We recently headed to the Big Apple with big hopes of seeing it all. When we were researching the sights around the city, we had a hard time visualizing distances and weren’t sure what we’d accomplish in our short visit in the city before heading upstate.

Of course, with only 24 hours, you’ll barely have time to scrape the surface, but what exactly can you see in 24 hours in New York City?

In this article I’m going to list everything that we managed to take in on our recent trip to New York City and hopefully it will give you an idea of what you’ll be able to cover in a day.

Note: This entire itinerary is based in Manhattan and while I’m aware that New York has many wonderful boroughs to explore, we stuck to Manhattan for the sake of seeing as many sights in the shortest amount of time. To maximize our time in the city, we took a Blacklane car to get us from the airport to Manhattan as quickly as possible, plus, it was nice to arrive in style!

Lower Manhattan

I recommend staying at a hotel in Lower Manhattan and branching out from there to see all of the sites around the area. We stayed at the W New York – Downtown and found its central location to be the perfect base for our explorations around the city. The staff were young and the hotel was very chic – make sure to check out their onsite lounge with live music!

W New York - Downtown

If you’re on a tight budget, there are some hostels in Manhattan, but even they are expensive. You could stay in a cheaper borough (like Queens), but then you’ll spend more time & money on transport.

Click here to compare prices on the best hotels in New York on

Here’s what you can see in a few hours around the financial district:

*Note: You’re going to want to eat at some point during your whirlwind trip to New York City. Check out this post which lists the best places to eat in NYC, according to a local.

Battery Park: This beautiful, 27 acre park is located at the southern tip of Manhattan and it is the perfect place to start the day. Walk along the sea wall and take in the next sight.

The Statue Of Liberty: You can see a side profile of the famous statue from battery park and there are numerous ferries to take you closer. If you hop on the boat that visits Ellis Island and Liberty Island, it will take up an hour and a half of your day (even without even getting off), so for the sake of time, we’re going to snap our photo and get moving.

Broadway: From battery park, take this famous road to the next sights.

The Charging Bull: In the name of financial prosperity and luck, fight through the crowds of tourists to cop a feel of the lucky bronze balls below this 3.2 ton famous statue.

what to do in new york

Trinity Church: Just a little further down Broadway you’ll see Trinity Church on your left. If you’re quick, you may even have time to head inside for a peak.

Wall Street: The richest 1.1 kilometers in the world, Wall Street has a fascinating collection of Guilded Age architecture. Here you can take in a few major sites within minutes – The Trump Building, Federal Hall, 14 Wall Street (Bankers Trust Building), and the New York Stock Exchange (among others).

The Brooklyn Bridge: There’s a beautiful walkway that runs along to the East River on FDR Drive. Take this and you’ll have lovely views of the Brooklyn Bridge, plus you can shop for some touristy New York trinkets from vendors here.

China Town: From the Brooklyn Bridge take St.James and Bowery streets into China Town.  Source out a popular Chinese restaurant and enjoy some dumplings.

Canal Street: This 2.5 km east – west street is your best bet for finding cheap knock-off sunglasses and inexpensive tourist garb. Don’t spent too much time shopping, we have lots more to see!

Little ItalyHopefully you brought your appetite. Little Italy has some of the best restaurants in all of New York. You’ll have a bit of time to explore the area before popping in for a bite.

SoHo: Named for its location (South of Housten) and its similarities to London’s SoHo, this is a great area to roam around for a bit. There is a lot of charm in the neighbourhood’s narrow, cobblestone back streets.

Tribeca: Another acronym based name (“Triangle Below Canal St.”), Tribeca is a great place for fans of neo-Renaissance architecture. Some places to see include the Powell Building, a row of White neo-Renaissance buildings on Worth Street and the New York Telephone Company (140 West St.).

Freedom Tower & World Trade Memorial: End the day off with a walk through the beautiful and profoundly evocative World Trade Memorial, all the while looking up to see the tallest building in the Western hemisphere, the Freedom Tower.

Freedom Tower

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Central Manhattan

After a good sleep, hop on the subway at Wall St. Station heading uptown on the R-line ($2.50 – around 20 minutes) to 14th St. Station (Union Square) and get ready for another jam-packed few hours of sightseeing.

Union Square: Sometimes there are events and farmer’s markets here. Definitely check it out.

5th Ave: Another one of New York’s most famous avenues, 5th ave has some beautiful architecture rooted in the Guilded Age (Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, St.Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Public Library, Rizzoli, Saks Fifth Avenue, Flat Iron Building etc.) and more shopping than you can likely afford.

Central Park: Follow Fifth Avenue north until you hit Central Park on your left hand side. You won’t have time to see much of this 3.41 km2  green space, but you’ll be able to see the south end all the way to the fountain. When you reach the fountain, loop back around to the west side of the park and exit on Central Park West St.

