The Best Things To Do In New York City
As one of the most popular destinations in the United States, New York City has so much to offer any visitor – whether you’re here just for the weekend or want to dedicate a week or more to exploring the various streets, neighbourhoods and tourist hotspots. The largest city in the country, New York City is the place to go when you want to explore theatres, museums, restaurants and scenic locations – all within walking distance or use of public transportation.
No matter how much time you have to spend in New York City, you can create a fun itinerary that will take you all over the city. From walking around the expansive Central Park in midtown to exploring Wall Street downtown and everywhere in between, there is no shortage of sights and experiences to absorb during your stay.
At every turn, there is an iconic New York City destination waiting to be explored. From Times Square and all of the eye-catching displays to the nearby Broadway and world-renowned plays and musical productions, you can easily spend an entire day walking up and down the various streets – including the famous Fifth Avenue. Midtown Manhattan has a good number of things to see including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, all within walking distance.
Of course, what to eat while in New York City is another thing to consider. Street food is definitely popular in the city and is quite inexpensive when you want to eat on the go. While there are plenty of famous restaurants to visit during your stay, no trip to the Big Apple is complete without eating a street cart hot dog, freshly baked bagel and a slice of pizza. Looking for a delicious dessert to finish your day? Authentic New York City cheesecake from Junior’s is always a good choice.
Explore the city by foot – walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to the nearby borough of Brooklyn, or venture into the architecturally stunning Grand Central Station to hop on the subway and visit any of the countless stops throughout Manhattan and surrounding boroughs!
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK CITY…
Top of the Rock
Head to the Rockefeller Centre for a great view of the city from the Top of the Rock. The observation decks are spread over three levels on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors, and offer uninterrupted views of New York; on the highest level, the viewing is open and ideal for that perfect photo! In addition, the Top of the Rock is not as famous or well-known as other observation decks throughout the city, which makes it a hidden gem!
Statue of Liberty
This iconic New York tourist attraction needs no introduction; a gift from France in 1886, the Statue of Liberty stands 46 metres high on Liberty Island at the entrance to New York Harbour. You can take a guided, or self-guided tour of the island, and you can make the experience even more special with a trip to the “Pedestal”!
One World Observatory
Located in Lower Manhattan, experience the city below from the One World Observatory – the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Be inspired by the super-fast elevator trip to the 100th floor. During this trip, which takes less than a minute, time lapse technology will showcase the city as it evolved from the year 1500 to the present day! Once you have reached the observation deck, you can take in the sights of the city skyline and the waterways which surround it, it truly is an experience you will never forget.
The magnificent Manhattan Skyline is one on man’s greatest achievements and has been the star of many movies throughout time! Find a vantage point and sit for a while to take in the beauty of New York’s skyline at night. Pick out the buildings that you may have visited, or plan a tour for the coming days. Of course, you could make this a truly unique experience and view the skyline by helicopter!
You can’t visit New York without exploring Broadway! Spreading out from Times Square, the locale known as Broadway is famous for its theatres, with world premieres often reserved for the most famous of the theatres. The hustle and bustle of Broadway never stops; purchase tickets to a musical, a drama or a concert, and experience the magic for yourself!
Empire State Building
Everything about your visit to the Empire State Building is high! You zoom up to the observation deck in a high-speed elevator, the observation deck is so high you get 360-degree views of the entire city, and you can use high-powered binoculars to zero in on areas of interest that are too far away for the naked eye to see. You can also be sure to get high with the adrenalin rush of a visit to one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions!
National September 11 Memorial & Museum
As the water cascades from the fountains at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, memories will also flood back to that terrible day. Take time to reflect on the tragedy, read the names inscribed on the memorial of those taken that day, and sit and absorb the serene greenspace that honours the brave. A visit to this memorial in Lower Manhattan is an essential part of your visit to New York.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
If aircraft, ships and shuttles are your thing, they really come alive at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum! Head down to Pier 86 and see aircraft carriers, fighter jets and even a real-life submarine, up-close and in the flesh! On the flight deck of the USS Intrepid, there are 17 aircraft on display, and if your into space travel, you can head over to the Space Shuttle Pavilion and explore the trials and tribulations of the space program, as well as see the first ever space shuttle, “Enterprise”.
New York Stock Exchange
Near the centre of Manhattan lies the New York Stock Exchange; arguably the centre of modern-day capitalism. Each day, stock markets around the world wait to see the direction this exchange sets for its share prices, at which time they usually follows its lead. You can no longer visit the inside – one of the consequences of 9/11 – but you can soak up the heady atmosphere as you photograph the impressive architecture of the building’s façade.
The High Line is an absolute gem; located right in the centre of New York it provides a great way to get your bearings of the city. Once an elevated railway line, and then abandoned, its transformation into a beautiful walkway above the city streets is a testament to the innovation of New Yorkers. From Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, meander along the pathway through this green oasis, admiring the sculptures and the street art. And if you get tired along the way, stop and rest for a while at one of the many park benches!
In the early years of New York’s planning, the architects of Central Park must have been extraordinary visionaries – saving 340 acres of magnificent parkland in the centre of what was to become an enormous, sprawling metropolis! Stroll the walkways, take in the zoo, admire the fountains, explore the reservoir, and see local New Yorkers at play. Grab a bite to eat and visit gardens such as Strawberry Fields or the John Lennon Memorial Gardens, or just sit back and relax in the centre of one of the greatest cities on earth, New York!
You’d have to be square to not enjoy a visit to Times Square! This iconic and legendary space is the hub of New York, and is one of the most recognised tourist attractions associated with the city, world-wide. Theatres abound, restaurants buzz, and advertisers use neon signs to dazzle you into a trance from which there is no escape. Glitz and glamour is what Times Square is all about, so jump into a sea of excitement, have fun, and soak up the unmatched atmosphere that is New York!
