All the best memories I’ve had in New York aren’t the classic tourist traps, but when you string them all together with a lot of wandering, you can quite easily put together a patchwork, a perfect day in New York.
Sandi Toksvig once said that one of the amazing things that happens in New York is that the very rich and the very broke eat in the same places. For this reason, you can find some fantastic breakfast places for very cheap. I’d recommend finding an Italian cafe or a unique Jewish Bagel bar, and getting some carbs. You’ll need them, because even though you can get the metro around the city very easily, Manhattan is such an amazing place to walk through.
Start off by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. Even though you will have to get the Metro back, the views across the East River are amazing. My Dad has spent 20 years travelling to New York, and after doing almost everything a tourist can do in the city, the Brooklyn Bridge is his absolute favourite. Brooklyn is an interesting place, but not as easy as Manhattan to be a tourist, so feel free to take the metro back to Times Square, and check out the billboards.
For Lunch, there’s only one place you can go, Hell's Kitchen. While this beautiful suburb might have been hell when it was run by the Mob in the 1930s, these days it’s full of great places to eat, and a weird blend of hard American Italians and Hipsters.
From there, you can easily check out Greenwich Village and the site of the Stonewall riots, or walk along the High Line, a former railway line turned garden in the sky.
If you want a slightly more touristy afternoon, you could spend your time walking around Central Park. Not only is it beautiful, but the John Lennon Memorial Garden and the Dakota Building are an essential pilgrimage site for any Beatles fan. Or, you could check out the Museum of Modern Art, one of the best art galleries in the world. Afterwards, head back to your hotel and take a nap, you’ve deserved it. You're also going to need it.
In the Evening, head to Dizzy’s Club on Columbus Circle. I don’t listen to Jazz, but I’ve heard it said a few times that in order to enjoy Jazz, you need to be in the room; and my only real experience of it certainly reinforces this for me. The live band playing, the views of Columbus Circle and the Manhattan Skyline, and the food, are all fantastic. If you get tired of it, wander down to Times Square. It’s only a 15 minute walk, and there are plenty of bars and wonderfully terrible but endearing ‘Irish Pubs’.
You won’t have climbed the Empire State Building, or seen the Statue of Liberty, or the 9/11 Museum, but you will have seen a side of New York which is difficult for tourists to see, and had a genuinely fun day, in the city that never sleeps.