How to Make the Most of 4 Days in New York City

August 12, 2019
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan dumbo brooklyn bridge school bus

Seeing NYC in four days may seem impossible but with a carefully planned itinerary and the most comfortable shoes you can. Luckily for you, I've taken care of the first part and I'm going to show you our trip plan to make the most of New York City in just four days.

New York City is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Harlem, and The Bronx. With only 4 days in New York, you can't visit all five boroughs, so this itinerary focuses on Manhattan and a little bit of Brooklyn.


NYC is often referred to as the capital of the world, it's on most people's bucket list and its popularity makes it one of the most expensive destinations in the world. On this 4 day itinerary I'm going to show you the things you have to do and see, the most delicious food you can eat and some tips to save money.

So here's how to make the most of 4 days in the Big Apple.
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan rockefeller shopping ralph's coffee food truck

4 DAYS IN NYC ITINERARY - DAY 1

We arrived at Row NYC hotel around lunch time. We had arrived at La Guardia airport and took public transport to the hotel which takes about 1 hour. The hotel is located in Times Square which is great if you plan to explore the city on foot.

Row NYC is probably the biggest hotel we've been to. The room was modern, with lots of light and quite big. We had a lovely stay but we do have one complaint: the facility fee. Apparently this practice is common in many New York hotels. You have to pay a fee for each day you stay which is between $20-30 for using the gym and it's not negotiable. We think it's unfair that you have to pay it even if you are not using the facilities. We worked out enough sightseeing every day, so as you can imagine we couldn't even think about going to the gym when we came back to the hotel. Sorry about the rant, I felt this was an important issue to share with the community. Have you ever had to pay a facility fee? What do you think about it?

The first day on a new destination we are always pretty tired from the trip so we just explore the places nearest to the hotel. In this case we walked around Rockefeller Center, went in Saint Paul's Cathedral and saw Times Square.

4 DAYS IN NYC ITINERARY - DAY 2

We started out day at Top of the Rock. This is the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Center. From here you can see the best views of Manhattan. You can see the whole of Central Park, WTC, Chrysler building, Empire State building and even Statue of Liberty. It's pretty pricey, the ticket is $42 and if you get there by sunset you have to pay $10 extra.
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan top of the rock deck observatory rockefeller center empire state building
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan top of the rock deck observatory rockefeller center empire state building
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan top of the rock deck observatory rockefeller center empire state building

We spent the rest of the day exploring Central Park. If it's your first time in New York, these are the must-see places in the iconic Park:
  • Bethesda Terrace and Fountain
  • Bow Bridge
  • Belvedere Castle
  • Alice in Wonderland Statue
  • Strawberry fields
  • Centrla Park Zoo
  • The Loeb Boat House: this lakeside eatery with great views is a great place for lunch. It's very touristy and expensive but it's the best meal with a view you can get in NYC.
new york itinerary guide plan central park manhattan loeb boathouse menu food restaurant
new york itinerary guide plan central park manhattan towers
new york itinerary guide plan central park manhattan towers

We finished the day with some retail therapy at Columbus Circle. This mall is located at the main entrance to Central Park where Broadway, 8th Avenue, Central Park South and Central Park West all intersect. Here you can find some of the best American and international brands.

4 DAYS IN NYC ITINERARY - DAY 3

We took the metro to World Trade Center. The 9/11 memorial still gives you goosebumps, it's a very emotional experience to stand there where everything happened. This is what you can find at WTC:
  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum (free on Tuesdays after 5 pm)
  • Oculus: the WTC terminal station
  • One World Observatory at Freedom Tower
  • North Pool and South Pool are the places where the Twin Towers stood. Around the pools you can find the names of the people who died there. If you see a white roses on someone's name, that means it's their birthday.
north south pool wtc 911 memorial white rose
world trade center wtc oculus one world observatory oculus new york itinerary guide plan

Next stop: Brooklyn Bridge. We crossed the iconic bridge to the borough of Brooklyn. We took a walk around the area of Dumbo. This place has become very popular because of Instagram and with good reason. The views you can get of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges are unbeatable.
new york itinerary guide plan brooklyn bridge dumbo
new york itinerary guide plan manhattan bridge dumbo brooklyn empire state building
Can you spot the Empire State building in the photo above?

