NEW YORK CITY
New York City is home to an unparalleled concentration of iconic landmarks, culture centers, rich history and an immense diversity of people. This trip combines urban and cultural excursions in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Harlem, as well as exploring lesser-known locations on the city’s outskirts and excursions into the wider New York State. Our ultimate urban experience includes walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, dining in Harlem, enjoying a show on Broadway, strolling on the High Line, gallery-hopping in Chelsea, or relaxing in Central Park.
There is so much to do and to see in New York. Use our suggested itinerary as a basis for developing a customized trip by adding visits and activities fitting your individual interests. We will help you to tailor your perfect exploration and enjoyment of the “the big apple”.
Length of trip
8 to 10 days
Best time to travel
Urban, culture and history
Visual and and performance arts
Easy to moderate
FIT/SAT. Individuals, families and small groups
Our suggested itinerary kicks off in the eclectic neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan, including Wall Street (with the moving World Trade Center Memorial), the vibrant Chinatown, Little Italy, artistic SoHo, and the erudite Greenwich Village, home of NYU. We’ve dedicated a day to cruising through New York Harbor for views of the iconic Statue of Liberty and historical exploration of Ellis Island. Get ready to plunge into the heart of the big city during two days in Midtown Manhattan, see the views from the top of the Empire State Building, gaze at the neon billboards in Times Square, play a game of chess in Bryant Park, and behold iconic artworks by Van Gogh, Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Monet at the MoMA.
Spend the following day seeing Art Deco sculptures at the Rockefeller Center and the international hub of diplomacy at the United Nations Headquarters. Next, listen to the beats of Harlem with its jazz clubs, gospel choirs, and the Apollo Theater. Focus your last few days strolling the serene pathways of Central Park and surrounding museums. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the richest cultural institution in the world, the astounding Guggenheim designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Museum of Natural History for the wonders of the cosmos. End your adventure with a spectacular broadway musical which will send you humming and tapping your feet all the way home.
Travelers with extra days can round out their trip with crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, fun times at Coney Island and Brighton Beach, strolls along the Highline (New York’s latest attraction, a park built on a historic elevated freight rail line), and a tour of Grand Central Terminal. Autumn visitors should drive up the quaint Hudson River Valley, ablaze with red foliage, while summer travelers can rejuvenate on the pristine Hampton coast. Let us plan the right trip for you.
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan at sunset
- Visit the 9-11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan
- Climb to the “Top-of-the-Rock” for a view of Manhattan and beyond
- Say hello to Miss Liberty and discover who came to America at Ellis Island
- Be dazzled by the sounds and lights of Time Square
- Enjoy a show on or off, or off-off Broadway
- Stump your feet and sing along at “amateur night” at the Apollo in Harlem
- Immerse yourself in art at the Met and the Guggenheim
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO
- Take a cruise around from the Hudson River to the East River
- Walk along the High Line
- Enjoy old-fashioned boardwalk attractions and hot-dogs in Coney Island
- Stroll and relax in Central Park
- Enjoy a sports game at Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium
- Diplomacy and the best bagels in the world at the UN
Suggested itinerary at a glance
Day 1-2 • Lower Manhattan
Kick off your New York adventure by discovering the eclectic neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan. Start in the hubbub of Wall Street before taking a moment of quiet reflection at the World Trade Center 9-11 Memorial. Head to the busy streets of Chinatown to immerse yourself in the smells and sounds of this vibrant community. Next, switch cultures to Little Italy for specialty ristorantes and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Check out the artistic flavor of SoHo (South of Houston Street), learn how the invention of cast-iron impacted the architecture of the neighborhood and peek into the windows of New York’s trendiest boutiques and galleries. From SoHo, stroll northward to the iconic Washington Square Arch, the geographic heart of the prestigious New York University campus where students mingle with street musicians, performers and travelers from the entire world. You are now in the midst of Greenwich Village, the once and still bohemian capital of music and culture of New York. This is the birthplace of many important social and cultural movements, from beat poetry, to cool jazz and the gay civil rights movement.
An evening boat ride on the Staten Island Ferry is undoubtedly one of the great pleasures of visiting New York. The free Ferry System operates a fleet of 9 huge vessels, transporting on average over 70,000 people every day between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan. The ferries offer the “best seats in the house” for a New York sunset glimmering on the skyline.
