New York is called "the city that never sleeps" and it's not hard to guess why: there's always something to do and see in New York, whatever time of day it is!
Stroll through Central Park, visit the MET, attend an NBA game, spend a day at the beach or climb the skyscrapers... It's hard to get bored in a city with so much cultural variety.
Take note because here I tell you everything you can do in New York in 15 days.
Day 1: Discover Manhattan from above and travel to the heart of Harlem
You've just arrived in New York and I'm sure you're eager to go out and see first hand all the scenery you've seen so many times in movies and photos. As this is your first contact, for this day I propose you to discover Manhattan from a bird's eye view and delve into the bowels of Harlem to explore the soul of the city.
Get to know New York from its skyscrapers
By now you should know that New York is known for its skyscrapers. The city, especially the Manhattan district, has one of the most spectacular and famous skyline in the world and it is worth spending some time to climb the best ones.
On this occasion, we will not only experience feeling tiny next to these huge metal masses, but we will also take the opportunity to climb some of the most famous; the Empire State and the Top of the Rock. From the heights you will be able to dimension how huge the city is and put a face to all the streets you are about to see.
I understand that sometimes it is difficult to choose between climbing one skyscraper or another, so if you have doubts, I recommend you read this comparison between climbing the Top of the Rock or the Empire State. I hope it helps you decide! Although you can always climb both (both are open at night, so you can combine a daylight visit with a night visit). Here you have more information about going up to the Top of the Rock at night and the Empire State at night.
If you want to consider other options (not as mythical but just as spectacular or more) I recommend you to take a look at the possibility of climbing the most modern skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan: The Edge and the Summit Vanderbilt. You will spend a morning of vertigo!
We go deep into Harlem and its gastronomy
At the end of this experience, you are sure to be hungry and there is no better plan than refueling in one of the typical American restaurants with a good milkshake and a hamburger. Head to Harlem, north of Central Park, where an afternoon of contrasts awaits you.
On this occasion I recommend that you first stop for lunch at Harlem Shake, a well-known restaurant in the area where you can eat a traditional Pulp Fiction style lunch.
Even so, all over the neighborhood you will find plenty of places to eat in Harlem. The variety of food and street stalls will make any palate satisfied and with energy to continue the day.
Soak up the atmosphere of Harlem at a Gospel Mass
New York is characterized for being a city full of cultures and contrasts, and a good way to make this contact is with one of its most famous and widespread traditions: going to a Gospel Mass in Harlem. This typical religious act full of music and joy has become very popular throughout the continent and, within the city, it congregates in the neighborhood of Harlem.
Sunday mornings are the days when you can take a tour of all the churches in the neighborhood and enjoy the characteristic songs. To do this, you must take the subway and get to the neighborhood of Harlem where you have about 500 churches where they make this typical mass (here a list of the best churches to attend a Gospel Mass).
Of course, you must be respectful and take this interesting visit as a spiritual and religious act following the established rules to attend a Gospel Mass.
Day 2: Walk through every corner of Central Park and experience a night of movies
Central Park is the lung of New York and has dozens of places to get lost and spend the day in the middle of all the commotion of the city. For this second day, I suggest a picnic day in the heart of Manhattan.
Starting point at Bethesda Fountain
One of the best ways to get in touch with the park is to get to its great central square, the Bethesda Fountain. This place has been for years one of the most emblematic places of the park and is the meeting point for many New Yorkers.
In the background you will find the beginning of Central Park's famous lake and, near the tunnel, you can listen to the great acoustics of the musicians playing. Keep in mind that this park is huge so you will have to face the day with energy if you want to see all the attractions.
Have a picnic with a view
One of the best options to get to know Central Park thoroughly is to eat inside the park to make the best use of the time. For this, a picnic may be the best option. In all Manhattan supermarkets near the park, you'll find sandwich, salad and soft drink options to lay out on the lawn and enjoy the scenery. Pret A Manger, for example, offers quick and healthy food to go (sandwiches, soups, vegetable wraps...).
