48 Hours In: New York City
The Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps…whatever you love to call it, New York City is a timeless destination with seemingly unwavering charm. This global village is still living up to its reputation as one of the world’s most dynamic cultural and creative hubs. According to Jay Z and Alicia Keys, “there’s nothing you can’t do / now you’re in New York.” With summer crowds come and gone, autumn is the perfect time to visit and enjoy the magic of this city.
Here are some suggestions to help make your 48 hours in New York City a visit to remember.
Go ahead—be a tourist
Whether this is your first or fifteenth time to NYC, most of the city’s iconic spots still inspire. So put on your walking shoes, and embrace some of the city’s most renowned sites.
The Flatiron Building is a revered architectural landmark with its unique shape and location. Completed in 1902, the building was one of the tallest in the city at the time, at 20 stories. While today it is used primarily for commercial purposes, the edifice’s exterior remains a focal point. Pull up a chair at one of the tables that scatter the piazza in front of the building, or take a seat at Madison Square Park just across the street and enjoy one of the most stunning picnic backdrops in the world.
Times Square: packed with tourists? Yes. A tad cliché? Yes. However, this “Crossroads of the World” offers something nowhere else does: an unparalleled vibrancy that combines bright lights, the buzz of people from around the globe, and plenty of Broadway charm. For visitors lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve in the city, this is also the location of the famous “ball drop”, a tradition that began in 1907. So put on your biggest smile, march into Times Square, and take pictures a plenty. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see yourself depicted on one of the square’s famous big screens.
While there are many museums worth visiting in New York, if you’ve only got 48 hours, head to the American Museum of Natural History, one of the largest museums in the world. Its stately facade greets visitors just outside central park, and its Roman-basilica-like lobby is a grand entrance not to be missed. Upon walking inside, read Theodore Roosevelt’s thoughts on man, nature and the state inscribed on the walls, and snap a photo of the dinosaur skeletons that greet you. A 15-minute walk east will get you to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its famous steps, a favourite reading spot for locals. The museum’s entrance, open to the public, is called the Grand Hall, and its beaux-arts style is both intricate and impressive. After a 360 in the beautiful space, feel free to peruse the gift shop, which offers a quick glimpse into what lies inside the museum.
Enjoy the outdoors
For those less willing to brave the crowds that surround some of the city’s landmarks, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to park yourself and a sandwich or two to while away a lazy afternoon. With more than 1,700 parks distributed throughout the metro New York area, there’s no shortage of places to visit. Here’s two you’re bound to enjoy:
Central Park is by no means a hidden gem. However, the city’s largest park has plenty to explore, boasting everything from green space to live theatre and castles. The backdrop of classic novels like Catcher in the Rye, this park’s age plays into its charm, with historic fountains, ponds, and carousels. It’s also a lively hub for modern art and music, with buskers and performers demonstrating everything from acrobatic shows to sculpting to live jazz. The Park is truly the heart of the city, offering a magnificent green respite to rest and refuel.
If your 48 hours happens to fall on a weekend, catch one of the first ferry rides (free from 10-11am on Saturdays and Sundays) to Governors Island, a destination often left out of most tourist maps. Once a U.S. military base, the island is now owned by the people of New York, and offers a wonderful public space that includes parks, historical sites and buildings, and other art and culture attractions. It also offers some of the best spots to capture panoramic shots of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. The ferry ride itself will take you past spectacular waterside views, and saves you the time in line you would have spent for many of the city’s sightseeing cruises.
Eat your heart out
New York has one of the highest concentrations of international eateries anywhere in the world. Try these tested and trusted recommendations for places that offer some of the city’s best nosh.
There’s nothing quite like a New York bagel. Whether it’s the city’s rich Jewish history or simply the popularity of this delicious baked ring that has contributed to its status, NYC knows how to do bagels right. My favourite bagel shop in the city is Leo’s Bagels in lower Manhattan near Wall Street. The classic salmon and lox on sesame won’t disappoint, nor will their delicious selection of homemade cream cheeses.
If you’re looking for a quick but delicious bite on the fly, head to one of the city’s many Shake Shack locations. This burger and milkshake joint has gained a loyal following in recent years, and it certainly deserves the hype. Grab a classic Shackburger, a hormone-free, handmade beef patty topped with American cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, and the infamous “ShackSauce”, all sandwiched between a soft, squishy milk bun. Get a classic shake to go with it, and you’re in for a meal to remember.
One of the city’s earliest culinary draws was simple, delicious Italian cuisine, and this certainly remains a New York staple. Whether it be a quick slice on the go, or a plate of fresh pasta, there are countless eateries offering quality American-Italian favourites. While Little Italy in the lower east side offers an array of mainstays that have served city inhabitants for generations, my pick is Noodle Pudding, found across the way in Brooklyn Heights. After a sunset stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, hungry patrons won’t find a better pick than this welcoming Italian spot, featuring delicious homemade pasta like the orecchiete with delicate veal meatballs, or linguine with fresh mussels.
Soak it all in
48 Hours in New York City passes quickly, but if you’re willing, you can fit a whole lot into just two days.
Share your tips on how to spend time in New York in the comments below!