Do's and Don'ts for One Day in NYCBy Leah Rendon; Updated June 08, 2017
Full speed ahead: doing New York City in a day
Celebrated museums, boundary-breaking architecture, revolutionary theater and sprawling urban oases – 24 hours just doesn’t seem like enough time to see everything New York City has to offer. But if there’s a place that can handle the breakneck pace of a one-day travel itinerary, it’s the city that never sleeps. Enjoy many of Manhattan’s most beloved attractions by utilizing pivotal time-saving tips and skipping time-consuming sights.
A day in the park
Central Park gets more than 40 million visitors annually, but it’s still possible to find quiet spots throughout the 843-acre green space. Sneak away to the peaceful waterfall-filled Ravine or view the Manhattan skyline in relative solitude from atop the Great Hill. The park is least crowded on early weekday mornings and evenings but, for safety purposes, try to avoid visiting after dark. Central Park also includes the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, which showcases everything from the ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur to modern works by Picasso. Avoid long lines by buying tickets in advance online. You'll have to pay a flat fee, though, instead of the usual pay-what-you-can. The museum sees its smallest crowds on Mondays.
Taking the high road
Take a stroll down the High Line, an elevated railway turned greenway trail which runs from Hell’s Kitchen to the Meatpacking District. The trail is packed on the weekends, but crowds shrink on weekday mornings and during the fall and winter. Unique vantage points are offered at the 10th Avenue Square and Overlook, a mini-amphitheater suspended over 10th Avenue, but few tourists stop on the opposite side for views of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty. Twice a week from May through October, the High Line offers free 75-minute, docent-led tours about the park's history and design.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum honors the victims and explores the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Expect to spend about two hours in the museum. Admission is free on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to closing, and tickets are available in person on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 4 p.m. Climb the staircase in adjacent Liberty Park for a panoramic view of the memorial reflecting pools and waterfalls, which mark the spot where the World Trade Center once stood.
Chelsea Market offers an array of gourmet samplings, but the cramped food court gets slammed at lunchtime. Instead, visit the less crowded Gansevoort Market, an industrial food hall in the Meatpacking District. The market features a variety of food stalls that serve quality international dishes, including pizzas, crepes and empanadas. Seating is limited, so box your food to-go and enjoy an outdoor picnic at nearby Jackson Square or 14th Street Park, both just five minutes away on foot.
View from the top
The Empire State Building might be one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, but its observation deck is expensive and the wait can seem eternal. Enjoy equally great views and smaller lines at the Top of the Rock observation deck on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. The space clears out considerably during the late evening. Just don’t get there too late; the deck closes at midnight and the last elevators go up at 11 p.m. Skip the lines by buying tickets ahead of time online.
More Travel Content
- NYC The Official Guide: New York City in One Day
- Lonely Planet: One Perfect Day - 24 Hours in New York City
- Fodor's: 15 Things NOT to Do in New York City
- Conde Nast: How to Avoid the Lines at New York City's Most Popular Attractions
- Fodor's: The Ultimate Guide to the High Line
- Friends of the High Line: High Line Tour
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum: Frequently Asked Questions