Traveling to New York City with only one day to explore? It can be hard to decide what to do with such limited time in your schedule.
Fortunately, we’ve put together a one day in NYC itinerary to help you make the most of your one day in city.
This one day itinerary includes:
- Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
- Empire State Building Observation Deck
- Chelsea Market (Free!) & the High Line
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Save on Attraction Admission
With a New York City Explorer Pass® you can visit these great attractions all while saving on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
Remember, this one day itinerary is just one of many ways to experience New York City.
The New York City Explorer Pass® gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests.
Stop #1: Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
A Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Tour, like Big Bus, is one of the best ways to start your trip!
This classic Hop On Hop Off bus tour includes loops of downtown, midtown, and uptown Manhattan.
Every Big Bus double-decker bus features live narration by a professional guide, so you’ll learn all about the city’s history, culture, and more while your guide directs your attention to famous landmarks along the way.
Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus New York tickets are available as an option on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Stop #2: Empire State Building
Visit New York City’s most iconic building, the Empire State Building, and experience a New York City landmark.
With a newly renovated Art Deco lobby, the historical Dare to Dream exhibit, and the Sustainability Exhibit, a visit to the Empire State Building offers more than just an impressive view (though that alone makes a visit worth the trip!). You’ll learn all about the historical and cultural significance of the Empire State Building, including its importance as a beacon of hope during a time of despair for the American economy.
When you make it up to the 86th-floor observatory, you’ll get spectacular views of downtown Manhattan and the water–you won’t find better photo opportunities than this.
Estimating how much time this will take can be tricky, as your entrance is determined by security and elevator lines. Going this early in the day, however, should limit the time you have to wait. Plan to spend between 30-40 minutes at the top.
Check out our guide for tips on visiting the Empire State Building Observation Deck before your visit.
Getting In: Empire State Building tickets are available as an option on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Stop #3: Chelsea Market
Spend an hour or so in one of the most popular local shopping areas – Chelsea Market. Filled with everything from crafty shops to local food joints and more, you’ll find everything you could ever imagine wanting at this place.
It’s a great neighborhood resource that most travelers don’t know about, so you’ll get a good taste of NYC food culture without the expense of a five star restaurant. Be sure to try some of their French pastries and cheese – a specialty.
Getting In: Admission to Chelsea Market is free.
Stop #3: High Line Park
A rehabilitated stretch of elevated railroad track, the High Line spans about a mile and a half of Manhattan’s airspace in the Lower West Side.
Today this park is filled with beautiful greenery (with a particular focus on native species) and even some wild creatures. The High Line also hosts special events like stargazing and horticulturist-led tours.
Getting In: Access to High Line Park is totally free! Depending on whether or not you want to walk the entire length, it will take between 20-30 minutes of your time.
Stop #4: 9/11 Memorial and Museum
If you only have one day in NYC, then your last attraction should definitely be the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
This poignant memorial to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 is compelling and informative, and is one of the most popular museums in all of New York right now.
In the Museum, explore multiple exhibit galleries that retell the story of the time before, during, and after the attacks, remember the lives lost in the 1993 bombing and the 2001 attacks, and preserve relics that remain from the destruction of the Twin Towers.
The exterior Memorial is striking, too, with its signature water features and light displays.
Getting In: 9/11 Memorial and Museum tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass.
Dinner at Carmine’s
This famous Italian eatery serves only the best authentic cuisine in a bustling environment in the Times Square / Theater District area.
Everyone will love the hearty, delicious dishes lovingly crafted by top Italian chefs. You can’t leave NYC without trying Carmine’s!
If you follow this one day in NYC itinerary with a 3-Choice New York City City Explorer Pass®, you’ll save on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
You can also save even more on your one day in New York if you take advantage of any of the included extras that come with your New York City Explorer Pass®.