With famous New York landmarks like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center or the Brooklyn Bridge around every corner, it can be hard picking the attractions that you want to see on your trip to NYC. Below you will find a list of our favorite attractions that we think you must see in NYC.
The Top 10 New York Attractions that you must see!
While the mention of NYC undoubtedly brings to mind many of its famous buildings and attractions, it can be very difficult picking which ones you want to visit during your trip. Our list below of 10 things to do in New York is in no particular order and is based on our experiences with each attraction as well as what we think makes for a good trip to the Big Apple. We wanted this list to be honest and helpful which is why, for example, have left out the Statue of Liberty!
Did we forget the Statue of Liberty?
Nope! We just don’t think its worth going to Liberty Island! Before you call us crazy, let us explain: We definitely think the Statue itself is iconic and is something you have to see and take a picture of when you’re in NYC – we just don’t think its worth taking the ferry over onto Liberty Island. With extremely long lines to get onto the boat, a less than ideal view from the bottom of the statue (you can get a much better view and indeed much better pictures from a cruise or the Staten Island Ferry!), there is not much on Liberty Island which we thought was interesting enough to warrant the long waiting times. While you used to be able to climb up into the crown of the statue, this is now only possible in small groups and the tickets are often sold out months in advance.
Our tips for visiting the top 10 New York attractions on a budget!
If you are on a family holiday and need to book 4 tickets for each attraction, or are alone but just have a tight budget set for your trip, we have just the thing for you. NYC sells discount attraction passes which allow you to visit all of the must see NYC attractions for less, while giving you the flexibility of deciding what you want to see once you get there!
Offering discounts of up to 70% on many sights, tours, and attractions New York City sightseeing passes are the ultimate way to save money. Find out which one will save you the most based on the attractions you want to see here:
The first of our must-see New York attractions is the world renowned Empire State Building. The view from the observation platform of the Empire State Building will take your breath away and is a sight that you won’t soon forget. An absolute must-see during a visit to New York! We have compiled everything you need to know about the Empire State Building, including our tips & tricks, important info regarding ticket options, and whether going to the 102nd floor is really worth it.
Our tip: Either go really early or very late!
That’s when queues are not as long. Even better – Tickets with Fast Lane access are available here – or get one of the New York discount passes that includes tickets to the Empire State Building!
An official city landmark and the second of our must-see New York attractions: the Brooklyn Bridge. Be sure to walk across the bridge to enjoy the fabulous views onto the city skyline, especially in the early evening hours! The view from Brooklyn across the East River is also spectacular and is definitely a must see. New tours are available that take you across the bridge into Brooklyn and these are quite popular. You can find the most popular tours on this page.
Our tip: Make a day out of it! We recommend you check out the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park and spend the afternoon walking around DUMBO if you time it right you can head back across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset when the views are especially beautiful. If you get hungry, don’t pass on pizza at Juliana’s, the line may be long but this is definitely some of the best pizza you can get in NYC!
The next activity on our list of must-see New York attractions is the observation platform on the top of the Rockefeller Center. The Top of the Rock observation deck will give you fantastic outdoor views of New York and is one of our favorite places to view the city from above. The best thing about this observation deck is that you have a great view of downtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building as well as Central Park in the other direction. This attraction ranks high among our top 10 things to do as this is where most iconic pictures of the Empire State Building are shot from.
The Top of the Rock observation platform is also less crowded than the Empire State Building making the view much more enjoyable. Tickets for the observation platform are available here – or get one of the New York discount passes that include a ticket to the Top of the Rock!
Our tip: Go in the late afternoon!
One of the newest activities in this list of top 1o New York attractions is the observation platform on top of the One World Trade Center. The OWTC is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and is close to where the Twin Towers once stood. With a height of 1,776 feet (541 meters), the One World Observatory gives you amazing views of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is also one of the top 10 New York points of interest that highly recommend visiting. You can order tickets online here! The Memorial and Museum tickets are also included in the New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass!
Our tip: Go first thing in the morning or in the evening!
5. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial Museum definitely belongs on our list 10 things to do in New York. The museum examines and displays the events and implications of the attacks on September 11th. The 110,000 square foot museum takes you on an emotional journey of artifacts, media displays and personal stories that allow visitors to learn about the women, men, and children that died. Prepare to hear intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning, and recovery as you wander through space, which includes a range of the over 1,970 recorded oral histories. You’ll see first-responder vehicles, monumental steel remnants, memorabilia, and personal effects.
The High Line Park ranks high among our list of top 10 New York activities. The idea to convert an old stretch of freight train track into a park that runs above the streets of the city makes, for a unique place to relax away from the bustle of the city streets. It runs between Gansevoort Street and 34th Street and is a very popular local spot to stop and have lunch away from the office, or take an afternoon stroll and relax on the many of the public spaces it provides. It also gives you some amazing views of the city streets below! Entrance is free and it is definitely worth checking out!
7. Times Square
There is no doubt that you cannot miss this must-see New York attraction. Times Square always has something going on and is packed with people at all times of the day. Being in the middle of the buzz and watch the thousands of people and cars go by is definitely an experience. The best of Times Square has to offer, however, is at night. That’s when the LED screens light up the whole square as if it were broad daylight! There is also a pedestrian zone where you can sit down and relax or several rooftop bars right around the corner that offer sensational views!
8. Wall Street & Charging Bull: The Financial Center
Manhattan’s Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange and the headquarters of numerous banks. It is definitely one of the most popular 10 things to fo in NYC on this list, as it has been featured in countless movies and tv shows. One icon of Wall Street is the Charging Bull statue, which is located near the Stock Exchange. It is at its current location in the plaza at Bowling Green in an act of “guerrilla art”. Guided tours through the Financial District as well as the Wall Street Insider Tour are hugely popular.
9. Staten Island Ferry: A free cruise alternative
A ride on the Staten Island Ferry is not to be missed. The free crossing of the southern tip of Manhattan affords sensational views of the skyscrapers. It is also the best way to see the Statue of Liberty from up close without paying for a cruise! As mentioned before, we rarely recommend taking the ferry over to Liberty Island as there is not much to see and you can take much better pictures if you are not standing right beneath the statue.
The best thing yet: the ride is free!
The final item on our list of 10 must-see New York attractions, is Central Park. This green oasis in the midst of the city stretches from 59th Street to 110th Street and 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue. It was established by the city planners early in NYC’s history and remains a popular destination for New Yorkers to this day. The long jogging route that takes you once around the park (approx. 10 km) is a lot of fun. If you are looking for something a little more relaxed, you can rent a rowboat and cruise around on the various lakes in the summer months.
The fact that the Statue of Liberty is missing from this list is not an accident. It is always too busy and crowded and you can take much better pictures of the Statue from further away. Instead, we recommend you take a boat tour around Manhattan that makes a brief loop around the Statue of Liberty giving you a good photo opportunity, or take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry!