City is THE place to be. Manhattan has some of the best restaurants in the world, and most times you don’t even have to break your bank to have a delicious meal.

Where to Eat During Your 3-Day New York City Itinerary

Breakfast and Coffee

absolute bagels nyc
Absolute Bagels on the Upper East Side

If after reading this blog you only remember one thing, it should be that you MUST get a bagel and some pizza while you’re in New York City.

Because of how soft the water is in New York City, the dough tastes sooo much better than anywhere else in the U.S. Bagels are also kind of the perfect thing to get while you’re in New York so you can have a snack in hand while exploring the city.

My favorite bagel spots are Absolute Bagels (try their Egg bagel and Tofutti spreads) and Zabar’s (their smoked salmon is to die for). For more recommendations on where to get bagels, check out my guide to the best bagel spots in Uptown NYC.

For coffee, I’ve visited and reviewed 13 coffee shops for you to pick from. If you only have time for two, check out % Arabica in DUMBO and Bird and Branch in Hell’s Kitchen.

Lunch and Dinner

tomi jazz nyc places to eat
Entrance of Tomi Jazz

There are endless options for lunch and dinner in New York City! The top 3 places I would take my friends visiting would be Cote, Tomi Jazz, and Joe’s Steam Rolls.

Cote is a fancy Korean BBQ spot that has one Michelin star. Despite the quality of the food and service, their popular offering the Butcher’s Feats is only around $60 per person – a really good value for a Michelin dining experience.

Tomi Jazz is an intimate jazz bar in Midtown East that serves amazing food. Lastly, Joe’s Steam Rolls has some of the best steam rolls I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of steam rolls at dim sum restaurants!

Late Night Snack

prince street pizza nyc
Pepperoni Pizza from Prince Street

Not that you can’t have pizza for lunch or dinner, but it is a much better experience having New York pizza after you’ve had a cocktail or two.

Prince Street Pizza is one of the best pizza places in the city and should definitely make it onto your 3-day NY itinerary as the late night spot to check out.

Day 3: Have an Arts & Culture Day

By day 3 of the 3-day New York City itinerary, you’ll hopefully have gotten a better sense of the most well-known spots in New York City and have tasted some delicious food.

This last day I’m going to take you on a journey into the city’s cultural scene.

3 Cultural Things to Do in New York City

1. Visit the Whitney Museum

Not only is the Whitney Museum one of the most incredible museums to visit, admission is also donation-based on Fridays.

It’s one of my favorite museums in the city because they have a good mix of modern and classical art, and the building itself is also gorgeous.

2. Get Some Laughs in at Comedy Cellar

comedy cellar nyc 3 day itinerary
Comedy Cellar

I went to Comedy Cellar for the first time this month, and I laughed so hard tears were streaming from my eyes. We saw six comics total, and each of their sets were so unique and witty, they made me forget my Sunday scaries for a solid two hours.

You can make reservations in advance online, and once you arrive you’ll be required to pay a cover of $17-25 (depending on what day you go) plus purchase two items off their menu.

Wanderer Tip: If you’re not looking to spend a ton of money, their $35 sangria counts as 6 items and is one of the most economical things to get at Comedy Cellar.

3. Listen to Live Jazz at Mezzrow

mezzrow ny 3 day itinerary

Listening to jazz at a jazz club is one of the most unique experiences you can have on your 3-day itinerary in NYC. If you didn’t end up making it to Tomi Jazz for dinner on day 2, all the more reason to get your jazz fix at Mezzrow on your last day in the city.

Wanderer Tip: Mezzrow has two showings each night, one at 7:30p and another at 9:00 pm. If you want to get a seat that’s closer to the stage, I recommend going for the earlier showing.

New York City in 3 Days

There is so much to see in New York City that you’ll have barely scratched the surface after just 3 days in the city. However this is also a good amount of time to get a taste for what makes the city one of a kind and why so many people visit every single year.

Was there anything on this list that you didn’t see but think should make it onto the 3-day NYC itinerary? Let me know in the comments!

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