Mission Impossible: Creating a New York City Itinerary for 24 Hours
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create the best New York City itinerary for a twenty-four hour period of time! Should you meet this challenge then fame, glory, and riches beyond your wildest dreams will be all yours (we might even throw in Justin Timberlake for good measure if you really master this New York City itinerary). But if you should you fail then you will be publicly humiliated and forced to attend live Teletubbies concerts for the rest of your life (I’d rather volunteer as tribute in the Hunger Games).
Okay, I know it ain’t all THAT serious but seeing New York City in twenty-four hours is rather daunting when you consider that I have lived here my whole life (not divulging my age but a long time) and I still haven’t seen it all. So what do you do when you’re strapped for time, need to create a New York itinerary, but know that you can’t see all that the Big Apple (why do they call it the big apple? There really aren’t that many apples in NYC) has to offer, no matter how hard you try?
Well, funny you should ask (yup, I’m a mind reader. I work for California Psychics) because I just happen to have an awesome list of things you can do and all in just ONE DAY in New York City (just think of this post as your handy dandy New York itinerary planner). I will warn you though that this itinerary is intense since we’re gonna pack a lot of stuff in a short amount of time. But just pretend I’m singing the eye of the tiger and coaching you as you get ready to surmount those epic Rocky stairs, okay? See, Sylvester Stallone ain’t got nothing on you. You’re fierce, kind of like an ear biting Mike Tyson. Yup. Great White sharks cower in your presence because you are that badass. So walk it out and let’s get this New York City party started (If you need a little extra motivation than check out these seven amazing books about New York).
PS You can also stretch this out and make it into an itinerary for a weekend in New York. Just depends on how ambitious you are and if you are traveling to New York with kids.
***Not feeling the city this weekend? Then why not take a trip up to the Adirondack peaks and explore some of New York’s most famous mountains?
Start it Off Right with the Breakfast of Champions
We’ll start off this suggested itinerary for New York with breakfast since everyone knows this is the most important meal of the day (or at least that’s what I tell myself so I can eat whatever I want). And forget Wheaties because if you’re in New York City, then half the fun of visiting is being able to eat your face off, so no pre-packaged foods for you. Instead, what better way to start your New York adventure than with a little bagel action from Ess-A-Bagel on 831 3rd Avenue? They have the best bagels, with an amazing assortment of cream cheese options available. I usually get the cinnamon raisin bagel with the chocolate chip cream cheese (yes, it really does exist), but their strawberry cream cheese is also really good too.
So now that you’ve carb loaded like a beast running a marathon, let’s haul ass and continue the New York trip itinerary by heading over to one of my favorite places in the city, Grand Central Terminal. Once you walk into the building, you’ll immediately recognize the pale blue ceiling, that shimmers with specks of light that resemble the very constellations that you see in the night sky (the only one I know is Orion and Orion’s belt but there are a ton of other’s on the ceiling as well. Sorry Middle School science teacher. I have failed you).
***If you’re here for twenty-four hours then you probably won’t have time for a tour but Grand Central Terminal offers pay what you wish tours every Sunday at 10 am. The tour lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes but you do need to make a reservation.
***Also feel free to check out these fab New York City restaurants from movies.
***I know you have literally just eaten but wherever you go in New York City, you are always gonna find some amazing food and this is a New York in one day itinerary so gotta make the most of it. So downstairs in the Grand Central Terminal food court they have Magnolia Bakery (get the banana pudding), Shake Shack, Jacques Torres Ice Cream (a full shop is now open along the Lexington Passage), the Oyster Bar (super famous but I was never overly impressed with them), Eli Zabar’s Bakery (In Grand Central Market and if you’re in New York during winter, try the Stollen), and Li-Lac’s Chocolate (New York’s oldest chocolate house (woot woot)).
