A New York Day Trip: A Snapshot of the City

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Everybody knows you can’t see New York in a day. And yet, back in 2014, that’s exactly what I set out to do. During the summer, my dear mother came to visit me from California while I was living and working in Washington D.C. She had never visited New York and I intended to correct this travesty. So, we rented a car one morning and drove out. We had no plans, no itinerary, and no idea what to do. We began talking about what we’d like to see most; and, after a while, we decided that we couldn’t leave New York without buying Empire State Building tickets, Statue of Liberty tickets, and visiting Times Square. We drove on, day-dreaming about what would turn out to be a whirlwind daytrip in New York.

Empire State Building: An Awesome Views

My mother and I both agreed that we absolutely must go to the Empire State Building and look out over the city from the building’s iconic observation deck. So, that’s what we did first. When we arrived, the sheer size of both the lobby and the crowds immediately struck me. I wondered whether we should leave so as to conserve our precious time; but, unbeknownst to us, our Empire State Building tickets allowed us to skip the line and we found ourselves inside the elevator in no time.

As we ascended to the top of the Empire State Building, the collective anticipation of everyone around us felt palpable. And, although I had been to New York a handful of times prior, I had never made it to the Empire State Building. So, I was pretty excited too! Once the elevator doors opened to the level of the observation deck, everybody burst forth at once. My mom and I power-walked to the open-air section of the deck, ignoring everything else along the way.

The view itself was awesome, in the true sense of the word. It seemed impossible that man could create everything that lay before us. The unmistakable facades of the Chrysler Building and 30 Rock peeked at us over the lesser-known skyscrapers. And, I couldn’t help but recall scenes from famous films, such as King Kong and especially An Affair To Remember! Although we lingered on the observation deck for nearly an hour, it had seemed like 5 minutes. Looking back, our time at the top of the Empire State Building represents one of my most memorable “moments”, ever.

Statue of Liberty: A Happy Compromise

My mother and I went back and forth over the issue of whether we should attempt to purchase Statue of Liberty Tickets. I felt that reaching Liberty Island would consume too much time out of our already impacted New York daytrip. But, in the end, we compromised and decided to take a cruise around the island. So, we bought Statue of Liberty tickets online and continued on our way.

We embarked from Castle Clinton in Battery Park. About two minutes into the cruise, I knew we had made the right choice. Viewing the New York skyline from the same waters that welcomed in millions of immigrants left an indelible mark in my mind. The New York skyline holds such promise that I wondered how much comfort it offered those wayward souls in search of a new life.

My musings about America’s immigrant heritage were interrupted as we approached the Statue of Liberty. I have to admit that although I knew the Statue of Liberty stood 150 feet tall, I thought it would be bigger. But, as we docked at Liberty Island and began walking around, the Statue of Liberty looked pretty tall from the ground. And, we found Liberty Island to be an amazing place to take photographs as we wandered the grounds, soaking up the history and the importance of where we were. During the return boat ride, both my mother and I agreed that we were happy we took a chance to get up close to the Statue of Liberty.

Times Square: Chaotic Bliss

Having already docked and with dusk upon us, we took the subway from Battery Park to Times Square. Although I had ridden the New York subway before, my mother hadn’t. I felt somewhat nostalgic making my way through the tunnels. I guess riding the subway does represent a rite of initiation for all non-New Yorkers. Mom had a good time, anyway.

We reached Times Square rather quickly and when we emerged from below the city, the various and simultaneous assaults on our senses nearly pushed us back a step. The unexpected level of street noise, the smell of hotdogs, and the spectacular lighting against a night sky all hit us at once. Even though I had stood here before, my adrenaline levels automatically sky-rocketed.

Where in this madness can anyone find peace? I suppose one just has to forget about peace for awhile and truly go with the flow. I think that’s what we did. In the chaos, I recall buying a hotdog, crossing the street along with what seemed like 100 people or more, and just trying my best to absorb it all. And, with a 4-hour drive back to Washington D.C. looming, I had no choice but to again say “goodbye” to New York. With countless sights left unseen and attractions unvisited, we drove through the night with a sense of accomplishment for having completed a pretty successful day trip to New York.

Hey you! Yeah, you! If you only had one day to spend in New York, which attractions would you visit and why? Let us know in the comments below!