Planning a trip to New York this winter? Take a look at our three day itinerary below for the perfect trip to this famous city during the winter months. There is so much to see and do in New York and even more so over the festive season. With this said, now is the perfect time to get your hands on the New York Explorer Pass (the ultimate ticket to New York’s best attractions!) which will allow you to see it all as you can enjoy up to seven of the most iconic attractions in the city.
From the moment you touch down at JFK you will need to prepare for the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Once you have jumped a yellow taxi into the city centre (approx. 40 mins – traffic dependent!) and checked in to your chosen hotel it will be time for the fun to begin! Start your holiday like a true New Yorker by heading down to the bagel store to tuck into one of their famous rainbow bagels. Choose from a range of flavours including Salted Pretzel and Cinnamon Raisin and then customise your bagel art – as it is the holiday season, why not have a ‘holiday and seasonal unique’ bagel to begin your winter break? If you visit the Brooklyn branch, you’ll be in the perfect location to take a relaxing stroll across the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
From here you can jump on the ferry for a round trip to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum where your Explorer Pass will give you access to both the ferry and entrance to the museum. The round trip will take roughly 3 – 4 hours. The ferry trip will offer a look into the beauty and splendour of the city (nothing is more iconic than seeing Lady Liberty herself!), whilst access to the Immigration museum will provide moving stories and insight into the family members of the migrant population who made the gruelling journey to start a new life in America between 1892 and 1954.
From here, head back to the subway (don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it in no time!) and make your way over to the 9/11 Tribute Centre. Here you can visit the memorial site, museum and join a walking tour (all included in your explorer pass!). Be reminded of the tragic events at the Twin Towers on 11th September 2001 through a powerful experience at this historical exhibition. Learn about some of the individual victims of the attack and their families (some of whom run the museum) and understand the global significance of the attack through a moving and unforgettable tribute.
Ready for an early night after a full day of travelling, then head out for a quick bite to eat near your hotel (there are options around every corner!) and be in bed by 10pm. If you would rather explore the city that never sleeps, why not head to 230 Fifth rooftop bar for a quick drink. From November until Late April, 230 Fifth rooftop will be hosting their famous ‘igloo bars’ which currently house 17 pop up igloos for you to enjoy both drinks and food inside (similar to those popping up everywhere in London at this time of year!). Warm yourself up with a variety of hot beverages including the Bailey’s hot coffee, Peppermint Hot Chocolate or a cheeky Apple Pie Cider. With the igloos open on a first come first serve basis, it's worth attempting to grab one – it will be worth it just for the view of the surroundings!
You will no doubt wake up early due to the time difference. However, don’t waste these hours and instead pop down to Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Times Square for the breakfast of a lifetime. Served from 7am, Ellen’s breakfast will provide you not only with stacks of Chocolate chip pancakes and a number of egg-citing options, but whilst you enjoy your food you will be entertained by a number of singing waiters who will break into song throughout your meal. This is sure to be a breakfast you won’t forget in a hurry!
Walk off your breakfast with a stroll down some of New York’s most famous shopping districts. Head down 5th Avenue or take a stroll down Madison Avenue to hit up the well-known designer shops. Even if the likes of Armani and Chanel are out of your budget, the window displays are well worth the look. The famous Saks 5th Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales are just a number of dazzling displays that are lighting up the streets this winter.
As it is a special holiday season, why not add the Central Park Ice skating ticket to your Explorer Pass by purchasing the combo ticket. This will save you money whilst providing the ultimate magical New York experience. Your stroll down Madison Avenue will eventually land you at the centre of the park where the Wollman rink, home to skaters of all levels, will offer the ultimate skating experience. Once you’re finished (you might not make it around the whole park which covers 843 acres!) be sure to check out some of the parks highlights including Strawberry fields, the John Lennon memorial and the Lake (home to the famous Boathouse restaurant).
