Three Days in New York City: An Insider's Guide to NYC Hotspots

 After two months of being in Waco for college, I realized I had the opportunity to go home for Fall Break, even if it would only be for three full days. I left Thursday afternoon with a suitcase packed to the brim, more excited for the weekend than I had been in a while. Seeing my family and friends and hanging out in our favorite spots across Queens and Manhattan was so nice, that I just HAD to make a list for if you guys wanted to take a weekend trip up to the Big Apple!

Start your morning at a bodega/deli


Cost: $

Time Spent: 10 minutes

To get the full experience of NYC living, get a bacon egg and cheese on a roll (say baconegg&cheese as fast as you can to sound like a local) around any corner in Queens. It’s perfect on the go so that you can get to where you need to be in a ‘New York minute’. Grab a Metrocard while you’re there; public transportation is the way to go! Whether it be the MTA or the subway lines, $10.99 can get you pretty much where you need to go for the day, with four rides and 2-hour transfers. Below are two “routes” to take, in Queens & Manhattan (arguably the best boroughs compared to the rest):


Things to Do in Queens


Queens is the most culturally diverse area in the country, with a different area of the world represented on almost every street. There are so many ways to explore different types of foods and traditions, many celebrated in street parades and fairs. Queens is also a great place to find a moment to relax and wander; you never know what you can find down the road!


  •  Spring Shabu Shabu Buffet (Flushing)

Cost: $$

Time: 2 hours max. suggested


This might possibly be my most favorite restaurant in all of Queens. Spring has been my hotspot go-to for the past three years and I do not regret a single thing each time that I go. All you can eat for $18 + great matcha + vanilla soft-serve? Sign me up! You bet that I went here this past weekend and enjoyed every. minute. of. it.


  • Fort Totten (Bayside)

Cost: free!

Time: as long as you want!


This FDNY & NYPD base is located right in front of the Whitestone Bridge and is home to SUNY Maritime (their vessels seen in the distance) and many people who enjoy fishing or just looking out at the water. Fort Totten is a great place to explore abandoned buildings, walk rock paths, or take cute pictures. I took my commitment pictures here earlier this year, and I must say that Fort Totten is a pretty backdrop for all your Instagram needs!


  • Flushing Meadows Corona Park (Corona)

Cost: Free to wander, $10-20 to ice skate

Time: 1-3 hours

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, whether it be to see the World Fair & its relics, go ice skating, walk the dogs or to  hang out with my friends. The US Open is currently held here every year, and many people also go to this location for the Queens food Festival, a festival where local vendors showcase their products and food!


  •  Fontana Famous Pizza & Gyro (Fresh Meadows)

Cost: $$

Time: 1 hour

I remember I would take a bus down Francis Lewis to get a gyro after my clubs in high school. Fontana serves amazing gyros, shish kebabs and falafels in every form you can think of. Must have item: their spinach pie!


  •   Forest Hills Stadium (Forest Hills)

Cost: depending on performer (I spent $25 for a GA ticket)

Time: 1-3 hours


This is a cool venue to go to for outdoor events! Utilized as a tennis stadium and training area (previously where the US Open was held from 1915-1977) by day, and a concert venue by night, I was able to catch the Chainsmokers perform here in 2017 while they were on their Memories: Do Not Open tour.



  •   Coney Island/Luna Park (Brooklyn)

Cost: $$$

Time: all day!


This is technically cheating since it’s located in Brooklyn, but no one should pass up the chance to drive down to Coney Island. This area is known for the boardwalk, the multitude of restaurants and old-school amusement park rides that are flocked every summer, as well as the Mermaid Parade that celebrates the arrival of summer by the masses dressed up as merfolk, dancing along the streets, proving that it is definitely not to be missed!



Things to Do in Manhattan


  •  Frank 

Cost: $$

Time: 1 hour

This is an amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant in East Village that radiates good vibes and the feeling of eating at someone else’s home. Frank has a weekly menu served out onto their long dinner tables that makes people gather around in a small yet cozy space. Must have dish: Uncle Tony’s Gnocchi.



  •  Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cost: suggested donation $25, students $10

Time: 3-4 hours if perused properly



This museum is widely known to be the location for the annual Met Gala, as well as for its iconic steps featured in Gossip Girl, but it is also amazing on the inside if you have time to spare! Featured works include Van Gogh, Monet, artifacts from every ancient time, stained glass windows and the Temple of Dendur. If you catch yourself in New York directly after the Met Gala, there are tons of outfits reserved and showcased to explain the annual theme in a limited exhibition. The Museum Mile itself is a great stretch of history or present-day art; you’ll never find yourself bored!



  •  Central Park

Cost: free but $15 a person to rent a boat for an hour

Time: 1-3 hours

Central Park is a hotspot for tourist activity, with Shakespeare in the Park shows, street jazz musicians and buskers all part of the hustle-and-bustle of it all. Best things to do: take pretty pictures overlooking the city at Umpire Rock, get on a rowboat at the Lake, bike around the gorgeous landscape or go to the Central Park Zoo.



  •  Union Square

Cost: depending, but free to walk around

Time: as long as you want

Union Square is in the middle of everything and anything, from trendy restaurants like Max Brenner, to old-style movie theaters, and street vendors at every corner, it’s impossible not to fall in love with this place. Lots of public protests also occur here, and many people jump and join in. The Barnes and Noble in Union Square holds many celebrity events, there’s a farmer’s market every weekend; there is something new to see every time you look out the window!



  • Tao (Downtown or Uptown)

Cost: $$$

Time: 2 hours


Tao is a great restaurant located in two parts of the city where birthday dinners, graduations or girls’ night outs have happened for me, personally. I love this Asian fusion place and the creativity they put into their dishes. Must have dishes: orange chicken and tuna fried rice crisps! These plates are to die for and are good to share with friends.



  • The Highline

Cost: free

Time: 1 hour or less


The Highline is a fully converted old train track that spans about a 1 ½  miles and was reinvented as a scenic garden landscape that many people trek to take good pictures of the Meatpacking District. With many high-end shops and restaurants below, the upper level of the Highline is used as a public space for people to suntan, have poetry readings, sculpture exhibitions or view the outdoor areas leading to Chelsea Market (home to the largest Starbucks Reserve in the country).


There is no need for a specific plan when going to New York City, because chances are that something unexpected, whether it be a train delay or losing track of time, will throw you off schedule. New York City is a place where you’re free to wander and find something new with every step that you take. You have the ability to become one with the city and experience it through the eyes of a traveler, so take that chance! This city is home, but I will never get tired of it (& neither should you!)