It’s nearly impossible to see all the city has to offer in one trip. Start with a compact — and by no means exhaustive — list of attractions and things to do. If you can’t get through everything in one visit, you’ll just have to plan another trip!
After all, New York has a history of reinventing itself from time to time.
Top landmarks and attractions in NYC
First-time visitors may want to tick mainstay attractions off their list. Popular things to do in NYC include:
1. Visit the Empire State Building.
Make your rom-com dreams come true and head to the observation deck of the Empire State Building for sweeping city views. Or, skip the long line and visit the Chrysler Building for an equally breathtaking sight.
A trip to New York just isn’t complete without a visit to the lady herself. Embark on a ferry tour to the Statue and Ellis island. But if you’re on a budget, the free Staten Island ferry sails past the statue too.
Spend a leisurely day cycling through this iconic park — you can rent a Citi Bike for a half-hour for just $3. Aside from a six-mile loop for pedaling, the park houses a zoo and wildlife centre, nature observatory and a castle.
If you’re staying closer to Brooklyn, Prospect Park is a perfect picnic spot.
While in the entertainment capital of the world, you must catch a show on Broadway. You can sometimes spontaneously nab cheap tickets on the day of the show. Also, keep in mind: Tickets to off-Broadway plays are often cheaper.
The Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim and Whitney Museum of American Art are just a few world-renowned museums you can visit. Spend the day marveling at ancient artifacts in the American Museum of Natural History or getting lost in a dreamy Picasso at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Nestled in Central Park, the zoo is a sanctuary within the bustling urban jungle. Meet its residents: snow leopards, sea lions, grizzly bears and red pandas. Be sure to time your visit to catch daily activities like penguin and sea lion feedings, a petting zoo and 4D theatre screenings.
When the weather’s mild, take a stroll along the New York High Line. A former freight rail line repurposed as an aerial garden above the street, the park has views of the Hudson River, green spaces and open decking areas for lounging.
The world-famous New York City Ballet performs nearly daily. Take in a classical or contemporary piece by a company revered for its artistry and repertory. Although most performances are kid-friendly, Family Saturdays are perfect for bringing little ones along.
From Joan Rivers to Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer, New York City has fostered some top-notch comedians. Catch improv at Upright Citizens Brigade, the comedy school founded by Amy Poehler, or cackle at standup at the Comedy Cellar in the village.
You’ll find fast-fashion favorites like H&M and Forever 21 in Midtown. But major designers and fashion houses also occupy NYC storefronts. Stroll Fifth Avenue to shop stores like Gucci, Versace and Fendi. And don’t miss the extravagant window displays at classic department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, especially around the holidays.
New York City may be ever changing, but one thing’s for sure — you’ll never be bored, no matter the season. And to maximize your time in the city that never sleeps, plot your routes around New York City ahead of time.
Frequently asked questions.
Yes! Free museums or ones with a suggested donation include:
American Museum of Natural History
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
American Folk Art Museum
El Museo del Barrio
Visitors outside New York State can expect to pay the following admission fees:
Free for members, patrons and New York residents as well as children under 12 and students residing in NY, NJ and CT.
The park spans about half a mile between Fifth Avenue on the east border and Central Park West.
Top deals on things to do in New York City
New York City tickets, attractions and tours form $7.50
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Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for a range of travel publications including Thomas Cook Magazine and Showpo. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping consumers stretch their travel cash while on holiday.
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