72 Hours in New York City Insider’s Guide for First Timers Visitors

New York City is unlike any other city out there - full of historic landmarks, people from all walks of life, magnificent buildings and countless skyscrapers…. In a city that keeps growing and evolving daily, it’s hard to imagine you could see it all in just 3 days, but we’ve put together an itinerary designed to give you a little taste of the best parts.

From tours to museums to observatories and open-air attractions, this itinerary will give you a real feel for the New York life. Our itinerary will not only save you time and money, it will eliminate the stress of having to plan out a three-day trip all by yourself!

Our itinerary uses the All Around Town, 72-Hr Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour as transportation for our tour. This guide will tell you where to get off and what to do -- helping you get the most out of your hop-off exploring adventures. We’ll spend a day exploring Uptown, then Downtown and then Brooklyn! It’s the perfect way to experience these unique NYC neighborhoods. Of course, you can mix and match the order in any way you want -- Some people even like to the bus tour once through in full, then double back and do the hop-off adventures. We encourage you to make it your own!

Day 1 - Ultimate Guide to Uptown Manhattan

Times Square

Start your first day exploring Times Square - the heart of New York City! Home to some of the largest billboards, brightest lights and best photo spots in the Big Apple, you will be welcomed by a buzz of energy.

Times Square has a lot to offer – look up above from the One Times Square building to catch a glimpse of the New Year’s Eve ball; get pictures with your favorite characters like Lady Liberty, Elmo, and even Spongebob Squarepants; sing along with the Naked Cowboy; shop at the many stores there for your perfect souvenir!

Hop-On, Hop-Off Uptown Bus Loop

If the weather is beautiful, nice, or even just bearable, be sure to sit on the upper deck of the bus. Unobstructed views of some of Uptown Manhattan’s greatest highlights, are visible from the comfort of your seat.

The Shops at Columbus Circle

Hop off at: Columbus Circle Stop

What you’ll find: The Shops at Columbus Circle

The Shops is a prime NYC shopping destination and offers a traditional shopping mall experience. Browse through stores like H&M, Cole Haan, Hugo Boss, J. Crew, Michael Kors, MAC Cosmetics, Sephora, Swarovski and other famous brands to take care of all your shopping needs.

When your retail therapy is complete, hop back on at the same stop you hopped off, and take the bus two stops down to get to our next destination: Central Park.

Central Park

Stop: The Dakota/Strawberry Fields stop on the Uptown Tour

Did you know that Central Park is America’s first ever man made public park? So, it only makes sense that a visit to this 843-acre lush green historic park, that sits right between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, is next on our list. Central Park is popular with locals and tourists alike since it offers refuge from the concrete jungle. There is a wide variety of activities to do for every visitor. Some of our favorites include:

  • Conservatory Garden – This beautiful six-acre secret garden is located in the northeast corner of Central Park. There are entrances to the Conservatory Garden from both the north and south sides at 5th Avenue and 105th Street. You can also enter through the impressive Vanderbilt Gate if you’re enjoying the museums on 5th Avenue. The Garden is made up of smaller gardens – Italian, French and English, that host pristine green lawns, jetted fountains, flower beds, and beautiful sculptures!
  • Central Park Rowboat Rental – If you’re visiting during summer months, an enjoyable row on the lake is certainly worth experiencing. Enjoy a quick bite at the Loeb Boathouse Lakeside Restaurant before you begin your rowing adventure. Row under the stunning Bow Bridge and along shorelines that open onto coves, peninsulas, and bays. Every bend offers new views for you to enjoy. Tip: being on the lake amidst the foliage and skyscrapers makes a perfect backdrop for pictures!
  • Central Park Zoo – This mini zoo is very popular with kids. The focal point of the Zoo is the sea lion exhibit. Also of note, grizzly bears, red pandas, and snow leopards exhibits. There’s also a petting zoo that kids adore! (Note: if you want to go to the Zoo, hop back on the Uptown Tour -- it has its own stop further down!)
  • Other popular spots – Belvedere Castle, the Bethesda Terrace, and Strawberry Fields – a John Lennon memorial.

Upper West Side

The American Museum of Natural History is a favorite of those young and old.

If you’re out with younger kids who are ready to run free, The Diana Ross Playground is located across the street from the American Museum of Natural History just inside Central Park at West 81st Street and Central Park West. It’s a gated playground where you’ll see lots of local kids and their nannies.

If you are lucky enough to be in the neighborhood on a Sunday, visit the Grand Bazaar NYC flea market for unique finds and treasures. Located on the corner of Columbus and Amsterdam, this open-air flea market is the largest curated market of it’s kind in New York City.

When you’ve had your fill of dinosaurs and trinkets, hop back on the bus.


Hop off at: Apollo Theater Stop

Known for its jazz clubs, soul food joints and African-American heritage, Harlem draws a diverse crowd of both locals and visitors alike. In the early 1900s, Harlem was the backdrop for African-American-led movements in music, literature, dance and art—more popularly known as the Harlem Renaissance. That legacy is still visible today, especially along 125th Street, home to the iconic Apollo Theater, as well as stores and restaurants. Some of the best places to visit:

  • Apollo Theater – The concert hall, which opened its doors back in 1934, has helped introduce the world to artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald and Patti LaBelle. The theater remains a continuous source of local and national pride and a showcase for up and coming talent.
  • Gospel Tour – For those interested in Harlem’s history, we would highly recommend taking a Harlem Gospel tour to learn in greater depth about the rich African-American history and culture. This tour passes by famous sights and landmarks such as the St. John the Divine, Columbia University, City College, Morning Side Heights, the Apollo Theater, and the Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture. The tour also lets you experience the soul stirring power of Gospel music.
  • Ready for lunch? Try Sylvia’s Restaurant – If you’re in Harlem around lunch time – or anytime really – visit Sylvia’s Restaurant for some authentic soul food. Their menu is extensive and appeals to many different palates. Nothing beats their Home fried chicken and waffles!

After exploring Harlem, hop back on the Bus to continue your Uptown adventure.

Museum Mile

Hop off at: Smithsonian Museum of Design/Jewish Museum Stop“Museum Mile” is a collection of nine famous museums that can be found on the mile long stretch of Fifth Avenue between 82nd and 110th streets. The vast richness and cultural diversity packed into this single mile is the densest display of culture in New York City. You could spend a week (or more) just exploring this one mile of uptown and still not see it all.

The Theater District

Hop off at: Winter Garden Theater StopIf you’ve put in a full day exploring Uptown, it’s probably late afternoon by now. Hopefully you have made plans and purchased tickets to a Broadway Show. Seeing a Broadway play in New York City’s Theater District is truly an unforgettable experience.

If you didn’t plan ahead, it’s just a short, five-minute walk down Broadway to the TKTS Booth, the standard destination for discounted same-day tickets to Broadway shows, most at 50% off.If you’ll be having dinner in the area, we recommend that you dine at one of the many restaurants in the Theater District that make up “Restaurant Row”.

Enjoy a diverse collection of culinary options from around the world, including Italy, Japan, Brazil, and America. Restaurant Row is especially ideal for the pre- and post-theater crowd since it’s conveniently located on West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Aves.

The Grand Finale

From the Theater Stop, walk over to 30 Rockefeller Plaza to get in some quality sightseeing. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck is more than a great way to view the city! Atop the 67th, 69th and 70th floors you’ll get to enjoy miles of unobstructed views of New York City’s concrete jungle. Some iconic sites you’ll get to see are the Chrysler Building, Central Park, the Hudson River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Time Square. And since it’s open till 12 AM every night, get mesmerizing views of New York City twinkle and shine at night - a great way to end your evening!

Day 2: Ultimate Guide to Downtown Manhattan

On Day 2, head on over to Times Square to catch the Downtown double-decker tour bus, and definitely sit on the upper deck! You will get open, unparalleled views of some of Downtown Manhattan’s greatest sights and landmarks perched up high on the open roof of the bus.

Macy’s Herald Square

Hop off at: The Macy’s StopMacy’s on 34th Street-- also known as Macy’s Herald Square -- is undoubtedly one of the largest department stores in the world. This iconic New York City landmark first opened its doors back in 1902.

As you walk through the revolving doors, you’ll be transported to a different universe all together. With over ten floors filled with merchandise – apparel, handbags, ties, shoes, cosmetics and fragrance, and much more – If you’re in the mood to shop, you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for!

Empire State Building

Everyone knows the Empire State Building offers an unforgettable view of the Big Apple -- but did you know that on a clear day, you can also see up to 5 states from the open-air promenade or from the climate-controlled viewing galleries?

With a newly installed art deco lobby and murals, the Dare to Dream exhibit and the Sustainability exhibit, the Empire State Building is sure to inspire you while you make your way up to the iconic 360-degree- open air observation deck on the 86th floor! Get the details about the view from every vantage point with the free self-guided multimedia tour.

The High Line

A quick 15-minute walk to 10th Avenue will get you to one of NYC’s hidden gems – The High Line Park. This 1.45-mile-long outdoor park is built on an old elevated rail line located on the west side of Manhattan. It runs from the Meat packing District to West 34th Street. As you walk through the park, you will get breathtaking views of the city and the Hudson River. You will also pass through the neighborhood of Chelsea. Get off at one of several dismount points to explore the neighborhood and stop for a quick bite snack at Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market, an indoor food market, is located in a 120-year-old historic landmark building. Discover the history of Chelsea Market, taste your way through the eateries, view original artwork and granite sculptures, and experience the ultimate indoor foodie paradise.


