55 Best Things to Do in New York (New York 2022
New York City comprises 5 boroughs sitting where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. At its core is Manhattan, a densely populated borough that’s among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers. Its iconic sites include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and sprawling Central Park. Broadway theater is staged in neon-lit Times Square.
- Land area: 302.6 mi²
- Elevation: 33′
- Weather: 16°F (-9°C), Wind N at 11 mph (18 km/h), 40% Humidity weather.com
- Local time: Saturday 9:17 PM
- Population: 8.419 million (2019)
- Mayor: Eric Adams
New York is at the forefront of Western art, entertainment, food trends, fashion, and finance. Now, you could go cute and dark when you compile a guide like this.
But truth be told, 55 things just aren’t enough for a city like New York, which is why our list is unashamedly packed with heavy hitters, from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park, Ellis Island, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State, Broadway, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Even if a few thousand tourists accompany you, these things are non-negotiable if you want to do New York justice.
We have a breathless journey through a city etched in the minds of people around the world, immortalized on television and in movies, and capable of inspiring wonder, amazement, silent reflection, and joy in even the most cynical of travelers.
Let’s explore the best things to do in New York :
1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Facing Central on Fifth Avenue, the sprawling Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases 5,000 years of applied and fine art from all the ends of the earth.
At the most extensive gallery in the United States, you can chase your sense of curiosity down any number of rabbit holes, marveling at Sumerian cuneiform tablets, Chinese calligraphy, classical sculpture, Egyptian mummies, Old Masters, textiles Moorish, Rococo fashion, the armor worn by European Kings, priceless musical instruments, and that’s just to start.
You could spend an entire day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walk away knowing there was more to see.
But some of the must-see exhibits are the transposed Egyptian Temple of Dendur (15 BC), Raphael’s altar painting of the Virgin and Child (1504), Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (1653), Washington Crossing Delaware by Immanuel Leutze (1851). and Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat (1887).
2. Central Park
New York’s population doubled in the 30 years to 1855, at which point the burgeoning city desperately needed more green space.
The answer was to cut a big strip from the middle of the Manhattan grid system, from 5th to 8th Avenue and from 59th to 110th Street.
At 843 acres, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux laid out this captivating landscape and officially completed it in 1873. Within the boundaries of Central Park are ponds, a central lake, a reservoir, public art, shale outcroppings, nearly 50 fountains, 21 playgrounds, complete sports facilities, more than 25,000 trees, and dozens of places of interest such as the majestic Bethesda Terrace.
The list of things to do is almost endless and includes a zoo, boat rides, yoga classes, open-air theater, and horse-drawn carriage tours.
Such is the size of Central Park, two wheels might be a better way to get around than two feet, and you can rent a bike through
3. National 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Grim but necessary, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum sits on the site of the World Trade Center.
The National September 11 Memorial is a jarring tribute to the 2,977 people who died in the 2001 attacks and the six who died in the 1993 bombing.
Here are two acre-sized reflecting pools that mark the exact footprints of the Twin Towers and are walled with the largest artificial waterfalls in North America.
The bronze panels of the parapets surrounding these pools are inscribed with the names of all the people who died in the two attacks.
The Memorial Museum recalls the events of 9/11, the weeks leading up to the attack, and its aftermath but also delves into the lives of those who died.
The monumental Last Column, aircraft fragments, and a broken-down fire engine are among the exhibits.
Suggested Tour: 9/11 Memorial & Museum Walking Tour
4. Empire State Building
Empire State Building
It is a sign of the sheer ambition of New York in the 1920s and 30s that, nearly 90 years after its completion, the timeless Empire State Building remains the 44th tallest skyscraper in the world.
The roof of this Art Deco tower is 380 meters above the streets of Midtown and is the highest visitable point in the city from 2001 until the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in 2011. The main deck on the 86th floor is open until 02:00 for a nighttime perspective of the city that never sleeps, while in clear weather during the day, panoramas span 80 miles to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Higher up is an indoor observatory on the 102nd floor, once part of a docking station for airships, and accessed with an upgrade.
Be sure to soak up the Art Deco opulence of the Fifth Avenue Lobby, complete with marble floors and the transparent image of the tower behind the front desk.
5. Statue of Liberty
In 1886, immigrants traveling to New York in search of a new life would be greeted by this inspiring symbol of freedom, conceived by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and with a metal structure built by Gustave Eiffel.
The 300-foot Statue of Liberty depicts the Roman goddess Libertas, free from the shackles at her feet, holding a torch aloft in her right hand and carrying a tablet in her left hand bearing the date of the Declaration of Independence, “JULY IV MDCCLXXVI” (1776). The main departure point from New York to Liberty Island is Battery Park.
Lines for the ferry and the new Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island can be long and slow, so it’s worth getting priority or flexible Statue of Liberty tickets with GetYourGuide.com, which include an audio guide free and optional access to the pedestal.
Trips to the top of the crown are highly sought after, so book well in advance.
Recommended tour: Statue of Liberty: Pedestal Express and Ellis Island
6. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Some of the most famous works of art of the modern era are on display at the world-famous MoMA, one of the world’s largest and most important museums of modern and contemporary art.
The collection has 150,000 pieces, including a good number of masterpieces.