After all that skating you are bound to be feeling the chill, so why not take a wander around one of the most famous museums in the city. Exit the park on the West Side for the American Museum of Natural History, the South side for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) or the East side for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (take your pick!) and explore a different side to the city. With admission to all three museums included in your pass, immerse yourself in floors of galleries, sculptures and exhibitions whilst staying out of the (no doubt) chilly weather!
That evening, make the most of your explorer pass by taking a trip to the Empire State Building for an evening view of the city. If you can, try and make it for sunset and you are sure to get an amazing Instagram-worthy sight. If you don’t quite get there for the sunset, don’t fret, the city that never sleeps will still dazzle 1,500 feet below you at any time of day! The Empire State is a must-see attraction in New York all year round but will be sure to shine even brighter this holiday season.
After you have finished taking in the views, take a stroll to Bryant Park to visit the winter village dubbed ‘Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland’ to complete your weekend visit. After a day full of sightseeing, take a stroll around the custom-designed kiosks and purchase some decorative gifts and artisans from around the world as a reminder of your winter break to New York. Once you have spent too much, head to the Public Fare eatery in the park for a well-needed glass of wine or a cheeky cocktail. Can the end of a jam-packed day be finished any other way?!
Grab breakfast on the go or in your hotel and get prepped for your final day in the city. One of the most iconic Christmas sights of New York has to be the infamous Rockefeller Christmas tree. With Top of the Rock included in your explorer pass, it will be the perfect opportunity for you to take a morning stroll to the Rockefeller centre and enjoy the epicentre of New York City’s holiday celebrations. Once you have admired the view at the bottom, head up 70 floors in the elevator and experience some of the best unobstructed views of the city (particularly of Central Park). Be sure to have your cameras at the ready as the view is amazing – come rain or shine!
If you want to see more of the city , head West towards Greenwich Village and take a walk around the famous meatpacking district. Owing its name to the meatpacking industries that once dominated the area, the district now houses various art galleries, markets and hosts a thriving nightlife scene. Take in the view on the famous High line (America’s first overhead park) for a different view of the city, or if you need any more shopping (never say never!) head to the neighbourhood Chelsea market where you are bound to find something to buy! As you’re in the area, be sure to visit the famous Bleecker Street and head straight to Magnolia Bakery. This quaint bakery on the corner of Bleecker Street offers a variety of ‘fresh-from-scratch’ delicacies from Banana Pudding to Icebox pies. It is well worth a visit!
As it is your final night, why not book a ticket to one of the most iconic attractions in the city – a show on Broadway! Choose from a number of shows, including the stimulating Lion King, the hair-raising School of Rock or the classic Phantom of the Opera and immerse yourself in an evening of inspirational talents. If you’re looking for something more magical, why not make it a season to remember by purchasing tickets to the annual show at Radio City Hall – the Christmas Spectacular. Running until the New Year, the glamorous Rockettes invite you to join them for a display of Christmas magic, with perfectly choreographed routines, dazzling sets and even a surprise visit from Santa! Whichever show you decide this winter, it is sure to be one you won’t forget!
Use the time between your visit to the museum and curtain opening to freshen up and grab some pre-theatre dinner. There are lots of choices located near the theatres for something quick and easy – we recommend 5 Napkin Burger for a rather large bite to eat! Tuck into a variety of burger options, from a truffle burger to the Buffalo chicken burger – you’re sure to be full to the brim.
Once you have been dazzled by the bright lights and home of such talent, pop to the East Village for a post-theatre drink at the seasonal pop-up Miracle on 9th Street. Sip on a variety of seasonal cocktails including the Jingle-Ball Nog (Cognac, milk, spices), the Bad Santa (Rum, Pineapple Juice, Coconut water) and the Three Wise Men (Calvados, gingerbread). What a perfect way to finish a winter weekend break in the Big Apple!
This itinerary gives you an idea of how you can pack plenty of festive fun into a 3-day visit. However, with so much to see and do in New York, I am sure another trip will soon be in order!
Written by Kate Harman
Interested in using the New York Explorer Pass to get the most out of your New York 3-day weekend? Click here to find out more.
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