New York In 2 Days: Everything You Need To Know | Stanton House Inn
Lower Manhattan with One World Trade Center to the left, the tallest building in NYC and a stop on your two days in New York itinerary

New York in 2 Days: Everything You Need to Know

Sunset image of New York harbor from Battery Park

Okay, so you’ve got two days in New York City? Let’s make the most of it. This guide will help you experience the best bits of the Big Apple. From Manhattan’s hotspots to a taste of Brooklyn, we’ve got you covered. This guide is perfect for first-timers with only a few days to spare. We’ve organized it to make your visit as efficient as possible, avoiding unnecessary detours and confusion. We’ve also included a handy map or two and practical advice on accommodation, transportation, and how to stay within your budget.

 

Quick Hits for exploring New York in 2 Days

  • You’ll be exploring the best of New York, taking in both the famous sights and hidden gems. This includes experiencing the culture, history, and food.
  • Your mode of transportation will vary. You might find yourself in a yellow taxi, on a subway, or even a ferry. The choice depends on your destination, how much time you’ve got, and your budget.
  • As for accommodations, don’t fret. Options range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels.

 

Day 1: New York City Itinerary of Manhattan Highlights

Aerial view of the New York skyline with Central Park

Alright, you’ve got one day in the heart of New York City. Today, you’re in for some real treats: the spots that everyone recognizes in movies.

 

Whether you’re up for a lazy stroll or eager to view the cityscape from a dizzying height, today has you covered.

 

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into the lively chaos of Manhattan and its most popular tourist attractions!

 

two days in new york itinerary for the first day map
Map design by Stanton House Inn with elements from Flaticon

 

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station

First stop is Grand Central. This may be where you arrive if you’re not staying in the City, or outside of the touristy areas, like Harlem. But regardless, it’s a sight you won’t want to miss.

 

Grand Central Station, a world-famous subway station in Midtown Manhattan, is a must-see destination. Built in 1913, it is one of the top ten most visited attractions in the USA and the third busiest train station in North America. The station is primarily a commuter rail station, bringing commuters into Manhattan from Connecticut and the Hudson Valley. The main concourse area, a huge meeting area, features in many movies and TV shows. Grand Central Terminal is free to visit and offers a range of shops and eateries, including a food court.

 

The stunning turquoise ceiling is a favorite feature of the building. If you’re a fan of architectural quirks, be sure to visit the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal as part of your 2-day New York itinerary. You can whisper into one corner of the room, and your travel buddy will be able to hear you from the opposite side.

 

Breakfast

If you’re near Grand Central Terminal and looking for a fantastic breakfast spot, you’re in luck! Here are a few recommendations if you didn’t get breakfast wherever you were staying:

  • Pershing Square: Just across the street from Grand Central, this bustling bistro is known for its hearty American breakfasts. Try their famous buttermilk pancakes or the smoked salmon scramble.
  • Cafe Grumpy: A short walk from the terminal, this local chain is perfect if you’re in need of a high-quality coffee and a fresh pastry. Their breakfast sandwiches are also a hit.
  • The Grand Central Market: Inside the terminal itself, this European-style food hall offers a variety of vendors selling high-quality produce, baked goods, and breakfast bites. Perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast.

 

New York Public Library

Rose Reading Room

Exit onto 42nd Street, and turn right to walk due west.

 

Constructed in 1897, it’s a sight worth seeing. As you approach from 5th Avenue, you’ll ascend marble stairs flanked by two imposing lion statues. Inside, the Rose Main Reading Room is a marvel. Its walls are lined with books and a ceiling mural of clouds creates a dreamy atmosphere. The library is also home to the original toys that inspired British author A.A. Milne to create Winnie the Pooh. Visitor are welcome to explore many rooms, including the General Research Division reading room. Just remember, it’s a working library, so keep the noise down. The library is open daily and free to visit. Be sure to explore Bryant Park, right next door, while you’re here.

 

From the steps of the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, walk up Fifth Avenue. On the way, you’ll pass the next stop. Plus another one, that we’ll come back to later.

 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

This giant structure stands tall amidst the hubbub of Fifth Avenue. It’s a Neo-Gothic masterpiece, a relic from another era in the heart of modern New York. This beautiful structure patiently waits for you to step inside and enjoy a moment of quiet reflection.