Among them are van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Dalí’s Persistence of Memory, Matisse’s Dance, Francis Bacon’s 1946 Painting, and a triptych from Monet’s Water Lilies series.
This incredible reserve is combined with high-profile temporary exhibitions: the work of Degas, Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Gilbert & George, Miró have starred in solo shows in recent years, along with much more transformative survey and installation exhibitions.
Throughout the year, MoMA opens its doors for free on Friday nights from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Book online: Skip-the-line tickets to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
7. Rockefeller Center
The proportions of this vertical complex in Midtown are staggering, especially when you remember that it was built during the Great Depression.
Rockefeller Center comprises 19 buildings (14 Art Deco, five International Style), divided by a sunken central plaza, all commissioned by the Rockefeller family, who first made their money in the oil industry.
We’ll talk about the Top of the Rock observatory and Radio City below, but there’s a lot at street level in Rockefeller Center that you’ve seen many times before in movies.
You’ve got the statue of Atlas (1936) in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral across Fifth Avenue, Prometheus (1934) on the west side of the famous sunken plaza, and a superb accompaniment to the much-loved skating rink and tree. Of Christmas.
8. Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Yet another landmark that makes New York, well New York, the Brooklyn Bridge links Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River and becomes the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge when it was completed in 1883. At the time, it was also the first permanent crossing on the East River.
In 1884, showman PT Barnum led a parade of 21 elephants across the bridge to allay doubts about its structural integrity.
The structure’s sense of drama comes from its two neo-Gothic towers, composed of limestone and granite and rising 84 meters, anchoring the intricate system of cables.
It’s best to cross the Brooklyn Bridge as a pedestrian on the elevated walkway above the road and through the very center of the towers for lovely views of the New York skyline and cables above.
Synonymous with New York’s theater district and even musical theater in general, Broadway has more than 41 venues with 500 seats or more.
Most of these are located on or within a few blocks of Times Square and helped make New York the cultural capital of the West in the 20th century.
Flashy Broadway signs date back to 1910 when theater owners realized it was safer and cheaper to advertise their venues with electric lights.
White bulbs took longer to burn out, which is why Broadway became known as the “Great White Way.” Listening to a musical has been an essential ritual for many generations of New York visitors. Attendance continues to rise, fueled by appearances by Hollywood stars (Bryan Cranston, Adam Driver, Keri Russell, and Daniel Radcliffe in 2019). The three ubiquitous productions are Phantom of the Opera (1988) at the Majestic, Chicago (1996) at the Ambassador, and Lion King (1997) at the Minskoff Theatre, while Hamilton and the Book of Mormon are more recent sensations.
10. One World Trade Center Observatory
During nearly a decade of construction between 2006 and 2015, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere took place at the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site.
“One World Trade Center” comes from the north skyscraper of the Twin Towers, and as of 2019, it is the sixth tallest building in the world at 541.3 meters.
The height in feet is 1776, referring to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, and you’ll climb 102 stories in just 47 seconds.
The Observatory offers a 360° view, which at this end of Manhattan, you can look down on Upper New York Bay and the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to the cluster of skyscrapers. Of Midtown.
Come just before sunset to see the city light up.
11. High Line
High Line Park, New York
This rail overpass, which cuts through the west side of Midtown Manhattan, belongs to the West Side Line but had been effectively abandoned since 1980 until it became a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park.
Taking cues from the Coulée Verte René-Dumont in Paris, the High Line opened in 2009 and ran through Chelsea, with occasional views of the Hudson River to the south and the towers of the sleek new Hudson Yards development to the north.
The gardens were designed by Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf and have a continuous pebbled concrete walkway flanked by beds growing the hardy plant species that sprouted from the gravel on the disused line coneflowers, blazing stars, and a variety of grasses and trees.
Opening in June 2019, the Plinth at 10th Avenue and 30th Street is dedicated to a rotating series of monumental contemporary art commissions, beginning with Simone Leigh’s Brick House.
Combo Tour: High Line and Greenwich Village Combo Tour
12. Staten Island Ferry
One of the best free things to do in New York, the Staten Island Ferry crosses Upper New York Bay 25 hours a day, seven days a week.
This crossing is one of the last survivors of an entire system of ferries that carried people across the city’s waterways before the bridges were built.
Between Whitehall Street and St George on Staten Island, the service is used by 22 million a year, and the five-mile crossing takes about 25 minutes.
As a visitor, your reason for making the trip will become more apparent as you zoom out of Manhattan, enjoying picture-perfect views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan.
13. Times Square
The Broadway theater district coalesces around Times Square, a bow-tie-shaped plaza where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet, in an urban ravine walled by dazzling electronic billboards.
You have to see it, especially if you are the first time.
On busy days, more than 460,000 people pass through Times Square, and as many as a million come to ring in the New Year at the ball toss, a tradition that dates back to 1907. In 2016, to keep things a little tidier, the city established designated areas for the many street performers and laid out pathways to help you navigate the crowds.
As everyone knows, Times Square wasn’t always so clean and bright.
From the 1960s to the early 1990s, this was one of the city’s bleakest blocks, full of peep shows and sex shops and a symbol of a town that fights violent crime.
In 1984, 2,300 crimes were recorded in and around the square, of which 460 were serious.
