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How To Do NYC In 12 Hours

Another trip to New York down and excited for so many more to go. This trip was my third-time bringing someone with me, with a limited amount of time … and I think I have finally mastered how to see New York (the best) in 12 hours. Yes … it is possible!!!!! I have been over 20 times for work and I always try to squeeze in  as much time as I can for exploring and sight seeing. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, as soon as you arrive, you feel like you’re on a different planet. You may choose to do only some of my recommendations and explore yourself … BUT if you want to see it all, it’s really easy to do!

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WHAT to see and do:

  •  It depends where you are staying but always start the morning off with a coffee. We started ours off with a coffee and croissant at the GORGEOUS Plaza Food Hall.
  • Then we were off to Central Park where we rode a horse and carriage through it … it’s really fun, not that expensive and doesn’t take that much time. There is plenty of walking ahead so you might as well rest and enjoy
  • The horse and carriage drops you off at The Plaza where you then walk to Rockefeller Centre. This is where the big tree and ice skating in the winter is …. so gorgeous.
  • From there head up to the Top Of The Rock. In my opinion, this is the best place to see the Empire State Building. If you go up the Empire State building you can’t really see it … so I say do it reversed!!
  • It is a two-minute walk from here to Grand Central Station. Walk around take some pictures and enjoy all of the people watching!! I love to be able to just wander around and stare at beautiful things.
  • Then hop in an uber or get in some sort of transportation to the Flat Iron Building. You will probably be hungry by then and Eataly is the PERFECT place for a rest spot. They have the cutest cafes and tons of cute nick-nacks and tasty treats that you’ll want to take home. There’s even a rooftop bar!!
  • After that head to the Financial District and the 911 Memorial. It is a great place to see and I always love bringing people here.
  • IF you have MORE time … jump on a ferry to see the Statue Of Liberty. I’ve done it once and it was TOTALY worth it.  
  • Otherwise, get in an uber and head to the Brooklyn Bridge while it’s still daylight. Walk over the bridge into brooklyn and stay their for dinner, drinks and really cool pubs!!! OR come back and hang out in Soho and the Lower East Side for the night.
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WHERE to stay:

  • If it’s your first time going to New York I recommend staying in midtown. It is central and close to everything. We stayed at the Plaza this time and I swear it’s the nicest hotel I’ve ever been to. If you haven’t been before … you should definitely add it to your bucket list!!
  • There are SO many cool hotels to stay at in New York. If you’re a veteran like me … I prefer staying in the lower East Side
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HOW to get there: 

We tried something different this time and flew with Cathay Pacific Airways. What I love about them is their Premium Economy seats feel like First Class. If you’ve ever taken a red eye to New York, you know how luxurious and important this is!!! They had meals (which by the way were unique to our dietary restrictions), champagne and oj throughout the flight … blankets, pillows, and little travel kits! The flight was direct both ways (which I LOVE and always recommend) and we did a red eye both ways. This allows you to spend MORE time in NYC and less time flying and wasting daylight!!!

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Oh and one more thing … make sure you wear running shoes (or bring them in your purse), there’s a lot of walking!!!!

Until next time New York!!!

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  1. Hi Jillian, this info is awesome! My husband and I are planning on going to New York for the first time this coming Christmas for my 30th birthday. I am wondering if you have any recommendations for places to stay that are more reasonable price-wise.

    1. Google “The Best of NYC” and you’ll get a lot of wonderful advice from best hot chocolate to best bar with a view. I’ve started doing it before visiting other major cities and have picked up lots of good information from local sources. Give it a try.

  2. Hey Jill, great post. I’m also wondering if you can provide some hotel names that aren’t insanely expensive. Also, did you fly direct from Kelowna?

    1. I have not seen any direct flights from Kelowna to NYC, but there are direct flights from Vancouver to NYC. I also took a Cathay Pacific flight that arrives at JFK.

  3. I love New York, too! But I recommend that you look into the treatment of the horses before taking (or suggesting others take) a horse-drawn carriage ride. The horses aren’t treated well, are kept in stacked stalls when they’re not working (due to the cost of land), work in a dangerous environment surrounded by cars, and breathe in exhaust fumes all day. I know you have made some lifestyle changes out of a concern for the treatment of animals, so you might want to consider the impact of this choice as well.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I love your blog, Jillian, but please look into the treatment of the horses. As an animal loving New Yorker, it upsets me to see an influencer such as yourself suggest this horrible tourist attraction. I think you’ll agree once you look into it. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for the recommendations. I’ll take the rock recommendation seriously! I did the same thing in Paris – no use in going ON the eiffel tower 🙂

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