New York is an amazing city and you will never be short of things to do and see. In fact, the biggest problem With New York is there is just TOO much to see and do? This means you can waste time on the mediocre sights and attraction and miss out on the VERY best.
To combat this we have compiled a list of the TOP 10 New York City Must Do Sights and Attractions. These are the things you just shouldn’t Skip while visiting the Big Apple:
When Visiting New York you will never be short of things to see and do. The entire city is packed with iconic sights, sounds, and attractions. One of the biggest problems with New York is there is just too much to see and do. With you limited Trip time It’s essential you pick the wheat from the chaff, and only spend your precious time on only the best the City has to offer. Out list of New York City Must do sights and attractions will guide you through what attractions you should definitely not miss when visiting the City.
1: Get Up High – New York Observation Decks
One of the first things that springs to mind when visiting New York is a trip to the top of the Empire State building. But is this Clichéd attraction a tourist trap or really worth it?
Well, actually we think it’s the absolute TOP thing to do in New York! If you have to pick just one thing then get up High. Not necessarily the Empire State building but at least one of the many Observation Decks should be right up to the top of your list. Want to know which is best read our Guide on New York Observation Decks here
The perspective from up high is unlike anything else in the world. Sometimes the Scale of the city can be lost at ground level. Only a few of the skyscrapers visible at any one time. Only by getting up off the ground does the gargantuan scale of the city become apparent. Day or night or Sunset you are assured a breath-taking view that you will never forget.
2: Central Park
New York can be very busy and hectic and sometimes you just need to get away from all the crazy hustle and bustle and just relax. Central Park is perfect for this. And the place many New Yorkers go to get away from it all too. While the tourist areas around the Bethesda fountain and terrace are just as busy as most of the city there are still many places you can go to escape the crowds.
The park is 843 acres and 3.42 square KM which is an enormous chunk of the city reserved solely for green space. It can be hard to envisage just how large that is. But the Perimeter is almost 6 miles or 10 km. That means a fit runner would take almost an hour to run around the park. Or over two hours to walk it at a brisk pace. and an alternative way of looking at it is if the park were to be sold off to be developed for real estate in 2006 the value was estimated at $529 BILLION! Fortunately, this will never happen.
It is very striking while exploring the park the stark contrast of the park and the City. It seems so very odd to be immersed in the very peaceful serene beauty of nature while at the center of one of the world’s biggest metropolis.
Whether it’s just to escape the hustle and bustle or get a selfie at one of the MANY film locations the park has to be up there on anyone’s MUST do list.
3: Statue Of Liberty
One of New York’s most iconic landmarks. Surely everyone’s must-do list includes the Statue of Liberty. Whether it’s just a glimpse from the shore or a cruise to the island reserve where it stands or even climbing to the top of the crown. No trip to New York can be complete without a photo or a selfie of the Statue.
While the Statue can be seen from many locations throughout the city it really can’t be appreciated properly from land and the island is just a bit too far out. To really get that perfect shot you’ll need to take to the water.
read my guide here on getting the Best View of the Statue of Liberty.
4: Leave Manhattan
I know its an odd one. As you might of only just got here! But there is more than New York than just Manhattan. Getting out of the Manhattan sprawl throws up loads of opportunities that are just not possible in the big City.
Head to Brooklyn for incredible views of the city skyline. Enjoy great food and a more relaxed pace on the Brooklyn Heights promenade and in the many Parks that dot the Borough. Finally, walk the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan for breath-taking views of the City.
Head to the Bronx to check out the Yankee Stadium or the Bronx Zoo. Or head to Staten Island for a complete change of pace and some rest and relaxation on one of its many beaches.
Whatever you chose Its great to experience New York from a different perspective than just Manhattan to give you a much more complete New York experience
Some people may not want to spend precious trip time grinding through stuffy museums. But New York’s offering is one of the finest in the world. The American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art Lead the line up with a stellar supporting cast of the Guggenheim Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Along with a huge array of smaller museums, there really is something for everyone.
Check out our Guide to all the Best Museums in New York
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum Is also one of the Top Museums in New York but is more than just a museum. Also a Memorial to the victims and Final resting place to many victims it is more a place of quiet reflection than a tourist trap destination. Not that tourists or anyone else should be put off going. On the contrary, we highly recommend it, just feel it is deserving of a mention of its own. Its a somber, difficult experience but one that reflects the magnitude of what transpired here.
6: Eat Street Food
New York is World-renowned for having some of the best fine dining restaurants the world over. While I strongly encourage you to look into and sample some of these delights the prices charged mean they are not necessarily for everyone or for every meal.
Fortunately, New York has a host of much cheaper food options, the most visible of these are New York’s food carts. These iconic little carts are run by budding entrepreneurs and offer a huge array of food choices. Obviously, Hotdogs are the most famous but this has diversified into just about any cuisine you can imagine. Of course, Hotdogs and Pretzels are still the most common.
