There are so many incredible things to do in New York City! Many tourists, especially first-time visitors, don’t even know how to start planning their trip to the Big Apple. Well, I’ve got you covered with this compilation of the 60 best places to visit in New York City.
For the past three years, we’ve lived just two hours from the city, so we’re always eager to show visiting friends and family the popular NYC tourist attractions. Yet, we also take a few weekends a year to explore the less touristy places in New York City.
Our ultimate guide will show you not only the top New York City attractions everyone must see, but also cool places in NYC that only locals usually know about. Regardless of how long you’ll be in the city, you’ll find unique things to do in NYC during your trip.
But before diving in, you should know that, although there are many free things to do in NYC, you will need to pay to visit most tourist attractions, so I recommend checking out the different NYC tourist passes since they can save you a couple of hundred bucks.
During different trips to NYC, we’ve used the Sightseeing Pass (Day and Flex Pass), the New York City Pass (and C3 Pass), the New York City Explorer Pass, and the New York Pass, depending on the attractions we wanted to visit and days we had.
We are writing an article to help you choose which is the best NYC tourist pass for you, but if you’re making a first-time visit to New York City and you want to see all the important places, the Sightseeing Day Pass is probably your best bet.
Now, let’s dive into the 60 best things to do in New York City!
1. Visit the Statue of Liberty, one of the best things to do in New York City
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous places in New York City, and probably the world. It is on Liberty Island just south of Manhattan and is a must-do in NYC for everyone.
This mighty statue was a gift from the French to help the USA commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Besides being a national monument, the Statue of Liberty is a global icon of freedom and is loaded with symbolism, which we learned during the guided tour we did before visiting the statue. I would highly recommend it!
If you don’t book that tour, the Statue Island Ferry, which goes to the Statue of Liberty, is included in all the New York City tourism passes I mentioned earlier. However, the passes don’t include admission to the two viewpoints inside the statue’s pedestal and crown. So, if you want to take advantage of these incredible viewpoints, especially the crown, you should book your ticket ahead of time on the official State Cruises website.
General admission, which is included in the tourist passes and the guided tour we did, grants you access to the Statue of Liberty Museum. You can also visit Ellis Island and the heart-wrenching Museum of Immigration you’ll find there.
Keep in mind that the Statue of Liberty is one of the top New York City tourist attractions, so I suggest booking your tour in advance and planning 3-4 hours for it.
2. Central Park, one of the top places to visit in New York City
Central Park has become one of the top places for all kinds of New York City activities. Not only is it popular with locals, but it’s one of the hottest NYC tourist attractions.
Whether you’re there for an hour or half the day, it’s the best free thing to do in New York City. Central Park is the largest urban park in the city, and one of the biggest in the world. The 840-acre area is filled with lakes, forests, meadows, waterfalls, and more, so consider renting a bike to get around.
One of the top places to visit is The Lake, a tranquil spot surrounded by greenery. The still waters reflect the buildings of the Upper West Side, although you can rent a boat at Loeb Boathouse and cruise along the lake. If you’re traveling as a couple, it’s one of the most romantic things to do in NYC.
Another New York City must-see is Strawberry Fields on the western side of The Lake. This gorgeous area is dedicated to John Lennon, and his famous song, “Imagine”, is memorialized in a mosaic here. I also suggest visiting the Victorian Belvedere Castle overlooking Turtle Pond, and Shakespeare’s Garden next to it.
Throughout the park, you’ll find several monuments, such as the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, the Bethesda Fountain, and a Beethoven bust. If you have time, consider a relaxing picnic in Sheep Meadow, a 15-acre lounging lawn space.
3. Times Square, the best place to visit in NYC at night
Of all the tourist attractions in New York, Times Square is one that gets a steady stream of visitors all day, every day. Nestled between 7th Avenue and Broadway, it’s a spectacular showcase of glamorous billboard ads, strange street performers, and all kinds of interesting sights.
Many people consider Times Square to be the heart of New York City, so you’ll find just about everything here. Spend some time checking out the lively bars, restaurants, shops, and theaters. Also, try to grab a seat on the Red Stairs, also known as the TKTS Pavilion. This is where you can snag Broadway tickets for up to 50% off.
A visit to Times Square is one of the best things to do in NYC at night because the avenue is aglow with bright neon signs. As the sun sets, this area comes to life, with street performers, outdoor dining, and patrons lining up to see musicals and shows.
There’s no doubt that some of the best NYC sightseeing takes place in Times Square. Some popular attractions in this area include M&M’s World, MTV, Times Square Studios, and the Paramount Theater. If you don’t mind crowds and you’re willing to stand in the cold for hours, you might enjoy ringing in the New Year here. The Times Squares New Year celebration is one of the most famous in the world, although many people prefer watching it on TV.
4. Empire State Building, one of the most famous places in New York City
The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic buildings in New York City. It was the first skyscraper to have more than 100 floors, and it was also the tallest skyscraper in the world from 1931 to 1970. Today, it’s still among the top 10 tallest buildings, and it’s certainly one of the most recognizable thanks to its appearance in countless movies. This is the skyscraper that King Kong climbed!
The NYC skyline wouldn’t be complete with the Empire State Building, which you can find between 5th Avenue and West 34th Street. It has viewpoints on the 86th and 102nd floor and is one of the best places to go in NYC for stunning views.
General admission to the observation deck is included in the Sightseeing Pass, the New York City Pass, the New York City Explorer Pass, and the New York Pass. If you don’t have any of these passes, you can get a $2 discount on admission here.
This famous place in New York City mostly houses business and office space, as well as broadcasting stations and art galleries. The 1,054-foot skyscraper is also a prime lookout spot during sunset, which is when I suggest you visit. However, if you have time and you want great photos, this ticket gives you morning and evening access to the observation deck.
5. Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock, one of the main attractions in New York City
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings located in Midtown, NYC. The Art Deco structure, built in the 1930s, is recognized as one of the greatest projects to come out of the Great Depression. Among locals and tourists, the Rockefeller Center is an iconic must-see in New York City.
As a famous New York City attraction and official landmark, Rockefeller Center has plenty to experience indoors and outdoors. Inside, the underground concourse is a dining and shopping haven. In winter, the Lower Plaza becomes an ice-skating rink, guarded by the beautiful Prometheus statue. Besides, seeing the Rockefeller Christmas tree is a special thing to do in New York City, if you happen to be in the city for the holidays.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, which has multi-level viewing platforms offering 360° views of the city. It’s located between the 67th and 70th floors of the Comcast Building on 50th Street. Admission is included in the Sightseeing Pass, New York City Pass, New York City Explorer Pass, and New York Pass, but you can also reserve a discounted ticket online.
Many have asked us if the views are better from the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock. I think both are worth seeing, but if you can only visit one, I recommend the Top of the Rock because it gives you views of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
6. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge, something interesting to do in New York City
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most distinctive structures in NYC, extending over the East River and connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The massive bridge is over 130 years old and continues to amaze visitors today. Plus, anyone can walk across the bridge and take in the beautiful views, making it a great free thing to do in NYC.
At 1,595 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world from 1883-1903. Every day over 145,000 cars drive along the bridge’s lower level, while the upper pedestrian walkway helps locals get around the city. If you decide to walk across, be mindful of bicyclists since the walkway includes a bike path.
While crossing this NYC attraction, take your time to see the sights. Brooklyn Bridge Park, next to the East River, is a popular hangout spot as well as where public festivals and events take place throughout the year. From the bridge’s promenade, you can also see other major bridges in New York City as well as scenic views of Brooklyn borough.
The bridge is also a stunning lookout point at sunset, and the evening skyline is quite the sight. Watching the orange glow on the horizon and the illuminated city lights is a cool thing to do in NYC at night.
7. Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the best museums in New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on 5th Avenue, is one of the largest and prestigious museums in the world, and one of the top places to visit in New York City. Art lovers can’t pass up a visit to The Met, which covers centuries of art from around the world.
The Met contains over 2 million works of art, although it’ll be hard to see everything in one visit. If it’s your first time here, I recommend the Roman and Egyptian galleries, as well as the famous works by Monet, Cézanne, and Rembrandt.
As one of the coolest places to go in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers something for everyone. In addition to paintings and sculptures by the masters, you can find drawings, prints, photos, costumes, weaponry, armor, and much more. The museum hosts special exhibits throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see.
The Met’s rooftop garden is open in warm weather and offers sweeping views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. Every summer, the garden hosts a single-artist exhibition featuring art installations and sculptures. The Met also operates The Cloisters, which I’ll talk about later.
Even if you can’t access the rooftop garden, many would agree that The Met is where to go in New York City when it rains. General admission is included in the tourist passes I mentioned earlier. If you don’t have a pass, you can buy a skip-the-line-ticket or book a 2-hour or 3-hour guided tour that will show you the highlights of the museum’s collection.
8. See a Broadway musical, the best thing to do in NYC at night
One of the best NYC activities is seeing a musical or play on Broadway. Even if you’re not a theater person, I’m sure there is a show for you.
There are over 40 Broadway theaters in the city. Some of the shows come to town for a few months, while others are permanently on the playbill. A Broadway show can get expensive, but it’s such a special thing to do in New York City. You can check the TKTS Pavilion in Times Square for discounted tickets. However, you can’t always choose which show you’ll see.
So far, we’ve seen The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Wicked, and Aladdin, and it’s hard to choose a favorite! Everything from the set design to the costumes to the acting is wonderful.
I doubt you’ll go to a Broadway theater you don’t like, but if you want the best of the best, some of the top-rated venues are the New Amsterdam Theatre, Hilton Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, and Belasco Theatre. Splurging on dinner and a show is a perfect way to spend a date night. Depending on which musical or play you book, a Broadway show can be a fun thing to do in New York City with kids.
9. World Trade Center, another New York City attraction you should visit
The World Trade Center is one of the most impressive places to see in New York City. It is the complex of buildings located in Lower Manhattan that included the Twin Towers, which were destroyed during the September 11th attacks in 2001.
Afterward, there was a lot of debate on how to rebuild the site, which became known as Ground Zero. Nowadays, it has five new skyscrapers, among which the One World Trade Center stands out, as well as a memorial and a train terminal.
The 9/11 Memorial consists of two reflecting pools located at the former base of the Twin Towers. The memorial honors the 9/11 victims as well as the six people who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The 2,977 names are inscribed in bronze, creating a somber and contemplative atmosphere.
Here you will also find the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which I will talk about later, as well as the Liberty Park with The Sphere sculpture, which previously stood in the central plaza of the Twin Towers.
Another special thing to do in New York City is to visit the Survivor Tree. This lone pear tree somehow survived the 9/11 attacks, although only one of its branches was living. Today, the tree has blossomed and grown, serving as a symbol of hope and rebirth.
The World Trade Center is one of the most emotionally moving places to visit in New York City, but it’s also among the most meaningful.
10. The 9/11 Memorial Museum, a poignant place to go in NYC
The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened in 2014 at the former site of the Twin Towers. It is part of the World Trade Center complex and is one of the most poignant places to visit in New York City.
While the historical significance of this museum is unparalleled, it may not be the first place to go in NYC, especially if you’ve never been here before. It can also be quite difficult to go back to that heart-wrenching day in history, so I understand if you want to skip it.
The museum contains a tribute to the 2,977 people killed during the 9/11 attacks, as well as the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Visitors can listen to audio commentary while walking around the exhibits. Artifacts from that day include photos, the first firetruck to arrive on the scene, a remnant of the retaining wall, and the last column and staircase to withstand the impact of the planes.
If you decide to visit, admission is free on Tuesdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but you should arrive early since tickets are limited. If you’re going to come any other time, I recommend purchasing a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
11. One World Trade Center Observatory, the most beautiful lookout in New York City
As I mentioned above, One World Trade Center, also known as Freedom Tower, was the most important building built at the World Trade Center complex after the 9/11 attacks. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and features impressive SkyPod elevators that ascend in just 47 seconds to the One World Trade Center Observatory between the 100th and 102nd floors.
Although the observatory is 1,268 feet, the whole structure is 1,776 feet tall. Not coincidentally, 1776 corresponds to the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, when removed from the spires, the building measures 1,368 feet, the same as the North Tower of the former World Trade Center.
From the observatory, you’ll have sweeping 360° views of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. Bring your camera to take advantage of this lookout point.
The 100th floor also contains the Sky Portal, a 14-foot-wide glass disc that portrays a high-definition video feed of the streets below. There is also a theater and exhibit you can access. For a romantic thing to do in NYC, make dinner reservations at ONE Dine, the restaurant at the observatory.
Even if you only plan on taking in the views, I recommend purchasing a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
12. MoMA, one of the most famous museums in NYC and the world
The Museum of Modern Art in New York, better known as MoMA, is one of the most famous places in New York City. With over 100,000 works on permanent display, it’s an iconic modern art museum on a global scale.
Besides that, the building is a work of art in itself and underwent its most recent renovation in 2004. Take my advice and go up to the 6th floor, where you’ll get awesome views of Midtown Manhattan.
MoMA has some of the greatest pieces from the modern masters, such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, and Picasso’s Young Ladies of Avignon. The museum has a free mobile app you can download to hear an audio commentary of the more popular pieces.
You’ll also find works by Cézanne, Matisse, Miró, Mondrian, Warhol, Duchamp, and other famous artists. For sure, now you know what to do in NYC if it rains!
General admission is free on Friday afternoons, although the crowds will be larger than usual. If you want to avoid long lines, book your ticket in advance.
13. High Line, one of the most beautiful places to go in NYC
The High Line is a popular hangout for New Yorkers and one of my favorite places to go in New York City. It’s a beautiful, elevated park and garden with a greenway trail. The High Line sits on old train tracks, but today it’s a lovely outdoor space that’s perfect for relaxing.
The pedestrian park and walkway is nearly 1.5 miles long and starts in the Meatpacking District through the Chelsea neighborhood and ends in Hudson Yards. The linear garden travels in a continuous line, mimicking the Promenade plantée in Paris.
Even though the High Line isn’t exceptionally long, it passes by several NYC tourist attractions, such as the Whitney Museum, Chelsea Market, and The Vessel, a sculptural building at Hudson Yards. The Vessel has 2,500 steps and resembles an avant-garde beehive. I’ve never seen anything like it, so I recommend checking it out.
Unlike many New York City attractions, it’s best to see the High Line during the day. This way, you can take your time observing the pretty gardens and enjoying the city views.
14. Grand Central Station, something you must visit in New York City
Visiting Grand Central Station is one of the best free things to do in NYC, and a worthwhile trip. While a train terminal may sound boring, Grand Central is one of the most iconic places in the city. The station is over 100 years old and reflects the Beaux-Arts architectural style. You’ll see various works of art throughout the terminal, including the celestial painting on the Main Concourse’s ceiling.
About 100,000 people visit Grand Central every day. However, because it’s one of the most famous places in New York City, many of these visitors are tourists just passing through. Besides connecting the subway and railroad systems, the terminal is home to dozens of stores and restaurants.
The first place you should visit is the Main Concourse, which has been featured in several films and TV shows. Balconies surround this impressive lobby, while the passageways underneath lead to other parts of the station.
I recommend walking through Grand Central Market, a large indoor space filled with gourmet food stalls. The Dining Concourse is below the Main Concourse and offers 35 restaurant options. Be sure to stop by Vanderbilt Hall, a 1,100ft² event space with five stunning chandeliers.
Grand Central is a must-see in NYC and you’ll get great photos here. It’s in Midtown Manhattan on 42nd Street at Park Avenue.
15. Ride the Staten Island Ferry, one of the best free things to do in New York City
The Staten Island Ferry connects Manhattan with Staten Island, a nearby New York borough. The ferry operates 24/7, and the trip to Staten Island takes less than 30 minutes.
Honestly, Staten Island isn’t the first place I’ll recommend in New York, but the ferry ride is a fun thing to do in NYC. Part of what makes the ride so special is that it passes by the Statue of Liberty and gives you great views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge.
Best of all, this ferry ride is one of the coolest things to do in New York City for free. Staten Island is a good place to stay in New York City, so you can save money on accommodations and take the ferry into Manhattan.
To board the Staten Island Ferry, you must go to Whitehall Terminal at the corner of South Street and Whitehall Street. In case you just want to go there and back, be aware that all passengers must disembark at Staten Island and reboard to go back to Manhattan, so be quick!
16. Guggenheim Museum, another top museum in New York City
The Guggenheim Museum is one of the best places to visit in NYC, especially if you love modern and contemporary art. The museum is famous for its iconic architecture.
American architect Frankl Lloyd Wright spent 16 years designing and building the museum, which many recognize as his best work.
The Guggenheim sits conveniently across from Central Park and has an ever-growing collection of worldwide pieces, many of which it shares with its sister museum, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain.
The collection, which focuses primarily on Post-Impressionism and modern art, includes pieces by Chagall, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso, Manet, and Van Gogh. Along with its permanent exhibits, the museum hosts temporary installations throughout the year.
The most popular area in the Guggenheim is the open rotunda, which is reminiscent of an open-air temple. As you walk through it, you can simultaneously see artworks on different levels.
The museum offers complementary guided tours with admission if you’d like to make the most of your time there and see the most cherished pieces. That said, this is one of the top tourist attractions in NYC, and the lines can get long, so I suggest buying your ticket in advance.
17. Go shopping on Fifth Avenue, a fun thing to do in New York City
I’ve already mentioned Fifth Avenue several times, as it’s one of the most famous avenues in NYC. Besides its proximity to many New York City attractions, Fifth Avenue is also popular for its glamorous reputation and luxury shopping.
The street runs for over six miles with high-end apartments, shops, boutiques, and historic homes on either side. It extends from Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park to West 143rd Street in Harlem.
As you stroll along Fifth Avenue, you’ll pass by Central Park and the Guggenheim Museum, the Met, and several other museums. You can also window-shop or browse luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Versace.
The section between 59th and 96th Streets, “Millionaire’s Row”, is where you’ll find several old mansions. Other iconic buildings on Fifth Avenue include the Rockefeller Center, the Flatiron Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Empire State Building. Fifth Avenue is also one of the best places in New York City to watch parades, especially the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While this avenue exudes extravagance, you can still enjoy free NYC sightseeing while you walk by. Plus, there are some affordable retailers here if you do want to do some shopping.
18. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the most important churches in NYC
Right across from the Rockefeller Center, you’ll find St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest neo-Gothic Catholic church in the U.S. Even if you’re not religious, it’s one of the top New York City attractions.
As the name suggests, this cathedral is dedicated to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. At nearly 330 feet tall, it’s an impressive sight among the luxury shops and skyscrapers along Fifth Avenue. It’s also one of the most iconic symbols of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The cathedral has two identical towers and large bronze doors with relief sculptures of several patron saints. Each door alone weighs an estimated 9,200 pounds!
As one of the most magnificent places to visit in New York City, the cathedral’s interior is equally as impressive as its exterior. The church has a 3,000-person capacity and incredible stained-glass windows, including a rose window.
Several altars and shrines adorn the church, as does a replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture. There are two organs in the cathedral, one with nearly 4,000 pipes and another with almost 5,000.
As a landmark attraction in NYC, St. Patricks’ Cathedral holds daily guided tours, which you can sign up for here.
19. The Flatiron Building, another place you can’t miss in New York City
While you’re strolling Fifth Avenue, check out the Flatiron Building on the corner of Broadway. Formerly known as the Fuller Building, this 22-story triangular structure is one of the most unique places to see in NYC.
The building’s design borrowed influence from Greek columns and Beaux-Arts architecture. The narrowest corners of the structure are just 6.5 feet wide and create a 25° angle. While not the first of its kind, the Flatiron Building is one of the most intriguing skyscrapers in the city.
You have to walk around the entire building to get a feel for its unique design. Be sure to examine the top of the structure, which features a rounded apex and double columns. It might make you dizzy, looking up to the top of this 285-foot tower!
While it looks fragile or unstable, the steel building can withstand strong winds. Most of the interior contains office spaces, so you can’t go inside. Still, it’s an amazing thing to see in NYC, and it’s close to other attractions like Fifth Avenue shopping and Madison Square Park.
20. Visit the American Museum of Natural History, the best thing to do in NYC with kids
Another attraction near Central Park is the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Not only is it one of the most important science museums in the world, but it’s also a top NYC tourist attraction.
This massive museum encompasses 26 buildings and 45 exhibition halls. It contains over 35 million artifacts, most notably, the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world. Seeing the huge, assembled bones of the Stegosaurus or Triceratops is a fun thing to do in New York City with kids.
AMNH also has a planetarium, theater, biodiversity exhibits, a meteorite and gem hall, and much more. You might recognize one of its rooms, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, from the film Night at the Museum.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, AMNH hosts special displays from time to time. These exhibits often use storytelling and interactive kiosks to engage visitors, so they’re great for children. Of course, adults will enjoy the museum too, and it’s a cool place to go in NYC when it rains.
It’s a popular museum, so I suggest buying your ticket in advance. If you’re a resident of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, admission is pay-what-you-wish.
21. Brooklyn Heights, a luxurious neighborhood to visit in New York City
Brooklyn Heights is one of the most upscale neighborhoods to visit in New York City. The area has been a prominent fixture of NYC since the 1860s, although many of its iconic brownstone rowhomes predate the Civil War. You may recognize these buildings as the famous Huxtable residence on the 1980s sitcom, The Cosby Show.
The neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to several memorable buildings. Structures like the Plymouth Church, the Herman Behr Mansion, and Packer Collegiate Institute inspired authors like Tom Wolfe, Arthur Miller, and Truman Capote.
I recommend stopping by the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a cool place to go in NYC for prime views of the Manhattan skyline. Other incredible lookout points in the neighborhood include Granite Prospect, the Skyline Lookout, and Old Pier 1. If you’re visiting in the summer, you must stop by Ample Hills Creamery Fireboat House for ice cream.
Brooklyn Heights is also home to Brooklyn’s first art gallery and the New York Transit Museum. Even if you just choose to take a stroll in this area, you’ll be charmed by the cute cafes and small shops.
22. DUMBO, another interesting neighborhood to see in New York City
Just across the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll find the hip DUMBO neighborhood. The silly name is actually an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
DUMBO has been a setting for many TV shows and films, but you need to see this famous place in New York City for yourself. The neighborhood is best known for its red industrial-style buildings, among which you’ll spot the massive Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Here’s a hint: the intersection of Washington and Water Streets is the perfect photo opportunity.
Besides its amazing views, DUMBO offers plenty of cool things to do in New York City. The area exudes an edgy counterculture, and you’ll have fun exploring the alternative boutiques, cafes, and coffee shops.
There are also some interesting NYC attractions in DUMBO, such as Main Street Park and Fulton Ferry Park, where you can ride the famous Jane’s Carousel. You can also visit St. Ann’s Warehouse, a performing arts institute.
