Are you planning a long weekend trip to New York City? Here is my itinerary for 3 days in New York City!

Central Park in New York City - Fall Foliage in Central Park - Fall photo ideas - New York City Fall - Emma's Edition

I was invited to visit New York City this fall by an airline and NYC show last weekend. While I wasn’t originally planning to visit NYC in November, I’m so happy I was able to take this trip. The last time I was in the city was fall 2019 during New York Fashion Week. I was so excited to visit some of my favorite spots and see and eat at places I hadn’t tried yet in Manhattan.

If you’re planning a trip to New York City for the first time, I hope my 3-day itinerary in New York City helps! In all honesty, you could probably spend weeks in New York City exploring all the different neighborhoods. But you can still see a few iconic spots in a 3-day trip to NYC.

Since we booked a last minute 3-day trip, we decided to stay in Midtown to be close to the attractions and things we wanted to see. We personally stayed at Club Quarters Hotel (Midtown + Time Square) location. Our hotel was in the perfect location for our 3-day itinerary in New York City.

Day 1 – Travel Day

If you’re coming from the West Coast like me, your first day is a travel day. Seattle to NYC is typically a 6-hour flight + 3 hour time difference. You lose a day just traveling but you still have time to see one iconic spot and of course, eat dinner.

Eat dinner at Il Corzo

I highly recommend setting reservations for lunch and dinner, especially if you’re wanting to sit down somewhere on a Friday or Saturday night. We decided to set reservations at Il Corzo with Open Table, an Italian restaurant near Central Park. The food was delicious, and I personally enjoyed the gnocchi.

Walk through Time Square

One of the benefits of staying in Midtown is how close it is to Time Square. We walked through Time Square and experienced all it’s craziness. We also bought souvenirs while we wandered through Time Square. I ended up buying a NYC crewneck sweater and wore it on Sunday when we visited Top of the Rock!

Day 2 – Explore Day (Longest Day of the Trip)

3 day schedule of visiting New York City

Eat breakfast at Sip & Co

Address: 41 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019

We started our day at 9am at Sip & Co just outside Central Park. We ate avocado toasts, pastries, and had coffee. One thing I’ve learned about exploring New York City is that you need fuel to explore the city. You’ll most likely do a ton of walking especially if you’re planning a trip for the first time. I recommend planning for an early start to miss crowds and eat a full meal.

Explore Central Park

No matter what season you’re visiting New York City, Central Park should be a must on your list.   We miraculously got to walk through Central Park at peak fall foliage. I had no idea that the fall leaves were changing in New York City right now, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the fall colors.

Central Park is massive. I recommend picking 2-3 spots to see in the park, especially if it’s your first time visiting the city. We stopped by:

  • Gapstop Bridge
  • The Pond at Central Park
  • The Mall and Literary Walk (prime location to see and take photos of the fall foliage)
  • Bethesda Terrace
  • Conservatory Water/Central Park Model Boat Sailing

Tip: If you’re heading to NYC for the first time and you’re wanting to capture memories, I would consider hiring a local photographer. My friend Karya is a NYC photographer and ended up doing a mini shoot for us! While again, it wasn’t my intention to even capture outfit photos for my blog and Instagram, I’m so glad I hired Karya to take these photos!

Central Park in New York City - Fall Foliage in Central Park - Fall photo ideas - New York City Fall - Emma's Edition

Grab Macarons and Tea at Laduree

Address: 864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021

Once you’re done exploring Central Park in the morning, I recommend heading to Laduree in the Upper East side. There are several Laduree locations (the one in SoHo is the biggest). The Laduree in the Upper East Side isn’t very big but it’s still a good spot for macarons and a tea to go.

Laduree in Upper East Side

Rest for an hour

After our morning adventure, we decided to head back to the hotel. We caught the subway and took the Q line back to Time Square station. We walked back to our hotel just to rest for an hour before our lunch reservations at 2:30pm.

If you’re planning a 3-day itinerary to New York City for the first time, you probably want to see as much of the city as possible. I still recommend scheduling in some downtime to regroup and reset. I’m always way more excited to see the city if I have some downtime to rest at least for 30 min-1 hour.