Central Park has countless plains and lakes where you can lay out a tablecloth and stop to recharge your batteries. The beauty of this experience is to get lost among its forests and long paths so, as soon as you find a place you like, stop for lunch. In the southern part of the park, you will also have lunch among the trees but with a view of the Midtown skyscrapers.
Rent a bike to finish your tour of the park's iconic sites
Central Park is worth a visit in itself. However, just like the main fountain, the park has numerous must-see sites that are steeped in history.
One of them is the memorial to Beatles singer John Lenno called Strawberry Fields. This mosaic made on the ground contains the word "Imagine" and every day is visited and honored by fans of the singer. Likewise, the mythical sculpture of Alice in Wonderland, dedicated to its author Lewis Carroll is another must-see.
If you have energy to spare, you can always rent a bike that will allow you to tour the rest of the park at higher speed and feel like a New Yorker.
Experience a night at the theater
Without leaving Midtown Manhattan, now it's time to dress up and enjoy the Broadway neighborhood in style. This place is full of lights and theaters and has become one of the most cultural streets in the city. All along the avenue, there are a multitude of Broadway musicals and plays with an international flair.
If you want to enjoy one of these shows live, you should know that they are usually quite reasonably priced and that it is one of the most worthwhile plans in all of New York. You just have to review the catalog in advance and enjoy first hand all the charms of Broadway.
Day 3: Revisit the city's history in lower Manhattan
For this day, let's stop a little to know the history of the city and its most emblematic places of the last time. From a tour of Ellis Island to the arrival at the memorial that marked the entire 21st century with the twin towers, passing by the unique Statue of Liberty.
Visit the Statue of Liberty
The undisputed protagonist of New York's history and skyline is the Statue of Liberty. From Battery Park, in the south of Manhattan, there are ferries to the Statue of Liberty that will get you there in just a few minutes, giving you incredible views of the Statue and the Manhattan Skyline.
Once you get your ticket to the Statue of Liberty, you can enter its pedestal and even climb up to the iconic Crown. It is true that it is a place that is always full of tourists, but, as you can imagine, it is a must-see for visitors.
Continue the tour at Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum
To understand the origins of New York we must go back to its migratory past. The city is made by immigrants and one of the places with the stories is Ellis Island, place where, in the past, all the new residents arrived and for which America is considered the land of opportunities.
Once at Ellis Island visit first hand the Immigration Museum, where you can learn more about this important place and contemplate the first registration sheets that gave the city its beginnings.
Return to Manhattan to discover Ground Zero
Continuing with this historic day, one of the stops I recommend on your return to Battery Park after seeing the Statue is to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. The site, built in what used to be the Twin Towers, was designed to remember the people who died at Ground Zero.
There, in the place where the towers used to be, there are two large fountains that emanate water, as well as a forest of 400 oak trees, one of which stands out for being the only one that miraculously survived the tragedy. It also has a museum, with testimonies and memories that will make your hair stand on end.
Explore Wall Street
Now that you're here, and after stopping at one of the many places downtown for a bite to eat, it's time to tour Wall Street, the financial district.
Walking through its streets full of top executives and luxury offices is a real experience in the city. In addition, you should also take the famous photo with the Wall Street bull, one of the most famous icons of the neighborhood and has appeared in numerous blockbuster movies.
Close the day with a cruise
After an intense day full of emotions and contrasts, there is nothing better than relaxing your legs while enjoying a cruise on the Hudson River watching the New York Skyline (here I help you choose among the best cruises in Manhattan).
There are boats and itineraries of all kinds and suitable for all budgets, but if you want to treat yourself, it is best to book a dinner cruise on the Hudson. To the rhythm of relaxing live music, you will see the lights of the city as you had never imagined. It's like a movie!
Day 4: Spend the day in Brooklyn
Brooklyn, next to Manhattan, in one of the most famous neighborhoods of New York. One of the most tourist attracting of the entire city, and no wonder. This spectacular site is much more than its famous bridge and has areas like DUMBO where you can get lost and spend the whole day.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and through the DUMBO neighborhood
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous postcards of the whole city and, therefore, it is the mandatory stop with which we start this fourth day. We are going to leave Manhattan aside for a day and focus on the other important boroughs. This time, the bridge will welcome us to Brooklyn, a neighborhood full of art and new trends.