23. Visit the New York Public Library, another free thing to do in New York City
The New York Public Library is one of the most prominent library systems in the world. It has 92 locations, but the main branch is in Bryant Park, Manhattan. Like many libraries in the country, the NY Public Library offers books, classes, research materials, community programs, and other free things to do in NYC.
What makes this library unique is its collection of nearly 53 million items. It’s the third-largest library in the world, and the main branch is a Neoclassical building with four floors and 20 rooms.
The ground floor contains children’s books and newspapers, while the first floor is where you’ll find periodicals, maps, and a computer lab. The second floor is good for studying, thanks to its marble fireplace. The McGraw Rotunda is on the third floor, as is the main reading room.
Even though you can’t borrow a book if you’re only visiting New York City, you should still stop by and see this famous place for yourself. Then, step outside and check out Bryant Park, a French-style park and garden. The park includes Le Carrousel Magique, artistic sculptures, and the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain. If you’re here during Christmastime, you can go ice skating at Winter Village.
24. Metropolitan Opera House, a breathtaking place to go in New York City
The Metropolitan Opera House is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, an internationally renowned performance hall. Despite being the best place in New York City (and the world) to see the opera, the prices are quite reasonable.
Stars from all over the globe come here to perform, as well as the American Ballet Theatre in the summer months. During a typical performance season, the opera house hosts over 200 shows for more than 800,000 spectators.
The interior architecture of the Metropolitan Opera House is not only impressive but lends itself to great acoustics. The lobby displays two large murals by Marc Chagall and 11 sparkly crystal chandeliers that look like starry constellations. The lobby has a swirling cantilevered staircase leading to the upper floors.
The multi-tiered auditorium seats 3,800 people and is covered in a special variety of rosewood for superior sound quality. The stage extends 80 feet and features seven hydraulic elevators and two 100-foot cycloramas. The Lincoln Center offers daily tours and if a show hasn’t sold out yet, the opera house will sell last-minute tickets at a steep discount.
25. Shop at the best outlets in New York City, something to do in NYC if it rains
Shopping is one of the best things to do in NYC, especially if you’re looking for high-end items and name brands. The New York outlets offer some of the most luxurious products at a great price.
One of the most popular NYC outlets is the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. About an hour outside the city, this shopping mecca contains 220 stores and 23 eateries.
The Empire Outlets on Staten Island is the only outlet within New York City. It has over 100 stores, including Banana Republic, Columbia, Gap, H&M, Levi’s, and Nike. The Fulton Mall next to Brooklyn Heights is another outlet district. Plus, it’s close to Junior’s, which is famous for its New York cheesecake.
If you’re willing to travel a bit more, you could shop at The Outlets at Bergen Town Center or Tanger Outlets in Deer Park, Long Island. If you don’t have a car but still want to take advantage of this quintessential New York activity, this tour will take care of transportation for you.
26. Greenwich Village, the New York City neighborhood for Friends fans
Greenwich Village is one of the famous places in New York and has appeared in several TV shows, including Friends. The establishing shot for the Friends apartment featured the iconic building at 90 Bedford Street. However, the show used a set for the apartment’s interior, so you can only view the outside of the building.
If you’re not a Friends fan, there are other fun things to do in NYC‘s Greenwich Village. The picturesque neighborhood is home to tons of hip cafes, restaurants, and small shops.
I also recommend visiting Washington Square Park, a public green space. It is most recognized for its circular layout and marble arch that commemorates Washington’s 1789 Presidential inauguration.
Another nearby attraction is Christopher Park and the Stonewall National Monument. Located across from the Stonewall Inn, the site honors the gay-rights pioneers who demonstrated during the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Greenwich Village is considered the birthplace of the 1960s counterculture, and that Bohemian vibe is still present today.
While you’re here, I recommend visiting Hudson River Park, the second-largest park in Manhattan. The 550-acre space is part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway and offers areas for sunbathing, canoeing, biking, and tennis. It’s also one of the nicest places in New York City to view the Hudson River.
27. Union Square, the best attraction to visit in New York City
Visiting historic Union Square is one of the best things to do in New York City. You can find it at the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue, a huge expanse of green space, monuments, and unique shops.
A favorite among New Yorkers is the Greenmarket Farmers Market, which takes place four days a week. Here, you can buy fresh, organic produce, artisan cheeses, and other homemade items.
Union Square is also known for street chess and hosted World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer on several occasions. If you’re a bookworm, the square is just two blocks from The Strand, one of the oldest bookstores in the city. You’ll also find several works of art here, include the Metronome digital clock sculpture, as well as statues of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi.
The area’s historical significance also makes it one of the top attractions in New York City. Union Square has been the site of numerous protests throughout the years, and it’s close to a good number of famous buildings.
If you visit during the Christmas season, you can witness the Union Square Holiday Market. The area displays festive decorations and features stalls with local art, hot chocolate, and holiday gifts. It’s a special thing to do in New York City in December.
28. Take a sunset cruise, the best thing to do in New York City for couples
Few things are as special as taking a New York sunset cruise. So if you’re looking for couples things to do in New York City, I recommend booking this romantic cruise.
The two-hour tour travels along the Hudson and East Rivers, gliding past top NYC attractions like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan Bridge.
Spend quality time with your loved one while taking advantage of unique NYC sightseeing opportunities. As the orange glow of sunset illuminates the city skyline, you’ll get stunning views of the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Chrysler Building, among others.
Watch the city lights turn on and see the flickering radiance of the Williamsburg Bridge. The cruise includes commentary from a tour guide who will share interesting facts about the nearby landmarks.
It starts and ends at Pier 83 at Hudson River Park. So, afterward, you might want to grab a bite to eat in Hell’s Kitchen or spend some time at Lucky Strike Manhattan bowling alley and lounge.
29. Visit Radio City Music Hall, one of the most famous theaters in New York City
Radio City Music Hall is one of the most famous places in New York City and the entire country. It’s distinct Art Deco style also makes it an architectural gem and something worth seeing, even if you don’t see a show.
Since its completion in 1940, the theater has shown an estimated 700 movie premieres, including the 1933 hit King Kong, which also made the Empire State Building popular. These days, Radio City Music Hall focuses on concerts, musicals, and full-stage events, such as the Grammy Awards.
Located in the Rockefeller Center between 50th and 51st Streets, you’ll instantly recognize this indoor theater for its neon lights and marquee sign. If you’re a theater nerd, this tour, in which you go behind the scenes and meet a Rockette, is a fun thing to do in NYC.
Speaking of the legendary Rockettes, you can watch these esteemed dancers flaunt their moves at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a must-see in NYC during the holidays.
If you visit at any other time of the year, you’ll still have an awesome experience. The Radio City Music Hall is a marvelous place filled with history, culture, and excitement. Along with its relics of the past, it hosts modern shows and performers, so check out the upcoming events before your trip.
30. SoHo, another place in NYC you don’t want to miss
SoHo is one of the most popular places to visit in New York City, thanks to its culturally creative atmosphere and connection to several famous artists. The name SoHo comes from “South of Houston Street” but is also a reference to the fashionable Soho London neighborhood in England.
SoHo began as an industrial area in the mid-1800s, and remnants of that industrialization remain today. That is part of the neighborhood’s charm, and over the decades, artists have moved in, transforming several buildings into loft apartments.
The area is unique for its cast-iron buildings with colorful façades and fire-escape stairs. Visitors are especially fond of the numerous art galleries, antique shops, and boutiques lining the streets. When you visit, check out The Mysterious Bookshop and The Poets House, two charming bookstores. Another NYC tourist attraction in SoHo is the Ghostbusters fire station.
While you’re strolling around SoHo, you may even spot a celebrity since many famous people own homes here and in neighboring Tribeca. Short for “Triangle Below Canal Street”, this district is another cool place to go in NYC. It’s also quite hip and full of celebs and is known for hosting the Tribeca Film Festival every spring.