Day 3 • Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Battery Park
Cruise through the waters of New York Harbor to The Statue of Liberty, France’s gift to the United States; she represents hope, liberty, and freedom to the 12 million immigrants who came to the US from 1892 to 1954. As you investigate the halls of Ellis Island, learn the stories of these American immigrants in the museum, see the treasures they brought overseas, the handwritten documents each person had to complete, and take a hard-hat tour of the unrestored hospital complex.
Upon your return, relax in the perennial garden at Battery Park and contemplate the 20 monuments scattered throughout, perhaps ending the visit with a ride at the seaglass carousel in the glass and steel pavilion designed like a nautilus shell.
Head up back uptown after sunset to experience a refined evening at Hearst Plaza where you can see a classical music performance at the Lincoln Center or a stirring production at the Metropolitan Opera.
Day 4-5 • Midtown Manhattan
Get a bird’s eye view of New York on top of the city’s most iconic skyscraper: the Empire State Building. Immerse yourself in a 360-degree view entailing the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and Times Square. Afterwards, plunge into the soul of New York in Times Square, witness the spectacle of dazzling billboards and provocative art installations. Nearby, Bryant Park offers the opportunity to duck out of the bustle of the city for al fresco cafes, street performers and fresh air games like ping pong, chess and pėtanque. Across the street is the New York Public Library where you can crack open a book inside the majestic Rose Room, but don’t forget to look up at the cloud painted ceiling and luminescent chandeliers.
The most illustrious artworks of the age are at your feet in the New York MoMA. Gaze upon Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Salvador’s Dali’s melting clocks, Monet’s water lilies, Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. From the sublime to the commercial, head next to Fifth Avenue to experience cutting edge fashion at Saks Fifth Avenue where the trends of tomorrow are on display from designers such as Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana and Armani.
There are no mountains in New York, but you can go to the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. This “city within a city” hosts a stunning collection of art deco sculptures and NBC Studios, home of Saturday Night Live, not to mention opportunities for shopping and fine dining. On the other side of Midtown, set against the background of the East River, is the United Nations Headquarters where international diplomats collaborate to bring peace to the world. Don’t forget to stop at one of many nearby cafes for a New York bagel with cream cheese and fresh caught salmon.
In the evening, consider a visit to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks game or to see your favorite musician in concert.
Day 6 • Harlem
You’ll need to take a full day to explore the streets of Harlem. The legacy of the Harlem Renaissance remains in its cultural landmarks like the Striver’s Row, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the many churches as well as soul food restaurants and jazz clubs.
Start in Striver’s Row, among the quaint townhouses and find your way to Duke Ellington’s apartment, the famous jazz singer and composer from 1923-1974. Engage with the spiritual heart of Harlem by singing in a Gospel Mass at one of the area’s many churches. Hungry? Eat fried chicken, grits, and Carolina style catfish at Sylvia’s restaurant, “The Queen of Soul Food.” No visit to Harlem is complete without seeing the Apollo Theater, launching point for famous black musicians and performers, including Michael Jackson in the Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, and many more. To this day, Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night is the starting stage for tomorrow’s superstars. Spend the evening at Harlem’s authentic speakeasy, Bill’s Place, for performances by world class jazz musicians, perhaps the only bar in New York where you can bring your own beverages!
Day 7-8 • Central Park
Retreat from the tumult of the city into Central Park, stroll across stone bridges over serene waters and smell the American Elm and Oak trees. Focus your energy on the southend, below the reservoir. Combine your day in the park with the visits of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim on the Upper East Side, and the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side. If it’s a nice day, bring a picnic lunch for a rest between museums.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art “The Met” is one of the best and richest art institutions in the world. Its enormous collections spans millennia of art, culture and history from virtually every place on earth. The range of possibilities can be a little overwhelming. On any given day, one can visit a bustling exhibit from contemporary artists or spend some quiet time at the Sackler Wing, home to the Egyptian Temple of Dendur. This Egyptian monument has been dismantled from the bank of the Nile River and reconstructed stone by stone in its present location at the Met.
The architecture of the Guggenheim Museum is in itself a wonder. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed its wide ramp to spiral gently down the rotunda, so one passes by works of Picasso, Cezanne, and others in a continuous path gradually descending to the lobby.
After crossing Central Park from the East Side to the West Side, be astonished at the wonders of the universe at the Museum of Natural History; it features a 94-foot long blue whale suspended from a glass ceiling and the great glass cube containing the Hayden Planetarium.
End your grand New York adventure with a trip to Broadway! Choose from a wide selection of spectacles playing every night on New York’s most dazzling thoroughfare. Feast your eyes and ears on heart rendering musicals and dramatic performances by the world’s top talents.
