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New York City. The city that never sleeps. When visitors to our great country think of America, I would bet a lot of money on their imaginations conjuring up a city like NYC. Heck, I even think of NYC as a great example of our country! Visitors of all kinds want a piece of the Big Apple, but it can be overwhelming to figure out what to see and do. I recently spent time with my parents visiting my brother and his girlfriend, and we made the most out of every second of our 48 hours in New York City.

How to Spend 48 Hours in New York City

First of all, like any vacation you take, lower your expectations. In a place as large as New York City, it would be difficult to do every single thing on your wishlist. That’s what return visits are for, after all! My 48 hours in New York City would have looked quite different if I had done NYC with teens or even young children. As it was, we were able to get up earlier, stay out later, and walk farther that I normally am able to with my family of four. Prioritizing your desires is just as important as tempering expectations.

Go to the Theater

Seeing a play or musical is probably the most obviously New York thing to do, but it’s really one of the best things about NYC. The theater is just exceptional, in all of its many formats.I do want to take a second to brag on my brother a bit. He’s been starring in a lead role in the off-Broadway production of “The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking,” and he is hilarious! The musical is about, duh, the history of alcohol, and the musical educates viewers about how it came to be as we know it today. Not only is the script entertaining, the venue is intimate and the drinks are complementary (well, 3 of them anyway)! You can see “The Imbible” at New World Stages on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.We also saw “A Bronx Tale,” which, unfortunately, closed on August 5th. It was described as “Jersey Boys meets West Side Story,” and I will have to say that I agree. It was engaging, and the music was phenomenal (original songs by Alan Menken kinda do that).Whatever you choose to see, make sure you plan ahead! We had wanted to see “Come from Away,” but it wasn’t playing during our quick weekend getaway.

Sarah’s Tip: Plan ahead or take your chance and buy tickets for whatever is available. If you have something specific you want to see, I urge you to plan ahead for theater tickets lest you miss out on your favorite show.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Nothing could have prepared me for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. As a freshman in high school, I remember September 11, 2001 vividly. I know where I was when I first heard what was happening (chapel service at school) and where I was when I saw the second plane hit the second tower (Spanish class). The Memorial and Museum is beautifully presented in a life-honoring, yet educating way for those who are interested in learning more about it (or those that did not experience that terrible day at all). My girls need to get a little bit older, but we will definitely be back to visit one day.Sarah’s Tip: Visit the museum inside before visiting the memorial outside. The entirety of the two areas together is very moving.

Wander Through the Metropolitan Museum of Art

NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, often referred to simply as “The Met,” is not just another “touristy” stop on your whirlwind tour of the city. I’ve visited The Met every time I’ve been to New York, and each time I find something new to love.Thankfully, this visit was perfectly timed with the newest exhibit “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” “Heavenly Bodies” focuses on how the Catholic Church influenced, and continues to influence, modern fashion. The exhibit is open now through October 10, 2018.Sarah’s Tip: Make sure you grab a museum and exhibit map to determine your path through the exhibits.

Take a Walk in Central Park

Residents of New York City actually do spend time in Central Park. It was a little chilly on our walk through the park, but I still saw families riding bikes, throwing frisbees, and watching over children playing on the playground.We were on a specific mission to find the Balto statue because Caroline had been reading about him in her class, but we also discovered many different areas to walk around in while we were there.

Sarah’s Tip: Central Park is right next door to The Met. Plan your trip to The Met on the same day you want to visit Central Park, and you’ll save yourself some subway money!

Ride the Subway

Finally, do something totally and completely “New York” and ride the subway. With the ease, and lower cost than a taxi, of riding a Lyft or Uber, it would be easy to skip out on this NYC rite of passage.I highly recommend a visit to Grand Central Station while you are at it. The art deco-inspired architecture and grand size of the station are truly a sight to behold. There is even a small “mall” in the station that has shops and dining if you need to grab a quick bite to eat. Sarah’s Tip: Go ahead and buy a Metro Card for multiple days. Not only will the cost work itself out, but if you happen to get lost and you have to pay for another ride, it will save you from having to try to put more money on your card in an unfamiliar station. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

However you choose to spend your quick trip, make sure to enjoy it! If you’d rather not do touristy things, don’t do them. But don’t be afraid to go to Times Square just because “everyone goes there.” Sometimes it’s fun to do those things and revisit places you’ve been before. You never know when you’ll find something new!