Both SoHo and Tribeca offer the most incredible restaurants in Lower Manhattan and are great places to stay in New York City.
31. Chinatown, an awesome place to go in New York City
A visit to New York City isn’t complete without seeing Chinatown in Manhattan. While just about every city has a Chinatown, this NYC neighborhood is a distinct community and home to the state’s largest Asian population.
Of course, eating at Chinatown’s best restaurants is a top thing to do in the city. Shanghai 21, Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, and Joe’s Shanghai are just a few highly rated eateries.
Chinatown is also a shopping haven, especially along Canal Street and Mott Street. Here, you’ll find everything from knock-off brands to exotic items.
I also recommend spending some time sightseeing in New York‘s Chinatown. Columbus Park is a popular gathering spot where you’ll likely find people playing traditional instruments, practicing Tai Chi, or playing mahjong. Mahayana Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in New York, is also in Chinatown. MOCA (the Museum of Chinese in America) is also worth visiting for its cultural diversity exhibits.
If you travel to NYC during Chinese New Year, you’ll be in for a magical experience. Celebrating Lunar New Year in Chinatown is a special thing to do in New York City, with unique foods, parades, costumes, and firecrackers.
32. Eat at Little Italy, something you can’t miss in New York City
While you’re in Chinatown, hop over to Little Italy, NYC’s Italian neighborhood. With its proximity to Chinatown, Tribeca, and SoHo, this area is a top New York City attraction.
Over the years, the popularity and expansion of Chinatown have overshadowed Little Italy. Yet, the neighborhood is still a cool place to go in NYC.
The first Italian immigrants in New York settled in this area in the 1880s, leading to a conglomerate of Italian businesses, bakeries, and restaurants. Historically, problems like organized mafia crimes and poverty riddled the area, but today Little Italy is as safe as any other neighborhood in Manhattan.
You can learn more about the district’s history and growth on this walking tour through Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s interesting to hear how this section of NYC changed throughout the years.
By now, you’ll have worked up an appetite, so don’t leave without grabbing a bite to eat! Without a doubt, Little Italy is the best place in New York City for authentic Italian food. Mulberry Street is the most popular place to find mouth-watering pasta and Italian specialties. In mid-September, the street is blocked off and filled with food vendors for the Feast of San Gennaro.
33. Niagara Falls Tour, a breathtaking place to go near New York City
The magnificent Niagara Falls in upstate NY are several hours away from NYC, but they’re one of the most beautiful things to see in New York state. If you have time, I highly recommend making a trip to Niagara Falls, NY to see this natural wonder.
By car, it will take about 7 hours to get to Niagara Falls. But if you don’t want to drive, you can take a guided excursion or two-day tour to visit them. The most convenient option, if you can afford it, is this one day trip by air.
However, you get there, you won’t be disappointed once you step up to the American side of the falls and feel the spray on your face. From Niagara Falls State Park, you can see the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the Horseshoe Falls. To get up close and personal, ride the Maid of the Mist or visit the Cave of the Winds.
Our guide to visiting Niagara Falls includes all you need to know about the great attractions here, such as Terrapin Point on Goat Island. So, if you’re going to be in New York for longer than a week, add a visit to Niagara Falls to your list of things to do in New York City.
34. Visit Coney Island, another fun thing to do in NYC with kids
A trip to Coney Island is an enjoyable thing to do in New York City with kids. This iconic NY landmark will bring out the kid in anyone, so consider stopping by!
During the warmer months, have fun exploring Luna Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States. This is where you can ride the legendary Cyclone wooden roller coaster and the historic B&B Carousell. The Wonder Wheel is another New York City must-see at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The famous Ferris wheel features stationary cabins and several others that travel on tracks to opposite sides of the wheel.
Locals and tourists flock to Coney Island in the summer to spend time on the beach, boardwalk, and the town of Brighton Beach. This neighborhood has a large Russian-speaking population, which is reflected in the area’s bakeries, shops, and souvenirs.
Other things to do here include visiting the Abe Stark Skating Rink, Steeplechase Park, and the Ford Amphitheater.
35. Watch an NBA game at Madison Square Garden
Watching an NBA game at Madison Square Garden is one of the most exciting activities in New York City. The venue is an extraordinary event space in Midtown Manhattan with a nearly 20,000-person capacity.
Most people have watched an NBA game on TV, but it is a whole new experience when you attend a live NY Knicks game. The energy is electric and it’s like a big party. That moment when your team scores is a memorable time you’ll look back on. If there aren’t any games during your visit, but you still want to see the most famous arena in NYC, take this self-guided tour.
The Hulu Theater is a smaller indoor area at Madison Square Garden that hosts concerts, comedy shows, and other performances. So, even if you’re not a sports fan, you can see other fabulous events in this famous location. I suggest checking the official website to see what’s on the schedule during your trip.
Besides, Madison Square Garden is close to other NYC tourist attractions, such as the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and the famous Macy’s building at Herald Square. I suggest visiting these nearby areas before your game.
36. The Bronx, another interesting area in New York City
You can’t talk about New York City without mentioning The Bronx. It’s one of the main boroughs of NYC and the third-most-populous county in the United States.
The Bronx has long been a home for a diverse array of immigrants, as well as an international hub for hip-hop and Latin music. The cultural influence of The Bronx is undeniable, and dozens of celebrities hail from this famous place in New York City. A few examples include Jennifer Lopez, Billy Joel, and Steven Tyler.
The Bronx is across the Harlem River from Manhattan and boasts several popular New York City attractions. I suggest visiting Yankee Stadium and the New York Botanical Garden, which I’ll talk about later. You can also find poet Edgar Allan Poe’s former home in The Bronx. The Poe Cottage, which is now a museum, is one of the best places to visit in NYC if you’re a bookworm.
As you walk through this multicultural hub, you’re sure to hear several foreign languages, especially Spanish. There are an estimated 75 languages spoken in The Bronx alone! Along with Latin music, you’ll probably hear hip-hop, which originated in the South Bronx in the 1970s.
Besides its hip-hop culture, the South Bronx is known for its graffiti art and, unfortunately, gang fights and poverty. Revitalization efforts will hopefully improve the area, but in the meantime, I recommend only visiting during the day. Better yet, pair it with this 4-hour Contrasts tour, which I’ll talk about later.
37. Williamsburg, a unique cultural neighborhood in New York City
If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in NYC, visit the Williamsburg neighborhood. Originally an Orthodox Jewish community, this area of New York City has become a hub for contemporary art and hipster culture.
The neighborhood connects to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge and offers an intriguing mix of contrasts. To the north, you’ll find vintage shops and modern cafes while the south is home to Hebrew schools and temples.
The art scene here is something to see in New York City. Along Bedford Avenue, Berry Street, and Wythe Avenue, you’ll find popular murals like the Mona Lisa of Williamsburg, Elvis Presley War is Hell, and the Peace & Love Wall. Sao Paolo-based muralist Eduardo Kobra’s vibrant Basquiat and Warhol mural is a must-see. Australian artist Brolga also has several fantastic murals in north Williamsburg.
Also, be sure to walk along Lee Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the southern part of the neighborhood. Here, you’ll see many traditional Jewish sights, although the contemporary art culture is seeping into the area. On Saturdays, you’ll see devout residents heading to the synagogue, and many shops close for the Sabbath. Be sure to plan ahead so you can stop by Sander’s Bakery, a hotspot for locals and tourists.
38. Harlem, an unforgettable place to visit in New York City
It’s no secret that Harlem is one of the top places to go in NYC. While this northern Manhattan neighborhood suffered from a bad reputation in the past, today it’s a safe place to visit.
