24 hours in New York City

The first stop on our crazy road trip across the USA was New York City. Well, really it was Buffalo, the Finger Lakes, a health food store in Ithaca where we found the best vegan cookies (actually the best cookies ever), and Patterson, because we’d seen the film Patterson a few months previously.

As we approached New York City we stopped off in New Jersey to park up Elvis (our van). We’d found a car park by a park and ride into Manhattan on Parkopedia purely by chance that promised cheap parking. In fact it was better than that – there’s no cost at the weekend! From here we took the bus into New York City which was only about 30 minutes away.

We didn’t give ourselves a huge amount of time in new York City for a couple of reasons. One was that there was a storm coming and the other was that we had a house sit scheduled in for a few day’s time in Washington D.C. We were probably there for about 30 hours in total by covered a lot in a short space of time.

If you’re on a layover in new York or have a similarly short space of time in the city here’s proof that in just 24ish hours in New York City you can still feel like you’ve seen it. Of course, there’s plenty more to see so you’ll have to find another time to go back!

Day 1 – Afternoon

Assuming you’ve already eaten, it’s time to hit the sights of New York City! If you haven’t eaten then stop off at a bagel shop for lunch; you’re in New York after all!

24 hours in New York City top of the rock

The Top of the Rock

Get a lay of the land by climbing up to the top of The Rockefeller Centre, also known as Top of the Rock. It’s not quite as tall as The Empire State Building but you get great views of Central Park on one side and The Empire State building on the other. You can’t see The Empire State Building whilst you’re on it (obvs) so far that reason alone the Top of the Rock is the better choice in my opinion.

Both cost about the same to climb $34 but the queues for The Rockefeller Centre tend to be smaller. Or, if you go on a cold day in early March like we did then they’re non-existent.

Times Square

24 hours in New York City times square

After you’ve got a feel for the layout of New York City, check out Times Square which is just a short walk from The Rockefeller Centre. Unlike other cities in America, you won’t stand out for walking between place to place so make the most of it!

Times Square comes into its own at night, but that’s not to say it’s not worth visiting during the day. Being surrounded by the bright lights of the adverts you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped right into a movie; that’s how familiar its landscape will seem.

Grand Central Station

You have to pop in to Grand Central Station while in New York just to marvel at the architecture.

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New York City Dinner

Head back to your hotel (or a cafe if you live in a van and have parked that over in New Jersey!) and rest up and freshen up before heading out to dinner.

I’d booked us a table at Jack’s Wife Freda for dinner and put the money my Mum gave me to treat myself in New York to good use. You do need to book Jack’s Wife Freda as it’s extremely busy pretty much all the time (so I’ve heard and indeed it was when we were there). We went to the one on Carmine Street but there’s another one on Lafayette Street too.

The menu changes fairly frequently but I’d hazard a guess that whatever you order will be good. It’s Mediterranean based cuisine and between the two of us we demolished; lamb keftas with a tahini dip and pita, a lasagne and a whole trout with tabouleh then a chocolate cake and a Malva pudding. Yum.

New York Jazz Bar

After dinner you could pop into to nearby Zinc bar (a jazz bar which we stumbled upon completely by chance). It costs $20 to sit in the same room as the musicians, but it’s free to sit at the bar. Personally I think you’re better off sitting at the bar as you can still hear the jazz, but it’s quiet enough to have a conversation too.

Day 2: A Sunday in New York City


the butchers daughter 24 hours in New York City

Nothing says New York City quite like a leisurely brunch on a Sunday. I reckon you could get a pretty good brunch anywhere in the city, but if you’re looking for somewhere Insta-trendy and healthy, then head to The Butcher’s Daughter. This restaurant is completely vegetarian (and mostly vegan so they say). Don’t worry though there are still plenty of egg-based dishes.

Definitely try one of their smoothies. I loved the Brass Monkey a banana and peanut butter smoothie made with almond milk, honey and maca powder.

The High Line

the high line 24 hours in New York City

Walk off brunch by strolling along The High Line a 1.45 mile long walk, mainly along the Hudson River, that has transformed what was previously a disused railway line. I bet it’s even more enjoyable in summer as our feet wee kinda freezing when we walked along in March!

24 hours in New York City

There is usually some sort of art installation along The High Line and when we visited it was all about ‘Journeys’. Very fitting. There was plenty of anti-Trump art work and graffiti too which we both rather appreciated.

Give yourself at least an hour to walk along it. You also get a pretty good view of The Empire State building from time to time too.

Central Park

Take the subway up towards Central Park and explore the Ice Rink, the theatres and wander all the way up to the Reservoir (it’s a pretty long walk if you’re up to it!). Don’t forget to indulge in some people watching!


While you’re up this end of New York City, you may as well explore the acclaimed MOMA which usually has some modern art you’ll either love or hate.

This is one thing we didn’t do this time around, but I have done it before.

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Liberty State Park

statue of liberty 24 hours in New York City

We were pretty tired after all the walking (not to mention cold!). Keen to get out of the way of the encroaching storm, we set off south in the late afternoon. On the way out we went over to Liberty State Park in New Jersey where you can get a pretty good view of The Statue of Liberty. We also drove over Brooklyn Bridge too.

We then happened across Clinton Square Pizza and grabbed a take out large pepperoni pizza for not much more than $10. This was accompanied by some good chat from the owner who recounted his own cross country road trip experiences. We ate this whilst watching the sunset over Brooklyn Bridge. Not a bad way to end our whirlwind experience of New York City!

Some other food options I researched but didn’t get the time (or have the stomach capacity) to go to include:

  • Pok Pok Ny, Thai food. 117 Columbia Street
  • Macbar, Gourmet mac & cheese 54 Prince Street
  • Vanessa’s Dumpling House, Dumplings. 118 Eldridge Street
  • Katz’s Delicatessen, Google says ‘Jewish’. 205 East Houston Street
  • Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, Chinese. 179 2nd Avenue
  • Black Seed Bagels, Bagels. 176 1st Avenue
  • Blue Collar, Burgers. 160 Havemeyer Street
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes, cakes (OUT OF AN ATM!). 780 Lexington Avenue