When you’re standing on the top of the Empire State Building, looking over the edge at the tiny yellow cabs and the endless miles of twinkling lights, the only thing you could possibly say is wow.
24 hours in New York City will never be enough. One week, one month…. Heck, one year is hardly enough. However, if you only have 24 hours and you want to see as much as physically possible, it can be done. But be prepared – you will be exhausted, your feet will be sore and the memory card of your camera will be full. You have been warned.
The first thing you need to do is cross your fingers for a nice day. New York can provide some stellar clear blue sky days – regardless of the air temperature, the weather can generally be pretty amazing. It’s this kind of day you need to hope for in order to make the most of the typical tourist spots.
Make sure you’re awake bright and early to explore all the city has to offer. The Top of the Rock viewing platform is the best place to see the city in the early light. Head up to the top and enjoy the view that stretches beyond the eye can see. Once you’ve absorbed the view, head across to Times Square to check out the electric center. If you’re lucky you might even witness a taping of Good Morning America!
Times Square would be a good place to grab a bite to eat for breakfast – whether you choose a restaurant, a diner or a street vendor, the atmosphere of Times Square in the morning is hard to replicate anywhere else.
The Statue of Liberty looks amazing in the mid-morning sun. Take a subway down to Battery Park City, jump aboard the ferry and enjoy the views of the Manhattan Skyline as the boat heads towards Liberty Island. From October 2012 the statue will be reopened to the public so you can climb those stairs and check out the views from her crown once again. The boat also makes a stop at Ellis Island which was the gateway for many millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 – 1934. The island now hosts the museum of immigration which shows the story of the settlement of New York, and the rest of America. For anyone interested in history this is a great place to stop.
Once you’re safely back in Manhattan, head over to the World Trade Center site where you can pick up a pass to check out the memorial pools and the 9/11 memorial visitors center. This part of town is certainly worth a look for anyone visiting New York City.
From the Financial District, jump on the subway and head up to West Village, one of Manhattan’s best neighborhoods. Grab some lunch on one of Bleeker Street’s eateries and stop by the famous Magnolia’s Bakery to grab a cupcake before heading up to Central Park.
Get off the subway towards the bottom of the park so you can explore the main attractions. Start by wandering past the zoo as you’re able to see the playful seals from the outside without having to go in, then wander up the east side towards the Alice in Wonderland statue. Once you’ve marveled at the detail of the statue, head west, past the famous boathouse restaurant, beau bridge and around to Bethesda Terrace. If you’re a fan of The Beatles, continue heading west to see Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial, and just outside the Central Park gates, The Dakota, where the famous musician was killed. The final place I would recommend checking out in Central Park would be Shakespeare’s Garden and Belvedere Castle. Climb right to the top of the Castle and take in the view over the lake. The garden is particularly impressive over the spring and summer months, however in the winter you could probably give it a miss.
It’s here where you’ll have to make a pretty tough decision. It’s as hard as the chicken or the beef, the red or the blue, the art or the history. If you walk east you’ll come across the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the building is a landmark in its own right and the collection of art housed within its walls is breathtaking. If you walk west you’ll be able to explore the National History Museum which is a complete experience on its own. The National History Museum closes at 5.45 each day and the Metropolitan Museum closes at 5.30, except on Friday and Saturday when it stays open until 9pm, so if you wish to check out these museums make sure you are aware of the time.
The Upper East and West sides of Manhattan house a great many restaurants, so I recommend stopping along either side for some dinner before heading to the theater district. New York is the epicenter for theater. You can find all styles of theater, music, art and dance within this city. The TXTS booth under the red steps has discounted tickets daily for selected Broadway and Off-Broadway performances and many theaters sell tickets at a discounted rate before the performance.
After you’ve enjoyed your theater experience, head over to the Empire State Building via Times Square. Times Square is quite a different experience at night, and one that shouldn’t be missed! The view from the building that once was New York’s tallest building is best taken in at night and it is quite spectacular. Make sure you have something warm to wear at the top! It’s not exactly like a sunny trip to Hawaii up there!
At this point you are likely to be exhausted. If you’re not, I suggest finding one of the many bars to check out. If you’re in the mood for a drink or two, head down to the recently renovated 40/40 Club by Madison Square Park. This all-American sports bar and lounge is owned by the king of hip hop, Jay-Z and is worth a look, especially if you’re into design!
Once you’ve finished your drink I suggest you stumble home and sleep off your jam-packed day in the greatest city in the world – New York City!