48 Hours in New York City
The beauty – and madness – of New York City is that there's so much to do all the time that everyone's experience will be different. If you're looking to do all the tourist attractions, then this isn't your guide - any Google search will give you the heavy hitters. But if you want to experience New York like a local, then this born-and-bred Queens girl will give you some tips.
A word to the wise: if you've only got 48 hours in the Big Apple, then you need to hit the ground running in order to keep up with this fast-paced city. Whatever you do, keep moving – New Yorkers cannot stand it when someone is (literally) in their way.
Before you go: I would recommend checking out Time Out New York online, so you have an idea of any gigs or performances you might want to get tickets for.
Pre-9am Are you an early bird and hoping to see a TV show being filmed? Well, you can try to score standby tickets to the weekday taping of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” by lining up outside the NBC Marquee on 49th Street (below) or you could wander over and be part of “The Today Show” crowd outside in Rockefeller Plaza; in the summertime, they put on concerts so you might just see a favourite artist for free.
Either of these options puts you in the same area as the Top of the Rock Observation Deck (open 8am-midnight, daily), so you might as well head on up to see the sights (the queue shouldn't be too bad at this time of day either). Wondering what the view's like from the top? Just look at the main picture on this page.
There’s no way you can go to New York and not have a bagel. Head to Ess-a-Bagel and taste exactly why these New York bagels are the best you'll ever eat. It's worth the wait, I promise.
As mentioned, I didn't grow up in Manhattan, but rather, one of the other boroughs that together make up New York City. I'm talking Queens, the most international county in the country and the US destination that Lonely Planet named number one in 2015. Head to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria (a 15-minute subway ride from Midtown) if movies and television are your kind of thing; the museum has over 1,400 artifacts, from 19th-century optical toys to video games, plus lots of interactive experiences and changing exhibitions.
For art lovers, head to the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park; the site of two World's Fairs, this park is recognisable by the giant steel Unisphere. The museum not only has over 900 pieces of memorabilia from the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, it also has a visually stunning panorama of NYC featuring every building built before 1992 in all five boroughs.
Ready for some afternoon tea and scones? Head back to Manhattan and stake your claim for a table at Alice's Tea Cup. They've got three locations, but the easiest from Queens is the E. 64th Street one. I highly recommend trying the almond tea.
Depending on the time of year, you'll either want to take a brisk walk or a casual stroll in Central Park (below). Did you know that Sir Joseph Paxton's design of Birkenhead Park in Merseyside is rumored to have been the model for Central Park? Speaking of Merseyside, you can find New York's homage to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields, a 2.5-acre area located between 71st and 74th Streets and Central Park West.
Time for a pint or two, you say? Time to head down to the East Village and grab a drink at McSorley's Old Ale House. Opened in 1854, this is the oldest continuously operated bar in NYC and gives its punters the choice between two beers: light or dark. The burgers are pretty good too.
The night is young. Go out and find your muse. If you find yourself drawn to the lights of Times Square (something us natives try our best to avoid), my favourite bar in the area is O'Lunney's on 45th Street between 6th and Broadway. It’s got a great atmosphere, fantastic beer selection and you can actually hear your drinking companions.
Start the day on the Upper East Side. Go back in time and step into Lexington Candy Shop (below), open since 1925. In addition to typical breakfast items, you can choose from a variety of American-style pancakes including chocolate chip, blueberry and banana. I encourage you to get a chocolate egg cream (basically a fizzy chocolate milk) to go for the next part of the journey.
Depending on how much you want to cram into your last day, you can either stay in Manhattan or head to the Bronx. If you stay in Manhattan, it's worth checking out the Tenement Museum (below) to see what life was like for immigrants back in the 1800s; guided tours take 1-2 hours and there are a few to choose from.
If you've got the kids along and want to spend a few hours checking out the sprawling Bronx Zoo, you can take the 5 train from 86th Street/Lexington Avenue. (Do not, I repeat, do not waste your time at the tiny Central Park Zoo.)
Time to head down to Battery Park and see the Statue of Liberty. Rather than pay for a tour, act like a commuter and take The Staten Island Ferry; it's free and you'll be able to get great pictures of Lady Liberty as well as the NYC skyline.
If boats aren't your thing, you can also relax and drink at Pier A Harbor House, which has an awesome vantage point. If you're feeling a little peckish, bring your party to Fraunces Tavern, a Colonial American tavern dating back to 1762.
Need a book for the plane ride back? Head uptown to the Union Square stop and walk to The Strand, which boasts 18 miles of new, used and rare books, so there's something for everyone in your party. While in the area, have a bite to eat at Haru Sushi. Their crunchy spicy salmon rolls are excellent.
Head to The Bitter End to round out the evening (and your trip) with some live music.
NYC traffic can be horrendous thanks to parades, visiting dignitaries, construction and just daily rush hour, so the subway is usually your fastest – and definitely cheapest – option. There are MetroCard vending machines at each station; some do not take cash.
This post originally appeared on Travelzoo UK’s blog