14. Grand Central Terminal
Much more than just a transportation hub, Grand Central Terminal (1913) is a Beaux-Arts marvel, with staggering proportions, exceptional artistry in its architecture and fixtures, and more than 60 shops and 35 places to eat.
This cavernous building has 44 platforms, more than any other train station globally, an enduring meeting point for New Yorkers. It has been featured time and time again in movies and on television.
In the palatial Main Concourse, tilt your head back to see Paul César Helleu’s 1912 mural of the constellations of the night sky and the ten Beaux-Arts chandeliers each weighing 360kg and holding 110 bulbs.
The most emblematic thing is the information booth, crowned with a clock, each face made of fascinating opalescent glass.
15. Top of the Rock
The 1930s Art Deco skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza may have the best view of the Manhattan skyline from its open-air observation deck just under 260 meters above the streets of Midtown.
Nicknamed Top of the Rock, this sophisticated space was designed as the deck of an ocean liner.
Despite being 60 meters lower than the Empire State, many people prefer this experience.
There is a timed entry system, which makes for shorter lines combined with the larger viewing platform.
Naturally, the views encompass the Empire State Building in all its glory, as well as Midtown and downtown skyscrapers, but also a large expanse of Central Park.
Book Online: Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket
16. 5.5-hour tour of New York City
If time is of the essence, you can condense the city into a half-day odyssey, passing nearly all of New York’s top sights from the comfort of a bus.
Starting at Central Park West and ending at Herald Square in Midtown, the ride will be narrated with regular breaks for photos and nine stops for getting out and about.
You’ll get to see the Upper West Side, Harlem, much of Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Little Italy, China Town, Brooklyn, Wall Street, and the Meatpacking District before stopping for lunch at Chelsea Market.
The highly-rated 5.5-hour tour of New York City can be found at GetYourGuide.Com and can be conducted in English, Spanish, Italian, or German.
17. Guggenheim Museum
A celebrated museum, of course, but also a landmark work of 20th-century architecture, the Guggenheim Museum is essential for its stunning design, collection of Impressionist and early modern art, and world-class temporary exhibitions.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s building is another icon, breaking the museum script by inviting visitors to take an elevator to the top and then descend the ramp that circles the atrium.
It opened in 1959, but the collection, enriched with names like Chagall, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Kirchner, Franz Marc, Fernand Léger, and Cézanne, dates back more than eight decades and continues to grow.
18. New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Like many of the entries on this list, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main branch of the New York Public Library, is a landmark you’ll instantly recognize.
It is a holdover from the first era of philanthropy in the early 20th century and is home to the second-largest public library system in the country and the third-largest in the world.
The Beaux-Arts marble facade in Midtown on Fifth Avenue has pairs of Corinthian columns, topped by a frieze and barrel vaults.
Flanking the steps are a pair of lions emblematic of the entire library system.
This Monument has world-renowned collections in the humanities, fine arts, and social sciences and schedules free guided tours from Monday to Saturday at 11:00 and 14:00. Also, visit a special exhibit; for example, in the spring of 2019, there was an exhibition exploring some of the inspirations from Walt Whitman’s work and a show to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which helped pave the way for the gay liberation movement.
19. Bryant Park
Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan, New York
Bounded on the east by the main branch of the New York Public Library, Bryant Park sits on top of the library’s bookshelves after an underground level was built during a restoration in the 1980s.
The park’s current design is from that time and became a symbol of the revival of the image of New York in the 1990s, shedding its reputation for prostitution and drug dealing.
More than 30 years later, Bryant Park is adored for its sense of calm and bills itself as a piece of urban regeneration.
There’s a movie night on Mondays in the summer, and during the day, you’ll see people playing chess, ping-pong or petanque, and taking part in free yoga, tai chi, and juggling classes.
There are promenades lined with London planes and various places to grab a coffee, cake, or something more substantial.
The Reading Room is a Depression-era relic, reopened as a literary destination in 2003. Bank of America Winter Village brings a hint and a dash of seasonal magic to the park in the run-up to Christmas.
20. The Met Cloisters
The Met Cloisters
Posted on a hill in Fort Tryon Park is a medieval European art and architecture museum managed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The museum was established in 1938 in a haunting Romanesque Revival building designed by Charles Collens, built from European limestone and granite.
Inside there are some 5,000 pieces, from the early days of the Byzantine Empire to the beginning of the Renaissance.
The masterpiece on the south side is the Cuxa cloisters, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries and brought from the Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa.
All the intricately carved columns and capitals here are original.
The cloisters of Saint-Guilhem (800-1600), Bonnefont (1100) and Trie (1400 and 1500) are also impressive.
Inside a beautiful architectural masonry, stained glass windows, puppets, and frescoes await in the Gothic Chapel, the Fuentidueña Chapel, the Langon Chapel, and the Romanesque Room.
The Treasure Room contains more miniature delights such as illuminated manuscripts, delicate enamel, a 13th-century French shrine, and a 15th-century deck of cards.
21. Ellis Island National Immigration Museum
Ellis Island National Immigration Museum
The point of arrival for 12 million immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island is a short boat ride via Statue Cruises in Battery Park.
To give you an idea of the importance of this site, the descendants of these immigrants represent almost half of the total population of the United States.
