One Day in NYC Itinerary - Experience New York in a Day for Under $100

By Casey Makovich

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. There are so many exciting New York attractions to visit, so having only one day to explore the city can be challenging.

From museums and sightseeing to shopping and nature walking, fitting everything into just one day seems impossible. Fortunately, we’ve put together a one day in NYC itinerary to help you make the most of your one day in the city.

This one-day itinerary includes:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
  • Empire State Building Observation Deck
  • Chelsea Market & the High Line (free!)
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Spending more time in New York? Then take a peek at one of our sample 2 day, popular 3 day NYC itinerary, or for even longer stays - a week in New York City - enjoy!

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Stop #1: Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour

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A hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour with Big Bus, is one of the best ways to start your trip. This classic bus tour includes loops of Downtown and Uptown Manhattan.

On the Uptown Route, you'll see top sites like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madison Square Garden, 5th Avenue, Times Square, and much more.

On the Downtown Route, you'll enjoy sights of Broadway, Wall Street, glimpses of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and many top skyscrapers. 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.

There's also the option to enjoy pre-recorded commentary in 10 languages. This Hop On Hop Off bus tour is the perfect way to see the city with limited time. Plus, you can pick and choose which areas of the city you'd like to see.

Stop #2: Empire State Building

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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 -- be sure to bring your camera for panoramic views of the city. The only landmark you won't be able to snap is the Empire State Building itself!

Check out our guide for tips on visiting the Empire State Building Observation Deck before your visit.

Stop #3: Chelsea Market (Indoor Option)

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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. Chelsea Market is a must visit if you want to experience the city like a local, or if you're looking for unique gifts and souvenirs!

Stop #3: High Line Park (Outdoor Option)

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A rehabilitated stretch of elevated railroad track, the High Line spans about a mile and a half 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.

You'll enjoy fantastic views of the city and the Hudson River, so it's worth it just for the photo opportunities alone. Depending on whether or not you want to walk the entire length, it will take between 20-30 minutes of your time.

Check out this Top of the Highline and The Vessel Tour to get a deep dive into this cool area of the city.

Stop #4: 9/11 Memorial and Museum

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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.

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a moving experience that inspires and touches every single visitor.

Save on Attraction Admission

With a pass for New York with Go City, 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. Your 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.

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Visiting the 9/11 Themed Museums in New York City

