The top things to do in New York city includes a vast array of activities that you will surely love. Take a bow in front of Lady Liberty and commence your travel. The exhilarating Times Square and the evergreen Central Park are your quintessential stops. Observe the city silhouette from atop the tallest skyscrapers. Hop on a cruise to the Long Island and bask on sandy beaches. Rest assure, you’ll never be tired of New York City.
You can spend a lifetime in New York City and still be left with things that you must try. so big, so diverse and so attractive; it’s no wonder that NYC is amongst the most vibrant cities in the world.
The Big Apple is a city that you can visit for the hundredth time and still be left with aplenty of experiences to get. The top things to do in New York City is list that will probably get longer along with this ever-growing city. Whether it’s the city’s skyline, its iconic monuments, the colorful towns and neighborhoods, the blooming parks and islands, or simply its food – you’ll be running back again. It’s a place harboring the bests of the world, which will seep into your soul and create a home in your heart.
1. Tour the City on Air and Water :
Due to its forthright grid system, you’ll have no trouble crusading through the depths of the city. Whether you explore on foot, take a taxi, ride a subway, or take the comforts of a tourist bus, anyhow it’s very easy. But guess what? Those aren’t your only options.
Amongst NYC’s many riches are its lakes and harbors. And guess what the best part is! Admiring the majestic city silhouette from a cruise. Of course, you can revel in breathtaking views while the sun is still out. Mind you, that too is one of the top things to do in New York City. However, the magic after twilight is unbeatable. You can hop on a cruise from South Street Seaport, to arc around the whole of Lower Manhattan. Sway under the cool breeze with a glass of champagne, while identifying the skyscrapers twinkling on the surface.
For a more private tour on the waters, charter a sailboat, and set sail to your heart’s content. If you’re looking for an affordable boat ride, try the East River Ferry. In addition to Lower Manhattan, you can delve in the stunning views of Brooklyn neighborhoods, too. In case you don’t get enough of the visuals from waters, have a go at a yacht or schooner at the Hudson River.
Even better, you can add more drama to your adventures by having a soul-reviving tour over NYC from a helicopter. Yes, you can always climb up the highest observation deck to absorb the captivating skyscape. Then again, nothing can compete with the panoramas while floating in the air.
2. Admire the Statue of Liberty Up-Close :
Greeting the iconic symbol of freedom and enlightenment is usually at the top of a visitor’s itinerary. After all, it is amongst the top things to do in New York City. Hop on a ferry from Battery Park and be led to the Liberty Island and the Ellis Island.
When you step on Liberty Island, be prepared to get awestruck at the beholding figure of the Roman Goddess Libertas towering over you. She stands in full grandeur proudly wearing her crown, lifting the flame of hope with her right hand and holding the book of knowledge in her left. Not only her sight but also the city horizon across the waters will make your fingers and camera quiver with excitement.
At your next stop, the Ellis Island, spend time exploring the historical masterpieces inside the Immigration Museum. Back during the period between 1892 and 1954, this building used to be a processing center and hospital. Currently, the first floor is mainly the museum, whilst the upper level contains the quarantine wing. At every end, you’ll learn the stories of the people who had arrived in America and how they had lived by.
3. Experience the lively Times Square :
NYC’s most frenzied area, Times Square is the ultimate coalescence of gaudy lights, chaotic noises, and shoulder-to-shoulder people. It is adorned with flamboyant digital billboards and giant electrified Ads. As a first-timer, you might be overwhelmed by all the overloaded sensory attacks when gliding across the paths.
But once the surreal ambience settles within your nerves, you can begin your night tour through the theatres, shops and diners. There’s no doubt, that this vivacious square is the heart for perfect outing, whether in groups or solo. Coalescing with Broadway theatre district and Seventh Avenue, Times Square successfully draws over 50 million tourists every year.
If you stick around till midnight, at exactly 11:57 the electric screens will transform into three-minute long art show right before your eyes. Arrive at the yearend, and partake in one of the world’s grandest New Year’s celebrations. To revel in a night of the ball drop and fireworks is certainly amongst the best things to do in New York City in December.
4. Soak in the Beaches of New York City :
The Pacific and the Atlantic have bestowed upon the USA with evergreen beaches, which have engraved into the world’s consciousness. For New Yorkers the beaches are their weekend retreats. As for the visitors, no doubt it’s amongst the best things to do in New York in summer.
