View from the top of the Empire State Building
How to take advantage of one full day in NYC
One of my favorite questions I get almost every day comes from the traveler who loves to spread themselves thin: I’m only going to be in New York for 24 hours, how do I see all of NYC in one day? There’s actually a pretty easy answer to this question.
If you think you can see all of New York City in one day, you’re out of your mind. Most people who have lived here for years on end are still trying to see the whole city. New York is just too big and there’s too much to do to see everything in one day. But that leads to the next question: How do I take advantage of my one day in NYC to see as much as possible?
Now we’re talking realistically. Allow me to lay out a play to see as much of NYC as possible in one day.
Early Wake Up Call
You have to wake up early to truly take advantage of the day. Hit a bagel shop near your hotel that’s not named Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. For less than $5 you can get yourself the best bagel you’ve ever had and a coffee. You probably want to enjoy this breakfast as your stroll through Central Park. This is a true New York City start to the morning.
Top of the Rock, NYC
You’re going to start out your exploration with the 8-Hour Manhattan Experience tour. Don’t worry, this isn’t 8 hours of sitting on a bus or listening to some guys talk, this is an all-inclusive tour that begins at 9 a.m. and includes a trip to the Statue of Liberty, the Top of the Rock, Lunch in Little Italy, and exploration of some of Manhattan’s coolest places. You will be touring the city on a comfortable motorcoach and a tour guide will take you on walking tours of Wall Street, South Street Seaport, Grant’s Tomb, Rockefeller Center, Little Italy, and the World Trade Center memorial.
5 pm: Grab a Slice
The Manhattan Experience tour has knocked out a lot of the sightseeing, as well as giving you a sit-down meal in an authentic restaurant in Little Italy. Now it’s 5 p.m. so it’s time to grab a slice of pizza to hold you over, because you’re only getting one sit-down meal today.
5:30 pm: Catch a train to The Met
You can’t go to NYC and not visit one of the world class museums we have to offer. If it’s a Friday or Saturday, you need to jump on the Subway and head up to either the 77th Street or 86th Street stop on the 4-5-6 line. The Metropolitain Museum of Art is open until 9 p.m. on these days, so that gives you plenty of time to see some of the museum. If it’s not Friday or Saturday, check out the schedule of other NYC museums and stop by one that is open late on the day you’re in town. Again, you can’t truly see New York until you take in the art it has to offer.
7:30ish pm: Miscellaneous time
Mr. Met at Citi Field
This one is one you, and time dependent. You need to do something that appeals to you specifically, not just take in the sights, so from this point forward, we’re on you time. Sports fan? Catch a game at Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center in the winter, Yankee Stadium or Citi Field if it’s summer. The early comedy shows typically start around 8 in the city, the same time most of the evening Broadway performances begin. This time is for you to do something catered to your personality.
10:30ish pm: Grab a drink, you’ve earned it
photo: flickr / aslakr
You have been up for a while now, trekking across the whole city. You must be tired, ready to call it a night, huh? Well, New York City has an exceptional night life, so if you’re truly trying to see the whole city in all of its elements, you’re not even close to done with your night. Find a good bar, probably a hole in the wall on the Lower East Side or in Brooklyn. The hole in the wall crowd is one that you haven’t experienced yet in your NYC travels.
1:00 am: Time for some street meat
Photo: Flickr / Oran Viriyincy
After a few drinks and maybe some karaoke, you just realized that you are starving. It’s time to leave the bar and find some food. NYC is home to some of the best street meat in the world, so keep your eye out for some food trucks. It’s shouldn’t be too hard to find one on the Lower East Side or Brooklyn this time of night, so hopefully you listened to me.
1:30 am: Let’s go Clubbing!
Grab a cab to the meatpacking district to end your night partying at one of New York City’s most extravagant clubs. This is one of the last environments you have yet to see on your NYC journey, so even if you’re not much of a dancer, it’s still something to experience. Here’s a quick tip for going to a NYC club: Be a pretty girl, be with a pretty girl, be rich, or be famous, and getting into the club will be exponentially easier.
4 am: You have to catch your flight!
You flying out of JFK early in the morning remember? Grab a cab to your hotel, gather your things, then head out to the airport. You’ll get there just in time for your early morning flight to LAX, and you can sleep on the plane.
So, you want to do NYC in one day? Here’s your itinerary.
Note: There are still tons of things that you’re missing out on, but again you only have 24 hours. What would you change about this itinerary? What other things in NYC do you want to see? Tell us on twitter at @GrayLineNewYork.