How to Spend One Day in New York City

Hiya, babes! I’m back with another travel guide, and this just might be one of my favorites yet. Back in November, I took a girls trip with my mom to Philadelphia and we decided to hop on a Greyhound (yep, really!) and spend the day in New York City. She had never been, so I tried to give her the full tour in just 18 hours! So, here’s how to spend one day in New York City, hour-by-hour. (If you want to skip the hour-by-hour timeline, scroll to the bottom for a list of places and sites to see!)

One Day in New York City: Hour-by-Hour

6–9:00 a.m.: We arrived in NYC around 6 a.m., and of course grabbed the nearest cup of coffee… AKA Starbucks. After getting some caffeine, we went to Liberty Bagels and got the world famous rainbow bagel (I was WAY too excited!) with strawberry cream cheese. Supreme bagels, and even better cream cheese, I highly recommend! Afterwards, we walked past Times Square, stopped by Radio City and then headed to Central Park. We got to see the sunrise and literally felt the city wake up—it was amazing! We walked halfway through Central Park, while ooh’ing and ahh’ing at all of the dogs.

Sitting on the steps of the Met

9–10:00 a.m.: At this point, we’d already been up for 6 hours (yes, we woke up at 3 a.m.!) so we grabbed another cup of coffee. I lived out half of my Gossip Girl dream, and picked up a mocha at Sant Ambroeus (which was the most delicious and creamy mocha ever). After, we walked a bit more through Central Park and headed to the MET steps.

10 a.m.–Noon: We had about a 30-minute subway ride down to Brooklyn, where we walked to the DUMBO neighborhood. Of course, we took pictures on Washington Street, the most popular street! There were tons of people, but it was the most gorgeous view. After, we walked around Brooklyn a bit and stopped for a bite to eat at Front Street Pizza, where we got huge slices of pizza and garlic knots. It was super good!

Noon–1 p.m.: We spent an hour walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, even though locals can do it in under 30 minutes. I HIGHLY recommend walking the Brooklyn Bridge, it was by far my favorite part of NYC! It’s absolutely breathtaking, but super busy. If it’s a nice day, be sure to stay out of the bike lane or risk getting the finger from bikers (and potentially run over!) The views are just spectacular, and it’s fun to see all different kinds of people and hear different languages. 

1–2 p.m.: After getting back to the main part of NYC, we walked through Wall Street to get to Battery Park—the best view of the Statue of Liberty! It was a completely clear day, so we could see her in all her glory.

2–3 p.m.: After Battery Park, we walked over to the beautiful 9/11 memorial. I hadn’t been to NYC since they finished building the new One World Trade Center, and it was absolutely gorgeous to see completed. The memorials are just as beautiful as ever, and so touching to see. We also saw the Oculus and enjoyed the architecture. https://www.911memorial.org/The memorial is a must-visit for everyone who comes to NYC, even if you’ve already seen it.

3 p.m.–4 p.m.: We took the subway from the One World Trade Center to Lower Manhattan to visit Cha Cha Matcha for another pick-me-up. I’ve seen their drinks all over Instagram, so I knew I had to visit. I ordered a lavender matcha lemonade with CBD and it was so. good. We spent some time relaxing, charging our phones and talking to some other tourists! If you’re a matcha fan, you are basically required to go to Cha Cha Matcha!

Standing in front of green wall with "Matcha Gracias" neon pink sign.

4–5 p.m.: The sun was starting to set, and I realized I had forgotten to get some macarons at Ladurée while we were at the MET. So we subwayed up to the MET and headed to Ladurée. Let me tell you. Best dang macarons you’ll ever have! We also ooh’d and ahh’d at all of the luxurious stores, like Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and Barney’s. 

5–9 p.m.: For the rest of our time, we went to Times Square. First we visited the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center. Sadly, the Christmas Tree wasn’t up yet, but it was super cool to see all of the decorations! My mom always had a dream of going to Tiffany and Co in New York City, so we of course had to stop by and look at the gorgeous diamonds and jewelry. It was so fun, but we didn’t buy anything. Afterwards, I surprised her with a trip to FAO Schwarz—the toy store! It has the big piano that you see in all the movies. It was decorated like crazy for the holidays, and was super cool to see again (I had previously gone in 2012!) For the last hour or so, we walked around Times Square, got hot dogs from a grimey stand (it was good though) and made our way back to the Greyhound station to catch our bus back to Philadelphia.

All in all, even though we were up at 3 a.m. and didn’t get back until 11 p.m., it was totally worth it. I tried my best to give my mom the full tour of NYC, and we did pretty good! If I was to do it again, I’d make time for the Top of the Rock, since the views are insanely gorgeous, and I’d want to visit Milk Bar, the cereal/ice cream shop! If you’re crazy enough to take on do just one day in New York City, let me know! And if you made it this far, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re a trooper, and I appreciate you!

TL;DR: 

Eats: 

  • For NYC-style bagels (and rainbow bagels!) head to Liberty Bagels
  • Grab a huge slice of pizza in Brooklyn at Front Street Pizza 
  • Head over to matcha heaven at Cha Cha Matcha 
  • To live out your gossip girl dreams, grab macarons at Ladurée and coffee at Sant Ambroeus

Sites:

  • Central Park and the Belvedere Castle
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) steps
  • DUMBO, Brooklyn—pictures on Washington Street
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (my FAV)
  • Battery Park and Wall Street
  • 9/11 Memorial and the Oculus
  • Times Square, FAO Schwarz, and Tiffany and Co.
Xoxo, Hailey
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