If you're heading to the Big Apple, but don't have much time, then you're probably going to want to rush around and see as much as you can. While planning for a visit to New York, it's not easy to decide what to see and what to skip and it's even more difficult to try to calculate how much you'll be able to see in just one day.
In this post, I'm breaking down a few of the things that I managed to cram into a 24 hour stay in Manhattan and hopefully it will give you an idea of what you can see and do in that time. Let's get started!
1. Times Square
The bright lights, flashing screens and throngs of tourists might be enough to make you pass out, but a visit to times square is a definite must on any trip to New York. Consider coming in the late afternoon or evening to get the full effect.
Note: Looking for your 15 seconds of fame? Buy something cheap at the American Eagle store at Times Square, bring your receipt to the photo session area, have your picture taken and then head outside to see it displayed on the big screen!
2. Central Park
315 hectares of beautifully green, city-owned land, Central Park is the perfect place to get away from the crowds (or at least retreat to a place that's a little less crowded). Long pathways meander their way past fountains, ponds and playgrounds.
As you make your way deeper into the park, the hum of New York traffic slowly fades away and you're left with a beautiful piece of nature, smack dab in the middle of the big city.
3. The High Line
My personal favourite place in New York City, the High Line is an old abandoned rail line that is elevated about 40 feet off the ground. Today it is known as a "rail-to-trail" project, similar to the Promenade Plantée in Paris.
Gardens have been planted, trees grown, benches built, art added and there are even amphitheatres overlooking the roads below. The High Line is the perfect place for an evening stroll and there are lots of dinner spots on and around the tracks.
4. Grand Central Terminal
If you've ever seen the 1987 Brian de Palma movie "The Untouchables", then you may notice that Grand Central Station looks very different to the scene in that movie. This is because The Untouchables was shot in Chicago and really didn't show any of the real Grand Central Terminal, which is a shame because the real building is truly stunning.
The station has 44 platforms, which is more than any other railroad station in the world. The Main Concourse is at the center of Grand Central and it is an enormous, 84 X 37 meter area that is almost always filled with bustling crowds. The building that stands now was completed in 1913 and is one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts style architecture in New York.
5. Wall Street
Where millions of dollars are made and lost each day, Wall Street is one of the most famous financial areas in the world. Although New York's financial district stretches on for many blocks, Wall Street itself is a 1.1 km long road that runs for 8 blocks from Broadway to South Street.
The architecture here is from the Guilded Age and there are many art deco touches that bring the street to life. Some main buildings to check out on Wall Street include the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall and The Trump Building.
With a population of 100,000, Manhattan's Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people outside of Asia. The great thing is that they brought their food, markets and culture to the big apple!
Tourists can stop in for dumplings, visit temples and even wander through bustling fish markets while in New York and the food and atmosphere in Chinatown is fantastic.
7. Little Italy
Make it here for dinner time and enjoy one of the best Italian meals you'll find anywhere outside of Italy. There aren't as many Italians here as you may expect, but there are still a great number of Italian restaurants to eat at.
Quick Tip: Head to Groupon.com to find great deals on meals in New York, including a few restaurants in Little Italy. You can usually find discounts up to 50% off of meals and drinks!
8. The World Trade Memorial
An evocative and emotional site to visit, the World Trade Memorial is best seen in the early evening. Two square-shaped chasms have been etched out of the New York ground where the twin towers once stood. Names have been carved into stone tablets around the monuments and there is a museum here that is worth a visit.
Towering next to the memorial is the new Freedom Tower which opened in 2014 and at 541 meters high, is now the tallest building in the western hemisphere.
9. Battery Park
Named for a number of artillery batteries that were positioned here in the city's early years to protect the settlements behind them, Battery Park is now a lovely bit of green space on Manhattan's southern tip.
Today it is a 10 hectare public park that faces the New York Harbour and has beautiful walkways along the river with views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Governor's Island.
Note: Exit battery park on Albany Street, then turn left on South End Avenue and find Pick a Bagel on the left hand side. This bustling bakery production line serves up tasty baked goods, bagels and breakfasts with all of the chaos that you'd expect from a popular New York bagel joint.
10. The Statue of Liberty
Visible from Battery Park, The Statue of Liberty is our final stop during this hectic 24 hours in Manhattan. Depending on how quickly you've walked to see all of the other sights in this post, you may even have time to take the ferry out to see her up close.
The ferry will take around an hour and a half and will stop at Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Sometimes you'll be able to go inside the crown of her lady liberty, but check online for opening times if this is your goal while in New York.
Take a Breath
We've rushed around the big apple and crammed in 10 amazing sights, but we haven't even visited Staten Island, Brooklyn or New Jersey. This is why 24 hours in New York simply isn't enough time. If you don’t believe that 24 hours is enough to cram all of this sightseeing in, I can honestly say that I managed it and I’ve got the video to prove it! Check it out: click here
It's all I had on my recent visit, but I would love to go back and see more of this incredible mega city.
Surely I've missed some amazing spots. Please share with me in the comments below what you would see with 24 hours in New York and help me, and other readers on our next trip!
Nick Wharton is one half of the couple behind Goats On The Road, and the bi-weekly travel column on CreditWalk. Their website is designed to show others how to turn their travels into a lifestyle. Masters at making money online and on the road, they've been travelling since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth, finding adventure wherever they go.
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