New York City, often dubbed “The Big Apple,” is a global metropolis known for its iconic landmarks, diverse culture, and ceaseless energy. For those considering things to do in New York City, gazing at the cityscape from the observation deck of the Empire State Building and strolling through Central Park, an urban oasis amidst the city’s skyscrapers, are top recommendations.
The city’s Times Square, with its dazzling billboards and theaters, is the heart of the entertainment world. At the same time, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) showcases an impressive collection of contemporary artworks. Nearby, the historic Statue of Liberty symbolizes freedom and hope, welcoming visitors to its pedestal and Crown.
Beyond its iconic attractions, New York City is a melting pot of cultures, reflected in neighborhoods like Chinatown, Harlem, and Greenwich Village. For those seeking the best places to visit in the USA, New York City’s blend of history, arts, and urban vibrancy makes it an unparalleled destination.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in New York City, USA
1. Statue of Liberty
One of the most iconic symbols of America, the Statue of Liberty stands tall on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Gifted by the French in 1886, Lady Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants and visitors to the shores of the U.S. You can visit the statue, its pedestal, or even its Crown for an unparalleled view.
Travel Tip: Buy your tickets in advance, especially if you plan to visit the Crown. Only a limited number of visitors are allowed each day.
2. Central Park
A sprawling green oasis in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park spans 843 acres and offers a plethora of activities for visitors. There’s something for everyone, from scenic walking trails to boat rentals on the lake and the Central Park Zoo to open-air concerts.
Travel Tip: Rent a bike or join a guided tour to cover more ground and learn about the park’s history.
3. Empire State Building
Soaring above the Manhattan skyline, the Empire State Building is a testament to the ambition and prowess of early 20th-century architecture. Visitors can ascend to its observation decks for panoramic views of the city that never sleeps.
Travel Tip: Visit in the early morning or late evening to avoid the crowds. Don’t forget to check out the often-themed nighttime LED light shows.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Commonly known as the Met, this world-renowned museum houses over two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary American pieces, the museum’s vast collection caters to art lovers of all kinds.
Travel Tip: Pay what you wish on the first Sunday of the month. Wear comfortable shoes as the museum is vast and can take a whole day to explore.
5. Times Square
Bustling with energy and lights, Times Square is often dubbed “The Crossroads of the World.” Famed for its theaters, shopping, and the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop, it’s a must-visit spot for anyone seeking the pulse of New York.
Travel Tip: Beware of street performers and costumed characters; they expect a tip if you take a photo with them.
The epicenter of American theater, Broadway offers an array of world-class performances, from dramatic plays to lively musicals. It’s a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to NYC.
Travel Tip: For discounted show tickets, visit the TKTS booth in Times Square on the day of the performance.
7. The High Line
An urban park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side, The High Line offers a unique city perspective. Visitors can stroll along beautifully landscaped paths, enjoying public art installations and views of the Hudson River.
Travel Tip: Visit during weekday mornings for a less crowded experience. There are multiple access points, so plan your entry and exit based on your itinerary.
8. One World Observatory
Located atop the One World Trade Center, this observatory offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and beyond. Interactive exhibits and the Sky Portal give visitors a unique experience.
Travel Tip: Tickets can be pricey, but booking online in advance often offers discounts. Consider timing your visit for sunset for a mesmerizing view.
9. 9/11 Memorial and Museum
A poignant tribute to the victims of the 2001 and 1993 terror attacks, this site includes two enormous reflecting pools set within the footprints of the Twin Towers. The accompanying museum tells the story of the events, the aftermath, and the global significance.
Travel Tip: Given the emotional nature of the site, plan some downtime afterward. It’s a place of reflection, so remember to be respectful.
10. Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural marvel connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, offering visitors a delightful pedestrian path. Walking across gives you picturesque views of both boroughs and the skyline.
Travel Tip: Try to walk the bridge during sunrise or sunset for the best lighting and a somewhat quieter experience. It’s a popular spot, so keep an eye on your belongings.
11. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
A powerhouse of modern and contemporary art, MoMA boasts an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and more. It’s a haven for art enthusiasts with works by artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol.
Travel Tip: Thursdays after 5:30 PM are “pay what you wish,” but it can get crowded. Consider becoming a member if you’re an avid art lover; it offers numerous benefits, including skipping the general admission line.
12. Rockefeller Center
More than just a venue for the famous Christmas tree lighting, Rockefeller Center is a sprawling complex known for its art deco buildings, the Top of the Rock observation deck, and the Radio City Music Hall. The skating rink is also a popular attraction during the winter months.
Travel Tip: Book your ice-skating slot in winter to avoid long wait times. If visiting the Top of the Rock, it provides a unique view of the Empire State Building.
13. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is not just a transportation hub but an architectural marvel with its celestial dome, grand staircases, and iconic clock. Beyond trains, it houses restaurants, cocktail bars, and unique shops.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the Whispering Gallery in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant. Due to an architectural quirk, you can whisper into one corner and be heard clearly in the opposite corner.
14. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Perched on the Hudson River, this museum is centered around the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that saw service in World War II. The museum also showcases a submarine, a space shuttle, and an aircraft.
Travel Tip: Check for special events or temporary exhibits on their website before your visit. If visiting during summer, bring sunscreen as most exhibits are outdoors.
15. New York Public Library
One of the largest public libraries in the world, this Beaux-Arts landmark is filled with vast collections and features stunning architecture and serene reading rooms.
Travel Tip: The library offers free guided tours on a first-come, first-served basis, which provide an in-depth look at the building’s history and architecture.
16. The Bronx Zoo
As one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world, the Bronx Zoo spans 265 acres and houses over 4,000 animals. The exhibits here are designed to resemble natural habitats, from gorillas to giraffes.
Travel Tip: Weekdays are usually less crowded. Check their website for any seasonal events or special exhibitions.
17. Coney Island
A world-famous entertainment area in Brooklyn, Coney Island is best known for its historic amusement parks, boardwalk, and sandy beach. It’s a delightful mix of old-world charm and modern attractions.
Travel Tip: Visit during the annual Mermaid Parade (usually in June) for a unique Coney Island experience. Keep in mind that many rides and attractions are seasonal.
18. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
A neo-Gothic masterpiece located in the heart of Manhattan, St. Patrick’s Cathedral stands as a testament to New York’s rich religious history and architectural grandeur.
Travel Tip: While entry is free, consider donating to help maintain this historic site. Dress modestly, as it’s an active place of worship.
19. The Guggenheim Museum
Designed by the iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is as renowned for its spiral structure as its modern and contemporary art collection. The unique layout provides a continuous pathway around the building, leading visitors through several exhibitions.
Travel Tip: Audio guides are available and offer detailed insight into selected artworks and the building’s architecture. Try visiting on a weekday afternoon to avoid larger crowds.
20. Little Italy and Chinatown
Two of NYC’s most distinct neighborhoods side by side, Little Italy and Chinatown, offer a rich cultural experience. From the annual San Gennaro Feast in Little Italy to the vibrant markets of Chinatown, there’s abundant food, shopping, and history to explore.
Travel Tip: If you’re keen on shopping in Chinatown, haggling is common, but always be respectful. For foodies, consider a guided food tour to sample the best each neighborhood offers.
21. The Cloisters
Located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, The Cloisters is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe. Its serene setting and beautiful gardens transport visitors to another era.
Travel Tip: Combine your visit with a stroll in Fort Tryon Park. Also, your ticket to The Cloisters includes same-day admission to the main Met Museum, so plan accordingly.
22. Flatiron Building
A groundbreaking skyscraper when it was completed in 1902, the Flatiron Building remains one of New York’s architectural landmarks. Its triangular shape and classical façade make it a favorite subject for photographers.
Travel Tip: The best vantage point for photographs is from the pedestrian island on Broadway, just north of 22nd Street.
23. DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park
DUMBO, “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” is a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood known for its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the two bridges that frame it. Adjacent Brooklyn Bridge Park offers green space, recreational activities, and breathtaking vistas.
Travel Tip: Explore the area during sunset for picturesque views. Local eateries and ice cream shops provide a delightful treat after your stroll.
24. Chelsea Market
An enclosed urban food court, shopping mall, office building, and television production facility all-in-one, Chelsea Market is housed in the former National Biscuit Company factory. With a mix of boutique shops and gourmet eateries, it’s a paradise for foodies and shoppers alike.
Travel Tip: The market can get quite crowded, especially on weekends. Visit during weekday mornings for a more relaxed experience and first dibs on fresh goods.
25. Greenwich Village
Once the hub of the 1960s bohemian scene, Greenwich Village today boasts a mix of historic brownstones, jazz clubs, theaters, and trendy eateries. It’s also home to Washington Square Park, a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
Travel Tip: Dive into the area’s rich history with a guided walking tour, and be sure to explore its narrow streets and hidden courtyards.
26. The Frick Collection
Located in the Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side, The Frick Collection is an impressive assembly of Old Master paintings, decorative arts, and European sculptures. It offers an intimate setting, different from more prominent museums in the city.
Travel Tip: First Fridays are a treat, with the museum offering free admission and a host of programs, but it can be busier than usual. If you want a quiet experience, opt for a weekday morning visit.
27. Battery Park
Situated at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park offers panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and New York Harbor. It’s also home to several monuments and the SeaGlass Carousel, a whimsical aquatic-themed ride.
Travel Tip: This is the departure point for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. If you’re catching a ferry, arrive early and allow time to explore the park.
28. Apollo Theater
Located in the heart of Harlem, the Apollo Theater is an iconic music hall that has seen many legendary performances from artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, and James Brown. The theater’s “Amateur Night” is a longstanding tradition that continues to showcase new talent.
Travel Tip: Consider attending an Amateur Night to experience the theater’s vibrant atmosphere firsthand. Booking tickets in advance is recommended, as popular shows sell out quickly.
29. The Tenement Museum
Dedicated to preserving the history of immigrant life in the Lower East Side, The Tenement Museum offers guided tours of restored apartments from different periods in New York City’s history.
Travel Tip: Tickets must be purchased in advance, and it’s advisable to book online. Wear comfortable shoes, as tours involve walking and standing for extended periods.
30. South Street Seaport
A historic area where Fulton Street meets the East River, South Street Seaport blends the old and new, featuring some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan and a modern shopping pavilion. The Seaport Museum, historic ships, and views of Brooklyn Bridge make it a unique waterfront experience.
Travel Tip: The Seaport often hosts seasonal events and festivals. Check the calendar before your visit to participate in any special happenings.
31. Bryant Park
Nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, Bryant Park is a lively urban oasis hosting many activities throughout the year. There’s always something happening, from outdoor movies in the summer to ice skating in the winter.
Travel Tip: The park offers free Wi-Fi. The Winter Village is a must-visit in winter, with its festive market and skating rink.
32. New York Botanical Garden
Situated in the Bronx, this National Historic Landmark contains 250 acres of diverse landscapes and collections, including a tropical rainforest and a rose garden. Its seasonal exhibitions and educational programs make it a favorite for locals and tourists.
Travel Tip: If visiting in spring, the Orchid Show is a standout event. However, any season has a unique appeal, so check their website for current exhibitions and blooms.
33. Whitney Museum of American Art
Focusing on 20th- and 21st-century American art, the Whitney offers an impressive collection, including works by artists such as Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock. The museum’s Meatpacking District building, with its terraces offering city views, is an architectural delight.
Travel Tip: “Pay-What-You-Wish” tickets are available on Friday evenings. The nearby High Line provides a lovely post-museum stroll.
