Morning

New York
The old brownstones of New York’s Greenwich Village create a beautiful facade on the residential street

Start your day off at tree-lined streets of Greenwich Village. Full of the famous New York brownstones, it has plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can grab a quick breakfast. After a quick stop at Washington Square Park, take the Subway to Brooklyn Bridge.

A 15-minute walk will take you past New York’s Wall Street and the nearby Charging Bull statue. This puts you near Battery Park where you get a magnificent view of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. If you feel like you have the time, take a quick ferry ride to Liberty Island.

The famous bronze Charging Bull statue stands in Bowling Green

Hop back on the subway and head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met contains some of the finest art in the world. Spend the rest of the morning exploring its highlights. Among them are – the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, the armour of King Henry VIII, Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, David’s The Death of Socrates, Canova’s Venus Italica, and Sargent’s Portrait of Madame X. 

Afternoon

Behind the Met lies in Central Park. Built in the 1860s and 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, it is one of New York City’s most popular attractions. It’s home to the Central Park Zoo, the ornate Bethesda Fountain, an outdoor theatre, a lake, and a memorial to John Lennon.

Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain

You can spend an entire afternoon exploring its 840 acres of green meadows, walkways, and gardens. There are also many food trucks around the park, especially around 5th Avenue, making it the perfect spot for a mini-picnic. (Keep in mind that food carts and food trucks are not the same things)

Exit Central Park on 59th Street, near the famous Plaza Hotel. Marvel at this grand structure as you continue down 5th Avenue. Look out for other famous locations, such as  Tiffany’s, Trump Tower, and the towering St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Saks Fifth Avenue as you make your way to Rockefeller Center.

The lavish Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center skating rink

Consisting of 19 buildings, the Rockefeller Center is an imposing sight. Don’t miss 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock) at the center, which houses the NBC studios, as well as the Atlas Statue and the ice rink, where the lavish Christmas tree goes up each November.

Evening

Continue down 5th Avenue, taking in its dizzying array of shops and skyscrapers. At 42nsdStreet, pause to see the New York Public Library with its marble lions standing guard outside. Then, you can take a quick detour, turning east to Grand Central Station.

The beautiful constellation on the ceiling of New York’s Grand Central Station

It’s absolutely worth it to soak in the splendid constellations painted on the ceiling of the marbled main hall. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, head downstairs to the European-style food hall. Grand Central also gives you excellent views of the Chrysler Building.

Walk back to 5th Avenue and down to the iconic Empire State Building(or take advantage of the metro and walk there from the Herald Square Station along 34th Street).

The breathtaking sunset at the Empire State Building

While some people call its tourist trap, the Empire State Building is definitely worth going up. Its observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors give 360-degree views of the city (though the tickets are more expensive than similar observatories at 30 Rock and the Chrysler Building).

Night

Walk back along 5th Avenue towards the New York Public Library and Bryant Park behind it. Head west through the park until you get to Broadway. Follow it right up to what is perhaps THE most touristy thing to see in New York City, Times Square.

The crowds and bright colours at Times Square

Once you’ve had your fill of the crowded square, if you’ve still got the energy to keep going, the night is your oyster. You could catch a show on Broadway, or visit one of the numerous bars and clubs around town, catch a late-night movie, go bowling, have a fancy dinner, or even take a spooky ghost tour. There’s still lots you can do in the city that never sleeps.

NOTE: If you happen to visit Manhattan in May or July, don’t miss the amazing annual phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. Sometimes called the Manhattan Solstice, this yearly event sees the sunset align with the downtown east-west street grid of New York City. Another sunrise alignment occurs around the winter solstice in the first weeks of December and January.

Also Read: What is Manhattanhenge and how can you see it?

People observing the sunset during Manhattanhenge in New York City

Remember – you have to be on the grid of Manhattan to see the event. It is all about the angle. If you go off the grid by even a degree you will be out of alignment. The 14th, 23rd, 42nd, 72nd, 79th streets are the best for viewing.

(This guide for New York in a day is aimed at first-time visitors to New York City, and focuses mostly on landmarks in Manhattan)