Big Bird Chillin' In Central Park

Columbus Circle: This is a beautiful round about to take a couple of photos before getting on the subway at the Columbus Circle Station. Take the A-C-E train downtown and get off at 8 Ave Station.

The Chelsea Market & Neighbourhood: Get off the subway at 8 Ave and head for the amazing Chelsea Market which is open Monday to Friday (7am – 9pm) and Sunday (8am – 9pm).

The High Line: My personal favourite part of New York City, the High Line is an abandoned railway track turned pedestrian walkway and garden. Benches, flowers, amphitheatres, grass and foliage make this one of the most beautiful and romantic city walks in the world. There are also plenty of dinner options around here and some snack stands on the High Line itself. Get off on 30th St and head east.

Madison Square Garden: Turn left on 7th Ave off of 30th St and head north. Almost immediately you’ll see on of the world’s most famous venues, Madison Square Garden.

Times Square: Continue northbound on 7th Ave and basically just follow the bright lights and camera happy tourists until you reach Times Square. Take a few photos and try not to have a seizure amongst the flashing LED TV Screens that are the size of football fields. If you’re looking to find mouthwatering barbecue in New York, stop in at Virgil’s in Times Square.

Times Square

Time’s Up!

By this time, your legs will be aching and your camera shutter finger will be twitching, but you’ll have seen a lot of New York (well, only Manhattan actually). Of course, you could go a whole different route and head into Brooklyn or check out the beautiful Staten Island area, but that’s what is so great about New York City, you can explore it for months and still not see it all! Some of it will just have to wait until next time.

One important thing to note is that you’ll want to make sure you have travel insurance for a trip to New York (and the USA as a whole). Not only should you have insurance for anywhere in the world, but the cost of visiting a hospital in the USA is incredibly expensive. Enter your information below to get a free quote from World Nomads, a popular insurance company for travellers.


What did we miss? If you think it’s possible to see more of New York in 24 hours, please share with us in the comments below. If you think that it would be impossible to see all of this in 24 hours, tell us we’re crazy! Don’t believe it’s possible? Check out our fun, quick video of our 24 hours in New York City!


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Nick Wharton

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Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. Nick’s advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes and he spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

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50 thoughts on “What To See & Do With 24 Hours In New York City

    1. haha, I know, we were crazy! We really wanted to see as much as we could though, and even though we were running around, we still found time to sit and enjoy food and sit in the parks.

      We need more time for sure and will have to go back 🙂

  1. I visited NYC for the first time in June and I was pleasantly surprised! I wasn’t expecting to like it but can’t wait to go back. There really is something for everyone!

    You really did cram a lot in!! We were there for 4 days and still have a lot to see when we go back. My favourite part was the High Line too – such a great idea. Definitely recommend checking out Brooklyn too – we stayed there and it turned out to be our favourite area. Franklin Avenue has some amazing little bar and we spent lots of time in Prospect Park – a lot quieter than Central Park!

  2. You guys sure managed to squeeze a lot into your brief stay in NYC! I lived there for years and years (both my kids were born there and I went to grad school and worked there) and I’ve got to say, staying in Midtown is a much smarter idea for a short visit because the Times Square subway station is a massive connector to almost everything, plus, you can walk north to Central Park, and easily grab tix to a Broadway show which is something everyone should absolutely make time for during a stay in NYC, full stop. I could go on and on, obviously, but…I’m glad you had fun while there. My family and I still go back 3x/year.

  3. Got confused what to do in new york? read this post and you will know what to do in new york in one day .great tips and thanks for sharing the post.

  4. Wow! Like you our last trip to NYC was a whirlwind – we got to see almost as much as you did. One “must-do~ in our book is Top of The Rock at sunset. Next time I want to really explore Central Park – could spend a week in there and not see it all.

  5. He who travels much has this advantage over others – that the things he remembers soon become remote, so that in a short time they acquire the vague and poetical quality which is only given to other things by time. He who has not traveled at all has this disadvantage – that all his memories are of things present somewhere, since the places with which all his memories are concerned are present.

  6. Can’t wait next year for the first visit in New York when I’m going to meet my foreign friends who give me the accommodation and take me to somewhere to try cheap food. Anyway, thank you for your recommendation about destinations above

  7. I’m taking my 15yr old son on his 1st trip to NYC this summer. We’ll be in the city for 2 days, so this is exactly what I needed to see! I did want to ask though, did you walk to all these locations? Just so I know if we could follow a similar route and get in as much as possible. Thanks!

  8. I’m taking my 15yr old son on his 1st trip to NYC this summer. We’ll be in the city for 2 days, so this is exactly what I needed to see! I did want to ask though, did you walk to all these locations? Just so I know if we could follow a similar route and get in as much as possible. Thanks!

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