 

Central Park

Autumn in Central Park

Continue up Fifth Avenue to arrive at Central Park. This place is a green oasis right in the heart of Manhattan, a quiet escape from the city’s hustle. You’ll find breathtaking landscapes, all man-made. Start off your day with a peaceful walk from The Pond to Belvedere Castle. This 19th-century gem offers a stunning view, hence its Italian name, which translates to “beautiful view”.

 

Take your time as you walk through Central Park. Enjoy the sights like Bethesda Terrace and Bow Bridge. The park is a grand place, spanning more than 840 acres and offering a variety of activities from bird watching to picnics. To truly experience it, plan to spend about 2.5 hours, including a lunch break.

 

Speaking of lunch, a few nearby options include:

  • The Loeb Boathouse Central Park: This lakeside restaurant offers a unique dining experience with its stunning views of the lake and park. Their menu features a variety of dishes, from fresh salads to hearty sandwiches.
  • Tavern on the Green: A historic restaurant located in Central Park, Tavern on the Green offers a charming setting for a leisurely breakfast. The menu features classic American fare, including eggs benedict and New York-style bagels.
  • Street Hot Dog Stand: For a truly New York experience, grab a hot dog from one of the many street vendors scattered around the city. It’s a quick, affordable, and tasty option if you’d rather stay on the go. Don’t knock it until you try it.

 

Times Square

Times Square, a must when visiting NYC for the first time

Next on your NYC itinerary is Times Square, back down 7th Avenue. Brace yourself for a sensory overload! This place is a vortex of lights and energy. It’s home to the Broadway Theater District, attracting a staggering 50 million visitors annually. Trust me, it’s an unforgettable spectacle.

 

But Times Square is more than just neon signs and billboards. There’s a wealth of entertainment to enjoy. Fancy a Broadway show? You’re in the right place. Looking for discounted same-day tickets? Check out the TKTS booth. Or, you could simply stand back and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere. Be careful, though. Times Square can get incredibly crowded, especially on weekends. Keep your belongings secure and stay alert. Pickpockets are infamous here.

 

Empire State Building

Empire State Building observation deck view

The Empire State Building, a majestic 102-story giant, is an iconic symbol of New York City. Its Art Deco design pierces the sky, a sight to behold since its completion in 1931. As dusk falls, you’ll find yourself drawn to its towering grandeur. The cityscape unfolds from its viewing platforms, even offering a glimpse of the imposing One World Trade Center.

 

The outdoor observation deck is on the 86th floor. From this vantage point, you can capture the city in all its glory. After you’ve soaked in the views, delve into the building’s rich past at its museum exhibition. Here, you’ll uncover the secrets of its construction, its place in popular culture, and its architectural significance. To get the full experience, book your tickets ahead of time. Plan to set aside at least an hour to explore this iconic symbol of New York City.

 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Plaza

As we wrap up the day, our next stop is the Rockefeller Center. Here, you’ll find the famous Hercules statue. Turn around, and you’ll see a previous stop, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But Rockefeller Center is home to familiar stores and the famous ice-skating rink, not to mention Radio City Music Hall. What else makes Rockefeller Center stand out? It’s a common stop on visits exploring winter activities in New York City for its outdoor ice skating rink and over-the-top Christmas decorations, including a massive tree.

 

It’s also the filming location of ‘Saturday Night Live’ at NBC Studios. You can book tickets to see NBC shows filmed live or go on a tour of NBC Studios, if you arrange in advance.

 

Want a bird’s eye view of the city? Visit ‘The Top of the Rock’ observation deck. It offers indoor and outdoor viewing areas, providing a stunning view of the Empire State Building. The Top of the Rock, situated 850 feet above the city, offers a panoramic view of Central Park, midtown, and downtown Manhattan. Both are great options, though the Empire State Building is the top choice. Personally, I’d rather have the Empire State Building in my photos.

