Stopover Guide: 24-Hours In New York City

11 March 2015

Words by Anna Howard

New York, New York; it's unmistakable. The city is a global powerhouse and absolutely brimming with culture, arts, fashion and culinary appeal. It's where dreams are made.

You couldn't see it all in a month or even a year, let alone in one day. But if you're flying through and only have one day to spare in the City that Never Sleeps, we've got all the bases covered over 24-hours.

New York City's biggest gateway, JFK, sees 29 million passengers pass through its terminals each year and onwards to the big smoke. You've got a few choices to Manhattan from here: the AirTrain, which easily connects you to the subway, a flat-rate cab ride to anywhere in Manhattan for $50USD (approx and plus tolls), private car service, or the NYC Airporter bus to Penn Station, Port Authority or Grand Central Station ($29USD approx round trip).

When it comes to accommodation, there are almost 70,000 hotel rooms to choose from. Spoilt for choice is an understatement.

Hotel Beacon is a fine option on the Upper West Side. Rooms are wonderfully spacious, oversized in fact, and all award stunning views of the Hudson River or Central Park. Though it might not sound like much, the hotel has its own laundry room – a huge drawcard for anyone transiting home.

If lower Manhattan is more your flavour, consider The Gansevoort Meatpacking, the city's first luxury, full service resort. It's a chic retreat in the Meatpacking District, with 186 ultramodern hotel rooms, including 22 suites and one incredible presidential duplex. You could easily spend your entire time at the hotel enjoying the spoils of your abode, lapping up the city and Hudson River views from the rooftop pool and lounge/bar or enjoying alfresco dining at The Chester.

There's a lot to see so you'll really need to hit the ground running if you want to tick off a few things off your sightseeing list.

For something a little different, the High Line is an elevated former railway cum urban park in Chelsea. Its appeal originally stemmed from the natural plantings that sprouted on the disused tracks and views over the river; however, the High Line has evolved to feature cultural attractions like performances, installations and parties.

It would be remiss if you visited New York and didn't stop by Central Park. There are over nine kilometres of walking tracks for cyclists and joggers to explore, as well as iconic sights like the Great Lawn and Bethesda Fountain to see.

In keeping in theme with the must-dos of New York City, ten minutes' walk from Central Park is Rockefeller Centre. This historic landmark is packed with stores and restaurants, but the real drawcard is 70 stories up.

Top of the Rock is one incredible viewpoint offering spectacular 360-degree vistas – day and night – of one of the world's most recognisable cities.

But that's not where the views begin and end. There's a plethora of rooftop bars that will see you well into the night with a cocktail in hand.

Top of the Standard, as its name suggests, is on top of the Standard Hotel. Also known as the Boom Boom Room, the club is one of the most exclusive in the city. There's a curfew for those who aren't on the evening guest list, so if you've got any contacts in NYC that can get you on the door, it's well worth making a call.

If that all sounds like too much trouble, Upstairs at the Kimberly is a favourite among the Midtown work crowd. The bar is a relaxing rooftop oasis amid the concrete jungle suitable for all seasons thanks to a retractable roof.

Liquid nourishment aside, New York is heaven for foodies. There are over 25,000 restaurants in New York City alone, and without taking into consideration new establishments that pop up, it would take you about 23 years to dine at every single one.

Buddakan, The Spotted Pig, Spice Market and Eataly are perennial favourites and well worth popping into for a bite.

No doubt you'll pass street vendors on every corner block, but none perhaps are more famous than the Halal Guys. They've grown from food cart to franchise in a matter of years, with six carts and eateries spread over the city, including W. 53rd Street & 6th Avenue. You won't miss them; just look for the line snaking around the block manned by security guards. A box of their chicken, rice and accompaniments will leave you with plenty of change from $10USD.

On the other end of the scale, if you really want to make your 24-hours special, book well in advance for the tasting menu at Thomas Keller's world-renowned Per Se restaurant, or the culinary theatrics of 11 Madison Park.

When you're sufficiently cultured, nourished, watered and rested, head back with enough time to check out the terminals and do a spot of duty-free shopping at JFK. Or simply check yourself into one of the airport lounges and relax before your next destination. 

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