Only One Afternoon in NYC - What to Do??

Updated on August 09, 2019
W.W. asks from Los Angeles, CA
16 answers

My 10 year old has never been to NYC. We are going to be there for exactly ONE afternoon (don't ask - long story). What should I do with him other than eat NY Pizza??! FYI - nothing with long lines, which probably rules out everything touristy... Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

Walk through central park, visit the 9/11 memorial, ride the staten island ferry (it's free and leaves every 30 minutes, great views including the statue of liberty) walk through Grand Central station, ride the subway.
Have fun, I love NY!!!

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answers from Houston on

Walk around or get on the hop on hop off bus. You can drive around the whole city and then get off and walk around. Its fun city to visit. Enjoy!

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answers from Atlanta on

My daughter and I had a similar situation when we visited NYC for a couple days in July. I asked our NY relatives for a walk which would give a feeling for the city as a place. Their suggestion was to start in Chinatown, walk through the remains of Little Italy, and then walk around Grenich Village (sat in Washington Park and listened to musicians, walked by the Stonewall Inn). It was a Saturday, so we got to see several street fairs and performing groups. Perfect experience! Another walk I love is to start on the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across it towards Manhattan. The views are stunning, and the pedestrian area has plaques explaining how they built the bridge. Personally, I'd stay away from any sights (memorials, museums, Empire State Building, etc) because while NYC has great ones, you can find those in any city. The ethnic diversity and feel of the streets in NYC is unique.

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answers from New York on

Just walk around! No need to go to anything specific. Some places we love: Walking around Rockefeller Center, going to the Lego store or the new FAO Schwarz, then up 5th Avenue to Central Park South; or Wandering around Times Square (though sometimes it is too crowded) - we had so much fun at Spyscape the last time we were there; or Heading down to the Financial District and walking over to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty, heading up to the 9/11 Memorial, maybe passing the cemetery at Trinity Church along the way (Alexander Hamilton and his wife are buried there), then going to the Oculus and getting sandwiches and gelato up at Eataly on the top level; Heading up to my Alma Mater at Columbia (116th and Broadway), going to the campus bookstore, checking out "The Thinker" on campus, then heading to Mondel's for chocolate, Tom's Diner for food and winding up at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to gawk (they're still building it and Madeleine L'Engle used to work there ("Wrinkle in Time"). All good! Have fun!

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answers from Abilene on

I loved Grand Central Station. The area architecture is incredible. They also have lots of neat venues to eat for people on the go so it won't take as long as a typical restaurant setting. We had dessert there when we visited and it was so good. If it's nice outside, walking in Central Park by the Metropolitan Museum is nice. You can also take a carriage ride in Central Park.

The ferry is a great option as others have stated if you want a free and easy way to see the Statue of Liberty. Times Square is crazy busy but has FAO Schwartz and other specialty shops.

My guys are pizza lovers (I don't care for it) and they thought some of the best pizzas were actually in the subway stations.

You can also go online to AirBnB and put in New York and then tap on experiences. There are locals who give walking tours and about any other thing you can think of. I've really enjoyed doing that recently because it's usually a smaller group (sometimes just 1 or 2) and you see the city with a local who always knows great tidbits about the area you're visiting.

Getting around in New York can be quite a challenge. I recommend either cabs or ubers so you can concentrate on enjoying what you're doing. Do map out the sites you plan to see to make sure it's something you can do. As others have stated, it takes a long time to get from Battery Park to Times Square, etc. Traffic there is crazy busy all the time.

Love NYC. You'll have fun and enjoy your time, even if it is short. Have a great time! :)

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answers from New York on

You talking say 12-3 or more like 1-8. Empire State Building. Tour NBC studios in Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock observation deck, Freedom Tower observation deck, Broadway show if enough time. Times Square is a nightmare. Gullivers Travel I think it’s called. West 44th St. It’s amazing. Each country did a mini replica of their country and sent it over. It’s unbelievable. Pizza. Johns Pizza West 44th street. It’s in an old church. Fine with stained glass. Best pizza in NYC. Hope this helps.

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answers from Harrisburg on

If you only have a few hours, I'd try to walk around 5th Ave, Times Square, Central Park areas. Visit the 9/11 Memorial area.
Maybe do a tour by boat or bus?

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answers from New York on

WOW! Where to begin.....

