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New York City Guide

Suggested Itineraries for Visiting New York

There are so many things to do in New York that fitting them all in -- or even some of them in -- is a difficult task. We've come up with some suggested itineraries to help you see the hotspots in your areas of interest -- including special events and attractions, arts and culture, architecture and landmarks, shopping, nightlife and entertainment, and relaxing and unwinding.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Special Events & Attractions in New York

There are too many must-see attractions in New York for one visit -- but if you plan well, you can be sure to at least hit on the best of the best. Here are some suggested itineraries for New York's special events and attractions:

The recently renovated Museum of Modern Art centers on a soaring 110-foot atrium with bustling promenades and sky-lit galleries.
©2006 Angelo Mercado
The recently renovated Museum of Modern Art centers on a soaring 110-foot
atrium with bustling promenades and sky-lit galleries.

1 day: If you've never been to New York before, spend your first morning taking a sightseeing cruise aboard the Circle Line, which circumnavigates Manhattan. Sure, it's touristy, but the views of the skyline are terrific and there's no better way to get an overview of the city. The cruises depart from Pier 83 at West 42nd Street. Afterward, stroll across 42nd Street and take a gander at boisterous Times Square. Have lunch in one of the gourmet sandwich shops along 42nd Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues or grab the same from a kiosk in Bryant Park (also on 42nd St between Sixth and Fifth Aves, behind the New York Public Library).

Head north on Fifth Avenue, past some of the city's most famous sights: the Diamond District (47th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves), Saks Fifth Avenue (at 49th St), Rockefeller Center (between 48th and 51st Sts, Fifth and Sixth Aves), Saint Patrick's Cathedral (at 50th St), the Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St), Tiffany's (at 56th St), Trump Tower (at 56th St), the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store (at 58th S.), and the Plaza Hotel (at 59th St; closed for renovation until Oct of 2007). Central Park begins at 59th Street and near this entrance is a lovely pocket zoo that's as much fun for adults as it is for kids.

If you have the energy, zip back downtown to 34th Street on the Fifth Avenue bus to tour the Empire State Building. It's open until midnight daily. Have dinner at Mobil Two-Star Brasserie Les Halles (411 Park Ave South, between 28th and 29th Sts), a bustling, informal French bistro run by well-known chef and author Anthony Bourdain. Les Halles specializes in meat -- carnivores swear by its rib-eye steak -- but also offers an interesting selection of fish and chicken dishes.

2 days: See another side of New York by exploring downtown. Start with a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, both of which can be reached only by ferry. To avoid the crowds, get to Castle Clinton, where the ferry tickets are sold, as early as you can; the office opens at 8:30 am. Post-9/ll, the only way to see the Statue of Liberty's insides is by guided tour, for which advance reservations are a must.

Touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island takes the better part of the day. Afterward, walk north, past Battery Park City and the sad empty acres of Ground Zero, where simple plaques honoring those who died in the attacks hang along the fences of Church and Liberty Streets. Have dinner at the chic, art deco Odeon (145 W Broadway, at Thomas) in TriBeCa, which has been serving consistently good food since the 1980s. The steamed mussels, served with crisp fries, are especially delicious.

You can watch the New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
©2006 NYC & Company
You can watch the New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

3 days: Devote your third day in the city to a sporting event. From the spring through the fall, the Mets at Shea Stadium in Queens and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx often play day games on the weekends, while the horses run all afternoon at Belmont Park Tuesdays through Sundays. In winter, do as athletic-minded New Yorkers do and go ice skating. Avoid the tourist-heavy rink at Rockefeller Center and head to Wollman Rink in Central Park instead. From the rink, you'll have great views of the stunning skyscrapers and apartment buildings that stand along the park's south and west sides. Afterward, take a ride in one of the famous horse carriages that clip-clop through the park year-round. The rides are pricey, but worth doing at least once.

In the evening, take in a concert or other special event at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall (Seventh Ave and 57th St). There's always something going on at Lincoln Center almost every night of the week throughout the year, while Carnegie Hall usually offers three or four events a week from fall through spring. Before or after the event, enjoy dinner at Nino's Tuscany (117 W 58th St, near Sixth Ave), where you can listen to piano music while dining on the restaurant's trademark wild game dishes.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Arts & Culture in New York

In a city with the number of art museums and cultural institutions that New York has, you'll be hard-pressed to see them all. These itineraries will help you narrow down the choices.

1 day: No trip to New York is complete without a stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Ave. at 82nd St), one of the world's greatest museums. Start with a look at the Met's stunning permanent collection of European paintings, where one room is filled with Rembrandts alone. Afterward, zero in on a temporary show or head to the Egyptian collection, American wing, Rockefeller wing (art from Africa and the Pacific), or sculpture garden roof. There's far too much at the Met to see in a day, so you'll have to pick and choose. Since the Met's cafeteria is often mobbed, try to eat lunch early or late. Or, grab a bagel, hot dog, and other tasty fare from the vendors near the front steps.