34. Madison Square Garden
An iconic venue for concerts, sports events, and more, Madison Square Garden, often simply “The Garden,” is a must-visit for entertainment enthusiasts. Behind-the-scenes tours provide a unique perspective on this storied arena.
Travel Tip: If attending an event, arrive early to navigate security and find your seat. Tours are popular, so consider booking in advance.
Known for its historic cast-iron architecture and cobblestone streets, SoHo (South of Houston Street) is a trendy neighborhood filled with upscale boutiques, art galleries, and fashionable restaurants.
Travel Tip: The area can be busy on weekends, so consider visiting on a weekday for a more leisurely shopping experience. Don’t forget to explore side streets for hidden gems.
36. Central Park Zoo
A peaceful oasis in the middle of the city, Central Park Zoo offers a diverse collection of animals, from snow leopards to tropical birds, set amidst Central Park’s lush landscapes.
Travel Tip: Combo tickets are available that grant access to multiple attractions within Central Park. After your zoo visit, take a leisurely walk to explore the park’s many landmarks.
37. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A hub of creativity and culture, Williamsburg boasts vintage boutiques, artisanal food markets, and a vibrant arts scene. Its waterfront provides striking views of Manhattan, and the neighborhood is affluent with music venues, breweries, and eclectic dining options.
Travel Tip: Take the East River Ferry for a scenic route to Williamsburg. Check local listings for live music or pop-up events during your visit.
38. The Rubin Museum of Art
Dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and neighboring regions, The Rubin Museum offers a serene and introspective experience with its collection of artifacts, paintings, and textiles.
Travel Tip: The museum offers free guided tours, which can enhance your understanding of the exhibits. Check out the museum’s calendar for special workshops and events.
39. Roosevelt Island Tramway
Offering spectacular views of Manhattan’s skyline, the Roosevelt Island Tramway is a unique aerial tram that takes passengers between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island.
Travel Tip: Use a MetroCard for the ride. Pair your tramway experience with a walk on Roosevelt Island for a panoramic view of the city’s landmarks.
40. Prospect Park
Designed by Central Park’s landscape architects, Prospect Park in Brooklyn offers sprawling green spaces, waterways, and recreational areas. It’s home to the Prospect Park Zoo, an ice rink, and a bandshell for concerts.
Travel Tip: Rent a pedal boat on the lake during warmer months or join one of the park’s many free or low-cost fitness classes. Check their calendar for events and festivals.
FAQ About Things to Do in New York City, USA
What are the top attractions to visit in New York City?
Some of the top attractions in New York City include the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Is it worth visiting the Empire State Building’s observation deck?
Absolutely! The Empire State Building’s observation deck offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city skyline, making it a must-visit for first-time and returning travelers.
How can I get tickets to a Broadway show?
Tickets for Broadway shows can be purchased online, at the theater’s box office, or through TKTS Discount Booths around the city, which offer same-day discounted tickets.
Are there any free activities to do in New York City?
Yes, there are plenty of free activities in NYC. You can stroll through Central Park, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, attend a public event at Bryant Park, or visit the High Line, an elevated park built on a historic freight rail line.
What neighborhoods are best for shopping?
SoHo, Fifth Avenue, and the Meatpacking District are renowned for their shopping experiences, offering a mix of high-end boutiques, vintage stores, and widespread retail chains.
Is the Statue of Liberty worth visiting?
The Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy. A visit to Liberty Island provides a closer look at the statue and offers an opportunity to explore the museum and learn about its history. It’s a memorable experience for many visitors.
Where can I experience New York City’s nightlife?
NYC is known for its vibrant nightlife. Neighborhoods like the East Village, Meatpacking District, and Williamsburg in Brooklyn offer many bars, clubs, and live music venues to explore.
Are there any guided tours that I can take in New York City?
Yes, numerous guided tours are available, ranging from walking tours of specific neighborhoods to bus tours covering multiple landmarks. Some popular options include the Big Bus Tour, food tours in Chinatown or Little Italy, and historic tours of landmarks like the 9/11 Memorial.