NYC, a city forever in flux, is impossible to “see” in one visit. You just have to resign yourself to that fact, unless you move here (and maybe not even then), you’ll only barely scratch the surface! However, there are ways to make the most of the limited time we have. So, as I get ready to leave NYC after living here for 3.5 years, I want to give you my suggested four-day itinerary for your next visit here:
Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
Though the line for the ferry from Battery Park is long, if you get there early, you can avoid most of it. (Come late and you’ll have to wait a few hours.) The Statue of Liberty is spectacular to see up close (she’s as big as you imagine), but the real highlight of this combo is Ellis Island, where you can learn about the immigrant experience and get a sense of the people who helped build NYC (you’ll even find my family’s name inscribed on the wall!). There’s such a great sense of history there that you can’t help but to be impressed.
Tip: If the line’s too long and you don’t want to wait, take the free Staten Island ferry for photos of the statue and harbor.
Named Battery Park for the old batteries (cannons) that defended the city, stop here for music and street performers, people-watching, relaxing, and all other park-related activities. You can also explore the ruins of the old fort that kept watch over the city. Battery Park is large and hectic, but I still love walking through here. There are tremendous views of the harbor, too.
Take a photo with the famous bull and then walk to Wall Street and see where all those bankers destroyed the economy. There’s heavy security in the area, but you can sit and watch people whiz in and out of buildings on their way to cause some other financial disaster.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum
This fascinating museum offers visitors the opportunity to visit former tenement apartments on the Lower East Side. You’ll learn how immigrants from around the world lived during the late 1800s and early 1900s as they tried to make it in America. It’s a good follow-up to what you’ll see on Ellis Island. You can only visit this museum via guided tours and they need to be booked in advance. I personally like the “Meet the Residents” tour, where live actors portray and share the story of newly arrived immigrants.