4 Days in New York City: Detailed Itinerary + Map

Ready to tackle the excitement of New York City in just four days? You’re in the right place! This guide is packed with tips to help you make the most of your time in The Big Apple. My detailed itinerary is just right for a first-timer or anyone looking to re-experience the magic of NYC. Your four days in New York will be unforgettable. I just know it.

Key takeaways

  • The 4-day itinerary covers essential NYC experiences, from Times Square to the High Line. It includes a mix of historical sites, museums, and memorials, like the 9/11 Memorial and the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Focus on a specific area each day for sightseeing efficiency.
  • Don’t be afraid to do a lot of walking and use the subway when needed to get around easily in the most budget-friendly way.
  • Book attractions in advance when possible to avoid disappointment. For example, crown tickets for the Statue of Liberty must be reserved in advance.
  • NYC is full of great free experiences like Central Park for help you stay within your budget.
New York City skyline at sunrise with Empire State Building
Your 4-day New York City itinerary will include most of the top sites in Manhattan.

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Can you really do New York in 4 days? 

Absolutely! Will you see everything? No way. BUT with 4 days in NYC you can cover the top sites plus a few extras as well.

I like to try to focus my sightseeing within a certain area each day (for the most part) for maximum efficiency. OK, when I write it out like that, it doesn’t sound like much fun, but I promise you NYC is loads of fun. 

PRO TIP: If you have flexible travel dates you need to check out Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights). You get amazing flight deals sent straight to your inbox with instructions on how to book directly with the airlines. Check out Going here. Going is my favorite way to find great travel deals. 

New York City 4-day itinerary summary 

Day 1: Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, The Met Fifth Avenue 
Day 2: Lower Manhattan—Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island 
Day 3: SoHo, Washington Square Park, Chelsea Market, The High Line 
Day 4: More Midtown—Historic Midtown Buildings, Museum of Modern Art, Bryant Park 

Interactive Map—New York City Itinerary: 4 Days in The Big Apple 

If you’re interested in exploring outside NYC, try one of these beautiful scenic drives in New York.

Day 1: Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, The Met Fifth Avenue 

Times Square 

Subway stop: Times Square–42 Street (N, Q, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3, 7)  

You’ve seen it in movies and TV shows. Of all the places to visit in New York City, it’s hard to think of anything else that’s more New York than Times Square. Soak it in, take a few photos, wander through so you can say you’ve been there (it’s great at night also). Maybe even buy a cheap souvenir T-shirt or stop in at M&M’s World. 

Times Square is just a 10-minute walk from the center of Midtown and the recommended hotels in this post (see above). 

tall building in New York City with a sculpture in front
You might want to see the view from the Top of the Rock during your four days in NYC.

Rockefeller Center 

Between 49th and 51st Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues | Subway stop: 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Center (B, D, F, M), 49 Street (N, R, W) 

Just a 10-minute walk from Times Square will take you to Rockefeller Center, a New York City landmark that includes 30 Rockefeller Plaza (NBC Studios), Radio City Music Hall and more.

In addition to some great shopping and dining, you can go to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, skate at the Rink, and more.

If you’re feeling snackish, I recommend stopping at Magnolia Bakery for something yummy. 

Central Park 

From North 110th Street to Central Park South (59th Street), and from Central Park West (8th Avenue) to 5th Ave | Subway stops: There are several subway stops around the perimeter of the park including 5th Ave/59 Street (N, R, W), 59 Street/Columbus Circle (A, B, C, D, 1), Central Park North (2, 3), and 6 stops on the west side of the park. 

Central Park is another of those places that is just so quintessentially New York, you absolutely need to make time in your itinerary to see it.

Now, keep in mind that this park is huge. I mean it. Central Park covers 1.3 square miles (840 acres) of Manhattan. You could easily spend an entire day just exploring this place. 

To start I’d suggest looking at a map of the park and choosing a few things there you want to see such as the Central Park Zoo, the Alice in Wonderland Statue, Belvedere Castle or the Conservatory Water (where you can rent a model boat to sail on the pond).  

The southeast corner of Central Park is just a 15-minute walk from Rockefeller Center. If you want to walk all the way to the Conservatory Water and the Alice in Wonderland Statue from Rockefeller Center, expect a walk of closer to 30 minutes. 

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Metropolitan Museum of Art 

1000 Fifth Avenue | Subway stop: 86 Street (4, 5, 6) 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is one of the most important museums in the world. Even if you’re not a fan of art or museums, consider making the Met a part of your trip. The permanent collection includes works by great artists from the ancient to the modern.

They frequently mount major special exhibitions in a space so stunning it’s worth the price of admission just to explore the building.     

