Updated: Mar 29, 2021
You’ve got just one day in New York, and you don’t want to squander it.
But how can you possibly see all the Big Apple has to offer? This itinerary has a little bit of everything, from Tiffany to Times Square.
Start your day in New York with a bit of a lie-in. Relax—it’s the city that never sleeps after all, so you’ve got plenty of time to see the sights. (This from the girl who never sleeps past 6 a.m.) As long as you’re up and at ‘em by 10 a.m., you can really pack in a lot of activity. But be prepared to spend the entire day and night on the go. Unless you’re staying someplace super central like the reasonably priced Row NYC, you may not make it back to your hotel to prep for your evening plans. Make sure your outfit can go from day to night just in case.
To make the most of your morning, head toward Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District. Here, you’ll find plenty of ultra-cool eateries serving up delicious and hearty breakfast fare. Whether you have an appetite for a big bowl of porridge, eggs over easy, or a stack of pancakes, you’ll find something that will more than satisfy your every craving.
After you eat, spend some time walking through the market’s indie boutiques and upscale chain stores like my fave, Anthropologie. You can kill two or three hours checking out all of the unique offerings at Chelsea Market alone, but there is still plenty of the city left to see. And you do only have one day in New York.
The next stop on the itinerary is Avenue of the Americas or thereabouts. I recommend walking if you can. Simply head northeast on 9th Avenue and make a right onto the nearest street. Just a few blocks up, and you’ll reach your destination.
Here, you’ll find everything from major chain stores to two-bit pop-ups and upscale boutiques. Be sure to turn down the side streets, too. I once found a little shop selling $20 shoes that looked like $200 Fluevogs. No, seriously—a woman at the airport insisted I take them off and show her my insole to prove they weren’t.
In this general area, you’ll find the flagship Tiffany and Co., Macy’s, Bryant Park, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Rockefeller Center, and so much more. Depending on how fast you can walk, you can take in a goodly amount of sights. You may have to double back to take them all in, but you’ll be having so much fun, you won’t even notice.
Despite your big breakfast, by now your stomach is probably growling. To save time, grab a bite from a street vendor. They’re a dime a dozen, and you can eat on the go. Not to mention it helps keep down your daily food costs. I like fresh roasted peanuts or a salted pretzel, which you can usually find on every street corner and will cost you just a few dollars. You can use your savings for a nice dinner later on.
While you’re meandering through the city streets, you’ll catch glimpses of some of the most infamous sites. The Chrysler, Empire State, and Flatiron Buildings are just a few examples. Take your time to look around. Don’t forget to turn your eyes to the sky to see some of the world’s tallest towers.
When night falls, it’s time to head toward Times Square. Depending on which direction you walked on Avenue of the Americas, you may find yourself amid the flashing lights of this famous street or a fair jaunt away. Hop in a taxi if your feet could use a break.
For solo travelers, Times Square is just about the safest place you can be since you’re constantly surrounded by people. The shops here stay open late—so late, in fact, that I’ve never seen them close. Grab a bite to eat from one of the countless restaurants lining the main and side streets.
A budget-friendly option with great atmosphere is John’s of Times Square. The made-to-order pizzas are cooked to perfection inside a wood-fired stove. After you’ve grabbed some grub, head over to the TKTS booth to pick up discounted tickets for a Broadway show. What good is having one day in New York if you don’t take in some of the world-class entertainment?
Have a hankering for something sweet after the show? It’s a bit of a jaunt, but a trip to Serendipity 3 for a glass of its infamous frrrozen hot chocolate is well worth the cab fare. And because you’re still in the heart of Manhattan, the streets will be busy with people even at this late hour. This is great news since you’ll likely need to stand outside while waiting for a seat at this hot spot. From the outside, this cozy diner doesn’t look like much more than another New York boutique. Step inside, and you’re transported into an eclectic mix of kitsch and quirk.
The full-service restaurant has been featured in a number of well-known movies and is notorious for its distinct decor, including Tiffany lampshades and white bistro tables. Trust me when I tell you, order one frrrozen hot chocolate for every two people in your group. You’ll still have plenty more than you can consume. And if you’re up for it, add a dash of peanut butter—after all, calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.
If you’re staying nearby, a walk back to your hotel may be in order to cap off your night. But at this late hour, there’s no shame in hailing a big yellow taxi cab to whisk you away.
I could create 10 different itineraries for one day in New York—and I probably will—but I started here because of all the days I’ve spent in this fine city, this was my favorite. What is your favorite way to spend one day in New York?