I travel. A lot. And the number one destination I go to the most? NYC. The Big Apple. Why do I go so much? I love it and can’t get enough of it. The sites, the smells, and definitely the tastes. It’s all here to take in and to feast. Once you get off the plane you can feel the adrenaline from the city soaring through your body.
People ask me what I could possibly do each time I go back to NYC. They ask for my tips/tricks and itineraries. People ask what they should do if they only have a day in the city. Fortunately I have done day trips many times and have compiled a list for those asking.
This list may or may not suit you, depending on what you want to see/do but it is my standard itinerary that I take the NYC newbie around to see. Take it for what it’s worth, tweak it, change things around, make it your own.
I usually fly into the JFK airport, so my itinerary will start there.
From JFK you can take the Airtrain. (Pricing can change, but last time I was there it was $5.00 to use each way). Take the Airtrain toward Jamaica Station and then you can get on the E Subway Station or you can take the LIRR to get to Manhattan. (Pricing for LIRR is more expensive but faster than taking the E train).
9/11 Memorial and Museum
First stop I usually take is to the 9/11 memorial. I admit this is for a few reasons. 1) It is nearly a 45 minute subway ride which is a guaranteed 40 minute nap for me. 2) I like to go to the furthest stop and head back. Just take the World Trade Center stop (it is the very last stop on the E train) and you will see 9/11 when you get off. Please know that the memorial and museum are two different things. The memorial is free to walk through. The memorial costs money. Check out the link above for current prices. I have been to both and am glad I have been to the museum at least once. You can do a self-guided tour throughout the building and take pictures of almost everything. I would count on at least 2 hours to get through the museum if you plan on going. The lines just to get in can be very long as well, so count on more time for that too. I think I went first thing in the morni ng and stood in line for at least 30 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office in front of the museum. The memorial and museum are in the same location.
Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
Next stop is Battery Park. From Battery Park you can take the ferry which will shuttle you to the Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty. I have taken the ferry to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty and it is probably a must see once in your life. But if time doesn’t allow, then you can see the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. The ferry takes a long time. You go through security check points before you can board the ferry and then it takes awhile for everyone to board and then finally getting to Ellis Island itself takes awhile. I think when I went it took nearly 5 hours from start to finish. This included time on Ellis Island. I avoided stopping at the other islands and stayed on the ferry on the way back which helped save time. If you are planning on taking the ferry, I would highly recommend getting tickets before hand to avoid standing in more lines.
The Brooklyn Bridge is for sure a must see. Whether you see it from Battery Park or walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge, you will be glad you saw it. The view of Manhattan and the view of Brooklyn when on the bridge is breathtaking. This is for sure a prime photo op for some great scenic pictures. You can take the A or C subway to walk right onto the Brooklyn Bridge. There is a pedestrian and a bike path on the bridge. And sometimes there are little venders as you’re getting onto the bridge where you can buy drinks and all sorts of souvenirs.
SoHo is such a fun part of Manhattan. It’s definitely a good place for the art lover with the art boutiques and stores. It’s also a great place to do some shopping. If you go to Canal Street you can do a lot of bargain shopping at the outdoor market. SoHo is right next to China town, so you will start to see a lot of Chinese stores/restaurants if you’ve gone too far.
Some people consider Bryant Park a hidden gem, bu I think it’s just under appreciated. Maybe I shouldn’t mention this park here for fear of it being over appreciated. Haha. But I absolutely adore this quaint little park. There are usually events going on in this park including outdoor markets, classes, food, and games. It’s a smaller park but is full of lovely promises. You won’t regret stopping by here.
If you have NEVER been to NYC, then Times Square is a must. Times Square is exactly what you see in the movies, hear from others and imagine it would be. The hustle and bustle of the crowds, the crazy animated characters that take up every corner, and the lights are what make Times Square. You can continue to take the E subway to Times Square and get off at multiple stops. I usually get off at Penn Station because Madison Square Garden is right behind Penn Station and you can get a good view of the Empire State Building from here. Then just head north on 42nd street and you will run right in to Times Square.
Everyone is always surprised that the Rockefeller Center’s skating rink is smaller in real life than it appears on TV and movies. I don’t know if this is because the skating rink is always uber crowded or if it is because it really is small. Either way, Rockefeller Center is a fun and a must see if you have never been to NYC. If you go during November/December you will get to see the gigantic Christmas tree on display in the middle of the center. There are always displays going on that you can take a look at and lots of photo ops around the plaza.
Last but not least is probably my favorite part of NYC….Central Park. Central Park boasts over 800 acres. There are lots of paths, grassy areas, and rocks to climb on. On a warm day you can see people taking naps, playing sports, flying kites, riding the carousel, boating around the lake, riding bikes, taking a horse carriage ride, a pedicab, running, and more at this park. There is so much to see and do here. I have been dozens of times and still haven’t even seen a fraction of the park. There are lots of photo opportunities and you’re sure to see family and wedding photo sessions taking places. If you’re into pop culture you’re bound to see lots of famous places where movies were made. There are also movies and concerts here.
So there is my standard itinerary of things to do for the day in NYC. This usually leaves a bit of time that I can usually add a few other things, depending on who I’m going with and what they want to see/do. Check out my next post on Alaska!