Okay, picture me waving my little tour guide flag, as we continue our series of New York tours, because we are moving on. And we’re walking…Okay, i’ll stop being an obnoxious tour guide since this is your trip so you get to do as much or as little as you want. Once you leave Grand Central though, be sure to walk along 42nd Street, in the direction of 5th Avenue, because on the way you’ll be able to snap some hott Instagram shots of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building (If you’re bummed about not going to the top of the Empire State Building, don’t be. To me, the Empire State Building is super crowded, insanely expensive, and basically a total New York City tourist trap).
Shhh!!! It’s a Library!
Continue walking down the street and on your left you’ll see one of my favorite buildings in all of New York City, the New York Public Library. Not only is it an amazing spot to take a picture (hint hint) but you can actually venture inside to view some awe-inspiring artifacts like the first book every printed, the Gutenberg Bible (depending on what kind of pop culture maven you are, you might also know this building as the place where Big and Carrie were going to get married in the first, less awful Sex and the City movie). Oh, and if you are a movie and or TV nut, then there are a bunch of New York City tours to famous film locations.
***On one of your trips to New York, you can even take a free, docent-led tour of the library. All tours take place at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m, Monday through Saturday, with only a 2:00 p.m. tour on Sundays. Also check out the children’s room and meet the stuffed animals that inspired the creation of Winnie the Pooh.
After you’ve had your fill of the library, be sure to stop for a while and take in the greenery of Bryant Park. Not only is it a great place to people watch, but you can play ping pong, check out some magazines from their library, sit down and have a picnic, or hop on the Carousel for a truly whimsical throw back to your childhood.
Now I know I keep talking about food but I can’t help it! There are so many amazing, cheap eats in New York City that no matter where you go, there is always something epic to munch on, like the baked goods at Maison Kayser. This French bakery is located just to the left of the Public Library and is right across the street from Bryant Park. They have amazing coffee and pastries since everything is baked on the premises (if you really want to be fancy, they even offer table service in part of the restaurant).
***Now if you want a more authentic New York City food experience, then head over to the Breads Bakery kiosk and get the Chocolate Babka. It is amazing and basically food heaven in your mouth. Wafels & Dinges also has some amazing Belgian Waffles with coma inducing toppings like dulce de leche and Nutella.
***If you are planning a New York tour itinerary for the holiday season (October 28, 2017, – January 2, 2018) then Bryant Park has some holiday shops, ice skating, and great food vendors like DŌ Cookie Dough Confections, Max Brenner (hot chocolate), and Doughnuttery. All shops are open Monday – Friday from 11am-8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-8pm.
Times Square! Run VERY Quickly in the Other Direction and Stay Away from this Creepers in the Character Suits!
We’ll continue our New York sightseeing by walking down 42nd street and into Times Square. Honestly, I am not a huge fan because it is VERY touristy and I don’t really recommend buying or eating anything here because it’s not worth it. The quality stinks and the prices are ridiculously high (I mean if you really want Junior’s cheesecake just go to a local grocery store. They have the mini ones that are individually portioned so that your stomach doesn’t explode). So I would just snap a few pictures and basically get the hell outta here (I made the mistake of eating in Times Square once and I will NEVER do that again. That and the weird ass Elmos and super heroes and Hello Kitties totally creep me out).
The one and only reason that you might actually want to stay in Times Square for more than five minutes, during your New York in a day itinerary, is if you are dying to see a Broadway Show. In that case, hop on the TKTS line in Times Square and get half price tickets for Broadway shows that evening. If you are strapped for time though, your best option would be to download a phone app like Todaytix or Broadway Roulette. This way, you can buy your discount Broadway Tickets ahead of time and avoid waiting in a line altogether.
Okay, now we’re back on track after that long winded Broadway tangent. From here, we’ll walk back up 42nd and turn left onto 5th avenue. You’ll know that you’re going in the right direction if the numbers on the streets are going up. On the way up 5th avenue you’ll see Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks’s Cathedral, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Plaza Hotel, and eventually hit Central Park.
***P.S. Tiffany’s literally JUST got a cafe so now you can have Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And for reals, if it’s okay for Audrey Hepburn than it’s okay for me!