Dating from 1900, the main building of the immigration station complex houses the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum.
Just outside, the Wall of Honor lists some of the people who have been processed here.
Inside the Renaissance Revival building are a host of information panels, artifacts, photographs, videos, oral histories, and interactive stations.
The audio tour has over 120 hours of content, detailing what it was like to pass through Ellis Island, how America was settled in the 19th and 20th centuries, and immigration today.
Included In: Statue of Liberty Pedestal, Ellis Island, and Pre-Ferry Tour
22. Fifth Avenue
Just as Broadway is synonymous with musical theater, Fifth Avenue stands for luxury and prestige.
New York’s finest artery is the eastern edge of Central Park and runs through a staggering number of things on this list, whether it’s the Empire State Building or the Frick Collection.
Specific sections demand a visit, such as the park-side blocks between 59th and 96th streets.
In the early 20th century, this strip was known as Millionaire’s Row and had some of the most opulent residences in the city.
From 82nd to 105th streets is Museum Mile, packed with nine prestigious museums almost side by side, including the Met and the Guggenheim.
And further down, between 49th and 60th streets, Fifth Avenue is dedicated to the iconic luxury company of Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Prada, and the like.
Included In: New York City Day Tour with One World Observatory
23. Metropolitan Opera House
New York lays claim to the most extensive repertory opera house globally.
Part of Lincoln Center, the Met for short, seats 3,800 in a remarkable modernist building dating back to the mid-1960s.
It is one of the most advanced opera houses globally, with a system of hydraulic lifts and motorized stages capable of staging four different operas a week, including epic productions such as Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Verdi’s Aida.
The auditorium ceiling is clad in more than 4,000 squares of gold leaf with a petal motif, suspending 21 crystal chandeliers.
The opera season runs from fall to spring, and Porgy & Bess, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, The Flying Dutchman, and The Magic Flute were some highlights of the 2019-20 season.
Up next, the American Ballet Theater has an eight-week spring season at the Met.
24. Housing Museum
Between 1863 and 2011, some 15,000 people from more than 20 nations lived in the two tenement buildings at 97 and 103 Orchard Streets.
The Tenement Museum lifts the lid on their lives and the immigration experience in general.
No. 97 has barely changed since 1935. Up to that point, plumbing, gas, electricity, and running water had been added, but rather than make any more changes to bring the building up to code, the owner evicted all residents from the upper floors, sealing these floors off until they were rediscovered in 1988. You can visit 97 and 103 on various guided tours, touring recreated apartments, learning intimate details about the families who came here hoping to make their way in a new country.
25. Brooklyn Heights
Known for its tree-lined streets and brownstone rowhouses, Brooklyn Heights is the upscale neighborhood south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Suppose you’re feeling overwhelmed by Manhattan’s skyscrapers. In that case, you can lounge here among the low-rise buildings, home to celebrities now and in the mid-20th century when Marilyn Monroe and Truman Capote were residents.
Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade, which has a city-high view of the East River, encompassing Liberty Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Lower Manhattan cityscape.
This walkway was conceived as a buffer for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which reached the port in 1950. You can spend a day in Brooklyn Heights at the fascinating New York Transit Museum on Schermerhorn Street and continue to the new Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Available Tour: Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, New York City Sightseeing Bike Tour
26. Coney Island
Coney Island, Brooklyn
In the southwestern corner of Brooklyn, this former barrier island became a peninsula in the early 20th century.
Coney Island has been a seaside escape for New Yorkers for decades before then.
And although the boardwalk had a prolonged recession from the 1960s onwards, it has been revitalized today, maintaining some of its scruffy appeals.
Here, a true stalwart is the Coney Island Cyclone, now at Luna Park.
It is one of the oldest working wooden roller coasters, first opening in 1927 and reaching 60 mph after the first 26-meter climb.
Another permanent attraction is the Wonder Wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, standing since 1920, giving you clear views of the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn beaches, and east along the Rockaway Peninsula.
27. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (1943), which served in the Pacific during World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks, was salvaged from the scrapyard in 1978 and 1982 found a permanent home at Pier 86 46th Street.
It is the centerpiece of a museum for US military and maritime history, allowing you to peruse a WWII-era aircraft carrier’s inner workings and see a severe collection of other boats and planes.
The USS Growler (1958) highlights are the only American guided missile submarine open to the public, while the BA Concorde at Pier 86 broke Concorde’s transatlantic crossing record in 1996. At the Shuttle Pavilion From Space, the Enterprise, the prototype space shuttle orbiter, launched in 1976.
Book Online: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – Priority Access Tickets
28. Prospect Park
Prospect Park Boathouse
Brooklyn’s 526-acre Prospect Park is a beautiful place to get lost, dotted with historic buildings, small attractions, and sports facilities, all on a mountainous terminal moraine from the last Ice Age.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the men behind Central Park, Prospect Park took shape during the 1860s and has a ceremonious entrance to the north, at Grand Army Plaza, through the Soldiers’ Sailors’ Arch (1892 ). New buildings were added until the beginning of the 20th century.
One of these is the elegant Boathouse on the Lullwater (1905), a channel of the park’s lake.
