Planning a road trip through a big city like Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York City where you’ll need more than one day to check it out? How do you figure out how to manage your time to see as many things as you can? I found myself in that predicament recently in planning our 16th road trip to New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. In this post I’ll show you step by step how I planned and plotted my way to an awesome daily itinerary and how you can too.
New York City is chock full of stuff to see and do, and planning to explore it all seemed like a daunting task. Uptown, downtown, lower east side, upper west side…Brooklyn…Yikes…where to begin? Here’s how I tackled the problem and how you can apply my method you plan your own trip to a big city.
1.Go Old School-I love technology but sometimes an old school method is just the quickest and easiest to visualize. Invest a couple of bucks in a foldout map of the big city your traveling to (BTW, this is a great easy to pack tool to take with- often including subway maps which can be a lifesaver). Make a list of all the places you want to see and then plot them on your map with little sticky dots or push pins.
2.Divide and Conquer– Once you see all the stops you’d ideally like to make you can figure out how to plan your days so you can explore activities that are clustered together. After looking at all my pins on the map of NYC I decided we’ll do Lower Manhattan including the financial district, the lower east side, soho, greenwich village and up to midtown in one day. On the second day we’ll explore uptown, central park and all the important museums we want to see like MOMA, and the Met maybe even getting as far as Yankee stadium. We’re saving Brooklyn for day 3 and then moving on to to New Jersey. Sadly we have to face the reality we won’t be able to see it all, but with an organized plan of attack, we can make the most of our time and so can you.
3.Check for Monkey Wrenches or Timing is Everything-So now the crucial part of the whole mix-focus in on each individual day. List all your activities and places in the region or district your exploring on that day and then check their hours and days of operation-including any tasty treats you want to try. From there create a plan based on the locations and any time constraints of each stop. For example, I initially I wanted to explore Ellis Island in the morning leaving from the tip of Manhattan and return to do the rest. After perusing the website I realized that the ferry leaves and 9:30 am and includes the statue of liberty. Exploring both would take a huge chunk out of our day so I decided it was better to leave that for New Jersey where the ferry ride is shorter and we have less planned. Moving on to the rest of our activities I realized lots of the places I wanted to see only had tours at certain times, like the Federal reserve bank of NY which only has tours at 1 and 2 and you have to be there 30 minutes in advance. After sifting through it all we decided to start at the 9/11 memorial and museum which opens at 9am (which conveniently has a subway stop) and then do the Museum of Finance and the Federal Reserve tour before heading to Katz’s deli for that famous pastrami. From there we’ll head to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side for a tour at 3 , explore the area and then grab a slice of pizza at Original Rays near SoHo as we make our way to the Flatiron building heading towards Times Square and the Theater District for some evening fun.
Doing this kind of research assures (mostly) smooth sailing and an efficient use of your time. #$%^& happens and you may have to adjust on the fly, but having your day mostly planned out will leave you less stressed and more excited to explore everything you’ve got on the agenda. I am super excited and I can’t wait for the pastrami!!!