I miss New York City so much that I would give almost anything to be back for just 24 hours. 

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a New Yorker that’s been living in Canada for most of the last year. 

This is the longest that I’ve been away from the city in over a decade. Talk about major withdrawal!

There are a million different ways to spend a day in New York, but as a local, there are certain things that you’ll want to do the second you get back into town from a trip. 

Whether you’re an ex-local or a first-timer, below is everything you need to know about how to have the ultimate 24 hours in NYC.  

Things to Do Early Morning in NYC

Assuming that you’re making the most out of your 24 hours in New York, there are a few directions you can take in the morning after you’ve checked into your hotel. 

Breakfast

Diner Breakfast

If I’m craving a classic NYC breakfast, my first stop is always the local diner for some eggs, hash browns, bacon, and lots of coffee. 

If I’m not ready to eat yet, then the first stop of the day is just for coffee, because let’s be honest, caffeine is always a must in the mornings.

These are some of my favorite neighborhood diners that I like to stop at while I’m running around town: 

The MET

MET

I love visiting museums in the morning when they first open. Typically, it’s a less crowded, calm experience where you can enjoy the artwork without a bunch of tourists crowding up the prime exhibits.

The MET is my go-to museum. I always enjoy walking around the Egyptian wing, and checking out the Anna Wintour fashion wing, and the rooftop when it’s open during the summers.

It’s the perfect museum for everyone to stop at because it offers a wide variety of art and history within its halls.

I also have a soft spot for this museum because it’s on the edge of Central Park. Which brings me to my next suggested stop…

Central Park

Central Park Summerg

I could never imagine being in the city and not spending time in Central Park. It’s one of my all-time favorite places in the world.

My favorite thing to do when visiting in the mornings is to grab a coffee and occasionally a pastry on the UES before entering the park. 

Typically, when I was living in the city, this would be my light breakfast before meeting friends later in the afternoon for a weekend brunch. 

In warmer weather, I urge you to forego a brunch out in favor of picnicking in the park. It’s great for people watching, and typically more affordable than eating out.

Things to Do During the Afternoon in NYC

Brunch/Lunch

Brunch

If you’re in town during the weekend, then brunch is a must! NYC has a brunch scene unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in other cities. 

If it’s not sinking in yet, us New Yorkers take brunch seriously. And the best part? Restaurants in NYC have longer brunch hours compared to most other places (which is perfect for late risers like myself).

These are my favorite brunch spots in the city:

If you’re in town when brunch isn’t in session, these are the places to check out for the best lunch in town:

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn bridge

Strolling across the Brooklyn Bridge is a great way to take in the city and walk off the indulgent brunch you’ve likely just had. 

Plus, it provides a beautiful view of the city, and the chance to explore Brooklyn a bit once you get to the other side. 

Don’t forget to take photos of the Manhattan skyline, and Lady Liberty as you cross the bridge. 

Stroll the Highline

highline nyc

If you feel like keeping your 24 hours in NYC limited to Manhattan, then take some time to walk the Highline. 

The walkway runs from Gansevoort Street up to 34th Street and is home to over 500 types of plants and trees, and multiple art installations.

This almost 2 miles long elevated nature walk along an old train rail path is best in lovely weather. 

I recommend stopping by Chelsea Market to grab a tea or coffee before hopping onto the Highline for a walk.

Catch a Matinee

Matinee Broadway NYCpg 2

If you are in the city on a weekend, or on a Wednesday, consider catching a Broadway matinee. 

If I’m in NYC for 24 hours and the weather isn’t ideal, I’d likely be attending a matinee and an evening show (that’s how much I love theater).

Visit a Second Museum

Natural history museum

Another option for spending an afternoon indoors would be to visit a museum or two during the afternoon. Assuming I’ve already spent my morning at the MET, these would be the museums I’d consider for the afternoon:

Go Shopping

Shoppingjpg

If you’re feeling like one museum is enough, take advantage of Manhattan’s millions of stores and shops. 

If Sex and the City taught us anything, it’s that New York City is the shopping mecca of the world.