From the Met, stroll down Fifth Avenue or abutting Central Park if the weather is fair. In the late afternoon, head to the TKTS booth and buy tickets to a Broadway show. Do as New Yorkers do and dine in one of Times Square's many restaurants after the show, when reservations are seldom necessary. Ninth Avenue between 42nd and 57th Streets is lined with one restaurant after another, most quite reasonably priced. One of the many good spots is Rachel's, An American Bistro (608 Ninth Ave, between 43rd and 44th Sts). Try the tasty honey mustard chicken or creamy pot pie.

2 days: Devote your second day to the diverse cultures of New York. Take the subway to the Financial District and make a stop at the superb National Museum of the American Indian (1 Bowling Green, near Broadway), a branch of the Smithsonian. Afterward, walk to nearby Chinatown and visit the tiny but fascinating Museum of the Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry St, at Bayard), where you'll find exhibits on such subjects as the Chinese laundry. Have lunch in a Chinatown restaurant; one longtime favorite eatery is Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell St, between Bowery and Mott Street), known for its "soup dumplings" -- a mouthful of soup inside the dough. Save room for pastry or gelato in Little Italy. Flashy Ferrara's (195 Grand St, near Mulberry) is a popular spot.

Work off lunch by walking north to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (97 Orchard St, between Delancey and Broome), which recreates life in 19th century immigrant New York. It's best to reserve tickets to the small museum in advance, however, and if you haven't done so and can't get in, continue north to the brand-new, surprisingly large Ukrainian Museum (222 E. 6th St, between Second and Third Aves) in the East Village, where exhibits range from modern art to folk art. Have a snack or light dinner in one of the neighborhood's many ethnic restaurants. Veselka (144 Second Ave, at 10th St) is the classic spot for borscht, pierogi, and scrumptious poppy-seed cake. Afterward, head to Greenwich Village to hear some jazz at the Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South), the oldest jazz club in the city.

3 days: Spend the morning at the recently renovated Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves), centered on a soaring 110-foot atrium with bustling promenades and sky-lit galleries. Take a look at the museum's permanent collection of paintings, holding many modern masterpieces, before taking in its excellent permanent photography exhibit or a temporary show. The museum's cafeteria, serving many light gourmet treats, is a good place for lunch.

Spend the afternoon gallery-hopping in Chelsea. Then stroll downtown along Eighth Avenue, stopping to eat dinner in one of the many restaurants between 23rd and 14th Streets. The Rocking Horse Mexican Cafe (182 Eighth Ave, near 19th St) serves tasty gourmet Mexican fare; try the jumbo shrimps with mangos and black beans. Take in a foreign or documentary film at the Film Forum (209 W Houston St, near Sixth Ave).

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in New York

New York's skyscrapers run the gamut of architectural styles, as do the city's beautiful churches, bridges, and historic neighborhoods. Follow these suggestions and you'll see the very best that New York has to offer.

1 day: Spend the day exploring the architectural treasures of Midtown. Start with the many gems along East 42nd Street. Have lunch at Grand Central Station's famed Mobil Two-Star Oyster Bar (open Mondays through Fridays only). The main restaurant serves delicious full meals, but it's more fun (and much less expensive) to grab a bowl of tasty clam chowder at the old-fashioned counter.

Afterward, head north on Fifth Avenue, past Rockefeller Center (between 48th and 51st Sts), St. Patrick's Cathedral (at 50st St), Trump Tower (at 56th St), and the Mobil Three-Star Plaza Hotel (at 59th St). At 49th Street, take a detour to Madison Avenue to visit the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center, housed in one of the Villard Houses, a group of six Italianate brownstones built in 1886 by McKim, Mead, & White.

Have dinner at the Mobil Two-Star Le Colonial (149 E 57th St, near Third Ave), serving French-Vietnamese fare in an atmospheric pre-war-Saigon setting. Try the goi bun so, grilled sea scallops served over noodles and greens. Then travel downtown for a nighttime visit to the Empire State Building.

2 days: Begin your day by exploring the charming streets and squares of Greenwich Village. Sample the best pizza in NYC at the Mobil One-Star John's (278 Bleecker St, near Seventh Ave; sold by the whole pie only). Head south through SoHo to see its cast-iron facades, the finest examples of which line Broadway. Continue south on Broadway to City Hall Park and the Woolworth Building. Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Have dinner in the South Street Seaport, a redeveloped historic area lined with cobblestone streets. The Bridge Cafe (279 Water St, near Dover) serves excellent seafood. Try the soft-shell crabs if they're in season -- they're a house specialty.

3 days: Take a look at the grand apartment buildings of Central Park West and take in the American Museum of Natural History (79 Central Park). Be sure not to miss the soaring Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall (79th St and Central Park West), where a skinny, 50-foot-high dinosaur arches its neck high into the building's dome, and the Rose Center (79th St and Central Park West), where a spiraling walkway leads around the central globe. Have lunch at the no-frills Mobil One-Star Barney Greengrass (541 Amsterdam Ave, near 80th St), known for its bagels and lox.

Continue north to explore the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (on Amsterdam Ave and 112th St). Don't miss the workshop out back, where stonemasons are often at work. Walk north to 125th Street and then walk east along the lively thoroughfare. At Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard, take a short detour south, to take in more stunning churches. Head north to Striver's Row, if you have the energy. Have dinner at Sylvia's (348 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd, between 126th and 127th Sts), a popular soul-food restaurant. The catfish is especially fine.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Shopping in New York

Shopping doesn't get any better than what you'll find on New York's Fifth Avenue -- but the city has many other shopping hotspots to explore. Here are some suggested itineraries for planning your shopping excursions:

1 day: Spend the day exploring the shops of Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. Have lunch in Mangia (16 E 48th St and 50 W. 57th St), offering a huge gourmet salad bar. For dinner, continue north of Bloomingdale's to Persepolis (1423 Second Ave, near 74th St), one of the city's best Persian restaurants. Try a succulent lamb kabob, served with sour cherry rice.

2 days: Do some clothes shopping along Lower Fifth Avenue, and then head to the East Village to browse in The Strand. Have an overstuffed pastrami sandwich at the Second Avenue Deli (156 Second Ave, at 10th St) or partake of the city's best vegetarian and vegan fare at Angelika Kitchen (300 E 12th St, between First and Second Aves). If you need to revive your aching feet, make a stop at the traditional Tenth Street Russian and Turkish Baths (268 E 10th St, between First Ave and Avenue A), where you'll find saunas, steam rooms, and massage rooms.

Some days are men or women only, so make sure to call ahead. Or, head to NoLiTa to see what the city's youngest designers are up to. Have dinner at Five Points (31 Great Jones St, between the Bowery and Lafayette), an upscale spot where the menu, prepared with the freshest of ingredients, changes nightly.

3 days: Spend the morning browsing for bargains at Loehmann's (101 Seventh Ave, at 16th St). Have lunch at nearby Mobil Two-Star Cafeteria (119 Seventh Ave, at 17th St), a 24-hour upscale diner that doubles as a hip hangout at night. The Cobb salad makes a great lunch. Afterward, head to SoHo, where you can spend hours browsing the shops and examining the wares of the area's many street artists and vendors. A good spot for dinner is trendy Ideya (349 W Broadway, between Broome and Grand), which specializes in Caribbean fare, served to a Brazilian beat. Make sure to try the sofrito marinated roasted chicken breast with cilantro whipped yucca and chorizo hash, followed by a passionfruit cheesecake on a graham cracker crust with passionfruit syrup.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in New York

With chic bars, ritzy restaurants, and hot jazz clubs, New York's nightlife scene has something for everyone. Check out these suggested itineraries for nightlife and entertainment:

1 day: After a leisurely morning at your hotel, eat a ploughman's lunch at McSorley's Old Ale House (15 E. 7th St, between Second and Third Aves). Take in a matinee at the Angelica Film Center (18 W Houston St, at Mercer), the hippest movie theater in town, screening a mix of foreign films and independent first-run features. The Angelica also offers an extensive gourmet coffee, cake, and sandwich bar. Stroll the streets of SoHo, where the people-watching alone is pure entertainment.

Eat at the Mobil Three-Star Balthazar (80 Spring St, between Crosby and Broadway), a sumptuous French brasserie with a long, glittering bar. Try the steak frites, served with the crispiest of French fries in town. Hop on the subway and catch a jazz set at the Jazz Standard (116 E. 27th St) or the Lenox Lounge (88 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd, between 124th and 125th Sts) in Harlem.

Radio City Music Hall is a popular New York destination, especially during the holiday season.
©2006 NYC & Company
Radio City Music Hall is a popular
New York destination, especially
during the holiday season.

2 days: Watch an afternoon game at the ESPN Zone (1472 Broadway), sign up for one of the city's many entertaining walking tours, or take in a (Wednesday or Sunday) matinee in a Broadway or Off-Broadway theater. Early in the evening, catch an offbeat comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Walk down Ninth Avenue to the Meat Packing District.

Eat at Buddakan or the Mobil Two-Star Spice Market if you've made reservations. If not, try Pastis (9 Ninth Ave, at Little 12th St), an ultra-hip bistro, or the Mobil One-Star Florent (69 Gansevoort St, between Greenwich and Washington), an upscale 24-hour diner that pioneered the district two decades ago. Neither place takes reservations, but both often have long lines.

