While it may be more of an unconventional vacation, enjoying a day in NYC is an excellent trip to take.
While you’re only going to be able to enjoy an incredibly small sampling of everything this vast, storied city has to offer you, there’s still a lot you can manage to pack into a day trip to the Big Apple.
This article will provide an overview of an excellent itinerary for the best day trip to NYC. Whether you follow it to a T or just want to use it as a framework to make your own, you’re bound to enjoy a luggage-free day in the city that never sleeps—all the way from sunrise to midnight.
A great starting point for your jam-packed day in NYC is in the trendy, high-end Brooklyn Neighborhood of DUMBO, featuring some of the best views of Manhattan to take in as the sun rises over the city. There, you can grab a cup of tea or coffee at one of the area’s many cafes before setting out on your way.
To get out of DUMBO, you should walk over a few blocks and take the Brooklyn Bridge across to Manhattan. This picturesque and historic city icon, a hybrid cable-stayed and suspension bridge spanning across the East River, offers fantastic views of both islands and the water as you cross over it.
Once you reach Manhattan, head down the island a bit and visit the Financial District, also known as FiDi, which is home to iconic areas like Wall Street and the September 11th Memorial. Consider taking a trip down Wall Street, located in the heart of FiDI, and check out landmarks like the Stock Exchange, Charging Bull, and Federal Hall.
Furthermore, the Financial District is an excellent play to grab some breakfast. There are plenty of great legendary breakfasts you can enjoy throughout the area, whether it’s a bagel and lox from a deli, or a bacon, egg, and cheese from a bodega.
After enjoying a bite to eat, move up toward the 9/11 memorial, which turned from the rubble of a national tragedy into an icon of a memorial that pays respect and homage to everyone and everything that was lost. If you get there in the mid-morning, you can typically get ahead of the crowds.
One of the most captivating parts of the memorial is the memorial pools, which are breathtaking waterfalls that seemingly feed into themselves infinitely. It’s an impressive engineering feat that respects the victims in a very beautiful way, all while being the biggest man made waterfall in the world.
After enjoying some time in the Financial District and taking in the area’s biggest icons, you should start moving up the island.
A breathtaking way for you to move up that way from the FiDi is by hopping on the High Line. I know it sounds a lot like a subway line—which, to be fair, was formerly a freight line—but today, it has become a stunning mile-and-a-half-long greenspace, running all the way to Manhattan’s West Side.
The High Line stands out as a unique green space in the heart of the city while blending seamlessly with the urban environment surrounding it. There’s so much that comes together around you; between the way greenery is laid out across it, the gorgeous architecture surrounding it, and the views of the city around you—they all come together in a way that’s almost beyond words.
Once you reach the end of the High Line, you may want to consider getting a bite to eat. Consider the Mercado Little Spain, which is a sprawling Spanish food hall filled with restaurants, vendors, and bars scattered throughout, serving an array of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. It opens daily at 11 am, so you’ll be able to get in after making your way down from the High Line.
After grabbing a bite to eat, you’ll want to check out one of the city’s finest icons; the Statue of Liberty. While you could tour the island and visit the statue directly, it may not be the best way to take in this landmark. Instead, consider booking a tour cruise around the Statue of Liberty, which gives you the best views without spending hours on the island.
After getting back from your tour of the Statue of Liberty, it’s time to move onto the city’s famous Central Park. Located in the middle of New York City, this sprawling 843-acre park is loaded with plenty of smaller attractions throughout it, which can make it seem almost overwhelming for first-timers to the city.
With limited time left on your day trip, it’s an excellent place to wind down while still enjoying a variety of landmarks that will maximize the daylight you have left. You can visit sporadic sights like the Mall or Bow Bridge, or you can partake in something a little more involved, like a trip to the famous Central Park Zoo.
After touring around the park for a bit, spend some time checking out the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, a massive man-made lake in the heart of the park. It’s a great place to relax and wind down while you reflect on everything you were able to enjoy during your day in the Big City.
As the sunset begins to cast gold hues across the city skyline reflecting off the many shimmering towers that stand tall overhead, you kind of can’t help but feel a deep and profound connection to this sleepless metropolis that’s pulsing with pure life throughout it.
From starting the day in one of the most beautiful parts of Brooklyn to embracing the city’s rich history and paying homage to poignant history, all the way to winding down in Central Park and enjoying the sunset by the water, this itinerary proves that a day trip to NYC can be a deeply rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Whether traveling alone or with friends and loved ones, a day trip to New York City is well worth the effort you put in.