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 33 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, we have left out the Statue of Liberty!
The Top NYC attractions on a map
Our tips for visiting the top New York attractions on a budget!
If you are on a family holiday, or visiting the city with a group of friends and need to book 4 tickets for each attraction, or are alone but just have a tight budget set for your trip, we have something really special 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:
These are my favorite NYC attractions
The Edge Observation DeckBuildingOur Highlight
The Hudson Yards observation deck called Edge is taking shape. Slowly things are getting serious around the major project Hudson Yards. Since 2005, the new, gigantic Hudson Yards business district has been under construction in Midtown. With a proud 25 billion dollars construction cost, it is also the most expensive project in American history.
Empire State BuildingBuilding in Midtown
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 AT NIGHT!
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 discounts passes that includes tickets to the Empire State Building!
Brooklyn BridgeBuilding in DumboOur Highlight
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!
Top of the RockBuilding in Midtown
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. If you’re in town during the holiday, make sure to check out Rockefeller Plaza and the famous Christmas tree in NYC.
OUR TIP: GO IN THE LATE AFTERNOON!
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!
9/11 Memorial and MuseumMuseum in Lower Manhattan
September 11, 2001, will always be remembered as the day when over 3000 innocent people lost their lives. The 9/11 Memorial Musuem tells the story of the attacks, those who lost their lives and the implications of that day. With many artifacts, interactive technology, and archives there is no doubt that the museum will be a powerful and reflective experiene for all of its visitors.
One World ObservatoryBuilding in Lower Manhattan
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.
OUR TIP: GO FIRST THING IN THE MORNING OR IN THE EVENING!
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 best New York attractions that we highly recommend visiting. You can order tickets online here!
High LinePark in Meatpacking DistrictOur Highlight
There are few parks as unique as the High Line. The elevated freight rail line was repurposed as a public green space that opened in 2009 and now offers amazing views of the city, as well as a place to relax and unwind. Its plant life is based directly off what was growing there while it was abandoned, giving this park a unique and interesting atmosphere! The High Line stretches from The Meatpacking District all the way to Hudson Yards-34th Street.
Times SquareOther Attraction in Theater District
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!
Staten Island FerryCruise in Staten Island
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.
Central ParkPark in Midtown
Central Park spans from Midtown Manhattan all the way up to Harlem. There are about 340 hectares of land and is a popular meeting place for New Yorkers. With about 35 million visitors per year, the man-made park is an attraction not only for tourists. New Yorkers love Central Park and its tranquility. Many events are held here such as the NYC Marathon. There are also tons of green spaces, walking lanes and bike lanes. Central Park is home to Sheep’s Meadow, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park Zoo and many other things as well.
Bryant ParkPark in Midtown
Bryant Park is located right in central Manhattan and is a quiet oasis between 40th and 42nd Street. Bryant Park is right in the cetner of Midtown Manhattan between 40th and 42nd Street, yet it still lends you the peace and quiet you need to get away for a few moments from the bustling city. Withg many small cafés dotted throughout the park this is the perfect place to unwind or relax when the weather is nice.
Brooklyn Bridge ParkPark in Dumbo
You will find the beginning of Brooklyn Bridge Park just below Brooklyn Bridge. With amazing views of the skyline across the water and some great places to sit and enjoy the view, this park is a must-visit! For those of you who like running, this is an amazing place to do so, especially with the amazing Manhattan skyline view. There are also tons of green spaces, basketball, volleyball courts, and soccer fields.
The Vessel Hudson Yardsin Hudson Yards
The Vessel is the newest attraction in the Hudson Yards – and it’s free! Designed by British Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the “Rolling Bridge and UK Pavilion at Expo 2010), “The Vessel” offers around 2,500 steps to climb up and down. The symmetrical steel structure, connected by 154 interwoven stair segments, attracts tourists from all over the world to climb the vertical distance of about one mile!
One Vanderbilt The SummitBuilding in Midtown
The New York City skyline is one of the most famous and recognizable skylines in the world. It’s a city filled with skyscrapers and tall buildings. In most recent years, it has been expanding which made way for new observation decks. The newest observation deck coming to the city will be located at the top of the One Vanderbilt Building. This one will be called “The Summit”. This deck will be the second-highest outdoor deck in NYC which follows the Edge and is about to open on October, 21st!
Flatiron BuildingBuilding in Midtown
New York Public LibraryBuilding in Midtown
The New York Public Library is one of the most famous buildings in NYC. Having featured in countless films and photographs, this is one of the best public libraries in the United Sates. The New York Public Library is not only a place for students, professors, and bookworms but also a must visit for toruists of the Big Apple.
Grand Central TerminalOther Attraction in Midtown
You can’t visit New York City and not have a peek of the stunning Grand Central Station. The Grand Central Station is the largest train station in the world and is the busiest building in New York City in terms of visitors.
Did you know: the painting on the ceiling (image of the sky) was painted in its mirror image. The painter accidentally held the image upside down! The official reason, of course, is that this effect was by design. The painter claimed that the image reflects God’s view of the sky from the celestial sphere, i.e., from above, and not from below. It’s a must-see and absolutely worth going.
