New York is the busiest of all the cities in the United States, and quite possibly the world. Despite this trend often dictating the way people perceive the Big Apple, don’t let your trip to this great city turn into a rush from point A to point B.
There’s so much to be had here, so much to be learned and experienced. All you need to do is relax, know what the best places are and where the best things to do in New York City can be found.
1. Explore Central Park
With 843 acres of much-needed nature, Central Park is a perfect escape from hustle and bustle of New York City. It’s also practically unexplorable in one go, so there’s always something to come back to and rediscover.
You may be interested in theater, or you may enjoy a good music festival. Perhaps you like uncovering relics of ancient cultures or just tossing the ball back and fro. This is a park like few others both due to its size and wealth of activities, and Shakespeare in the Park, Cleopatra’s Needle, Strawberry Fields, and endless picnic expanses only further support this claim. Don’t settle for just one thing, plan ahead and let yourself become immersed in the exploration of Central Park.
2. Thrive at the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art in Lower Manhattan, New York is on the highest order of magnitude in the world of contemporary art.
Closed until October 21 due to the expansion of its illustrious galleries, the museum features some of the most intricate and rarest pieces of modern art available. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, design, and many other creative pursuits and their results end up displayed in this museum. Let your spirit thrive in this cash of human ingenuity and love for aesthetics.
3. Stroll the High Line
Take a stroll across the magnificent High Line and see the capacity for transformation that the city of New York has to offer.
A decrepit railroad track turned a picturesque walkway is now home to many art installations that elevate the beauty of the entire West Side of Manhattan. When we say ‘elevate’, we mean that quite literally as this promenade is actually up in the air. There are various reasons to come here, from adventuring to eating, but observing the Hudson River from the High Line takes the cake.
4. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge has become somewhat of a staple for any visitor to New York, and it’s quite easy to see why.
With such a staggering view of the city skyline and a great spot to take more than you fair share of photos, it’s no wonder that you can always spot so many people going from one side to the other. The bridge connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, and as locals will tell you, it’s important which way you’re going. As the view of the skyline is much better when going from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Put at least half an hour of time aside for this activity, as that’s how much it usually takes to get across this 1.3-mile bridge.
5. Scale the Empire State Building
Climb to the top of the magnificent Empire State Building and gaze at all the beauty of New York from on high.
At the 86th floor, you’ll find the breathtaking observation deck from which your perception of the city will be forever changed. Along the way, you’ll take part in an interactive tour that will get you closer to the history of the Big Apple and highlight the important moments in its long lifespan. It’s one of the most touristy places in NYC, so be prepared for long lines and crowds.
6. Experience the Guggenheim Museum
Frank Lloyd Wright’s brainchild is one of the most architecturally unique places to visit in New York – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
What most of the people come for are, in fact, the undulating lines of the museum and its unusual shape. Besides absorbing the glory of its form, experience the permanent and temporary exhibitions that Guggenheim has on offer. With their impressive permanent collection of Pablo Picasso’s works on display, Guggenheim leaves little to be desired.
7. Find the Rockefeller Center
This task will undoubtedly be very easy, as the Rockefeller Center is a vast complex covering 22 acres of New York land and featuring some of the most exquisite works of art.
While people interested in exploring the Rockefeller Center mostly come because of the art of resounding importance, it’s not just Prometheus that you’ll see here. In fact, a lot of great publishing houses, recording studios, and historic buildings are nested in the complex. Simon & Shuster building is a great example of this, and so are the NBC studios.
8. Pay Respects at Green-Wood Cemetery
While you may be tempted to think that the Green-Wood Cemetery, or any other cemetery for that matter, would hardly befitting of a place on a list of best things to do in New York City, you would be sorely mistaken.
When you finally get around to seeing this open-air landscape in Brooklyn, you’ll see it in all its glory and realize it’s no less a museum than it is a cemetery. Sculptures belonging to neo-classic and Victorian eras decorate the historic cemetery, perhaps even challenging how we feel about the graveyards in the first place. Being both solemn and absolutely stunned by the quality of statues dotting the individual lots of eternal slumber is a common emotion at Green-Wood Cemetery.
