Whether it’s your first time in New York or your tenth, there are certain icons that you just can’t miss. If you’ve never checked these to-do list items off your NYC bucket list, it’s time to hash out a plan. Empire State Building, Charging Bull, Statue of Liberty, NYC bagels and yellow taxi cabs should all make the cut during at least one trip to the city. Visit as many sites as into two days as possible with this step-by-step two-day itinerary of New York City.

Want more options or a more detailed two-day itinerary? Create your own iconic itinerary or ask me to create a custom itinerary.

Must-Do Iconic NYC Activities:

 NYC Bagel

 Statue of Liberty

 Charging Bull/Wall Street/NY Stock Exchange/Federal Hall/Trinity Church

 Brooklyn Bridge

 Pizza in Brooklyn

 Grand Central Terminal

 St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 Rockefeller Center

 Broadway Show

 Grand Central Station

 St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 Times Square

 Empire State Building

 NYC Yellow Cab

 Metropolitan Museum of Art/ Museum of Natural History

 Apollo Theater

 Kosher-Style Delicatessen

 Shopping in SoHo

 Dumplings in Chinatown

 World Trade Central

 High Line Elevated Park

 NY Steakhouse

 Historic Speakeasy

 Ride the NYC Subway

 Famous Comedy Club (as seen in the Jim Gaffigan Show and Louie)

 Washington Square Park


Day 1

7:00 AM – Take the 2 or 3 subway (Red Line) to Wall Street. Walk to 3 Hanover Square.

1. Leo’s Bagels

8:00 AM- Order a bagel with lox or scallion cream cheese (or whatever you prefer!).

8:15 AM- Walk to Battery Park.

2. Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty NYC in a Day

 Print your tickets the night before to save even more time the day of–lines can set you back 30 minutes or more!

8:30 AM- Line up for security

 Leave knives, pepper spray, mace, or laptops (e-readers and tablets are OK) at the hotel to save time at security.

9:00 AM – Ferry to Liberty Island

 Download my free self-guided Statue of Liberty Tour to discover how to visit the Statue of Liberty in a day!

10:30 – Ferry to Battery Park

11:05 AM – Walk to Charging Bull.



3. Charging Bull

Wall Street Bull NYC in a Day

Take a photo of artist Arturo DiModica’s ode to Wall Street–one of the most photographed statues in New York. If you can get close enough, give the statue–especially its undercarriage–a rub for good luck.

11:25 AM – Walk to Wall Street.

11:30 AM – Wall Street. Download a self-guided tour of Wall Street to save even more time.

11:45 AM – Walk back to the Wall Street subway station.

12:00 PM – Take the 2/3 train downtown (to Brooklyn) one stop to Clark Street.

12:15 PM – Walk to Juliana’s Pizza


4. Juliana’s Pizza


12:30 PM – eat lunch at Juliana’s, owned by the famed pizza-making family, the Grimaldis. Check out their story while you much on a margarita pie, preferably at the Frank Sinatra table.

(Note: if you head here on the weekend, you’ll need to wait in line for up to one hour. I’ve included plenty of line time here, but if the line is too long for your liking, take a photo of the place before snagging a slice at Fascati instead.)

2:15 PM – Walk to the Brooklyn Bridge


5. Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge NYC in a Day

2:30 PM – walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Built by the Roebling family from 1869 to 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is considered one of the modern wonders of the world. Read about their great feat while crossing over.

3:00 PM – Walk to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway station.

3:10 PM – Take the 4/5 train uptown to Grand Central Terminal.




6. Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station NYC in a Day

4:00 PM – Happy hour at the Oyster Bar – Grand Central’s Oyster Bar is as old as the terminal itself. If you sit in the bar during happy hour, you can enjoy oysters for around $1.50, glasses of wine for $6, and cups of chowder for around $5.

5:00 PM – Taxi to St. Patrick’s Cathedral – hail a taxi by stepping out of Grand Central on 42nd Street; there are always plenty of taxis nearby.


7. St. Patrick’s Cathedral


5:15 PM – Take photos in and around the home of the archdiocese of New York before heading across the street to Rockefeller Center.

5:30 PM – Walk to Rockefeller Center by crossing over 5th Avenue. Take a left on the opposite side of the street. Rockefeller Center will be on the right-hand side.


8. Rockefeller Center

5:40 PM – Walk down Channel Gardens to reach the Rockefeller Center Plaza. There, you’ll see the famed statue of Prometheus who guards over the skating rink in the winter and a restaurant in the summer.

6:00 PM – Head into 30 Rock and follow the signs to get to the Top of the Rock viewing platform.

Fly-By NYC in a Day Print your tickets the night before to save even more time the day of–lines can set you back 30 minutes or more!

Financial District NYC in a Day Money-saving tip: Instead of visiting the Top of the Rock, head to the Rainbow Room’s bar, Bar SixtyFive. You’ll only be one floor lower than the Top of the Rock platform. Entry is free, but you’ll need to buy a drink (around $25). You’ll save a few bucks and get a drink thrown into the deal.