Just avoid wearing your stilettos shopping. Trust me, even Carrie Bradshaw would limp around after walking more than a few city blocks in heels—it’s not realistic!

These are some of my favorite spots to shop:

Local’s Tip: Macaroon lovers should note that L’Avenue at Saks now sells Pierre Herme macarons.

They’re my favorite macaroons (much better than Laduree’s). It’s the only place in the U.S. that imports them (I would know).

Things to Do at Night in NYC

One World Trade

World Trade View Sunset NYCpg

This is the best stop to make if you want to do something touristy that includes history and a magnificent view. 

My dad insists on visiting One World Trade every time he comes to NYC. The entire experience is beautifully done, and the views of the city, especially at sunset, are incredible. 

On a clear day, you can see 5 different states from the top of One World Trade Center.

Have a Drink with a View

Drink with a View Empire State Building at Sunset pg

My favorite slightly touristy thing to do is to grab a cocktail at The Rainbow Room’s Bar SixtyFive

For the price of a cocktail, you get basically the same view on the 65th floor of Rockefeller center as the tourists who pay $40 a person to go to the Top of the Rock on the 70th floor.

Other popular rooftop bars with slightly less spectacular views include:

See a Show

Broadway Show Marquee

For me, 24 hours in NYC would not be complete without taking in at least one Broadway or Off-Broadway show. 

I’ll either buy a ticket ahead of time if there’s a show I’m dying to see that’s popular, or try my luck with a lottery rush if there are a few less popular shows I’d be happy seeing.

If you’re buying tickets ahead of time, use the show’s official website, or buy them directly at the box office when you arrive. 

For lottery and rush information, check out Broadway For Broke People, they always have the most up-to-date information. 

Catch a Comedy Show

Comedy NYC

If the theater isn’t your scene, I recommend heading to a comedy show. My favorite spot to head to is The Stand

They always have top-notch comedians performing and it’s less touristy when compared to The Comedy Cellar.

Have a Delicious Dinner

pork shoulder the beatrice inn nyc
Photo courtesy of The Beatrice Inn

Paris and London are the only other cities that I’ve seen truly do fine dining as elegantly as New York. These are the indulgent spots at the top of my dining card for the next time I’m in the city and celebrating:

If you’re looking for something delicious and more affordable, these are the places to check out:

Have a Late Night Cocktail

smoked manhattan the beatrice inn NYC 1
Photo courtesy of The Beatrice Inn

NYC has some of the best mixologists in the world. It would be a crime to visit and not sample some of the best cocktail bars in Manhattan. 

If you’re looking for a great cocktail, these are the spots to check out:

Catch a Jazz Show

Jazz

The best thing about the city is you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear talented musicians. The Jazz Age in New York is legendary.  You can’t go wrong with any of these venues:

End the Evening in a Dive Bar

Corner Bistro

I love fancy cocktail bars, but there is something so “New York” about hanging out in dive bars.

You never know who you’ll strike up a conversation with, plus they stay open until 4am which is a bonus since most cocktail bars close earlier.

Some of my favorite dive bars to end my nights out in are:

Wrapping Up 24 hours in NYC

Anytime I know I’ll be out of the city for a while, I always grab a bagel for the road. 

In fact, I typically end up traveling with a half dozen fresh bagels typically at the request of whoever I’m visiting.

I suggest at the very least you grab one before you head out of the city. Trust me you won’t find a better bagel anywhere in the world (and I’ve tried!). 

Final Advice

Iheartny

While you’re preparing for your trip to New York, remember that it’s impossible to do and see everything, especially during 24 hours. 

Heck, I’ve lived in the city for 13 years and still have things on my to-do list!

The city has taught me to always be present, always be positive, and to experience things slowly and with joy. 

Let me know in the comments below about how you’d spend 24 hours in NYC!


Check out some of these popular New York City passes while you’re in town!

Save Money With Airbnb

Want to save money on your next trip? I easily save thousands of dollars a year using Airbnb instead of hotels. Plus, if you're anything like me, it'll make you feel like more of a local.

Plan Your Next Adventure Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a booking, I earn a commision at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Comment