You’re hungry to sink your teeth into the Big Apple – but with just one day in New York City, how big a bite can you take? With its rich history, vibrant cultural scene, and incredible culinary offerings, this amazing metropolis could captivate you for days.
The solution? Max out your 24 hours in NYC with a bang-on bucket list. Wander historic neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District. Explore iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building. Savor incomparable artwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Take in Broadway’s bright lights and catch a live show. Dig into mouthwatering offerings at a Big Apple eatery.
Ready for an unforgettable 24 hours in the City that Never Sleeps? This complete 1-day NYC itinerary guarantees great memories!
Where to go in NYC in one day: A complete itinerary
Start your morning with breakfast at Chelsea Market
Fuel up for your day in NYC with breakfast at the Chelsea Market. The hip Chelsea neighborhood stretches along the west side of Manhattan on Ninth Avenue. It’s packed with trendy boutiques, vibrant galleries, and fabulous food options – and the Chelsea Market sits right at its heart.
A Nabisco bakery w-a-a-y back in the 1890s, the Chelsea Market is a historic treasure. Brimming with everything from fresh farm produce to fragrant baked goods, this is foodie heaven. Sample as you stroll, or grab a seat at one of the market’s many dining spots.
Spice up that breakfast with a stop at the Whitney Museum of Art, just minutes away. Take time to browse one of the world’s most revered collections of modern and contemporary American art.
En route to the Whitney, check out the century-old Meatpacking District just south of Chelsea. Once a bustling industrial center, today it’s a hotspot for high-end shopping, dining, and nightlife. Stroll the cobblestone streets, explore cutting-edge galleries and museums, and savor a distinctly 21st-century vibe.
Experience the West Side from the High Line
Looking for a unique way to navigate Manhattan’s West Side? Hit The High Line, one of NYC’s favorite attractions. Built on a historic elevated rail line, this one-of-a-kind “floating park” winds through Chelsea and down to the Meatpacking District – and it offers incomparable views of New York City along the way.
If your starting point is the Chelsea Market, hop on the High Line on 10th Ave between 15th and 16th St, then hit the greenway to experience the delights of an urban oasis. Wander the colorful, flower-filled pathways. Take in the beautiful tree-lined landscape and striking sculptural pieces. Time it right, and you’ll catch a live musical or theatrical performance.
Check out the Diller-Von Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature, and watch kids having a blast in spinning sprinklers and bubbling fountains. Or sit back and relax on benches crafted from original wood from the New York City Rail Line as you drink in amazing views of the West Village and the Hudson River.
Roam around the Flatiron District
A legendary building, a fabulous park, and a foodie paradise: all three are great reasons to put the Flatiron District on your NYC itinerary. Just hop on a bus from the High Line for a quick trip to Fifth Avenue and East 22nd St. The star attraction here is the groundbreaking triangular-shaped building that was one of the city’s tallest buildings when it was built in 1902.
But the Flatiron District is about more than a quirky building. It’s home to a vibrant collection of trendy boutiques, charming brownstones, hip bars, and delicious eateries. Slip into Grammercy Tavern or Eleven Madison Park to enjoy upscale dining. Or snag some tasty samples as you stroll through Eataly, the food emporium created by celebrity chef Mario (BAM!) Batali.
Want to keep it simple? Grab a snack at one of the food trucks on Fifth Avenue, then saunter over to Madison Square Park. Enjoy this multi-use green space as an open-air art gallery, performance venue, playground, or arboretum. A perfect place to recharge!
Marvel at the city from above at Empire State Building
Up for a bird’s-eye view of New York City? There’s no better place to get it than atop an NYC icon: the Empire State Building. Built in 1930, this Art Deco masterpiece was once the tallest building in the world – and it forever changed the shape of the Manhattan skyline.
Set on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building (ESB) is one of the world’s most popular places to visit – so be sure to book tickets in advance before you head down.
When you arrive, take a moment to admire the building’s beautifully-preserved Art Deco lobby. This gem is one of very few NYC interiors that are designated historic landmarks. If you have time, explore the ESB museum to learn more about the building’s fascinating history.
Then take a ride! Standing at 1,050 feet, the 86th-floor observation deck puts the Who’s Who of NYC landmarks at your feet. But why stop there? Step into a spectacular glass elevator to reach the 102nd floor, where you’ll get incomparable 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can wave hello to the neighbors in six states.
Fuel up with lunch around Times Square
At about this point in your NYC itinerary, you’ll be ready to recharge. If stick-to-your-ribs fuel is what you’re after, dig into lunch around Times Square. The “Crossroads of the World” is mere blocks from the Empire State Building, so you can hop on a subway and be there in minutes.
Or hoof it along Broadway from 38th St W to 42nd St W. En route, be sure to check out Bryant Park, a lovely urban oasis on 42nd St where you’ll find artisanal vendors, outdoor entertainment, a playground, and a picnic area. Stop in for a bite at the Bryant Park Café, renowned for its fantastic food and happy hour.