Large New York Pizza Pies that are sold by the slice (well they will sell you the whole Pie if you want but you better be hungry) are another NYC Favourite. There are shops everywhere in the City offering a multitude of different options for pretty cheap prices.
A New York Trip wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a Deli for a MeatRammed sandwich of epic proportions. These Little “corner” shops sell just about anything and make up for New York’s Lack of supermarkets for the locals. But they are a Number 1 Lunch Stop for locals and tourists alike. Every city in the world seems to have an expensive New York Deli Rip off. Now try the real thing!
7: Check Out Some Movie Sets
New York is the most Filmed City in the world and as such, it is awash with sights and locations you will be familiar with from both Movies and TV. Apart from the obvious Sweeping Skyline Vistas and Generic shots of Subways and Food Carts, there will be more specific locations from your favorite Films and Tv Shows. A real treat in New York is hunting down locations from your favorite film.
Home Alone 2, Ghostbusters, Sex and the City, and Friends are all popular locations found throughout the city along with many many more. Macy’s on 34th Street is one of our favorites as the legendary Coles featured in Miracle on 3th Street. Whatever your favorite New York-based Movie or Show you are sure to find locations dotted about. Either follow a Movie location tour or go hunting your self for that Perfect memorable Selfie that you’ll cherish for years. Check out our Guide to New York Movie Spot here
8: Times Square
Times Square is a real Love or Hate Experience. But It’s one of those that you should experience yourself to decide. New Yorkers avoid it like the plague, but they will have all been at least once! The crowds can be unthinkably large. We have queued 5-10 minutes just to cross a road. Identical food and souvenirs are twice the price, just because you are on the Times Square Tourist trap and some people are left with the feeling they are not sure what it is they have come to see!
Of course on the plus side its a spectacle like no other. The lights are so bright it makes the daylight dark and darkness brighter than daylight! The Hustle and bustle that people avoid is part of the attraction. Its an embodiment of American excess on display, it’s hard not to be taken a back. Lined with shops and eateries all catering to the tourist it certainly is a tourist hotspot. It’s not the “real” New York if that’s what you are searching for but its definitely a must-see for most visitors…Even if it’s just to say how terrible it is!
For the Record, we are on the Love side, Just. We are Tourists and are not afraid to embrace that. Times Square is geared to us so we just embrace the buzz and awe at the spectacle.
9: Shop ‘Til You Drop
New York is synonymous with shopping. For years people have flocked to shop for the latest luxury items on the world-famous Fifth Av. Or head to the world’s biggest department store (well actually the 2nd as of 2009), Macy’s on 34th Street. Or try Bloomingdales or Saks on Fifth Ave. The options are almost limitless.
Unfortunately, many of the Iconic Toy stores have now closed doors, victims of the every rising rental cost of Midtown Manhattan.
Want to grab a Bargain. New York is home to several Outlet villages where branded goods can be bought for bargain prices. Try Woodbury-common for tons of cut-price deals. It may be precious Trip time spent in a fairly dull outlet village but the price “should” make it worth your while!
10: Catch a Broadway Show.
Broadway has been delighting visitors for decades and continues to do so with an estimated 13 million + people attending a show last Season. The choice is massive and ever-changing from classics such as Cats and the Phantom of the Opera to more contemporary offerings such as the School of Rock or even a Cirque du Soleil show. There is sure to be something for everyone.
Combine this with a meal in one of New York’s many fine eateries, and you have a night out you will remember for a lifetime.
Bonus: Roof Top Bar
Bonus item because 10 just wasn’t enough!
We Finish off where we started. Getting up high really is our favorite thing to do in New York and after already visiting the top of the cities highest buildings its time for a different be an equally awesome experience… Getting drunk high up above the sidewalk.
New York is home to a multitude of fantastic Roof Top Bars and Terraces where you can get a drink and a bite to eat while enjoying incredible views of the city. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening and doesn’t have to break the bank, with some great happy hour deals.
Sure the views don’t quite rival the very tallest buildings (Rainbow Room’s BarSixtyFive comes close!) but its still a great view and one of the best ways we can imagine to relax with a drink and great company.
New York Passes – Can Save You Money and Time
Many of New York’s Best attractions are included on one of the New York Passes. These are a great way to save time and money if you are planning on doing multiple attractions while in the City.
Read our New York Comparison Guide to see if a New York Pass could save you money and which one would be right for you. Or take a look at the Passes in detail Below:
- The New York Pass
- The New York Explorer Pass
- The New York Sightseeing Pass
- The Official New York CityPASS
Have Your Say
Feel free to let us know if you have done any of the attractions above and if you agree or disagree on their “must-do” status. Just post a comment below. And please post a comment if you have any questions. We would love to hear from you.