How to See Manhattan in a New York Minute

new york skyline

New York City is a sprawling metropolis that can take a lifetime to see. But of course, this is Loving the Layover, so we are here to tell you how to make the most of 24 hours!

We decided to start the new year with a trip to Manhattan. Knowing we only had one full day to see the city, we opted for accommodations at the Hilton Times Square. For longer trips we would recommend a less touristy location, but if you only have a short time, it is always best to stay in the heart of it.

Here is an outline of our perfect day in New York starting and ending at our hotel.

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Pro Tip: Manhattan city blocks are perfectly rectangular. It takes up to 5 minutes to walk one block along the street side going east to west, and about 1 minute to walk the block of an avenue going north or south.

Start With a New York Bagel

We began our day with a stereotypical breakfast of caffeine and carbs. “Best Bagel and Coffee” is a top rated bakery located just a few minutes from Times Square. It was everything you would want from a no-nonsense Manhattan cafe. Their loaded bagels are fresh-baked to perfection. Although the line was long, their prompt New York service kept things moving and we were on our way around the city in no time.

Head To The Empire State Building

After carbo-loading for our day of walking, we continued two blocks east to the Empire State Building. The guest lobby is located on 34th street, so be sure to visit the iconic Macy’s and Herald Square on your way over.

Once we got to the Empire State Building, we decided to buy tickets to visit the observatory deck on the 86th floor. Although it was tempting to buy tickets in advance, we have learned that view based attractions are best purchased spontaneously. Luckily, it was a clear day so we decided the view would be worth the price. We spent about an hour enjoying the panoramic beauty from the Art Deco landmark. If you are interested in going up even higher, you can purchase an additional ticket up to the 102nd floor.

For those of you wishing to see views of the Empire state Building rather than from it, we recommend a trip to the Top of the Rock, which we visited on an earlier trip and found to be quite impressive.

Visit Bryant Park

Once we got our birds-eye bearings, we made our way north to Bryant Park. This historic public space re-opened in 1992 and is now a center of culture and community. Because we visited in January, we got to enjoy the park’s Winter Village, complete with a beautiful Christmas tree and ice skating rink. We were surprised to learn that the ice rink is actually free to guests! The only cost is the rental of skates, so if you have your own pair, be sure to bring them! There were also a variety of pop up restaurants and bars around the park, but we opted to warm up with a chimney cake.


Walk 5th Ave

Like La Rambla or Champs-Elysees, we believe that some famous streets just can’t be missed. Fifth Ave is no exception. The iconic thoroughfare can be reached by exiting the north-east corner of the park. It is home to famous luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston and of course, Saks Fifth Avenue department store. St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center are also located along 5th Ave. Because we were visiting the first week of the new year, we were able to see the iconic Christmas tree and ice rink. No matter when you visit, you will surely feel the glamour of the Big Apple.

Make Your Way to Central Park

Continue north and you will find that Central park isn’t too far away. Although you may not have time to explore the entire park, you can still get a feel for this New York landmark. If your feet are tired, you can rest on one of the parks 9,000 benches. Be sure to take a moment to see if the bench you chose has a plaque! The city’s Adopt-A-Bench program has helped fund the Central Park Conservancy and many of the donors are famous New Yorker’s. Depending on how long you have, you can also visit the central park zoo, Belvedere Castle or the John Lennon memorial!


End The Night in Times Square

Your walk back to Times Square will take you through midtown and the theater sub-district. Taking this route, you can stop for exterior visits of Carnegie Hall or Radio City Music Hall. This vibrant midtown area is also filled with Broadway theaters, restaurants and hotels. It is the perfect way to finish up your day and enjoy the city lights. If you have time, you may even be able to make a show! TKTS is a discount ticket booth located in Times Square where you can purchase tickets to Broadway shows for up to 50% off. Or, you can always end the way we did, with a nightcap of cannoli at Carlo’s Bakeshop. However you end your evening, we hope its sweet!

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