I recommend a walk through DUMBO, just across the bridge. A completely renovated neighborhood and become the focus of the avant-garde. Its murals, converted warehouses and alternative stores and boutiques are worth seeing.
Taste pizza at Grimaldi's
After having made the first contact with Brooklyn, it's time to stop to eat something to give us strength for the rest of the day. There are many places to eat in Brooklyn, but one of them stands out for its famous pizza.
Grimaldis is one of the most famous restaurants in Brooklyn. Although it is a widespread chain throughout the continent, within the city there is only this place, located under the bridge. Its American-style pizza triumphs among locals and tourists.
Stroll through upscale Williamburg and artsy Bushwick
Once we have toured the must-see Brooklyn, we can spend the afternoon wandering around the rest of the district and strolling through two of its other neighborhoods; Williamburg and Bushwick. In both of them art and a mixture of traditions predominate and getting lost in its narrow streets is undoubtedly the best plan.
Williamburg is a neighborhood full of luxury, with a clear Jewish influence and, in recent times, a place of reference for all the Hipster aesthetics. The perfect mix between tradition and new trends. Here you can't miss the Jewish Quarter of New Yorkeither.
Bushwick, meanwhile, is ideal for all lovers of urban art. It has an industrial air and Puerto Rican influence, as if it were West Side Story.
Close the night watching the Nets play the NBA game
If you're hooked on Brooklyn, you can't leave without closing the day with an NBA game at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. Hot dog in hand, you'll be as hoarse as a New Yorker shouting and cheering for the world's best-known basketball stars.
Here's how to get NBA tickets and their prices so you can prepare for this sporting event in advance.
Day 5: Spend a day at your favorite museums
New York is one of the cities with the most important museums in the world, so once you've had time to walk around and get to know the great points of the city, it's time to dedicate a single day to visit the best museums in New York. Which one to choose? I'll tell you a little about each one so you can plan your visit to your liking:
MoMA is considered the most important modern art museum in the world, and no wonder. Inside it houses the most important pictorial works of all the avant-garde until today and that is why your visit is a must on your trip to New York.
If you organize yourself well, you can make a tour with the essentials in just two hours, although in itself, the museum would take a whole day. You can buy tickets in advance to avoid queues and make sure you can choose the time that suits you best.
And don't let it be all about culture. Here are the best places to eat near the MoMa to satisfy your appetite with something delicious.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met Museum or Metropolitan Museum of Art is another of the most recommended museums to visit within this cultural day. The Metropolitan Museum, although not as important as the MoMA, has the honor of being one of the ten most visited museums in the world and, undoubtedly, in New York.
Inside there are not only paintings, but a whole series of historical objects of great importance such as the Egyptian exhibition with the remains of the ancient temple of Abu Simbel.
Museum of Natural History
Changing the subject and counting on the fact that, after the whole day you will be tired, I propose to finish with something more dynamic at the hand of the National History Museum.
Its interior is much more dynamic as it is a scientific museum and reviews in a clear and entertaining way the history of the Earth and Man. In addition, it was the scene where the movie Night at the Museum was filmed, so it is well worth saying goodbye to this cultural day. Here you have all the information you need to visit the Natural History Museum.
After the cultural day, a cocktail with a view
New York is the city that never sleeps and at night you also have to experience it. We have spent a "museum day" in Manhattan and the best thing to do is to combine it with a good cocktail on the heights. Search among the best rooftops in New York which is the one you want to discover and enjoy the night views of the city.
Day 6: All the news and best kept secrets of New York City
New York is constantly evolving and has many new things to offer travelers. In addition, very close to Manhattan there is an oasis that will make you think you are in another city and that many tourists are left to discover. Keep reading, this will interest you.
Start the day at Hudson Yards
When we thought that in New York everything was already written (and built), click here appeared, a completely new luxury neighborhood built where before there were only train tracks and abandoned factories.
