40 Fun Things to do in NYC

As you can already probably tell, breaking down the list of fun things in a city as huge and diverse as New York City is a daunting task. Subsequently, a lot of interesting places that people enjoy frequenting are going to be left out, which is ultimately inevitable. That’s why we invite you to go off exploring on your own after you’re done with all the fun things to do in NYC that we iterate this time.

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From theaters and museums to music and food venues, shopping, journeying, experiencing… The Big Apple has got it all. Take a look at some of the most unique experiences that this convergence of worldly cultures and languages has to offer you.

The skyline of the city of New York

1. Broadway Theatre

Broadway has at least an equal amount of fame as the city of New York itself. It is actually comprised of 41 theatres of the aptly named Theatre District. Judging by many locals and tourists alike, it is the center of popular culture in the western world. You’ll mostly be able to attend musicals here, some of which are Tony award winners.

2. The High Line

The 1.45-mile long greenway has been a pride of West Manhattan since 2009. What was once a New York Central Railroad is now of the most beautiful walkway this side of the city. Try the wooden recliners posted along the way to truly grasp how relaxing and charming this elevated line is. Living in a metropolis really makes you appreciate these kinds of places more.

3. Nitehawk Cinema

Whether you take to Prospect Park or Williamsburg to see a movie in the Nitehawk Cinema does not really matter. You’ll feel what it’s like going for movies in the Big Apple while enjoying the selection of new movies and classics alike. In addition to that, you’ll be able to stay late downstairs Lo-Res bar. To top it all off, they have various events to spice up your visit here, so keep an eye out on their calendar.

4. Central Park

Colorful Trees of the Central Park, NYC

The 843-acre haven called Central Park is located at the very heart of this otherwise urban jungle. Considering it is the largest urban park in the US, it’s no wonder that it has about the same number of landmarks as an average city. Head down to the Ramble and Lake, find the zoo hidden among the trees of the park or take to the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. Of course, a huge number of plays are performed throughout the park, so it’s best to head out on your own and uncover all there is to this great place.

5. Queens Night Market

One of the biggest open-air markets in NYC, Queens Night Market is the perfect event to get to meet local culture and buy some souvenirs. Food, handicrafts, and even art are sold in over 100 stands that usually pop up, with even a couple of smallscale live performances taking place.

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6. One World Observatory

One World Trade Center in New York

As you might have guessed, the observatory is located in the One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. The sight from the tallest building in the northern hemisphere (1,776 feet) is absolutely awe-inspiring. Take a guided tour of the tower to learn as much as you can about it through modern and interesting presentations. Absorb the 360° view from the top of the tower as much as you can, because it really is a unique experience.

7. Sunny’s

This waterfront saloon has got it all – good, folk music, unique interior and some of the finest drinks you can get in the city. At one point, it was due to be shut down, however, the loyal Sunny-goers organized fundraising to keep it going. It all goes to show that there is a craving for something altogether different, and Sunny’s really fits the bill. It’s one of the best places to treat yourself to jazz!

8. Tenement Museum

A Tenement Building Fire Escape in NYC

Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side is a living testament to people who’ve made America what it is today – immigrants. Two tenement buildings have housed about 15,000 people from 20 different nations in their history. The museum does a perfect job of presenting lowly lives these people have led, squalid and dirty with barely enough money to keep them fed.

9. Celebrate Brooklyn

Celebrate Brooklyn is a series of summer concerts organized by BRIC Arts Media. While it may be pretty situational, if you plan on arriving in NYC during summer, you will be able to observe some of the best that Brooklyn art scene has to offer. It is a great window into contemporary art and really worth a visit. It’s one of the biggest events in Prospect Park.

10. Sakura Matsuri

Each Spring, New York City is brimming with people dressed in traditional Japanese clothes, celebrating the cherry blossoms and displaying the best their culture has to offer. Kabuki dance is performed, and tea is the most consumed beverage. To top it all off, you’ll be able to gorge on some delicious Japanese meals all day long!

11. House of Yes

Since Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova started the place back in 2015, it has been a gathering place for people of artistic and creative persuasions. Moreover, it’s become one of the DJ hotspots and among the most interesting venues in the city. It’s definitely a must for anyone looking for fun things to do in NYC.

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12. Time Out Market

TimeOut markets are perfect amalgamations of top-quality food, eccentric bars and restaurants, and artsy designs and events. You’ll be able to try the dishes of some of the most renowned chefs while at the same time discussing contemporary art, business or anything in between really.

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13. The Whitney

The Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

Short for the Whitney Museum of American Art, this glass building designed by Renzo Piano is home to more than 21,000 pieces of art by some of the most celebrated American creators such as Andy Warhol, Mira Dancey, Joe Andoe, Terence Koh, and Jackson Pollock just to name some. If you’re not that interested in art, the museum itself is a geometric wonder on its own!

