What You Can Do with 12 Hours in NYC

I honestly never thought I would go to NYC. But then I visited Kat in New Jersey in October and realized NYC was just a short train ride away and if I went that I could meet Gabby from The Swirl and mark off one more state from my bucket list!

While planning this trip Gabby asked me what I wanted to see and I think I gave her a list of like three things: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Flatiron and Central Park. To which she told me may not be possible since they are all so far apart. Well, wrong!! We ended up hitting 13 landmarks over 12 hours in two days. The first day I was with Kat and Gabby and the second day I was by myself.

So where can you make it with 12 hours in New York City?

Oculus & One World Trade Center

Kat and I took the PATH into World Trade Center Station from Newark Penn Station so I knocked two things off really quickly. She was surprised to see that the Oculus was completely empty when we got there. But then again, it was like 7:30am on a Sunday. And it was certainly crowded when we left that evening. The Oculus reminded me of the Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh actually.

I actually didn’t know this was the One World Trade Center building until later. But keep scrolling for that story.

Brooklyn Bridge from Dumbo

Gabby had actually met us in the Oculus and from there we boarded the subway to get to Dumbo! I wanted to go there to get the famous shot with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

We had to wait a bit to get photos. When we first got there, there was even a professional shoot going on! Gabby said it wasn’t that busy, but I didn’t like having to wait. #impatient

So, if you want a shot here either go super early or be prepared to be patient.

After we got out shots, we walked a few blocks over and got coffee and a little bit of sustenance at The Brooklyn Roasting Company. This mural was on the wall and I loved it so I snapped a pic. After that, we walked through a small flea market then started heading over to go across the Brooklyn Bridge!

Across Brooklyn Bridge

I love bridges. I think it has to do with the old architecture but more so the fact that they have to be near water than anything else. Put this girl by water and she will thrive.

We had a few photo ops and took turns taking each other’s photos. I was probably deliriously tired, but crossing his bridge felt magical. I explain it a bit more in my vlog.

Time for that funny story I promised:

So while we were crossing the bridge I asked Gabby what “that pointy building is” and she looks at me like I’m crazy, Kat laughs and she tells me that’s the World Trade Center Building. Guess that shows how much I never cared about going to NYC. Oops.

brooklyn bridgebrooklyn bridge

On the other end of the Brooklyn Bridge was SoHo! While Gabby figured out exactly how to get where we were going, I snapped a few photos of the beautiful skyscrapers with the foliage. It was at this point that I was impressed with NYC. Everyone always says it’s ugly and dirty, but it so much cleaner and green than I expected.

I told Gabby this and then she told me you’ll be walking sometimes and it will smell like garbage. Right after that, we passed a dead squirrel on the sidewalk and it smelt like sewage. Gotta like New York.


The buildings in SoHo were gorgeous!! This photo below was literally not edited at all. Just converted from RAW to jpeg!

We did a little shopping while in SoHo. I surprisingly didn’t buy anything but got so close to snatching a denim jacket from H&M and some work pants from TopShop. So close.

Washington Square Park

Next up was Washington Square Park. As soon as we step foot on the grounds I fell in love. Some guy had dragged a piano out and was tuning it to play! There were people sitting on benches reading and cute old couples sitting and people gathering around the fountain. And as I said before, put me near water and I’m a happy gal.

After the park, we took a lunch break and got Sweet Green. My first time ever after hearing about it for years! It reminds me of this place near my old work called CoreLife. Equally as amazing and expensive.

The Village

Since we were so close to the West Village, that’s where we went next. It was so weird for there to be such a quiet place with just a bunch of apartments in the city. It reminded me of more hipster Notting Hill.

Friends Apartment

If you didn’t know, which I didn’t since we already established I did no New York research, the Friends apartment is in the West Village. This is the building they would always use as B-roll right before showing a scene in Monica’s or Joey’s apartment.

I’m currently on season nine of Friends. I only just started it back in December and now I feel like my life is going to be complete when I finish it.

After walking through the Village super quickly, we made our way over to Dō. This is a bakery that sells edible cookie dough!! I heard about it years ago when it first opened, so I was scared the line would be super long but it wasn’t bad at all. Gabby and I waited maybe five minutes tops. I got the vegan chocolate chip flavor in the smallest size.

It was a bit chalky, but I think that’s because I got the vegan kind. And it made me a bit queasy. But that might have been because I dropped my spoon on the sidewalk but used it anyway. LOL sorry, guys I’m gross.

do NYC


Up next was another thing on my top bucket list: the flatiron building. While yea it looks cool, it’s definitely underwhelming. Worth the photo and the trek? Of course.

The Highline

Next up, Gabby somehow convinced me to take a bus and we went to the Highline.

I had absolutely no idea what it was. My only previous knowledge was that Kat had posted a photo on Insta here before. I thought it was just some bridge or train platform. Again, no NYC knowledge.

The Highline is a raised “park.” It’s kind of like a sidewalk up above the ground level with good views and pretty plants. We rushed right through this because we were tired, but I wish we had taken our time and sat down somewhere along the way.

Chelsea Market

The next place we raced through as well. Gabby wanted to show us Chelsea Market so we walked through there.

I’m not a big market person at all. Too many people crowded in a small space give me anxiety so I wasn’t upset that we didn’t spend much time here. If you’re interested, it reminded me of a more crowded version of the inside portion of Pike Place Market in Seattle.

chelsea market

That was the last place all three of us went. After leaving the market, we got back on the subway and train to Newark. It wasn’t until two days later that I venture back into the city.

Ferry into the City

I decided to take the Ferry from Hoboken into town when I went by myself. On the way to the ferry, I lost my metro card and took the wrong subway. So that was fun, but riding the Underground definitely prepared me and made me not panic.

The ferry was super disappointing. It was a lot faster than I thought it would be and $9!! Just take the trains, you guys.

However, I did get some gorgeous skyline shots while waiting for the ferry.

nyc skyline from hobokennyc skyline from hobokennyc skyline from hobokennyc skyline from hoboken

Central Park

My day alone in the city consisted of me walking two miles to central park because I didn’t want to take a bus and I had lost my metro card so I was trying to save money and take the subway as little as possible.

I bought a book from The Strand pop-up first, then I strolled through the zoo and the park. While I walked I listened to Shawn Mendes and cried because I was just so appreciative of the beauty in the midst of the metropolis and the fact that I was even there. I’m always so thankful when I have the opportunity to travel.

central parkcentral parkcentral parkcentral parkcentral park

I also cried because I saw a wedding photoshoot. I seem to always run into those when I travel. Now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure we saw one on the Brooklyn Bridge, too!

I wish I had given myself enough time to ride the rowboats on the pond, but instead, I headed downtown to finally met Jasmin! I’ve been following her on Insta and her blog for a few years now. I also found out she went to the same college as one of my friends I met in Scotland and she was my secret Santa last year! So it was exciting to meet in real life. Even though it was very briefly.

And that concludes my time in New York City!! I ended up hitting 13 of the most popular NYC tourist spots in less than 12 hours. Now that has to be a record.

If you want more NYC, watch my vlog with Kat and Gabby!

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12 hours in New york city travel diary

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