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If You Only Have 36 Hours in NYC, Here's How You Should Spend It! - Things you Must do in The City

So, you only have a day and a half to spend in New York City and you want to know how to spend that time in the most EPIC way possible in one of the world’s most dynamic places? Well, you’ve found the right post. In October 2022 I spent a day and a half in NYC and I covered a lot of ground while having the time of my life. So, if you’re in New York for a short time and a good time, keep reading to find out how to make the most of New York in just 36 hours.

“New York, NY, big city of dreams,” “The city that never sleeps"... "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!"

Let’s be honest, this city has a reputation that sets your expectations high. I could go on and on about how this city has been hyped up throughout my life and yet, I’d never been.

I have missed 3 trips to NY in my lifetime, mostly because the trips did not line up with my schedule and life events at that particular time. But as I always say, everything happens in perfect and divine timing.

I say this because my first trip to New York was with one of my favorite people and most adorable friends in life, Janelle (who I affectionately refer to as “Sista J”) who by the way is an avid supporter of mine and a lover of blog! (Thanks sis)

Sista J is also a native "New Yorka", born and raised in Brooklyn. So, when I called her out of the blue one day to say “Sista J, guess who has two thumbs and just booked a trip to NYC” she said, in her thickest New York accent “No problem, I got you.” (so New York)

And “had me” she did.

Now, I have to tell you, Janelle and I have been friends for over 10 years now and I’ve never visited NY. But over those 10 years, I’ve had tons of questions for her…

“When I come to NY am I gonna get mugged” (mugged, not robbed of course, because it’s NYC).

“Am I gonna see a rat?”

“Will I get harassed on the subway?”

“Will I be able to touch Jim Jones when I finally get to Harlem?”

Let’s just say, Sista J is probably thoroughly annoyed with all of my stereotypical questions about what is arguably the world's greatest cities, all of which were based on TV and movies, music and the stories she’s told over the years.

Needless to say, after my brief stay in Philly, I was a one hour-ish train ride away and ready to take one New York. And since my fairy God Sisters, Sista J and Shaida, were there, I was in good hands. They took the best care of me and made sure all of my NY dreams came true (except the one about touching Jim Jones, le-sigh, can’t win ‘em all.)

I say all that to say, this is not just any “touristy” trip to New York. It is certified, vetted and curated by two native New Yorkers and a tourist (that would be me) with a wanderlust for all things epic!


The city of New York is in a class of its own. This place is brimming with character and has a buzzing energy that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

The sounds, the smells (both good and not so good), the people, the different cultures, all make the city what it is, they all collectively make this place GREAT!

Needless to say, after being shut down due to the traumatic pandemic, I can proudly announce that New York is BACK, and it’s like it never left.

All that being said, the information I share below is based on the approximately 36 hours I spent in New York with two native “New Yorkas” and the itinerary is not for the weary. But if you are built up of Duracel batteries and Red bull, like myself, then buckle up and grab a pen to take notes as I share some can’t miss activities you MUST try when visiting New York.

Note: This post on New York will include 3 installments: Things you Must do in The City, NYC Eats, and Transportation: Getting Around NYC.

In this installment we’ll start by talking about things you must do while in the city of New York.

How to spend 36 Hours in NYC: The City

Stay in a Beautiful NY Hotel

One of the reasons I’ve never been to New York is because it’s soooo expensive.

Back in 2018 I was going to stay a night in NYC as a day trip on my way to Paris, but after pricing it, for what I would have spent for one night would have bought me 3 nights in Paris. It was a hard pass. I decided that when I go to NY, it's gotta be all or nothing.

While browsing sites, the hotels look like they only cost $300 a night, until you add on taxes, more taxes and an insane “resort fee” all of which can easily double a hotel rate.

The thing about the cost is, it’s absolutely worth it. So, I advise that you pick the hotel you love, close your eyes and click submit. Because you’re not gonna get around it and be comfortable with where you stay.

Me personally, I had the pleasure of staying in 2 different hotels while there.

I started at the Renaissance New York Chelsea Hotel which was an absolutely beautiful boutique hotel. It sits in the heart of the city’s Chelsea neighborhood and is very convenient to Madison Square.

I took the subway to Madison Square Garden, where Sista J and Shaida met me, and we took the train to the hotel. We had to walk a few blocks (with luggage) and it was way too easy.

When we got there, I was so happy to see that the place was just as beautiful as it was in the pictures! (For video of the hotel visit my IG.)

The staff was absolutely delightful and when I told them it was my first trip to New York they rolled out the red carpet for me.

This hotel was just perfect to me. It was complete with a restaurant, which we dined at that night, and a rooftop club that is often frequented by celebrities. The line was out the door to the club which I thought was really cool and conveniently fun.

The room was cute, functional and NYC tiny. But it was perfect for one person or two people who really love each other lol and I LOVED the bathroom (and I'm a bathroom snob).

On the second night we stayed at Ink48 Hotel which is located in Hell’s Kitchen, close to Time’s Square. This hotel was a former printing press from the 1930s and has been transformed into a beautiful hotel with everything you need in on place.

What I loved most about this hotel was the size of the room! These rooms were spacious, and the bathrooms was HUGE!

Equipped with a nice not-so mini-bar, a separate shower and large tub, this place was to live for!

To add, the hotel has its very own restaurant and, you guessed it, another roof-top bar with breathtaking views of the city, especially at night.

Ink48 was named the #3 best hotels in Conde Nast Traveler 2022, Readers Choice Awards so it both Rue Approved and Conde Nast Approved!

