clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A boy stands in front of a tent in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Filed under:

Animal Crossing New Horizons guide: first week walkthrough

Here’s a day-by-day account of how you should spend your first seven days on the island

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

There’s no “winning” in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch, but if you’re looking to unlock the game’s many features as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to complete certain objectives each day. Since we’ve played through the game’s early days, we’re happy to walk you through the steps that’ll ensure a quick arrival of certain franchise mainstays like the Museum, the Shop, and much more. Join us, won’t you?

Table of contents



You’ll start by picking your campsite location as well as the campsite locations of the other two villagers you’ve been handed. Pick carefully because you won’t be able to change these locations for a while (and even then, at some significant expense).

Once you’ve placed everyone’s tents, Tom Nook (the big raccoon in the sweater) will give you some simple objectives (collecting Tree Branches and Fruit). Finish that and head to the party. Feel free to take a nap after this, which is when the real game will start.

Once you wake up, you’ll be playing in real time (meaning it will be nighttime if it’s nighttime where you live). Make sure you speak to all of the villagers, as you may get some free furniture or a recipe for being a friendly neighbor.

Nook will give you the recipes for “flimsy” tools. You’ll want to make a Flimsy Fishing Rod and a Flimsy Bug Net.

Big Goal 1 – Donate 5 fish or bugs to Tom Nook for study

Use your fishing rod and net to collect the various bugs and fish you’ll see on your island. On your first day, you’ll only need five unique critters. After donating five, Nook will grant you an axe recipe and a watering can recipe. He’ll also call his buddy, Blathers the Owl, and tell him to come to the island to open a museum.

Note: If you are playing on a Switch with other people, only the primary account holder (the first person who started playing) can donate things to Nook. To make progress, you’ll need that primary account holder to finish their five donations.

Decide where you want Blathers’ Museum to go. You’ll want to pick something central as you’ll be going there quite a bit.

If you’ve collected more than five creatures on your first day, make sure you save any unique finds in or around your tent. If you run out of space, you can plop items on the ground in front of your tent. Don’t worry: They’ll be safe. If you find two of the same creature, feel free to sell the duplicates.

Big Goal 2 – Pay off Tom Nook

Tom Nook will charge you 5,000 Nook Miles (or nearly 50,000 Bells) for the pleasure of moving to his island. You’ll want to pay off this debt on the first day. It shouldn’t be much work, as you’ll be raking in Nook Miles just by completing various objectives (collecting 10 bugs, selling Clumps of Grass, etc.). You’ll complete many of these objectives without even trying, but feel free to look through your Nook Phone to see if there are any tasks within reach.

Make sure you speak to Nook afterwards and accept his offer to build you a house, as well.

Big Goal 3 – Increase your inventory space, and buy the Tool Ring

This is optional for Day 1, but if you plan on sinking a ton of time on launch day, you may find yourself with an abundance of Nook Miles. Head to Nook’s tent and use the ATM-looking machine to purchase the Pocket Organization Guide for 5,000 Nook Miles. This will add another row to your inventory, which will definitely come in handy.

Another optional but easy-to-recommend purchase: the Tool Ring for 800 Nook Miles. This allows you to switch between tools quickly by hitting Up on the D-pad.

Big Goal 4 – Harvest resources

Walk around your town and find four rocks. Pull out your axe and smack each of the rocks. You can hit each rock multiple times (up to eight if you’re very quick about it) and each will spit out resources like Stones, Clay, and Iron Nuggets. One of the four starting rocks will also spit out Bells.

Once you’ve hit all the rocks and collected the resources, you’ll want to harvest Wood. Use that same axe to hit each tree on your island three times and pick up the Softwood, Hardwood, and Wood they drop. If your axe breaks during this process, make a new one using the Wooden Sticks you get from shaking trees.

Important: Avoid crafting anything that requires Iron Nuggets. You’ll need 30 Iron Nuggets in the near future, and they are hard to come by in the early game.

Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, feel free to save your game and ready yourself for Day 2.


Inside Blathers test in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

When you wake up, you’ll see that your tent has been upgraded to a house. Congrats! You’re well on your way. Head to Tom Nook, who will congratulate you and give you a new mortgage for 98,000 Bells for the next house upgrade. Time to get to work.

Big Goal 1 – Donate 15 fish/bugs to Blathers

If you played a lot on Day 1, you were probably able to find 15 different species of bugs and fish (not counting the five you donated to Tom Nook on the first day). If so, bring them over to Blathers the Owl. He’ll give you a recipe for the Flimsy Shovel and the Vaulting Pole, the latter of which you can use to cross over rivers in your town.