Other options for Day 1 

Consider purchasing the New York City Explorer pass that can save you up to 54% site admission. Choose from over 95 attractions and landmarks.

If you still have some time and/or energy in your day, here are a few other things you can do near Central Park:  

Front exterior of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City
The Met is a must for any trip to New York City for me.

Day 2: Lower Manhattan—Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island 

Brooklyn Bridge tower from below with blue sky and American flag.
The Brooklyn Bridge is so impressive up close. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Brooklyn Bridge 

Manhattan side subway stops: Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall (4, 5, 6), City Hall (N, R), Park Place (2, 3), Chambers St. (J, Z) | Brooklyn side subway stop: Jay Street/MetroTech (A, C, F), Borough Hall (2, 3 or 4, 5) 

Seeing the iconic Brooklyn Bridge up close should be on your New York City itinerary. For great views of the skyline, start on the Brooklyn side of the bridge and walk into lower Manhattan.  

You don’t have to walk across the entire 1.1-mile pedestrian walkway of course, though you certainly can. If you’re short on time, I recommend just walking out to the first tower from the Manhattan side for some good photo ops.  

Those who have a fear of heights, be warned that you can see through the wood slats on the walkway a bit, giving you glimpses of the speeding traffic below.

And pay attention as you go. Bikers cross the bridge also and many of them move quite quickly. Stay in the dedicated pedestrian lane if you’re walking. 

A single white rose at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
A four-day New York City itinerary should always include a stop at the 9/11 Memorial. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

9/11 Memorial 

9/11 Memorial | Closest subway stops: WTC–Cortland St (1) and Cortland Street (R, W) 

In my opinion, the 9/11 Memorial is absolutely a must-do on your trip and one of my favorite free things to do in New York City.  

The terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the city forever. It’s one of the most moving and beautiful memorials that I have ever had the privilege of seeing.   

The Memorial is open to the public every day.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island  

Ferry from Manhattan departs from Battery Park | Subway stops: South Ferry Station (1), Whitehall Street (R), Bowling Green (4, 5) 

The Statue of Liberty is absolutely my favorite of all the places to see in New York City.

Buy your tickets ahead of time online, especially if you want to climb up to the crown. Those tickets can sell out weeks or even months in advance.   

Even if you don’t want to go up into the pedestal or the crown of the Statue of Liberty, you can purchase a “Grounds Only” ticket to enjoy the cruise over to Liberty Island (with great views of both Lady Liberty and lower Manhattan) and just walk around the monument exterior.

I would still recommend purchasing this ticket online in advance, as these can also sell out especially during peak tourist times.

Ellis Island admission is included in your ticket, so go ahead and take advantage if you have time. Cruises from New York depart from Battery Park, which is a nice place for a picnic lunch before or after your trip to Liberty Island.

A falafel wrap from a nearby food truck makes a great lunch. 

View of the lower manhattan skyline from Liberty Island
And check out this view of Manhattan from the Statue of Liberty pedestal! Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

Featured things to do in NYC

Take a trip to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere for incredible views over the city with these skip-the-line tickets for One World Observatory.

Or enjoy stunning views of Lower Manhattan during this 2-hour twilight cruise of New York Harbor.

Day 3: SoHo, Washington Square Park, Chelsea Market, The High Line 

Do some shopping in SoHo 

Short for South of Houston (pronounced HOW-stun…not like the city in Texas), the SoHo neighborhood has become a top shopping destination in NYC.

If you’re looking for great vintage designer clothing, check out What Goes Around Comes Around on West Broadway. 

And you’ll certainly work up an appetite from all that shopping, but if you can, wait until Chelsea Market for lunch today. If you’re like me and when it’s time to eat you simply MUST eat, we enjoyed getting lunch at Chobani SoHo on Prince Street.

Yes, there was a lot of Greek yogurt. We thought it was a fun and unique lunch experience and would definitely go back. 

View of Washington Square arch from below.
The Washington Square Arch is a top New York City landmark. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Washington Square Park 

At 5th Avenue and Waverly Place, West 4th Street, University Place, Macdougal Street | Subway stop: West 4 Street–Washington Sq (A, C, E, B, D, F, M) 

Just a few blocks away from SoHo is Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park with its famous white marble arch. Named for Geroge Washington, the area was officially made a public park in 1827.  

Washington Square Park is a great place to rest your weary feet for a bit and do some people watching. You’ll likely find a lot of NYU students hanging out and/or studying here, as many of the university’s campus buildings ring the park. 

Chelsea Market 

75 9th Avenue | Subway stop: 8 Ave–14 Street (A, C, E) 

After your people watching at Washington Square Park, head over the Chelsea Market for lunch or dinner. It’s about a 20-minute walk or you can take the subway (A, C, or E).

