36 hours in New York

Aletha Wilkinson
Head of Lifestyle

Got 36 hours in the city that never sleeps? Here’s an itinerary to make sure you get a taste of all the best bits (and fine, you can get a decent night’s shut-eye if you really want to).


Up and at ’em! If you’ve flown in from Australia, your body clock will be out of whack anyway, so get up early and get moving. The best way to overcome jet lag? Be out and about! Because you’re reading this before you go, you’ll have been smart and ordered a New York CityPass ahead of time. Don’t worry if you forgot, though – you can pick one up at any of the attractions it includes. First, we’re heading to the Top of the Rock, aka the rooftop of Rockefeller Center, for the best view of New York’s famous skyline going around. The other classic New York skyscraper is the stunning, Art Deco-style Chrysler Building – and you can actually see it, not to mention get it into your Insta pics, from here.

The view from the top of Rockefeller Center is a great way to start your day. Picture: Flickr/Steve Gardner


Meet your guide for Hush Hip Hop Tours’ “Walk This Way Thru Harlem” – and get excited, because your guide will be a bona fide Hip Hop legend. Grandmaster Caz, Kurtis Blow and Roxanne Shante, are just a few of the old-school celebs who’ll lead your group through the streets of Harlem for a 90-minute dive into the origins of rap and graffiti culture.

Hip Hop legend Grandmaster Caz in front of his name on the Harlem Hip Hop tour. Source: Aletha Wilkinson


Rest your legs at Red Rooster, aka comfort-food heaven. Grab a booth in the bustling, packed dining room and settle in for classic American fare like chicken and waffles, rich gumbo stew, creamy grits, or mac and cheese with collard greens.

Red Rooster in Harlem serves up classic American comfort food. Picture: Flickr/Maria Eklind.


Time for a drink. If it’s a fine day, take a stroll over the Williams Bridge – or you can get the subway, or a cab of course – to The Brooklyn Brewery where you’ll learn the secrets of making fine ales and craft beers. Forget any the brewery tours you may have done before, which were probably kind of boring, actually. The people who lead these tours are seriously funny and interesting, and there’s an extremely generous tasting session at the end.

Brooklyn Brewery has the best beer tour in New York. Picture: Brooklyn Brewery


With all that beer sloshing around you’re going to need some sustenance. Zip over to Brooklyn Bowl and chow down on some more classic Americana – think wagyu beef hotdogs, french-bread pizzas and fried coconut shrimp. Then work off all that junk with a few frames of nine pins, accompanied by live music. It’s a fun time.


Nick across the road to the Wythe Hotel for a nightcap. The bar, on the top floor, has a delightful rooftop with spectacular views across the East River to the sparkling Manhattan skyline. It also has a killer cocktail list. Try the ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’, featuring mezcal, cucumber, spicy combier and lemon.


Hit the hay at Arlo SoHo, where you’ll find beautifully pressed white linens, flat-screen TVs and rather nice toiletries, yet won’t need to pay the usual exhorbitant New York accommodation prices for it all, because it comes in a compact package at this ‘micro hotel‘.     


Sleep in, have a light brekky to soak up some of last night’s bowling booze, and head to SoHo to jump on the bus for A Slice of Brooklyn pizza tour. It’s the perfect hangover cure, since you won’t have to walk, and you’ll be supplied with carbs at regular intervals as the bus makes its stops at three of the most famous pizzerias in Brooklyn. This tour’s been top of the charts on TripAdvisor for five years straight and it’s easy to see why – the food is fantastic and the tour guides are genuinely hilarious.

Oh, and also…

If you don’t fancy getting over to Brooklyn, how about an ice-hockey game instead? Madison Square Gardens is a New York institution and there’s truly nothing like the authentic American sports experience to give you a sense of the city and its inhabitants. The easiest way to grab tickets is through US Sports Tickets, an Australian online ticket platform providing real-time access to live ticket inventory to US sport games.


Before you go

Esta: Anyone flying into the United States needs this visa. You need to purchase it online for USD$14 before you go.

Tips: You must tip 20% of your bill at restaurants and 15% of your cab fare. It’s always nice to carry a few dollar bills to give hotel staff.

Flight time: It’s a biggie from the east coast of Australia but United will get you there in two flights and under 20 hours.

As one of the world’s most well-known brands, Expedia offers a wide and growing array of booking options, along with simple, user-friendly technology and tools to help travellers find the best travel deals for New York.

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