Harlem is best known for its African American roots, particularly during the Great Migration of the 1920s and 30s. The event sparked the Harlem Renaissance, in which African American culture took center stage and blossomed.
As a result, Harlem offers lots of unique and cool things to do in NYC. The area is home to the iconic Apollo Theater, where you can watch amateur performers every week. Several popular R&B and Soul groups originated here, so you never know!
I also recommend visiting the Jazz Museum and the Museo del Barrio to learn more about Harlem’s history and cultural contributions. The area also has a strong Christian presence and attending a gospel mass or performance is the most Harlem thing you can do. This energetic morning gospel tour will uplift you even if you aren’t religious.
Or, listen to some soulful jazz instrumentalists during this evening jazz concert. The emotionally moving and engaging atmosphere is something special to do in New York City.
39. Queens, a unique place to visit in NYC
If you are looking for diversity, the borough of Queens is one of the top places to visit in NYC. It’s among the largest boroughs in New York, and quite a popular area. Queens is the closest to Manhattan, on the western end of Long Island.
Like the Bronx, Queens is a multicultural area with diverse foods, customs, and languages. Here, you’ll run into large Asian, European, and Hispanic communities, each with a distinct personality. So, if you don’t know what to see in New York City, walk around Queens!
It’s also an artsy neighborhood, particularly the section of Long Island City. Queens was a centerpiece of the punk rock and jazz movements and was home to legends like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Interestingly, other musicians have come out of Queens, including Nicki Minaj and Run-D.M.C.
In Queens, you’ll find interesting NYC attractions like MoMA PS1 and the American Museum of the Moving Image. The latter is where you can see Freddie Krueger’s clawed glove and the spaceships from the first Men in Black movie. The John Bowne House, the oldest house in Queens, is another popular tourist site.
It’s also worth mentioning that Queens is a good place for cheap accommodation in New York and includes the JFK and La Guardia airports.
40. Take a Contrasts Tour, a popular thing to do in New York City
We’ve reviewed the five boroughs of NYC: Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Now, explore the diverse identities of each borough with a Contrasts Tour, one of the most interesting things to do in New York City.
This tour is one of the most popular ones, especially if it’s your first time in the Big Apple. I think it’s a great way to learn more about the interconnected identity of NYC as well as the specific influences of each area.
The guided tour begins in western Manhattan, where you’ll enjoy views of the Hudson River before moving into Harlem. From there, you’ll pass by iconic landmarks in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Williamsburg. The tour circles back to Manhattan’s Chinatown.
I think it’s important to learn more about the place you’re visiting, and New York City has a lot to offer besides the typical Manhattan hotspots. The Contrasts Tour will open your eyes to all the intricacies of NYC, and I’m sure you’ll get a different viewpoint from the usual New York sightseeing tours.
41. Wall Street, another iconic place to go in New York City
Wall Street is the financial district in Lower Manhattan and one of the most historic New York tourist attractions. Comprising eight city blocks, Wall Street probably gets its name from de Waalstraat, which is what Dutch settlers called the area in the 17th century.
There are lots of big important buildings here, but the most famous is the New York Stock Exchange. It’s one of the world’s largest stock exchanges and was founded over 225 years ago.
Another old building on Wall Street is Federal Hall, the state’s first city hall and the place where George Washington was elected the first President of the United States.
While you’re walking around this area, be sure to stop at Bowling Green, the oldest public park in NYC. It’s small but scenic and the site of the famous Charging Bull sculpture. This 7,100-pound, 11-foot-tall bronze bull is a national symbol of prosperity, but it also attracts criticism from anti-capitalists.
In 2017, the Fearless Girl statue made her debut for International Women’s Day. She originally stood across from the Charging Bull, but after the bull’s creator complained, she moved to a spot in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Both sculptures provide great photo opportunities for your visit to New York City.
42. New York Botanical Garden, one of the most beautiful places to go in NYC
The New York Botanical Garden was one of the first of its kind in the United States. Located in the gorgeous Bronx Park, it consists of 48 distinct gardens. The botanical garden is a National Historic Site and one of the top attractions in New York City.
Covering 250 acres, the gardens put on a lovely display throughout the seasons. Some of the highlights include the Azalea Garden, Children’s Adventure Garden, the Conifer Arboretum, the Orchid Collection, Rose Garden, and the Water Lilies and Lotuses.
The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is also popular. The Victorian-style greenhouse holds seasonal displays and visiting during the holidays is a romantic thing to do in NYC with your partner. I’m fond of the springtime Orchid Show at the Conservatory, which draws a huge crowd every year.
Also popular is the 2.5-acre Rock Garden, which is among the most beautiful rock gardens in the world. Go during April-November to see it in full splendor. It features a tranquil pond and cascading waterfall, creating a serene atmosphere.
Visiting the Botanical Garden is a fun thing to do in New York with kids, so consider this garden pass, which grants you access to everything on the grounds.
43. The Edge, one of the newest New York attractions
No, I’m not talking about U2’s lead guitarist The Edge. Rather, The Edge in Manhattan is the newest high-rise observatory over Hudson Yards. Situated over 1,100 feet in the air, this is one of the coolest places to visit in New York City.
What’s especially unique about The Edge is that it juts out at the Eastern Point, where it’s large enough for one person to stand and feel on top of the world. Angled glass walls create a more immersive (and somewhat terrifying) feeling.
The observation deck also has a glass floor, so if you’re brave enough, you can look down 100 floors to the street below. Without a doubt, The Edge provides unparalleled 360º views of NYC. There’s even a covered gazebo area so you can visit somewhat comfortably in the winter.
The attraction has a champagne bar where you can lounge and grab a cocktail, so it could be a nice thing to do in NYC for couples. The Edge is still a new addition to Manhattan’s tourism itinerary, but skip-the-line tickets are available. It’s also included in the New York C3 Pass and Sightseeing Pass.
44. Go to Prospect Park, a fun thing to do in New York City
The Edge is brand-new, but Prospect Park has long been one of the most beautiful places to visit in New York City. First opened in 1873, this Brooklyn public park is a great spot for relaxing among the flowers in NYC’s concrete jungle.
As an NYC scenic landmark, Prospect Park takes up over 525 acres and is a gorgeous area to rest, have a picnic, or get some exercise. Long Meadow is a flat open area with playgrounds and tennis courts, perfect for relaxing or people-watching. I also recommend stopping by Prospect Park Lake where you can rent a paddleboat.
Ideally, you’ll have enough time to walk around and explore all there is to see here. For example, the Ravine runs through much of the park. Take a stroll past waterways such as Fallkill Pool and Binnen Waterfall. On the eastern side of the park, you’ll find the Prospect Park Carousel and Concert Grove, where we saw a Vance Joy concert one year.
Another Prospect Park attraction I recommend is the Boathouse on the Lullwater of the Lake. This gorgeous building reflects the neoclassical Grecian style and looks picture-perfect next to the water.
As an urban park, it is close to other New York City attractions such as the Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Plus, if you go on a Sunday between April and October, you can grab a bite to eat at the Smorgasburg Market.
45. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, one of the best museums in NYC
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a maritime history museum at Pier 86. It’s an interesting place to see a substantial collection of military ships including its namesake, the USS Intrepid.
Even if you’re not a war buff or super into maritime history, I think you’ll find some curiosities at the museum. Besides its collection of Cold War submarines and military aircraft, you’ll also see the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter of the Space Shuttle System.
Among the museum pieces here, the Lockheed A-12, a supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, is one of the most impressive. Plus, you can learn what it’s like to be a military aircraft pilot by stepping into one of the museum’s flight simulators.
If you’re looking for things to do in New York City with kids, the Intrepid Museum is a good choice. The museum’s hangar deck has an interactive Exploreum exhibition tailored to families, where they can climb into a helicopter and have fun learning about history.