The city swelters under the blazing sun during the months of heat. And all you need is an excuse to cool down at one of the sultry coastlines. Whether at one of the boroughs, the popular Hamptons, or by the Jersey Shore, you’re feet are sure to touch some sands.
By all means, two of the top rated beaches in New York City include Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn, and Brighton Beach in Manhattan. At these sunlit beaches you don’t only have to while away time by simply getting tanned. You can also observe effervescent boardwalks and colorful neighborhoods around them.
At Long Island you’ll come across some of the most beautiful family-friendly beaches, such as the Jones Beach. Set your children free to play in the gentle water or on the fine sand, while relaxing at the sight of the finest seascape. The Cooper’s Beach in Southampton is another ideal example for romantic escape with your partner.
If you’re looking for extremely amusing watersports like kayaking and surfing, Rockaway Beach in Queens is a good option. Bronx, too, is popular with beaches, such as the Orchard Beach, and not only the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Garden.
5. Be refreshed at the Central Park :
This captivating urban landscape is a colossal natural strip ruling the heart of the burgeoning Manhattan. New York’s central park alone provides with a wide array of things to do in New York City.
Stretching up to 843 acres, it impressively features a glistening lake, several ponds, a cool reservoir and over 25,000 trees. However, these aren’t the only ones. There are numerous manmade amenities decorating the grounds too. You’ll come across almost 50 fountains, 21 playgrounds, complete sports facilities and several unique landmarks, such as the stately Bethesda Terrace.
If you find this overwhelming, try zeroing down on the number of things to do at Central Park. Lay a blanket on the green grass of Sheep Meadow and have a picnic underneath the warm sun. Climb on the Bow Bridge and spoil yourself with a photoshoot. Walk through the forest lanes and take a pause in front of the Belvedere Castle. Go animal watching in the zoo, boating across the lake, or take horse-drawn carriage tours, as well.
Even more so, begin your day by partaking in yoga classes, and end the nights at the outdoor theatre. Of course, if nothing more, then there’s plenty of room to simply ponder over the nature.
6. Experience the City’s Nightlife :
The Big Apple under the sunlight, even with all its unique wonders, is still just another city. But once the sun goes down and artificial lights lit the corners, you’ll learn exactly why this city never sleeps. Emerging into its true form, the New York City at night is an epic scene, one you must plunge into.
You’ll get every scope to get rid of your 9 to 5 stresses no matter which aspect of the nightlife you choose. Get to the famous Broadway theatre district for shows, plays and musicals at night. If stage shows are your thing, swing by semi-Secret Loft in Greenwich Village, try Indy riffs in Williamsburg, or catch a drag show in Chelsea. To have a laughter filled evening, grab a seat at Comedy Cellar. For a little more adventure, go on a free cruise underneath twinkling stars on the Staten Island Ferry.
Ready to dance your heart out over loud music and drinks? Good news! The whole citywide is filled with the most fun activities in NYC for adults. Irish pubs, jazz clubs, beer gardens, LGBT bars, pseudo-speakeasy, pickup joints, karaoke bars – the Big Apple has everything to be indulged at night.
7. Be Impressed by the New York Skyline :
Dominating over the lands, the NYC multistory buildings and giant towers shape the iconic skyline. With unfaltering gaze you’ll sense the sheer ambition reflecting off the horizon which crafted the Big Apple we know of today.
At Rockefeller Centre resides the very popular Top of The Rock observatory, so start off here. Admire the enchanting views at any time of the day from the outer deck on the 70th floor. The New York skyline will beg you to be photographed, and you’ll be bound to give in.
To climb higher up, head to Empire State Building. Often ranked amongst the world’s top 50 tallest skyscrapers since its establishment in 2001, its presence is commanding. It towers 380m over the Midtown streets, with an observatory decks on the 86th and 102nd floors. Soak in the beguiling vistas, especially at night, that stretch over 80miles almost, as far as Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
However, if the heights aren’t enough for you to marvel at, climb atop One World Trade Center’s observatory. Be granted the complete 360° panoramas, and look down on the Upper New York Bay, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge, too. Be there during sunset to be more bewildered than ever.
8. Enjoy a Night Out at Broadway :
Definitely amongst the highlights of a NYC trip, and you owe it to yourself to at least see one Broadway Show. Possessing glam near Time Square, Broadway theatres host spectacles that capture our hearts. Whether it’s the enjoyable musicals, the heart-melting plays, or Hollywood stars marking their presence on stage – there’s everything to stun you.