Back in Manhattan, we had lunch at SoHo. My friend and fellow blogger Bejal from Be-Lavie had recommended Nomo Kitchen and it looked so good we had to give it a try. It didn't disappoint. The place has a lovely ambiance. It's a closed terrace which feels like being at a very fancy greenhouse. It was raining and it was lovely to see the drops falling while we were eating. The whole scene was very cozy. It's like eating outdoors without getting wet.
new york itinerary guide plan nomo kitchen restaurant soho manhattan
new york itinerary guide plan nomo kitchen restaurant soho manhattan hamburger food
new york itinerary guide plan nomo kitchen restaurant soho manhattan

Unfortunately, the heavy rain didn't stop after lunch so we ended up going from one shelter to another. We stopped by at Ralph's Coffee at Flatiron. Ralph Lauren is my favorite designer so I love trying out anything related to the brand. We had had the most amazing lunch at Ralph's restaurant in Paris so when I heard there were 3 cafes in Manhattan I knew we had to try it. The place is as lovely as you'd expect and the products are great quality. However, it was a disappointment for me. I had expected a regular coffee house with a cozy sitting area and the one in Flatiron is more of a grab-and-go coffee place.
new york itinerary guide plan ralph's coffee ralph lauren tea flatiron manhattan
new york itinerary guide plan ralph's coffee ralph lauren tea flatiron manhattan

4 DAYS IN NYC ITINERARY - DAY 4

First things first, so we took the metro to Battery Park to go see Lady Liberty before it was too crowded. Be careful when you get there because there's going to be a lot of people trying to sell you unofficial tickets. The only place that sells the official tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is Castle Clinton. Tickets are $18.50. If you are on a budget and want to see it for free you can get on the Staten Island ferry. You won't be at the statue's feet but you can get a good look at it.

When we came back we took a walk around Wall Street on our way to lunch at WTC. At the Westfield mall you can find Eataly, an Italian market. Here you can find all sorts of Italian products as well as two lovely restaurants. There is another Eataly next to the Flatiron building.
new york itinerary guide plan eataly westfield wtc food market restaurant manhattan italian
new york itinerary guide plan eataly westfield wtc food market restaurant manhattan

After a wonderful Italian meal we went to Union Square and then Washington Square Park. I loved the atmosphere at the later. Street bands playing jazz, people gathered to chill and relax...it's like an Oasis in the big city. Grab a bagel and eat it in the park while soaking up the NYC feeling to experience the park like a local.
new york itinerary guide plan grand central terminal manhattan

We spent the late afternoon and evening visiting Grand Central Terminal and the UN headquarters. It was no coincidence that we ended up here at that day and time. I had planned to be there on the evening of July 12 to see Manhattanhenge. A.k.a. Manhattan Solstice, it is an event during which the setting sun is aligned with the east–west streets of the main street grid of Manhattan. These happens only for two days every spring and summer. It just happens for a brief moment but it's pretty magical.

The name is the union of Manhattan + Stonehenge and the most popular spots to see it are 42nd Street, 57th, 34th, 23rd and 14th Streets. There you will see many people walking in and out of the crosswalk, on top of cars, with tripods -we even saw a girl with a ladder!- hoping to photograph the perfect sunset. You have to be in the middle of the street to see Manhattanhenge so it gets pretty crazy with cars trying to avoid the people on the road. We ended up thinking that the best "spectacle" was seeing the amount of people gathered to see "just a sunset".

More info on Manhattanhenge here.
new york itinerary guide plan manhattanhenge solstice 42nd street manhattan
 Above, 42nd street one hour before Manhattanhenge.
new york itinerary guide plan manhattanhenge solstice manhattan

After the sun set we went to a rooftop to mingle with the locals and have a drink to say goodbye to New York. We went to Pod 39 at the top of The Pod Hotel.
new york itinerary guide plan pod 39 hotel rooftop manhattan

LAST DAY
We had a morning left in New York before taking the plane back to Madrid. We used it to do some shopping around 5th Avenue where you can find the most amazing shops in the world. The map below includes the location of my favorite stores.

WHERE TO EAT IN NYC
We had breakfast at the hotel every day. At Row NYC you have two options: a small buffet at District M or feel like you are at a street market at City Kitchen.

I've already talked about the places where we had lunch throughout the itinerary but if you need more options see the map below. I pinned many places while I was planning our trip to have plenty of options because no matter how carefully you plan a trip, you never know where you are going to be at meal times.

Eating out every day at all times is pricey so for dinner we went to the closest Whole Foods which was at Bryant Park. This is my favorite grocery store in the whole world and I miss it so much here in Spain. They have the most delicious food. We love their take-away food, especially the soup and salad bar. For a sweet treat, try their cookies, they are the best!