September 11th is an important date in American history, and a particularly poignant one for New Yorkers. Many travelers to NYC hope to learn more about the life-changing events of that day, but aren’t sure which memorial is the most appropriate place to pursue this information. In honor of the tragic events of 9/11 that changed both the physical and cultural realities of NYC forever, a number of attractions have opened throughout the city. These attractions include the... 9/11 Memorial & Museum (the official memorial) 9/11 Tribute Museum Ground Zero Museum Workshop All of these attractions are available on the New York City Explorer Pass. Each offers a unique perspective on the events of September 11, 2001 and has something different to offer visitors. For more information about these three distinctive 9/11 attractions, continue reading below. 9/11 Memorial & Museum Located in the World Trade Center, this museum honors victims and heroes of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. Visitors have an opportunity to view an exterior memorial with twin pools and man-made waterfalls. These pools were constructed as a reminder of the Twin Towers that once stood in that same position. Victims of the attack have been honored with engravings of their names on the bronze panels near the pools, giving visitors an opportunity to pay tribute and to reflect upon their loss. The visit is further enhanced through archives, narratives, artifacts, and multimedia displays inside the Museum. Some of the key features tourists can expect at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum include: An Historical Exhibition that shows the events before, on that day, and after the attack. A Memorial Exhibition that honors victims of the attacks. An Art Exhibition that features artwork from 13 artists. Cover stories from The New Yorker, within the period of the terrorist attacks. Please keep in mind that the exhibits and photographs in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum can be graphic and upsetting for some people. Exercise your judgment when deciding whether to take young children through the exhibits. The exterior memorial features are appropriate for all ages. Admission to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is available on the New York City Explorer Pass. 9/11 Tribute Museum: Gallery Admission & Walking Tour A particular strength of this attraction lies in the walking tour, which is guided by someone with a personal connection to the 9/11 attacks, such as a first responder, a survivor, or a family member. The walking tour is included with a New York City Explorer Pass. The tour emphasizes the human element of this tragedy, and chooses to focus on the legacies of those who lost their lives rather than the political or social motivations for the event itself. A visit there is an opportunity to be inspired by their strength of character, and by the lives they’ve continued to touch after their passing. It’s a truly moving experience. This museum offers another perspective, with opportunities for travelers to learn about the devastating events of 9/11, facts on the unprecedented rescue operations, and the subsequent reconstruction of Lower Manhattan. Visitors will also have the opportunity to listen to personal stories from volunteer curators, who include firefighters, police officers, and survivors. Here are the available exhibits at the museum: Lower Manhattan: This small strip of land has served as a connection for people all over the world that engage in the trade of good and services and exchange of ideas that transform the world, on a local and international level. September 11, 2001 Gallery: Exclusive video footage shows the devastating after effects of the attack that forever changed our nation. The gallery also features photographs, artifacts, and audio-visual accounts of that day. Response and Recovery Gallery: This gallery highlights the brave efforts and sacrifices made by first responders and others who came to assist in the aftermath of the attacks. Story Telling Gallery: Here you’ll find moving stories from the families that lost their loved ones, as well as narratives from NYPD, FDNY, volunteers, and others. Remembrance Room: This is a striking space, housing over 2000 images that were chosen by family members to create a memorial for their loved ones. Rebuilding and Remembering Gallery: This gallery traces the efforts of a community and a nation that worked towards rebuilding and healing. Service to the World: Inspired in turn by the generosity and kindness with which the rest of the nation and the world treated NYC following the attacks, this exhibit space devotes itself to repaying those sentiments. Seeds of Service Gallery: This is a chance for visitors to offer support through donations and skills, and change our global community for the better. This museum is appropriate for visitors of all ages, but parents should exercise caution with younger children in the September 11, 2001 Gallery. Some of the images may be too graphic or unsettling. Admission to the 9/11 Tribute Museum: Gallery Admission & Walking Tour is available on the New York City Explorer Pass. Ground Zero Museum Workshop (GZMW): Hands-On 9/11 Tour Located in the Meatpacking District, this award-winning museum workshop is perhaps the best option for families looking for a chance to engage their children in a meaningful learning process about the 9/11 attacks. Rather than focusing on the events of 9/11, this workshop chose to showcase the 9-month recovery period after the attack. Stories are told through artifacts, images, and audio tours available in English, French, Spanish, and Italian. A particular benefit of this attraction is that the museum workshop is the only 9/11-themed museum that gives visitors a chance to interact with and hold real artifacts. Each tour at the Ground Zero Museum Workshop includes a guided encounter with artifacts introduced by a guide, a short film, and a self-guided audio tour for everyone. To make the audio tour realistic, the creators included sound effects from a Ground Zero video in 2001. Admission to the Ground Zero Museum Workshop: Hands-On 9/11 Tour is available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Katie Sagal