Hop off at: SoHo StopFor a shopping experience you can’t find everywhere else, a visit to Downtown Manhattan’s SoHo district is a must! SoHo’s wide range of indie boutiques, upscale retailers and specialty stores are every shoppers dream come true.

You can find almost anything in Soho -- from cheap street fashion to upscale designer garb and stylish home-decor. Shop brands such as Acne, Alexander Wang, Céline, Housing Works Bookstore Café, The Laundress, Matter, Miu Miu, Opening Ceremony (one of the most popular stores in the neighborhood), Prada, Rag & Bone, Saint Laurent, Second Time Around, and TAI Jewelry.


Hop off at: Chinatown & Little Italy stopChinatown is one of Manhattan’s most fascinating neighborhoods to explore. Its busy and narrow streets reveal a surprise at every corner – it’s like you’ve been transported to a different country. Home to a heavy population of Asian immigrants, Chinatown’s streets are filled with unique and exquisite stores.

Street vendors sell exotic foods such as rice noodles, barbeque skewers, live eels, cut fruits and rambutans, and even mini cakes. On Canal Street you can find some of the best jewelry stores and gift shops in the area. Chatham Square has a statue of Lin Zexu, a Qing dynasty official who led the fight against illegal opium import also known as the First Opium War.

One World Observatory

For a sightseeing experience unlike any other, visit the One World Observatory. It is the newest and the tallest observatory to join the New York City skyline. Upon arrival, you will enter the Welcome Center and make your way through to the “Voices” exhibit. Ascend to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere in less than sixty seconds, then look toward the horizon as you feel the city’s invincible spirit.The elevator ride up shows Manhattan’s transformation from the 1600s till date. Take in mesmerizing views of iconic sites and landmarks, surrounding waters and panoramic views of the skyline and beyond. Explore three levels filled with innovation and inspiration. Immerse yourself in the bustling crossroads of the world at the See Forever Theater. Step onto the expansive Sky Portal and take a walk high above the streets of New York – there may be no better place on earth for a selfie!Once you’ve done your share of exploring the One World Observatory, walk on over to the 9/11 memorial Museum.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is the “official” memorial built on the site of the Twin Towers. Visit the museum and pay tribute to the victims, all the while feeling the tremendous spirit of resilience.We highly recommend taking a self-guided audio tour at the museum. The story of 9/11 is told through interactive technology, archives, narratives and a collection of artifacts. Hear stories from first responders, see panoramic timelapse footage from Ground Zero and learn about the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in this 110,000 square foot space.Step outside this poignant museum and explore the 9/11 Memorial – which is free to visit. The Memorial hosts the largest manmade waterfalls in North America which cascade into reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers. The name of each victim is etched in bronze around the two memorial pools.

The Battery (Park)

Hop off at: Battery Park/Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Ferry stop - State & Bridge St. (Battery Park across from 17 State St.)The Battery, also known as Battery Park, is a 25-acre public park located at the southern tip of Manhattan, facing New York Harbor. Be prepared to spend some time here as there is so much to do!

Wall Street (Financial District) – Some of the famous attractions and landmarks you will find here are Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull sculpture. Here, you will also find Federal Hall - the first capital of the United States of America. Did you know that this is also where George Washington took his oath as the nation's first president?

Statue of Liberty – Battery Park is the perfect spot for getting some breathtaking views of the Harbor and the Statue of Liberty! Head on over to the Statue Cruises terminal to take the cruise to explore the Statue and Ellis Island. Lady Liberty is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. You can even visit the pedestal and even the crown - but you’ll need advanced reservations! Learn about the immigrant experience on Ellis Island.

SeaGlass Carousel – The SeaGlass Carousel is a carousel like none other that you have seen! This 2,575 square foot pavilion spirals and shines on The Battery’s southern side. There are 30 massive fiberglass fish that internally illuminate with color-changing LED light fixtures, all designed to emulate the bioluminescence found deep in the ocean. The SeaGlass Carousel pays homage to the first New York Aquarium which was originally located in the Battery.

The Rockefeller Center

Hop off at: Rockefeller Center/Radio City/Top of the Rock 49th St. btw. 5th & 6th Ave. (30 W. 49th St)

The Rockefeller Center stop is good point to get off and explore some more. The collection of Art Deco buildings that span between Fifth and Sixth Avenues make up the Center.

Here you’ll find famous New York City landmarks such as Radio City, rooftop gardens, artwork and famous statues distributed along the buildings including the Prometheus. You’ll also find the Nintendo Store and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

We suggest finishing up your day here with dinner at one of our favorite spots: Trattoria Trecolori for Italian, Ipanema Restaurant for Brazilian, and Los Tacos No. 1 for scrumptious Mexican fare!

