Best Things To Do In New York
The United States is easily one of the best countries in the world. It has so much geographic and cultural diversity inside its borders, you don’t need to travel far to experience something new.
If you’re looking for a touristy experience without leaving the country, New York is worth a trip.
Here are 25 of the best things to do in New York—some being popular tourist attractions, and some being secret hidden gems.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is arguably one of the most famous buildings in the world, and is a true icon in New York City.
It stands 102 stories tall (1, 250 feet) and can accommodate tens of thousands of people.
Features: observation decks, tours, exhibits, shops, restaurants, theater
Old City Hall Subway Station
Old City Hall Subway Station is one of the prettiest subway stations in New York. It was closed in the early 20th century but the stained class windows and stunning arches are a remnant of historic New York.
Features: Historic architecture
Central Park is an urban oasis right in the heart of the city. It is known as one of the most famous parks in the world and it welcomes about 40 million visitors each year.
Features: playgrounds, lakes, ponds, trails/tracks, fountains, monuments, nature sanctuaries, amusement attractions, shopping, theater, and more.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is typically the first thing most people notice when visiting New York. It is a colossal monument that stands 305 feet tall on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
Being another one of America’s Historical Landmarks, it stands as a symbol of hope and spirit.
Features: Statue City cruises, museums, tours, park
The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge in New York City. It spans across the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and supports 6 lanes of vehicles and a pedestrian/bike path.
It is known as the world’s first suspension bridge, and it was the longest when it opened in 1883.
Visitors report walking across the Brookyn Bridge at night to be a “magical experience”. The city skyline from the bridge is a view like no other.
Features: Walking path
New York’s Glass Waterfall Tunnel
New York’s Glass Waterfall is nestled onto one side of the McGraw-Hill building in New York—not far from Times Square.
Stand inside the glass tunnel and watch the waterfall flow over you—while staying dry.
Features: Tourist photo-op
Times Square is one of the city’s most popular gathering spots. It’s a major commercial intersection that offers unique attractions and entertainment.
You’ll find everything you’re looking for here.
Features: Museums, restaurants, shopping, theaters, music halls, upscale hotels, and more.
If you’re looking for a swanky shopping district in NY, this it is.
Fifth Avenue is the top shopping destination for high-end shops and department stores. In fact, it is known as the world’s most expensive retail destination.
It also boasts Millionaire’s Row—a stretch of late 19th century mansions overlooking Central Park.
Features: Shopping, museums, mansions
Another popular street in America is Wall Street, located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. It has been called the world’s leading financial and fintech center as it consists of the largest stock exchanges and financial firms.
Aside from finance, Wall Street has a huge historical component as Manhattan’s original neighborhood.
Features: Tours, Historical guides, Trinity Church, The New York Stock Exchange, the Charging Bull sculpture, Federal Hall, and more.
The United Nations Building Meditation Room
The UN building has a Meditation Room that is completely free and open to the public. It’s a great way to see a little part of the iconic UN building.
Despite being located in NYC, the UN building is regarded as International Territory—meaning you are not technically in any country while you are in the building.
Features: Meditation room, cultural experience
New York City’s Theatre District is an area in Midtown Manhattan where most Broadway theaters are located. It is widely known as the heart of the entertainment industry.
Features: Theaters, restaurants, hotels, entertainment
The Rockefeller Center is a must-see attraction in NYC. Not only is it a tourist hot-spot for many different activities, it is also home to many American traditional events, such as the annual Christmas Tree Lighting.
Features: Top of the Rock (observation decks), Ice Rink, Rainbow Room, Tours, Food & Drink, Events and CelebrationsRob Young, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
Grand Central Terminal
New York Grand Central Station is one the city’s busiest landmarks, with thousands of New Yorkers passing through daily.
Aside from its rich history and stunning architectural design, it stands as a tourist attraction because it also has an enormous variety of shops and restaurants.
Features: Concourse Ceiling, Booth Clock, Whispering Gallery, Park Avenue Viaduct, Vanderbilt Tennis Club, Grand Central Market, shops, restaurants, cafes, and more.