Younger visitors will be enthralled by the barnyard animals, red pandas, otters, and tamarins at the 130-year-old Prospect Park Zoo, while the park’s carousel has been spinning since 1912. The ravine is a beautiful piece of 19th-century landscaping, resembling the Adirondacks desert, while Long Meadow is a mile-long strip of rolling greenery for picnics and a little peace.
29. Battery Park
This small park on the southern tip of Manhattan looks out over the upper New York Bay and is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset.
The Staten Island Ferry leaves right next door, and you can make the trip to Ellis Island and Liberty Island here, or just sit back and gaze at the Statue of Liberty in daylight or lights.
Battery Park gets its name from the waterfront gun emplacements that used to stand here, and among the flower beds, gardens, ornamental shrubs, and an urban farm, there are a few landmarks to pique your curiosity.
One is the Monument to the Netherlands, erected in 1926 to commemorate the tercentenary of New Amsterdam.
Another is the Sphere, a 1971 sculpture by Fritz Koenig that stood in the middle of the World Trade Center plaza and was relocated here in its damaged state in 2002. The Garden of Hope remembers the victims of the AIDS crisis, while a few steps north in Bowling Green is Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull.
30. Greenwich Village
This neighborhood of 19th-century row houses on tree-lined streets spent much of the last century straying from the mainstream.
Then the bars and cafes of Greenwich Village were home to the city’s beatniks and later its hippies and its nascent LBGTQ community.
Café Society, the first racially integrated nightclub in the United States, opened here in 1938. The name Greenwich Village alone brings beat writers like Jack Kerouac and William S to mind.
Burroughs, but also other literary heavyweights like James Baldwin and Dylan Thomas, who died in 1953 shortly after a drinking session at the White Horse Tavern,
Sky-high real estate prices have put an end to the bohemian days of Greenwich Village, but pilgrimage to a place that gave birth to Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground.
Suggested Tour: New York City: 2-Hour Greenwich Village Tour
31. Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
In 2014, the leading 20th-century and contemporary art museum in the United States moved to a Renzo Piano-designed building in the West Village/Meat Packing District.
The Whitney Museum of American Art’s collection features more than 20,000 works by hundreds of renowned artists, including Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper, and Helen Frankenthaler.
In 1932, the museum’s founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, launched the Whitney Biennial.
Nearly 90 years later, this remains a landmark event on the US cultural scene, showcasing new talent and mapping the latest developments in contemporary American art.
Book Online: Whitney Museum of American Art: One Day Ticket
32. Flatiron Building
On Fifth Avenue, at the center end of Madison Square, is one of those New York places etched into the world’s conscience.
This wedge-shaped Renaissance skyscraper, named for its resemblance to a clothes iron, was one of the tallest buildings in the city when it was completed in 1902. The Flatiron Building measures just 87 meters and sits neatly on a triangular block caused by Broadway.
As well as being a show to ignite some romance in Manhattan, the Flatiron Building has a small gallery, Flatiron Prow Artspace.
It is run by ground-floor tenant Sprint and houses exhibit focused on sustainability and green technology.
Just steps away are the expansive indoor market/food destination, Eataly Flatiron, an ode to Italian cuisine.
Suggested Tour: Flatiron Food, History, and Architectural Tour
33. Union Square
Union Square, New York
The name, Union Square, has nothing to do with the Civil War, as you might think, but instead comes from the location where Broadway and Bowery Road (now Fourth Avenue) meet.
Given its central position, Union Square has been a rallying point for protests and demonstrations since it was established in the 1830s.
On the south side is the massive public art installation, Metronome, with LED clock, while among the park’s monuments are the Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi sculpture of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette for the Centenary in 1876, and towering statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. by Henry Kirke Brown.
The Union Square Greenmarket, staffed by regional farmers, trades here Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm year-round.
It is one of the best places to buy fresh produce in New York, while you can come to buy Christmas crafts at the Christmas market from the end of November.
34. Frick Collection
the frick collection
As soon as he made his fortune, Pittsburgh steel and coke industrialist Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) began investing in art, amassing an exceptional array of high-quality old masters and decorative art.
This collection, along with a sprawling neoclassical mansion built in 1913, was bequeathed as a public museum when he passed away.
The residence was adapted into a museum by famed architect John Russell Pope, and at its heart is the refined Garden Court, framed by pairs of Ionic columns and symmetrical bedding.
There is an extraordinary painting by Vermeer, Fragonard, Velázquez, Turner, Goya, Titian, Rembrandt, El Greco, and Hans Holbein the Younger, as well as Limoges enamels, Oriental rugs, porcelain, silver sculpture, and 18th-century French furniture.
35. American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Expertly curated and constantly finding creative and engaging ways to display its vast inventory of specimens, the American Museum of Natural History is on an astonishing scale.
There are 45 permanent exhibition halls on four floors in 28 interconnected buildings.
Many of the collections are the largest in the world in their fields so that you can satisfy your interest in even the more obscure subcategories of zoology, botany, geology, mineralogy, and anthropology.
Kids will be transfixed by the Fossil Halls, particularly the Koch Dinosaur Wing, which displays only a tantalizing fraction of the museum’s collections but is impressive nonetheless.
At the Millstein Family Hall of Ocean Life, you’ll come across a life-size replica of a blue whale, which descends from the ceiling and is nearly 100 feet long.
