New York, New York: it’s a city so nice they named it twice. But what makes NYC so special? It’s hard to say without getting super-specific (or very vague). It’s why we’ve based our list on the most classic landmarks and sights that ensure an unforgettable 48 hours in the city that never sleeps.
While brunch is a serious affair, this time it’s fine to skip the mimosas and start your day at a New Yorker’s pace (unless you have to have them). Grab a strong coffee and a bagel before you join the hustle and bustle. New York bagels are what all bagels aspire to be. The best part? There’s no unnecessary hole in the middle. Trust us, these simple upgrades make all the difference. Lick up the last crumbs of your beautiful bagel and stay hungry, because it’s time to take your first bite out of the Big Apple.
First up, a somber but fitting place to start your trip: Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Pay your respects to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on that fateful day. The tranquility of an early morning visit here seems well-suited for the occasion, plus a climb up the One World Observatory can give some perspective on the city (literally: it’s the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere).
Take a minute to meditate on the moving masses that fill up Grand Central Station on your way to your next stop. This station is a place that’s always in motion, just like the city itself. A terminal tour will show you popular and hidden gems — like the whispering room. If you have time before lunch, take this self-guided audio tour.
Next, head to Central Park, where the grass is green and the sunlight shines a bit brighter. Rent a bike at the largest bike rental shop in the city, conveniently located right next to the park. Explore on two wheels, or take a guided walking tour and enjoy the lush greenery for a couple of hours before lunch.
New York is where stars are born (or rather, made), so why not get in on the lights and action yourself? Get to the Ed Sullivan Theater by 4 PM to try your luck with a standby ticket for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Or, do some research first and choose from one of the tons of other live shows that are taped here.
End the day with a bird’s eye view of the whole city from Rockefeller Center, one of the most iconic observation decks in New York. Or, if you’d rather channel your inner Alicia Keys, make your way to the top of the Empire State Building. Pro tip: get to your skyscraper of choice a half-hour before sunset for optimal photo opportunities. Happy snapping!
After you’ve soaked up the best views, swing by Broadway. Going to a show here is one of New York’s most classic cultural experiences. Make your way towards the famous district through Times Square. It’ll be crowded and filled to the brim with silly performers, tourists from around the world, and a ton of neon lights. If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. But that’s New York, baby! Once you’ve made your way through the masses, choose from classic shows like Aladdin and Phantom of the Opera, or more experimental shows. There’s something for everyone!
Get going bright and early today. Grab a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from a pop-up food truck, another classic New York breakfast. If you can’t live without a daily caffeine fix, don’t worry — you’ll find plenty of options at one of these trucks that humbly serve New Yorkers on almost every corner block.
First, take a step back in time to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to learn about the city’s rich immigrant history. You’ll need a solid 4-6 hours to see both islands, so make sure you plan for an early start. Skip the lines (and the hassle) on an Ellis Island tour, which includes all ferry rides and a multilingual audio guide.
Make up for the morning’s shamelessly fast and cheap breakfast with an indulgent, three-hour-long food tour at Brooklyn’s best eateries. Snack your way through the borough with a local foodie who’ll guide your tastebuds to the tastiest delights to be found. And make sure you walk along the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s not just a local tradition: it’s a perfectly scenic path to the other side of the city. It doesn’t hurt to snap some Instagram-worthy selfies along your walk.
Channel your inner art critic at the New York Museum of Modern Art. But if Dali and Warhol aren’t your jam, don’t worry — the Metropolitan Museum of Art has works by Cassat and Caravaggio. While both museums are well worth a visit, travelers in search of modern art and special exhibits should head to the MoMA. If the overall variety and size of the museum’s collection matter more to you, make for the Met.
All that art probably has you craving something sweet. Sample a cupcake (or spring for a baker’s dozen) from the best of Greenwich Village’s boutique bakeries on this tour. You might be thinking, dessert before dinner? To that, we say (again), “It’s New York, baby!” If you want to eat cupcakes right now, you can.
Post-dessert, it’s time for dinner and drinks. Whether you’re in the mood for a bar crawl through Queens or a skyline tour by night, we guarantee your last night in the city will be full of food, fun, and promises to come back.
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