Once you’ve donated 15 species, you won’t be able to donate any more, so hold any new species you find after that (and sell any duplicates).

You should also have a letter from “Mom,” which includes three pieces of fruit that are not native to your town. Use your newly acquired shovel to dig three holes and plant the special fruit. Note that trees will only grow if there is one free space in every direction around it, so make sure the spots you pick are clear.

Speaking of the Flimsy Shovel, keep an eye out for cracked spots in the ground. Dig at these spots to find Fossil Pieces, which will eventually find a home with Blathers after his Museum opens.

Big Goal 2 – Collect resources again!

Repeat the resource collection process from Day 1, hitting all of the rocks and trees on your island. You can make the timing of the rock mining a little easier by digging two holes in a diagonal formation like this:

A gif of an Animal Crossing character hitting a rock and having bells pop out Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Stand in the corner of the two holes, and hit the rock with your shovel. The two holes will ensure that you don’t get pushed backward and miss the rock entirely (thus giving you fewer a at it).

Big Goal 3 – Bring resources for the Store

If you were thorough in your resource collecting, you should have at least 30 Softwood, 30 Hardwood, and 30 Wood. Head into Tom Nook’s tent and speak to Timmy, the little raccoon. He will mention that he’s interested in building his own store, but he’ll need resources to do it. Give him all 90 different pieces of Wood.

Unfortunately he’s also looking for 30 Iron Nuggets. It’s possible you are just shy of that number, even if you collected every resource you could on both the first and second days. That’s fine: Feel free to wait until Day 3 before turning the required resources in.

Big Goal 4 – Use the Nook Ticket

Tom Nook will grant you a free Nook Ticket, which will let you visit a randomly generated island filled with more resources to collect. If you’re just shy of your Iron Nuggets goal and you want to ensure the Store is built as quickly as possible, this is a good way to do it, but it’s also totally fine if you (like us) have to wait until Day 3 before you reach 30 Iron Nuggets.

Note: If the random island you visit happens to have a fruit that’s different from your native island fruit, be sure to bring as many as you can back home. Rather than sell them, you can plant them (just as you did with the fruits from Mom). Non-native fruits sell for 500 Bells each and are a good way to make decent money early on.

The Nook Island may also have an animal inhabitant who you can talk to and invite to live with you. It won’t happen immediately, but it’s a good idea to invite whomever you see early on to speed up the process of filling out your island.

Big Goal 5 – Buy improved recipes for your tools

The machine in Tom Nook’s store sells something called Pretty Good Tool Recipes for 3,000 Nook Miles. These are more durable versions of your existing tools, but they cost more resources to build (including the much-needed Iron Nuggets). Don’t bother with any of these tools until you’ve turned in the 30 Iron Nuggets for the store.

Note: You’ll have two new recipes for axes when you buy this recipe pack. You can build the Stone Axe without Iron Nuggets. It offers a nice durability upgrade from the Flimsy Axe, making it pretty worthwhile (but not mandatory). The other axe in the recipe pack looks like it’s made out of metal and requires Iron Nuggets to build. Be careful with this second axe, as it can chop trees down in two hits. If you’re just gathering wood from trees, just use the Stone Axe.


Nook’s Cranny store in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Good news: Blathers’ museum is being built! Bad news: You can’t actually donate anything while it’s under construction, so keep your new discoveries in your house for the time being. Don’t worry: The museum will open tomorrow.

Big Goal 1 – Finish the Store (if you haven’t yet)

If you managed to collect the required resources for the Store, it’ll be open today. If you’re still trying to collect 30 Iron Nuggets, you’ll undoubtedly hit that number after hitting all of your island’s rocks on Day 3. Make sure you deliver the requested haul to Nook’s tent, and the Store will be built on the next day.

And don’t forget: If you’re still hungry for resources, you can buy a Nook Ticket for 2,000 Nook Miles, granting you an island full of goodies.

Big Goal 2 – Harvest even more resources

Once you turn in your 30 Iron Nuggets, you can be a little more freewheeling with that resource, which means you can make a few of the higher-end tools you have in your recipe book. This will speed up the process of collecting resources. You can never have enough resources, and you’re going to need a boatload of them starting tomorrow.


Standing at a bridge in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

This is going to be a big day. Blathers’ Museum is going to be fully open, which means you can take everything you’ve been saving over to him for donation. If you’ve already donated something, it’ll be grayed out, so it’s a good idea to fill your inventory with potential discoveries to see what he’ll take. Afterward, you can sell everything that’s grayed out.

