Looking for things to do in New York City?
If so, you’re not alone. A record 60 million tourists visited New York City and its many attractions in 2015. As a high-energy, globally influential center of finance, art, food and fashion, there is no shortage of fun and exciting things to do and see in New York.
The most populous city in the United States, and the most photographed city in the world, New York is home to dozens of internationally recognized iconic sites and attractions. From the world-class museums and shops, to the towering skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan… from the neon and glitz of Times Square, to the lush and leafy lawns of Central Park… there’s something for everyone in New York.
With all of these tantalizing options, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip to New York City. But instead of trying to see and do it all, we recommend you put these 25 sites at the top of your NYC attraction to-do list…
1Empire State Building
An international landmark, Art Deco masterpiece, and the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years, the Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 5th Ave. between West 33rd and 34th Streets. With nearly 4 million visitors a year, it’s also one of New York City’s most popular attractions.
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano
2The High Line
Once an abandoned elevated railway track overgrown with weeds, the High Line is now a 1.5-mile long city park teeming with native grasses, trees and shrubs. Located on Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line attracts more than 5 million visitors each year to the previously run-down neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District.
Photo Credit: Jerseygal2009
3Top of the Rock
Crowning the GE Building high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock offers visitors breathtaking, unobstructed views on the observation deck’s three different levels on the on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. First opened in 1931, and reopened again in 2005 after a 20 year shutdown, the indoor and outdoor observations decks offer unparalleled views of the city.
Photo Credit: Zé Carlos Barretta
A vast, majestic and magical urban oasis – right in the middle of Manhattan. Established in 1857, Central Park is New York City’s “backyard.” 2.5 miles long and half a mile wide. With 26,000 trees and 58 miles of paths running through 843 acres of wooded and landscaped grounds, Central Park is a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki
5Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty or “Lady Liberty” is a colossal neoclassical sculpture that was a gift presented to the United States by France in 1886. Since that time, it has been a symbol of hope and freedom for millions of people fleeing poverty and hardship. 151 feet high, and set upon a 154-foot pedestal, it is the tallest statue of modern times, and one of the world’s most famous.
Photo Credit: William Warby
6Broadway Shows & Theater District
Running along Broadway and Seventh Ave. between 41st and 53rd streets, the Broadway Theater District is the most famous theater district in the world. Each of the 40 theaters of “The Great White Way” seat at least 500 people, and host a continually changing variety of productions including plays and musicals. The resurgent Broadway Theater District is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City.
Photo Credit: Randy Lemoine
Built in 1939, Rockefeller Center is a national historic landmark located in the heart of New York City. Considered the hub of midtown Manhattan, it’s home to famous sites such as the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and Radio City Music Hall. With numerous shops, restaurants and sites to explore, this popular NYC attraction spans 22 acres and encompasses 6 square city blocks.
Photo Credit: Anthony Quintano
8Grand Central Station
Built in 1913, Grand Central Station is the world’s largest train station and a popular New York City attraction. Not only is it New York City’s most visited building, it’s also one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. Home to stylish shops, nearly 50 restaurants and food vendors, and the New York City Transit Museum, there’s much to see and do here.
Photo Credit: Ray S
9The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a tribute honoring the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The Memorial is a powerful reminder of both the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil, as well as the single greatest loss of rescue personnel in American history. It tells an emotional and moving story of loss, compassion and healing that is at the heart of the 2001 tragedy.
Photo Credit: Steve Gardner
10Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the world’s great art museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or simply, “The Met”) spans 5,000 years of culture and history from around the globe. More than 6 million visitors stroll the Met’s galleries each year, making it New York City’s single most popular museum and attraction. With more than 1.6 million square feet, the Met is not just the biggest museum in New York City, it’s also the largest one in the Western Hemisphere!
Photo Credit: Dustin Gaffke
11Staten Island Ferry
One of the best rides (and bargains) in NYC can be found aboard the Staten Island Ferry. The free (yes, free) 25-minute trip across New York Harbor offers stunning views of lower Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the majestic Statue of Liberty. More than 70,000 people ride the ferry to or from the borough of Staten Island each day.
Photo Credit: Shaun Merritt
Coney Island in Brooklyn was once considered one of the country’s preeminent seaside resorts. Although time and hurricanes have taken their toll, recent redevelopments have attempted to restore this popular day trip destination to its former glory. It’s a fun, wacky and weird place. Island attractions include: Luna Park, with its classic and newly updated amusement park rides; a beachside boardwalk with a carnival atmosphere; and, a long, sandy beach packed with locals and tourists alike. While you’re there, don’t forget to grab a Nathan’s Famous hot dog.
Photo Credit: caperry123
13Museum of Modern Art
Located in Midtown Manhattan on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Aves, the Museum of Modern Art has been collecting and exhibiting the art of our time since its founding in 1929. Dedicated to being the world’s foremost museum of modern art, the MoMA will impress art enthusiasts and novices alike with its vast collection of masterpieces housed in this stunning building. At the MoMA you’ll find famous works of art such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Van Gogh’s Starry Night, among other world renowned paintings and photographs.
Photo Credit: brando.n
One of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, the Brooklyn Bridge has been connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River since 1883. Once the largest suspension bridge in the world, it took 600 workers 16 years to build, and claimed 20 lives in the process. The 1-mile span rewards those who walk, run or bike across its promenade with phenomenal views of the city and the bridge itself. Like most NYC attractions, it’s usually packed with tourists. But a stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a quintessential New York experience. Cross over from the City during the day and have lunch in Brooklyn. Explore the area, relax by the water, and then enjoy the great nighttime view of the city when you walk back in the evening.
