One Day in NYC Itinerary (What To See)

New York City is a large and bustling metropolis that can be overwhelming for first timers. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to know where to start. These suggestions for a one day NYC itinerary will help you make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

one day in nyc itinerary featured image.

When I tell people I’m from Connecticut, most assume that I’m right by New York City. But I’m in Southeastern Connecticut which is on the Rhode Island side of the state.

I love to take day trips to the Big Apple. Travel time for me is about three hours whether I go by train, car, or bus. So when I head out to the city, it’s always a long day that starts with me getting up super early.

Getting there

metro north gate in new haven ct.

Whether you are coming from New Jersey, Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut or other parts of New England; taking a train is the best option. Traffic is often heavy so you may get delays on the road if you take a bus or car.

There are some high speed trains that come into NYC. In fact, there’s one right in my area at the New London, CT, train station. It can get me to Penn Station in about two hours and 50 minutes. However, the high speed train is expensive and I find the commuter trains are the best way to get there.

I like to drive to New Haven, CT, which is where I can catch the Metro North line on an express train into a Grand Central Terminal. The ride is about an hour and 40 minutes. If you don’t like being in a train that long, you can go further down I-95 and catch the train in Stamford, CT.

grand central station.

Traveling in the city

The city has a great public transportation system that can take you anywhere you want to go. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the NYC subway system is an inexpensive way to travel around. Just get yourself a MetroCard at any major subway station.

If you don’t mind the extra cost, using a taxi will save you a lot of walking and you won’t have to learn how to use the subway lines.

Top attractions

Creating an itinerary for your trip to the Big Apple will depend on what you want to do. There are so many options that it can be difficult to choose. And, there’s no way to see all the top attractions in a single day.

Let’s take a look at the top landmarks you may want to include in a one-day New York City itinerary.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. Visitors can enjoy magnificent views of the city from the 86th and 102nd floors.

empire state building observation deck.

The 86th floor observatory offers breathtaking 360-degree views of Manhattan and beyond. The 102nd floor observatory offers a panoramic view that includes all five boroughs of the city, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Empire State Building is open every day from 10am to 10pm. It’s a great spot to be able to see the entire city from up high and even get a little panoramic view of neighboring states.

empire state building observation deck view.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most popular tourist destinations in NYC. Ferries to Ellis Island depart from both Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. The journey to Ellis Island takes about 20 minutes.

Upon arrival, visitors can explore the exhibits in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum or view the skyline of Manhattan from the pedestal observation deck. You can also explore the island on your own or take a walking tour.

If you plan to visit the observation deck, you will need advanced reservations. You should also know that there are 10 stories you must climb to the top of the pedestal which requires walking up 215 steps. There is an elevator, but it’s restricted for those visitors that can’t use the stairs and only one person can go up the elevator at once.

You will need to set aside a few hours to have enough time to see the Statue of Liberty and the observation deck from Manhattan.

Another option is to take the free Staten Island Ferry. The trip to Staten Island is less than 30 minutes long. It gives a great view of the statue, the New York Harbor, and the city skyline.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum are located in Lower Manhattan. The Memorial remembers the 2,983 people who were killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. The Museum tells the story of 9/11 and its aftermath.

If you’re visiting the lower end of the city, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are definitely worth a visit. The Memorial is a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11, and the Museum is full of informative exhibits that tell the story of that tragic day.

no day 911 memorial nyc.

There are several things to see at the Museum, including artifacts from Ground Zero, videos of survivors telling their stories, and a section devoted to the terrorists responsible for the attacks. The Museum is also home to the largest collection of photos and videos related to 9/11 in the world.

One World Observatory

The One World Observatory is an excellent place to visit while in New York City. There are many reasons to visit the observatory, including the stunning views of the city and the Hudson River.

The observatory is also a great place to learn about the history of New York City. Visitors can learn about the origins of the city and its growth from around the world.

The observatory is also home to interactive exhibits that allow visitors to learn more about New York City’s culture and its people.

Wall Street and NY Stock Exchange

Wall Street and the NY Stock Exchange are two of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. Wall Street is home to some of the most famous financial institutions in the world, while the NY Stock Exchange is where stocks and other securities are traded.

There are a number of things to see at Wall Street and the NY Stock Exchange. At Wall Street, visitors can see the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the New York Stock Exchange, and Trinity Church. The NY Stock Exchange has a number of interesting exhibits, including a replica of the trading floor from 1883.

new york stock exchange.