There you will find exquisite places to eat, shopping malls, super innovative skyscrapers and the famous High Line: a floating park built on the old train track that ran along the west side of the city.
Stop for lunch at Chelsea Market
In keeping with the spirit of transformation of the city, the best thing to do is to go for lunch at the nearby Chelsea Market, a former cookie factory converted into one of the best food markets in the city, well worth a visit!
And in the afternoon, Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is one of the secrets of New York that not all tourists discover: it is a small neighborhood with an elongated shape quite quiet and unique where you can walk and see their beautiful residential houses without having to be surrounded by tourists. In addition, from here there is a cable car with spectacular views.
This cable car ride to Roosevelt Island is not one of the most tourist attractions in New York but it has privileged views of the entire district of Manhattan and the river that are worth it. Getting to Roosevelt Island is very easy, as it has a subway and from there, you will have to go to E 59th St & 2nd Avenue.
The ride is the same as a subway ticket, and although the ride only takes a few minutes, the experience is well worth it. The cabs run frequently and connect very well with Manhattan.
Day 7: We're going on a tour!
One of the advantages of having two full weeks to visit New York is that you have the luxury of getting out of the city for one of the New York tours to the surrounding areas.
There are several itineraries and destinations to choose from, and you can even opt for a two-day or one-day tour if you don't want to take up too much of your time in the Big Apple.
The most popular are the Washington excursions for those who love big cities, the Niagara Falls excursions, perfect for enjoying nature in its purest form, and the Boston excursions, a great choice for those who love culture and history.
Day 8: Back to New York to see the diversity of Queens
Queens is a neighborhood full of contrasts and cultures and it is worth dedicating a whole day to soak up its essence. Taking as a starting point the mythical Pepsi sign, we will go into its different neighborhoods and taste its typical dishes.
You can tour it all on your own, but if you prefer to go with a guide there is the famous New York Contrasts Tour, which will facilitate the tour of the city.
Long Island's industrial district
On the banks of the river we find the famous industrial district of Long Island, a place very visited and reputed in recent times. One of the places that has best adapted to the new times has been Gantry Plaza State Park, a park as a promenade that collects all the life of the neighborhood.
Its typical Pepsi Cola symbol in the middle of the promenade has become an icon of the neighborhood as a sign of the transformation it has undergone and the mix between industrial buildings and modern airs.
Getting to know the Greek Quarter
As we continue into the Queens district, we will find Astoria, the Greek Quarter. This place, as you may have already seen in other parts of the trip, is the ideal mix between tradition, the mixture of cultures and the new avant-garde.
Astoria is the ideal place to taste Mediterranean dishes and enjoy urban art and new trends in music. In addition, from Astoria Park, you will have beautiful views of the sunset.
Flushing, the real Chinatown
At the end of the day, I recommend you to go into the neighborhood of Flushing, which has been considered by many, the real Chinatown of New York. This is where most of the Chinese population really resides and has many local food places where you can dine.
In addition, this neighborhood is home to Louis Armstrong's house, which has been transformed into a museum and is a must for all jazz lovers.
Day 9: Walk through the Bronx and visit the zoo
The Bronx neighborhood is more myth than reality in terms of its danger and fame. The truth is that today, it is an essential place to see on your visit to New York because, in addition to graffiti and street art, it has one of the largest zoos in the world.
See the great Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest centers in the world to observe and experience animals. I recommend that you get up early that day and spend the whole morning inside the zoo touring and enjoying the visit.
This huge place was inaugurated in 1899 and currently has more than 4,000 animals of 600 different species. The animals you will discover at the Bronx Zoo range from animals native to the American continent to giraffes, lions and polar bears. Tickets can be reserved or purchased the same day at the box office.
Have lunch at Little Italy
By the time we leave the zoo, we are sure to be starving after having walked so far. It's time, then, to discover one of the jewels of the Bronx district; Little Italy. This neighborhood, formed by former Italian immigrants, has been reflected in many series and movies, and no wonder.
Among its streets you can get lost but, above all, discover places with the best pasta in the city. Here I leave it to your choice, any place will be good to enjoy an authentic Italian bite.