I am assuming that you will be in Manhattan.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry as a quick way to get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. You can get the schedule online, it is frequent. Just ride across the river and back.

As for pizza, with limited time you’ll need the best of whatever is closest to where you’ll be. You can certainly look online about “best” pizza options. Ordinarily I would recommend Juliana’s in Brooklyn but I doubt you’ll have time.

Go to the Cloud rooftop “bar” (kid-friendly) on the roof of 6 West 32nd Street and look up for a view of the Empire State Building.

But - if you want a good pizza, that will be a sit-down experience which is likely to take more than an hour. Good pizza places are busy with tourists too! You might need to just prioritize that, if that is important to you, and then see what else you have time for.

ETA: If you have enough time, plan in advance for the stuff Patty suggests (reserve a spot on a tour of Rockefeller Center, etc). As for walking around outdoors, that is very weather-dependent...we’ve had some very hot humid weather recently that would make a walk “around Central Park” pretty unpleasant. And these things are not close to each other - going from Central Park to the 9/11 Memorial is basically crossing Manhattan. (Also - John’s on 44th is not the best pizza, in my opinion, lol!) Long story short: if you arrive in Manhattan at noon and have to leave by 3pm, that’s basically time for a nice pizza lunch and not much else!

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answers from Miami on

My kids absolutely loved the American Museum of Natural History with all the dinosaur bones. They would spend hours there - couldn’t get enough of it! They also loved the Central Park zoo. I could barely get them to do anything else when we spent time in the city.

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answers from Norfolk on

Museum of Natural History would be where I would go.
I don't know what their lines would be like.

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answers from Washington DC on

central park, times square, FAO Schwartz!
have fun!
:) khairete

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answers from Washington DC on

If you are going in a few months and not tomorrow? I would arrange tickets for Ellis Island - if he's a history buff...

Central Park is fun - especially the pond.
Times Square - it's not really a "square" - lol but there's a Hershey Chocolate World shop there...
Rockefeller Center - FAO Schwartz is there and so is LEGO and a Nintendo shop...


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answers from Miami on

I was in the same scenario, due to a funeral. My friend suggested the Empire State Building. I loved it. We also visited the Ground Zero Memorial, walked around Battery Park, saw the stock exchange building facade, as well as entering some of the churches, riding the subway, and renting a car to drive through Times Square at night, when it was all lit up, passing by Central Park and the Dakota (we're both huge Beatles and John Lennon fans), and the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted to do the Statue of Liberty tour and Staten Island ferry, but the lines were too long and we didn't have time to fit that in, with all the other stuff we ended up seeing. We didn't even have a chance to eat. I would have loved to have seen Chinatown and eaten there!

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with going to a Broadway show. You can get cheaper tickets on line at some discount sites. My kids loved going to a show. We saw SpongeBob, which might be closed now, but it was hilarious and so cute. My kids were a little skeptical and they loved it. At 10 there are a lot of shows that would probably appeal to him.

My kids other favorite thing was Times Square. They enjoyed the shops and the lights and the craziness. The Hershey store was really fun and they got a gigantic s'more. They also liked going to Starbucks and riding the subway, lol! They felt very New York, haha! Oh and riding bikes in Central Park was also a hit. I made reservations but honestly it was kind of a pain. You should just go and find a place, it will be easier.

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answers from Cincinnati on

I like to start downtown. World financial center - winter garden. There is a big food court here as well. Or take ferry over from Hoboken and you can see Statue of Liberty. Both the Hilton and World Center / Club Quarters have views of ground zero. I just did a ‘view’ by of both and opted out of the longer tours.
Then get on subway- NY experience and go uptown to Times Square. Great to see.
Then go up to FAO Swartz- Rockefeller Plaza area. This is great for kids.
Walk Highline park and grab some food.
This will give you a feel of the city. And broadway show if you have time.

Other ideas- Empire State Building May have lines and need tickets in advance.
Circle line does river cruise around lower part of island and you can see Statue of Liberty etc.
There are lots of parks for kids- downtown to Central Park.
If your kids like this kind of stuff. The Natural History museum is great but can eat up a whole day.
Also Central Park and Central Park zoo ...
There is also a Sony technology museum? You have to make reservations in advance.
Noho - for shopping & restaurants.
Washington square park - for NYU feel and restaurants in West village.

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answers from San Diego on

See a Broadway show.

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