If you have just 1 day in New York, you have my condolences. The following will give you a small taste of what the Big Apple holds (and should convince you that you need to make a return trip!).
Start: 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.
1. The Empire State Building
Start your day with a Kong’s-eye view of the city. It will help you immensely to understand the layout and is a heckuva lot of fun (especially if you can skip the lines, which you’ll do by arriving first thing in the morning).
Walk uptown until you get to:
2. New York Public Library
You’ll recognize this building by the lion sculptures guarding its gates (see below). Step inside to see the grand interior; usually one or two free exhibits will be taking place, drawn from the library’s vast collections.
Continue walking uptown until you get to 48th Street, home to:
3. Rockefeller Center
There are scores of complexes across the U.S. housing a mix of offices and arts buildings, but none have the visual wallop of Rockefeller Center. That has partially to do with the harmony and grandeur of the Art Deco skyscrapers; and partially because there’s always so much to see and do here. You may just have time to stroll around, or, if you’re here in the right season, you could skate below the massive Christmas tree. I’d also recommend the tour of Radio City Music Hall or the NBC Tour. Since you’ve just come from the Empire State Building, it doesn’t make sense to go to the Top of the Rock, the observation deck of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center (but do so if you skipped stop #1). If you have time, stroll uptown on Fifth Avenue for primo window-shopping.
Hop a bus, or walk back downtown to 42nd and Fifth Avenue. Then walk east until you get to:
4. Grand Central Terminal
Before stepping into the station, take a look east towards Lexington Avenue and up, up, up you’ll see the famed scalloped spire of the Chrysler Building. Then enter the terminal, one of the most justifiably famous train stations in the world. If you have time, take the audio tour for insights into the building’s architecture and decor. Head downstairs to the Oyster Bar for lunch if you like seafood (take a peek at it even if you don't, as it's a lovely space) or head to the excellent Scandinavian food court The Great Northern Food Hall, offering most every cuisine known to man.
In the station are the 4, 5, and 6 subway trains. Grab one of them and head uptown to 86th Street. When you exit, walk west towards Central Park and then downtown until you come to:
5. The Metropolitan Museum
Since this is the largest museum in this hemisphere, and a wondrous one at that, you’re going to spend the rest of the afternoon here.
Walk back to the subway station, going downtown this time, back to 42nd Street where you’ll hop the S train to:
6. Times Square
Try and get your first glimpse of this famed square after the sun has set, when all the lights are glittering. Otherwise it looks a bit, well, tawdry. But when it's aglow and the crowds are pulsing, it can feel like the most exciting place on the planet. Hopefully you’ve gotten theater tickets in advance, the perfect capper for a day on the town.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.