24 Hours in NYC: 10 Must-See Attractions for the Busy Traveler

Take a bite out of the Big Apple and make the most of every available minute by planning an itinerary designed to hit New York City's hottest spots in a day. When all you have is 24 hours, the City that Never Sleeps is an ideal destination filled with thousands of things to do, see, and experience. Consider these 10 entertaining possibilities:

1. Central Park

With more than 840 acres of sprawling lawns, woods, lakes, and fountains, Central Park is the perfect spot to take a morning walk or bike ride. The park also offers amazing tree-framed views of the buildings on the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan. Some of the park's iconic attractions include the Alice in Wonderland sculpture and Strawberry Fields, where the Imagine mosaic proudly honors John Lennon.

Overview of Central Park in New York City

2. The Cloisters

New York offers plenty of amazing museum options, but visitors who want a quieter experience often head to The Cloisters, which is arguably one of the city's most underrated attractions. Located in Fort Tryon Park at the northern end of Manhattan, this medieval museum features stunning architecture and gorgeous scenery overlooking the Hudson River. Because The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can buy a single ticket for entrance to both museums on the same day.

The Met Cloisters Medieval architecture

3. Fifth Avenue

Window shopping is an art form at the upscale stores along Fifth Avenue. Browse the designer wares at Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., and Van Cleef & Arpels before heading over to marvel at the Gothic architecture of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

5th Avenue Art in NYC

4. Broadway

Theater buffs rejoice in the variety of shows offered on "The Great White Way." If you can spare a few hours, seeing a show is a must. Although getting the best seats requires advance planning, you can still find last-minute options by visiting the theater box office or visiting the TKTS booth on Broadway and 47th for discounted tickets.

Broadway Box Office sign in NYC

5. Union Square

Located just a few blocks south of the Flatiron Building and north of Greenwich Village, Union Square has a unique vibe that is all its own. Centered around Union Square Park, this vibrant neighborhood is famous for its galleries and public art installations, such as the Metronome with its infamous countdown clock. It is also home to a fantastic farmers market, Union Square Greenmarket.

Union Square in New York City

6. Greenwich Village

From the funky shops on Bleecker Street to the charming brownstones along tree-lined cobblestone streets, "The Village" is packed with things to do, see, and eat. Stroll through beautiful Washington Square Park, the unofficial heart of prestigious New York University, and relax by the fountain or join a chess game. Indulge in some Italian food at Minetta Tavern, or grab a quick drink and listen to live music at iconic Village hot spots like Cafe Wha?.

Brownstones along New York City sidewalk

7. Lower East Side

While everyone else is heading to Soho or Midtown, check out the Lower East Side, home to eclectic shops such as bar-boutique The Dressing Room. The area is also known for providing foodies with some primo dining options, including Pig & Khao, Dirty French, and Wildair.

View of NYC Skyline and Empire State Building

8. Staten Island Ferry

Take in the Statue of Liberty, the Lower Manhattan skyline, and Brooklyn, all from the comfort of the Staten Island Ferry. This cruise takes you across New York harbor and features outstanding views that can't be found anywhere else. While on the island, take time to experience the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, which features botanical gardens, cobblestone streets, Victorian homes, and the Chinese Scholar's Garden.

Statue of Liberty NYC

9. Brooklyn Bridge

Walk across one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S. to cross the East River from Manhattan into Brooklyn. This signature landmark measures roughly 1.1 miles long and offers unique views of both boroughs, making it a popular tourist spot. After crossing into Brooklyn, take the first exit and walk down the stairs to explore one of the most happening neighborhoods, Dumbo, or take in the views of Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

View of Brooklyn Bridge in NYC

10. South Street Seaport

In Lower Manhattan, check out this charming, 11-block historic district. Popular attractions include the South Street Seaport Museum, boat tours of the harbor, and numerous shops and restaurants. From the seaport, visitors are within a few short blocks of the Woolworth Building and its lavish lobby tours as well as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

South street Seaport in NYC

Do you have a favorite NYC destination? Share your best photos on Instagram and tag us in the comments.


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