48 Hours in NYC: What To Do With Your Time

Home from New York! It was a weekend we won't soon forget – and not because New York was instantly magical! Actually, quite the opposite, but there is time to get to all of that. Suffice it to say, the longer I stayed in the City the better I liked it and by Monday (weekdays bring the classic NYC experience into existence) I didn't want to leave. This week on the blog will be NYC catch-up week. I'll be featuring posts on trip-planning, on many places we ate, on the style-trends we witnessed, and of course many of the photos the official trip photographer (my sister) took of our misadventures. That being proposed, here are suggestions on

How To Get The Most Out Of Two Days In New York City*

  • Plan loosely but don't worry about scheduling.
Sarah and I had a list of sites we specifically wanted to see such as the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and breakfast at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court Restaurant, but we also left plenty of time for spontaneous exploration as well as options for changing our tentative schedule of events. The beauty of having a malleable schedule is this: one has time for unexpected detours and those detours are often some of the finest. Schedule things that need reservations (The Plaza or a Broadway show) and leave the rest tentative. You'll love the sense of freedom attending spontaneity. 

  • Carry a physical map
As helpful as it may be, don't rely completely on your phone's map apps. In certain places in the city (Times Square & environs) the signal is dodgy or your battery might drain and you do not need to be lost if you have a fold-up map! Also, there is something extra satisfying about navigating with a map in hand. Manhattan is built off a grid-like basis. You can do this. It's almost impossible to get lost, unlike DC. While your app works, however, use an app like TripAdvisor to help pin-point spots you don't want to miss!

  • Stay in Manhattan
Of course no one is going to fault you for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge or taking the (free) Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but if you're looking to make the most of your short burst of time, stay on the Island. There is so much to see and so much to do you won't get through it all. No need to go off-brand this trip.

  • Choose one thing on which to splurge
Maybe you have an endless budget like some of those women in Bergdorf Goodman's. If you do, I congratulate am woefully jealous of you. But for those of us who don't have a huge budget, pick one thing you'll go all-out on and spend your money there. For Sarah and I, that was breakfast at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court restaurant. A bucket list item for me and 100% worth the cost. NYC is one of those places where it's entirely okay to spend a little more on yourself than usual but instead of worrying about it, go whole-sale on one thing and enjoy the guts out of it. 

  • Familiarize yourself with the subway system
Before heading in, I wasn't sure if we would even use the subway system that much. However it soon became a mercy in cases, like Sunday, when we trekked from Midtown to the Financial District and Tribeca. Weekend service is all botched up so knowing the alternate subway routes and which head which direction is incredibly valuable and makes you feel like you actually know what you're doing when in reality you're really just hoping you don't have to transfer in a super sketch bit of town.

  • Get out of Times Square
Personally, I hated Times Square. It could have been the fact that it was a rainy weekend night when I saw the place, but the enormity of the flashing screens, and the mechanized feel of it all was overwhelming. I felt like we'd been thrown into a video game without consent and that if I bounced hard enough on the sidewalk I might win points and a bonus life (which incidentally might come in handy in the case of a mugging). It's important to see if only to say you've been there, but there are far better places to spend your time in New York City. I strongly urge you to give Times Square a quick trot-through and get your tail to the outlying parts of town where you'll get an idea of parts of the City where its residents spend their time. I recommend walking through Times Square on Seventh Ave., exploring the West Side Theatre District for a couple streets, then cutting East on W. 40th St till you hit Bryant Park. Order a Belgian waffle from Wafels & Dinges and check out the gorgeous New York Public Library. 

  • Get to know your surroundings

We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree Metropolitan on Lexington Ave. - a good part of town. Even so, it was helpful during the daytime to take note of the swiftest routes, cleanest side of the street, and spots with the least wait-time for crossings. This made our trips back to the hotel swifter and safer, allowing for more time seeing the City! No one wants to spend time avoiding traffic, construction, or beggars!

  • Wear comfortable shoes

People say this and you think you're obeying and then you walk thirty miles in three days (and we used the subway system several times!) and you realize you didn't take them seriously. Of all the shoes I bought, my espadrilles were the life-saver. They got wet every time it rained but dried fairly quickly and provided enough support to help with the crippled feeling every time I stood after sitting for a while.  

* we spent just over forty-eight hours in NYC and in that time were able to hit these sites at least once:

Little Collins (Australian coffee shop, Lexington Ave)
Central Park (twice)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (admission by donation)
Two Boots Pizza (Upper East-Side location)
Albertine (French-English bookstore and reading room)
Fifth Avenue
Tiffany & Co.
Dolce & Gabbana
Bergdorf Goodman
Michael Kors
The Plaza Hotel
The Palm Court Restaurant
Rockefeller Plaza & 30 Rock (three times, by the end)
Top of the Rock ($30, 360-degree views of Manhattan. Totally worth it)
Radio City Music Hall
Times Square
Theatre District (Hamilton, Finding Neverland, Aladdin, The Nederlander, etc.)
Shake Shack
Wafels & Dinges
Bryant Park
Paley Park
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Trinity Church
Staten Island Ferry (free: views of Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty)
Financial District & Federal Hall
FIKA (Swedish coffee shop)
Trinity Church (Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are buried here)
9/11 Memorial & Ground Zero
Joe's Shangai
Carnagie Deli (best cheesecake in town)
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Ground Central (coffee shop, chain)
Grand Central Station
New York Public Library (see original Winnie The Pooh stuffed animals here!)


  1. GAWSH...I've always wanted to go to NYC!!

  2. Looooove these ideas! I think you hit everything my dad and I did (plus a few more) - and in less time! Go you! :) SO glad you had a good time!


  3. Thanks for the tips, I plan to go someday.

  4. Wow, you were busy! : ) An exceptionally efficient trip.