9. Check out the Lincoln Center
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York is home to many organizations of global renown such as Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.
You’ll find it at Lincoln Square in Manhattan, a grande conglomerate of the high culture of New York. Besides the aforementioned titans such as the Metropolitan Opera House which can house 3,600 patrons, visit the illustrious David H. Koch Theater, Juilliard School, Walter Reade Theater, Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, and many others.
10. Enjoy the view from One World Observatory
The reincarnation of the World Trade Center, One World Observatory stands tall and mighty, harnessing the defiant spirit of New York.
Take to the skies in this 1,792 feet tall behemoth and observe the city of New York from the top of it. But, it’s not just about being so high up, the actual tours of the Observatory are interactive events where you get to learn about the people who’ve helped build this great monument. As you climb the 102 stories in the SkyPod elevator, you’ll get to see the entire history of the city unfold before your very eyes.
11. Wander the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Places such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art bolster our understanding of the world around us through works of unparalleled geniuses, so you would do well not to pass up on at least one visit to Met.
The vast cultural heritage scattered across the halls of Met originates from all the corners of the world. That’s why you’ve got to take a deep breath and go exploring the priceless inheritance of humankind. From the incredibly detailed statue of Venus Italica to the works of Pablo Picasso, Jacques Louis David, and Caravaggio, you will not leave the Men unchanged and untouched.
12. Listen to Talent at Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is the place to be if you’re in for a taste of New York high culture.
The illustrious academy is home to many great theatrical performances, movies, and concerts. For those hungry for inspirational words from great artists and creators, there are often talks given by prominent figures in the business of coming up with new ideas.
13. Stop by the Ellis Island
The Ellis Island is often overlooked by visitors to New York whose attention rarely ever drifts away from the mighty Statue of Liberty and onto the surrounding area.
If your ancestors have arride to the US a long time ago on a search for a better life, odds are you’ll find information about them on Ellis Island. National Museum of Immigration located in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty apparently holds information on approximately 12 million immigrants that arrived in the New World between 1892 and 1954. Despite America’s huge territory and diverse population, it is said that almost half the citizens of the country can trace their roots at the museum.
14. Visit the Statue of Liberty
New York has some fantastic monuments of great renown, not a single one of them more prominent than the Statue of Liberty, standing guard on the Liberty Island and showing the way to ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’.
The most recognizable landmark of all, Statue of Liberty lords over the surrounding area, a promise of freedom, liberty, and equality to all the newcomers. It’s located on an island right next to the aforementioned Ellis Island, standing 305 feet tall and instilling pride in every New Yorker and visitor alike. You can get a ticket from Statue Cruises and hop on a ferry that will take you to both of the nearby islands.
15. Have fun at the Radio City Music Hall
While technically a part of the Rockafeller Center, Radio City Music Hall deserves a spot of its own thanks to being New York’s most recognizable Art Deco building.
Check their events during the time window of your arrival and establish if there’s anything you’d like to see. Radio City Music Hall is famous for hosting numerous TV game shows such as Wheel of Fortune and large-scale concerts where big names in the industry such as Lady Gaga performed. Not least interesting are the sporting events that sometimes take place in the Hall, but they’re fewer and far in between.
16. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History stands proudly among other museums of New York, displaying the secrets of life and universe to all its visitors.
Get ready to be taken aback in the most immersive experience of the universe, uncovering secrets of dark matter and dark energy during the incredible Space Show. If you think you already have it figured out, visit T-Rex’s domain and learn all you can about the ultimate predator. Finally, the dark abyss of the oceans comes to light in their very special exhibition, so make sure to visit the museum as fast as you can.
17. See a play at Al Hirschfeld Theatre
More than a few reasons exist to drop by the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in midtown Manhattan, and any visitor to New York should be aware of them.
