One perfect day: 24 hours in New York City

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24 hours in New York is nowhere near enough, but if that’s all the time you’ve got, we’ve got an itinerary designed by a local so you can make the most of every New York minute.

Morning

8am – Start your day on the Upper West Side with a pilgrimage to the granddaddy of New York Jewish delicatessens: Zabar’s (Broadway & 80th St). Grab a bagel with cream cheese and lox, a cup of coffee, and walk two blocks west to Riverside Park for a breakfast picnic overlooking the Hudson River.

8:30am – Stroll down Broadway to 72nd St, then head east to Central Park West; on the northwest corner is the Dakota, the 19th-century apartment building where John Lennon lived (and died). Just steps inside Central Park is his teardrop-shaped memorial park Strawberry Fields, with its famous ‘Imagine’ pavement mosaic. Keep heading east through the park to the stately red-brick Bethesda Terrace, where the beautiful ‘Angel of the Waters’ statue sits high above one of New York’s most famous fountains.

9am – Continue east to Madison Avenue and window-shop along one of the world’s priciest shopping strips as you walk a half-mile north to 82nd St.

9:30am – Presiding over Fifth Avenue is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to one of the world’s greatest art collections (but closed on Mondays). Spend a couple of hours checking out some of the highlights - the Egyptian temple of Dendur, the ancient Greek and Roman statuary and medieval armour from around the world (including Henry VIII’s!).

11:30am – From the subway at 86th and Lexington catch a train south to Grand Central Terminal. No one will blame you for staring like a tourist at the glorious constellations painted on the ceiling of the marbled main hall. Head downstairs to the excellent Euro-style food hall for a quick lunch, or splash out at one of the posher open-air restaurants on the balconies to either side of the main hall.

Afternoon

12:30pm – Walk west along 42nd St. At Fifth Avenue detour around the marble lions standing guard outside the New York Public Library and then head west through Bryant Park till you get to Broadway; hang a right and walk up through the neon bustle of  Times Square. Join the queue at the TKTS booth and nab a half-price ticket for a big musical or an off-Broadway show for that night.

1:30pm – Hop a train down to Penn Station; escape the basement warren and walk southwest to 30th St and Tenth Avenue for the start of The High Line, New York’s most singular park: a linear greenway built on a disused train bridge, with fantastic river views and street vendors selling ice creams and coffee and the like.

3pm – After you leave the High Line at Gansevoort St, wander through the colonial cobbled streets of the West Village: poke your head into some boutiques, grab a fortifying cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery (Bleecker & 11th St), or even stop for a pint at classic writers’ haunt the White Horse Tavern (Hudson & 11th St). Keep angling southeast to get to leafy Washington Square Park, where you can stop for a rest and some people-watching.

5pm – It’s time for a pre-show dinner, so walk up Broadway to Union Square Park. Depending on your tastes and budget, nearby restaurants such as The Coffee Shop (you can’t miss the neon sign), Chat ‘N’ Chew, Gramercy Tavern, the Old Town Bar or even City Crab should do the trick.

Evening

6:30pm – The N or R train will take you back to Times Square, where you can grab a quick drink at The View, the 360° rotating bar/restaurant at the top of the Marriott Marquis hotel.

8pm – Curtain up! Sit back and enjoy a show in one of the world’s greatest theatre towns.

10:30pm – With the post-show buzz to keep you going, hop any train down to 14th St and take the L train out to hipster Williamsburg, Brooklyn for some late-night carousing. Get off at Bedford Avenue and try Trash Bar for some local alt-rock bands, or the heated beer garden and live jazz at Radegast Hall.

After dark

12:30am – Still going? Slam an energy drink and head north to rock the lanes at the late-night bowling bars Brooklyn Bowl (open till 2am) or The Gutter (open till 4am).

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