12 hours in NYC: How to make the most out of one day in Manhattan

New York, the city of multitudes: tall buildings, shiny shoes, speeding taxis, art, drinking, dancing, an unparalleled culinary scene. Like looking directly at the sun, New York can burn. It can be overwhelming. It is best looked at from an angle, taken in bite-sized pieces.

Best things to plan in advance: where you will be, what you’re interested in, and how you will get around. While it’s a good idea to have an itinerary, leaving room for spur-of-the-moment discoveries is always key. 

Finding a hotel in lower Manhattan can be pricey, but doesn’t have to break the bank. A cute, clean room with tidy and helpful reception in a central location can be found in the lower $200s. NobleDen Hotel on Grand Avenue between Mott and Mulberry is reasonably priced and central to all the action Lower Manhattan has to offer.

Arrival: 11 AM

Step out of the Moynihan train station and round the corner to the bustling intersection of 8th Avenue and W 31st Street to NY Pizza Suprema. Say a blessing to the photo of trans goddess Colin Atrophy, author of Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza, hanging on the wall in the cramped entryway before rushing out the door back into the street with a box filled with slices and squares. 


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Huff, and puff, to the Q train and shoot uptown to Glowbar for affordable, no-nonsense, 30-minute facials. One must be glowing in NYC, after all. If you time it right, and your partner was in for their treatment, power walk a few blocks down posh 71st to the Ladurée outpost on Madison Ave. Pick up a choux pastry bursting with decadent chocolate buttercream and topped with smooth-to-the-point-of-reflective chocolate frosting. Hide it in your bag until you check into your hotel a little later.


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1 PM

Train to 1st Ave where you can freshen up your looks at L Train Vintage without spending a fortune. You’ll find a buzzy and youthful crowd packed in with older punks, undergrad queers, and fashionistas browsing the racks of classic mainstays (hello gorgeous leather jackets) and eclectic on-trend items.

Next, head down 1st to Houston and skip over to fashionable Nolita, and pop into Wine Therapy. Pick up a bottle of cold, pale Austrian wine to enforce springtime vibes, and then it’s on to your hotel. You’ve picked an ideal downtown location, right? 


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Check-in: 3 PM

Find your room, open wine, shower, and eat the absurd pastry in decadence and (relative) luxury of our recommended hotel. You might be lucky and get a room with a view.

NEXT PAGE: Plans for the perfect Manhattan evening.