One of the hardest things about visiting a city you’ve never been to before is deciding what sights to see. This is especially true if you have limited time to spare. Interestingly, I find that solo travel affords me more freedom to get off of the beaten path and discover places beyond the typical tourist traps, the type of places which are the fabric of a city but which many travelers don’t visit. I’ve started a new blog series called 48 Hours in New York City Solo to help you take the guesswork out of how to spend a short amount of time in one of the world’s greatest towns. Pack your bag and let’s get going!
Day 1 – 48 Hours in New York City Solo
Central Park is the crowning jewel of New York City with its Strawberry Fields, Great Lawn, and Bow Bridge You should take your time meandering through this man-made wonder but also make sure to check out the often-overlooked Conservatory Gardens. This my favorite part of Central Park with its three
lovely Italian, French and English gardens. You can enjoy some beauty and get away from the crowds here. Enter off of Fifth Avenue at 104th St.
After you’ve soaked up some peace and quiet in the Conservatory Garden, head over to J.G. Melon on the Upper East Side for the best cheeseburger in NYC. It really is the best and this place has been around since the 1970s so there has been plenty of time to get it right.
PRO TIP: Learn how to Overcome Your Fear Of Dining Out Alone.
NYC has many famous museums but I suggest that you make the most of your 48 Hours in New York City Solo by checking out P.S. 1 in Long Island City. This contemporary, multi-media art venue is an extension of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in Midtown Manhattan. It is located just across the East River in Queens. Take the 7 Train to the 45th Rd.- Court Square stop. In the warmer months, P.S. 1 is an outright party in addition to the artwork inside. I used to live four blocks from this popular museum and I always appreciated the fun events and artwork on display.
FUN FACT FOR ART LOVERS: Jean-Michel Basquiat showed his work at P.S. 1 in 1981.
There is no better view of the Manhattan skyline than from L.I.C, so when you are finished ogling the art at P.S. 1, walk towards the East River on Vernon Blvd for a drink at LIC Bar. I lived in Long Island City for six years and I watched it go through a housing boom and a renaissance. Luckily, though, this industrial section of New York City has kept most of its grit. There are many new restaurants and bars in this bustling neighborhood. Grab a seat inside at LIC Bar or step out onto the patio in the warmer weather. This is not a fancy cocktail bar but there are live bands and a friendly, casual vibe.
Day 2 – 48 Hours in New York City Solo
Lower Manhattan is considered to be Old New York. Start the second day of your 48 Hours in New York City Solo by stepping back in time at Veniero’s. New Yorkers have been getting their collective sweet tooth fixes at this East Village stalwart since 1894.
Try the cannolis and Napoleon pastries in this New York institution with a stained glass ceiling.
Later, walk south and west to Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street in Greenwich Village. There is a great debate about where to find the best slices in NYC and I am here to end that discussion. Joe’s Pizza is it. This tiny hole in the wall with no seats has been around since 1975. Do as the locals do and consume your slice while standing at the counter or fold it and take it to-go!
Lower Manhattan has seen its share of hardships over the decades. The World Trade Center attack was very personal for me as it was for all New Yorkers. Do not miss the opportunity to visit the new Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center Memorial Fountain and Museum. This stunning spot is hallowed ground so please do NOT refer to it as Ground Zero. The beautiful fountains carved with the names of all who perished on September 11, 2001, are a feat in engineering. I am lucky to know one of the New York plumbers who was on the team which worked on building them. Visiting the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center Memorial Fountain and Museum is a truly cathartic experience.
PRO TIP: Learn How to Stay Safe While Traveling Solo
When you are done paying your respects, lighten your mood up on The High Line. This public space overlooking New York’s west side was a labor of love for local residents. They converted a defunct train track into a park with artwork high above the city streets. The High Line runs from Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District to 34th St.
Since you may be hungry for dinner, climb down off The High Line and step into Chelsea Market. The Food Network has studios here but I suggest you grab a lobster roll, oysters or other tasty bites at Cull & Pistol. Don’t forget something sparkling to drink!
Wrap up your 48 Hours in New York City Solo by hearing some great live music at Iridium in Times Square. This place is a love letter to the legendary electric guitarist, Les Paul, who called it home for fourteen years. Iridium has some of the best acoustics in the city and it books the best artists in the world. Be careful descending the stairs in this truly intimate space.!