7:00 PM – Walk to Broadway theater. (Note: these directions are simply generic directions to Times Square. You’ll need to use Google Maps to find specific directions to your theater. Or, if you know the cross street, use my walking guide to NYC to find out how to get there on your own.


9. Broadway Show

7:30 PM – Take in a Broadway Show. There are so many musicals and plays performing in the city, the sky’s your limit.

You can even opt out of a Broadway show if you’re into music instead.

Nearby Lincoln Center is the home of the New York Philharmonic and the New York City Ballet. They also offer Jazz programs throughout the year, as well as some movies.

Or, head to Carnegie Hall for a performance.

10:00 PM – Walk to Carmines. (Note: your show may get out later than 10 PM; if so, that’s okay. I’ve built in a ton of wiggle room into the itinerary, so can still grab dinner and head to the other activities on the list.)


10. Dinner at Carmine’s

10:15 PM – Eat dinner at Carmine’s.

Carmine’s is one of the most iconic restaurants to eat a post-show meal. They are open till midnight Tuesday through Saturday and till 11 PM on Sunday and Monday.

If you aren’t feeling so iconic at this point, you can always head to one of my other favorite spots for a post-theater meal, Trattoria Trecolori (on Friday or Saturday, as they close at 10:30 PM every other evening) or Kashaval Garden.

If your show gets out late, you can always head to one of the other restaurants in Times Square. Many are open until midnight–or even later! Both Junior’s and Shake Shack are good options for late-night dining.

One never need go hungry (or eat a bad meal) in NYC!

11:00 PM – Walk back to Broadway.



11. Times Square

Times Square NYC in a Day

11:05 PM – Walk south on Broadway through Times Square.

Times Square is the most iconic of all the NYC icons. Named after the New York Times, this area is one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the city.

Night time is one of the most spectacular times to visit as the lights are even brighter.

Walk down Broadway; pop in and out of stores (some open till 1 AM!); take plenty of photos, and leave time for people watching.

Continue walking south on Broadway until you reach 34th Street. Take a left on on 34th Street, and you’ll reach the Empire State Building in less than a block.

12:30 AM – Line for ESB

 Print your tickets the night before to save even more time the day of–lines can set you back 30 minutes or more!


12. Empire State Building

Empire State Building NYC in a Day

Head up the elevator to the viewing platform of one of the most well-recognized icons in NYC: the Empire State Building. When you reach the top, you’ll have plenty of time to take photos before heading back down to the street.

1:30 AM – Lyft or Cab to your hotel. Since you’ve already enjoyed the NYC yellow taxi experience, take a Lyft car to save some money. You can take the subway or walk if your hotel is nearby. Though I always find the “splurge” of a car late at night well worth the money.



NYC 2-Day Tour: Day 2

7:30 AM – Take the 1 Train to 110th Street. Walk one block north to Tom’s Restaurant.


13. Tom’s Restaurant

8:15 AM – Eat breakfast at Tom’s Restaurant, otherwise known as the diner where Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer met on Seinfeld every week.

9:00 AM – Head back to the 1 train; this time, take it downtown to Columbus Circle. You’ll be at the southwest corner of Central Park.


14. Central Park

How Much Time to Spend in Central Park NYC in a Day

9:30 AM – Take a walk through Central Park. If you’d like a self-guided tour of the southern half of the park, you can find it in my book, NYC in a Day.

10:20 AM – Exit the park on the east side on 82nd Street for the Met or the west side at 81st Street for the Museum of Natural History.




15. Metropolitan Museum of Art/Museum of Natural History

10:30 AM- Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History.

 Print your tickets the night before to save even more time the day of–lines can set you back 15 minutes or more!

Note: both museums are pay what you wish (minimum $1). If you buy tickets online, you must pay the full suggested donation.

Both museums are equally iconic. If you have more than two days, I’d recommend visiting both. You could spend several days in both museums and never see everything.

12:00 PM – Subway to Harlem; if you are at the Museum of Natural History, take the A, B, or C trains (in front of the museum) uptown to 125th Street, and walk east a block and a half to the Apollo. If you are at the Met, walk three blocks east on 82nd Street to Lexington. Take a left on Lexington to the 6 train on 86th Street. Take the 6 train uptown to 125th Street, and walk five and a half blocks west to the Apollo.



16. Apollo Theater

12:45 PM – Visit the lobby of the iconic Apollo Theater. If you have more time, you can take a guided tour of the building; or, visit on select Wednesday nights for Amateur Night at the Apollo.

1:00 PM – Walk a block and a half west to the subway. Take the A, B, C, or D train downtown to W. 4th Street. Transfer to the downtown F train. Get off at 2nd Avenue. Walk four blocks east to Katz’s Delicatessen.



17. Katz’s Delicatessen

2:00 PM – Eat lunch at the famed Katz’s, known for their pastrami, corned beef, knishes, and towering sandwiches. This is where Meg Ryan had her, “I’ll have what she’s having,” moment in When Harry Met Sally.

2:45 PM – Take a taxi or Lyft to Broadway and Houston Street. Walk south on Broadway.



