24 Hours In NYC
Some may say that a day isn’t enough for New York, and I’m inclined to agree. However, if you’re somewhat local, (it can be as little as an hour and a half away from Philly!) it’s doable. While there are a lot of attractions to visit and sights to see—especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas—if you don’t care about or have already done the “touristy” things, you can have an enjoyable 24-hour trip. After all, some of the best trips happen when you’re only keeping loose plans. So, what to do, where to eat, and what to see on a short trip to New York? My advice is to take it easy and pretend to be a local.
For my one-day trip to New York, I stayed at The Williamsburg Hotel. (Not sponsored: I paid.) While I usually like to stay at Airbnbs when I travel, this trip was a splurge. A room can run you $400+ so it’s not exactly a cheap stay, but it’s also in a great area with a lot of restaurants, plus they have complimentary bike rentals. (More on that in a bit.)
It was tastefully decorated, and I LOVED Harvey—the restaurant in the hotel lobby. I started the trip with a Pina Colada featuring a CBD-infused liqueur and smoked coconut flakes on top. It was perfect and gave me just the amount of chill I needed after Thanksgiving. (Not exactly the most relaxing holiday—who else agrees?)
After checking in to the hotel and having a drink, I spent some time on the terrace adoring the views of Manhattan across the East River. If you’re debating whether you should or should not get a room with a terrace, I recommend doing so. It’s a nice space to watch the glistening lights of New York City before bed, or to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee in the unexpectedly tranquil quietness of a Sunday morning in Brooklyn. If you’re not from around here or don’t know too much about Brooklyn, it’s one of New York’s five boroughs. It’s a short subway trip/drive away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, separated by the a river and connected by a few bridges and tunnels. It’s a bit more peaceful, with some more space. It’s good if you’re prone to anxiety and want the New York experience without being too overwhelmed. It will always hold a special place in my heart, especially because it reminds me so much of my home in Fishtown.
If you’re arriving to New York via Penn Station, it’s quick, easy, and under $3 to get to Williamsburg, Brooklyn by the subway. Just grab a Metro Card and take any train heading to 14th St, get off at that stop, and grab a Canarsie-bound L train to the Bedford stop.
New York is known for its night life. Whereas the laws in Philly require bars and clubs to close by 2AM, New York as no such laws, so folks don’t go out until 11PM or midnight. I’m a homebody and love my early evenings so I made reservations kind of early. (5PM, to be exact.) There are—unsurprisingly—a lot of great restaurants in Brooklyn, so narrowing one down was tough, but I settled on Modern Love, a vegan restaurant about a 20-minute walk from the hotel. I got a peach iced tea and Hen of the Wood Piccata. I gotta say, it was one of the best dinners I’ve had in my entire life. Sometimes I think about it when I feel like there’s no good left in the world (Yup. That good.)
After dinner, I sat in bed for a bit and watched TV while I digested. Plus, it just feels good to put the hotel A/C on as high as it can possibly go then snuggle up under all of the blankets. Deciding that I needed to go out, I wandered to the nearby Kent Ale House. It was nice and surprisingly lowkey. They had a large selection of beers, of which I chose a sour. Definitely not the kind of bar I’d go to in Philly, and not what I expected in Williamsburg, but I’m not much of a nightclub person, and after what might as well have just been an early bird special, I wanted something low-stress and quaint. It was exactly what I needed.
Before bed, I got late-night delivery from Sage and ate it in bed while watching the Food Network. (Pretty much my ultimate act of self-care.)
In the morning, I slept in (7AM… that’s sleeping in for me…) then headed down to the lobby after getting dressed. As mentioned before, the hotel offers complimentary bike rentals, which I knew would be perfect for a trip to DUMBO. If you’ve never heard of DUMBO, it stands for “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass,” and it’s kind of an Instagram-famous location. Getting there on bike from Williamsburg takes about 20 minutes.
You can’t wander down Washington Street without bumping into dozens of bloggers and aspiring influencers posing on the cobblestone streets. When I’m in the area, of course I like to snag a quick pic myself, (I mean, come on: the scene is iconic) but the REAL gem is if you head down Washington and make a left on Plymouth: you get a gorgeous perspective of the Brooklyn Bridge, and there are to nearly as many people taking photos. Not as ‘grammed, but just as ‘gram worthy. What would a leisurely bike ride be without a stop for coffee? Brooklyn Roasting Company has a quaint little storefront right on Water Street, complete with good brews and a mix of regular and vegan baked goods. I grabbed a cold brew and vegan banana nut muffin and headed on my way.
Obviously, a trip to New York would simply not be complete without pizza, and no trip to New York for me would be complete without Vinnie’s Pizza specifically. The vegan Black Bean Taco pizza is absolutely everything, if you get it, (with the vegan chicken option) I guarantee you will not be disappointed. While the shop is cute enough, it was an unseasonably nice day so I enjoyed the pizza in McCarren Park. I watched some grown men play softball badly and saw approximately 14 dogs of varying sizes.
Since I had to go back to Penn Station anyway, I decided to spend the last few hours of my trip in Manhattan, which was as simple as hopping back on the L train and heading to Union Square. I love the Flatiron neighborhood, which is a close walk. I love walking about with no real plans or itineraries—I feel like that’s how I’ve found most of my favorite places. There’s so much going on in Manhattan that you can just walk and walk and walk and not realize where you are or how far you’ve been . Doing so intentionally is ideal, which is just what I did. I walked. I explored.
The last thing I did before walking back to Penn Station and heading home was, of course, a coffee stop. (After all, I was super active on this trip, walking or biking many miles in high-heeled boots.) I checked Google Maps and settled on Birch.
Rather than coffee, I opted for the iced Toasted Almond Tisane, which I have to say is probably one of the best beverages I’d had in a long time. Perfectly refreshing and naturally sweet! A great ending to a great trip.
My 24 hours in New York were equally relaxing and energizing. It was exactly the creative boost I needed, as I was in a bit of a slump beforehand. Though I love Philly, sometimes it feels good to get out and push the reset button. To be in a place where nobody knows who you are does wonders for the creativity. Plus, it’s New York. It’s legendary, and with good reason. I’m already planning my next trip back, including more art galleries and hopefully some local music!