4 DAYS IN NYC ITINERARY MAP
This NYC map includes all the things you need for your trip: what to do, what to eat, where to stay and where to shop. The blue pins are the sights, yellow pins mark places to eat and the green ones are the location for my favorite shops. Click on the star next to the title to save to your maps in Google and take it with you on your trip.
If you have extra time...

We didn't have time for museums this time but if you want to see great art collections I recommend the MET and the MoMa (free after 4 pm on Fridays).

On a previous visit to NYC I had the chance to visit Harlem and attend a Gospel service which I highly recommend as well.

Read more about NYC:
The ultimate 10-day east coast itinerary
A European's guide to shopping in the USA
Best photo locations in NYC for first time visitors

WEAR THIS HERE
Summers in NYC are hot and humid so I packed lots of light and airy dresses like these.

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23 comments

  1. Great way to maximize your stay! The food looks delicious!

    Marie
    The Flower Duet

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  2. Thank you for sharing these tips! New York is such a amazing city.

    https://colorandgrace.com

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  3. I’m so glad you had a great time in NYC and loved the recommendations of Nomo and Pod 39. The city that never sleeps is full of surprises on each visit and never ceases to amaze me! Sounds to me like you had an incredible time. B x

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  4. I'll be in NYC in November so I'll definitely refer back to this post for tips! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  5. This is very helpful. I would love to revisit NYC and see the sights.

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  6. What an informative itinerary. You guys covered a lot of ground in such a short amount of time. I have been to NYC three times but aside from Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, I clearly have been missing out! I hope you had a great weekend and happy Monday!

    Maureen | www.littlemisscasual.com

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  7. You covered a lot of territory. Looks like a fantastic trip.

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  8. Thanks for this amazing virtual tour. I'd love to visit New York someday. Love, love, love the photos.

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  9. This looks like a perfect 4 day stay in NYC. That's too bad about the facility fee at the hotel. I have heard that these "resort fees" can go up to $100 and are sure a shock when you pay your bill. Thanks for linking up with Hello Monday! Tanya - The Other Side of the Road

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  10. Good itinerary. Been there many times. One of my favourite places is St. John the Divine Church.
    Resort fees are ridiculous in NYC. No one goes there to use the facilities. It's bad enough having to pay these at a resort resort, which is also just another money grabber and gouges the customer.
    We are getting an Eataly here in Toronto soon. But it doesn't much interest me, as we walked through their one in Florence Italy in May and I wasn't very impressed. Perhaps because we have a Little Italy in Toronto and can find anything.

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  11. Tom The Backroads TravellerAugust 13, 2019 at 1:56 PM

    ...fabulous shots!!!

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  12. NYC is much closer for me than the places you're normally in, but I've yet to visit! I do plan to make it some day and will save your tips for then!

    -Brooke

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  13. I'm an hour and a half away and get to NYC frequently. Love all your great shots

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  14. What great pics. Love your look.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

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  15. You had a busy 4 days in NYC! I am in love with the places you choose to eat at! I've been wanting to try Eataly for so long! And Ralph's looks adorable even if you found it slightly disappointing. Next time you visit NYC, be sure to hit the High Line and take a ferry at sunset. Those are some of my favorite things I've done in NYC! As always, your photos are gorgeous!

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  16. Wow, that was a great Tour. Thank you for sharing... I enjoyed this Post.

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  17. Great tips for visiting the Big Apple! Your photos are awesome.

    Thank you for linking at 'My Corner of the World' this week!


    My Corner of the World

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  18. You really can't run out of good things to see and experience in NYC! Love your snaps dear!
    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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  19. That's such a cute ice cream top. When I used to live in NYC, my favorite thing to do was going to the galleries on the lower east side and in Soho.
    x, Julie | ThisMainLineLife.com

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  20. Great guide! NYC is amazing - I wish I could visit again soon! I´ve been there for 5 days and still haven´t seen all I wanted! But I agree that good planning is essential to make the most of the city - it´s just there´re so many new exhibitions, events and restaurants poping up every year! You probably can never see it all lol

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  21. You had such a great time there! I'd really like to visit and see many of these places in person one day! My sister has been and said it's as good as the photos make it look!

    Hope that your week has been a good one and you have a nice weekend ahead of you :)

    Away From Blue

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  22. NY is so incredible! That's crazy about that sunset. I didn't know that. And yes, I hate it when hotels make me pay resort fees!

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  23. Radostina BlagoevaAugust 18, 2019 at 9:25 AM

    NYC would be such a fun city to visit. I still have yet to go there... hopefully beginning of next year.

    www.fashionradi.com

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