New York City is a treasure trove of discovery and adventure. There’s something for everyone, whether you come in search of culture, history, entertainment, food, or sports. Since it’s impossible to take in all the highlights, we put together a shortlist of the best 20 things to do during your visit (in no particular order).
- Central Park
Created as a getaway for Manhattan residents, Central Park covers 843 acres and is home to meadows, lakes, and wildlife. New York City’s most beloved natural gem offers visitors a chance to explore endless greenery while discovering unique sites like the Belvedere Castle atop Vista Rock, the Bow Bridge, and Alice in Wonderland sculpture. Looking for the best way to see it all? Check out the bike rentals and tours.
The High Line
Source: The New York Times
Once an elevated freight rail line that transported industrial materials above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side, The High Line is a public park where visitors can walk 1.45 miles of green space. Stroll amidst a thriving landscape of plants and flowers while taking in picturesque views of the Hudson and city. You’ll also find food vendors and seating areas to relax. Free public tours and private tours are offered.
Source: A Slice of Brooklyn
Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is renowned as a marvel of civil engineering. Spanning the East River, it connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. A pedestrian footpath lets you take in the bridge’s soaring Gothic arches and cables while admiring sweeping views of the city line.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The largest museum in the United States, the Metropolitan Museum boasts a permanent collection ranging in art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt to modern and contemporary periods. There’s also space devoted to Islamic and Asian art, European sculpture and decorative arts, American art, and photography. Spending a day touring the museum’s endless galleries is like traveling through time and place.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Source: Wall Street Journal
Marked by its cylindrical building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a city landmark. You’ll get to see early modern masterpieces by Kandinsky, Cezanne, and Gauguin from the museum’s permanent collection alongside special exhibitions featuring work by contemporary artists.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Source: Local Projects
Located in downtown Manhattan, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum remembers and honors the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives in the attacks of September 11, 2011. A symbol of hope and renewal, the memorial features two waterfalls, reflecting pools, and harvested trees. Through multimedia displays, artifacts, and narratives, visitors to the museum have opportunity to learn about the victims. Guided tours available.
Museum of Modern Art
Source: Women's Voices for Change
Home to a world-renowned collection of modern and contemporary art, the Museum of Modern Art offers visitors the chance to see masterpieces by Picasso, Rothko, and Warhol just to name a few. Check the calendar for a schedule of free public tours. Be sure to stop at the MoMA Store where you’ll find the best assortment of art and design inspired products.
Statue of Liberty
Source: Reader's Digest
Travel by ferry to Liberty Island to see one of the world’s most impressive national monuments. A symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty was a sight of welcome for immigrants arriving to the United States. Your ferry ticket comes with a complimentary self-guided audio tour. Free park ranger guided tours are also available. Reservations are required for access to the pedestal and crown.
Grand Central Terminal
Stepping into Grand Central Terminal is like stepping back in time when the city thrived on the belief “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Highlights include the dazzling blue and gold astronomical ceiling and Dining Concourse where you’ll find the legendary Oyster Bar. Stop by the Grand Central Market for an artisanal selection of cheese, chocolate, coffee, baked goods and more.
Empire State Building
Source: Ask Ideas
This 102-story skyscraper is at the top of the list of things to do in New York City. Admired for its distinct Art Deco style architectural style, the Empire State Building soars as an American cultural icon. It is open to visitors everyday from 8 am to 2 am. For a 360-degree view of the city, head to Observation Deck, which wraps around the building’s spire.
American Museum of Natural History
Since 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has housed a world-class collection of specimens from human culture, the natural world, and universe. Where else will you find dinosaur skeletons, meteorites, a slice of a 1400-year-old sequoia tree, a Dodo bird skeleton, and 94 feet long Blue Whale model under one roof? Public tours are free with admission.
For almost two centuries, Coney Island has offered New Yorkers a leisurely respite from city life. This beloved destination has much to offer including an amusement park, beach and boardwalk, and aquarium. During the summer, nothing beats a Nathan’s Famous hotdog paired with a cool pint from the Brooklyn Brewing Co.
Whitney Museum of Art
The leading cultural institution of American art, the Whitney is home to work by Edward Hopper, Joseph Albers, Alexander Calder, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, and Cindy Sherman among others. Experience this outstanding art collection in the Whitney’s new building located at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington streets in the Meatpacking district.
Tenement Museum of New York City
Source: Press Herald
Manhattan’s Lower East Side was the starting place for many immigrants arriving to America to begin a new life. You can learn about their experiences and stories at the Tenement Museum of New York City. Tours of apartments and the surrounding neighborhood offer a rare look at immigrant life during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Flushing Meadows – Corona Park
Source: Livesey Images
Flushing Meadows – Corona Park hosted the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair, establishing it as a destination point on the international map. The second fair was commemorated with the iconic Unisphere, which continues to be the park’s main sculptural feature. It’s home to some of New York City’s best attractions including Citi Field, the U.S. Open venue, the Queens Museum, and the Queens Zoo.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Source: Owl Tours
For one of the most stunning panoramic views of New York City, head to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. From decks at the 67, 69, and 70th floors, you’ll see the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Central Park. Other highlights include the Radiance Wall and Breezeway.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Source: Nova York & Voce
Visitors head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to explore its many beautiful gardens and conservancies. A main attraction is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, recognized as one the oldest and most frequented Japanese inspired gardens outside of Japan. One of the best times to visit is during Cherry Blossom season when the trees are in full blossom.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Source: Alpha Coders
Completed in 1879, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is New York City’s most celebrated sacred building. Its stunning neo-Gothic style façade and peaceful interior offer visitors a retreat in the middle of the busy city. Check the schedule for information about guided tours.
See a Broadway Show
Seeing a Broadway Show is a quintessential New York City experience. You have your pick from critically acclaimed plays to long-running musicals that forever have our hearts. With plenty of restaurants and bars that cater the theater crowd, you can grab a pre-show meal or nightcap.
One of New York City’s biggest attractions, Times Square feels like the world’s biggest carnival. Its nonstop energy pulsates with dazzling neon signs, brightly lit billboards, and a colorful cast of street performers. Other notable highlights in the area include Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and the Naked Cowboy.
There’s no other place in the world like New York City. It pulses with a contemporary heartbeat while holding close memories of the past. Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned visitor, there’s something new and exciting to do. And with just a little planning, you’ll be guaranteed the ultimate travel experience every time you go.