Yellow taxis driving through the busy intersection of 5th Avenue and 23rd Street in New York City, USA

Things to do in  New York City

Save the sleeping for another town

Nearly 9 million people call New York City home, and you could spend a lifetime getting to know this much-mythologized American city. When visiting, it’s hard to pick between top-notch museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA, green spaces like Central Park and the High Line, major landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, and boroughs like Manhattan and Brooklyn. The only solution when planning things to do in New York City? Make peace with never seeing it all in one trip.

Top 15 attractions in New York City

Statue of Liberty

Guarding the entrance to New York Harbor on Liberty Island, the 305-foot-tall (93-meter-tall) Statue of Liberty came to the United States as a gift from France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Lady Liberty holding her torch has been a symbol of democracy and hope for NYC and the US ever since.More

Empire State Building

The world's tallest building from 1931 to 1977, the Empire State Building is topped with a stepped Art Deco pinnacle that's floodlit at night and boasts holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year. After admiring the mosaics in the Art Deco lobby, take an elevator ride to the 86th or 102nd floor and get ready to drink in astounding 360-degree views from this iconic skyscraper observatory.More

Ellis Island

As the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States, New York City’s Ellis Island was America’s busiest immigrant inspection station for more than 60 years. Today, the island’s restored main building houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which honors the US’s immigrant heritage, chronicles the island’s role in immigration history, and gives voice to the immigrants themselves.More

Central Park

The heart and soul of Manhattan, Central Park is 843 acres (341 hectares) of green space featuring running paths, a boating lake, ponds, a zoo, fountains, statues, gardens, and a skating rink. New Yorkers and visitors alike have gathered at this National Historic Landmark year-round since 1857 to enjoy a respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.More

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City stands as a place of remembrance and a somber tribute to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reopened 10 years after the 2001 attacks, the 8-acre (3.2-hectare) plaza—built on the World Trade Center site—features two massive square reflecting pools whose waterfalls cascade down into the footprints of the former Twin Towers. The surrounding plaza is a peaceful and moving green space, while the museum, set beneath the plaza, lends a deeper understanding to the impact of that day. You’ll undoubtedly leave with a heavy heart.More

Flatiron Building

Both an architectural marvel and one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, the Flatiron Building has been a city icon since its debut in 1902. Named for its uncommonly thin, triangular shape, the building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham and is a National Historic Landmark. It is not currently open to the public.More

The Dakota Apartments

One of Manhattan’s most storied—and macabre—buildings, the Dakota has pride of place on Central Park West. The architectural icon of the Upper West Side was a stand-in for the fictional Bramford in the horror film Rosemary’s Baby; it’s also where John Lennon was shot in 1980.More

Brooklyn Bridge

Extending for 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) across New York City’s East River, this 19th-century bridge sees constant foot, bike, and car traffic thanks to commuters and sightseers alike. After a construction beset by tragedies—at least 20 people died during the building process—this steel-wire suspension bridge, then the world’s largest, finally opened to the public in 1883. Today crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential New York experience. Visitors come in droves to admire the bridge’s dramatic neo-Gothic towers and the stellar views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.More

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park is a bustling, leafy square that's packed with benches and tucked into New York's Flatiron District. Offices, trendy restaurants, and an architectural landmark—the Flatiron Building—surround Madison Square, situated at Broadway at 23rd Street. Stop for a rest in the park on a busy day exploring Manhattan.More

New York Harbor

One of the largest natural harbors in the world, New York Harbor is the gateway to Manhattan. It’s also a scenic spot to explore and a must for first-time visitors to New York City, with photo ops aplenty along its walking trails, bridges, and piers.More

Niagara Falls

One of North America’s most majestic natural wonders, Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls—American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls—which plunge dramatically over the Niagara River. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the US with viewpoints and falls-themed attractions on both sides.More

Rockefeller Center

Radiating art deco glory, Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan is where you'll find Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, the Top of the Rock observation deck, and in winter, New York City’s famous ice rink and Christmas tree. Opened by John D. Rockefeller in 1933, it’s a classic NYC stop for its history as a cultural center and architectural icon.More

One World Observatory

Admire New York City from on high at the One World Observatory, the 100th-floor viewing deck which you’ll reach in just 47 seconds view high-speed elevator. On the ride up, impressive time-lapse technology showcases the city’s transformation from the 1500s to the present in immersive floor-to-ceiling screens. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of the city’s waterways, iconic skyline, and renowned landmarks.More

Columbia University

One of the most esteemed institutes of higher learning in the United States, Columbia was established in 1754 as King’s College. Today, the Ivy League university continues to be celebrated for its academic reputation and striking architecture. And if the campus looks familiar, you may have seen it in a Hollywood blockbuster or two.More

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The World War II-eraUSS Intrepid aircraft carrier retired to Manhattan’s West Side, where it was transformed into a museum. The complex hosts noteworthy craft, including NASA’sEnterprise space shuttle, theUSS Growler missile submarine, and a Concorde jet. While there, check out original artifacts, film, and photographs, plus simulators that recreate the flying experience.More

