Must Do in NYC: My Top 10 Things You Have to Do

What are the must do things in New York City?

New York is massive and there is no way you can see everything. A few attractions and activities, however, belong on everyone’s bucket list. We don’t want you to miss a single must-do when in New York City, so with no further ado, here are the top 10 things you have to do in NYC.

Top 10 Must-Dos in New York City

When thinking about the top 10 must-dos in New York City, many of them will seem obvious to those who have already been to New York. For a first-time traveler, however, these are essentials that cannot be missed. Our list includes everything from major attractions to must-do activities in NYC.

1. Take in the views from an observation deck

observation deck in nyc

No other city can offer views like New York City. Be sure to take advantage of the observation decks and visit at least one of the three: Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and One World Observatory. If you only plan on visiting one, my personal recommendation would be the Top of the Rock. It gives you magnificent 360° views, including Central Park and a great angle of the Empire State Building. After all, you wouldn’t be able to see the Empire State Building when you’re on top of it, right?

In March 2020, New York will celebrate a new observation deck: The EDGE. It is going to be the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere! It will be another must-do in New York.

2. Get dazzled at Times Square

things you have to do in nyc

If you didn’t visit Times Square, were you even in New York City? Manhattan’s vibrant square may be full of tourists but that doesn’t mean you skip one of the most iconic views in the world. Times Square has a magic to it. It’s a perfect reflection of the city’s eclectic culture. After all, New York is the city that never sleeps and that can be seen here. Come any day at any time – you will never be alone! Seeing Times Square at night is a clear must do in New York City. That’s when the lights will dazzle you.

3. See the skyline from the water

must do in new york city

New York City is surrounded by not one but two rivers, making it a wonderful place to take a cruise and enjoy the skyline. Whether it is a sightseeing cruise or a dinner cruise, you’ll get your money’s worth. The Don’t miss a single must-do when in New York City. and give you a totally different perspective compared to observation decks, which is why we consider a cruise one of the must-do things in New York City. If you are not sure which cruise to pick, I would recommend either doing the Landmarks by Circle Line or Harbor Lights Tour.

4. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan

Brooklyn Bridge

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge belongs on most people’s bucket list and I agree that it’s one of those things you simply have to do in New York City. My tip for you is to Don’t miss a single must-do when in New York City. This way you can enjoy Manhattan’s scenic skyline even more as opposed to facing the other direction (sorry Brooklyn!). The best time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge is early in the morning or late at night. That pretty much applies to all attractions in New York. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge during rush hour can be a rather frustrating experience unless you are prepared to invest a lot of time and having tons of people in your way.

5. Tour the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

must-see in new york

This landmark is representative of a long and full history, more so than most other attractions in the city. It’s one of the nation’s most iconic symbols, acting as a beacon of hope and solace for both citizens and immigrants alike. I have visited the Statue of Liberty multiple times and also taken a guided tour which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend to anyone who is eager to learn more. Lady Liberty’s home contains so many interesting facts and stories that you will never get to hear if you don’t take a tour. Whether you decide to take a tour or explore on your own, seeing Statue of Liberty is a must-do when in New York. See all your options to visit the Statue of Liberty below.

Statue of Liberty Guide

6. Ride a bike through Central Park

must-do when in new york city

What else is unparalleled in New York? Its green oasis, Central Park, is perfect for a break from the so-called concrete jungle. Due to its massive size, it is best explored by bicycle. This way you get to maximize your experience and see all the sights without walking each and every path. Many sights like Bow Bridge, Strawberry Fields, and Belevedere Castle are concentrated in the southern region, but the north is just as beautiful, featuring the Harlem Meer, the Gothic Bridge, and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Spending at least an hour or two in Central Park is a must-do in NYC.

7. Pay tribute at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

must in new york
Photo Courtesy of Jin Lee/911 Memorial

Another one of the must-do things in NYC is visiting the 9/11 Reflecting Pools as well as the 9/11 Memorial Museum. These memorials pay tribute to lives that were lost during the event that perhaps has been the most pivotal in shaping the recent history of both New York and the country. The Reflecting Pools allow you to take a solemn moment to pay your respects to the victims while the museum allows you to learn about the fateful event from a broader perspective. It’s a place of quiet in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

8. Discover secrets at Grand Central Terminal

must-do in nyc

Grand Central Terminal is not only the world’s most famous train station, but it is also the largest by the number of tracks. Chances are that you have already seen it in the many movies it is featured in. Apart from being a famous movie set, it is also a popular place to propose! Visiting the station is one of the things you have to do in NYC. The iconic train station holds many secrets. Did you know, for example, that there is a food market beneath and an indoor tennis court above the station? If you do not want to take a full guided tour, I can recommend doing an audio tour. If you have a Sightseeing Pass, it already included!

9. Watch a Broadway Show

Broadway shows in nyc

Another absolute must-do in New York is watching a show in New York’s famed theater district. Broadway represents New York like Times Square or the Empire State Building. While some classic shows like Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, Aladdin or Wicked have been performed for several years and even decades, every year NYC welcomes numerous new shows. Some of the best Broadway shows in recent years are Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Frozen, Hadestown and Come From Away. With the abundance of Broadway Shows (and Off-Broadway Shows) in New York, there is a show for every taste.

Best Broadway Shows

10. Eat like a New Yorker

pizza in nyc

What else is a must-do in New York City? Eating like a real New Yorker! New York is not only famous for its international cuisine but also for certain foods. NYC prides itself on having the best bagels, pizza, cheesecake, pastrami, Italian ice and well, basically everything. A fun way to explore New York’s food scene is by taking a food tour. Pizza tours are the most popular ones.

Save Money in New York

Before I start jumping into my personal must-dos in NYC, I want to mention another must-do: SAVING! New York is expensive, nobody would disagree. Did you know you can save up to 50% on admission with a New York Pass? How much you can save depends on what you want to see during your trip. However, if your plan is to cover all the above-mentioned 10 must-dos in New York City, know that it would be wise to buy a Sightseeing Flex Pass.

See it for yourself:


Regular Price

Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock

Sightseeing Cruise
Sightseeing Cruise
Ferry to the Statue of Liberty
Ferry to the Statue of Liberty
Central Park bike rental
Central Park bike rental
9/11 Memorial Museum
9/11 Memorial Museum
Central Park Audio Tour
Central Park Audio Tour
Guided Food Tour
Guided Food Tour

Promo code

Promo code








If you want to visit the Empire State Building or take a guided tour to the Statue of Liberty the pass recommendation may change slightly. Your best option is to try out our New York Pass Savings Calculator. Whenever in doubt, just shoot us an email and we can help you figure out the best pass for you.

My Personal Top Must-Do Things In New York City

If I had to choose between the must-dos in New York City, I would visit an observation deck, watch Broadway Show and pay tribute at the 9/11 Memorial.

  • An observation deck does not only give you a great overview of the city but also offers the most amazing views you can have. Because no other city’s views in the United States come close to the Big Apple, it’s an absolute must-do.
  • My next personal must-do in NYC is watching a Broadway Show. I am a huge Broadway enthusiast and couldn’t imagine a trip to New York without seeing a show.
  • Last but not least, it is a must-do in New York to take a moment to pay respect to the victims of 9/11, which includes the victims of the actual attack as well as everyone who is still suffering from the tragic event.

Profilbild Steffen Kneist
About the author

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

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