How Would You Spend 24 Hours in New York City?

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The Big Apple. It’s widely known as the city that never sleeps, and with its never-ending list of world-famous attractions and eateries, it’s easy to see why. So what if we decided to follow suit? We’ve been planning what we would do in NYC if we had only 24 hours to spend (along with many lovely dollars too – it’s just more fun that way). Read on to find out how we’d cram our dream New York holiday into just 24 hours…



If I had 24 hours in New York, I would start the day with a jog in Central Park (in this dream 24 hours I am after all the film version of myself). I’d then reward myself with breakfast in a typical American diner (blueberry pancakes would then be an absolute must). Everyone has to act out that famous Pulp Fiction scene, right?

Central Park
Central Park © Manamana

This would be followed up by a dip in the rooftop pool at the Gansevoort Park Avenue. That way I could see the Empire State Building whilst topping up my tan: multi-tasking has never sounded so great!

Some serious shopping would definitely be on my to-do list – the mandatory Fifth Avenue dash, followed by further retail therapy in the quirkier Greenwich and SoHo.

Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue © Songquan Deng /

As for afternoon entertainment, the driving range over looking the Hudson would be my plan. I’m not even a golf fan, but hitting golf balls seemingly into the river sounds like a cathartic wind down, post-shop.

I would finish the day off with some dinner and drinks at The Frying Pan, a bar in a boat on the river, before retiring to a suitably swanky New York hotel.



For a full-on day in New York City, a hearty breakfast is a must, so I’d call in at a proper NYC diner like Tom’s Restaurant for the works. This Greek-American eatery in Morningside Heights is perhaps better known as ‘the Seinfeld diner’ and is to this day a big hit with 90s sitcom fans, Columbia University students and everyone in between.

Big Piano at FAO Schwartz
Big Piano at FAO Schwartz © m01229

Any Tom Hanks fan worth their salt will remember his turn as a 12-year-old boy in a grown man’s body in 80s classic Big, and I’m no exception, so I’d stop off for a go on the Big Piano at the oldest toy shop in the United States. FAO Schwartz, also known for its larger-than-life cuddly toys, has been offering visitors a turn on this giant keyboard for the last 25 years and I’d be straight up there to give them my best rendition of ‘Chopsticks’.

I’d then hitch a ride on the iconic Staten Island ferry. It’s been in operation for over one hundred years, it’s absolutely free and it’s a great way to take a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island Ferry © Daniel M. Silva /

Once I’d shaken off my sea legs back on dry land, I’d take a stroll down Wall Street, home of the New York Stock Exchange which is easily recognisable from its neoclassical temple-like architecture, its gigantic Stars and Stripes and the hoardes of harried bankers filing up and down its steps.

Finally I’d visit the main concourse at Grand Central Station. With its welcoming, airy atmosphere and bright brick walls reaching up to meet the starry domed ceiling, it’s been described as ‘the world’s loveliest station’ and welcomes over 20 million visitors every year.



Shockingly I’ve yet to visit New York, though it has been on my hit list for the past 10 years… I’m a little worried what’s going to happen to my health when I do go because 99.2% of the reasons I want to go to New York are food related. So if you gave me 24 hours in New York I would spend a minimum of 16 of them eating.

I’d start the day with a brunch, because I’m not sure breakfast is still a meal in New York. So passé. I hear Poco Bar in the East Village is good, cheap, and serves an excellent Bloody Mary.

Cronut © Mariontxa

After that I guess I better join the queues outside the Dominique Ansel Bakery to try the cronut in its native habitat (although according to their website I need to be in the queue before 7am. Perhaps I need to reschedule…) I’ll probably pick up a bagel to last me in the queues.

For lunch I’d feast on a pizza slice that’s bigger than my face. And for a change of scene my one ingestion-free activity would be to visit the High Line Park – perhaps a stroll through the greenery on this redeveloped railway line will burn off a few calories.

High Line Park
High Line Park © David Jones

New York is known for its gourmet burgers, and I’m not going to let being a veggie get in my way of this essential experience. So I’m heading for the black bean and jalapeño burger at Five Napkin Burger.

