A Guide to New York City for First Timers

N E W   Y O R K   C I T Y

It's hard to believe a year ago we were in New York City to celebrate my little sister's high school graduation. We had a great time on her Senior Week away from the beach exploring a new place. While I'm far from being an expert, here's a recap of what we saw, ate, and did while in the Big Apple. I hope this guide will help you if you're visiting New York City for the first time like we were last year. Take a look back at my old blog posts from New York City here!

Here's how we managed to see it all in less than 6 whole days:
Monday - flight in + Central Park
Tuesday - Flatiron District + Washington Square Park   
Wednesday - The Met + Beyonce concert at CitiField
Thursday -  Chelsea Market + The High Line + SoHo + Top of the Rock + Times Square
Friday - Brooklyn + Little Italy + Chinatown + Ground Zero
Saturday - 5th Ave + Rockefeller Center + flight home

Do everything you can for free. Check to see if you can pay what you want for admission to museums. NYC has tons of great parks that are open to the public. There are also some breathtaking buildings that you can photograph for fun!

Take the Subway to save on time and money. You can buy a pass for a few days for pretty cheap! Plan out where you're going to go better than we did so that you go back and forth on the subway less. We could have planned to see things closer together and spent more time at each location that way. 

Ask a local where to eat before you go. We stumbled upon some great places to eat but we probably could have eaten at some real gems if we had done our research beforehand. One of the best places we ate while visiting with our friend Parth was Nanking in Times Square (an IndoChinese restaurant that is now closed). They had dry chili paneer and we haven't been able to get it in our hometown to try again!

We are by no means experts at NYC after just one trip, but here's our guide to seeing New York City as first timers!

Where to Eat

Souvlaki GR

Midtown - 162 W 56th St - $$
Chicken Souvlaki Pita + Hand-Cut Greek Fries

Shake Shack

Madison Square Park - E 23rd St & Madison Ave - $$
Seasonal Shake

Shake Shack NYC

Da Gennaro

Little Italy - 129 Mulberry St - $$
Eggplant Parmesan + Spaghetti

For more Italian, try Patsy's Italian Restaurant or Angelo's Pizza in Midtown. 

Eggplant parmesan at DeGenarro in Little Italy NYC
Ravioli at DeGenarro Little Italy NYC
DeGenarro Little Italy NYC
DeGenarro Little Italy Cafe Chairs

Serendipity 3

Upper East Side - 225 East 60th St - $$
Frozen Hot Chocolate + "Can't Say No" Sundae

Serendipity 3 in NYC
Andy Warhol hanging in Serendipity 3

Le Pain Quotidien

SoHo - 100 Grand St - $$
Paris Ham & Cheddar w/ mustard trio + hummus
raspberry lemonade

Le Pain Quotidien

Pick a Bagel

Midtown - 891 8th Ave - $
Sausage, Egg, and Cheese on Everything


SoHo - 398 W Broadway - $$$
all the macarons
coffee + lemon + salted caramel + orange blossom + lemon + pistachio

Laduree Soho
Laaduree macaroons

Dos Caminos

SoHo - 475 W Broadway - $$
guac + tacos + rice & beans

10 Below

Chinatown - 10 Mott Street - $
oreo rolled ice cream w/ oreos & golden grahams

10 Below Chinatown NYC
10 Below oreo rolled ice cream in NYC


Hell's Kitchen - 366 W 46th St - $$
byob (build your own burger) + fries & o-rings + root beer


What to See

Central Park

Central Park
Boaters in Central Park

The Guggenheim


The Plaza Hotel

The Flatiron District

Flatiron Building NYC

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Arch

The Met

(go through the line and pay what you can)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The Met

The High Line

(get on at Chelsea Market and kill two birds with one stone)

Chelsea Market
The High Line NYC
The High Line

Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock NYC
Top of the Rock

Times Square & The Theater District

(the lights are more impressive at night)

Times Square at Night
Radio City Music Hall

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
Water Taxi NYC

Little Italy + China Town

Little Italy
Chinatown NYC

9/11 Memorial

The Oculus at Ground Zero
Ground Zero NYC

5th Ave + Rockefeller Center

Saks Fifth Ave in NYC
Topshop NYC 5th Ave
Rockefeller Center

The Queen Bee

(Sorry... I ain't sorry...)

Beyonce at CitiField in NYC

So that's it! That's how we managed to walk 40 miles in NYC while taking the Subway. It was a jam-packed week and I'm ready to go back. Just don't tell my sister that I want to go back because I tell her all the time that I love Chicago more. It's true though, I'm ready for another trip to the Big Apple now that we know what districts we like best. I'd also like to do some things we weren't able to check off our list like actually walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, going inside more art museums, and tasting beer at Brooklyn breweries. 

Have you been to NYC? Leave me all your tips for our next trip!