Try your luck at getting into Cielo (18 Little W. 12th St, between Ninth Ave and Washington St) or check out the Gas Light (400 W 14th St). Have your last drink of the evening/early morning at the open-air (weather permitting) rooftop bar of the sleek, new boutique Hotel Gansevoort (18 Ninth Ave, at 13th St).

3 days: Have brunch or lunch in one of Midtown's swank hotels; the Mobil Five-Star St. Regis is an especially luxe experience. Take a tour of the NBC Studios (30 Rockefeller Plaza) or Radio City Music Hall (50th St and Sixth Ave). Reservations at NBC are essential and at Radio City, recommended. Stroll the always entertaining Fifth Avenue and have a drink at Dorothy Parker's old haunt, the deliciously old-fashioned Mobil Two-Star Algonquin (59 W 44th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves).

Hop the subway down to Union Square and have dinner at the Mobil Two-Star Blue Water Grill (31 Union Square West, at 16th St). Try the steamed dumpling appetizer and the grilled tuna entree, and eat on the terrace if the weather is fine. Stop into CBGBs (315 Bowery, at Bleecker St) for a set or two and/or catch a rock or new music act at Irving Plaza (17 Irving Pl, at 15th St) or the Bowery Ballroom (Delancey St, between Bowery and Chrystie St).

You can tour the NBC Studios on Rockefeller Plaza, but but sure you make reservations in advance.
©2006 Jim In Times Square
You can tour NBC Studios on Rockefeller Plaza,
but be sure you make reservations.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in New York

In a city that's home to Central Park, Coney Island, and the Bronx Zoo, you'll have no trouble finding laidback spots to relax and wind. These suggested itineraries will guide you to the ideal retreats.

1 day:
Spend the day in Central Park. Start with brunch at festive Mobil Two-Star Tavern on the Green (near Central Park West and 67th St), adorned with glass, mirrors, and chandeliers. New Yorkers often come here to celebrate special events and although it's pricey, it's an unforgettable New York experience. Afterward, read the paper or take a snooze in nearby Sheep Meadow if weather permits and then explore the rest of the park.

Visit the zoo, meander past the model-boat pond, rent bikes, or rowboats at the Loeb Boathouse, and visit the Conservatory Garden. At night, go bowling at the Leisure Time Bowling and Recreational Centre at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (Eighth Ave and 42nd St), a classic, well-kept place that's one of the last bowling alleys left in Manhattan.

2 days:
Take the D, F, or Q train to Coney Island. Spend the morning on the beach. For lunch, buy hotdogs and lemonade from Nathan's Famous (Surf and Stillwell Aves). This is the place where the hotdog was supposedly "invented" by Nathan Handwerker in 1916; he simply placed a wiener inside a bun. In the afternoon, ride the Cyclone (a wooden roller coaster) and Wonder Wheel (a 1920s Ferris wheel) at Astroland Amusement Park (1000 Surf Ave, near W 10th St), then explore the shops of Brighton Beach.

At night, eat dinner and watch the show at an over-the-top Russian nightclub. The oldest and best-known is The National (273 Brighton Beach Ave, at 2nd St; reservations essential). Try the Russian blintzes with seafood stuff or pancakes with Salmon roe. When you are done, the restaurant staff will call you a car to get back to Manhattan.

The Bronx Zoo, one of the world's largest and most important zoos, holds about 4,000 animals.
©2006 NYC & Company
The Bronx Zoo holds about 4,000 animals.

3 days: Take the subway, bus, or train to the Bronx Zoo (for exact directions, visit their Web site). Spend the day among the beasts, and in the late afternoon, take a cab to nearby Belmont, a traditional Italian community chock-a-block with restaurants, pastry shops, and food markets, most located along Arthur Avenue or 187th Street. Sample one of the tasty pasta dishes at Dominick's (2335 Arthur Ave, at 187th St) and complete your meal with homemade gelato at DeLillo's Pastry Shop (606 187th St).

When visiting New York, you can focus on whimsical spots like Coney Island, historical landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, or the emotionally charged Ground Zero. The choices are endless in this truly great city.

© Publications International, Ltd.


Christiane Bird is a former travel writer for The New York Daily News and the author of The New York State Handbook (Avalon Books), now in its fourth edition. She also has written several books on the Middle East, including Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran. She lives in New York City.

Related Links

American Museum of Natural History
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Cherry Lane Theatre
Dahesh Museum of Art
Downtown Film Forum
Film Forum
Lincoln Center
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Opera
Municipal Art Society
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of the Chinese in the Americas
National Museum of the American Indian
Neue Gallerie
New York Alliance for the Arts Online
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New York Public Library
New York Philharmonic
Performing Garage
P.S. 122
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Statue of Liberty
Times Square Ticket Center
Ukrainian Museum
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