We’re going to be completely honest with you: 24 hours is not enough time to get under the skin of New York City. But then, nor would 24 days be, or even 24 years. The truth is that this is truly one of the most dynamic places in the world. Every time you think you have its character pinned down, it turns and reveals a whole new side. People who have spent their entire lives in New York City are still engaged in an ongoing process of learning about it, as it shifts and changes and discloses hidden secrets that have been there all along.
However, having said that… a day in New York City is enough time to pack in some headline sights and experiences that will give you a real flavor of the place. There are some things you just need to do when you go to New York City.
Read on for a look at a selection of spots sure to help you get to grips with New York City, no matter how short on time you are. All of them can be seen via our ultra-flexible New York City Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tours, which put you in control and take in ferry rides as well as a free night tour. The 48-hour tour ticketis perfect for a flying visit, but the 72-hour ticketis a great choice too if you do have more than just a day.
Whichever ticket you choose, your whirlwind romance with New York City starts here.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Is it the single most famous sight in New York City? Or even the most famous sight in the world? This is a city full of iconic views, so it’s got some steep competition, but there’s no denying that the Statue of Liberty is the first image that springs to mind for many when they think of the USA.
Learning about the role immigrants have played, and continue to play, in shaping New York City’s identity is essential to understanding the place. Take a ferry trip out to Ellis Island, where over 12 million immigrants were processed on their way into the city between 1892 and 1954. After visiting the fascinating museum here, step aboard the ferry again to head onward to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty awaits.
The Empire State Building
Probably on a par with the Statue of Liberty for sheer recognizability is the Empire State Building. Completed in 1931, the one-time tallest building in the world has long been a symbol of New York City’s prosperity. Its classic Art Deco design channels the spirit of the early 20th-century golden age of the city, and it’s made countless appearances across film and TV.
Over the past few decades, it’s been usurped in the height stakes by buildings both in the city and elsewhere. However, a trip to its 86th-floor observation deck is still a New York City must-do and offers one of the best panoramas of this unmistakable skyline.
This is the hub of so much of the action in New York City, and not just because it sits at the converging point of several neighborhoods packed with major attractions. An endless round of open-air concerts, festivals, and other events take place here through the year – think everything from Shakespeare in the Park to the huge Roundhouse and Summerstage music festivals.
But in addition, there’s plenty of opportunities to relax here in a less structured way. Take to the Lake on a boat, sunbathe on the Great Lawn, ride the carousel or meet the animals in the zoo. Visit the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields, dedicated to John Lennon, and quench your thirst for beauty and the spectacular Metropolitan Museum of Art. But most importantly of all, settle into the pace of life in New York, as you encounter locals doing everything from walking their dogs to practicing their juggling.
New York City by Night
New York City after dark is a totally different animal. Until you’ve seen the tens of thousands of glittering lights of the night-time skyline in New York or the ever-changing screens of Times Square standing out bright against the darkness, it’s hard to grasp the sheer scale of the city’s wonder.
As part of our Hop-On, Hop-Off tours, you’ll get a free night-time bus tour, taking in all the major sights that are at their best after dark. These include Madison Square Garden, the Rockefeller Center and, of course, Times Square. And, as the route crosses from Manhattan into Brooklyn, you’ll also get some stunning views of the illuminated Brooklyn Bridge.
If you’re ready to get to know New York City, take a look at our full range of New York City tours now.