A total of 41 venues displaying the pinnacles of the American theatre are sprinkled in volumes across the pathways, some even with over 500 seats. However, being always on high demand, you must buy tickets in advance. After all, it’s still amongst the trendy things to do in NYC now.
Admittedly, Broadway is your best option for classic entertainment, but not the only one in the city. If you’re visiting in summer, greet the night with Shakespeare in the Park. It’s an open air stage show held in the Public Theatre of Central Park. To boast some extra, have a night out at the Syndicated Brooklyn and rejoice in its theater.
One you’re done experiencing the theatres, go explore the Wall Street.
9. Shop Your Favorites at the Fifth Avenue :
Running alongside the Central Park is The Millionaires’ Row. Dripping with opulence the residence is occupied with glitzy streets and even more glamorous shops. Elongating from 82nd to 105th Street is the popular Museum Mile, housing The Met, The Guggenheim, and other museums alike.
Spotting across 49th and 60th Streets are the most prized and luxurious emporia of the world. Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Prada, Bergdorf-Goodman, Harry Winston, Hugo Boss ..the likes. Just name it. It’s here. Check out the latest models of Iphone at The Apple Store. Grab a shiny bag from Louise Vuitton, or the perfect evening attire from Abercrombie & Fitch. Shopping at the Fifth Avenue might break your bank account, but to harbor some quality time the streets are perfect.
Taking up a fair share of stardom is the Flatiron Building. Swaggering its wedge-shaped form on a triangular block at the downtown end of Madison Square, this 87m skyscraper will remain etched to your memories.
10. Delve in the Wonders of Rockefeller Center :
The heart of NYC’s folklore and culture, the Rockefeller Center is a vast amusement and shopping complex. It features 14 handsomely structured Art Deco buildings and 5 intricate contemporary styled ones. Its crown centerpiece, Rockefeller Plaza, is the 70-story skyscraper holding the famous Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
At the outdoors is an enormous ice skating rink, which accounts for one the most popular things to do in New York at Christmas. It’s a fun activity you should definitely try out with your family and friends when visiting during October to April. After Thanksgiving, you’ll get to look up at a giant, richly adorned Christmas tree, illuminating the whole compound.
On any regular trip you can check out a performance outside the TODAY show, or pose for the camera in front of the bronze statue of the Atlas. More importantly, stop by the grand Radio City Music Hall to catch some melodic thrills.
11. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge on a Cycle :
When it comes to iconic infrastructures, the steel suspension Brooklyn Bridge is another of the many, synonymous to NYC. Straddling the East River, with Gothic arcs and cables, the bridge adjoins two of the most coveted New York Cities.
Add an hour of walk on this historic bridge to your itinerary. Get atop on foot to engross in the visuals of Lower Manhattan. It’s quite the backdrop to help quell the nerves, you’ll realize when your eyes stretch across the edges and ends.
To attempt on one of the many crazy things to do in NYC, cross the bridge on a bike. There’s a wooden-plank just for pedestrians and cyclists that tracks above the traffic lanes, so you won’t face any trouble. At the end of the bridge lays the Brooklyn Bridge Park, one you should definitely stop by for short rest.
12. Take a Breath on the Lanes of High Line :
Amongst the favorite things to do in NYC in weekend for locals, ambling down High Line is one. A former rail line, today it has been transformed into a unique tourist attraction and an elevated leisure spot.
Embellishing this linear park with a huge variety of flora and fauna, it is combined with art installations, picnic tables and wooden benches. To experience its true natural elegance, arrive during spring when the flowers bloom at their perkiest.
The curving, pebble-dash concrete walkways threads through Chelsea, hence, offering charming perspectives of Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. Stand by the glass railing and observe the picturesque city views and highlights, such as the Hudson Yards.
13. Indulge Yourself in Delicious Cuisine :
New Yorkers love their pizza, and just a small bite of a slice from even the streets will tell you exactly why. Take a break off your itinerary, and join fanatic followers at the legendary Di Fara Pizza, or at Totonno’s, or at the Lombardi’s Pizza.
Do you know, what’s the best way to have a great start to your morning at NYC? Have a bagel, dipped in chocolate syrup or honey … or perhaps both. You can order some easily at almost anywhere in the city.