Day 3: Ultimate Guide to Brooklyn

Hop-On, Hop-Off Brooklyn Bus Loop

Hop on at: To start day 3, you’ll want to make your way back Downtown to the Battery Park/Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Ferry stop.

You can hop back on a Downtown Tour bus to get to the start of the Brooklyn loop, or You can easily get there using Uber, Lyft, or Via. You can also take the Subway - take the number 4 or 5 subway trains to Bowling Green Stop, or take the N, R or W trains to Whitehall Street. You can also take the 1 train to the South Ferry Stop. In all instances, walk a block or two to get to the Brooklyn Tour (between State & Bridge St.)

If we haven’t stressed it enough, once on board, be sure to sit on the upper deck of the open top bus for unmatched views of some of Brooklyn’s most iconic sights and landmarks. The Brooklyn Bus tour passes by the Barclays Center, Atlantic Avenue, Fort Greene Park, the Brooklyn Public Library, and so many other famous sites.

Brooklyn Bridge Promenade

There are multiple ways to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge – one of New York City’s most visited bridge! This charming bridge is a must-do on every visitor’s list. Walking or biking across the bridge are two of the preferred methods to appreciate fascinating views of Downtown Manhattan, the East River and the majestic Brooklyn Bridge itself!

We encourage you to either walk across the bridge and then hop on, or, take the tour and then hop off at the Brooklyn Promenade, and walk back to Manhattan. The walk from one end of the bridge to the other takes, on average, about 1 hour. Of course, add in extra time for photo ops! Instead of walking the entire bridge, walk half of it, make a U-turn, and come right back to where you started from. In this way, you can hop back on the bus and continue on with the rest of your Brooklyn tour.


DUMBO is a neighborhood nestled between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, and stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This up and coming trendy neighborhood is home to some cute indie clothing boutiques, upscale restaurants and cozy cafes. As you walk towards the waterfront, you will come across St. Ann's Warehouse – a performing arts theater. This is also where you will find DUMBO’s thriving art gallery scene.

Empire Stores

Not only does Empire Stores offer a wide variety of stores to shop from, it has history attached to it! One of the last standing brick warehouses that overlooked Brooklyn’s East River, this recently restored historic building brings back community, culture and creativity back to Brooklyn’s waterfront. Here you will find stores like West Elm, Almondine Bakery, Galapagos Art Space, and Jacques Torres Ice Cream. Take the stairs up to the roof, where the landscaping along with plenty of wooden benches creates a place of peace and tranquility. Not to forget the breathtaking views you’ll get of Lower Manhattan!

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park, appropriately named since it’s located right beside the bridge, is an 85-acre park facing the East River. The park is visited by thousands of visitors each week who come for stunning views of Manhattan. The park also offers free outdoor movies, kayaking, and also rowing.After exploring the renowned DUMBO neighborhood and its surrounding areas, hop right back on the bus and head over to our next recommended stop: Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Prospect Park

Hop off at: Brooklyn Botanical Garden/Brooklyn Museum Stop on the Brooklyn TourLocated right in the heart of Brooklyn, Prospect Park is 585-acres of pure beauty and recreation! There’s plenty to do around here, including – biking, strolling along the lush and beautiful Long Meadow, dog watching at Dog Beach, and even horseback riding.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

After you’ve spent quality time at the zoo, walk around to Mary Pinkett Avenue to get to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden was founded in 1910 and expands over 52-acres. The garden comprises of a number of specialty gardens and plant collections and also houses the Steinhardt Conservatory. Some of the specialty gardens you can walk through and enjoy are the Cherry Esplanade, the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, the Cranford Rose Garden, Children’s Garden, and the Water Garden.

Park Slope Neighborhood

After you’re done exploring the Botanic Garden, cut through Prospect Park to get to Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Park Slope is divided into North and South Slopes and features tree-lined streets with beautiful historic brownstone buildings!

Walk along 7th Avenue to explore and experience the diversity of the area. The mix of indie clothing boutiques, friendly bars and casual yet trendy restaurants is guaranteed to give you a complete taste on Brooklyn. This is the perfect time to grab a late lunch or early dinner before you continue on with the rest of your tour.

Head over to Purbird for some traditional American cuisine – salads, sandwiches, wraps, mashed potatoes. A must try on their menu are the Jalapeno mashed potatoes! Or go to Gristmill for wood-fired pizza, draft beer and a wide selection of wine.

Whether you walk back or take the bus, note the amazing views of Manhattan as you cross the bridge and make your way back to the city.

This concludes your ultimate 3-day tour of the Big Apple! We hope you have an amazing time.