Sit for while in Wall Street; absorb the hustle and bustle of the people who work in what is arguable the epicentre of the world’s finances. How this district has changed over time; once part of a tiny settlement, now fortunes are made and lost here on a daily basis, and can be done so in a matter of minutes! Pushing finances to the side, there is also many examples of beautiful architecture in this district, so a walk through the streets and lanes is full of interest, and well-advised!
A key transport artery for the city, the Manhattan Bridge carries over 450,000 people a day from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Once the peak hour traffic has subsided, you can walk or bike across this bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the East River, or if you’re in a rush, you can always catch a train. This New York landmark is also a beautiful sight as the sun sets, so if you have the time to sit back and relax, be sure to experience it first-hand!
To truly appreciate modern New York, you first need to experience the history of the people who forged it, and The Tenement Museum will let you experience just that. Located in Orchard Street in Manhattan, a guided tour of this museum – such as the Sweatshops tour, or the Irish Outsiders tour – will transport back in time to when the city faced many hardships and struggles. You will see displays and hear talks of the city’s living conditions and the daily challenges the migrants faced – this is truly a fascinating experience.
In a city that has grown up around the river, bridges are an essential part of the New York infrastructure! Thus, the Williamsburg Bridge was built in 1896 when it became clear that better links were needed between Brooklyn and Manhattan. So much has changed since then, as Brooklyn has become an increasingly popular location to live and work. Take a walk over the bridge and appreciate its importance as you take in the surrounding sights.
Take some time out and spend an afternoon walking around the beautiful New York locale of Greenwich Village, located on the west side of Lower Manhattan. With a long-standing reputation as “bohemian”, this area has become gentrified, and you need to be quite affluent to live here. Stroll the narrow streets, have a coffee and a meal, and watch the world go by like you don’t have a care in the world!
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge and you’re in New York’s most populous borough, Brooklyn. This up and coming area is filled with bars and restaurants, as well as many historic attractions. Bold and brash, you can visit the many markets, parks, and even Coney Island for fun. In Brooklyn, there is a twist around every turn!
When you visit New York, you might want to consider staying in Queens! Its accommodation is often cheaper than the more touristy areas, and it holds some of the city’s most famous local gems. Queens is a great place to stay, being well located to easily get around the city. Once you’ve toured Manhattan, take some time to stroll through Chinatown in Queens, or relax in Corona Park, which is home to the Unisphere, the largest metal globe mapping the world!
The Majestic Theatre is well named – the building truly is, majestic! Home to many of the world’s greatest theatre productions, you can visit the lobby, but to admire the decorative interior you will have to see a show. What a great way to get immersed in the culture and architecture of this great cultural city!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Whether you come to marvel at the architecture, or to worship, a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral is a must – five million visitors per year can’t be wrong! This gothic style Catholic Cathedral stands on Madison Avenue, and was built in 1878. You are welcome to worship, light a candle, or listen to the organ recitals, but if you just want to admire the Catehdral itself, there is the soaring ceilings, the priceless artworks, the endless stained glass, and the of course, the chapels!
New World Stages
Welcome to “Off-Broadway”; at New World Stages you are visiting one of the newer New York theatre complexes on offer. Visit the underground bar for a drink, and then enjoy a show at one of the five stages within the complex. Modern and quirky, the productions change regularly and include readings, concerts and plays. While you’re there, be sure you also take in the art gallery!
Take some time out to relax at Battery Park; these 25 acres of tranquillity on the southern edge of Manhattan, are in stark contrast to the city that never sleeps. The park provides you with a chance to re-charge the batteries and take in the sights of the Statue of Liberty and the harbour, as you relax on a nice park bench or study the memorials that are scattered throughout.
Head to SoHo to experience a relaxed but sophisticated New York. Once the place for artists to hang out – living in lofts – SoHo (“South of Houston”) is a bright and exciting district of lower Manhattan, full of trendy boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Take the day to walk the streets and take in the beautiful architecture of this vibrant locale – if you pay attention, you’ll notice the extensive use of cast iron!
Bring your curiosity to Fifth Avenue – and your wallet, if you’re planning on going shopping! This iconic Avenue is famous for its shopping, so head to 49th Street and take a stroll to see some of the most expensive and exclusive shops in the world. Window shop, or buy – either way, its great fun! Once you’re done shopping, head to the “Museum Mile” and immerse yourself in history at one of the many museums, including the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art.
General Grant National Memorial
Step back in time and visit the General Grant National Memorial, which honours the family of one of the country’s great peacemakers. The memorial includes the tombs of General Grant and his wife, Julia Grant. Crafted from granite and marble, this impressive structure includes galleries that take you through the life and history of this famous General. The memorial itself is located in Manhattan’s Morning Side district and is open year-round, so why not pop in for a visit!
New York Harbor
New York Harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River, is a hard-working part of the city, but it also offers some beautiful scenery! You can view this picturesque harbor from the surrounding walkways, the many bridges, and of course, the piers that line its edges. Take a dinner cruise and glide past the Statue of Liberty, or if you’re looking for a more budget way to see the harbor, take the Staten Island Ferry! If you’re feeling active and you’re looking for a bit of adventure, you can also go kayaking or explore the waters by Jet Ski!
As you stroll along the “Museum Mile”, take a trip to The Cloisters, and absorb the culture and art of the medieval era. Part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“The Met”), you will be taken on an artistic journey through the 12th to 15th centuries, with the paintings, tapestries and carvings telling a fascinating story!
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