The Perfect Day in New York City

There are countless ways to achieve a perfect New York City day. It depends, of course, on what you’re looking for and a bit of luck—and the biggest challenge may be to pace yourself. Here’s one route that hits many local favorites, from a hearty breakfast near the High Line to an intimate evening concert below the Brooklyn Bridge. Think of it as your very own New York marathon.

156 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
This Chelsea favorite turns out reliably satisfying farm-to-table American fare all day long. If you have a big day of sightseeing ahead, stop by for a hearty breakfast (buttermilk pancakes, huevos rancheros, or a bowl of kale, spinach, falafel and hazelnuts topped with a sunny-side-up egg). Next stop: The High Line.
210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
For much of its history, the western edges of Manhattan neighborhoods like the West Village and Chelsea consisted of small manufacturing buildings and warehouses that served the piers on the Hudson River. Over time, those factories were replaced with residential developments, and shipping largely moved out to Brooklyn and New Jersey. What remained, however, was an abandoned light-rail line, located above street level. After 10 years of lobbying the city, state, and federal governments, the first section of the High Line park opened in 2009. It now extends for 1.45 miles, from Gansevoort Street in the south to 34th Street at its other end. An innovative design by James Corner Field Operations uses native species to preserve some of the feeling the old rail line had when it was overgrown with weeds. It has quickly become one of New York’s most popular attractions, both with residents and visitors who stroll the length of it, as well as a model for other cities attempting to find new uses for old infrastructure.
99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, USA
For most of its history, the Whitney Museum, originally founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931, was located on New York’s Upper East Side, in the building that now houses the Met Breuer. In 2015, it reopened in a new, larger space designed by Renzo Piano in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The institution’s permanent collection is especially strong in works by leading artists from the first half of the 20th century, and as you might expect from its official name, American artists are particularly well represented—Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, and many others. Visiting exhibitions tend to focus on living artists who are still producing new pieces; the museum’s Whitney Biennial (now taking place in odd-numbered years) is arguably the preeminent showcase in the United States for young contemporary artists. In addition to the galleries, the building has a number of outdoor terraces dotted with sculptures and offering views of Lower Manhattan and the Hudson River.
271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014, USA
I have eaten a lot of pizza in my time, but Kesté is different. It’s been been firing up serious, foodie-level delicious pizza on Bleecker Street since 2009. Owner Roberto Caporuscio was born and raised outside Naples, Italy, where he studied the art of pizza making with the masters. His pizzeria has won accolades from national food critics, as well as pizza lovers. The 950-degree oven turns out perfectly-cooked pizzas—with bubbling, chewy, slightly burned crusts—in less than two minutes. The wide-ranging menu covers traditional pizzas, gluten-free options, panini (lunch only), and creative pies, including: Pistacchio e Salsiccia (pistachio pesto, sausage, pecorino romano, homemade buffalo mozzarella, basil); Pizza del Papa (butternut squash cream, red and yellow peppers, zucchini, imported smoked buffalo mozzarella); and Sorrentina (imported smoked buffalo mozzarella, sliced lemons, basil). My favorite is Salciccia e Friarielli (broccoli rabe and sausage with imported smoked mozzarella). The slight bitterness of the greens, the hearty sausage, and the smoky, creamy cheese on their trademark crust smells, looks, and tastes heavenly.
550 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA
If Fifth Avenue in Midtown is New York’s primary higher-end retail strip, with Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman as its anchors, the SoHo section of Broadway (between Houston and Canal) is its less glamorous sister, crowded with young shoppers pretty much every day of the year. Established chain brands have largely taken over, with Uniqlo, Banana Republic, and CB2 among those represented. In addition to them, there’s a downtown branch of Bloomingdale’s that tries to follow a more fashion-forward path than the Upper East Side mother ship. Also tucked between the familiar brands are a few bargain holdouts from the days when the neighborhood attracted students on budgets, selling T-shirts and jeans in no-frills, fluorescent-lit spaces. The shopping continues in both directions off of Broadway: Nolita, to the east, has more small, unique boutiques; head west, into SoHo, and you’ll find more-upscale brands than those represented on Broadway.