18. Shopping in SoHo

SoHo Shopping District NYC in a Day

3:00 PM – SoHo is known for its high-end shops, boutiques, and designer stores. You can stick to Broadway for department stores and chain stores; or, head down Prince, Spring, or Mercer Street for high-end shopping and boutiques.

4:00 PM – Hop on the R or W train downtown at Prince and Broadway. Get off at Canal Street.


19. Chinatown

4:15 PM – Walk through Chinatown; stick to Canal Street for cheap handbags, jewelry, and perfume. Walk south on Mott Street to check out the historic parts of the neighborhood. Snake your way to Doyers Street to check out the oldest restaurant in Chinatown (the Nom Wah Tea Parlor). Or, take a self guided tour of the neighborhood.


20. Dumplings in Chinatown

Chinese Dumplings NYC in a Day

5:00 PM – Dumplings in Chinatown; if you’re feeling peckish, head to Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street. You can get five pan-fried pork dumplings for a mere $1.25 here.

5:15 PM – Walk to the Oculus.


21. The Oculus

5:35 PM – Walk through the Oculus, architect Santiago Calatrava’s ode to the families affected by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Head to the ground level, and follow the signs to the PATH train. Keep walking past the train turnstiles and down the long white hall. Head up the escalators. When you get to the top, turn around. You’ll see the new One World Trade Center and WTC Memorial. Head there now.



22. World Trade Center Memorial

World Trade Center NYC in a Day

6:00 PM – Spend a little time at the two reflecting pools of the World Trade Center Memorial. The pools stand in the footprints of the Twin Towers that were attacked on September 11, 2001. Remember that this is a living memorial–and not a tourist attraction. Treat the area as sacred and with respect.

6:20 PM – Walk to the Chambers Street Station. Take the E train uptown to 14th Street. Walk west on 14th Street two blocks to the High Line.



23. High Line Elevated Park

High Line NYC in a Day

The High Line Park is a public park that was built from an abandoned elevated railway. The idea for the park was conceived by urban hikers, who climbed atop the structure after the trains stopped in the 1980s. These hikers found that nature had reclaimed the railway, and beautiful flowers and wild plants were growing there.

The park is now one of the most beloved tourist destinations and features art, loungers, and food stalls.

(Note: The High Line closes at 7 pm in winter and can be dreadfully cold. The park is often closed in inclement weather. If you’re traveling to NYC at this time, head straight to Keen’s for some pre-dinner drinks instead.)

7:00 PM – Climb the stairs at 14th Street to the High Line Elevated Park. Walk north on the High Line to the end of the park at W. 34th Street.

7:45 PM – Exit the High Line, and walk to Keen’s Steakhouse.


24. Keen’s Steakhouse

8:15 PM – Dinner at Keen’s Steakhouse (reservations are recommended!).

9:00 PM – Walk to the 34th Street subway station. Take the B or D trains downtown to Grand Street. Walk three and a half blocks west to Ferrara Bakery.


25. Ferrara Bakery

9:30 PM – Do as the celebrities do, and have a cannoli at famed bakery and restaurant, Ferarra. You might even see a few limos parked outside!

9:45 PM – Walk back to the Grand Street subway station, and take the B or D trains uptown to W. 4th Street. Walk to Chumley’s.


26. Chumley’s

10:15 PM – Have a drink at famed speakeasy Chumley’s, located at 86 Bedford Street. The address is supposed to represent more than the street number here. In fact, some believe the phrase, “Getting 86’d,” as in, getting thrown out of a bar, originated here.


11:15 PM – Walk to Comedy Cellar.


27. The Comedy Cellar

Comedy Cellar NYC in a Day

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carlmikoy

11:30 PM – Take in a show at the Comedy Cellar, where many famous comedians got their start. You might recognize this basement joint if you’re a fan of the Jim Gaffigan Show or Louie.

12:30 AM – Walk north on Macdougal to Ben’s Pizza (less than a block away).


28. Ben’s Pizza

Grab a slice of pizza (preferably the one with rigatoni on top because–hey! You’re on vacation!). Walk your slice over to Washington Square Park (one block north on Macdougal Street. There’s usually still plenty of people in the park late at night, but if you’re feeling uncomfortable about walking through the park this late, walk north up Macdougal to the northern edge. Take a right on Washington Square North, and keep going until you see the arch.


29. Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park NYC in a Day

The Washington Square arch is the centerpiece of the park. It’s well lit at night and a hot spot during the day. It’s a nod to George Washington’s inauguration as the first president of the United States.

The park itself was established in the 1800s, was once a potter’s field, and is currently the unofficial quad to New York University. In fact, the majority of buildings around the park are a part of the NYU campus.

Take a few photos, and enjoy your late-night snack before taking a Lyft back to your hotel. Congratulations–now you can sleep!


Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.

Already know what you want to do? Find out the best ways to get to the attractions you lovefind a place to stay, or discover New York City’s neighborhoods to round out your itinerary!

Want all the fun without all the work? Check out my New York City itineraries. Or, get a customized itinerary to save even more time.

Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!

NYC in a Day

10 Things You Need to Know Before Coming to NYC

Tourists always tell me they wish they'd known these 10 things before coming to the Big Apple. Why did nobody tell me?? They say. Now you know. Boom.


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