I have benefitted so much from other people's itineraries that I wanted to give back and post mine. Hope this helps in your planning.
My husband and I went to NYC the first week of July 2012 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and my birthday. We left the kids at home!
We decided to stay at the Conrad in Battery Park City. I wouldn't recommend this location to a first-time traveler to NYC, but we have had the opportunity to go several times. We like to be away from the crowds of midtown so we purposefully look to stay out of the action. We also wanted a suite since we were staying for a week. We loved the Conrad. It was a new and spacious and at a great price. The only downside was that it is quite a hike to the subways.
We arrived on Sunday night. We went downstairs to North End Grill, a new Danny Meyer restaurant, for dinner. It was wonderful. We love the service of any Danny Meyer restaurant. They always make you feel like you are their most honored guest. Food was delicious.
New York City was experiencing a heat wave while we were there so we had to tweak our plans. We got up early on Monday and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked over to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It was definitely worth the extra walk to the Promenade. Such beautiful views! We then trekked to Midtown-not really on our way-because my husband had read about El Parador. It was really good Mexican food, set in a restaurant that has not changed its decor since the 60s. It was cool. We really enjoyed it. One aside-We left Brooklyn to go the South Street Seaport TKTS booth since the lines are historically shorter there. By the time we got there, the line was longer than we had ever seen it. We left the line because it was just too hot. I went on BroadwayBox.com on my iPhone and got the same discount that TKTS offered for Peter and The Starcatchers. We used Broadway Box again later in the week also for half price tickets. We loved Peter and The Starcatchers that night. It was delightful.
Tuesday we walked the High Line. This is a must do for anyone going to New York. What an amazing garden. We took the subway to Penn Station, then walked to the start (end?) of the High Line at 30th St. and 10th Avenue. We moseyed the High Line and saw some amazing vistas down to 16th street where we had reservations at Del Posto for lunch. We had planned to walk the rest of the High Line after lunch, but the heat preempted that. Del Posto was delicious, but we felt like we were imposing on the wait staff. Very stuffy. They also have a strict dress code. We brought nice shoes in our back pack to change into-certainly an imposition in the heat-but few of the patrons were in dress code. I wish we had worn shorts that day and ate at the food bars on the High Line at 16th St. People there seemed to be having a much nicer time-for much less money. After lunch we went to Chelsea Market, which was fun, until we forced ourselves back to the room for a nap. That night, we saw Once. It was by far the best play we saw on this trip. It is a must see!!! We had a late dinner at Shake Shack in Battery Park City-below our hotel. While it was all good, I don't get the lines. It's still just burgers and fries.
Wednesday was the 4th of July and we had a patriotic day. First we rode on the Staten Island Ferry-for some reason, we have never done this on our myriad trips to NYC. We then broke a cardinal rule of repeating restaurants and went back to North End Grill for a quick lunch because they had been advertising a calamari po-boy that my husband was craving. The food and service were again wonderful and they got us out in record time so we could make the 2 PM play of The Best Man. My husband gave the best review of this-It was like watching an All-Star Baseball game. All the big names (James Earl Jones, Candace Bergan, Angela Lansbury) were amazing to see, but they didn't really gel as a team. Erik McCormack was excellent though. After that, we went to the WTC Memorial Site. It was, of course, impressive and quite a site. I love the fountain design. I was done by then because of the heat so we bought a bottle of wine and got dinner at a taco stand on the Hudson River Greenway by our hotel and went back to our room to eat it. My husband said it was the best meal he had all week. I am ashamed to say that I fell asleep before the fireworks even went off! So glad we had not spent the big bucks on a boat cruise or dock party to watch them!
Thursday we slept in and rode the subway to the Cloisters. We had never been and loved it. I kind of wish we had left earlier because I could have stayed for hours. It is definitely worth the trip. I don't think I would go on a first trip to NYC because it is such a journey but we would go back, especially in cooler weather so we could enjoy the gardens and the park. Since admission to the Cloisters give you same day admission to the Met, we subwayed over and had a couple hours to see some selected works. We took a cab over to Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle and ate dinner at Bouchon Bakery. It's a fun place set in the middle of the mall. I had been before and wanted my husband to experience it. It was a great place to pop in and have a great meal in our shorts! Afterward, we went to see Jim Parsons (and Carol Kane!) in Harvey. It was adorable! We loved it!
Friday was my birthday! We slept in and walked downstairs to Francois Payard Bakery to get almond croissants. Yum!! We usually order room service on days like this, but the Conrad's room service prices were so outrageous that I refused to to it. We had an amazing lunch at the dining room of The Modern. It truly was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only was the food perfect, but the service was unparalleled. It is a meal I will remember the rest of my life. We did a little birthday shopping then went to see an off-Broadway play called Tribes at the Barrow Street Theater in Greenwich Village. it was excellent even though I need to warn anyone that goes that the language was rough. It is an intimate theater in the round and the set was a family's dining room table. The set really was the star.
Saturday, we had to go home, but before we left, we ran over to the LES for brunch at Freemans. The food was fine, but it is a great NY experience. You walk down what seems like a deserted alley and at the end you enter into an adorable place that looks like an old English hunting lodge. The waitress told us about il laboratorio del gelato a few blocks over. It has 95 flavors of gelato. I tried two flavors of fig and my husband had pumpkin and banana. We flew home and started our diet!!
One last note-we found our iPhone indispensable on this trip. I don't know how we travelled without it in the past. We google mapped all our journeys and it told us which subways to take. I also downloaded New Yorker's Goings Ons app for the audio tours, as well as the TKTS app and the NYC Subway app. The Open Table app kept up with all our restaurant reservations. Of course the Yelp app and the Tripadvisor app were used constantly as well. All these apps are free to download.