Yellow Cabs are synonymous in New York
Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today – New York, New York. Are you looking for the perfect two-day itinerary in the city that never sleeps? Well look no further, my guide to New York City will ensure you see the top attractions in Manhattan, and even get a taste for some more local favourites in a mere two days – crazy right!. So come on this two day journey with me to see New York City in two days.
Best time to Visit New York
The best time to visit New York is anytime. Each season offers visitors plenty of reasons to visit the city that never sleeps. Summers can be hot, while winters very cold with plenty of snow. There are seasonal things to enjoy, like the Macey’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Christmas holiday time with plenty of lights and Christmas cheer. Spring is a nice time to visit New York, as is Autumn when there is a little crispness in the air. If you are on a budget Spring and Autumn may suit with cheaper hotel rates.
How to get around New York
Travel around New York like a local – on the Subway. The subway system is the main public transportation system in New York, and some 5.5 million people use it on any given weekday. It is one of the oldest and largest public transportation systems in the world. As a tourist, it is a great way to get around to the places you want to see and experience. Check out the New York Subway Guide for a map and information on riding the Subway.
If you are short for time, a great way to discover New York is to go on a tour. The Big Bus Tour of New York will take you to 25+ stops. Check out the tours.
Where to Stay in New York
New York has a vast array of accommodation from budget to 5 star hotels. Here is a selection of places to stay during your New York 2 day itinerary:
NI NYC Hostel is a ten minute walk to Central Park and very central.
The Jane Hotel Greenwich Village (a popular budget-friendly place with shared bathrooms).
Warwick New York is a historic 4-star hotel if you are looking for a little history.
After a little luxury check into The Langham.
See the map following for more accommodation options.
Day 1 – New York 2 Day Itinerary
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty
Start your first day in New York City by heading to another state. Don’t worry, you’re not going far. Hop on the ferry at Battery Park, on the south western corner of Manhattan, to take the short ride to the Statue of Liberty, actually located in the state of New Jersey. The Statue of Liberty, formally Liberty Enlightening the World is a statue commemorating the friendship of the peoples of the United States of America and France. Standing 305 feet (93 metres) high she holds a flame in the right hand and a tablet bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776) in the left hand. She is perhaps the most iconic statue in the world, definitely a symbol of New York City, and not to be missed.
A top place for breakfast first, is the Blue Stone Lane Café in Battery Park. Located on the Hudson River, enjoy outdoor or indoor dining with panoramic views. I would advise eating first as you can easily spend 3 hours or so at the Statue of Liberty. Particularly if you want to take the elevator, or walk to the observation deck in the pedestal and then take the spiral staircase to the observation platform in the statue’s crown.
While there is a cheap commuter ferry that goes by the Statue of Liberty, I recommend the $25 tourist ferry if you can afford it. This ferry will drop you off on Liberty Island, take you to Ellis Island, and back to Battery Park when you’re done. You will be able to get better pictures and more historical facts. There are also plenty of ferries that will take you for a cruise around the island, but if you want to get off on the island, ensure you book the right tour. You can either book your ferry directly with Statue Cruises or check out these tours:
Battery Park is located right by Wall Street, which is an eight-block long street in the Financial District in New York City. The term ‘Wall Street’ has become synonymous for the financial markets of the US as a whole, and is home to the worlds two largest stock exchanges – the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. There are also many brokerage firms, banking headquarters and skyscrapers containing financial institutions. If you love financial stuff, you will love visiting Wall Street and don’t forget to snap a pic at the famous Charging Bull as you make your way to the 9/11 memorial.
If you’re feeling hungry, grab lunch at Brookfield place, a mall on the water, and a great place to get some shopping done.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
9/11 Memorial is a sombre place
After lunch and shopping, head to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to learn more about 9/11, an event that shaped history in New York, the US, and beyond. The outside memorial pays homage to the lives lost, and the indoor museum is an excellent place to learn more. I think we all remember where we were when 9/11 occurred – that’s if you were old enough – and this place is now a fitting memorial. And it is an easy place to spend a few hours reflecting.
World Trade Center Station
Take some pictures at the Oculus and enjoy the quirky architecture at the World Trade Centre Station. Then take the subway to Greenwich Village.