The Rose Center for Earth and Space has the Hayden Planetarium in a vast sphere, while the museum’s own IMAX theater features mind-blowing 2D and 3D movies.
Get Tickets: American Museum of Natural History Tickets
36. Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park
At the end of Fifth Avenue and bordered by New York University, the young Washington Square Park is a place to forget the city for a while.
In the 1950s and 1960s, beatniks and hippies would gather here, often to the chagrin of working-class residents of Greenwich Village and the New York City Police Department.
Today, that bohemian spirit lives on in the park’s lineup of talented street performers and buskers.
Some intense chess matches can be seen in the southwest corner (Stanley Kubrick was a regular youth). At the same time, Washington Square’s triumphal arch at the end of Fifth Avenue was erected in 1892 to commemorate the Centenary of George Washington.
37. New York City Helicopter Tour
New York City Helicopter Adventure
No matter how high up the vantage point, you might walk away feeling like there’s a piece of Manhattan you wanted to see from above but couldn’t.
There may not be a more suitable cityscape for a helicopter tour than New York, so it’s no wonder there are a plethora of options with GetYourGuide.com.
To single out one, the New York City Luxury Helicopter Tour offers the best views of the Hudson River, Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the USS Intrepid.
Taking off the helipad at Pier 6, this flight lasts between 15 and 30 minutes but will give you memories to last a lifetime.
38. Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Dubbed the world’s most famous stadium, Madison Square Garden is home to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers and still finds time to be the second busiest stadium globally in terms of concert sales.
The Garden has recently completed its second renovation, costing $1 billion and taking place over three off-seasons.
At the time of this writing in 2019, the Knicks were at their lowest point, falling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but you might want to relive the ’90s when Patrick Ewing was in his prime, and the team reached two finals.
Or maybe you want to know how this ultra-modern stadium works on the new All Access Tour.
It runs every half hour (limited hours on Knicks days), and an expert guide will take you on a 75-minute tour of all the nooks and crannies.
Recommended Tour: Madison Square Garden All Access Tour Ticket
39. Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall
Part of Rockefeller Center is this iconic Art Deco live entertainment venue that opened in 1932 and hosts major concerts, award ceremonies, and live broadcasts of television shows.
Radio City Music Hall is unmistakable from the outside for its long marquee sign at the corner of 6th Avenue and 50th street and the seven-story signs on 6th Avenue.
It may be enough to stop by and take a photo of these signs, but if you want to walk the halls of the “Showplace of the Nation,” the Madison Square Garden Group offers tours that reveal the history of the famous Great Stage. Up close to the exquisite Art Deco details and perhaps give you the chance to meet a member of the resident dance troupe, the Rockettes.
40. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Occupying an entire city block, this neo-Gothic wonder was visited by Pope Francis in 2015 after undergoing a three-year, $177 million restoration.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (1878) is in the Decorated Gothic style and is composed of brick faced with radiant Tuckahoe marble.
The twin towers facing Fifth Avenue are just over 100 meters tall, while the combined nave and choir stand 101.2 meters between the two avenues.
You can enter for free, admiring the giant statues in the many side chapels, as well as the altars of Saint Michael and Saint Louis (by Tiffany & Co.), the enormous Pietà, the magnificent rose window, the ribbed vault, and the spectacular Casing of Gallery Organ Wood, dedicated in 1930.
SoHo, New York
Once upon a time, SoHo, which means “South of Houston Street,” was an area of factories and working-class housing.
In the 1970s, artists moved into the lofts of the old factories when these manufacturing spaces were not zoned like residences and lacked many of the basic comforts of home.
SoHo’s time as a quarter of studios and galleries didn’t last, as the historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and gritty charm soon attracted the ultra-rich. The neighborhood is now more about boutique shopping, fine dining, and chic bars.
The history of SoHo defined the gentrification template as the “SoHo Effect.” Take a tour to see the finer things and admire the most extensive variety of cast-iron buildings in the world, dating from 1840 to 1880.
Recommended Tour: 2-Hour Guided Walk Through SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown
What used to be in Greenwich Village and SoHo can now be found among the homes, rowhouses, rowhouses, and converted factories of Chelsea on Manhattan’s West Side.
Gentrification is also putting pressure on this neighborhood, but hundreds of cutting-edge galleries and a sizable LGBTQ community are still there.
Chelsea is one of the best places to go out in Manhattan, with many bars and clubs, especially in the Meatpacking District.
For an even more fresh and edgy culture, there are a variety of Off-Broadway theaters in Chelsea, while the neighborhood is a fashion shopper’s idea of heaven.
Make the pilgrimage to the Hotel Chelsea, reopened after long-term renovations in 2019, and made famous by its countless mentions in popular culture and the dozens of cultural figures who have stayed here.
43. United Nations Headquarters
United Nations Headquarters
After the East River chose a site for the headquarters of the newly founded United Nations, an international team of design consultants was assembled, including Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier.
Wallace Harrison’s final design combined Le Corbusier and Niemeyer’s plans and has been an integral part of the Manhattan skyline since 1952. All major UN bodies sit here, including the Security Council and Assembly. General of 193 nations, except the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The Visitor Center is open every day of the week, although guided tours are only available from Monday to Friday.
