New York, the city that never sleeps, is jam-packed with exciting historical locations, museums, and shopping for tourists and locals. You may think you need a week to see all of the attractions, with the major hustle and bustle of this city. Well, that would be wrong, because if you have time management skills, New York can easily be conquered in one weekend.
All you need to prepare for a full schedule are a decent travel book, comfortable shoes, and a Metrocard which is easy to purchase at the nearest subway (metro) station.
It is important to arrive in New York City by early afternoon in order to be able to fit in all the sites and tourist attractions you want to see. The best place to stay would be a hostel because you only have to sleep there. Jazz on the Park, located on 106th Street at Central Park West in Manhattan, is the perfect spot, a quaint place where a room and complimentary breakfast are only $36 a night per person. The best aspect is that Europeans will be filling the place. You can mingle with the other guests and learn about foreign lands while enjoying coffee with milk.
Jazz on the Park resembles life in a college dorm. There are two community bathrooms on each floor, so avoiding the other guests is almost impossible. You are staying in close quarters, so getting to know the people on your floor can be very exciting and interesting. Who knows, maybe you will want to spend more time with them outside the hostel!
Once in New York and checked in, spend the rest of your first day seeing Chinatown and Little Italy. These bargain spots are located on the East Side of Manhattan on Canal Street. If you are lucky you can have the special experience of being offered a “real” designer handbag for a steal. You can only see the bags by heading through a secret passage accessed via a remote control similar to what you would use to unlock your car. Once up the stairs, in a hot and ridiculously small area, “real” designer bags are hung throughout. You can choose from Coach, Prada, Dooney and Bourke, and Chanel. After a certain amount of browsing, the woman will throw you out, saying, “The police are coming.” She will lead you once again down the stairs. A call is placed to make sure the coast is clear. Then she will take out the remote and unlock the door, and off to freedom you go.
Little Italy offers numerous coffee shops that serve delectable pastries for a decent price.
A half-day is all you need to maneuver through Chinatown and Little Italy.
On your first full day, it is important to get an early start. New York has numerous flea markets full of antique jewelry, handbags, clothes, and other trinkets where you can bargain down the price. These flea markets are located in Chelsea. An hour or two should be sufficient time to browse through the items. Then catch the local bus that goes uptown to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met is one of the most extraordinary museums ever built. Located on Fifth Avenue between the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side, it is so popular that as soon as you walk in, the place is full of people and you can barely move. Check your coat and bag so you can enjoy the art hands-free. Don’t be fooled by the admission prices; they are only suggested amounts, so really you can pay whatever you feel comfortable with.
Once you have finished at the Met, ride the subway down to the Bowling Green stop at the very south end of the island of Manhattan. This is where you set off for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. For a mere $12, you can ride the ferry to both locations, snap pictures, and enjoy the history.
By the end of the ferry ride back, you may be extremely hungry and parched, as the only food available by the ferry terminal are day-old pretzels and pricey sodas. The best and closest historic location for eating and drinking is George Washington’s Tavern. From the ferry terminal, the tavern is only a ten minute walk. It used to be Washington's watering hole, and it's where he brought his troops at the end of the Revolutionary War. They have a wonderful restaurant and bar. In the bar, expect to watch horse races on five plasma screen TVs.
After a yummy meal, head uptown and stop at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. Located in the Financial District on the south end of the island, it is an exciting location. It's a little dead during the weekend, but that's a good time to take photographs because there aren't so many people passing by getting in the way of your shot. You can imagine the thousands of people who flood the street during the workweek. Standing on Wall Street, you can feel the tension and pressure the daily stock market brings. When no one is around, it's fun to pretend you're on the trading floor, shouting out numbers and offers. The good thing is, no one is around to witness your fun.
The next stop is Ground Zero, which is located in the western part of the Financial District. Jump back on the subway and head toward the World Trade Center stop. This historic location is incredible because, unless you see the site, it is difficult to imagine how much space these towers once took up. There is a sign commemorating those who survived the attack and a list of those who lost their lives. A plan is displayed showing a blueprint of what is going to be built in the empty area.
The very last stop is Times Square. Times Square is always a happening area because it is where the tourist shops are found as well as all of the Broadway plays. Times Square has a montage of advertisement billboards that are striking and worthy of a photograph. On weekends, between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, you can find a flea market filled with sunglasses, apparel, jewelry, and handbags galore. There is wonderful street vendor food, ranging from Mexican food to French fries. It is all reasonably priced and the food is to die for.
The last day is totally dedicated to The Empire State Building, which is between Times Square and the Garment District. Because you have a time constraint, spend the $42 for a “fast pass” to the building. This means no waiting in lines. Otherwise you might be standing in line for up to an hour just to buy a ticket, and then another hour or more to get in the elevator to reach the 80th floor. With the fast pass, you also get an interactive "ride" similar to the Star Wars ride at Disneyland. It is narrated by Kevin Bacon and is a virtual tour of New York City.
After the Empire State Building tour it's about time to head back to the airport. On weekends hailing a cab is pretty easy as they are everywhere. The best way to snag a cab is to stand at a crosswalk with your arm in the air waving to attract the driver's attention. Or you can wait for someone to get out of a cab and jump right in as he or she is paying. New York City has so much rich culture and history, but you can fit in quite a few of New York City's most important sights in one weekend, provided you maximize your time each day.