48 Hours in New York City

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Outlining an itinerary for an epic summer weekend in the Big Apple

New York City is not the kind of place you can “do” in just a weekend. Heck, you probably can’t “do” NYC in an entire lifetime. But 48 hours is still enough time to have a ton of fun and get a taste for one of the world’s most vibrant and culturally significant cities. Because New York can feel a little overwhelming, we’ve put together an itinerary for what we believe is an ideal weekend in the Big Apple.

3:00 p.m. (or earlier), Friday

Maximize your time and arrive as early as possible so you can make your way to your hotel and get settled in before a big night on the town.

6:00 p.m., Friday

You might have time for a nice meal before you catch a Broadway show. If not, no big deal; New York City is teeming with quick food options. Food trucks abound, the city has great pizza, and there’s always Shake Shack, home to our favorite burgers in the city.

When it comes to shows, start the weekend with something high-energy. We recently opted to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was both touching and hilarious. Keep in mind that some shows sell out months in advance, so plan ahead or be willing to go with your second or third choices. Trust us, there are plenty of options from which to choose.

Italian food from Pepe Rosso To Go

11 p.m., Friday

Since you are in the city that never sleeps, don’t even think about going to bed yet. Instead, pick a restaurant that keeps the energy going for post-show drinks and a nosh. One of our favorite restaurants in NYC is Rocking Horse Café, a popular Chelsea Mexican joint with great people-watching and even better drinks (try the Sangarita). It’s the go-to place for a lot of locals, so we always make reservations. If you can snag a coveted seat at the bar, you’ve lucked out.

9:00 a.m., Saturday

Grab yourself some coffee and a bagel and go do something touristy. Head to Ellis Island to visit the Statue of Liberty. Pop over to Midtown and take in the city from the top of the iconic Empire State Building. You might even want to visit the sobering 9/11 Memorial and marvel at the shiny new World Trade Center.

If you just need to burn off those Sangaritas from the night before, do like we do and jog along the East Bank or through Central Park.

1:00 p.m., Saturday

It’s time for lunch and shopping, and SoHo is the perfect place for both. For lunch, we recommend (our until-now secret spot) Pepe Rosso To Go for pasta. Try the Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s a quick, authentic, and exceptionally good.

We are not big shoppers. We do, however, enjoy a shopping “mission,” which is a really fun way to explore an area. During our last visit, we decided to look for new cologne. We visited Le Labo, Red Flower, and Odin in SoHo and Enfleurage in the West Village. Not only did we see a lot of these neighborhoods on foot, we left with a souvenir we actually will use. 

Viewfinder Tip:  When you are planning your flight to New York City, remember that the area has three airports from which to choose. 

6:00 p.m., Saturday

Saturday night is ideal for a nice dinner and a show, which means everyone will be doing the same thing. Plan ahead. When it comes to dinner, choose something close to the theater or leave plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed. You want to be able to sink into the night, stress-free.

On Saturday nights in NYC, we look for a show that strikes just the right balance of entertaining, touching, and provocative. The good news? There are plenty of shows that meet these criteria. For instance, we just saw Cabaret, which managed to hit all three points in equal measure.

After the show, if you are still in the Theater District and are ready to talk about what you just saw, walk over to On The Rocks, a whiskey bar in Hell’s Kitchen. The moody vibe, with dim lighting and rows of amber liquor, is ideal for a thoughtful, post-show conversation.

Wandering around New York City

11:00 a.m., Sunday

Sleep in! If your hotel has a spa, get yourself a massage or a mani-pedi; you deserve it. Now that you’re all rested and relaxed, check out, drop your bags with the bell person, and head over to the West Village or Chelsea for brunch and a leisurely stroll up on the High Line.

Later in the afternoon, head back to your hotel, scoop up your bags, and make your way to the airport for your flight home. Our guess is that you’ll fall asleep on the plane. That’s usually what happens to us after a whirlwind weekend in New York.

After your Broadway shows, you might be lucky enough to have one of the actors share some information about Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, a charity about which we are very passionate. The organization provides funds for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. If you have a chance, drop some money in their buckets as you leave theater (or visit the group’s website to make a donation).

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

No Vacation Required

Kent and Caanan are self-described fulfillment fanatics who rejiggered life so that every day could be a dream day. They started a virtual consulting business (specializing in helping individuals and organizations navigate change) in order to see the world, give back, and make a living from anywhere while doing work they love. On the side, they share their adventures by writing about LGBT getaways, nature-centric journeys, the tech side of travel, globetrotting with purpose, and luxury escapes that aren't fussy.

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