New York City in One Day

April 9, 2016 9:00 am

New York City, the most populous and most visited city in the U.S. can be quite overwhelming. It may seem that one day in New York would be best spent weeping in an expensive hotel room, because what can you really accomplish in one day in the busy metropolis?  Do not fear! One day is certainly not enough time to see even 1% of the Big Apple, but with a good itinerary, you can create powerful lasting memories on your day trip. They key to seeing as much as possible, and enjoying it at the same time is an early wake-up time, good walking shoes and thorough preparation.

Everybody has different preferences while traveling. Some people enjoy museums, while others find them boring; some travelers like to enter full-tourist mode and strut around with a camera around their necks seeing as much as possible, and others like to take it easy and enjoy some r&r. Whichever group you belong to, there are some NYC staples most people will agree on.

New York City in One Day - Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty National Monument

The Statue of Liberty is a classic and a symbol of the American Dream so many enjoyed after arriving in this city. However, getting on the Statue Ferry can be a tedious and lengthy experience. If getting up-close to the statue is important to you, go as early in the morning as your body will allow. The first ferry departs at 8:30am, take that one, if you can help it. After 9am the lines start to get longer. For an alternative option, forget about setting foot on Liberty Island and take a cruise around Lower Manhattan. Circle Line Cruises has a variety of lovely cruises with funny, knowledgeable tour guides, who will more than make up for the close-up of Lady Liberty’s toes.  Their Liberty Cruise will take you within 100 feet of the statue, take no longer than an hour and runs every day at 10am.

New York City in One Day - Wall Street

Charging Bull, a Famous Wall Street Landmark

After a morning admiring the green lady (made out of copper, by the way), head for a quick breakfast/lunch in the Financial District, check out Wall Street and the famous Stock Exchange and Charging Bull and start making your way North. For a classic downtown lunch we recommend Dominic’s Italian Sausage, a food cart popular with the local residents and workers, or the trendy Ramen Co, home of the original Ramen Burger, one of New York’s favorite viral food items. For time-saving purposes it’s best to take the NYC subway. While an underground tunnel is not the most scenic route, it is certainly the quickest way to get across town.

New York City in One Day - Central Park, The Met

Central Park View from Rooftop Garden at the Met

Central Park, one of the world’s largest and most popular urban oases draws millions of visitors each year. If you’re planning a trip to New York, chances are Central Park is on your agenda. The question is, how can you possibly see any of its 843 acres with just mere minutes to spare? Any savvy traveler knows that the best way to maximize your time is to kill two birds with one stone. To accomplish that, we recommend admiring Central Park from the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met has been consistently named one of the best art museums in the world and its many impressive galleries are absolutely worth a visit. If you want to save time, don’t set out to explore the whole museum. Do some research in advance and decide what art you want to see and go straight there. After you feel culturally fulfilled and artistically inspired, make your way upstairs for the gorgeous views of the park and the New York skyline.

New York City in One Day - Times Square at Night

Times Square at Night

Then take the subway or Hop on Hop off bus to Midtown, which is home to many popular NYC attractions including the third most visited site in the whole wide world. Times Square represents a daily dose of dread to any grumpy New Yorker working in the area, but to visitors, remote admirers and inner-romantics, it represents the heart of New York City. No matter who you are, encountering a scruffy Elmo and a mobile Statue of Liberty under the shining neon lights of Times Square is a must!

New York City in One Day - Top of the Rock

Uptown view from Top of the Rock

Finish the day by visiting Top of the Rock, the observatory on top of 30 Rockefeller Center. Top of the Rock offers some of the best New York City views and is within walking distance of Times Square. You can see the Empire State Building and Downtown Manhattan on the South side and Central Park from the North side. TotR is open until Midnight every night, the lines aren’t bad later in the evening. Alternatively, you can visit the Empire State Building observatory, which is equally impressive, but the lines are generally longer. The ESB observatory is open until 2am every day. If heights aren’t your thing, finish the day by seeing a Broadway Show. If you don’t have your tickets already handy, visit the TKTS Booth in Times Square for discount tickets on the best shows. Finishing your day in Midtown is great if you have to commute back within the Tri-State area. You are within walking distance of major transportation hubs such as Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

With this itinerary you will be able to experience as many of the classic NYC landmarks without frantically rushing around. In a city as jam-packed with things to do, it’s easy to be swayed towards visiting EVERYTHING. Don’t set out to do that if it will hinder your enjoyment. That is a price not wort paying.

If you have experience with NYC day trips, let us know what your itinerary looked like in the comments.

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