Things to do in Midtown

No visit to New York is complete without exploring Midtown. Situated at the very heart of Manhattan, the area is home to some of the city’s best cultural attractions, shopping opportunities, and dining spots. Spend the day shopping on Fifth Avenue or view the city from dizzying heights at the Empire State Building. Or, if you’re an arts lover, check out the Museum Mile or head uptown to catch a musical on Broadway. So, if you’re planning to make the visit, have a read through our guide of the best things to do in the area. With Go City, you can see more, for less. Explore the Area If you’re looking for the ultimate shopping experience, there’s no better place to be than Midtown. Stretching for six whole miles through the district, Fifth Avenue draws in millions of visitors each year – and with good reason! The street has much to offer, with popular flagships, upscale boutiques, and spectacular window displays, especially around Christmastime. Flanked with enticing attractions and buzzing with life, this major attraction delivers a shopping experience going way beyond our wildest dreams. Dive into the crowds, pick up a souvenir for your loved ones, and soak up the incredible atmosphere. Hey, what’s not to love? Though New York is most usually recognized for its towering skyscrapers and modern structures, the city is home to many beautiful historic buildings. An absolute must-see for history buffs and architecture geeks alike, St. Patrick’s Church is known as the biggest Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Occupying an entire city block, the venerable structure stands out amongst its neighbors with a real sense of authority and presence. Both the exterior façade and interior design of the church are incredibly fascinating, as they tell a whole lot about the city’s religious and architectural past. Still, the main draw of the site is its atmospheric underground catacombs, which showcase the intricacies of 19th Century art and innovation. One of our favorite things about Midtown is that there’s a surprise around every corner. Situated between Madison Avenue and Broadway, Koreatown (AKA ‘’Korean Times Square’’) is one of the best-kept secrets of the area. Here, visitors can enjoy interesting shops, great restaurants, and a vibrant sense of community. This small but sweet enclave would be the perfect place to grab a bite to eat after catching a show on Broadway. See the Sites It’d just be wrong to write about the Midtown area without mentioning the Empire State Building. A world-famous attraction and mainstay of New York City culture, the iconic tower is one of the most impressive highlights of the cityscape. Still billed as one of the tallest buildings in the world, this majestic structure grants captivating views of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, as well as five different states. We strongly recommend purchasing your tickets online ahead of time to cut down on your queueing time! Of all the things to do in Midtown, one of the area’s biggest draws is Grand Central Station. Infinitely more than just a train station and commuter’s hub, this iconic tourist magnet has long served as an emblem of New York City culture. This national historic landmark is perhaps best known for its beautiful architecture and unique history – its famous golden clockwork, intricate tilework, and swooping arches and most certainly a sight to behold. Those who are interested in learning more about the background of the building can take historical tours. In addition, the attraction packs over 100 dining and shopping vendors all under one roof! Midtown presents an incredible wealth of cool things to do, see and experience. Comprised of a whopping 19 commercial buildings and spanning over 22 acres, the Rockefeller Center is a fantastic stop for any first-time visitor. Whether you’re looking for live music, historical artwork, or live tapings of your favorite talk show, this is where you want to be. Catch a show at Radio City Music Hall, tour NBC Studios, and in the wintertime, take a spin on its world-famous ice rink. The world’s your oyster! Get Cultured New York is an art lover’s dream, with Midtown presenting some of the city’s top cultural institutions. Drawing in millions of visitors each year, the Museum of Modern Art is often recognized as one of the biggest and most influential institutions of its kind. Upon entrance, visitors can enjoy an expansive collection of over 200, 000 artworks across all mediums. Particular highlights include Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Salvador Dalì’s The Persistence of Memory and Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl. Looking for a memorable cultural experience? Look no further than Broadway! Situated on a popular thoroughfare of the same name, the notable theater is often considered to be the most influential playhouse in the United States. Unlike indie playhouses, the Broadway Theater runs classic crowd-pleasers which are sure to suit those travelling with friends or family. You can see famous shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge, and The Lion King. The theater is located on 53rd Street, with plenty of restaurants and bars just minutes away. Another one of our favorite things to do in Midtown is visit the Morgan Library. Formerly the private collection of financier J. Pierpont Morgan, this majestic repository is a total bibliophile’s paradise. Situated on Madison Avenue, this Italian Renaissance-style palazzo shelters the largest on-paper collection of art, literature and musical works in the United States. Particular standouts include one of 23 copies of the original Declaration of Independence, Charles Dickens’s manuscript of A Christmas Carol, and a signed manuscript of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. There are endless things to see, do and experience in Midtown. From the area’s world-class entertainment venues to its fantastic shopping destinations, dining spots and architectural landmarks, it’s essentially impossible to take it all in in just one visit. Whatever you choose to do, you won’t be disappointed; rather, you’ll struggle to fit it all in. Make the best out of your travel experience with our All-Inclusive Pass and Explorer Pass. If you’d like to know more, connect with us on Instagram and Facebook.
Sarah Harris

