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It’s no secret that planning a trip to New York City can feel a tad overwhelming. Between the five boroughs, the plethora of award-winning restaurants, and dozens of buzzing neighborhoods from Harlem to Chinatown to Williamsburg and (quite literally) everywhere in between, it can be difficult to choose where to start, and when to stop. That’s why we’ve put together a bite-sized, 24-hour itinerary that will give you a teaser of what the City of Dreams has to offer.
It’s going to be a day jam-packed with sightseeing, dining, and drinking your way through the concrete jungle, so wear good walking shoes and dress in layers (check the weather!)—especially if you plan to utilize the subway system, as the temperatures on the platforms can be very different from the street. We’re going to take you around Brooklyn and Manhattan, but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider a detour to Queens, Staten Island, or the Bronx. You’ll find delicious food and dynamic vibes in every borough—it’s just hard to fit all five into one day.
Here's our perfect guide for things to do in NYC if you only have 24 hours.
10:00 a.m.: Begin the day in Brooklyn with plans to work your way to uptown Manhattan by afternoon. Sit for breakfast at Krupa Grocery in Windsor Terrace / Park Slope (easily accessible from the airport, just over an hour by train or 30-45 minutes by car). If you arrive earlier than 10, you can grab a coffee and fresh pastry; otherwise, delve into the brunch menu at this local neighborhood favorite (you can’t go wrong ordering the breakfast gnocchi or lemon ricotta pancakes).
11:30 a.m.: The restaurant is close to Prospect Park, so after breakfast and coffee, head out for a rejuvenating morning walk. Take a stroll through the idyllic paths, crested by oaks, maples, and stunning pre-war brownstones, and find your way to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Founded in 1910, this legendary outdoors space is a gem of the borough, boasting a diverse range of gardens like Cherry Esplanade, the Rose Garden, Lily Pool Terrace, the Water Garden, and much more.
12:30 p.m.: After getting your fill of the garden, and before departing from Brooklyn, swing by the Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest museums in the country, to check out which exhibits are in rotation.
1:30 p.m.: Hop on the 2 train or take a cab to Chelsea. By this time, you’re probably ready for lunch, so bee-line it to Chelsea Market, where you can snack your way through by way of local vendors, or just take a look around and sit down for a leisurely meal at Jun-Men Ramen Bar.
2:30 p.m.: After lunch and the market, walk across the storied Highline, an elevated freight line turned hybrid public space that connects visitors with art, gardens, and beautiful city views. After a stroll, make your way to the Whitney Museum for a selection of 20th- and 21st-century art exhibits. If you fancy a refreshing midday brew after your (first) fill of art, descend from the Highline to the tucked-away Standard Biergarten for traditional German fare and delicious beers (you can even pour your own brew from the taps).
3:30 p.m.: If you’re in the mood for more art and more history, head uptown, where you’ll be spoiled for choice. Between the Guggenheim, the Met, the American Museum of Natural History (to name a few) you can’t go wrong—and you can spend hours getting lost in the history and culture that these iconic museums deliver. Of course, if the weather is nice, take at least 30 minutes to walk through Central Park and sit down by the boathouse.
6:30 p.m.: If you like the vibe of the Upper East Side, book a table at the Michelin-starred Le Bernardin. After dinner, you can check into the redesigned Ritz-Carlton on Central Park—an American Express Fine Hotel & Resort Property and through-and-through New York classic. You’ll quickly find that the rooms and service are so utterly divine, you’ll likely walk out the door with an Upper East Side real estate brochure to browse on your flight home.
Perhaps, though, you want to head back downtown instead of dinner at the park. Make your way to Houston Street and sit for appetizers at Estela, a hip bistro serving small plates, and then do dinner at Carbone on Thompson.
8:30 p.m.: After this, you can head out to bar hop in SoHo, or go down to the seaport to wander the quaint cobblestone streets and sit at one of the many bars for a local brew or craft cocktail. Check out the Hideaway NYC for a local beer and a little rock ‘n roll, or have an indulgent craft cocktail at R17, an upscale, chic bar that sits atop Pier 17.
10:00 p.m.: Check into the Mr. C Seaport hotel, another American Express Fine Hotel & Resort Property, to experience “the art of European hospitality”—but with the twist of Manhattan’s bustling and revitalized seaport district. Maybe have a nightcap at Bellini before tucking in to your cozy room. You’ll wake up refreshed to views of the Hudson and New York skyline.