New York City is a whirlwind experience, from the bustle of taxis and pedestrians to the bright lights of Times Square. But despite its frenetic energy, the Big Apple is also full of cultural icons.
From visiting a Broadway show to eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant, here are the best things to do in NYC.
1. Walk the High Line
One of the city’s most unique attractions, this walkable park stretches above street level along a revamped former freight rail line. The resulting urban landscape offers a mix of enchanting botanical gardens and city immersion that’s perfect for photos and people-watching.
Among the highlights are the Chelsea Thicket with dense trees and shrubs between 21st and 22nd Street; 14th Street Passage, a semi-enclosed passage that shows videos about art and history at dusk; and 10th Avenue Square & Overlook on 17th Street with multi-level seating and great views.
The High Line ends at Hudson Yards, a city-within-a-city built on top of old train tracks. From here, it’s easy to explore other parts of Manhattan, such as Midtown, where you’ll find Radio City Music Hall and Times Square.
2. See the Statue of Liberty
For awe-inspiring views of the Big Apple’s iconic landmarks, take a helicopter tour. You’ll see Lady Liberty along with the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and George Washington Bridge.
The colossal neoclassical Statue of Liberty looms over Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan. You can schedule a visit to the statue and Ellis Island, or simply hop on the free Staten Island Ferry.
New Yorkers love to watch sports, so soak up the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden for Knicks and Rangers basketball or Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Islanders hockey. New York also has a vibrant arts community with world-class museums and Broadway shows. A kaleidoscopic culinary scene offers everything from multiethnic street food to aesthetically pleasing speakeasys.
3. Take a Tour of the Empire State Building
A cultural icon, the Empire State Building is one of the most famous buildings in the world. Its unique triangular shape is instantly recognizable, and the panoramic views from the main and top decks are unforgettable.
This famous skyscraper is also home to the Observation Deck on the 86th floor, which offers iconic, breathtaking views of the city and its landmarks. The building also houses the evocative Dare to Dream exhibit, which traces the building’s history as a symbol of American ambition.
Winter is a great time to visit NYC, thanks to its ice skating rinks and holiday markets. But spring and fall are just as beautiful, with outdoor cafes and less crowded attractions like Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland statue.
4. See a Broadway Show
A trip to New York isn’t complete without seeing a Broadway show. The neon lights shine brightest in Times Square, the world’s most celebrated theater district where dozens of marquee-fronted playhouses host box-office hits and Madame Tussauds.
Whether you love music or comedy, there is sure to be a show that matches your tastes. Some shows, such as the acclaimed Phantom of the Opera, have been performing for decades.
Arrive at the theatre well before the performance begins. It’s considered rude to arrive late, and many shows do not allow late seating. Be sure to silence your phone before the show and respect those around you. The roar of applause at the end is an exciting experience.
5. Eat at a Michelin-starred Restaurant
If you want to eat at one of the world’s best restaurants, New York City is the place to go. The famous Michelin guide awarded stars to a number of local eateries this year, including the opulent Per Se in Midtown Manhattan and Masa in Brooklyn.
Other top picks include the tagliatelle pomodoro and tile fish at the three-star Otto in the Flatiron district. Or try a mouthwatering lox bagel from Russ and Daughters in the Upper East Side.
Wandering upscale boutiques and cute cafes in SoHo is another must-do. Or head to Williamsburg to find independent shops and plenty of street art. In the museum world, the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art are must-sees.
6. Take a Tour of the Museum of Modern Art
While most visitors only scratch the surface of Manhattan, NYC has much to offer beyond ticking off the city’s iconic landmarks. From a subterranean piano bar to secret gardens and market shopping in Chinatown, these off-the-beaten-track highlights reveal big-picture and hyperlocal perspectives of the Big Apple.
A trip to the Museum of Modern Art is a must-do, with its vast collection of photography, paintings, sculptures, and architecture. A guided tour is a great way to take in all of its treasures.
Wandering between dozens of galleries in Chelsea (and nearby West Village) is another must. Begin with the airy Nicola Vassell Gallery, then stop by Jack Shainman and Greene Naftali.
7. Visit Times Square
New York City’s most famous commercial intersection teems with flashing neon lights, Broadway marquees and dazzling billboards. This tourist hotspot pulsates even on a slow day, and its famed New Year’s Eve festivities are legendary.
The area around Times Square is home to Wall Street and the famous Charging Bull statue, as well as national historic landmarks like Federal Hall and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. It also includes the Theater District where some of the world’s finest shows are performed.
If you’re in search of a fun NYC activity that is a bit more unconventional than a traditional museum, consider The Color Factory, which highlights the power of color and features macarons, confetti and a silent dance party room.
8. Visit Central Park
Almost any visitor to New York can’t help but visit Central Park, the city’s most iconic park. Its vast green spaces, meadows, sports fields, and ice skating rinks make it a year-round destination for recreation and fun.
Stroll through The Ramble, pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial, or enjoy a picnic in Sheep’s Meadow. If you visit in the winter, ice skating at Wollman Rink is an especially magical experience.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is nearby, as is Times Square with its flashing neon billboards. And the Upper East Side boasts a plethora of luxury boutiques and restaurants.