Besides hosting plays by some of the most prominent playwrights of our time, and the time before us, the very design of the theatre is a spectacle enough of its own. It’s always cool to see something different, and there’s nothing that stands out more than a Moorish/Byzantine architecture in the heart of New York.
18. Visit Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Named after the famous American playwright, Eugene O’Neill Theatre is part of a renowned New York theatre-hotel complex that used to bear the name of Edwin Forrest until 1959.
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With the capacity to hold 1,200 people, this spacious theatre designed by Herbert Krapp has been home to many a comedy and drama that real theatre-goers love to see. Visitors can often observe The Book of Mormon as it is the longest-running play.
19. Be Solemn at the 9/11 Memorial
You’re most likely familiar with terrorist attacks in New York in 2001, a grim event remembered at this 9/11 memorial.
Also known as Ground Zero Memorial, 9/11, or World Trade Center Memorial stands as a harrowing reminder of gruesome events of September 11, 2001. Come to pay your respects and be solemn in remembering those who’ve lost their lives on that day, much like all the other people you’ll get to see (and you will, considering a lot of tourists come to visit it). The memorial resembles a waterfall of about 30 feet in height in the shape of a square.
20. Visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage
New York is not lacking in memorials to people who’ve suffered throughout history, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage is no different.
Located in Battery Park City in Manhattan, this museum is a reminder of gruesome and hateful acts committed against Jewish people not so long ago. On display are thousands of items that belonged to Holocaust victims, documents, and artifacts telling the story of inhumane hatred towards one group of people and the consequences of such violence. It is a very educational journey, and we highly recommend seeing the exhibitions.
21. Walk around the Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal found in Midtown Manhattan, New York is not just your regular train station – it’s so much more than that.
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Over the years, Grand Central Terminal has become the heart and soul of New York and all the people trying to meet up. It’s famous for organizing rendezvous with friends and family, but there’s also a lot to see and do if you’re a tourist. The first stop on your journey should be the opal-faced clock, a remarkable feat of engineering much like the architecture of the terminal itself. Walk around, see what there is to be discovered around the station, and try the restaurants here. You’d be surprised!
22. Lose Yourself in Times Square
You’ve seen it before. All the neon lights flashing, billboards advertising and One Times Square rising above everything else, giving this part of New York a serious futuristic look.
It’s somewhat of a hub for the goings-on in the city. This is the place to see what New York is all about, and to feel like you’ve truly seen one of the most iconic faces of the Big Apple. Go shopping, eating, drinking, and anything in between. Broadway also happens to be quite close, so you can go on a stroll if you feel like it. Overall, this is the best spot to lose all track of time in the city!
23. See a Broadway Show
We’ve already outlined Eugene O’Neill and Al Hirschfeld Theaters as must-haves on your New York itinerary, but in all fairness, you should see every Broadway show that you can.
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Regardless of how unlikely and difficult it sounds, visiting all 41 theaters that comprise Broadway is a blessing that you can bestow upon your life. The top-of-the-class commercial theaters see millions and millions of tourists each year, and for obvious reasons. See what all the fuss is about for yourselves!
24. Cheer at Madison Square Garden
Simply referred to as the Garden, Madison Square Garden is New York’s greatest treasure by any sports fan’s estimates.
While you can come across other kinds of events being hosted here as well, namely concerts or political rallies, the main purpose behind this great complex are sports. New York Rangers and New York Knicks call the garden their home, and with over 300 events being held here each year, it really is a full house!
25. Learn the History of Harlem
Between Hudson and East Rivers lies Harlem, the cradle of Harlem Renaissance of the early 20th century New York.
On this journey to learn more about the influence and history of African-American New Yorkers, you’ll have to make a stop at the Apollo Theatre, which was a centerpiece of the said culture. Landmarks such as Abyssinian Baptist Church and Mount Morris Fire Watchtower will reveal even more about the lives of people.
This is the end of our rundown of the best things to do in New York City, which has hopefully given you a better overview of what to do and where to start. New York is a vast and sprawling city, so don’t get too carried away exploring!