By this time it should be appropriate for me to start on the cocktails again. I’d like to be in speakeasy-style bar Bathtub Gin for that. The drinks are no longer brewed in bathtubs, but the antique tubs decorating the bar are sometimes put to good use by the burlesque performers!



Katz's Deli
Katz’s Delicatessen © Richard Berg

For my 24 hours in New York I’d eat my way around the city, filling up on every delicacy. Starting with a boozy brunch at The Smile, moving on to a large lunch at Katz’s Deli and ending the day with a fancy pants dinner at Sushi Yasuda. Provided my dream 24 hours in New York also comes with a dream bank account, of course.



After a six-hour flight to New York I’d be itching to stretch my legs, so my first stop would be Central Park where I’d take a stroll around the Pond. I’d then explore the bakeries in the West Village, maybe treating myself to a cannoli from Pasticceria Rocco.

Next stop: Grand Central Station where I’d wander round the stunning main concourse before checking out its famous food market, snacking as I go along. If I wasn’t too snacked out I’d also grab some lunch in one of the station’s many eateries, like Junior’s for an overstuffed deli sandwich or Central Market New York for an all-day breakfast.

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station © Don DeBold

In the afternoon I’d visit Times Square to goggle in awe at the bright lights and sheer frenetic atmosphere, before spending a more calming few hours at the Museum of Modern Art, where I’d hope to catch the new Henri Matisse exhibition.

MoMA © mikecphoto /

Another must-do on my list is to sample some authentic New York pizza. I’m spoilt for choice of course, but I’ve heard good things about Roberta’s and Paulie Gee’s, even if it does mean schlepping over to Brooklyn. And while in Brooklyn it’d be rude not to experience the local cocktail bars like Clover Club and Huckleberry Bar.

Once I’d had my fill of Brooklyn’s nightlife, a taxi would whisk me back to lower Manhattan to check out some of the clubs. Finally, I’d complete my NYC experience by heading to one of the finest hotels in New York and catching some much needed shut-eye.



As for me…like many of my fellow dealcheckers, my 24-hour plans seems to revolve around food. Brunch would be high up on my list, as it’s a bit of a New York institution and one of the only times it’s socially acceptable to order a cocktail before noon. However I’d find it hard to last out until 11am or whichever hour that breakfast magically morphs into brunch. The answer lies in a bagel.

I’d get up early and head for Ess-A-Bagel on First Avenue and bag myself one of their trademark colossal bagels loaded with lox and cream cheese – I’ll tell myself it’s carb-loading for the non-stop hijinks ahead. I’d then walk it off on a stroll around Central Park, taking in sights like the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Bethesda Fountain and the pretty pink blossoms in the Conservatory Garden. It’s springtime right now, by the way.

Conservatory Garden
Conservatory Garden, Central Park © Orin Hassan

After a quick pit stop for the biggest slice of pizza I can find at Motorino in the East Village, I’d visit the American Museum of Natural History, as I’m interested to see how their famous T-rex skeleton measures up to its animatronic brother at London’s Natural History Museum.

Next stop would be Rockefeller Center to admire the Christmas tree and for a skating session on the famous ice rink (yes, it’s now winter in this fantasy – keep up!). Then I’d warm up by ascending to the 65th floor at 30 Rockefeller Tower, to the newly reopened, renovated Rainbow Room. The last (and only) time I visited, I was 18 and was politely but firmly rebuffed when trying to order a cocktail, so naturally I’d have two now to make up for it.

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center © pedrosala /

As money would be no object in this dream, I’d cruise along in a white stretch limo à la Kevin McAllister (minus the pizza) to French restaurant Daniel for a fancy dinner – the more courses the better. I’d then wash it down with a Blueberry Lavender Mojito in the Sparrow Tavern before dancing the night away at a club in Queens where I seem to have ended up. Who needs sleep?
What would you do with your dream 24 hours in New York City? Let us know in the comment box below!

Front page image © Songquan Deng