New York is the largest city in the U.S., and one of the most exciting, fast-paced, diverse and expensive cities in the world. If you only have one day, skip the major museums and travel through Downtown and Midtown New York.
Arrive (10 am)
Bolt Bus and Amtrak/NJ Transit/LIRR stop at Penn Station, Mega Bus a little farther south, Greyhound Buses at Port Authority and Metro-North trains at Grand Central. This tour starts at 34th St. and 8th Ave.
Walk east on 34th St. to Broadway, and go to the glass-clad Manhattan Mall on 33rd St. Take the escalator to the top floor and walk down the hall. On the right are clean and convenient bathrooms. Back outside, stop in Macy’s — “The World’s Largest Department Store.”
Chinatown and Little Italy
Take the subway’s yellow N/Q/R/W line downtown (towards Brooklyn) to Canal Street. Buy a MetroCard with $4.50 for each person or one MetroCard with $9 ($2.25/fare).
Canal Street is packed. Walk south on Broadway (traffic goes south) for 3 blocks and turn left on quiet White Street and continue to 65 Bayard Street: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
Walk back to Mott Street, the original heart of Chinatown. Wander around the small shops, then walk north on Mott back to Canal. Walk left for a block and turn right onto Mulberry Street.
Mulberry Street is the traditional heart of the rapidly shrinking Little Italy. Eat lunch. Walk north on Mulberry and turn left on Grand Street, then right on Broadway. Shop in Pearl River Mart at 477 Broadway (Grand/Broome).
SOHO and The Village
Continue north on Broadway, you’re in SOHO — a shopping district with clothing stores and upscale galleries.
Relive your childhood in the Scholastic Store at 557 Broadway (between Spring and Prince). Keep walking north on Broadway to Houston Street, cross Houston and to your left there’s an entrance to the Silver Towers complex, designed by I.M. Pei; in the middle is a Picasso sculpture.
Walk diagonally-left to Bleecker Street. In the 1960s this was Downtown’s music scene, and The Bitter End is a famous music club. Walk north on the quiet LaGuardia Place to Washington Square Park. Enjoy the buskers, street performers, chessplayers and pot dealers.
You’re in Greenwich Village — the center for bohemian culture in the 1920s, the Beats in the 1950s, Hippies in the 1960s-70s and Punks in 1970s-80s…now it’s the campus for New York University. Eat dinner on MacDougal Street, Waverly Place, 8th Street or Astor Place. Hop on the subway at 6th Avenue and West 3rd or West 8th Streets.
Rockefeller Center and Times Square
Ride the orange B/D/F/M uptown to 47th-50th Streets Rockefeller Center. On 50th Street, pass Radio City Music Hall and walk east and go inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a quick tour. Walk south to 47th Street — New York’s Diamond District — and then west over to Broadway.
Columbus Circle and Central Park
Take the orange B/D or blue A/C uptown to 59th Street-Columbus Circle. Walk quickly through the corner of Central Park, peek inside The Plaza of Eloise fame, and sit inside Columbus Circle.
Walk south on Broadway to Times Square. Many New Yorkers hate Times Square, but I love the crowds, the mixing of ethnicities and languages, and the larger-than-life attitude. It may be becoming a giant Disneyfied mall, but it’s also much safer than ever before.
Now that Broadway is an incredible pedestrian plaza, gaze at all of the video billboards. Take your photo while on the amazing new TKTS Staircase.
Go inside the Toys ‘R Us at 44th and Broadway (Sun-Thu until 10 pm, Fri-Sat until 11 pm). The main attraction is the 60-foot-tall indoor Ferris Wheel ($4/ride), though there are also an animatronic T-Rex, lifesize Barbie house and a mini Legoland. After this, walk south to Penn Station, west to Port Authority or east to Grand Central. [End of Day One]