 

Dinnertime

If you’re ready for dinner, here are a few options nearby:

  • For a delicious yet budget-friendly meal (for here), consider HAMA. They serve up tasty Japanese dishes like sushi in a contemporary setting.
  • If you’re looking for something , try Bill’s Bar & Burger. They offer some of the best burgers in town, along with a variety of craft beers.
  • For a more luxurious dining experience that you’ve likely seen on TV, book a table at The Rainbow Room. Located on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center, this restaurant offers an exquisite menu and breathtaking views of the city.

 

And from here, if you’re still feeling ambitious, you can end the evening with a Broadway show. Or explore some of the nearby neighborhoods: Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park are personal favorites.

 

Day 2: Cultural and Historical Sights in NYC Itinerary

Statue of Liberty

Welcome to day two in the City that Never Sleeps! Today, you’ll immerse yourself in New York’s rich cultural and historical tapestry. These elements combine to make this city a unique character in the grand drama of life.

 

You’re starting your day at the very bottom tip of Manhattan island, so some breakfast places nearby include:

 

  • George’s: A longtime staple (since 1950) for American breakfast classics

 

  • Leo’s Bagels: Located in the Financial District, Leo’s Bagels offers authentic New York bagels and a variety of spreads, making it a perfect quick breakfast spot.

 

  • Blue Spoon Coffee Company: A cozy café located in Lower Manhattan, Blue Spoon offers delicious coffee and a range of breakfast sandwiches and pastries.

 

New York in 2 Days Day 2 New York in 2 Days: Everything You Need to Know
Map design by Stanton House Inn with elements from Flaticon

 

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Ellis Island National Museum, near Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty

Kick off your day with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two iconic American landmarks. To get there, take a ferry from Battery Park. These sites narrate the story of immigration to the United States, embodying the ideals of freedom and democracy.

 

Before setting foot on Liberty Island, you’ll embark on a scenic 1-hour cruise. This offers striking views of Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. On Ellis Island, you’ll find a museum filled with stories. These narratives are from the millions of immigrants who passed through this gateway to a new life in America. Be on the lookout for your ancestors’ names.

 

Financial District and Wall Street

New York Stock Exchange Building in the Financial District

Once you’ve visited Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, head north from Battery Park. Your next stop? Wall Street, the epicenter of New York City’s financial universe. Here, you’ll find the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull statue. They’re conveniently located close to the World Trade Center.

 

As you stroll these streets, take in the sight of old merchant buildings and renovated sailing ships. They’re monuments to the city’s rich history, a nod to its roots in trade and commerce. Be sure to take a photo with the Charging Bull. It’s a symbol of a thriving stock market and a popular attraction for tourists worldwide.

 

A few unique spots for lunch around here include:

  • Ulysses Folk House: A unique gastropub offering hearty Irish and American classics in a laid-back, rustic setting.
  • Fraunces Tavern: A historic tavern serving American cuisine and a wide range of craft beers. Yes, it’s not in the direction you’re heading, but it’s cool.
  • Delmonico’s: An iconic, upscale restaurant serving classic American dishes since the 1830s, known for being the birthplace of the Delmonico steak.

 

World Trade Center

9/11 Memorial at the One World Trade Center

It’s hard to talk about New York without mentioning the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. The World Trade Center, our iconic Twin Towers, were reduced to rubble. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost. In their memory, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was erected. It features two solemn pools with cascading waterfalls, located where the towers once stood. The names of all the victims adorn the perimeters.

 

Adjacent to these pools stands a new monument, the One World Trade Center. It boasts one of the most impressive observation decks, the One World Observatory, offering 360-degree views of the city.

 

Museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History

Metropolitan Museum of Art, home of a collection spanning from the antiquities to modern art

Last stop is one of two of the city’s top museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as The Met, and the American Museum of Natural History. These institutions are a must-visit for any culture enthusiast.

 

The Met is a journey through time, showcasing 5,000 years of human creativity. It’s vast, with a ton of exhibits. A minimum of three hours is recommended to fully appreciate its collections.

 

On the other hand, the American Museum of Natural History will transport you from the depths of the ocean to the farthest corners of space. This fascinating natural history museum demands about the same amount of your time to explore thoroughly. And if there’s a special exhibit, consider adding an extra hour to your visit. Whatever it is, it’ll definitely be worth it.