Photo Credit: Curtis MacNewton
15The Frick Collection
Located in what was once the mansion of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, The Frick Collection is an art museum located on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, at 1 East 70th Street at the northeast corner with Fifth Ave. Frick was a very serious art collector who built the house with the intention of having it converted into a museum after his passing. This museum houses an exceptional collection of art from some of the world’s great masters in a serene and intimate atmosphere. It’s worth the visit just to see the indoor garden and fountain.
Photo Credit: David McSpadden
16American Museum of Natural History
Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world. Four city blocks make up the museum’s 45 exhibition halls, which hold more than 30 million artifacts from the land, sea and space. Here you’ll find everything from dinosaurs to space rocks to rare gems. A “must visit” NYC attraction if you have kids. Open daily from 10 am-5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Photo Credit: t-mizo
17New York Public Library
With nearly 53 million items, the New York Public Library is the second largest public library in the United States, the fourth largest in the world, and one of the greatest research libraries open to the public. Two majestic marble lions mark the entrance to this Beaux Arts masterpiece, a National Historic Landmark and an architectural wonder. Be sure to visit the third floor to view their rotating collection of art, making the New York Public Library not just a great library, but a top art museum as well.
Photo Credit: Andrew E. Larsen
18St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Patrick is a towering, Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral church completed in 1879. The sanctuary is the largest Gothic Catholic cathedral in the US, and stands out conspicuously from among the towering skyscrapers surrounding it. Situated on 5th Ave. across the street from Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s with its 330-foot twin spires is visually stunning – both inside and out. One of New York’s most spectacular architectural sights, more than five million people visit St. Patricks’s each year. It features a seating capacity of 2,400, numerous altars, stained glass windows, and an organ with 7,855 pipes. Services are held daily, and all are welcome – visitors and worshipers alike. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is free to visit (donations are welcome), making it a great place to find some peace and solace right in the heart of New York City.
Photo Credit: jadepalmer
Located in Upper New York Bay, Ellis Island was the gateway for the more than 12 million immigrants who entered the United States from 1892 until 1954. The nation’s busiest immigration station during that time, the “Island of Hope” was the first stop on the way to new opportunities and experiences in America for those risked emigrating to the New World. For new arrivals, the inspection process took anywhere from 3-7 hours. Visitors to Ellis Island can now retrace the steps of their ancestors in this moving tribute to the immigrants who built this country. The tour takes around 2 hours. But you can make this trip as short or as long as you want. It all depends on how much of the museum you want to see and how much you want to learn about those who left everything behind hoping to create a better life for themselves and their families in America.
Photo Credit: David Jones
Located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan behind the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is a small, pleasant park lush with trees, and activities for the whole family. It’s an urban oasis any time of years, with a French-style carousel, extensive and well-maintained gardens and lawns, and tables for chess. During the summer, you can enjoy the annual HBO film festival, poetry readings, yoga classes, and outdoor Reading Room with picture books and story times. When the cold weather comes, there’s free ice skating at the Pond and more than 100 boutiques at the Holiday Shops. This popular NYC attraction is also known for its clean bathrooms, somewhat of a rarity in Midtown Manhattan.
Photo Credit: Dan DeLuca
21Radio City Music Hall
Located in Rockefeller Center at 1260 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), Between 50th and 51st Streets, Radio City Music Hall is a legendary New York City attraction. Once heralded as the Showplace of the World, it was for a time the most popular tourist destination in New York. With its elaborate Art Deco design, massive stage and razzle-dazzle theatrics, Radio City has been wowing audience members since the 1930’s (many of the original decorations and even the motors that power the stage are still in use and fully functional). Best known as the home of the “Rockettes” and Radio City Christmas Spectacular, many musicians and performers consider this 6,000-seat theater the ideal place to perform. If you can’t catch a show, you may want to learn all about this iconic NYC attraction during one of the daily backstage or Art Deco tours.
Photo Credit: Luis Penados
22The Met Cloisters
A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters is a museum for medieval art and architecture assembled out of pieces of actual medieval monasteries and buildings imported from Europe. Here you’ll find an extensive collection of statues, paintings, stained glass windows and tapestries. Be sure to check out their famous collection of “Unicorn Tapestries.” These seven individual hangings depict a hunt for the elusive unicorn, and are among the most beautiful and complex works of art from the late Middle Ages. Not only is the art collection within quite wonderful, but the place itself is peaceful and serene. It’s the perfect place to slow down and relax. When you’re in the Cloisters, it’s hard to believe you’re still in New York City.
Photo Credit: Jeff Turner
Chelsea Market is an enclosed urban food court and shopping mall in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan with tons of fun and funky places to eat and shop. You’ll find an amazing selection of ethnic and gourmet foods including sushi, Mexican, desserts, cheese, wine, and independent artists selling their wares. The cafes have plenty of seating where you can sit and grab a bite. They even have a micro brewery inside where you can enjoy some local craft NYC beer. Once you’ve had enough to eat and drink, walk a block to The High Line for fabulous views of the city. A great place to graze on locally produced and artisanal foods, especially if the weather won’t let you enjoy New York’s outdoor attractions.
Photo Credit: Joshua Hardy
24Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a nonprofit, educational institution where you can tour the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, a British Airways Concorde, the world’s fastest jets, and a guided missile submarine. On display are more than two dozen authentically restored aircraft, including the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, the world’s fastest military jet and spy plane. This may not be the first attraction you think of when planning a visit to New York City, but it’s well worth a visit!
Photo Credit: Travis Wise
Like a small town within Manhattan, the Village is where you can enjoy narrow, tree-lined streets with brownstone townhouses, great little restaurants and artsy boutiques. It’s a great place to people watch, explore and shop. You’ll find a very young, hip crowd here given the close proximity to New York University. Greenwich Village is great place to spot celebrities as well. Much quieter than the city. Be sure to visit nearby Washington Square Park when you’re done.
Photo Credit: Steve Santore