NYC in 24 Hours

I am still writing up my other posts about NYC but I thought I would put this together. I often find that the “24 hours in _____” posts are highly misleading. Particularly in American cities, to hit every zig-zag destination they list could cost a small fortune due to lack of public transport. They’re also exhausting and don’t leave room for much sitting down and simply taking in the place you are visiting. 24 hours in NYC, on the other hand, can definitely give you a good, fun glimpse of the city. Here’s how I would spend a “perfect day.”


One of the dreamy cityscape photos I captured – it was cloudy nearly every day but it made for stunning photos!

Where to stay

I personally stayed in the International Student Center, which is a hostel I highly recommend. It is very, very well located and shockingly inexpensive for what this big city normally costs. In order to make this itinerary work without costing a ton of money, this is the best place to stay.

Alternatively, one of the hotels located near the Museum street (where the Museum of Natural History, the MET, and the Guggenheim are located in addition to many more) should allow for the same itinerary. If I only had 24 hours in NYC splurging for one night in a fancy, well-located hotel might be worth it 🙂

How to Get Around

If you are arriving with baggage and you’ve never been to NYC before, I recommend you get the experience of a yellow cab now. Depending on where you are coming from (I arrived by train to Penn Station) it should cost around $25-50. You can try the metro for a lot cheaper but in my opinion it’s worth it to splurge and get your baggage settled before tackling a new transport system. Even *if* NYC has perhaps the most ridiculously easy version I’ve ever seen.

For everything else on this list, use the subway. It’s fast, often faster than a taxi, and cheap. If you are staying beyond this day, get a metro pass for unlimited rides for 7 days at $33. If you only have the day, get one of the pay-per-ride cards. Use Google Maps and you’ll find it difficult to get lost.



One of the many lush viewings found in Central Park

Wake up around 8AM, get ready, and wander through Central Park for 20 minutes or so. Head to Sant Ambroeus for a sorta-expensive-but-worth-it sandwich of prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella for $9 and their hot chocolate coffee that runs around $6. I don’t even drink coffee and it was super amazing, and the sandwich was so good I returned for the same thing 3 times in my 7 days.

Head back to Central Park. I personally sat in the area right next to MET and had a lovely morning.

After your breakfast, choose from one of the museums on the stretch and line up about 15 minutes early (most open at 10). I highly recommend the MET. I didn’t think I would really like it, and I did. Student tickets are $12 and tbh they don’t check so if you look young, go for it. Otherwise it’s $25. It is always, always best to get to museums/tourist attractions as soon as they open. Sometimes they clear out well just before closing for a half hour but opening is best. You can often score about an hour and a half of tolerable levels and get at least one empty exhibit before chaos. I’ll have a post on this someday.


Lunch. There are several options here, depending on how hungry you are. You can head on a 10 minute walk to Ladurée if you like tea and pastries. You can eat in the MET if you want (I’ve heard pretty good things) or just hop in at one of the hundreds of other restaurants in the nearby area. I personally ate at Ladurée because we know by now how much I love tea. It was quite lovely.

After lunch I recommend taking a trip to walk along the High Line. It is around a 30 minute subway ride but hey, now you get to see the metro. Again, follow Google. I think this walk affords one of the best first-looks at the city. It’s not super crowded even in the afternoon (when I went) and you get to see a lot of what I would call “classic” New York cityscapes.


A funny scene viewed while walking down the highline #highlineresist

Depending on your choice for evening entertainment, you can stop in Times Square on the way back or see it later. For dinner I would personally recommend Gennaro’s, which is an Italian restaurant that served up some beautiful veal ravioli. Be aware of your ticket times if you are seeing an evening show, however, as it doesn’t open until 5PM. They also only take cash and don’t take reservations.


Of course you should see a show. I went to the opera, and enjoyed it very much. You can get reasonably priced tickets ($40) and sit with a slight neck cramp form the side seats. Worth it. You’re there for the music, right? Alternatively, catch a musical or play or some other performance in the area near Times Square and get a lot of the bright lights up and close where they shine.

Shake Shack wins as a cheap after-show bite to eat (their fries are shockingly good) and while it’s fast food it’s also New York City fast food, born and bred. Most are open until 11. For some reason I always crave something unhealthy after a night at the opera, particularly if I’ve indulged in the obligatory flute of overpriced Champagne. Wrap up your 24 hours in NYC with a bang 😛

And here you would return home. Frankly I’d just repeat breakfast at Sant Ambroeus in the morning but whatever works for you. If you have extra time in your schedule, I’d recommend a trip to Soho to check out Mariebelle’s chocolate shop for brunch. Their hot chocolate and setting is to die for. I hope “24 Hours in NYC” has been helpful for you! Check out some of my other posts on NYC like my top 5 tips for saving money in the big apple!

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