Central Park

Central Park is a large public park in the middle of Manhattan, New York City. It’s 843 acres, making it larger than London’s Hyde Park and Boston’s Fenway Park combined.

The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858 and opened to the public in 1873. It’s home to famous attractions like Belvedere Castle, the Central Park Zoo, and Strawberry Fields.

If you’re visiting Central Park, there are a few things you should know. The park is divided into four zones: the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Midtown, and Harlem. Each zone has its own character and features. The Upper West Side is known for its open spaces and greenery, while the Upper East Side has more formal gardens and monuments.

lounging on bench in central park in fall.

Times Square

Times Square is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. Located in the heart of Manhattan, it’s home to some of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment in New York City.

The area is a great spot for shopping. You can pick up a souvenir or snack at one of the many food vendors there. It’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in NYC!

If you’re visiting Times Square for the first time, here are a few things you should check out:

  • The towering skyscrapers and bright lights of Broadway
  • The massive LED screens that display news, advertising, and other information.
  • The many theaters that host Broadway shows.
  • The restaurants and bars that line Times Square.

Broadway

Broadway is one of the most popular neighborhoods in New York City. There are plenty of things to do in Broadway, and it’s a great place to visit if you want to get a taste of NYC. Here are some reasons why you should visit Broadway:

  1. The restaurants are amazing. Broadway has some of the best restaurants in the city, so you’ll definitely be able to find something that suits your taste.
  2. There’s always something going on. Whether you’re into theater or not, there’s always something happening on Broadway. From concerts to plays to festivals, you’ll never be bored in this neighborhood.
  3. The architecture is beautiful. Broadway is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in NYC, so be sure to take a walk around and check it out!
book of mormon on broadway.

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. There are plenty of things to do at Rockefeller Center, whether you’re looking for a cultural experience or just want to take in the amazing view. Here are some reasons why you should visit Rockefeller Center:

christmas tree rockefeller center.
  1. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a must-see holiday tradition.
  2. The skating rink is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.
  3. Take a tour of the NBC Studios or Radio City Music Hall.
  4. See a show at the Rockefeller Center Theater.
  5. Visit the Art Deco Prometheus statue and the Channel Gardens.
  6. Get a bird’s-eye view of New York City from the Top of the Rock observation deck.
radio city music hall in rockefeller center.

Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock observation deck in New York City is a must-see attraction with incredible views of the city skyline.

Here are 8 reasons to visit the Top of the Rock:

  • Get a panoramic view of Manhattan from the 70th floor. You can see all of the famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and Statue of Liberty.
  • Take in the sunset over New York City. The view is absolutely stunning and definitely worth capturing on camera.
  • Enjoy an evening at Top of the Rock. The deck is open until midnight, giving you plenty of time to take in the views.
  • See Central Park from above. One of the best things about Top of the Rock is that you can see Central Park in all its glory from up high.
top of the rock nyc skyline view.

American Museum of Natural History

If you’re looking for something fun to do in New York City, the American Museum of Natural History is a great option. With exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to Egyptian tombs, there’s something for everyone at this museum. Here are some reasons to visit:

  • The dinosaur exhibit is one of the most popular at the museum. It features skeletons of some of the biggest and most impressive dinosaurs ever discovered.
  • The Egyptian tomb exhibit is also a must-see. It contains sarcophagi, jewelry, and other artifacts from ancient Egypt.
  • The museum also has a planetarium and a movie theater where you can watch documentaries about natural history.
  • One of the best things about the American Museum of Natural History is that there’s a Pay What You Wish Admission for residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (with ID).
american museum of natural history.

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art is located in Midtown Manhattan and is one of the most popular art museums in the world. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting New York City that loves art.

The museum has a large collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings from artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse. It also has a large photography collection, which includes works by Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus.

The museum frequently hosts exhibitions of contemporary art, and its architecture is worth seeing in its own right. Admission is free for all visitors on Fridays from 5:30pm to 9pm.

Little Italy and Chinatown

If you’re looking for a unique shopping and dining experience in New York City, look no further than the neighborhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown. These vibrant neighborhoods are home to some of the best Italian and Chinese restaurants in the city, as well as a variety of specialty shops.

Little Italy is located in Lower Manhattan. This neighborhood is known for its picturesque streets lined with Italian restaurants, bakeries, and wine stores. Be sure to check out Mulberry Street, which is the heart of Little Italy.

Chinatown is located just south of Little Italy. This neighborhood is famous for its bustling street markets and delicious Chinese restaurants. Be sure to check out Mott Street and Canal Street for some of the best shopping and eating in Chinatown.

Edge

The newest way to get a bird’s eye view of the city is to buy tickets to the Edge. It’s the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. It allows you to feel like you are suspended in air 100 stories from the ground with it’s glass floor and angled glass walls.

downtown crosswalk in nyc.

FAQs

Before getting to the one-day itinerary, I wanted to answer some of the most asked questions about traveling to NYC.

What should I do if I have one day in NYC?

If you only have one day in New York City, there are a few things you should try to fit in. Start by touring some of the city’s most famous landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Then, take a walk through Central Park or explore some of the neighborhoods in the lower end of Manhattan. In the evening, catch a show on Broadway or take a cruise around the harbor.

Can you walk New York in a day?

Yes, you can walk New York in a day. It’s a big city, but it’s possible to see a lot of it on foot. Start by exploring downtown, then head north to Midtown and Times Square. From there, walk west to the Hudson River and then south back to downtown.

How much should I budget for a day in NYC?

It depends on what you want to do. If you’re just sightseeing, $100 or less should be enough. But if you want to go to a Broadway show or eat in a nice restaurant, you’ll need more.

Is food expensive in NYC?

Yes, food is expensive in NYC. The cost of living is high in the city, and that includes the cost of food. There are some affordable options, but for the most part, you’ll pay more for food in NYC than you would in other parts of the country.

christmas time in nyc.

One Day in NYC Itinerary

If you’re looking for things to do in New York City, look no further. This itinerary will take you through the heart of the city and show you some of its most famous landmarks.

Start your day at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, then walk to the Statue of Liberty. After that, head to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. From there, it’s on to Central Park, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Next, it’s on to Chinatown for some authentic Chinese food and a night out at the best clubs in the city. Finally, it’s time to head back home.

This is only one of many great itineraries that you can create for your trip. You can easily customize your visit with a unique New York City itinerary.

More things to do

If you have time to fit in a few more things during your time in New York City, you definitely should do a little shopping and fine dining.

Shopping

saks fifth avenue holiday lights in nyc.

Shopping in New York City is an experience like no other. The city is home to some of the world’s most famous shopping destinations, including 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, and Broadway. There are also countless smaller streets and neighborhoods that offer unique shopping experiences.

There are many reasons to shop in New York City. The city is home to some of the world’s most exclusive brands and designers. It’s also a great place to find deals on high-end merchandise. In addition, there are endless options for souvenir shopping, from traditional tourist traps to more off-the-beaten-path spots.

shopping in nyc.

No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it in New York City. Whether you’re looking for luxury brands or bargain finds, the city has something to offer everyone who loves to shop.

If you’re looking for high-end fashion, head to Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, or SoHo. If you’re looking for bargains, check out the Lower East Side or Chinatown.

Dining

New York City has some of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world. You’re sure to have a memorable dining experience no matter where you go.

There is an incredible variety of restaurants, with cuisine from all over the world. You can find just about any type of food imaginable in New York City.

katz delicatessen in nyc.

Not sure where to start? Here’s some of my family’s top picks.

  • Katz Delicatessen is a popular spot for locals and tourists. It’s located at 205 E Houston St.
  • Ninos NYC is my brother’s top spot for eating in the city. They specialize in fine Italian cuisine. You’ll find them at 1354 1st Avenue.
dinner at ninos.

Nightlife

There is never a shortage of things to do in New York City, and especially at night. From world-renowned nightclubs and bars to Broadway shows and comedy clubs, the city that never sleeps has something for everyone.

nyc skyline at sunset.

For those looking to let loose and party hard, some of the best places to go are Hell’s Kitchen, the Lower East Side, or Chelsea. These neighborhoods are home to some of the most popular clubs in town, which often have long lines but are well worth the wait. Some of the most popular venues include Marquee, Lavo, and 1OAK, but there are plenty of other great options as well.

My personal favorite is the 230 fifth rooftop bar as it has great food and some amazing views. It also gets chilly in New York City at night and this is the best heated outdoor rooftop spot I’ve found.

230 fifth rooftop bar restaurant nyc.

If clubbing isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of other great places to spend an evening out in NYC. But I do recommend finding a rooftop spot for the best views of the sunset.

one day nyc itinterary pinterest image.

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