If you’re just now getting to the party, you may not know that Bruce and I typically stay away from the more touristy spots. There are some that are worth the hassle (I’m looking at you Natural History Museum and Broadway!), but normally we try our hardest to find the local flair. We’ve been to NYC a handful of times, and have friends who live in the city and this is what we’ve gathered so far! Note that this will be updated as we continue to explore and New York continues to change!
Friday- Bar Hop
Assuming you arrive in the afternoon (like most of my itineraries), you’ll want to settle in and not have too many “planned” activities for the night. I do this because you never really know when you’ll get to your destination and you don’t want to miss something or be too worried about making it on time. So for your first night in NYC, we explore the local food and drink scene (which is epic in NYC). Depending on what you’re looking for (and price point), we can recommend:
For Dinner on the Cheap:
Veselka– Ukrainian Food
Or you could take a walk on the wild side, and try eating through Chinatown for $1.
A more upscale evening:
After dinner, B and I wanted to check out the local bar scene. On our last trip, we were with a few friends who lived in NYC so we had some great company. Unfortunately, they didn’t go out very often so they relied on us to do the itinerary (literally my favorite thing, so its all good). So here it is, our night out on the town.
Down the Hatch
B really wanted to check out McSorley’s Ale House (the oldest continuous running bar) so we headed that way. Before we got there, we stopped at Down the Hatch. We had SO much fun here. We ordered some wings, got some cheap drinks (a couple beers and some gin and tonics) and had a great time hanging out and listening to music. They have some great deals, so be sure to check those out before you go.
Now, it was time to head to McSorley’s and we were all pretty excited about it. It was so busy here, we were just going to give up but I had to go to the bathroom and this seemed like a fine place. They were going to wait outside but when I got out, Bruce was standing at the bar with 2 beers for each of us. See, at McSorley’s you get 2 beers per order and you can only choose dark or light. As soon as we got the beers, a waiter asked us if we wanted to sit down- SCORE. We all got to take a seat and met some really cool people at the shared table. They had ordered a plate of food and we all shared it, B spoke German with the guy next to him and we finished the second beer of one of the girls when she left (she hadn’t touched it- we’re not THAT friendly). After we had our fill of beers (light for Shelly and dark for Bruce), we headed out.
Of course, Bruce has a major sweet tooth so we stopped by Van Leeuwen for some ice cream, which had some great dairy free options for me. After this, it was time to head back home, we had a big day planned for Saturday.
Saturday- Taking in the Local Attractions
Because Bruce and I always choose an early night in and an early morning out, we would be up at 8 or 9 and heading to the Brooklyn Bridge before it gets overrun by the instagram influencers (though we can’t promise it won’t be overrun by 9am, they get up early!). After you get your insta shot (come on who are we kidding, we want one too!), it’s time to get hit the ground running.
Okay, so you’ve gotten out early to snag some pictures of the Brooklyn bridge and score some amazing Broadway tickets (more on that later) but now you want to get a quick bite to eat beforehand? Bagels and Pizza are probably the most argued topic in New York. I won’t pretend to be an expert (in Bagels anyways- the best pizza is in New Haven, sorry not sorry) but Leo’s Bagels comes highly recommended and is only about an 8 minute walk from the TKTS booth
Broadway Show Tickets on the Cheap(er)
If you want to see a Broadway show (and you aren’t willing to drop a couple hundred bucks on tickets) you have to try out the TKTS booths. Essentially, it is a way for theaters to get rid of unsold seats (empty seats = less money). What that means for you, is you can score tickets to some great shows for 40-60% off. You’ll want to get here early because the best deals go fast. My two favorite finds at the TKTS booth are orchestra tickets for Avenue Q ($40) and Floor Seats for The Color Purple with Cynthia Erivro ($60). These are some of the best spontaneous purchases I’ve ever made. There are three TKTS booths: Lincoln Center, South Street Seaport and Times Square. I can tell you right now the one at Times Square is going to be the busiest at any time of day. Personally, I would go to the South Street Seaport one, but any of them will work. A broadway show is a must do for a weekend in New York.