These last an hour and, depending on the schedule, take you to the famous General Assembly, Security Council, and Economic and Social Council while displaying some of the many works of art gifted to the UN, such as the Norman Rockwell Mosaic and the Mural Zanetti.
44. Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
America’s Design Museum is located in Central Park on Museum Mile.
This institution dates back to 1897, and in 1970 it moved to its current location, the Georgian-style Andrew Carnegie Mansion (1902). The tycoon and philanthropist resided here until he died in 1919, while his wife Louise would stay until her death in 1946. A seven-year upgrade, completed in 2015, has elevated the Cooper-Hewitt to must-see status.
Innovative interactive features complement the museum’s extensive collections in decorative arts and broader concept design.
At first, you will be given a kind of electronic pen, so you can mark anything that catches your eye, saving it to a personalized website.
Meanwhile, the Immersion Room gives you digital access to the museum’s vast wallpaper inventory and lets you create your designs to project on the walls.
45. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn bridge park
As of 2019, this park project, revitalizing 1.3 miles of Brooklyn’s post-industrial waterfront, is mostly complete and a fitting end to a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Bridge Park has been in the works for more than a decade, transforming Brooklyn Piers 1-6 and reclaiming land on the East River with soil from constructing the new World Trade Center.
There are multiple sports facilities, playgrounds for children, and plenty of places to eat, both in the park and surrounding area.
But it’s the river and the views (sunsets are amazing) that make up Brooklyn Bridge Park, with a continuous promenade from Piers 1 to 6, surrounded by clever landscaping as well as marshes and tide pools to attract the wildlife.
46. Morningside Heights
Northwest Central Park and bordering Harlem, Morningside Heights is a neighborhood of impressive monuments and great academic, religious, and cultural institutions.
The most august of these has to be Columbia University, founded in 1754 and the fifth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
Since 1902, the university has administered the Pulitzer Prize.
Take a detour to see the dome and Ionic columns of the Neoclassical Butler Library.
Elsewhere, Riverside Park is home to Grant’s Tomb, the final resting place of the 18th President Ulysses S.
Grant (1822-1885), while Sakura Park is named for its thousands of cherry trees (blooming in April), was donated in 1912 by the Committee of Japanese Residents of New York.
Lastly, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is the fifth largest Christian church globally, at over 180 meters long and 70 meters wide.
The works began in 1892, but this Monument is still unfinished.
47. New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden
In a lush park of more than 250 acres, the New York Botanical Garden cultivates more than a million individual plants in 50 different spaces and collections.
It is a leading botanical institution, conducting research and conservation programs employing 600 people.
There are plenty of delights for visitors, including a stretch of an ancient forest covering all of New York before Europeans settled it in the 17th century.
Never felled, it grows white ash, birch, tulip, cherry, and American beeches.
The beautiful Enid A. Haupt Conservatory is a sight to behold, built with a wrought-iron frame in the 1890s and hosting a glorious orchid show every spring.
You can wander through a Japanese Rock Garden, 37 acres of conifers, wetlands, an herb garden, and the magical Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden.
Book Online: New York Botanical Garden: Admission to All Gardens
48. Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building (1930) has a charm that sets it apart from other New York skyscrapers, an Art Deco tower of striking and delicate beauty.
For 11 months until the Empire State Building was topped out, it was the tallest building in the world, standing 319 meters tall.
It was commissioned by automobile magnate Walter Chrysler and was the height of architect William van Alen’s career.
The tower is iconic for the stepped arches and triangular windows in its gleaming stainless steel crown above eagle-motif gargoyles on the 61st floor.
The best way to see the crown is to climb the Empire State Building, but there are clear sightlines along Lexington Avenue, from the foot of the tower at 42nd Street to Gramercy Park at 21st.
If you’re feeling bold, take a look at the sumptuous lobby, with floors made of travertine from Siena, granite from Africa on the walls, and stately Art Deco light fixtures.
See It From Above: New York City Luxury Helicopter Tour
49. Yankee Stadium
The old Yankee Stadium may be dead and gone, but its $2.3 billion replacement, unveiled in 2009, has revived many classic design features and gives you pristine views from every seat.
The facade is bare Indiana limestone, painted at the old stadium, while the roof of the new venue is adorned with the iconic frieze present from 1923 to 1973. If you’re in town between April and October, you’ll have plenty of opportunities. There are 81 home games in an MLB regular season to see a ball game at Yankee Stadium, and general seating tickets are as low as $14. Be prepared to shell out a lot more for a dog or a pretzel! The Great Hall, between the outer wall and the arena, is in the stadium concourse, with a seven-story ceiling and Yankee greats like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle.
Arrive early to visit the open-air stadium museum at Monument Park, filled with 120 years of history.
50. Chelsea Market
If you were to narrow New York’s abundance of eateries down to just one, you could do worse than Chelsea Market.
To begin with, the history of food was already made in this old Nabisco factory (1895) since the Oreo cookie was invented here.
With a selection of specialty food stores and a high-end supermarket with a deli and butcher counter, Chelsea Market is a place to shop, but it’s the restaurants that draw the crowds.
