New York. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. Whatever you call it, there is no denying that New York City is one of the most famous locations in the world. From the bright lights of Broadway, to the hustle and bustle of Times Square, the majestic Statue of Liberty, to the greenery of Central Park, there’s no shortage of things to do and explore. In fact, with there being so much to do, you’d be crazy to try and do the city in just a day right? But what if a day is all you have? Don’t panic, you can still get a great taste of what the city has to offer. Here, I look at some of the things you can do if you have just one day in New York City.
Top of the Rock
Nothing quite beats an amazing view, and in New York there isn’t a much better view than the one you get from the Top of the Rock. Situated on the uppermost three floors of the Rockefeller Centre, Top of the Rock allows you to experience simply stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. On one side you can see the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, One World Trade Centre, and even the Statue of Liberty in the distance. On the other side you get views across Central Park, a green expanse surrounded by the urban streets of Manhattan. The observation deck has three floors to explore, with the upper most floor having no glass panels surrounding it making it ideal for capturing some impressive photos. Entry is via timed ticket with the only queue being the short line for the security check, meaning you can make the most of your time taking in those views. There is no limit to how long you can stay up the top, but I’d advise allowing at least an hour to an hour and a half.
One of the best ways to take in some of New York’s landmarks is by taking a cruise along the Hudson River. We’ve all seen the famous Manhattan skyline in films and TV shows and a river cruise allows you to see this famous skyline and get some fantastic photos. There are several cruises available depending on what you want to see and how much time you have. For those who want just a short trip then a Liberty Cruise is ideal. Not only does it sail along the Hudson River offering views of many of the City’s famous landmarks, but you also get up close to The Statue of Liberty so you can tick another of New York’s most famous icons off your list. If you have a little more time then you can also do a Landmarks Cruise which goes a little further and sails under the Brooklyn Bridge, or you can sail all the way around Manhattan Island. Whichever option you choose, you do need to take into account that you need to be at the departure pier 30-45 minutes prior to your cruise time.
It’s hard to think of New York and not remember the awful events of that fateful day on 11th September 2001. Almost 20 years on and what was ground zero is now a beautiful memorial dedicated to all those who tragically lost their lives on that tragic day. The footprint of each of the Twin Towers has been transformed into two memorial pools with waterfalls cascading down into the centre. Around the outside of each pool, the names of all those who died are engraved, and you can’t help but wonder who each of these people were who had their lives so cruelly cut short. But perhaps what struck me most of all when I was there was a mother who was explaining to her young son what had happened on 9/11 and the effects it had not just right away, but in the days, months and years afterwards.
Possibly one of the most well-known locations in New York, Times Square is a relatively easy one to tick off your sightseeing list. It’s easy to get to via the subway system and is easy to fit in around anything else you want to see and do. However, one thing to be aware of is that it gets very, very busy. At times it can be difficult to move, and the place can be so crowded that it is difficult to really see and appreciate the area.
Grand Central Station
Another of the City’s most famous locations, Grand Central Station is one of the busiest transport hubs in New York. Whilst you probably won’t spend a huge amount of time here if you just have the day in the city, you can still stop by to take a look at one of New York’s most well-known locations. Make sure you look up, as the ceiling of the central area is beautifully decorated. On the lower levels you’ll find a whole range of food options – in fact, if you are pushed for time you could make Grand Central Station your lunch stop ticking off two things in one go.
Of course, your ideal day in New York might include different things to those I’ve mentioned above. Instead of the River Cruise you may decide to spend some time exploring Central Park, or instead of Top of the Rock you might climb to the top of the Empire State Building or the observation deck at the One World Trade Centre. Or you may decide to do something completely different and do one of the many bus tours available.
Whichever way you choose to spend your day in New York, one thing I would advise is not to try to cram so much in that you feel rushed, or that you don’t get to fully appreciate the places you visit. Where possible, try and plan how you’re going to get around too. Although a little daunting at first, the Subway is an easy way to get from place to place. You could use an app like Citymapper to help plan your journeys, although always take its suggestions as a guide and check for any disruptions. Due to the New York traffic, buses are particularly prone to delays so are perhaps not the best option to use if you’re on a tight schedule.
Most importantly, enjoy it, and remember that even though you may only have one day in New York, you can still get a great taste of The Big Apple.