New York City is one of the largest cities in the world. It’s not physically possible to see it all in three days, but you can get a good feel for whether or not it’s somewhere you’d like to come back and explore.
The city is made up of five boroughs; the Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. If you’re going for a short visit, I’d suggest focusing the majority of your travels in Manhattan. It’s the heart of New York, and for good reason. Every cliche slogan you’ve heard about New York began in Manhattan. The city that never sleeps. The big apple. Sex in the City. A New York minute. The city of big dreams. All of it comes from Manhattan.
Now, people aren’t kidding when they say it’s crowded. I’m a small town girl, but my boyfriend lives downtown Toronto. We’re always out exploring the city, and I love it. So I’m not shy when it comes to the hustle and the bustle of the city. However, Manhattan takes hustle and bustle to a whole other level. Even on a freezing cold -30 degree Celsius day the streets are still packed. That being said don’t let it deter you from going, just embrace it, and know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand.
Also because the city has so much to offer, I’d recommend that you have a rough idea planned out of what you’d like to see before going. Even though majority of it is all within walking distance, there are a few treks out of the city, and in order to make sure that you see everything that you want planning is essential. Most of you know that I’m not the best planner, in fact I rarely plan. But it’s good to have an idea of what you’d like to see, the layout of the city, and the hours that things are operating. Without those three essentials you might miss out on quite a few things.
There’s always a lot to see and do in NYC, but even more so around Christmas time. Beginning the last week of November to the first of January the city is packed with holiday festivities. New York City has been ranked one of the top cities to visit during the holidays, and for good reason. The expression “big lights will inspire you” is taken to a whole new level over the holidays. Shopping windows are turned into Christmas displays (Saks on Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, etc), stores decorate their exterior with lights (Sak’s on Fifth Avenue), the streets are decorated with giant Christmas ornaments (Fifth Avenue), and the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree.
It does get quite cold in New York, so if you plan on seeing New York over the holidays than I’d recommend visiting late November/early December.
Here’s how I’d suggest spending three days in NYC over the holidays:
Day One- Times Square, Broadway, and Hell’s Kitchen
Times Square is a must, and you should definitely see it both during the day and again at night. There’s just so much to see. And it’s the iconic heart of the city. See photo above.
While you’re there stop by TKTS to purchase discounted tickets for Broadway. It’s a red booth in the middle of the square. You can purchase last minute tickets up to 60% off. We went to see Anastasia for 80 USD, regularly 165USD. Booth opens at 10am, make sure you get there early as tickets sell out fast. Also, I should say the booth is selling tickets for shows that perform that day so make sure you have full availability for the rest of the day.
Photo sourced from Paúl Rivera/ArchPhoto
After a show, stroll down 8th and 9th avenue for the full high rise experience, and grab a bite to eat or a drink in Hell’s Kitchen District. Located adjacent to the Theater District, this district is buzzing with tourists from Times Square, pre and post theater crowds, and workers in suits all on the prowl for a good spot to eat and be seen. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant, bar, or pub this is the area to start your food search and continue your NYC experience.
Day Two- Shopping, Skating, and Bryant Park
NYC is already expensive enough without breaking your bank over the latest fashion styles. However, many of the top stores have decorated their windows with festive displays. I recommend taking a walk down Fifth Avenue. You can shop till you drop, or take in the Christmas decor. From window displays, Christmas lights, and a musical light show, Sak’s Fifth Avenue holiday decor is outstanding,
Take a break from your shopping, and make a stop at the Rockefeller Center. The center has an observation deck at the top of the building (28-75USD), center tours (25USD), and hidden among all the towering buildings there’s the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree set up in front of a skating rink. Here you can trade in your shoes for a pair of skates. Unfortunately, you must purchase a ticket. Price various depending on the date you wish to go. Skate rental is 12USD. See Rockefeller Skating for prices. personally, I’d recommend holding off on the skating until you make your way to Bryant Park.
There’s plenty of holiday fairs, and Christmas markets in NYC; however, according to many New Yorkers Bryant Park is the number one market o see. In the center of the park is a giant skating rink, and of course a well decorated Christmas tree. Surrounding the rink are various rows of food, crafts, and festive shopping booths. Don’t worry about taking your skates off the park has matted the ground so you can leave your skates on and wander around the market. Also, this is not a market that you can easily walk through in half an hour, you’ll want to stay all evening. The park closes at 8pm, so get their relatively early to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it. Entrance and skating are both free.
Photo sourced from Time Out
Day Three- Central Park
If you have a third day (and it’s not too cold out), Central Park is a must. Not only is it the most filmed park in the world (over 350 films), but it also has an outdoor museum. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Times Square, or a 10 minute cab. With so many things to do in Central Park, it would definitely be a whole day affair. Even though Central Park is outdoors, if you bundle up it’s quite the sight to see in the winter. If you’re looking for a romantic way to finish off your NYC trip this would be the box to check off.
Photo sourced from SmugMug
Photo sourced from Time Out
All in all, NYC is one for the bucket list. I was only there for a short period of time, and I completely understand why New Yorkers are so proud of their city. It’s a busy city with a lot to offer, which is probably why the city never sleeps.
NOTE: Statue of Liberty is a summer tourist attraction, there’s no ferry during the winter.
Header photo sourced form Business Insider