Things To Do In One Day In New York - A 24 Hour Itinerary
By Denise Foley, Visual Art Menchandiser & New Yorker
New York owes its historic supremacy among American cities to its closeness to the sea and its history of immigration, which brought diversity in culture and cuisine to the city. A terrific way to orient yourself with the city is to spend some time in and around Lower Manhattan, where you can enjoy a taste of just some of the great food, views and entertainment which the city that never sleeps has to offer. So here’s 24 hours in NYC which will help you make the most of your short visit to this dynamic city, all through a local lens!
Start the day with a fantastic breakfast at High Street on Hudson where you can grab coffee and pastries starting from 8 am (full breakfast service begins at 9 am). Located close to the West Village and Meatpacking Districts, right off the High Line, so you could even get an earlier start and begin with a morning walk along the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line which offers spectacular elevated views of the Hudson River. Open from 7am, start at 23rd Street in Chelsea, and end by the Whitney Museum. High Street on Hudson is just around the corner from the museum.
Make your way to Lower Manhattan and take a walk along the esplanade of Battery Park City, whose 92-acres sit along the Hudson River. Along the pedestrian walkway you’ll not only enjoy waterfront views, beautiful parks and gardens, you’ll also find historic monuments and public art. A great detour includes a visit to the nearby Skyscraper Museum; whose core exhibits include hand-made models of Midtown and Lower Manhattan, a history of tall buildings and a chronicle of the rise and fall of the World Trade Center. The museum is small, but well worth the visit.
Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, one of the last remaining vestiges of an entire ferry system in New York City that transported people between Manhattan and its future boroughs before any bridges were built. Located at the tail end of Battery Park, the ferry offers fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from the upper deck. A great way to see both icons of the city, within the span of 1 hour - and not only is it a big time-saver, it’s free!
Now back on land, a stop by historic Stone Street is a must. This narrow cobblestone street in the heart of the Financial District was the first street paved with stone in the city, back when it was a small Dutch farming and trading colony called New Amsterdam. Today, this charming old street, flanked by restored lofts and warehouses from the late 1830s, is one of the best dining destinations in Downtown Manhattan. A great place to take a break or enjoy lunch; this is especially true in the warmer months, when restaurants and bars place long wooden tables in the middle of this pedestrians-only street. This lively spot offers old-world charm and a respite from the noisy traffic this city is known for. Ulysses, Dubliner, and Stone Street Tavern are some of the local dining favorites.
Visit the newly transformed South Street Seaport, the gateway to Lower Manhattan’s rich maritime history and cultural diversity. Located along the East River, with terrific views of Brooklyn, the Seaport District now features cutting-edge dining, shopping and entertainment. Once very touristic and a bit run-down, this neighbourhood is now one of NYC’s ultimate destinations, with a mix of locals and tourists in equal measure enjoying live music, pop-up shops, and small-batch food items. If the food options at Stone Street didn’t work for your palette, try Barbalu where you’ll find simple pastas, salads and sandwiches in a clean, modern environment.
Next up is a walk across the great Brooklyn Bridge, once the longest suspension bridge in the world - the entire length of the bridge is just over a mile long. By foot, you'll need about 30 minutes to traverse it while going at a brisk pace, and up to an hour if you make stops for pictures and to enjoy the view (which you absolutely should). Designed by the Roebling family and built by migrant workers, the bird’s eye views are incredible. Once you cross the bridge into Brooklyn, you’ll be a few blocks from chic shopping in the DUMBO neighbourhood. Try to make time to explore this once industrial area that's now home to trendy restaurants (try Italian fare with a view at Cecconis) and cafes, as well as a gorgeous waterfront park.
Don’t miss nearby Brooklyn Heights, a leafy neighbourhood full of brownstone town houses whose serene, tree-lined streets hold centuries of profound history. Once a haven of Victorian wealth, this is where Arthur Miller romanced Marilyn Monroe and where Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's. Along the way, stop to taste the area's classic and contemporary foods, from Brooklyn egg creams and baklava to spinach pie. Then on to the Brooklyn Promenade to view the magnificent Manhattan skyline at dusk; the unique, sweeping views are perfect for photo-taking. On warm nights it's a popular place to people-watch, as families, friends and couples come here for an evening stroll. And you’re only steps from Grimaldis Pizza, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The River Cafe and the many cafes along Montague Street, all great options for a snack or early dinner before heading back into Manhattan.
Take in some local jazz in charming Greenwich Village. The Blue Note and The Village Vanguard are the most well-known and popular venues, but if you prefer something local and a bit under the radar, choose Smalls Jazz Club. Located in a basement on West 10th Street, this is one of the few old jazz clubs left in the area with a truly vibrant spirit. Another great local spot is Arturo’s Restaurant on West Houston Street, a casual pizzeria, where if you arrive late on Monday nights, you’ll experience secret performances by jazz greats.
Up for more? Finish your day by grabbing a cocktail at one of these talked about hotel bars. Try Broken Shaker on the rooftop of the Freehand Hotel for sweeping views of the city. Both offer sophisticated drinks and small bites in a warm and inviting environment, open until 2 am most nights. Or, Gibson + Luce, a vibrant mid-century modern retreat located below the Life Hotel which you enter by going through a nondescript door at the back of the lobby is open until 1am. Another option is Ophelia, rooftop space perched on the 26th floor of Beekman Tower with classic Art Deco design in a space which originally housed a women’s social club. The walls, shelves and even the bar top are scattered with curiosities from the early 20th century: tarot cards, antique flatware, ladies’ accessories and more. It’s worth exploring! Open most nights until 2am; Friday & Saturday until 4am.