Trip ideas

Don’t-Miss Dishes in New York City

Don’t-Miss Dishes in New York City

How to Get Around NYC

How to Get Around NYC

Sightseeing on a Budget

Sightseeing on a Budget

Times Square

Times Square

The High Line

The High Line

Central Park on Foot

Central Park on Foot

Central Park Zoo

Central Park Zoo

Top activities in New York City

New York Dinner Cruise

New York Dinner Cruise

New York CityPASS

New York CityPASS

New York Helicopter Tour: Manhattan Highlights
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The Manhattan Helicopter Tour of New York
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Empire State Building Ticket

Empire State Building Ticket

New York Helicopter Tour: City Lights Skyline Experience
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New York City Cocoa and Carols Holiday Cruise
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New York Helicopter Tour: Ultimate Manhattan Sightseeing
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9/11 Memorial Museum Admission Ticket
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All about New York City

When to visit

There are things to do in New York City year-round, but summer is when the Big Apple's cultural programming is at its peak, from Shakespeare in the Park to Central Park Summerstage, from Pride to the Fourth of July, from the US Open Tennis Championships to Broadway in Bryant Park. But, you also can time your visit for fall to enjoy fewer crowds, slightly cheaper rates, and events ranging from the New York Film Festival to the Village Halloween Parade.

Getting around

New York City is one of the country’s best-connected cities. John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport cater to international and domestic visitors, while the Big Apple's uniquely expansive subway system comprises dozens of lines and a whopping 472 stations. Passengers can hop on mainline train services at hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central Station, while buses, taxis, and rideshare services keep the city moving at street level. But remember, there's nothing quite like exploring NYC on foot.

Traveler tips

To truly experience New York City at its most international and eclectic, leave Manhattan behind and head into Queens. Flushing is home to one of the largest and fastest-growing Chinatowns in the world. And, Jackson Heights is the most diverse neighborhood in the city: More than 160 languages are spoken here, and travelers can nosh on everything from Salvadoran pupusas and Nepalese momos to Pakistani curries and Mexican tacos.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EST (UTC -5)
Country Code

A local’s pocket guide to New York City

Alex Maddalena

Alex is a writer with deep family roots in NYC. Having grown up just outside the city, he became familiar with all of the food and culture the city has to offer, including the outer boroughs. His favorite pizza slice is the square from L&B Spumoni Gardens.

The first thing you should do in New York City is...

get oriented. There are a lot of visible landmarks in New York that will help you explore by foot without a map.

A perfect Saturday in New York City...

begins with brunch followed by a trip to one of New York’s amazing museums. Saturday nights in New York are more bustling than usual, so make sure you’re rested before heading out for evening festivities.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Central Park truly is a thing of beauty. Walk around in the middle, and you’d be stunned to find out you’re still in one of the busiest cities in the world.

To discover the "real" New York City...

get lost. Start walking. No map. Let all the things in between shine through. You’ll find your way back when you’re ready.

For the best view of the city...

you can’t beat the view from the top of the Empire State Building, but the Manhattan Bridge offers a pretty spectacular view from the other side.

One thing people get wrong...

New York City is much more than Manhattan and Williamsburg. Head north to discover the Bronx, or even east into Queens, which is one of the most diverse areas in the world.


People Also Ask

What should I do on my first trip to New York?

During a first-time trip, explore New York on foot. The best way to see the city is to walk, to slow down and explore street by street. Travel between destinations by subway and then explore neighborhoods on foot. Additionally, don’t miss the chance to see the skyline from above at landmarks like the Empire State Building or One World Observatory.

What is the most visited place in New York?

Times Square is the most visited place in New York City. This Midtown landmark is where annual New Year’s Eve celebrations are held and where the city’s most impressive billboards can be found. This area is also home to many Broadway theaters, hotels, restaurants, and bars.

What should you not miss in New York?

Don’t miss exploring New York beyond the sights. Yes, go to the top of the Empire State Building and visit the Statue of Liberty, but also get lost in the winding streets of the West Village, linger over Greek food in Astoria, discover the city’s many green spaces, and engage with New Yorkers at restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops.

What type of activities can you do in New York?

The list of activities in New York is practically endless. Rent bikes in Central Park, sip cocktails at a rooftop bar, see dinosaur bones at the Museum of Natural History, go sailing on the Hudson River, visit the Union Square Farmer’s Market, catch a Broadway play, people watch on the subway, try a variety of restaurants, and much more.

Is it safe in New York?

Yes, it is safe in New York City. Visit New York and you will find streets that are well lit and locals who are willing to help with directions. As in any city, use common sense when it comes to keeping cash and wallets zipped away. At almost any time of day, New York offers safety in numbers on the subway and in the city streets.

Is New York City the same as Manhattan?

Yes and no. The island of Manhattan is one of five boroughs that make up New York City, along with Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But you are correct to say that you are in New York City when you are in Manhattan, and these terms are often used interchangeably.

What do locals do for fun in NYC?

Locals are spoiled for choice when it comes to fun in NYC. New Yorkers love to eat and drink, and there is always a new and exciting restaurant or bar opening somewhere. Locals spend time in green spaces like Central Park, visit galleries and museums, shop at the farmers market, ride their bikes, and generally bring a sense of exploration to their ever-changing city.

What is the prettiest place in New York?

Each New Yorker may have a different answer. But some of the prettiest places in New York City include Central Park, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, the charming streets of the West Village, the piers and paths of Riverside Park, and the New York Botanical Garden.

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