Have a few extra days?
The High Line • The High Line is a recent addition to the major attractions of New York City. It is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from the Hudson Yards by the waterfront at West 34th Street to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, meandering through the neighborhood of artists and galleries in Chelsea. This unique setting has become one of the most enjoyed public spaces in the city, by both locals and visitors. It is also a fantastic open air art gallery with installations by some of the best-known contemporary artists in the world. Once you are on the High Line, take your time to stroll along and enjoy the ever changing city views, the art installations and the people watching. Midway through the line, you will have the opportunity to go down in an elevator on 23rd Street. This will put in the middle of Chelsea. We recommended spending time in this great neighborhood, home to scores of art galleries, boutiques and cafes; you are in the very heart of the art world of New York. A fitting end to this day is a visit of the new Whitney Museum, designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights • Cross the mile-long Brooklyn Bridge, an icon in New York City for over 125 years. Thread upon this feat of modern engineering and immerse yourself in 360-degree views of the Manhattan Skyline, New York Harbor, and the Manhattan Bridge. Continue to Brooklyn Heights, one of New York’s first suburbs. It is an elegant neighborhood of beautiful brownstones and a vibrant scene of cafes and boutiques. An easy stroll leads to the famed promenade for the best views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. From the promenade, head to the DUMBO district (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Once a distressed neighborhood of small industrial plants, it is today an attractive destination for artists and creative types. The neighborhood’s unique urban landscape is partially the result of being below the two bridges: Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Grand Central • This is the Beaux-Arts building known as the Grand Central Terminal. Some tour books describe the station as, “For over 100 years, this building has been a testament to the ingenuity and ambition of a great city. Its history is a story of immense wealth, great engineering, a few accidents, a planned sabotage and one terrific ceiling.” Explore the historic halls and platforms, perhaps grab a bite to eat at the famous Oyster Bar nestled among the tile arches in the terminal.
Coney Island and Brighton Beach • Though both beaches are at the southern edge of Brooklyn, Coney Island and the neighborhood of Brighton Beach feel a world apart. Coney Island is the oldest amusement park in the US with some rides as vintage as 90-years old (like the Coney Island Cyclone est. 1927), but it is the people on the boardwalk and the side attractions that really make this area a great destination for enjoying the street scenery. Taste the history of New York at Grimaldi’s, which has been serving pizza from its brick-oven for over 100 years and, of course, Nathan’s Famous Polish hot-dog. Brighton Beach is one of the most ethnic neighborhoods of New York with a strong Russian influence. Also called Little Odessa, a reference to the Ukrainian city from which many of its residents hail, the neighborhood is known for its tight-knit, Russian-speaking community. Visit the colorful shops, food emporiums and restaurants (much of their signage in Cyrillic) that line Brighton Beach Avenue beneath the rumble of the elevated subway lines.
Hudson River • Visitors to New York in the fall should not miss the chance to drive up the Hudson River Valley to experience the foliage that is ablaze in autumn colors, shimmering against the backdrop of New England. Give yourself plenty of time to drive at a leisurely pace and stop along the way. Feel free to branch out from the main highway 9 and follow the smaller rural roads closer to the river. This is a region of small towns and villages, many dating back to the original settlements of Colonial times. Plan to stop at the small village of Sleepy Hollow. You can walk around its charming main street, Beeckman Avenue, and purchase some local food for a riverfront picnic at Kingsland Point. Visit the famed Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Although you might not encounter ghosts or headless horsemen, enjoy a stroll among the tombstones and mausoleums of some of the most famous and wealthiest New Yorkers such as Rockefeller, Astor and Chrysler. The small town of Beacon is the site of the Dia Beacon Museum. Housed in the old Nabisco factory, the indoor/outdoor installations are world-class. Stop at the old Dutch farming village, Nyak for some refreshments before the last stretch back to New York.
Hamptons and Long Island • Summer visitors who want to cleanse after spending a few days in the heart of New York should dive into the blue waters of the Hamptons. Pamper yourself at an oceanfront spa, with aromatherapy treatments and facials. Take a sunset stroll adjacent to soothing breaking waves and find yourself at the Montauk Point Lighthouse and Museum; this is America’s oldest lighthouse, erected while George Washington was president in 1792. Deep Hollow Ranch offers horseback riding for all experience levels. This journey down the superb coastline includes historical fun facts and refreshing sea views. Excite your taste buds by enjoying a succulent lobster at one of many local seafood shacks.