(If you want to do Chelsea Market for dinner, head to The High Line first (see below) after Washington Square Park). Chelsea Market has to be one of the top indoor foodie destinations in the U.S. if not the world.

It draws literally millions of food fans every year. You’re sure to find something (or many things!) here to make a great meal…and dessert. 

The High Line 

Ganesvoort St to West 34th | Closest subway stops: 8 Ave–14 Street (A, C, E), 34 Street–Hudson Yards (7) 

People walking on the New York City High Line with buildings and trees in the background.
The High Line is a lovely and unusual place to take a break in NYC. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

The High Line is a public park and greenspace in lower Manhattan, but it’s not JUST a park. It was created on old raised train tracks. 

The High Line opened in 2009 and is nearly 1.5 miles long, running from Gansevoort Street to West 34th.

There are points of access at many places along the High Line (including elevator access), and restrooms are located at Gansevoort St., 16th St., and 30th St. 

This is the kind of place you really have to see to believe. Though I haven’t yet seen as much of the High Line as I would like (time didn’t allow it), walking the entire length of this unique park is definitely on my New York City bucket list. 

More things to add to your New York City itinerary

Pay a visit to the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere with these tickets for the Edge Observation Deck.

Or you might enjoy this highly rate walking tour of Soho, Chinatown and Little Italy

Day 4: More Midtown—Historic Midtown Buildings, Museum of Modern Art, Bryant Park 

Historic Midtown Buildings 

Start day four of your NYC trip with a tour of historic buildings in Midtown Manhattan.

Empire State Building 

20 West 34 Street | Subway stop: 34 St–Herald Square (B, D, F, M, N, Q, R, W), 33 St (M) 

There are those who say that everyone needs to pay a visit to the Empire State Building on their trip to New York City.

I do not like heights, nor do I generally pay money to stand atop them. I will admit right now that in all my NYC trips, I’ve only ever admired the Empire State Building from the ground.

As I’m writing this my palms are literally starting to sweat thinking about going up there. I’m not joking. Yuck.

If you want to go up the Empire State Building, you might want to get this skip-the-line ticket.

If you purchase the Express Ticket option, you can skip all the lines. Cancel up to 24 hours before for free.

Exterior of a large marble building in New York City.
New York City Library. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go

New York Public Library–Stephen A. Schwartzman Building 

476 5th Ave | Subway stop: 5 Ave–Bryant Park (7), 42 St–Grand Central Station (4, 5, 6) 

After you get your land legs back following your ascent up the Empire State Building, head up 5th Avenue about 7 blocks (10-minute walk or so) to the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwartzman Building.

You can enter the building for free, but it is still a functioning library building so please be library quiet. 

This is the classic New York Public Library Building with the lions out front and the beautiful interior. There are free exhibits available as well.

Inside the Grand Central Terminal main hall with sun streaming in through the large windows.
Grand Central Terminal. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

Grand Central Terminal 

89 E 42nd Street | Subway service: 4, 5, 6, 7, S 

Just a few blocks away from the Schwartzman Building is Grand Central Terminal. I love this building. It’s one of my favorite buildings in New York and has been a city landmark since it opened in 1913. 

Grand Central is still a functioning station with 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway and Metro-North Railroad train service. In addition to being a stunning building it also includes over 60 shops and restaurants, making it a great place to stop for lunch on your tour around Midtown.

Chrysler Building 

405 Lexington Ave | 42 St–Grand Central (4, 5, 6, S) 

View the Chrysler Building in New York City from below.
Chrysler Building. Photo: Plan, Ready, Go.

The famous art deco Chrysler Building was briefly the tallest building in the world until the Empire State Building passed it by.

The Chrysler Building lobby is free to enter, but the rest of the building is leased office space not open to the public. Of interest in the Chrysler Building lobby is the 110-foot-long Edward Trumbull mural “Transport and Human Endeavor” on the ceiling.

Museum of Modern Art 

11 West 53 Street | Subway stops: 5 Av–53 St (E, M), 57 St (F) 

The Museum of Modern Art should be on every art lover’s travel bucket list. Located at 11 West 53rd street in Midtown Manhattan, MoMA is one of the largest museums in the world devoted to the preservation and display of modern and contemporary art.

Your ticket includes admission to all galleries and special exhibits, and in my opinion it is entirely worth the price.

You’ll see important works of art like Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950; Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory; a large Monet Water Lilies triptych; and Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.

And don’t miss your chance to see the museum’s top draw, Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Picnic dinner in Bryant Park 

My favorite cheap dinner in New York City is to grab a couple of kati rolls at the Kati Roll Company on West 39th then walk to Bryant Park for some great people watching.

You could also grab some picnic fixings at the Whole Foods across the street from the park. If people watching sounds dull, you can participate in free activities or play some of the free board games there.

The last time we were in the city my sister joined in the free group bingo at Bryant Park, just one of the many free activities they offer there. 

Other options for Day 4 

Other things to add to your New York itinerary based on your interests and the time of year you travel 

Metropolitan Opera 
I have yet to get to New York on a trip when I can go to the Metropolitan Opera. It’s been on my travel bucket list for years, and one day I will go.

If you have any interest in the performing arts (I mean, even just at tiny bit) and you can go to the Met, then by all means go to the Met. The Metropolitan Opera is THE premiere opera company in the world (not just hyperbole).

EVERYONE wants to sing there. Go. 

I love baseball, but I cannot in good conscience recommend that you go see the Yankees play. (Go, Mariners!)

It’s physically causing me pain to write this, but if you are a fan of baseball you probably should at least scratch Yankee Stadium off your bucket list (or whatever…I guess…if you have to).

I’ve been there and done that so next up is Citi Field to see the Mets play.  

Broadway show 
It’s like the Met, but not opera. In other words, EVERYONE wants to perform on Broadway so if you have the means to catch a show do it. Beware of ticket resellers though and proceed with caution.

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is a favorite place to visit in New York City.

Visitors love all of the different exhibits, and there is always something new to see. The museum is also great for kids, as there are plenty of interactive exhibits that are sure to keep them entertained.

Whether you’re interested in learning about dinosaurs or exploring the universe, the American Museum of Natural History is a great place to spend some time.

Where should I stay when visiting New York City? 

I recommend staying in Midtown Manhattan if you can. You’ll find it’s easy to get from there to anyplace you’d like to see on your itinerary. 

I’ve stayed in Long Island City (Queens) and in New Jersey, which did save money on accommodations, but cost time getting to and from Manhattan each day.

When we did the trip when we stayed in Queens, Uber didn’t exist yet, so we took taxis at the end of each day. We found that the taxi drivers were somewhat reluctant to take us so out of Manhattan, and it was not cheap. 

Here are my recommendations for where to stay in New York City: 

  • Hyatt Place Midtown South (52 West 36th Street): We loved staying at this hotel. It’s just two blocks from the Empire State Building and just around the corner from the 34th Street – Herald Square subway stop. Book Now 
  • For a more boutique-style accommodation try Archer Hotel New York (45 West 38th Street). Book Now

How to get around New York City 

I say this so often, but I will continue to say it over and over: use your feet and the subway. I’m serious about the subway.

You’ll get where you want to go cheaper than Uber or taxis and of course much faster than walking (for the most part).  

If you go to New York City and don’t ride the subway does your trip even count? I don’t think so. You really need to do it, and honestly it is an easy and cheap way to get around the city while you’re there.   

Using the subway in NYC should be a part of your trip experience. You’ll quickly get the hang of it.

Yes, sometimes it smells bad and sometimes the trains aren’t running properly, but you really should try it. You can find subway maps on the MTA website.

Taxis are a fine option for getting around New York City especially if you are going someplace that just doesn’t have an easy subway route or a nearby stop.  

I hope you enjoy your 4-day visit to New York City.

Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is a free ferry that runs between the southern tip of Manhattan and Staten Island.

It’s one of the best ways to see New York City for free, and it offers great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Financial District.

The ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ferries depart Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan every 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the time of day).

Final thoughts on the 4-day New York City itinerary

No matter what you like to do when you travel, whether it’s museum, art, music, parks, guided tours, shopping, food, whatever it is, you’ll find it in New York City. You can’t exhaust all the amazing things to do and see in this spectacular city.

More articles about NYC

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4-day NYC itinerary
New York City itinerary 4 days
Times Square full of cars and people
Times Square is a great way to start your 4-day NYC itinerary.
Metropolitan Museum of Art at dusk.


  1. Travo Best says:

    Thanks for this. I understand this must have been written before the pandemic. I still find it helpful because this are getting back to normal.

  2. Peter Trzop says:

    Did this get dredged from a few years ago? With COVID, one would be lucky to get into the city without a quarantine of a week in or out, along with the huge restrictions on the sites being visited…. That should have been mentioned at least

    1. Darcy Vierow says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, this post was written pre-COVID as were all my travel itineraries. That’s why this appears at the top of every blog post page on this site: All posts on Plan, Ready, Go reflect previous travels. We support physical distancing and safe travel in compliance with public health guidelines.

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