**Know Before You Go: You can only get tickets for “day of” performances and some of the best selling shows (ie: Lion King, Book of Mormon, etc) will probably never be at TKTS. Remember, its for unsold seats so go in with an open mind and you might be surprised at what you get!
From there walk to Chelsea Market to check out the super trendy shopping area. Beyond the tasty eats and sweets there are boutique shops and an artisan’s market. It is a great way to spend a few hours taking in a true New York vibe. There’s also the High Line, an amazing park built on an elevated freight line that lies above the Chelsea Market. Here you can find art, nature and live performances. If it’s a nice day, this is a must see.
We haven’t found a better “cheap eat” in New York City. At San Marzanos you can get a plate of homemade pasta for about $10. After choosing your pasta type, you pick your own sauces, some of which include wild boar ragu, broccoli rabe & sausage, and vecchia bettola (to name a few). Pair that with a pitcher of sangria and you have a great lunch that doesn’t break your budget.
Since you saved some money on lunch, you can head over to the Barcade and get a drink (or two) before heading to Times Square for your Broadway show. The Barcade is probably the most fun bar there is. You can get some great drinks and play some vintage arcade games, what’s not to love.
Depending on how much time you spent at the Barcade, you might get to check out Times Square before or after your show. Thankfully, this city truly never sleeps so if you have to run to your show, you can definitely check it out after. Schmackarys is a staple and a great place to stop for an after show sweets. Fun story, we once stood in line at Schmackarys for about 20 minutes after seeing the Color Purple and when Bruce got his cookie, he immediately dropped it. He may or may not have picked it up off Times Square and eaten it. Hey, his immune system is better for it, even if it was one of the grossest things he’s ever done.
This night is all up to you, depending on how much of Times Square you want to explore/if you got to explore before your show.
Sunday- A Lazy Walk in the Park
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Sundays are for boozy mornings and sleeping in. So after you have a relaxing start, head to one of New York’s famous all you (care) to drink brunch spots. Two spots that come highly recommended are Calle Ocho for some Cuban-American fare and unlimited sangria or Scallywags for an Irish- American breakfast with an option to add on unlimited drinks (although one drink is included in the $12 pricetag- SCORE). Either way, I’d plan a couple hours here to hang out. But you don’t want to overstay your welcome and ruin the rest of your day, so pace yourself!
Natural History Museum
Now I know what you’re thinking- I clicked on the local itinerary, why are you sending me to a tourist spot! But I will tell you, the Natural History Museum is more than a tourist trap. It is an incredible museum that could actually be an entire vacation in itself. Plan AT LEAST 3 hours here and that’s essentially running through it all. Even if you aren’t museum people, like Bruce and I are, you will still enjoy this masterpiece of a museum.
Now that you’re so close to Central Park, theres no excuse not to take a quick stroll. Pick up lunch at a Hot Dog or Halal cart and head to the the green to feel like true New Yorker. Take a walk over the many bridges, have a picnic under the tree or take a horse drawn carriage before heading back home. It’s the perfect way to cap off your weekend in New York City.
Want to Check Out Some Sights?
I can’t end an article about New York without mentioning the City Pass. If you’ve never been to New York and you want to make sure you see all the sights, there is not better way than to grab a City Pass. The City Pass gives you admission for 6 of the most iconic spots in New York, saving you almost $100 on regular admission. The pass costs about $130 per adult but that’s a small price to pay if you want to take in all the sights and sounds of NYC in your limited time! If you don’t think you’ll make it to all 6 attractions, they also have a pass for 3 attractions. If you only have a weekend, I would suggest the 3 attraction pass so you have some time to breathe in between each event!
Now there are obviously an unlimited amount of things to do in NYC, but these are our favorites. Did we miss any of yours? What would you do if you only had 3 days in New York City?