You will fly into JFK probably, and have to take a pricey ride into the city. This means going in a tunnel that is underwater. Kinda weird and super scary if you get the kind of driver I get every time- crazy!
You have to stay in New York. I know it’s cheaper to stay in Brooklyn, but no. Don’t do it. It will be worth it to just wake up, walk out the door, and see the city. If money isn’t really an issue- stay in Times Square. The Marriott Marquis is amazing. Right across from MTV studios- good for celeb sightings. It also has a theater- where you can catch a Broadway Show. The Doubletree is great too!!!!
If you are trying to be budget friendly, just a few blocks away is the historical Roosevelt. Brent and I stayed there pretty cheap once, and were really surprised at how nice it was.
In Times Square- you should see some shows! You can get cheap tickets ( about 1/2 off) at the TKTS booth. It’s at the bottom of the Marriot Marquis. They are last minute tickets the theaters didn’t sell. You might not get great seats, and might have to split up a large group- but it’ll help your wallet- since EVERYTHING is more expensive in New York.
Also in Times Square is a huge Toys R Us with a Farris wheel inside. The cars are shaped like toys, and even grown ups love it too.
I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Central Park. Bethesda Fountain is my favorite- and my next stop is the zoo. Somehow- I’ve never been there. It’s a good idea to give a full day to the park and museums. The Museum of Natural History- which does NOT look like Night at the Museum, and The MET are pretty much attached to the park. The park is huge though, and it’s not like you are really going to walk from one end to the other. It’s like 250 acres. You can also hit up Serendipity III which is located in this part of town. Catch a cab for this one. It’s a short, cheap ride. Serendipity III home of the famous Frozen Hot Chocolate.
*warning there is usually a wait, and you have to order your own dish or dessert. I think they have a $9 per person min. order.
Little Italy and Chinatown would be fun for an afternoon- and a good place for cheapish lunch. There is a big Buddhist temple, and lots of shopping. In Chinatown, beware that most of it is crap, and they will haggle with you, so never pay the first price they give you. You can also ask them about knockoff bags. They will take you to a back room- mostly through a hidden door, as it is illegal.
From your Times Square hotel, you can walk to Rockefeller Center, Tiffany’s, FAO toys, and St. Patrick’s. There are tons of ” New York” things to see along the walk, and other, smaller landmarks.
My main advice is that when you see a fun bar- stop and have a drink, when a shirt catches your eye, go in a browse, eat desserts, walk till your feet hurt, and enjoy the city.
On my next trip, I’m also going to The Tenement Musuem and Magnolia Bakery- two firsts for me.