Experience Hip Hop culture and street art
The Bronx borough has had for years the reputation of being a place full of gangs and street life. However, today it is a safe neighborhood to visit and enjoy without any problems.
There are vestiges of that era translated into urban art and without a doubt you can tell that you are visiting one of the cradles of Hip Hop style. In addition, it has the Bronx Museum of Modern Art, where all this street and cultural essence is collected.
Back to Manhattan: stroll through Times Square
For this day we return again to the nerve center of Manhattan and discover once again one of its most famous and photographed corners. Times Square is the most recognizable faces of New York along with its skyscrapers and I recommend you to take advantage of the morning to get to this emblematic place.
It is usually a very busy and lively place, easily accessible and with plenty of food stalls in case you get hungry. From here all the main avenues start and we are just a short walk to get to the artistic district of Broadway.
Visit the Wax Museum
Halfway, I recommend you spend a couple of hours at one of the most entertaining and fun museums in the area; the Madame Tussauds wax museum. Inside you can find a fairly faithful recreation of the most famous international characters.
It is usually a very busy place for tourists and curious but if you get tickets in advance you can organize your day well and I assure you that it will be worth it.
Day 10: Coney Island and day at the beach
After the frenzy of the last few days, I propose a tenth day of calm and disconnection by going to the famous beach of New York, Coney Island. This pilgrimage place will allow us to have a day more connected with nature and, in addition, have fun in its emblematic amusement park.
Have a great time at Luna Park
One of the main attractions of this area south of the city is to enjoy and have fun with the mythical attractions of Luna Park. This amusement park was built on a walkway above the beach and has a special charm.
You must take into account when you want to visit New York because in the colder months the park is usually closed and the area is a bit deserted. But, if you count on good weather, there is nothing better than riding some of the rides early in the morning. Take note of how the ferry works to get there.
Grab a bite to eat at the boardwalk stalls
When you feel like eating, I recommend that you continue to enjoy this legendary boardwalk and immerse yourself in the multitude of food stalls you can find.
The street atmosphere and, sometimes, a little quirky is the charm of this place and, after having visited in recent days, places and reputable locals, this casual air comes in handy.
Enjoy the New York beach
As a plan to spend the afternoon, I advise you to go to Coney Island beach. Do not imagine that you will find a large beach with crystal clear waters, the beaches of New York City are not like that.
However, it is a nice place to take walks, enjoy a dip and spend an afternoon with the family watching the sunset. Without a doubt, New York is a city of thousands of contrasts and being able to watch the sunset on the beach is one of them.
Day 11: Chinatown walking tour and basketball afternoon
New York has a real passion for basketball and we shouldn't leave the city without witnessing one first hand. For today we will be a spectator at Madison Square Garden but first we will visit Chinatown and taste its exotic food.
New York City has people from all over the world and, among all of them, the Chinese community has been one of the ones that has created the most neighborhoods. Although the most densely populated neighborhood is in Queens, the famous Chinatown in Manhattan is worth a visit.
Just wandering around the neighborhood we can find several nods to oriental culture and, beyond that, this place is one of the most important to find imitation items with the most realistic finishes. Bargain and get your hands on the best "brands".
Tasting the typical food
As a good Chinatown, inside you can find dozens of typical restaurants. After having spent the whole morning visiting Chinatown and doing some shopping, the best thing to do is to stop to eat something typical.
It is full of places to eat well in Chinatown and is not only a place for tourists, but Asians themselves come here to buy the ingredients brought from the Red Giant and prepared in the most traditional way.
Basketball afternoon at Madison Square Garden
I hope that by the end of the day you still have energy and strength because one of the best things to do in the borough of Manhattan is to go see first hand a basketball game at Madison Square Garden.
This stadium hosts hundreds of national and international games throughout the year and, in a place like New York where basketball is breathed, you can not miss the fantastic atmosphere watching one of their games. Tickets are usually inexpensive if booked in advance.
