It can be done. Especially if you don’t care whether you see any of the tourist hotspots like the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, or the Statue of Liberty. Or the museums. Or — listen, I’m sure I missed a lot. But here’s what I did do with my one free day in New York last week and what you can do, too*:
Sunday, May 27
9 am Wake in mid-town Manhattan hotel since you left at home the children who would have awakened you at 6:30am. (For $250/night you can sleep in a walk-in closet, albeit a nicely furnished one. You may not be able to turn a full circle in the bathroom.)
9:30 am After a short wait in a subway station reeking of urine (probably human urine, though the rats are rather large), jump on the subway and land in Central Park for a 2.5 mile jog. The park is quite beautiful.
10:15am Breakfast/lunch at Jax. Quick, fresh sandwiches and salads. Enormous, delectable looking cupcakes that sadly you do not purchase because, having just run, you lost some brain cells.
11:15am After a shower (or not–up to you), head to lower Manhattan. You might have tried to reserve the necessary tickets to see the 9/11 Memorial and failed because they were “booked.” Whatev. You go anyway and see this:
11:15 cont’d — Walk around, see Trinity Church and some cool lower-Manhattan federalist-ish architecture. Note there are more cabs in NYC than there are other cars. Also, the people are much nicer than the stereotype says. Listen to several Asians and French discuss how they just saw the 9/11 memorial. Harrumph.
11:30am — Visit John Street Church, the first Methodist church in America. It was founded in 1766 by–forgive the plug–your ancestors, the Emburys. It still stands in lower Manhattan.
(The pastor, Jason Radmacher, might not spend as much time with you as he graciously did with me–a name really gets you places–but there is a small museum in the basement where you can see several very cool historical artifacts.)
1pm — Lunch at Cafe Habana which, on a map, is between SoHo and the Lower East Side. Fast, Cuban, and tiny. There are more people, yourself included, eating on the sidewalk outside the cafe than in it.
2pm — Subway north to Niketown because it is your husband’s birthday and he wants the Nike FuelBand which he laters says might not have been worth the money.
2:30-4:30 — Navigate the 5th and Madison Ave. area on a holiday weekend, and push through Times Square on the way back to your hotel.
6pm — Dinner at The Bridge Cafe, another oldie, built in 1794. At turns a grocery, brothel, and pirate bar–and depicted in the book and movie The Gangs of New York–it now serves fantastic food. Smoked gouda and almond crusted chicken stay in your thoughts well after dinner.