Craving some genuine NYC chow? Hit the Times Square Diner & Grill at 48th St and 8th Ave for some down-home American diner fare. Relax in a sleek, contemporary setting capped by loft-height ceilings. Dig into classic offerings like bacon-wrapped meatloaf, Cobb salad, or matzoh ball soup.
Fancy Italian? Head for Carmine’s Italian Restaurant on West 44th St. This family-style restaurant offers lip-smacking Southern Italian cuisine in “wow-factor”-sized portions. On the menu: homestyle antipasto, pasta, mouthwatering seafood or meat entrees, and scrumptious homemade desserts.
Looking for some Hispanic zest? Zip over to Havana Central Times Square on 46th St, where you can load up on classics ranging from fried calamari to classic chips and guac to Havana St Corn.
Dazzle at more city views from Top of the Rock
Want to feel like you’re on top of the world – or at least on top of New York City? Make your way to 50th St between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and ascend to the Top of the Rock. Perched atop the GE Building in the Art Deco-inspired Rockefeller Center, this spectacular destination offers three levels of observation decks to explore.
Check out the intriguing exhibits on the 67th and 69th floors. You’ll be dazzled by the brilliant crystal clusters and glass-blown panels of the Radiance Wall. Don’t miss the Beam Walk exhibit, where you can recreate the iconic photo of workers perched on a beam high above the city.
Then take a deep breath and hit the 70th-floor open-air roof deck for a jaw-dropping experience that’s among the most popular things to do in NYC. You’ll have an unobstructed (no wire, no glass) 360-degree view of the city. Fantastic photos (and goosebumps) are guaranteed!
While you’re in the Center, make a quick detour to the legendary Radio City Music Hall – aka “The Showplace of the Nation”. It’s home to the Rockettes, the high-kicking precision dance company with a nearly century-old legacy.
Catch a breather in Central Park
Your first 24 hours in New York City wouldn’t be complete without time spent in the city’s vibrant green heart: Central Park. This manmade wonder has been an oasis of calm in one of the world’s most frenetic cities for over 150 years.
You’ve got over 800 acres of lush lawns, ponds, landscaped woodlands, and monuments to explore, so let yourself wander! Marvel at Central Park’s amazing fountains, bridges, and arches (the stars of many a film shoot).
If you’ve got time (and energy to burn), take a paddle around the lake, hop on a bike, shoot some hoops, or hit Wollman Pond for some ice or roller skating. For a truly unique experience, settle into one of the park’s iconic horse carriages, and enjoy your driver’s colorful commentary.
If you time it right (and block off some time at 8 pm), you can experience a beloved NYC tradition: a performance of Shakespeare in the Park at the open-air Delacorte Theater. It’s a bucolic version of the Bard, with Central Park as its magical setting.
Peruse one of the world’s finest art collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Head to the east edge of Central Park to Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue, and you’ll find yourself on the footsteps of one of the most-visited museums in the world. The majestic, 150-year-old Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka “the Met”) is one of New York City’s cultural treasures – and it’s a must-see for art lovers of all stripes.
The largest art museum in the Americas and acclaimed around the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art covers an amazing expanse of time, space, and media forms. Explore extensive collections ranging from the ancient to the contemporary in the form of drawings, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and more.
What’s your artistic passion? Whether it’s ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, medieval metalworks, French Impressionism, or Afrofuturism – or, frankly, just about any other art form – you can indulge it here.
(Tip: the Met is massive, so max out your visit by downloading the app. It’ll help you plan out your route – and stick to it without having to pull out a map every few minutes.)
Enjoy dinner in Hell’s Kitchen
You’re closing in on the end of your one day in New York City – which means you’ve earned yourself a dinner-time blowout. Indulge your culinary cravings in a real NYC hotspot: Hell’s Kitchen.
Set on a block of West 39th St between 10th and 11th Avenues, in the 1880s it was the scene of such hardcore fisticuffs that it was given the nickname Battle Row. In 1881, The New York Times dubbed a particularly nasty tenement on the block “Hell’s Kitchen” – and the name stuck.
Today, Hell’s Kitchen is legit hip – home to the renowned Actors Studio, luxury condos, and a range of fabulous dining options.
Set on Ninth Avenue, OBAO features a sleek setting and Asian fusion food, serving traditional Thai and Vietnamese dishes like Pad Thai and Pho Noodles with a modern twist. (The original Midtown location earned five stars from Michelin, so you know it’s gotta be good!)
Hungry for fresh and local? PRINT on 11th Ave is where you want to dine. Set in a repurposed printing factory, PRINT showcases sustainable cuisine using seasonal ingredients from local producers. The setting is casual yet elegant, blending eye-pleasing elements with Moroccan tiled floors and repurposed walnut wood walls.