If I had to choose between the two I would stay at the Renaissance again, but that is based on the Chelsea neighborhood being super walkable and convenient. But honestly, you can’t go wrong either way.

The next time I visit NYC I plan to stay at Hotel Indigo. I'll be sure to let you all know how that goes.

Chelsea Market

5th Avenue

Madison Square Garden

Empire State Building

PRINT - The hotel's restaurant

The Press Lounge - Rooftop bar (very buzy)

Near By:

- Times Square

- Madison Square Garden

- Hudson Yard

- Javits Center

See NYC from a Sky View Observatory - Take in views at SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

Holy smokes – I wish I could say this was the highlight of my trip, but I have to be honest, each part of this trip was great and no part was greater than the next.

So, let’s just say, this was the first step into the epicness of my NYC experience.

Imagine entering a pitch-black dark elevator with a glass floor and ascending past the 73rd floor of the 11th highest tower in the world. Lights flashing, ears popping, listen, the elevator ride alone is a whole experience. It was totally giving Willy Wonka's ride on the chocolate river.

Summit at One Vanderbilt gives everything it says it will and a tad bit extra. And that’s just the beginning. Book your tix now because I’ll be honest, Summit at One Vanderbilt is absolutely worth your time.

Pro Tips:

The building is BRIGHT and the sun reflects off of everything. That said, take sunglasses.

  • If you don’t have your own they will let you borrow a pair, which I found very kind in a New Yorky-type way.

  • Be comfortable with flashing lights and loud noises, you’ll need to be for the elevator ride.

  • If you’re all about the pics, plan out some poses and angle ideas prior to your visit. I was so busy before my trip I wasn’t able to plan things out. But just know, this place is so “instagram-able” and you’ll definitely want to get some great shots.

  • There is a surprise around every corner. So be ready to be amazed!

  • Listen, there are tons of surprises during your visit, those of which I will not spoil for you. Just know that you will love every minute of it and pretty much not want to leave.

But, with limited time and knowing all good things come to an end, we left SUMMIT and entered directly into Grand Central Station. From there, we boarded out next train via the subway. Because in New York City, time waits for no man!

Time to see Hamilton… Onward!

Experience a Show on Broadway

Our next stop was Times Square to hit Broadway to catch a play.

My play of choice? Hamilton at Richard Rogers theater.

When Hamilton hit the Disney channel, I opted out of watching it. I wanted to be able to see it live first, then follow up by viewing it on Disney at a later date.

I had no clue that when I finally saw it live it would be on Broadway in New York. But the most high has a funny way of making dreams come true.

The live performance of Hamilton was just downright amazing! I was in awe of the singing, the crowd and most of all, the salacious storyline (whew chyle!). A few “Hamiltini’s” in and I have to say I was so fulfilled.

The theater as beautiful and my brief jaunt through Times Square was like being in the middle of a three-ring circus. Unbelievable!

While in Times Square you’ll be fascinated by the lights, the people dressed in costumes and the incredibly tall buildings that are the epitome of architectural perfection. I could have easily spent an entire day there just people watching and shopping, but I only had 36 hours to spend in this buzzing city, so we had to move on. Plus, Sista J had the ultimate surprise for me. Back to the subway we go.

Visit Harlem and purchase wine from the Harlem Wine Gallery

I was hell bent on getting to Harlem, so we hopped on the train after leaving Hamilton and headed there (and we made a little stop on the way, but I'll share that in my next post).

While on the train I struck up a conversation with dynamic woman named Debra, who has lived in Harlem for years!

She was so excited about this being my first trip to NY that she offered to show us “the best view of NYC” from her balcony.

This view was everything promised and more!

We really lucked out and got there just in time to catch a beautiful sunset of one of the best and most unique views of the city. Absolutely stunning!

On our way to her space, she shared the history of Harlem through her experience of being a resident there for over 15 years and afterwards she took us to Harlem Wine Gallery, a gorgeous boutique wine shop owned by a lovely couple, who were friends of Debra’s.

They carry the largest selection of black wine makers and black wine brands in New York.

The couple was so nice and so very knowledgeable about wine and the brands they carry.

They got into wine because they had a friend who was into wine. They began to love it so much that it drew them into the business. They started the company, and the rest is his (and) her-story.

The quaint shop is filled with a beautiful, jazzy soundtrack that makes you feel comfortable and as if you’ve truly landed in "Harlem" Harlem. I absolutely cannot wait to visit this shop again and hopefully hit one of the events they frequently host.

One of the things I like most about this gallery is that they have a space for special events.

It is where they host tastings and small events that are just everything. They recently hosted an event featuring Mary J. Blige’s new merlot, which hosted by her sister, who is a wine influencer/educator.

Visiting Harlem

While in Harlem, in addition to the wine shop, I got to take a pic at the world-famous Apollo Theater and we had drinks at Red Rooster which I definitely plan on dining at during my next visit.

I also got to see some New York city "wheeling and dealing" when Sista J bought a whole coat from a street vendor for $20! I was shocked! It was "soooooo New York"

Trust me, Harlem is "Rue Approved" and a part of New York that you DO NOT want to skip.

Well, there you have it. A small peek into the city of New York and an idea of what you can accomplish in just 36 hours.

But that’s not all, be sure to check in next week for NYC eats where I’ll share what I ate during the 36 hours that I was in New York and find out what my BIG surprise from Sista J and Shaida was! (Trust me, you won't want to miss it.)

Have you been to NYC? If so, what are some of your “must-do” things when you visit this remarkable city?

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