This isn’t the cheapest museum, but it’s a unique thing to do in NYC. The admission is included with the New York Pass.
46. Chelsea Market, the perfect place to eat in New York City
Chelsea Market occupies a full city block in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and you’ll pass by it on 10th Avenue if you travel along the High Line.
The Chelsea Market building is the former site of the Nabisco Oreo factory, although today it sells much more than cookies. The remodeled food hall includes a shopping mall and TV production studio, but the food is what makes it a top NYC tourist attraction.
Start on the underground floor of the market, which includes a supermarket and fresh produce stalls, as well as Pearl River Mart, a popular Asian-American retailer. Go up another floor and explore a food court filled with everything from specialty wines and chocolates to Thai noodles and Italian pasta and all kinds of artisanal products.
The upper floor of Chelsea Market is occupied with office spaces for Google, YouTube, Food Network, and other companies. There is so much to see in this one location, so it’s a must-do during your New York visit.
47. The Chrysler Building, another must-see landmark in New York City
The Chrysler Building is one of the tallest skyscrapers in New York, towering nearly 1,050 feet high. The huge office building is also a great example of the city’s Art Deco architecture and is one of the most stunning tourist attractions in NYC‘s Midtown.
While it’s no longer the world’s tallest skyscraper, it was the very first to exceed 1,000 feet. The Chrysler Building is a famous place in New York City for another reason – its appearance in several blockbuster films, such as Armageddon, Spiderman, and The Fantastic Four. Curiously, King Kong was initially going to climb the Chrysler Building, but the producers chose the Empire State Building instead!
There are lots of viewpoints where you can admire the structure’s architecture, but my favorite is the Tudor City Bridge. If you can, you should visit during Manhattanhenge, also known as the Manhattan Solstice. During this time, the sun aligns with the city streets’ grid pattern, creating an iconic photo opportunity.
Of course, that takes a lot of planning, so don’t worry too much about it. The Chrysler Building looks amazing at any time of year, and there are talks to redesign the 71st-floor observation deck, which has been closed since 1945.
48. Ride the Roosevelt Island cable car, an unforgettable thing to do in New York City
Riding the Roosevelt Island cable car is something you must do in NYC. The tramway links Manhattan’s Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island and spans the East River. Not only is this a fun and unforgettable ride, but you’ll also get unparalleled views of the city skyline.
Climb aboard the tram and enjoy the quick three-minute ride to Roosevelt Island. The cable car ascends about 250 feet over the river and travels at about 16 mph. As with other forms of public transit, the tram is included in the NYC MetroCard.
I would plan about half a day to explore Roosevelt Island. You can get around via the free red buses that travel around the island. The area has several green spaces, as well as a waterfront promenade that encircles the Island. At its northern tip, you’ll find the Blackwell Island Lighthouse, which was built in 1872.
My favorite part of the Island is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Park, a lovely waterfront park that commemorates FDR’s 1941 Four Freedoms speech. From the park benches, you can see the Manhattan skyline to one side and the Queens cityscape to the other. It’s a nice thing to do in NYC on a clear day.
49. New York Helicopter tour, an extraordinary thing to do in NYC
If you’re looking for something special to do in New York, maybe for a birthday or anniversary, I highly recommend a helicopter tour. There is no better experience than flying over Manhattan and seeing those iconic skyscrapers from above.
We’ve done this tour twice and speak from experience when we say the ride is addictive. If you’re a photographer, you’ll get outstanding pictures from this unique birds-eye viewpoint. However, if you simply want an unforgettable experience, I suggest booking this night tour (we have taken it once).
The day tour includes a flight over the Hudson River and past the Statue of Liberty to Manhattan’s financial district. You’ll see NYC tourist attractions like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Central Park. You have to see these sights firsthand to understand how magical it all is. Plus, if you do the tour at night, everything is lit up and the glimmery landscape looks incredible.
The helicopters can hold five or six people along with the pilot, so it’s a good thing to do in NYC for couples or friends. The day tour has a 15-minute or 20-minute option, and I highly recommend the extra five minutes because you’ll be able to see the Palisades, one of the best things to do in New Jersey. The night tour lasts 30 minutes and will leave you speechless.
50. The Cloisters, a breathtaking place to visit in New York City
The Cloisters is an extraordinary place to see in NYC, although it’s an easily forgotten attraction. The Cloisters is under the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s management, but the site is further north in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Still, it’s an incredibly peaceful place worth visiting.
This museum focuses on medieval Gothic art and architecture, which you’ll immediately recognize when you arrive. There are four cloisters, or covered walkways, as well as architectural remnants of French monasteries and abbeys. Lovely courtyard gardens add to the tranquil allure of this museum. Plus, it’s in Fort Tyron Park, which offers miles of relaxing trails along the Hudson River.
Along with the impressive Romanesque architecture, be sure to explore the inside of the museum, which is full of pieces from the Middle Ages. With about 5,000 paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and manuscripts, this is where to go in NYC if you’re a fan of medieval art. The museum also has a collection of about 300 panels of stained glass.
A general admission ticket to the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes access to The Cloisters. Admission is also included in the Sightseeing Pass, the New York City Pass, the New York City Explorer Pass, and the New York Pass.
51. Tour NBC Studios, the best activity to do in New York City
If you watch network television, you’re familiar with NBC Studios, which produces The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, and several other popular shows. Located at the historic Rockefeller Plaza, it’s an exciting place to visit in New York City.
The best way to explore NBC Studios is with this guided tour, which takes you behind the scenes of some well-known films and TV shows, such as The Tonight Show, Sex And The City, and Seinfeld. Plus, you’ll see the iconic sights at Radio City Music Hall and Central Park, among others.
This is one of the coolest things to do in New York City, especially since you can see how the producers make and film a television program. You can even sit down and create your own five-minute recording, just like the professionals. You’ll end the tour with one of the most unique souvenirs from NBC Studios – a program of your making.
I recommend this tour because not only do you go through NBC Studios, but you also get a brief walking tour around the landmarks around Rockefeller Plaza. This NYC tourist attraction is an activity you won’t find anywhere else.
52. New York TV & Movie Tour, another exciting thing to do in NYC
It’s no secret that NYC is a popular venue for film and TV sets. While you might spot a random celebrity or film crew during your visit to New York, this guided TV and Movie Tour will take you to the most notable spots in the city.
The three-hour tour includes visits to Greenwich Village, Central Park, the Upper East Side, and other famous places in New York City. Your guide will point out the Daily Bugle offices from Spiderman, the hotels featured in Ocean’s 8, and several other emblematic TV and movie sites.
I also liked this tour through Central Park, which will transport you to some of your favorite scenes from memorable movies like Home Alone 2 and When Harry Met Sally. Without a doubt, this is one of the most unique things to do in NYC, a city with rich cinema history.
If you’re a super-fan of Gossip Girl, The Sopranos, or Sex and the City, you’ll love their respective set tours. There is even a Superhero Tour for DC and Marvel fans, which I think would be a fun thing to do with kids in NYC.
53. Go to a speakeasy or pub, the best thing to do in New York City at night
Enjoying the nightlife at a New York speakeasy has become a popular thing to do, so if you’ve never done this before, now’s the time!
The city’s speakeasies are relics of the country’s Prohibition past when the buying and selling of alcohol were forbidden in the 1920s and early 1930s. This three-hour speakeasy tour will take you to some of New York’s best-kept secrets, such as McSorley’s Old Ale House. The oldest Irish pub in the city, it’s like a hidden time capsule.
If you’d rather visit a speakeasy on your own, I recommend Please Don’t Tell cocktail bar, The Back Room, Angel’s Share, Blue Quarter, and Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball. You’ll find other great ones depending on which neighborhood you’re in, so maybe ask some locals for their advice! Anyway, it’s one of the most iconic things to do in NYC at night.
