New York, often referred to as the City that never sleeps, is the cultural, financial, media, and entertainment capital of the world. With so many things to experience here, there’s never a dull day in this city. But, can one really see New York in a day? Seeing all of New York in a single day may seem like an impossible task. But you can get a taste of the city and some of its most famous landmarks if you plan it right. Be prepared to walk a lot and to use the New York Subway system to make the most of every minute in New York. Here’s how you can see New York in a day.
Table of Contents
One Day In New York Itinerary
This one-day itinerary will give you a good taste of the Big Apple. Visits to all historic buildings, beautiful parks, New York skyline are covered including time for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. From a newbie to an experienced visitor, anyone can follow this itinerary to cover some of the most famous sights of NYC in just one day.
New York In A Day: Morning Schedule
- Start your day off on the 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 Park.
- 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.
- 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 armor 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.
New York In A Day: Afternoon Schedule
- 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 theater, a lake, and a memorial to John Lennon.
- 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 lunch.
- 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.
- 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.
New York In A Day: Evening Schedule
- Continue down 5th Avenue, taking in its dizzying array of shops and skyscrapers.
- At 42nsd Street, 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. 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).
- While some people call it a 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).
New York In A Day: Night Schedule
- 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.
- 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 spooky ghost tours.
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.
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.
There’s still lots you can do in the city that never sleeps. This itinerary only helps to plan and execute in order to maximize your 24 hrs in New York City and let you experience as much as you can. New York in one day itinerary is aimed at first-time visitors and focuses mostly on landmarks in Manhattan. Come explore New York City in a day and do share your experience in the comment section below.
One day is certainly not enough to explore all of New York’s fabulous attractions. 4 to 5 days is actually the perfect amount if it’s your first visit.
This vibrant city is known for its museums, exclusive shops, excellent restaurants and glamorous nightlife scenes.
New York is highly priced with an average of $135-$220 per day on your vacation.