Day 13: Take a food tour of the city
By now you've probably realized that New York is the perfect blend of cultures and traditions. You can find the best pasta from Italy, as well as exotic Asian food. That's why, today, I propose a gastronomic tour of the most famous places in the city. Get your transportation card and enjoy!
Have breakfast at EGG, the best breakfast according to the New York Times
To start the day off right, there is nothing better than getting carried away by the gastronomic reviews of the New York Times and ending up at the EGG restaurant, a place where they started innovating with eggs in all its forms but has ended up winning the title of best breakfast in the city.
Located in the borough of Brooklyn, this place offers all kinds of breakfasts and the famous Brunchs, making you start the day with energy and a nutritious and delicious dish.
Eat the best pizza in the city at Rizzo's
At lunchtime, I propose you to taste one of the best pizzas in the city in the neighborhood of Queens: Rizzos Pizzeria. So many have considered it and that is why the restaurant is full of posters and awards.
It is best to go hungry because for a very reasonable price you can try several types of traditional American pizza either in individual pieces or whole pizzas.
Dinner with jazz at B.B King Blues
To end this culinary day, let's get a little more fine dining. If you are a jazz lover or you are curious about this style of music, you will surely have felt like being in the typical restaurant with live music on more than one occasion.
The B.B. King Blues is one such place. It has a variety of lunch and dinner menus but, without a doubt, what is most worthwhile about the place is the live music. You will feel like the protagonist of LaLaLand!
Day 14: A day of shopping in the city that never sleeps
You are coming to the end of your trip and after almost two weeks in the city that never sleeps it's time to do the last shopping and take advantage of the best deals and exclusive products. Don't deprive yourself of anything! For this list I recommend you from high-end places to real bargains.
Experience the luxury of Fifth Avenue
If your dream was to know New York, one of the plans that you can not miss is to go shopping on Fifth Avenue. In this wide street are all the luxury stores and the best brands in the city.
It may not be suitable for all budgets, but you can certainly get some exclusive souvenir to remind you of your visit to the Big Apple. Even so, the avenue is so big that you can find all kinds of establishments. You stroll around and look at the many shop windows... That's always free!
A hotdog to recharge your batteries
After walking all morning and looking at possible purchases, the best thing you can do to recharge your batteries and which is undoubtedly one of the most typical panoramas of New Yorkers, is to eat a typical hot dog in one of the stalls that are on the street.
This type of food does not only include the hot dog since, in recent times, food trucks have become very fashionable and you can find unique dishes from the most unnoticed cart.
Discover New York's largest outlet store
For this shopping day I leave you reserved a whole jewel when it comes to shopping. The stores that you can find in the city, with more or less variety, are usually known and recurrent brands, but there is a place where all the outlet clothing in the city meets.
If you want to find unique clothes or accessories, I encourage you to spend the morning at Woodbury Commons, the best outlet in New York. From Times Square, there are buses and tours that will take you there in less than an hour.
Day 15: Say goodbye to New York on a movie tour
We reached the end of this spectacular trip through New York. For this day I propose a half-day plan so you have time to pack your bags, do the last shopping or visit some places. However, you could not leave New York without visiting the places that have been scenes of great series and movies.
Movie tour of the big stages
By now you will have had the opportunity to get to know this impressive city almost in its entirety. That is why, for this last day, my recommendation is that you relax and enjoy one last tour.
One of the most advisable is the one that is responsible for touring the scenes of the series and movies that we have seen so much on television. Visiting the sets of "Friends", "Glee" or "Spiderman" will make you leave New York feeling like a real protagonist.
Say goodbye to the big city
In the few hours you have left to spend in the Big Apple, it is best to spend the last afternoon shopping, revisiting a place you liked and strolling around the vicinity of the place where you are staying.
Depending on the district you are in, it is surely worthwhile to walk the streets that have marked you the most and take the last pictures.
The Last Supper
As icing on the cake, I recommend you go out to dinner to say goodbye to New York. As you will have seen, this city never sleeps and there will always be some place open where you can take stock of your vacation.
Now that you know the city better, you'll know where to go to find a nice and authentic place to enjoy a good farewell meal.