54. Visit a club or rooftop bar, another great way to see NYC’s nightlife
Another enjoyable thing to do in NYC at night is to go barhopping in the city. Thanks to all the impressive skyscrapers, New York City is a haven for rooftop bars and clubs. If you’re a night owl, there’s no better way to stay awake than by taking in the magnificent rooftop sights while sipping a drink.
If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest visiting the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar. It’s my favorite place in New York City for views of the Empire State Building, day or night. You might also check out the Empire Hotel Rooftop Bar, which overlooks the Lincoln Center and Upper West Side and serves delicious appetizers.
A few other popular places include the 54 Rooftop Bar & Lounge in Times Square, the Spyglass Rooftop Bar in Midtown, the Gallow Green in Chelsea, and the Penthouse808 Rooftop-Bar in Queens.
The Meatpacking District has the best places in New York City for dinner and drinks. If you visit 1 OAK, also known as the celebrity club, you might see a famous actor or musician. Here, you’ll also find El Cielo, a techno-electro nightclub, and Le Bain, a cheaper alternative.
The Hell’s Kitchen area has a more youthful vibe if that’s what you’re looking for. Check out the Atlas Social Club, The Bunker at Output, and The Bell House.
55. Try a NY pizza, the most popular food in New York City
New Yorkers often boast about having the best pizza outside of Italy, and I can’t argue with that! If you want to go to the best places in New York City for pizza, you’ll need patience since the lines usually wind around the block. What did you expect?
The United States’ first pizzeria, Lombardi’s, can be found in NYC. It opened in 1905 in Little Italy and was run by Gennaro Lombardi. Today, you can find it on the corner of Mott Street not far from the original location, and it’s still run by the Lombardi family. This is one of the top pizza shops to get a traditional Neapolitan pie.
There are other wildly popular pizzerias in NYC, such as John’s of Bleecker Street, which opened in 1929. The fresh tomato pie from John’s hot coal-fired oven is something that’s out of this world.
I should also mention Patsy’s Pizzeria, which opened in Harlem in 1933. The family eventually sold the shop to their faithful employees, although one of the nephews opened a pizzeria in Brooklyn under the same name. After a dispute, the original Patsy’s kept the name, while the new one took the name Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
The story doesn’t end there though! After the success of Grimaldi’s, the owner sold it for half a million dollars. However, Grimaldi didn’t get along with this new partner, so Patsy Grimaldi opened a new pizza shop called Juliana’s Pizzeria. It’s located just a few stores away from Grimaldi’s, sparking an ongoing feud of who has the best pizza. You’ll have to go to find out!
56. Find the best hot dogs in New York, another fun thing to do in NYC
You may find it strange that the papaya-and-hotdog combo is all the rage in New York City. Or, maybe not, as Papaya King has been selling tropical fruit juices alongside their famous hotdogs since 1932.
Papaya King founder Gus Poulos opened his shop in the Upper East Side after a vacation in Cuba. Back in the 1930s, many of his customers were neighboring German immigrants. They weren’t interested in fresh fruit juice, so to entice them, Poulos added frankfurters to the menu. It was such a success that imitators began popping up around the city.
One of those shops is Gray’s Papaya, which opened in the mid-1970s in Greenwich Village. It ended up surpassing Papaya King in popularity and is a top New York City attraction for those who are looking for the top dogs in the city. Best of all, Gray’s Papaya is open 24 hours a day!
Of course, the hotdog stand that most people recognize is Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island. The company has been selling hotdogs since 1916, and they have a shining reputation as the best in town, so you’ll have to try one. Nathan’s is also famous for the 4th of July hotdog-eating contest. The current record is 76 dogs in 10 minutes!
57. Enjoy a classic hamburger, another must-do in New York City
New York City offers some of the best food in the world, but no one is too good for a classic hamburger. Fortunately, there are several phenomenal burger joints to visit in New York, so I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer as to which is the top place to get a burger in the city. Even so, there are a few restaurants that always seem to be at the top of the list.
Some of the burger spots we’ve tried and love include Shake Shack and Burger Joint. The former is perfect for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike, and there are several chains throughout the city. My favorite is the Shroom Burger, a portobello mushroom smothered in cheddar cheese. Burger Joint is hidden near the reception desk at the Parker Hotel on West 56th Street, so trying their burgers is a very curious thing to do in NYC.
If you’re not sure where to go in NYC for a mouth-watering burger, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Five Guys, one of the most well-known hamburger chains in the country. There is also 5Napkin Burger, which has locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Union Square, and the Upper East and West Sides. It’s impossible to eat one of these massive burgers on-the-go, so enjoy dining in.
58. Take a trip to Washington, D.C., a popular day trip from New York City
Not only is Washington D.C. the capital of the United States, but it’s also close to NYC, making it a perfect side excursion. If you’re going to spend more than a week in the Big Apple, you should consider taking advantage of one of the many day trips to Washington D.C.
Living in Philadelphia, we’re just two hours from the nation’s capital, so we like to go at least twice a year. While we’ve always driven there ourselves, some of our readers have booked this tour and said they loved it. So, if you don’t have a car in New York City, this bus ride and day tour is the perfect solution.
Before you go, I suggest checking out our guide on things to do in Washington D.C. Some of the must-see places include the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and historic Arlington Cemetery, just to name a few. You also can’t go wrong with a visit to the Smithsonian Institution Museums on the National Mall.
As you can see, this day trip is one of the best things to do from New York City.
59. Take a tour of Philadelphia, a fun excursion from New York City
Philadelphia is a great place to live. We’re just two hours from NYC and Washington D.C. But I also think it’s a very nice city to visit, so I recommend you to take a trip here if you’re going to spend enough time in NYC.
Philly is full of history, culture, art, and personality. Being a major metropolitan city, it’s like NYC but also different in several ways. It just may be the city with the most history in the U.S. since it’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
If you’re in New York City without a car, I suggest taking this tour, which includes a pitstop in Lancaster’s Amish Country. However, if you’d rather plan your itinerary, check out our guide on things to do in Philadelphia.
Whether you take the tour or do your own thing, you must see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Betsy Ross House, and the old Georgian houses of Elfreth’s Alley. Another top tourist attraction is the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rocky Steps.
If you take the tour, you’ll get to see the traditional Amish Country of Lancaster, where you’ll see a completely different way of life. I work around here, and I’ve gotten used to seeing their horse-drawn buggies, although it was quite a shock the first time!
I’d recommend a trip to Philly if you have about 10 days in NYC, as it’s one of the best trips to take from New York City.
60. Visit Boston, another trip you should take from NYC
Another city to visit from New York that I highly recommend is Boston, one of the oldest cities in America. I’ve only gone there in my car, but one reader told us about the great experience he had with this excursion to Boston from the Big Apple.
Boston’s historic center is where you’ll find some iconic landmarks, such as Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. The tour also includes stops at the Old State House, which is where the Declaration of Independence was read in 1776, and the Boston Massacre Site from 1770.
Other hotspots around Boston include the Copley Square area, Fenway Park, the North End neighborhood, and the Charlestown area.
If you’re not going to be in New York City for too long, then I don’t recommend making the trip to Boston. However, if you’ve got more than 10 days in NYC, a visit to Boston can be an interesting day trip.
Now that you know all the things to do in New York City, here is a map so you can easily find them and plan your ideal trip.
If you need any other maps, you can take a look at our article on tourist maps of New York City. I also recommend you read our guide on where to stay in NYC. This is such a big city, so you must choose someplace close to the main attractions or near public transportation.
That’s all I have for you! Hopefully, you’re ready to decide which places you want to visit during your trip. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or suggestions.
I wish you safe travels and a happy trip to New York City, the city that never sleeps!