Teeming with an intoxicating array of sights, sounds, and smells as diverse as the more than 1.6 million people who live here, Manhattan can be an intimidating place to dip your toe into for the first time, especially if you only have a day in The City, as New Yorkers call it. But never fear. We’ve put together an itinerary that blends the very best of the very old with the very new, taking you through five of the borough’s most iconic neighborhoods. It’s a day to stimulate passionate conversation, get you existentially inspired, and deepen your connection with the one you love, whether you just met on the LIRR or you’ve been together for years.
Channel the spontaneity and curiosity of Jesse and Céline as they explore all corners of Vienna in the cult classic, Before Sunrise, and sink your teeth into the massive metropolis known as Manhattan for one unforgettable day.
Breakfast at Café Sabarsky
Begin on the Upper East Side at Café Sabarksy, a Viennese café tucked into the first floor of the Neue Galerie. Its dark wood paneling and grand ceilings will make you feel like a member of the 19th-century Austrian intelligentsia. Wake up with one of their eight Viennese coffee specialties and indulge in a decadent brioche slathered with crème fraiche. Don’t worry. You’ll burn it off later.
The Metropolitan Museum
A few blocks away is The Met, an imposing labyrinth of priceless rarities and divine inspiration so massive you could visit every Sunday for 40 years and still not see it all. Get lost among the galleries filled with awe-inspiring displays of passion, yet often empty of other people. Ponder the artistic urge and human drive for self-expression throughout history.
Ride Down 5th Avenue
Give your eyes a moment to adjust from the darkened museum as you emerge back into city life on Fifth Avenue. Wait for an express city bus (an M1, M2, M3, M4 will work) outside the museum and let the city wash over you as you roll past Central Park and through Midtown, heading down to Bryant Park.
Picnic of Kati Rolls in Bryant Park
There is no place like Bryant Park, a magical oasis of lush greenness nestled among some of the world’s tallest, shiniest buildings. Just around the corner from this urban arcadia is the Kati Roll Company, a hole-in-the-wall lunch spot that cooks up all kinds of savory kati rolls, the Indian street food originating in Kolkata. In Bryant Park, find one of the iconic green metal café tables and devour your aloo masala while debating your favorite artwork from the morning.
Friendly Competition at Fat Cat
Next, take the F train down to Fat Cat in the West Village, a cavernous underground playground for jazz musicians and table tennis enthusiasts. It’s the perfect venue for cheap beer and friendly competition accompanied by live jazz music as ping-pong balls clack against all surfaces.
Stroll on the High Line
Since the High Line opened in 2009, New Yorkers have flocked to this unique park situated on an abandoned elevated train track, basking in the views and lounging amid the wild vegetation. Before heading up the steel staircase on 14th and 9th Avenue, pick up a picnic at the new Gansevoort Market. You can get a crepe, lobster roll, Thai curry, or all of the above to eat as you watch the sun set over the Hudson. For dessert: a seasonally flavored People’s Pop.
Get Down at the Up & Up
Meander over the uneven cobblestone streets of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District toward Greenwich Village, taking in the converted warehouses and contemplating the nature of urban evolution. Unpretentious speakeasy is not an oxymoron when it comes to Up & Up, a little bar located a few steps below street level.
Washington Square Park
And finally, stumble into Washington Square Park, a source of inspiration for everyone from Jane Jacobs to Harmony Korine, and continue your tête-à-tête until the sun rises over beautiful Manhattan.