New York City is this crazy and wonderful city so big it could swallow you up. There’s so much to do here that you could easily get overwhelmed and miss some of the highlights! I’m going to make sure you have the best trip to New York by giving you the best things to do in NYC. Here you go, my recommendations for the top 20 things to do in NYC:
Best Things To Do in NYC:
- Times Square
The most iconic and most visited location in the world, you cannot go to NYC without going to Times Square! Even when I’ve been many times, I still get a feeling of excitement and energy when I approach the dazzling lights. To avoid the crowds, go early or late, the lights are always on!
- Top of the Rock
Head up to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for great views above the city. You can see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and Central Park from up here, along with millions of tiny ants running around the streets below. It’s worth the price of admission to get these views!
- Statue of Liberty
One of the biggest icons of New York is the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. Buy tickets ahead online for tours to the statue and island, since this is a popular attraction. If you want to go all the way up to the crown (and why wouldn’t you?), you need to book at least 3 MONTHS AHEAD. Alternatively, if you want to take a ride by but not get off at the island, take the free Staten Island Ferry.
- Eat a New York Bagel
New York is famous for its bagels, and rightfully so! Don’t miss your chance to try one. I suggest stopping in at Kossar’s Bialys or Essa Bagel, they’re my favorite NYC bagelries!
- Bike through Central Park
Central Park is the enormous park at the center of Manhattan, perhaps the most famous park in the world, and an absolute must-see when you’re in New York. Pick up a rental bike to cover more ground and see all of the park. Bonus: you’ll fit in better with the local New Yorkers this way!
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
Located inside of Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the Met) is a world class museum with a diverse display of exhibits. Thank goodness it has free entry because it will take more than one visit to see it all!
- Go Shopping in SoHo
SoHo is New York’s big fashion and shopping district. It also used to be the artists neighborhood, so it has a lot of character and beauty. Check out my guide to SoHo here for more on exploring this part of town.
- Walk the High Line
Who knew that a set of old railroad tracks could become such a beautiful and healthy staple of the city? The High Line is a raised park walkway on the West Side in Chelsea that has been repurposed to be a main attraction for visitors and locals alike!
- See a show on Broadway
Broadway shows are such a special experience and a staple of the New York scene. Some shows, like Jersey Boys, have been on Broadway now for years, but others cycle through or just visit for a season. Find out how to score cheap tickets during student rush here.
- Try $1 Pizza in the Village
New York pizza is another food you’ve got to try in NYC! Cheesy and greasy and everything delicious, try the $1 Pizza in the Village. You won’t find a better deal in town anywhere.
- Visit DUMBO in Brooklyn
Head across the river to Brooklyn and visit the DUMBO neighborhood, or Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Get some awesome views of the city and the bridge. And try the famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory right nearby, it’s to die for!
- Dine in Hell’s Kitchen
The epicenter of NYC’s awesome restaurant scene is Hell’s Kitchen, just west of Times Square and Broadway. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants here, and many will offer pre-show specials or at least rush your order to make sure you get to your Broadway show on time!
- Guggenheim Museum
Known equally for its modern architecture and for the modern art it displays, the Guggenheim Museum is one of the best things to do in NYC.
- Washington Square Park
Head over to the Village near NYC to see the Washington Square Park. It’s iconic for the grand archway at the entry to the park that’s reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. You’ll find students hanging out, families at the playground, folks playing on the chess tables, performers and musicians and even the free hugs guy and the bubble lady if you’re lucky!
- Shop on 5th Avenue
5th Ave has all finest high-end shopping in the city. Come here to be dazzled by Tiffany’s and Versace and Manolo Blahnik and every other label you can’t afford but want to stare at googly-eyed! The store fronts and displays are beautiful and worth looking at even if you’re just window shopping.
- Tour the New York Public Library
The NYPL is a grand and beautiful building that houses one of the world’s greatest collections of literature, and is guarded by the famous pair of lion statues. Tours run daily at 9 & 2, and you can get more information in the post I wrote here.
- See a show at the Lincoln Center
Covering a giant area of 16 acres, the Lincoln Center might just be the greatest center for performing arts ever! There are many different performances each day, so find the one that suits your fancy, and be sure to leave time for exploring the grounds before the show.
- Pose with the Charging Bull
Head down to the Financial District to pose for a picture with the famous Charging Bull bronze statue. Walk around the area, gazing up at the skyscrapers all around you. And be sure to stop by the one and only Wall Street, the center of financial activity!
- One World Trade Center
Visit the World Trade Center to go up to NYC’s newest skyscraper viewing deck. This is further down in Manhattan than the Top of the Rock so you get totally different views, including the Statue of Liberty and the bottom tip of Manhattan. Nearby is the 9/11 memorial and museum, which are also definitely worth a visit.
- Dim Sum in Chinatown
NYC has a huge Chinatown, and the food here is unbelievable. I recommend going for Dim Sum brunch at Jim Fong’s, it’s a totally overwhelming and delicious experience! One of my favorites to do in NYC!
You could seriously spend a lifetime here and never run out of things to do in NYC. They say it’s the city that never sleeps, and you’ll certainly feel that constant exciting energy when you’re here. So take my suggestions of what to do in NYC as a starting point, and enjoy all that this massive city has to offer! Have you visited New York? What are you favorite things to do here? What would you add to my top 20 things to do in NYC?
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