More than 35 vendors, like Los Tacos No. 1, aptly named because it makes the best tacos in town, Chelsea Creamline for American classics, Num Pang for Cambodian-style sandwiches, or Bar Suzette Creperie,
The Lobster Place is a wholesale seafood market with its sushi bar, which also operates the Cull & Pistol for oysters and lobster.
Available Tour: New York City High Line and Chelsea Market Walking Tour
51. Bronx Zoo
Entrance to the Bronx Zoo
A great partner of the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the country, spread over 265 acres and housing some 5,000 animals.
Like the best zoos of the 21st century, the Bronx Zoo is conservation-oriented. Still, animal protection is in the DNA of this attraction, as the first director William Temple Hornaday strove to save the American bison from extinction through the early 20th century.
Dating back more than a century, there’s some beautiful old architecture at the Bronx Zoo, like the Beaux-Arts Zoo Center (1908), which houses monitor lizards and outdoor enclosures for white rhinos, Komodo dragons, and giant tortoises.
General admission will give you access to many exhibits, including Tiger Mountain, Sea Lion Pool, Congo Gorilla Forest, Baboon Reserve, and much more.
Some special exhibits and attractions require an additional fee, such as the butterfly garden, 4D theater, zoo transportation, and the Wild Asia Monorail.
Chinatown, New York
One enclave that is still holding strong against gentrification in Chinatown.
Seriously, suppose you didn’t know better. In that case, the gridlock, the sudden bustle, the cadence of conversation in Cantonese, and the street signs and awnings with Chinese characters can make you think you’re on a different continent entirely.
Surrounded by TriBeCa, old Little Italy, the Lower East Side, and the Civic Center, Manhattan’s Chinatown is no longer New York’s largest Chinese enclave, as that honor has gone to Flushing Chinatown in Queens.
But it has the highest concentration of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere and is an excellent change of pace in Lower Manhattan.
The fish and greengrocers around Canal Street, East Broadway, Mott Street, and Mulberry Street are always eye-opening.
Recommended Tour: 2-hour guided walk through SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown
53. South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport
Just under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side is an area that has seen a lot of recent change, even by dizzying New York standards.
In the 17th century, New York’s original port, where the city’s early economy first flourished, and the city’s clippers docked in the 19th century.
The Seaport is a designated historic district, home to some of the oldest buildings in midtown Manhattan on a small cobblestone grid made up of Fulton Street, Front Street, and Water Street.
Take the Schermerhorn Row block of Fulton Street, a terrace of Federal-style houses dating from 1811-12. The South Street Seaport Museum here traces New York’s growth into a port to the world with nautical collections and a small fleet of sailboats out front, like the Lettie G.
The 1893 Howard schooner. The legacy of the South Street Seaport has been protected and is joined by new architecture, such as Pier 17 redeveloped as a culinary and retail center, hosting major outdoor events.
From April through November, America’s largest weekly food market draws up to 30,000 people to Brooklyn each weekend.
The main shopping spots are at East River Park in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Breeze Hill in Prospect Park on Sundays.
There’s also a more miniature fair every Friday at the World Trade Center’s Oculus Plaza from 11:30 am to 7:00 pm. With over 100 vendors in the two Brooklyn locations, it would be impossible to summarize all the discoveries you could make.
But to tickle the taste buds, there’s fresh-from-the-grill Maine lobster on a bed of noodles (Lobsterdamus), Brooklyn-style poutine (duck season), the famous spaghetti fritter (Pop Pasta), blueberry crumble ice cream (Good Batch), or fried cookie dough (Big Mozz). Bring cash as most vendors do not accept cards.
55. New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty Night Cruise
Downtown New York is stunning from the water during the day, but the view of the harbor and skyline at night is one of those experiences that will stay with you long after you’ve gone home.
GetYourGuide.com has an hour-long cruise after sunset, with non-stop commentary imparting tidbits you might not have known about.
The cruise departs from Pier 16 at the South Street Seaport and voyages through Lower Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty, the forest of skyscrapers that includes places like One World Trade Center, and then under the Brooklyn Bridge up to the Empire State Building.
What should I do on my first trip to New York?
- Visit Central Park. View fullsize. …
- Watch a Broadway Show. …
- Take in Times Square at Night. …
- Eat, Eat, Eat! …
- Go to the Coney Island Boardwalk. …
- Catch a View of the Skyline. …
- Spot the Filming of a Show or Movie. …
- See the Statue of Liberty.
What is the coolest thing in New York?
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Source: Anton_Ivanov / shutterstock. …
- Central Park. Source: GagliardiPhotography / shutterstock. …
- National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. …
- Empire State Building. …
- Statue of Liberty. …
- The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) …
- Rockefeller Center. …
- Brooklyn Bridge.
What should you not miss in New York?
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. …
- Broadway. …
- Brooklyn Bridge. …
- Observation decks: Empire State, Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Edge. …
- Central Park. …
- Little Italy and Chinatown. …
- Metropolitan Museum of Art. …
- Grand Central Terminal.
What does New York do for entertainment? Things to Do
- Attractions. Breathtaking views from Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and One World Observatory. …
- Attraction Passes. …
- Events. …
- Broadway Shows. …
- Restaurants. …
- Museums & Galleries. …
- Sports. …
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55 Best Things to Do in New York (New York 2022