14. Momofuku Noodle Bar

There might not be anything exceedingly fun about Momofuku, but it is as NYC as it gets. Fried chicken, caviar, steamed bread, noodles… These are just a taste of all the exquisite dishes to be ingested at Momofuku Noodle Bar, which is almost the perfect representation of the multicultural spirit of NYC.

15. Bushwig

Liberty and equality are really a good measure of this fine city. What better way to experience this than to partake in Bushwig, a suggestive name (and quite true at that), then to get in on all the fun. This festival is a celebration of the drag culture, accompanied by great music, fun parties, and the spirit of NYC.

16. Helicopter Tours

Check out the Downtown Manhattan Heliport to get a tour of the city of New York – from above! You obviously won’t be able to interact with everything as much as you could on foot, however, this way you get the best overview of the city in just 15 minutes. Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and all the towering skyscrapers will become visible all at once.

17. Manhattanhenge

In an obvious reference to Stonehenge of Wiltshire, England, Neil deGrasse Tyson coined the term Manhattanhenge or alignment of sunsets and sunrises with the streets located in the main grid of Manhattan. Expect the perfect alignment of sunset with the streets on May 28 and July 13, while the sunrises align on December 5 and January 8.

18. Smorgasburg

Multiple Dishes at the Smorgasburg Event in NYC

As the New York Times would put it, Smorgasburg is the Woodstock of eating! It couldn’t be closer to the truth, as tens of thousands of people arrive each weekend to the Prospect Park hoping to grab a bite of something new and unusual. The most unimaginable and interesting dishes always make an appearance, some of them becoming staples of the food industry (looking at you ramen noodles).

19. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park

Who doesn’t love amusement parks? In fact, some people might even consider Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park to be one of the most fun things to do in NYC. This family-owned business naturally caters to families with children and offer 16 different rides for them. For more intensity, you can try one of the five rides that only adults can access.

20. Nowadays

The best outdoor party destination in New York City is right here. If you’ve come to the Big Apple to get a taste of its music and nightlife, Nowadays is the place to be. They lacked that ‘nightlife’ part up until recently when they’ve moved into 5,000 square feet of indoor space that will enable the party to keep on rocking until the break of dawn.

21. Zabar’s

If you’ve ever seen a show or a movie taking place in New York then it’s highly likely you’ve heard of Zabar’s. If you’ve actually been there – even better. This specialty foods store is renowned for its fine selection of cheeses, teas and coffee beans. There are other edible odds and ends you could run into here, but it’s definitely cheese that drives the most customers their way. Visiting Zabar’s is visiting a very important venue of New York pop culture.

22. Brooklyn Heights

Between Old Fulton Street and Cadman Plaza West is one of the more affluent neighborhoods of NYC – Brooklyn Heights. With most of its architecture predating the Civil War, Brooklyn Village (as it was called in the past) is a great place to visit to get a more historic vibe of New York City.

23. The Cloisters

A part of the Metropolitan, The Cloisters is situated in a lovely Fort Tryon park overlooking the Hudson River. Inside, you can observe the best Gothic and Romanesque artifacts from the medieval ages, including manuscripts, sculptures, and architecture, as the Cloisters closely resembles a medieval castle, a legacy of the brilliant architect called Charles Collens.

24. Arthur Avenue

Arthur Avenue is the very center (both commercially and culturally) of the part of the Bronx known as ‘Little Italy’. If you’re a fan of pizza or pasta, then this is really the best place for you to be! The choice of restaurants in the Avenue is mindboggling, each one boasting the best recipes and atmosphere. It’s definitely worth checking out, if not for the food, then just for the overall casual vibe.

25. Museum of Sex

Human sexuality is a topic that serves as an endless source of inspiration for many people, and it is also the main topic of this NYC museum. Learn about our evolution in terms of our sexuality, and engage in discourse with other people. Destigmatization of sex is still an undergoing process, no matter how much the times have changed. Places such as this museum are excellent sources of useful information and honestly, quite fun.

26. Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge across East River at Night

Spanning across the East River, Brooklyn Bridge brings the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan together. It’s one of the most iconic features of NYC and one that tourists like to visit quite often. Of course, it’s easy to see why. Brooklyn Bridge is an excellent photo opportunity and many people outline this need today.

27. Cubby Hole

If you’re looking for a laidback, utmostly relaxed place to spend your afternoon or evening, Cubby Hole will fulfill all your needs and then some. This bar offers a great atmosphere and a fine taste in music. Actually, it’s one of the many places of its kind in NYC, but we found it to be a great representative of good vibes and amazing people.

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28. Prince Street Pizza

If you’re craving some authentic pizza, then the best place to go is Prince Street Pizza. Often voted the best one in town, they offer culinary perfection and treat pizza making as religion. While there are obviously quite a lot of places that serve pizza in NYC, there are some locales that really stick out with superb quality.

29. Sleep No More

Head on over to Chelsea’s McKittrick hotel to take part in one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with touches of Hitchcock’s noir films. When we say take part, we mean that quite literally, as this play is interactive. Put on a theatric mask, and join the actors as they proceed through the acts, but keep in mind that they need their space, so keep a reasonable distance. The audience is instructed to keep their masks on at all times and refrain from using mobile phones or other devices to avoid disturbing the performers. Suffice it to say, this will be a unique opportunity, and a one better approached with comfortable footwear.

30. Barneys New York

New York City is almost synonymous with shopping. It wouldn’t be fair to omit all of the great choices that NYC really exposes. Barneys is known for the amazing interior with the spiral white staircase in the very middle of it. If there is a clothing item or an accessory that you’re specifically looking for, it’s bound to be here. If your idea of a good time is endlessly browsing for expensive stuff – you’re in the right place.

31. Shakespeare in the Park

We’ve already mentioned how you can come across amazing venues and plays if you wonder the expanse of Central Park (in the right direction). As the name suggests, you can watch Shakespearean plays performed there all summer long. They often have interesting events in store, such as gala dinners and performances by award-winning actors and actresses. Quite frankly, it’s empowering to see all those people enjoying one of the greatest playwrights of all time. Check out the website of this amazing community and support their cause if you can, as that will enable them to maintain their free of charge policy.

32. Park Avenue Armory

Located in Seventh Regiment Armory building, there’s a host of events being held here throughout the year. You might come across TEFAF New York or even Winter Antiques Show. The first solo exhibition performed here was Ernesto Neto’s Anthropodino in 2009. Besides attending an exhibition, you can get a guide to take you through the restored sections of the Armory and learn about its history.

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33. Frick Collection

Some claim that the industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s mansion is one of the most spectacular sights of NYC. While it definitely has its charm, the true magic consists of the collection found inside this house turned museum. Artworks of absolute legends fill the hallways of the mansion, geniuses like El Greco, Rembrandt, Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, Boucher, Bellini, van Dyck, and others have their works displayed here. Frick started collecting these soon after he amassed his wealth and became of the greatest art patrons at the time.

34. Empire State Building

Empire State Building at Dawn in NYC

Climb the 102 stories of one of the tallest buildings in New York – Empire State Building. Not only will you be able to gaze on the magnificence that is New York, but you’ll also get a unique opportunity to learn about the construction of this fine tower (80th floor, ‘Dare to Dream’ exhibit). Empire State Building rises 1,454 feet in height and lets you spy on the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and Hudson River. You can even spot the Statue of Liberty.

35. Casellula

Any real wine connoisseur will find themselves at home in Casellula. With way too many wines to even consider mentioning, and an equally astonishing offering of cheeses to accompany your wine tasting session, you’ll realize that you’d love to spend an eternity here. Since you obviously can’t do that, we advise focusing on something you’ve never tried before, and trust us – you will find something of the sort.

36. New York Philharmonic

Currently, the principal conductor of New York Philharmonic, or Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc. as it’s officially known, is Jaap van Zweden. A masterful violinist himself, Zweden leads the orchestra through some of the most sublime pieces that humankind has ever composed. By stopping by at the New York Philharmonic, you enlighten the spirit and make your stay in NYC that much richer.

37. Spyscape

Have you ever thought about how good of a spy you would make? Well, wonder no more, as your abilities and skillsets will be put to the test at Spyscape in Midtown. Avoid laser traps, crack codes and engage in cyber warfare. It’s one of those things that you can’t really try anywhere else and even if you’re not a big fan of espionage and James Bond, you’ll most certainly have a blast.

38. Peter Luger

What started off as ‘Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards, and Bowling Alley’ has quickly gained a reputation as the best steak house in NYC. If you happen across this fine establishment, we suggest you take the opportunity to try their prime dry-aged strip stakes. Try and top that quality if you can.

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39. The Oculus

The Oculus Train Station in NYC

Santiago Calatrava designed the most expensive trains station in the world to replace the original one destroyed during 9/11 attacks. This $4 billion station connects commuters from New Jersey in this great white hall that was also supposed to have a retractable roof. However, having broken an already enormous budget, that part of the design was thrown out the window. The station was supposed to represent a dove extending her wings before taking to the skies, but even without the movable roof, it’s still a spectacular sight to behold.

40. Moth StorySLAM

For those who know how to fully appreciate the art of storytelling, Moth StorySLAM will prove to be among the top events of New York. Held in different locations throughout each month, 10 people will compete against each other with an improvised story. Make sure to attend as it can turn out to be quite exhilarating.

What other locations do you consider to be top-notch fun places in NYC? For such an enormous city, we know that a lot of awesome places got left out, so let us know in the comments!