Visiting New York on a Budget - A Simple Way to Save on Your Vacation

Visiting New York on a budget can sometimes feel limiting when it comes to deciding what to see and do during your trip. But guess what, it doesn't have to be hard. The built in admission discounts and flexibility of a New York City Explorer Pass can help maximizes savings for any type of traveler. Here's a quick list of some popular attractions you can visit so that you can allot more of your New York vacation budget towards other things like lodging, dining, and more. Save on Admission to Tourist Attractions Admission to many of these New York City tourist attractions and are available on the New York City Explorer Pass. The New York City Explorer Pass give you the flexibility to choose as you go from dozens of top attractions to create a vacation tailored to your family's interests. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more. A few of the attractions include: Empire State Building Top of the Rock Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry American Museum of Natural History and more! Top Attractions to Visit for a Budget Friendly Trip Empire State Building Filled with various historical exhibits, restaurants, and shops, the Empire State Building has only grown over time as an essential stop for visitors to New York City. Up at the 86th floor observatory you will get to enjoy some awe-inspiring views of the city. For those interested in the history of the building itself, the Dare to Dream exhibit includes original documents, architectural sketches, and reproductions of photos and mementos from the workers that worked on this monument to the American Dream. Lower in the building, a new sustainability exhibit showcases the Empire State Building's groundbreaking sustainability initiatives. Getting In: Empire State Building tickets are an available option on the New York Explorer Pass Top of the Rock A legacy left by John D. Rockefeller, the Rockefeller Center was established as a place for business and community congregation. Aptly named, the Top of the Rock allows visitors to witness the urban scene from two indoor floors and an open air observation deck on the 70th floor. Indoors, the interactive Beam Walk lets visitors make their own version of the iconic photo of construction workers having lunch on a beam. For those who enjoy more luminous attractions, the Top of the Rock is also home to the "Joie", a fiber-optic illuminated chandelier crafted by Swarovski with over 14,000 crystals. Getting In: Top of the Rock Observatory tickets are an available on the New York Explorer Pass. Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Designated a National Monument in 1924, the Statue of Liberty stands tall as a universal symbol of freedom. For the past 80 years, members of the National Park Service have taken care of this gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States. During your visit, Park Rangers and volunteers can answer questions about the history of the statue, Ellis Island, and other portions of the area that you may take interest in. Getting In: Ferry tickets for Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island are an available on the New York Explorer Pass. American Museum of Natural History The American Museum of Natural History stands in New York City as a survey of the world's cultures, a manual of its plants and animals, and a window into the vastness of the universe. The museum houses 45 permanent exhibition halls with additional non-permanent exhibitions. Tours (both public and self-guided), programs, and resources are available for adults and children of all ages. To help plan your trip, the museum website also provides an official interactive map. Getting In: American Museum of Natural History tickets are an available on the New York Explorer Pass. THE RIDE A truly unique sightseeing experience, The RIDE is the perfect choice for those that wish to take in the streets of New York City. It combines the natural NYC backdrop with street performances, improvisation, and stadium seating in multi-million-dollar coaches. With interactive hosts and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, "You won’t be able to tell where the New York City streets begin and the show ends!" Getting In: THE RIDE NYC tickets are an available on the New York Explorer Pass. Fun Options to Visit During Your Trip: Even when visiting New York on a budget, there seems like no end to the places that you can take in. Here are some more suggestions for those with different tastes, or simply more time - each of which is available on the Explorer Pass. The Museum of Modern Art -An ever-expanding range of visual expression, including art in mediums such as sculpture, photography, architecture, and performance art. 9/11 Tribute Center & Tour - Exhibits which connect you to the events and aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy through stories, images, and film. Hop On Hop Off Uptown/Downtown Bus Tours - Tour bus routes that cover everything from Uptown to Brooklyn, with hundreds of stops to see and explore. Landmark Cruise: Circle Line Sightseeing - Sightseeing cruise that gets you a good look at the Statue of Liberty, the “Freedom Tower” at One World Trade Center, Ellis Island, and all three bridges that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. Yankee Stadium: Classic Tour - Stadium tour that includes the New York Yankees Museum, Monument Park, and additional sites based on season and availability. Free Activities for a Budget Friendly Vacation Central Park - The most frequently visited urban park in the United States, Central Park is 843 acres of history, design, and ecology. The High Line Park - A 1.45-mile-long urban park repurposed from a disused railway, with naturalized plantings and various cultural attractions. Battery Park - Home to the Castle Clinton National Monument, this park was named after an artillery battery the first Dutch settlers built to protect the harbor and New Amsterdam. Times Square - An icon of urban culture for over a century, you'll always be able to find an event or some form of entertainment at Times Square. Let's Recap on Visiting New York on a Budget There you go - a few great recommendations for things to do when visiting New York City on a budget. Remember, many of these great budget friendly attraction options and more are included on the New York Explorer Pass, where you can save up to 50% on combined admission vs paying at the gate. So when you are planning your trip, consider including some of these options to your New York City vacation itinerary.
Lindsay Eagan

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