Now if you’re actually hungry during this New York travel itinerary, and by this point in the tour you may very well be since your stomach has FINALLY had a chance to digest all the NYC goodness that I’ve thrown it’s way, I would grab a falafel since this is a VERY iconic New York City Street food. You can get a falafel (fried chickpea patties) just about anywhere but the Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th avenue are known the City over, for their amazing Falafels (be prepared for a line because they’re a pretty big deal in the NYC food truck scene). Seriously, its like a New York institution. Just stop by before you head to Central Park (my friend’s and I fell in love with falafels after we realized that falafels are the best ever, post party fuel. You know, that time of day when you can’t really determine if you’re up super early or late).
Once you hit Central Park, I would bee line it to Bethesda Fountain since this is the most picturesque part of the park, so you’ll definitely want to snap a photo. From here, you can also check out Strawberry Fields and then head over to the MET (FYI, Strawberry Fields is on the other side of Central Park so if you go, it will be a bit of a hike. If I’m honest though, anywhere you go in Central Park is pretty great. I mean they even have their own zoo. Even though it isn’t as good as the Bronx Zoo but whatever, the Central Park Zoo has some swag because it has seals. Whatever you do though, don’t take pedi cab ride through the park. My friend’s and I did that once and it ended up coasting about as much as a meal at a Michelin star rated restaurant. So save yourself the financial heartache and just hop on a city bike if you don’t want to walk). Now back to our regularly scheduled program, city trip New York.
I adore the MET and go all the time because the price is pay what you wish. And can anything really get better than pay what you wish? I think not, especially when the museum has some of my fave painters, like Van Gogh. To get here, just walk along fifth avenue, on the East side of Central Park. Bonus points to you if you’re here on a Friday or Saturday since the MET stays open until 9:00 pm so you can avoid the crowds and the feeling of wanting to shank someone cuz they just screwed up your shot (the nerve of them to get in the way of YOUR picture).
Since we’re on a tight time schedule here, I would enter the MET and head towards the Ancient Egyptian collection since the Temple of Dendur is one of the most famous and photogenic spots in all of New York City (bonus points again if you go around sunset). From here, I would head upstairs to my favorite part of the Museum, the Contemporary art collection, which has works from such masters as Vincent Van Gogh and many others but good old Vinny is my boo. Since you’re in the area anyway (not super close but worth it), cut across the park and stop at LeVain Bakery on 167 W 74th street. This place has some of the best cookies in the entire city. They are ooey and gooey and so good that even people with Diabetes would probably risk it (not saying you should but they are THAT good).
By this point you’re probably exhausted, but if not, hop on the 2 and take that line downtown to the 42nd street station in Times Square. From here, you’ll transfer to the 7 and get off at the 34th street and Hudson Yards station. Be sure to look up as you exit the subway because there is some amazing art on the ceiling.
For our final stop (woo who, thank God its over), you can head towards the water and walk through High-line Park. Chances are, you’ve heard of the High-line, which was constructed from an old railway line. Not only is it a beautiful park, but there is some gorgeous street art that you can see along the way. Plus, the park doesn’t close until 10 pm so it is a fun place to explore at night, right before you collapse into bed.
***If you are looking for a less touristy New York weekend trip then I would get out of Manhattan since most typical New Yorkers live outside of this crazy expensive borough (sorry, most of us do not like glamorous Sex and the City lives). The Bronx has Yankee Stadium as well as Arthur Avenue, which is home to some of the best Italian food in the city and is WAY cheaper than Little Italy. Brooklyn also has so much to see and do, like Coney Island. But I really like exploring some of the street art that can be found in the here. And if you’re still looking for things to do in New York, you can also check out Queens and explore Chinatown since this area is known for its authentic, inexpensive, and insanely delicious Asian food (all Asian nationalities are represented here and not just China).
***I know New York has a reputation for being unsafe, especially if you watch Law and Order, but it really isn’t. Most people here are totally nice so feel free to explore the amazing food and street art scene that can be found throughout Harlem. Also use the subway as often as you can. Sure it can be a bit complicated but it is a safe, efficient, and the most economical way of getting around New York City.
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