How to Spend 48 Hours In New York City
“New York, New York”. “The Big Apple”. From mouth-watering food to shows on the West End, NYC is possibly the most iconic city in the world.
With a never-ending list of places to go and sights to see, you may face the critical question; how do I optimise a short visit to the city that never sleeps?
Our team of experts have collaborated to produce a show-stopper itinerary, designed to allow you to make the most of every moment in this vibrant city. So “start spreading the news” as Smaller Earth have provided you with the perfect way to spend 48 hours in New York City.
Day 1, 9:00am - Central Park
Central Park; the heart and soul of New York City. You’re guaranteed to discover your favourite spot, so grab some brekkie from a local café and watch the world go by. Central Park is a unique place encompassed by locals, tourists, dog walkers, musicians and everyone in between. Be sure to hire a bike or take a leisurely morning stroll around one of the most stunning parks in the world.
Smaller Earth recommendation: It’s no coincidence that Home Alone 2, Gossip Girl and The Avengers (just to name a few sources), feature the historically stunning Bethesda water fountain. You should rent a boat, paddle around the Central Park lake and fully succumb to the magical views of the fountains.
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Day 1, 2pm - 5th Avenue, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park
Head towards the Lower East Side on your way out of Central Park and you’ll stumble upon 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. Home to Trump Tower and the iconic Tiffany’s, you’ll be exposed to luxurious stores and hotels so (if your bank card can afford it) why not treat yo’self?!
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, you should definitely check out Grand Central Terminal Station. Famous for grandeur, Grand Central’s marble stairs, impressive high ceilings and giant clock in the main terminal are all must-sees.
Smaller Earth recommendation: The Whispering Gallery is one of Grand Central Stations hidden secrets (precisely why we love it so much)! Be sure to grab a friend, stand at opposite diagonal arches in front of the Oyster Bar and you’ll uncover some unique acoustics. Hint: whisper into the wall you’ll be able to hear each other.
After all that walking, if you’re anything like us, you’ll be craving a nice cold beverage. With delicious smoothie bars and reasonably priced lunch spots nearby, you should head over to Bryant Park- you may even catch a movie being screened or live musicians playing!
Day 1, 6:00pm, Top of The Rock, Broadway, Times Square
As twilight draws nearer, head up 6th Avenue to The Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Plaza Center. Guaranteed to get a perfectly Instagramable photo, you’ll see incomparable views of the New York City skyline and experience both day and night views of Central Park and the Empire State Building.
Now, let’s be honest, have you actually been to NYC if you haven’t experienced a Broadway show?! Book in advance to get the best deals on tickets and, no matter what show you choose, the magic of a Broadway performance is sure to blow you away.
Smaller Earth recommendation: For the full theatre experience, you should grab dinner before your show at Ellen's Stardust Diner. With the waiting staff made up of Broadway understudies and performers in between show contracts, you’re in for a dining experience like no other!
After the show, it’s time to hit Times Square! From the city lights and iconic billboards to the constant buzz of people, you’ll understand why people call New York the ‘city that never sleeps’.
Day 2, 8am - The Highline
Rise and shine! It’s day 2 already and there’s so much more to see of the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of” (thanks for the quote Alicia). So put on your comfiest pair of ‘sneakers’ and head to The High Line for a unique morning stroll. Less well-known amongst tourists, this elevated railway track has been transformed into a public park with stunning greenery, featuring seasonal food vendors and budding artists.
For breakfast, depending on which end you’re nearest to, you should check out the Chelsea or Soho market for some authentic NYC food.
Day 2, 2pm - 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty
The 9/11 memorial and museum is a sobering experience, but a NYC must-see nonetheless. You can wander the silent gardens and stand by the giant fountains where the two World Trade Center towers once stood.
Take a stroll through Lower Manhattan until you reach the Whitehall Terminal. Yep, you guessed it… it’s time to see the Statue of Liberty! Hop onto the free Staten Island Ferry for an hour round trip where you’ll get an awesome view of the Statue without paying a cent.
Day 2, 5pm - Wall St, Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo
Jump on the subway from South Ferry to Wall St and you’ll find yourself in the centre of the financial district (‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ fans, eat your heart out)! From here you can wander down to the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. Be sure to take your camera as you stroll down the walkway, taking in the breathtaking skyline of NYC.
You should walk along the Brooklyn Bridge until you cross into DUMBO; one of NYC’s upcoming, cosmopolitan districts.
Smaller Earth recommendation: We know New York City is famous for it’s $1 pizza slice, so it would only be right to introduce you to our favourite pizza joint. Grimaldi’s is one of the oldest pizza parlours in the city, so grab a slice (or 3) to take away and we’ll let your tastebuds say the rest.
There’s no better way to end your evening than watching the Manhattan skyline light up the sky as night starts to fall. Head past Jane’s Carousel towards the hustle and bustle of Main St Park. Fancy a sweet treat? Grab some award-winning ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, take a seat and reflect on your incredible 48 hours in NYC.
Where to stay in NYC?
Airbnb allows you to rent out people's apartments and rooms for short periods of time. They are often cheaper than hotels and provide a variety of amenities to live like a local. You can even download the app to make life even easier!
Hostel International New York Located on Manhattan’s famous Upper West Side, HI NYC is minutes from Central Park and the main subway line to everywhere. With very reasonable prices, free wi-fi, kitchen & laundry facilities and lockers this is a great option for budget backpackers.
Hotel prices vary depending on availability, time of year and location. Check out booking.com, lastminute.com, laterooms.com & Trivago to find a hotel that works best for you. Location-wise, we’d suggest that you choose an area that isn’t too far from Times Square so that you’re not constantly catching taxis to visit the must-see attractions.
Smaller Earth Top Tips
Bring a water bottle to fill up at local water fountains. NYC is a hot hot hot and a bottle of water can cost you $2 every time you get thirsty!
If you're extending your visit then it's worth getting a weekly metro pass for $30. You can use your pass to get back to the Airport if you're flying from JFK and save $15 - $45 on the shuttle bus or a taxi ride.
Wear comfortable shoes for a lot of walking, fashion is cool but blisters and sore feet aren't.
Don't forget to tip! Make sure you have plenty of $1 bills.
Learn the subway system, it's easier than it looks and it might save you walking 145 blocks to your next attraction.