Where do you sell it? Timmy and Tommy’s Store, of course! Nook’s Cranny will be your new shopping destination for new furniture. You can also sell off unneeded items and check the board in front of the store for an in demand item that sells for far more than normal.

Big Goal 1 – Build a Bridge

Talk to Tom Nook, who will mention that there are new people interested in moving to your island. But first he wants to make sure there’s enough space for them. He’ll give you a recipe for a Wooden Bridge, which will make traveling across a single river far easier. It’ll require a handful of Wood to create the components, but you’ve been harvesting every day, right? So you should be fine!

Think long and hard about the placement of your first bridge, though. While the first bridge is free, subsequent bridges will cost a lot of Bells, so make this one count. Put it somewhere that you think will get the most use based on your island layout.

Big Goal 2 – Select three housing plots

After you plop down your bridge, Nook will give you three housing plots. Unlike the plots you selected for your tents on Day 1, these plots are enormous because they include the house and a surrounding lawn.

We’d recommend placing them somewhat close to each other, for convenience sake, but in the long run their positioning won’t make a huge difference, so don’t stress about it.

Big Goal 3 – Build furniture for your plots

Each of the three plots requires six pieces of furniture — three inside and three outside. All of the furniture requested for the plots is DIY furniture, meaning you can craft it using common materials. You’ve been harvesting every day, right? If so, you should have plenty of resources to finish each of the plots today. If you don’t, you can always purchase a Nook Ticket for more Wood, Iron Nuggets, Stones, or Clay.

When you place the second plot, you’ll unlock the recipe for the Ladder, which you can use to climb the steep cliffs on your island. You’ll need to snag the flowers that are up there for one of the furniture requests, but while you’re up there, keep an eye out for fossils or bugs that you haven’t found yet.

Once you’ve finished all of the requests, speak to Tom Nook and let him know the job is done. You’ll have new villagers soon!

Big Goal 4 – Harvest more resources

You know what to do!


Customizing furniture in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

If you’ve been following this guide, Day 5 in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is going to be a bit slow. There are really only two major events to take note of.

Firstly, your Wooden Bridge will be completed. Unfortunately you won’t be able to build any more bridges for a little while, but at least that’ll make one river crossing easier for now. You can talk to Nook and attend the opening ceremony, but it’s optional.

Big Goal 1 – Meet your new neighbor

The other notable thing on Day 5: You’ll have a new inhabitant on your island! Walk over to their newly built house and have a chat. You won’t get much out of it, but it’s always a good idea to introduce yourself.

Big Goal 2 – Learn how to customize furniture

Tom Nook will teach you how to customize furniture and other DIY projects via a seminar in his tent. Take his class, and it’ll open a wide variety of visual customizations for your furniture and tools.

Big Goal 3 – Harvest more resources

By this point you’re likely drowning in Hardwood, Softwood, and Wood. If you feel like you’ve got plenty, feel free to skip the day hitting all the trees around your town, if only to save your sanity. That said, it’s always good to hit all of your rocks for Iron Nuggets, Stones, and more, as these resources can be a bit hard to come by. You may even score a Golden Nugget in the process. If you do, save it for later.


Another freebie day. You should have another new villager in town, but outside of talking to them there won’t be a lot of “must-dos.” Feel free to spend the day however you wish. Drowning in Nook Miles? Buy a ticket to a Nook Island, and maybe you’ll luck out with some fruit you don’t already have.

Or you can spend the day fishing and collecting bugs to build up your stash of Bells. It’s really up to you!


There’s something big happening on your island today. Yes, Tom Nook’s boring ol’ tent is being transformed into a legit Resident Services building, with all sorts of new functionality added. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a couple days for the upgrade to happen.

Today it’s mostly business as usual, but tomorrow the tent (as well as the ABD machine) will be fully inaccessible. Don’t worry, the Nook Miles streak you get for accessing the ABD every day won’t be broken during this time.

The third and final housing plot should be filled today, so make sure you head over there and introduce yourself. I’m sure they’ll appreciate all the effort you put in to get them set up.


Outside of the Resident Services building in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

The big event on the horizon (which should happen on Day 9 if you’ve been following this guide) is the opening of the new Resident Services building. Once that opens, you’ll unlock the ability to build bridges and ramps throughout your island for a hefty Bell charge.

After that, there are more events and buildings still to come, so be sure to keep checking back each day to see what the island has in store for you. Remember: Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a marathon, not a sprint, so even just 20 minutes per day should be plenty to get the basics done. Of course, if you want to go over that, we’re certainly not stopping you.

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon