Welcome to New York City, where each attraction is an essential piece of the famous skyline. As you gear up to explore this metropolis, we’re here to guide you through the bucket list items that define the Big Apple. So, buckle up, put on your walking shoes, and let’s delve into what makes these iconic spots worth the hype.
No visit to Manhattan is complete without stepping into the heart of the city’s vibrant energy at Times Square. Neon lights, towering billboards, and a bustling atmosphere characterize this iconic intersection. Whether you’re catching a Broadway show, shopping for souvenirs, or simply soaking in the electrifying ambiance, Time Square is a quintessential New York experience.
Insider tip: hit up Times Square at twilight, when the transition from day to night transforms it into a mesmerizing dreamscape. Make sure to be aware of your surroundings, and don’t accept mixtapes from strangers.
For aficionados of the performing arts, Broadway is a magnetic force. From timeless classics to cutting-edge productions, the Theater District’s dazzling marquees invite you to immerse yourself in the magic of the stage. Catch a world-class performance and see for yourself why Broadway remains the beating heart of the global theatre scene.
Feeling lucky? Broadway shows can be prohibitively pricey, so you may want to consider gambling on rush tickets. The day of the show, the theater’s box office will have a number of tickets available at significantly discounted costs. They’re first-come first-served, so the more popular the show, the earlier in the morning you’ll want to arrive.
Statue of Liberty
A symbol synonymous with the Big Apple, the Statue of Liberty stands tall at the entrance to New York Harbor. Accessible by ferry, a visit to Lady Liberty offers a chance to marvel at the iconic statue as well as the panoramic views of the city skyline. Don’t forget to explore the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, a poignant tribute to the millions who passed through seeking a new life.
All ferry tickets include access to the Statue of Liberty Museum and the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration. If your visit to the statue includes a trip to her pedestal or crown, we recommend making a separate reservation ahead of time.
Empire State Building
For a bird’s-eye view of the city, ascend to the top of the Empire State Building. While it no longer can claim the title of the tallest skyscraper in the world, it’s still one of the most recognizable. The observation deck offers a 360-degree panorama showcasing the city’s iconic landmarks. From this lofty perch, you can bear witness to the city’s ever-changing landscape and appreciate the architectural innovations that continue to shape the New York City skyline.
Millions of people visit the top of the Empire State Building every year, so make sure to buy tickets in advance.
Though a newcomer to the city’s skyline, One Vanderbilt is quickly becoming a tourist destination to rival some other famous tall buildings we can think of. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this soaring skyscraper offers an observation deck like no other. Known as SUMMIT, the multi-story kaleidoscope of refractive glass is part modern art installation, part interactive thrill ride, and offers an unbeatable view of the city laid out below.
Purchase your tickets online in advance, especially if you plan to visit One Vanderbilt on a weekend, during the summer, or over a holiday. The views are especially breathtaking at sunset but keep in mind sunset tickets sell out the fastest.
A sprawling green expanse in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park offers a retreat into nature for city-dwellers. Its winding paths, picturesque lakes, and iconic landmarks like Bethesda Terrace and the Bow Bridge make it an oasis of tranquility. Stroll down its meandering trails, row a boat on the lake, or simply relax amid the lush greenery.
Central Park is over 750 acres large, so consider hopping on a Citi Bike to ride through the park, and make sure you bring a map. Once you get tired of walking or biking, head to the Loeb Boathouse, ideally at Happy Hour.
Famous for its historic boardwalk, amusement park, and iconic Cyclone roller coaster, Coney Island is a nostalgic seaside retreat that’s just a Subway ride away. Grab a hot dog from Nathan’s Famous, take a spin on the Wonder Wheel, and allow yourself to get lost in a time capsule of seaside revelry.
You can buy an all-day wristband with unlimited rides for $60, or buy tickets for rides one by one. Don’t worry about buying tickets in advance unless you find a discount or are going on a particularly busy day.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Even for locals, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn never gets old. Take a leisurely walk across its iconic promenade, capturing postcard-perfect views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty as you go.
Start on the Manhattan side, and you’ll end up in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO, an area worth exploring if you want to step outside Manhattan. Try to arrive on the earlier side, and watch out for the bike lane.
A study in Art Deco and a cultural hub, Rockefeller Center is home to Radio City Music Hall and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. And come winter, of course, it also hosts the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating rink. Explore the historic structures, enjoy a live performance, and during the holidays, witness the tree lighting ceremony.
If you’re visiting during the holiday season, expect unbelievable decorations and unbelievable crowds. Consider getting reservations for ice skating in advance, and avoid the weekends and mid-day if at all possible.
One of the city’s recent triumphs as far as green space goes, the High Line was transformed from an abandoned railway into an elevated park. Here, you can stroll along the landscaped gardens and modern art installations as you enjoy a peaceful respite above the city streets. Wander through this botanical wonderland, and let the city’s relentless pulse fade into a serene hum.
Start your walk at 34th Street in Hudson Yards, and finish at Chelsea Market for the most comprehensive experience.
Situated in the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market is a paradise for both food lovers and creatives. Begin by exploring the manifold eateries, making sure to leave room for a superb fresh-baked pastry. Then, walk off some of your eats in the cavernous Artists & Fleas market as you browse handmade and vintage goods from clothing to custom license plates.
The Market will be the least busy during the morning hours. If you’re allergic to lines, consider taking a food tour to skip the queues.
Embark on an educational odyssey along Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue home to New York’s most-visited, world-class museums. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim, each institution on Museum Mile offers a unique perspective on art, history, and culture.
The Met and the Guggenheim are within blocks of each other, so it’s entirely possible to view both of these iconic museums in one day. Or, mix and match with other museums on the avenue, like the Neue Galerie, the Cooper Hewitt, and the Africa Center.