88 Franklin St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Part Roman bath, part Turkish hammam, part massage parlor—it all adds up to a restorative haven in the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. Aire is part of a chain that started in Seville, Spain, and every location is specially chosen to include an underground bath area comprised of stone and marble pools, treatment rooms, a hammam, and relaxation areas. The Tribeca building dates to 1883; all original architectural elements were restored and garnished with lanterns from Morocco plus marble from Spain. Old wood beams that could have been thrown away during construction were turned into beautiful benches and tables, and candles are the only source of light in most of the 16,000 square-foot space. A salt pool allows you to experience what many travel all the way to the Dead Sea for: effortless flotation. The Eucalyptus-scented hammam cleared out my head so I could leave with renewed vigor for the day’s writing projects. My massage, too, was worth every penny, though you can use the pools and steam room without being treated by a masseuse. And extendd hours (from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily) mean you can drop in even after a full day of work or sightseeing.
Church St, New York, NY 10006, USA
Designed to resemble a white dove taking flight, architect Santiago Calatrava’s superstructure sits atop a transit hub that connects the PATH train to many subway lines. It’s become a destination (and Instagram favorite) in its own right: As commuters hustle through the soaring transit hub, others take their time admiring the space, snapping selfies, and browsing the Westfield World Trade Center mall’s shops and cafés. For more inspiring views, head to the top of One World Observatory.
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is an engineering wonder and an architectural one as well, a masterpiece of design that has inspired acclaimed poets (Hart Crane, Marianne Moore), writers (Jack Kerouac), and painters (Joseph Stella). While Walt Whitman was left in awe by the bridge, his famous poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” was actually written during its construction. The bridge connected what were then two different cities—the five boroughs of New York would not be united into one city until 15 years later, in 1898. A stroll across the 6,016-foot-long bridge is a quintessential New York experience, taking you from near City Hall on the Manhattan side to Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and elegant, 19th-century town houses that have been lovingly preserved and restored. Come fall, the bridge promenade will be pedestrian-only so you won’t need to worry about cyclists ringing their bells furiously at you, thanks to a new dedicated bike lane on the Manhattan-bound side.
Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
You know a carousel must be quite special if it is the first to make the National Register of Historic Places. Jane’s Carousel, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, is truly unique. The fully-restored antique carousel from 1922 with 48 beautifully carved and painted wooden horses and 1,200 lights sits on the edge of the East River, nestled between the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg Bridges. In addition, the Carousel is housed in a modern glass pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel. The carousel originated in Ohio. In 1984, it was purchased and brought to Brooklyn for two decades of careful restoration before the pavillion opened to the public in 2011. The carousel is the perfect resting spot after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Release your inner child with a ride on the carousel ($2/ticket) and marvel in the breathtaking 180-degree views of Manhattan. Afterwards, hit Grimaldi’s Pizzeria up the block or the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a nearby landmark fireboat house. And on weekends in the warm months, visit Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn Flea Food Market with 100 vendors.
57 Stone St, New York, NY 10004, USA
Vintry is a small, cozy bar and restaurant in lower Manhattan. It provides a welcome counterpoint to the larger gathering spaces in the Wall Street area - it has the vibe of a discreet speak-easy. Vintry specializes in artisan producers of whisky and wine - they have carefully selected an interesting group of handcrafted libations. There are 80 wines from France, Italy, Spain, and the U.S. available in a “tasting” size, glass or bottle, plus hundreds of other wines by the bottle. There are also 100 whiskeys. Vintry’s specialties are cocktails from the house mixologist featuring homemade bitters and syrups. I don’t consider myself a whiskey drinker, but I absolutely loved the Gingerade, a shaken cocktail made with 13 Jameson black barrel Irish whiskey, fresh ginger extract, fresh squeezed lemon juice, fresh lime, Peychaud’s bitter, cane solution and ginger ale. It was ice cold, crisp, slightly sweet with a subtle twist of ginger and lime. DELICIOUS. This warm, dark, welcoming bar is easily the type of place where you can pass a good amount of time before realizing it. Vintry also has nicely prepared food - along the lines of veal meatballs and lamb ragu - to accompany its wine and whiskey list.
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