Looking for a cozy, relaxed ambiance? Grab a table at The Blue Dog, a long-time Theater District favorite that offers a diverse menu of salads, sandwiches, and entrees. They’re famed for their brunches (everything from Eggs Benedict to Chicken and Waffles), mouthwatering burgers, and craft cocktails.
For an epicurean adventure, head over to Pio Pio 8 on Tenth Avenue. Set in a sleek wood interior, this spot specializes in Latin American dishes like Rotisserie Chicken and ceviche – small pieces of raw shrimp or fish marinated in spiced lime or lemon juice. Slide onto a seat at the 40-foot-long pisco bar and warm up your night with a sampling of South American brandy
Catch a Broadway show in the Theater District
If you want to feel the pulse of the Midtown heart, catch a Broadway show in the Theater District. Stretching from West 40th St to West 54th St between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue, this is New York City’s live entertainment epicenter.
One of the most famous streets in the world, Broadway traverses the length of Manhattan, with the Theater District set at the midway point. The “Great White Way” is renowned for hosting smash hits like Hamilton and The Lion King – and with 40 theaters to choose from, you’ve got loads of options. Check out www.Broadway.org – the Broadway League’s official site – to view upcoming shows and book seats.
A few to consider:
Built in 1927, Majestic Theatre was designed as a venue for major musical productions. Among the classics that premiered here are Carousel, South Pacific, and The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running production in Broadway history.
Home of the Broadway smash-hit musical Wicked, the Gershwin Theatre was named in honor of legendary composer George Gershwin and his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin. It’s the largest theater on Broadway and houses the American Theater Hall of Fame.
The Lyric Theatre blends repurposed portions of the original Lyric (built in 1903) and the Apollo (built in 1920). It boasts an impressive domed rotunda and features a basement lounge. The kids in your crew will be keen to catch the current offering: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
More NYC itinerary ideas
Statue of Liberty
She’s tall, a beguiling shade of green, and an iconic beacon of hope. She’s the Statue of Liberty – and she should be on your NYC bucket list if you have time to spare.
Towering over Liberty Island, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the US in 1884 in celebration of the Declaration of Independence centennial. Today, Lady Liberty is the most-visited landmark in NYC. To add yourself to her guest list, just hop on a ferry at Battery Park in Manhattan.
Before proceeding to Liberty’s home, you may want to make a stopover on legendary Ellis Island, a major port of entry and symbol of promise for generations of immigrants. Trace their steps in the building they passed through, and explore their stories in the National Museum of History.
When you reach Liberty Island, head for the statue’s pedestal, read the famous inscription that welcomes the “huddled masses” to America – and try not to be moved. Take the elevator to the observation deck on the pedestal for fantastic skyline views. Steep yourself into fascinating history at the Statue of Liberty Museum.
Ready to top off one of the most popular NYC day trips? Take the elevator up 22 stories for the ultimate view: look out over the Big Apple through the windows in Liberty’s crown. (And yes – she really does sway in the wind!)
If you want to take away a final, unforgettable image from your whirlwind New York City itinerary, you must make time for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Stretching just over a mile across the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge is a masterpiece of 19th-century engineering. Suspended between two neo-Gothic stone towers, this graceful giant was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and a beloved New York City icon.
You can cross the bridge by foot, car, or bike – but the pedestrian option is highly recommended. Whether you start at the Brooklyn or the Manhattan end, take a moment to admire the grandeur of this “eighth wonder of the world”.
Then hit the pedestrian promenade to get the full-on experience. This quintessential 1.3-mile trek has thrilled millions of visitors for 140 years – and you’ll see why! Relish stunning views of the incomparable Manhattan skyline. Watch the magic unfold as The City that Never Sleeps lights up after dark.
Best places to stay with 24 hours in New York City
For most first-time visitors, the best places to stay in NYC are in Manhattan. To get the most out of your layover, narrow your accommodation search to areas like Midtown, SoHo, Chelsea, and the Upper East Side.
Located on the west side of Midtown, this family-friendly hotel is a great option that offers excellent value for central Manhattan. Start your day with a quick continental breakfast before hitting up nearby attractions like Times Square, Central Park, and Top of the Rock. Chill out in the evening with a cocktail at the hotel’s rooftop lounge, offering superb city views.
Want to stay in the center of NYC without all the pomp? There’s hardly a better choice than the citizenM. This minimalist yet elegant 4-star hotel is located steps from Times Square and other must-sees. Extra amenities at the lodgings include a rooftop bar and a fitness center with beautiful skyline views.
Seeking the ultimate in NYC luxury? Book yourself a stay at The Dominick Hotel, offering Five-Diamond accommodations in the heart of SoHo. Soaring 46 stories, this luxury hotel offers guests four on-site restaurants, a terrace, a full-service spa, and an outdoor pool. Wake up to panoramic views over Manhattan and the Hudson River through the floor-to-ceiling windows before embarking on a walking tour to nearby sites like the High Line, Greenwich Village, and Washington Square Park.