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A Three-Day Slice of the Big Apple

Note: This article was modified in September, 2001
to take account of the loss of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
While the WTC area has been initially restricted for tourists,
this situation will be changing in the coming months.
The photo from the WTC and the photo of the skyline
with the WTC have been retained here as a remembrance.

Let’s say you have only three nights and three days for a visit to New York City. It’s a short stay for the largest city in the U.S., so you’re willing to focus on Manhattan. Your goal is to feel that you’ve experienced the Big Apple to "the max." What to do? Where to begin?

We just returned from such a visit, and we are now singing the praises of the Big Apple. With a little preliminary homework, you can squeeze a good variety of Manhattan’s most pleasing sites and events into 72 wonderful hours. Here’s an itinerary designed for maximum variety, interest, fun, and travel efficiency in busy Manhattan. Come along!

Arriving, Getting Settled

Before traveling, be sure to prepurchase theater tickets to a Broadway show that you’ve wanted to see, preferably for your third night in town. You’ll also need lodging reservations. A great location with a large choice of hotels is just south of Central Park, near 59th Street.

Statue of Liberty

Arrive at JFK or LaGuardia Airport in the afternoon or early evening; be sure to pick up a free copy of Where New York, with its listings of restaurants, Broadway shows, and street and subway maps. Take a cab from the airport to your hotel. After your day of travel, the first evening can be low-key. Ask for a recommendation on a local restaurant for casual dining. Depending on your whims and the weather, you can precede or follow dinner with a leisurely carriage ride in Central Park. You’ll find the horses, carriages, and their drivers waiting eagerly for you at the edge of the park along 59th Avenue.

Day One -- Lower Manhattan Island

East River
East River viewed from the World Trade Center
(Remembrance view)

Skyline
Lower Manhattan Skyline from East River
(Historical view with WTC at rear)

After breakfast, take a cab to lower Manhattan's South Street Seaport. (We definitely recommend taking a cab in NYC. If you have never driven in a city as large and as busy as New York City, driving an auto can be scary. If you don't have a car and need car loans for bad credit, you can apply now and find the best prices.) Buy your tickets at the end of the pier for a one-hour ferry ride down the East River, and around Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. You won’t debark there, but you’ll get the full impact of these monuments and the Manhattan skyline. While you’re waiting for the ferry and on your return, enjoy Seaport’s shops, square, and old-time schooners. If you are a history buff, the South Street Seaport Museum will be right up your alley.

Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village Street

By now you’re ready for lunch! Taxi to the far-end of Chinatown (corner of Bowery and Hester). Walk west on Hester three short blocks to Mulberry St. in Little Italy. Walk Mulberry, lined with restaurants, and try a quaint eatery for an authentic Italian lunch. If the weather’s good, take a sidewalk table. After dining, walk north on Mulberry, west on Spring, and north on Thompson to the energetic Soho District. Prince St., running west-east, has a number of boutiques and cafes which are ideal for a caffeine break. From Prince, walk north again on Thompson to Bleeker St. and follow it into the even more-energetic Greenwich Village. Explore along Bleeker and its side streets to your heart’s content. From Chinatown to Greenwich you’ve walked about two miles, so you’re probably ready for a late afternoon nap or rest. Take subway #1 or #9 back uptown to your hotel (use Sheridan Square station, just east of Bleeker on Christopher Street).

On your way back to your hotel, make a stop at the TKTS box-office on 47th Street, between Broadway and 7th Avenue, for half-price tickets to one of tonight's theater events (office open from 3 - 8 p.m). Be sure to make dinner reservations at a restaurant close to your theater location (between Sixth and Eighth Avenue, and 40th and 50th Street). When you’re rested and ready to dine, taxi back down Fifth Avenue to your chosen dining spot. Pace yourself for the 8 p.m. curtain rise of your Broadway show. After the show, walk down Eighth Avenue to Times Square. See the lights and feel the night’s energy. Taxi back up Eight Avenue to your hotel. You can have a nightcap and listen to some live music at one of the hotels, such as the Plaza. You’ve had a full day!

Day Two -- Fifth Avenue Gems

Saint Patrick's
Saint Patrick's Cathedral

Globe
Sculpture near Central Park

Plaza Palm Court
Plaza Hotel's Palm Court

You can arise a little later this morning. After breakfast, walk down Fifth Avenue, stopping at shops that tickle your fancy, such as Cartiers or Saks. Visit Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Standing in the midst of skyscrapers, its Gothic architecture is in sharp contrast to the surrounding modern facades. Walk across the street to Rockefeller Center. This six-square-block complex is a model of urban planning. If you’re interested, take the opportunity for a one-hour behind-the-scene NBC Studio Tour. Wander among the underground shops and restaurants. After lunch here, walk back up Fifth Avenue to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street. Even if you don’t generally visit museums, you’ll likely love this one. It’s collection ranges chronologically from Post-impressionism to today’s masters. Savor Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Monet’s Water Lilies, and great works by Matisse, Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Andy Warhol. Walk up 5th Avenue to the Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court for afternoon high tea. Relax in luxury, before heading back to your hotel for a rest prior to your second night on the town. Tonight you’ll dine again in the theater district and see another show. (Yes, you prepurchased the tickets).

Day Three -- Close to Central Park

You’re starting to catch on to Manhattan by now...you’re hooked! And there’s more to come on your last day here. After breakfast, walk again to Columbus Circle and take subway #1 or #9 uptown to 66th Street Station. Walk slightly south west to Lincoln Center. Take the one-hour tour. If the timing is right you’ll see live rehearsals of the ballet company, opera company, and symphony orchestra. Marvel at Metropolitan Opera House’s curving stairway and Chagall paintings. Walk east on 65th St. into Central Park. Take the path to nearby Tavern on The Green and enjoy a leisurely lunch or a snack on the terrace under the trees. There’s a great selection of beers. Meander through the park on one of the trails in a north east direction, past the Sheep Meadow and The Lake. Exit the park at 72nd St. and walk south on Fifth Avenue to 70th St. to see the Frick Collection, a small, enjoyable museum. It’s the former mansion of Henry Clay Frick, who collected master paintings, sculpture, and ceramics from Europe’s major eras. In the beautiful rooms you’ll enjoy works by Monet, Corot, Renoir, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Valesquez, El Greco, Turner, Constable, Whistler, Titian, and Bellini. Taxi down Fifth Avenue back to your hotel to pick up your bags for your exit to the airport. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to stay for yet another evening, you can attend a performance of the ballet, opera, or symphony orchestra.

Central Park
Central Park, near Tavern on the Green

The Next Slice of the Big Apple

In just three short days you’ve tasted a a big bite of the Big Apple. But think of all that you missed! On your next New York visit you’ll enjoy Lincoln Center performances, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, United Nations Headquarters, and trips to other boroughs to see the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. There’ll also be more great restaurants, more browsing in Soho and Greenwich, and more Broadway shows. The Big Apple awaits you!

Click here if you need details to plan your own trip to New York City, New York.

Les Furnanz
Photos: Rita Furnanz

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