Roosevelt Island TramwayOther Tours in Midtown
This is one of my favorite things to do in New York City and should be on your list if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours. Most NYC visitors don’t know that we actually have a tramway leaving from Manhattan, the Roosevelt Island Tramway. The final destination is Roosevelt Island, which is a small island between Manhattan and Queens. While riding the tramway is already an attraction on its own, Roosevelt Island is worth exploring as well.
American Museum of Natural HistoryMuseum in Upper West Side
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the more popular museums in NYC. If the name sounds recognizable it’s because the museum was the center of attention in the movie, Night at the Museum featuring Ben Stiller. Regardless of it’s Hollywood fame, the Natural History Museum is a huge institution that features numerous exhibits. This is a great place for families with kids so they can learn about the world’s geography, plants, different animal species and many other things.
The American Museum of Natural History is located in the Upper West Side in Manhattan and is the largest natural history museum in the world.
Domino ParkPark in Williamsburg
This beautiful park opened up in Williamsburg in 2018. It’s called Domino park because the former Domino Sugar factory was located at that very spot. Now, it’s filled with greenery, food vendors and a playground for kids. It is located directly on the East River and you have a great view of the city from here. The park invites you to play volleyball or have a picnic.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)Museum in Midtown
The Museum of Modern Art houses a variety of contemporary artworks ranging from architecture and design to photography, paintings, and sculptures. Designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, the Museum of Modern Art reopened after renovations. Coinciding with MoMA’s seventy-fifth anniversary, the museum opened its redesigned space for exhibitions, education, and scholarly research. It is a must-do if you’re into art. Especially after their reopening, it is really worth it going.
MoMA has a reputation for displaying the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art. The MoMA reopening will bring new galleries and spaces for performances and events to the visitors. Visitors can expect a bigger, more diverse MoMA after the reopening. Masterpieces have been cleaned and touched up; galleries are completely reorganized. Read more about what has changed at the MoMA in New York City here.
Guggenheim MuseumMuseum in Upper East SideOur Highlight
First off, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an architectural masterpiece. Second, but most importantly, it is the permanent home of a large collection of art named after its founder. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright the bizarrely shaped building is one of the most famous in NYC. Not only is the outside spectacular, but it is constantly expanding its permanent collection. Also, many special exhibitions are showcased here throughout the years. It is definitely worth a visit!
Statue of LibertyBuilding in Lower Manhattan
The fact that the Statue of Liberty is missing from the top 10 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!
Just recently, there is a new museum, the Statue of Liberty Museum, that opened on Liberty Island. It tells you everything about the history of the Statue of Liberty. First-timers often visit the Statue of Liberty. Be aware though that it will take away at least 4-6 hours of your day if you want to see everything from the Statue of Liberty to the Immigration Museum.
Governors IslandOther Attraction in Outside of New York City
When the weather is beautiful in New York City and you want to escape for a moment from the noise, the hustle and bustle, then a trip to Governors Island is something to consider. The Governors Island Ferry will take you across the East River for $2 from Memorial Day Weekend (end of May) with the Governors Island Ferry until the end of September.
Jane's CarouselOther Attraction in Dumbo
In the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge Park there is a beautiful carousel for young and old all year round. From there you can also enjoy the great view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
Wall StreetOther Attraction in Lower Manhattan
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 things to do 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.
Soho New YorkWalking Tour in SoHo
Now known for their many excellent restaurants, shops and tourism, Manhattan’s SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods offer the most varied stories of New York City. Take a 2-hour tour with a local guide and discover hidden gems and 19th century buildings.
DUMBO & Brooklyn HeightsDistricts in Dumbo
Home to many wealthy families and business people is the beautiful area in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. In this neighborhood you’ll find tree-lined streets, historic brownstone houses, breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and super stylish lofts in abandoned industrial areas at the foot of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. This mixture gives this area of Brooklyn its special charm.
East VillageDistricts in East Village
Originally a part of the Lower East Side, the East Village in New York developed in the 1960s into an exciting identity of its own due to its multicultural influences and thus became its own quarter in the so-called “Village” of New York City.
Meatpacking DistrictWalking Tour in Meatpacking District
One of the hippest areas in New York City is the vibrant Meatpacking District. This is the place to party, get your credit card glowing and eat in very good restaurants. The cobblestone pavement and industrial buildings give evidence of a time that was not always so glittering and shiny, pointing to industry and dubious business.
TribecaWalking Tour in Tribeca
Hudson YardsWalking Tour in Hudson Yards
WilliamsburgWalking Tour in Williamsburg
Williamsburg in New York is hipster Wonderland, long since more hip than the East Village in Manhattan, and is by no means a dangerous area, as many still think. Particularly popular with the creative, artistic, freedom-loving residents of New York, modern Williamsburg is currently the turning point for many.
My favorite New York neighborhoods
Each neighborhood of New York has its own unique character and is worth exploring. However, if I had to limit myself to the most important neighborhoods that best showcase the city’s diversity, it’s these: