We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Calgary
Level Contributor
91 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Hi everyone

We are coming for our first trip to New York for my husband's 55th birthday on May 18-22 (arriving in the evening, leaving late afternoon on the 22nd). Unfortunately we don't have nearly enough time to really experience New York, but are looking for at least a good taste of it so we can be enticed to return. Here are some of the things on our list so far and I'd love advice on how to best arrange this into the small time we have (plus suggestions if we missed anything big in this list). First a bit about us: we aren't "big" museum people - we like to pick maybe one per trip and check it out...we are much more interested in walking around and looking at the sites. We love getting up into towers and buildings to check out the view. We like live entertainment, and although we aren't "foodies" we appreciate good food and unique restaurants. We aren't big shoppers either but would like to check out a couple of places. We are staying about 3 blocks from Grand Central, near the empire state building. Here's the list, and again, thanks for the help!

- go up to the top of the rock or empire state building or both for the views, look at cool buildings from the outside (e.g. chrysler building, flatiron building)

- 9-11 memorial

- maybe the staten island ferry to get a view of liberty (how long does the ferry ride take? and how long is the line to get onto it during the week, usually?)

- walk the high line

- My husband LOVES the music from the phantom of the opera but has never seen it. This is an absolute Must. If there is another show that has similar style of music, please let me know and maybe we can go to another broadway show (PS we have already seen Jersey Boys and Wicked, although not in NYC, and don't want to see Les Miserables)

- I would love to check out some live jazz. I have been looking at who's playing at the village vanguard, jazz standard, etc. I'm not familiar with many of the groups playing but might need to do a bit more research

- shopping: want to see the giant Macy's and everyone recommends Century 21

- We want to go to the Tenement Museum (it was recommended by a few friends), but I'd like suggestions on specifically which tour to see. There are a number of tours and when I look at the reviews on Tripadvisor, I'm not seeing a standout leader for "the one" to go to

- see Times Square (maybe at night with all the lights)

- walk around various neighbourhoods and central park

- and just for fun, experience some iconic new york food (e.g. cheesecake, manhattan clam chowder, bagels, etc.)

Thanks again!

We are super excited, and want to hit the ground running when we get there.

Mentioned in this post
New York
New York
United States
Jersey Boys
Jersey Boys
7,006 Reviews
New York City, NY
Corner Bookstore
Gift & Speciality Shops
kate spade
Gift & Speciality Shops
Zabar's
Gift & Speciality Shops
new york
Level Contributor
3,284 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

I would recommend that you plot things on a map (such as google maps) then pair things together that are in similar areas. For example, the 9/11 Memorial can be combined with the Staten Island Ferry. When I did the ferry there was no line (it holds tons of people).

My favorite area to wander around is Greenwich Village, lots of streets to meander. Also, take the subway to Brooklyn, walk along Brooklyn promenade for great views of Manhattan, walk the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan.

I prefer Top of the Rock to the Empire Statue Building. However, since you particularly love tall buildings if you want to do both I would do TOTR in daylight and ESB at night. You can see the lights of Times Square after you see a Broadway show. Hit up Juniors for cheesecake after the show.

One building that is recommended for interior lobby tours is the woolworth building. I haven't been yet but I'm hoping to go in May.

https://woolworthtours.com

Mentioned in this post
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
16,528 Reviews
New York City, NY
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
17,499 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

I've done the Hard Times tour of the Tenement Museum and enjoyed it. We went upstairs and could see the tenement as it would have been back then and the guide explained a lot about the living and working conditions there. We've got it good these days.

I loved TOTR at sunset. You get a great view of the ESB directly in front of you. If you go to the ESB you would get a great view of Lower Manhattan and the new WTC tower.

The round trip on the SI ferry is one hour. The boarding goes very quick. It can hold thousands of people so no worries about not fitting on. But the view of the SOL is at a fair distance away.

When walking the High Line call into Chelsea Market for some food or a coffee. Lots of shops in there and it's very easy to access from the High Line. The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market has Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Yes to Central Park and walking around some neighbourhoods. Brooklyn Heights is beautiful, you get the fantastic skyline views from the Promenade and it's a different feel to midtown Manhattan. Greenwich Village is also good, it's a very village feel.

Alabama
Level Contributor
988 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Go TO the SOL! That was my favorite thing!

Dallas, Texas...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
24,300 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

For SOL, you could also consider taking a cruise with a specific focus SOL, or take a water taxi: nywatertaxi.com/tours/statue-of-liberty-expr…

The ferry is free and interesting, but it's a big giant commuter boat.

You have PLENTY of time to do everything on your list. One nice combination is walking the highline from north to south (perhaps stopping in Chelsea Market for food, shopping and a bathroom break), then continue on to West Village/Greenwich Village. You'll also pass through Meatpacking.

If you have the time and stamina, continue on to Soho.

I've not personally been to Century 21, but if you're not really into crowded discount shopping, it may not be your thing.

Have you had classic NYC Jewish-style deli? Try the pastrami on rye at Katz's in the Lower East Side. It's near the Tenement museum. LES is also an interesting neighborhood to walk around and explore. It's very near Chinatown, which is also worth a visit. Note that it's also near Soho.

For Tenement museum, do any of the options speak to you personally? I realize you're in Calgary, but if any of them appeal to your sense of family ethnic origin, that could be a good choice.

Try to visit the Chrysler building during business hours on a weekday. That's the only time the lobby is open to the public. Impressive art deco and other things of interest.

You may enjoy visiting the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.

Mentioned in this post
West Village
West Village
1,368 Reviews
New York City, NY
Syracuse, New York
Level Contributor
16,439 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Do not pay full price for Phantom unless you are very picky. This show is on discount.

Here is an article on discounted tickets:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60763-c1146/New-York…

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
10,228 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Re the view from up on high ...for that short period of time I wouldn't go to both the ToTR and the ESB....and you cannot see the Chrysler Building from the ToTR, but you get a great view of Central Park (and the ESB).

We went on the Staten Island Ferry this last trip and the view of the Statue of Liberty was much much closer than I was led to believe on this Forum. You're not right up next to it, but it's fantastic anyway.

But, as mentioned above, I would go to the SoL and Ellis Island - more time consuming but a highlight of a visit to NYC. It would take about 1/2 a day in total and could be combined with visiting the 9/11 Memorial and other things in the downtown area. The Downtown Alliance website will give you details (their map you can get from tourist kiosks when you are there is fantastic).

Re Tenement Museum tours - we went on the Hard Times tour on our first visit to this wonderful place. It was a wonderful first tour. This last trip we did Shop Life...while it was also very good, I think it's too specific for a first tour. BUT most of all, do give yourself at least 1/2 an hour to get to the Museum before your tour so that you have time to watch the wonderful film (it's ~30 minutes on continuous loop so you don't need to get there 'at the start'). Also wonderful is the book/gift store...you need another 1/2 an hour there. Look for Jacob Riis's book "How the Other Half Live". (He's mentioned in the film).

Have a great time.

Edited: 14 April 2014, 23:41
Calgary
Level Contributor
91 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Thank you everyone for all the excellent advice! Since I first posted, I also read a bunch of trip reports as well for more great ideas (as it ends up, I bought the airline tickets and then immediately panicked! I posted this before I did much reading). Considering all the excellent information that's already on TA, I'd also like to thank you all for your patience!

Just a couple more questions:

- If we did decide to go to SOL and the 9/11 memorial in the same day, is there a logical "best" order to do them in? It sounds like any way you do it, there are lots of lineups. If I need to buy tickets for both (considering we are not big time "lingerers"), what time of day do you recommend we book the tickets for? I'm thinking that we could do SOL and the 9/11 memorial, then hop on the subway, head over to Brooklyn and then walk the bridge back all in one day.

- Then on another one of our 3 full days, we'll do the "neighbourhood exploration" day, and go explore LES, go to the Tenement Museum, cut across to Greenwich Village and surrounding areas, walk the Highline, check out the Chelsea market (and then probably collapse from exhaustion from all the walking).

- And on the third day, do one or more towers (TOR is sounding like the best bet), check out Chrysler building, check out Central Park, and do yet more wandering but further north.

- Shopping and eating, we will fit into the schedule based on where we are.

Also,

- Does anyone have any suggestions for "must do" bakeries? I forgot to mention, that's my thing.

- And Hubby will be looking for a nice seafood restaurant for sure (by "nice" I mean probably no more than about $70-80 per person for a meal) Any suggestions?

Thanks again, everyone!

Have a great day

ugg

USA
Level Contributor
14,551 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

I would take the 9:00 am cruise to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island: http://www.statuecruises.com

Plan about 4 to 5 hours for both and then make plans for the 911 Memorial.

For walking in between and even mass transit planning, try google maps and the walking or mass transit button: https://maps.google.com

Also, for subway information, etc: http://new.mta.info

You can do the Tenement Museum: http://www.tenement.org/tours.php, then as you planned. Yes it's a lot of walking, but you'll be breaking it up with stopping, etc. Again, use google maps for walking distances and do what's comfortable to you.

I like the Empire State Building, both the main deck and top deck. TOTR is great as well, hell I'd do both if you can.

My favorite bakery is Rocco's on Bleecker St. (Greenwich Village). They have table service and you can also get items to go. Everything is great and it's always buzzing.

Edited: 15 April 2014, 23:50
Center Moriches...
Level Contributor
1,112 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

Central Park: in New York, the more you walk, the more you see. Walk up 5th Avenue past all those wonderful stores you've heard about like Macy's, Tiffany's, FAO Schwartz to the park at 59th. The iconic Plaza on the corner, the horse-drawn carriages, postcard pictures of the pond. Head north through the park, keeping the pond on your left, passing the zoo and the Wollman Rink. A mile or so will bring you to the bandshell and Bethesda Terrace and its perfect fountain. A short walk to the right is the Boathouse Restaurant nestled amongst the trees. Go left at the fountain to Strawberry Fields, the Imagine mosaic, and finally, the towering Dakota on Central Park West. Subway there at 72 Street, B train Downtown to 42nd or 34th completes the circle.

Mentioned in this post
New York
New York
United States
Wollman Rink
Wollman Rink
79 Reviews
New York City, NY
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
1,978 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Four days in NYC in May: Itinerary Help Please!

I agree with Springerandy: if you decide to go to the SOL, aim for the first SOL boat of the day which means you want to be there at Castle Clinton at least 30-40 minutes ahead to get through security before boarding. 4-5 hours should be enough at that time of day to see both Liberty Island and Ellis island. You do not have to get off at the SOL if you want to save time, but at least you get a very nice up close look at her. After people get off at Liberty Island, you can get great unobstructed views (take pictures) from the deck, if you didn't manage to get a prime railing spot right off the bat, and you choose to stay onboard. You can then stay on and visit Ellis Island which is very educational and worthwhile. Not all the exhibits are open yet, after damage incurred during hurricane Sandy, so again it may not take as long as you think.

Regarding the 9/11 Memorial. The Museum will be open to the public starting May 21st. I'm not sure it has been established here on TA whether the area of the Memorial will be open to the public right off the bat when the Museum opens, or whether there will be some barriers still in place limiting access to the general public while construction continues in the area.

The answer is not clear on the Museum/Memorial website either: it still states that you need passes once the museum opens, but it will not let you book Memorial only passes after May 13th. If it turns out that the Memorial will not yet be open to the general public during your visit, and you would like to pay your respects, consider purchasing tickets to the Museum, so that you can have access to the Memorial. The guided tours of the Memorial that you book through the Museum, includes Museum admission, but will be available to you only on May 22 as there are no tickets left for May 21st.

There are also guided tours of the Memorial available through the 9/11 Tribute Center on the dates of your visit. The tour guides at both sites are all individuals who have a direct connection to the events of 9/11: family members, survivors, rescue workers and nearby residents who were displaced during the recovery period

If you decide to book a tour with either one, I would do so for about 3 pm to make sure you have plenty of time to see the islands and get some lunch after.

Edited: 16 April 2014, 02:57