Being the mecca of food, NYC can serve you with any and every cuisine that you may crave. No matter which borough you journey to, you’ll be introduced to new flavors and dishes.
Take for example Bushwick, where you can try some authentic vegan Ethiopian meals. The Yemeni cuisine in Brooklyn Heights and the Korean BBQs in Koreatown can stand as tough competitors against Italian and Chinese for tantalizing the buds. More importantly, ever heard of Szechuan cuisine, or tasted some Afghan or Georgian food? At Manhattan you can give each a try.
To enhance your meal hours with even more appeal, savor each bite while gazing at spellbinding skyline vistas from a rooftop. So do keep in mind to check out some of the best rooftop restaurants in NYC.
Take note that you can always take one of NYC’s food tours to have a shot at the littles of everything.
14. Sight People at the Grand Central Terminal :
If you’re wondering what could be so exciting about watching locals at a train station, then rest assured – you’ll find your jaw dropping scene to the floor. Grand Central Terminal is a Beaux-Arts architecture that will impress you to no ends.
Take your sweet time atop the Grand Staircase to admire the commuters’ choreography at any time during the day. The Main Concourse with its iconic clock at the center is easily recognizable and is a typical meeting point. Tilt your head back and get lost in the celestial night sky constellations vividly painted on the ceiling.
And right below is the enticing Whispering Hall. Stand at any corner of the hall and have your companion on the opposite side. Whisper a secret into the walls and feel the echo delivered at the other end. Not usually amongst the top things to do in New York City, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Spread throughout various bends and levels are numerous shops and restaurants. You can stop by at any to enjoy some local food and to purchase artistic souvenirs.
15. Pay a visit to Little Italy and Chinatown :
Experience the Italian and Chinese flavors right here in NYC, which are also part of the top things to do in New York City. Packed with all the various tastes and wonders of the Roman land are the quaint streets of Little Italy. Its ambience is almost as romantic as Italy itself.
Lining along the lanes are several diners serving authentic and the most delicious Italian cuisines in the country. Once the hub for mobsters and Italian Mafia, now is filled with the trendiest clothing stores, souvenir shops, and liquor bars. Go off the beaten track and visit the Little Italy Street Art Project to dwell in some extraordinary artworks and murals.
As for Chinatown – it’s like walking on a completely different area entirely. This is one place still facing the hammers of urban renewal at an astounding rate. Having the utmost density of Chinese populations in the Western Hemisphere, expect nothing less than a thorough glimpse of the Chinese culture. For all you foodies, this is the right place to satisfy your food cravings. No matter where you see, your eyes will land at a noodle joint or a dumpling den.
16. Hop from One Museum to the Next :
If you’re looking for the best things to do in New York State, museum-hopping is one of the tops. Not to mention, each museum is a notable tourist spot.
And what better way to begin your venture through the American histories and arts than visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Taking its space at the Fifth Avenue, this immense gallery showcases over 5,000 years’ worth fine arts and antique relics from across the globe. Let your sense of curiosity shine when gazing in awe at the indispensable and invaluable masterpieces in their perfection.
Siting near the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum was built in the honor of victims of terror attacks in 2001 and bombing in 1993. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is another dive into the world of new arts with a collection of 150,000 works of geniuses. Have a closer look at creations, such as The Starry Night by van Gogh, and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Quick tip – get there on a Friday night for a free entry. If you’re still starved for more modern-day arts, Whitney Museum of American Art can serve you the best platter.
Lover of war aircrafts, and historic vessels? Ever heard of Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum? A well worthy stop for reminiscing the era of the Second World War, so do give it a shot.
17. Cruise to the Islands :
New York City has some of finest and pulsating islands, which will sweep you off your feet. Floating shores, like the Rendell’s Island and Roosevelt Island, are often overlooked by the towering cities. Conversely, these islands are not only serenely attractive, but also is filled with unique offerings.
Coney Island, till date dominates as an excellent seaside resort in the city and New Yorkers love to escape here. In warmer days, the beach is loaded with sunbathers, swimmers, and families delighting over picnics. Take your children to Luna Park for riding the fabled Cyclone rollercoaster. Amongst all the many great things to do in NYC with children is visiting Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, and the New York Aquarium.
Looking for the most beautiful New York City beaches? Take a ferry to Long Island. You’ll find sparkling white sand embracing the turquoise water. Street vendors and food stalls add to the boardwalks’ vibrancy close to beach. At the Main Beach, give an attempt at kayaking, surfboarding and paddle-boarding. Or with your friends tour the ancient relics and historical sites around Coopers Beach.
An underrated gem, the Governors Island, is often absent from a tourist’s travel plan. If you don’t visit the island in person, you won’t realize the mistake of not adding it to your itinerary. Filled with monuments, parks, and exhibitions, this little treasure islet is nothing less of an explorer’s hub.
18. Escape into the Scenic Beauties of the Towns and Hamlets :
As the shining star of the country, NCY has bountiful things to offer. But what you may find to lack in the cities, are actually out in NYC’s hidden jewels. Lively towns, pleasant hamlets, and pristine villages make up for everything and give NYC its complete picture.
Saratoga Springs and Lake Placid are two of the best small towns in New York. Both known and loved for their everlasting natural beauty, they will embrace you with peace. Lying across the shores of the glorious Finger Lake, the Skaneateles village awaits to mesmerize you with Victorian and Greek homes, creative galleries and appetizing bistros.
To have a tour of knowledge and enlightenment, visit the adorable college town of Ithaca. A fan of tie-dye? Drive to Woodstock, and partake in its music galore and festivals. Also stack up crafty souvenirs at the Tinker Street.
To spend your days snuggled amidst mountains and hills, head to Lake George village. And while there, try some watersports like whitewater rafting and boating at its dazzling lake. You’ll find similar water activities at Cold Spring resting beside the Hudson River as well.
19. Frolic through the Neighborhoods :
New York takes pride in its diversity, and you get its best feel at the city’s neighborhoods. Cutting along the evocative neighborhoods of Chinatown and Little Italy, is the retail enclave, SoHo. For any shopaholic looking for high-end boutiques or even designer knockoffs, it’s all packed here. For an additional retail therapy, visit West Village. And why not? Shopping at the right places is always on the list of the top things to do in New York City.
When you wish to retain form the Manhattan’s overwhelming skyscrapers, land on the south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Idly walk down the leafy streets snaking through brownstone row houses in Brooklyn Heights, and lighten the nerves. Take a peaceful turn at the Brooklyn Promenade, and let the spectacular views of the East River touch you heart. But if your definition of relaxation involves liquor bars and clubs in a small muted location, Chelsea is the place to be.
The most bewitching one, nonetheless, is Greenwich Village with 19th century townhouses decorating the tree-lined streets. You’ll find quaint little cafes, shops and bars huddled under the tree shades waiting for you. Take a stroll at the Washington Square Park and enjoy a good game of chess with a stranger.
If you’re an art lover and would like to go on a self-guided graffiti tour, head to Bushwick Neighborhood. Arrive during April and you can attend the seasonal food fair, Smorgasburg. With similar (if not more) artsy charms are the Harlem boasting African culture, Morningside Heights with striking monuments, and the Upper East Side flaunting mixed ethnicities.
20. More Parks to Stopover :
New York City treasures its parks unlike anywhere else. At Battery Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll see exactly why NYC is often remarked as the concrete jungle. While nothing beats Central Park, you’ll still have more than enough options to choose from.
The Bryant Park thumps the rhythm of a cultural heart. Situated in Midtown Manhattan, the flowery park is bounded by the Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library. The credit to its vivacity goes to all the activities Bryant Park hosts throughout the seasons. In summer lay a blanket down on the lawn and enjoy a movie night out with your friends. In winter, you can ice-skate at the Winter Village along with your children. On any other time of the year, bring your families over for trying palatable outdoor dining.
Another of Manhattan’s barrowed secrets is the Inwood Hill Park. Take a boat down the Spuyten Duyvil Creek amidst all the greenery, and you’ll be unable to detach yourself from the tranquility.
At Brooklyn’s sprawling green oasis, the Prospect Park, you’ll be walking through some calm and historic neighborhoods. This crown jewel homes the splendid Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Memorial Arch at Grand Army Plaza. You can rest at the naturally beautiful Long Meadow, or watch stage performances at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
When touring Hudson River, do stop by the scenic Riverside Park. Other than the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the Great Tomb is also one of its famous landmarks.
As you’ve already figured by now, the list of top things to do in New York City will probably never end. However, your journey must start. So write an itinerary and get packing. The Big Apple is waiting for you with its infinite gifts.