Greenwich Village is a great place to experience New York City like a local. It is located on the west side of town in New York City’s borough of Manhattan. It has become known as the Bohemian Capital of New York City where many artists and people with unconventional lifestyles enjoy living! And why not, there are many tree-lined streets and at its heart is Washington Square Park where you can enjoy the 1892-built Arch and mingle with locals around the central plaza. Take a stroll down Bleecker Street, an iconic walk to find local restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, live music, Jazz clubs, Off-Broadway Theatres and shops.
Greenwich Village is a fun place to view Federalist-style architecture like the Grove Court. And if you’re a Friends fan, you will want to snap a pic outside the Friends apartment building on 90 Bedford Street. If you’re a Sex and the City Fan, the outside of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment is also in Greenwich Village on 64 Perry St. Or, try Greenwich Mongolia Bakery, another iconic backdrop from the TV show.
Empire State Building
After you stroll through Greenwich, you have a decision to make. If it’s a clear day, you might want to catch the sunset from atop the Empire State Building which is a 102 storey, Art Deco skyscraper. It is so tall that you need to change lifts to reach the top. You may remember the building from one of the 250 TV shows it has been featured in, or seen King Kong hanging off it, or in the romcom movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’.
If the weather is clear, you will receive fabulous views over New York City. You may want to enjoy a romantic dinner in the building at the State Grill and Bar, or find another restaurant nearby if you’re on a budget. If you plan to go up the Rockefeller Building tomorrow (cause you get great views up there too), you might want to forgo this experience and head to Greenwich. Try one of the hip restaurants there, or try the Fat Cat Jazz Bar for fun games, live music and nightlife.
Day 2 – New York 2 Day Itinerary
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grab a coffee and a croissant at Le Pain Quotidien before heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Enjoy your breakfast in classic New York style on the steps of the MET. If you’re a Gossip Girl fan, this was also Blair Waldorf’s favourite meet-up.
As the second-largest museum globally, the MET houses some of the most famous art pieces in the world. The museum is enormous, plan out what you want to see in advance, focusing on 1-2 exhibits. The gift shop is highly rated and a great place to find unique and artsy souvenirs to bring back home.
Iris & B Gerald Cantor Roof Garden is a good lunch spot with views.
Get some exercise in Central Park
Central Park is located between the Upper West and Upper Set Sides of Manhattan. The park covers some 843 acres, and is a great place to get some exercise or people-watch. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and has influenced the development of urban parks throughout the USA. It is regarded as a masterpiece of landscape architecture. Bethesda Fountain is a mid-19th century American Gothic and Romanesque architectural creation, and a wonderful place to people watch. You can rent a rowboat from Loeb Boathouse in the summer. If you want to get some exercise, the park has a walking route 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long and takes about 2 hours to walk, but that depends on how slow or fast you want to walk. Or take a walk around Central Park Zoo. Note, there is an entrance fee to the zoo (as at 21st July 2021 it is $12 for an adult ticket).
When you’re well-rested, head down Madison Avenue towards the Rockefeller Center. You will see the high-end stores of New York: Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Coach, to name a few. Trump Tower is also on the way. You have headed to the diamond district, after all.
Rockerfeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering an area of 22 acres. In the wintertime, rent skates and go skating around the giant Christmas tree. In summer, enjoy an outdoor coffee shop. If you want views of the city with the Empire State Building, visit the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center and enjoy the panoramic views from the famous Top of the Rock observation deck.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
After visiting the Rock, marvel at the architecture of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Go inside to view the beautiful stained-glass windows and marble interior of arguably one of New York City’s most beautiful churches.
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is an 8-minute walk from St Patrick’s and the place that inspired the creation of Winnie the Pooh. Geek out in the kid’s section if you’re a fan, and enjoy the beautiful architecture inside and out of this beautiful building.
In the evening, head to Times Square, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian areas. It is the hub for the Broadway Theatre District and one of the centres of the entertainment industry. Make a reservation at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant for traditional Italian food at a bargain price. Book in advance as this restaurant is not a secret for locals and tourists. If you’re craving a different flavor, there are many restaurants in and around Times Square with varying price ranges. Check out the Times Square Billboard or explore one or many of the huge department stores. If you’re a Broadway fan, book a show in advance.
Extend your time in New York
I have provided you a 2 day tour with plenty of things to see and do but, New York still has plenty more to offer. If you are able to extend your time in New York, check out these tours for some inspiration.
New York City is such a vast and varied city that I’m sure you’ll want to come back for more after just two days. What are you most excited to see on your trip? Let us know in the comments below! Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today – New York, New York!
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.