Eat lunch at Angelo’s Pizza

Address: 1697 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

We decided to move up our reservations through Open Table to Angelo’s Pizza to 2:30 pm for lunch before attending the 5pm Christmas Spectacular Rockettes Show at Radio City. We lucked out and missed the thunder, rain, and lightening. We literally stepped into the restaurant as torrential downpour swept the city in the afternoon.

We split a 13-inch margherita pizza and added prosciutto as well as the caprese. We were so full the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Watch the Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at Radio City Hall.

Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

One of the highlights of our 3-day weekend in New York City was seeing the Rockettes! We spoke with the security ladies the night before and learned we should line up 1 ½ hours before the show starts. There are two lines the crowds must go through: the first line is the covid vaccine verification line (you show your covid vaccine card or a photo of it on your phone) and the second line is the security line.

Because we were early, we were able to stop by concessions to buy water bottles before the show starts (no food or drinks are allowed from the outside). We also were able to stop by the gift stands and use the bathroom before the show started. We were seated 30 minutes before the show started. It was so nice to be able to sit down and relax before the show!

It was my first time watching the Christmas Spectacular Rockettes Show at Radio City Hall. The show was incredible! All the dancers and performers were amazing and it’s such a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Christmas Spectacular Radio City Hall

Grab dessert at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Address: 1250 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

After the show, we decided to grab ice cream at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. We walked in and surprisingly didn’t’ run into a line. We were in between a banana split and cookie crumble. We decided to split the cookie crumble and we loved it.

Stop by the Winter Village at Bryant Park

Address: Bryant Park New York, NY 10018

After the show and dessert, it was still relatively early, so we decided walk down to Bryant Park for the Winter Village. There are tons of small businesses set up in small booths as well as an ice-skating rink. We had so much fun seeing all the small businesses and ended up buying quite a few early Christmas gifts for family members.

Grab a hot dog

There are hot dog stands all over the city. If you get hungry at night, you can always grab a hot dog or pretzel! Warning: these stands are CASH ONLY. We didn’t know and I had to run back to the hotel to get cash!

Day 3: Explore/Travel Day

If you decide to take a later afternoon or evening flight out of New York City, you can spend half the day exploring. My Delta flight took off at 4:45pm so I was excited to spend half the day in the city before taking off for the airport.

3-Day itinerary in New York City - long weekend NYC trip - Emma's Edition

Grab Coffee at Lucid Café in Murray Hill

Address: 311 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

We started the day with coffee and breakfast at Lucid Café in Murray Hill. I got the avocado toast sandwich, and it was also good. This coffee shop is small with limited outdoor seating. We went right at 9am and grabbed an outdoor table. The line was out the door by 9:30 am so this spot might be best taking coffee to go.

Head to Top of the Rock

Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

If you’re looking for an incredible view of the city, I recommend stopping by the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. There are 3 levels with 360 degree views of NYC at Top of the Rock. And tickets are $40 per adult.

 I’ve personally been to Top of the Rock 3 times (with three different friends/family) and the view never gets old! My tip is to buy your tickets ahead of time online. I also recommend purchasing tickets right when they open at 10am.

FYI – We were required to show our vaccination cards (photo works as well!), wear masks as we made our way through the building and go through security. I also advise to get in line 15-30 min before you designated time because it takes some time to move through all the lines.

If you’re looking to take photos at the Top of the Rock, I also recommend checking out: How to Get a Photo at the Top of the Rock.

Top of the Rock - Long weekend in New York City - Manhattan New York City - New York City Skyline -

Get lunch at Katsu-Hama off 5th Avenue

Address: 11 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017

We decided to eat lunch before heading to the airport and it was such a great decision. I randomly picked Katsu-Hama off Yelp. We got in before noon and were seated right away. The chicken katsu was delicious! We couldn’t believe how busy the place got when we left right before 1pm.

Head to the airport

If you’re heading to JFK from Manhattan, I recommend giving yourself a full hour to get to the airport. You might not hit any traffic in your Uber/Lyft or taxicab and be able to get to John F Kennedy Airport in 40-45 minutes. But if you do hit traffic, you’ll be thankful you gave yourself extra time to get there!

What other activities would you add to a 3-day itinerary in New York City?

Top of the Rock New York City - Rockefeller Center

Thank you for reading! I hope sharing my personal 3-day itinerary in New York City helps you plan your next trip!