 

Exploring Brooklyn: DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Before you say goodbye to the City, be sure to visit Brooklyn. More specifically, spend some time in the trendy area known as DUMBO. This acronym stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” Here, you’ll be gifted with a breathtaking view of Manhattan and the historic Brooklyn Bridge, especially from the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

 

Take a leisurely stroll and feel the neighborhood’s pulse. In the heart of DUMBO, you’ll find an artistic community. This community gives the area a unique charm that’s hard to find elsewhere.

 

Brooklyn Bridge Walk

Brooklyn Bridge walk

Get ready, it’s time to take a stroll across the legendary Brooklyn Bridge. Since 1883, this old dame has been standing tall and offering a canvas for the city’s most stunning vistas. The walk affords a gorgeous view of the city skyline. The East River flows beneath you. Governors Island, a patch of green amidst the concrete, will be visible in the distance. Further away, you’ll spot Staten Island, the city’s most distant borough, and New Jersey.

 

For the best experience, cross the Brooklyn Bridge early in the morning or in the late afternoon. These times offer fewer crowds and even more striking views. The walk usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your pace and how many times you stop to capture the moment. So, take your time, soak it all in, and make a memory out of your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

But, assuming you’ve been following your New York itinerary, you’re likely crossing this in the evening. It’ll still be spectacular.

 

DUMBO Neighborhood

The DUMBO neighborhood, with the iconic Brooklyn bridge in the background

This area has transformed from its industrial and ferry-centric past into a hub of creativity. Here’s what you’ll discover:

 

  • Eclectic shops with a variety of goods
  • Cozy cafes that brew a mean cup of joe
  • Tranquil parks perfect for people-watching
  • Bookstores where you can get lost in a sea of stories
  • Art galleries that celebrate life’s beauty

 

While in DUMBO, don’t miss out on Jane’s Carousel. This historical gem has been beautifully restored and offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the East River. If you visit during winter, the ice skating rink is a must-see. Imagine gliding on that ice with the city lights twinkling in the background.

 

Sunset view from DUMBO

Dinner would be a great excuse to visit DUMBO. Here are a few recommendations:

 

  • The River Café: Located right under the Brooklyn Bridge, this restaurant offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline along with a menu of American and international dishes.
  • Juliana’s Pizza: For a casual dinner, head to Juliana’s Pizza. This pizzeria is founded by Patsy Grimaldi, a legend in New York City’s pizza scene.
  • 7 Old Fulton: This place is nestled right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It serves a variety of international dishes. They also have an impressive wine list. If you enjoy dining outdoors, they have a patio just for you.
  • The Osprey: A swanky joint, The Osprey, sits with a view of the East River. Its offerings? Farm-to-table cuisine that’ll make your taste buds dance.
  • Time Out Market New York: For a variety of food options, head to Time Out Market. This food hall features a curated mix of local food vendors, offering everything from tacos to ramen.

 

Transportation Tips

The streets of Manhattan

Let’s take a moment to discuss your transportation options in New York City. It might seem overwhelming at first, but with some guidance and a bit of insider knowledge, you’ll be navigating the city streets like a local. Here are the main options you have:

 

  • The subway system, a vast network connecting all corners of the city
  • Yellow taxis, as iconic as the city’s skyline
  • Rideshares like Uber and Lyft, the modern way to get around
  • Ferries, for those times when you want to enjoy some sea air

 

Now, let’s delve deeper into these transportation methods and learn how to use them effectively during your stay.

 

Subway System

New York subway station

Navigating New York City can be a breeze with the NYC Subway System. This maze-like network of underground and elevated trains connects every corner of the five boroughs. To ride, you’ll need a MetroCard. You can purchase one at any MetroCard machine in the subway stations or on the MTA website. Depending on your travel plans, you can choose between a pay-per-swipe card or an unlimited 7-day or 30-day card.

 

To plan your route and stay updated on service changes, you can use the MTA website or the MTA Subway Time app. These resources will guide you through the subway system. They will ensure your travels in New York City are smooth and efficient.

 

Taxis and Rideshares

Discussing taxis and rideshares, these services offer a convenient way to traverse the city’s busy streets. Here’s what you need to know:

  • New York’s iconic yellow taxis can be hailed directly from the curb.
  • Modern transportation services like Uber and Lyft are available and can be booked via their respective apps.
  • Taxi fares in NYC are generally higher than subway fares.
  • Taxis and rideshares are excellent options for short distances or when the subway isn’t convenient.

 

Ferries

You’re interested in a water journey? Well, New York City offers various ferry services. These include the NYC Ferry, the Staten Island Ferry, and the East River Ferry. These aren’t just means of transportation. They also offer a front-row view of the city’s skyline and the bustling harbor.

 

You can purchase ferry tickets through an app, a ticket agent, or a machine near the ferry port. For detailed information on ferry schedules and routes, visit the NYC Ferry website at https://www.ferry.nyc/routes-and-schedules/. Take a moment to sit back, enjoy the breeze, and admire the view. You’ll see the Statue of Liberty standing tall and the Manhattan skyline reaching towards the clouds. It’s a sight that will stay with you long after your trip ends.

 

Accommodation Suggestions

Choosing your accommodation in New York City might seem overwhelming at first. However, with some research, you can easily find a place that fits both your budget and style. The city offers a wide range of options. These include budget-friendly hostels, comfortable mid-range hotels, and luxurious stays. Let’s explore some of the best places to stay in the city that never sleeps.

 

Where to stay in New York City during your two day visit

View from the Empire Hotel rooftop bar, a great spot for a NYC weekend

When choosing where to stay in New York City for your two-day visit, pick neighborhoods close to the attractions highlighted in this guide. Midtown Manhattan is one of the best places in New York to stay as it’s home to Times Square, the Empire State Building, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s also near the New York Public Library and Grand Central Terminal.

 

If you’re interested in exploring Central Park and the museums, consider staying in the Upper East Side or Upper West Side. For those keen on experiencing the vibrant energy of Wall Street and the Financial District, staying in Lower Manhattan is ideal.

 

That said, if your itinerary includes a visit to the trendy DUMBO area in Brooklyn, pick accommodations in Brooklyn Heights or Downtown Brooklyn.

 

Are there any New York City bed and breakfasts nearby?

For a more homey and personalized stay, the City also boasts a variety of charming bed and breakfasts in New York City. These quaint accommodations offer a unique and intimate experience, often located in vibrant neighborhoods just a short subway or train ride away from major attractions. With their cozy rooms, homemade breakfasts, and warm hospitality, these B&Bs provide a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, while still keeping you close to the heart of the action. Historic bed and breakfasts are as rare as hen’s teeth in Manhattan, but you can find one a little further out.

 

Tl;dr

Are you ready for two days in the city that never sleeps? Brace yourself for a whirlwind adventure. This guide is your ticket through Manhattan’s pulsing heart and into its storied past. It will take you over to Brooklyn’s hip corners. You’ll take in all of New York’s best, from famous landmarks to hidden gems. Marvel at towering skyscrapers and immerse yourself in bustling neighborhoods. You’ll explore world-renowned museums and dine at top-notch eateries. So, let’s kick off this New York City adventure!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is 2 days enough to visit New York?

Only have two days in New York? Don’t worry, it’s enough! You can see a significant part of the Big Apple in this time. The key is knowing where to go and what to see. That’s where this guide proves invaluable. It has all the information you need.

 

Is it worth going to New York for 3 days?

Got three days in New York? That’s fantastic! With determination and a well-planned itinerary, you can create unforgettable memories in this urban jungle. Consider getting the New York Pass. This pass is your key to exploring the city’s most iconic landmarks and hidden treasures. So, buckle up, adventure awaits!

 

How much time should I plan to spend in Central Park?

Here’s the scoop on Central Park. To truly immerse yourself in its essence, plan to spend around 2.5 hours. This duration includes a relaxed lunch. Remember, it’s not a place to hurry through. Take it slow and savor the experience.

 

What are some popular breakfast spots in New York City?

If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast in New York City, consider visiting Salento or the Harlem Biscuit Company. For a classic breakfast experience, B&H Dairy is a great choice. Alternatively, you could start your day at Jack’s Wife Freda or Russ & Daughters, both known for their delicious spreads.

 

Can I use the same MetroCard for both the subway and buses in New York City?

Yes, you can use the same MetroCard for both subway and bus rides in New York City.

 

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