Pomander Walk is a quaint little tidbit that resembles Olde England right in the heart of NYC. It is a stark contrast from the concrete and glass world of New York.
Take a stroll down Pomander Walk and enjoy the English countryside hidden in the busy city.
Features: English-style homes and neighborhood buildings
The Bronx Zoo is a zoo within Bronx Park in the Bronx, New York. It is one of the largest zoos in the United States, with more than 700 different animal species spread across 265 acres of parkland.
Features: Outdoor and Indoor exhibits, rides, animal feedings, events, and more.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art—also known as The Met—is a large museum that is part of a museum triad forming one of the largest collections of artworks in the U.S. It presents over 5000 years of art from around the world.
Features: Exhibitions, events, food & drink, and more.
Jazz in Harlem
Harlem is best known for appealing to music lovers. The vibrant neighborhood has an extensive collection of jazz clubs playing sing, Latin, Bebop, and cool jazz all year round.
Features: Jazz clubs, free museum, weekly talks and concerts
The Yankee Stadium is the new home of baseball in New York City. It sits in the Bronx neighborhood and can fit more than 46,000 people.
This world-class stadium is a must-see for sports fanatics.
Features: Baseball games, soccer matches, museum, batting practice, food & drinkcdelo9032, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
One World Trade Center
A stunning skyscraper in the heart of New York City, the One World Trade Center is recognized as the tallest building in the U.S. It was built on the site of the former World Trade Center.
Tourists enjoy views of the world-renowned skyline unlike any other in the city.
Features: Observatory, fine dining, shopping, events
National September 11 Memorial
The National September 11 Memorial was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
One of the best features is the twin reflecting pools, which were built to symbolize the fallen Twin Towers. Names of the fallen are inscribed around the bronze edges of the pools.
Features: Exhibits, memorial, museum, shopping
Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. It offers a culinary trip to a different continent, with dozens of restaurants representing the cuisine of Southeast Asia, mainland China, and Hong Kong.
Features: Temple Mahayana, Columbus Park, MoCa, Ice Cream Factory, restaurants, street vendors, and more.
Coney Island is located in the heart of South Brooklyn’s amusement district. It has a reputation as a circus-worthy tourist hot spot.
It’s a vast amusement park that includes attractions of all kinds for all ages.
Features: Rides, restaurants, shops, roller-coasters, go-karting, live entertainment, boardwalk games, beachfront activities, and so much more.
The Strong National Museum of Play
The Strong National Museum of Play is the ultimate play destination in NYC. It is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play.
Features: Exhibits, museum, Play Lab, Butterfly Museum, Skyline Climb, Videogame Hall of Fame, Toy Hall of Fame, Carousel, Train, and so much more.
The Berlin Wall
After the fall of the Berlin Wall a generation ago, parts of the wall were distributed all across the globe, with five pieces ending up across the city of New York.
Located at 520 Madison Avenue, you’ll find a section of this wall that makes a great photo backdrop of history buffs. Visitors can walk right up to the wall and touch it.
Features: Physical piece of the Berlin Wall
New York Food Favorites
Aside from countless tourist attractions, New York is also known for a number of delicious culinary creations:
- New York Cheesecake
- Street hot dogs
- The Lox Bagel (Bagel with Cream Cheese and Lox)
- Cronut (cross between a croissant and a donut) Brian Luster, Flickr
New York Transportation
There are countless ways to get around the busy state of New York. These are the most common touristy transportation services for the ultimate tourist experience:
- Iconic yellow taxis
- The Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour by Big Bus New York
- NYC Subway System
- Rail Alex Proimos, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
Where to Stay
Considering the sheer size of New York state, and the endless opportunities for tourism, choosing where you stay will have a great impact on your trip. These are the most common places to stay in New York:
Upper East Side: Best for luxury shopping and culture; close to Central Park.
Midtown Manhattan: Best for first-time visitors; easy walking and close to Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center
Lower East Side: Further from the main tourist area; close to Chinatown and Little Italy
Harlem: Best for Black history and culture; close to the Apollo Theater
New York state is full of countless opportunities for a truly diverse cultural experience. From world-class shopping and fine dining, to outstanding theatrical and historical experiences, there is certainly something for everyone.