When people think of vacations, New York City is one of the top destinations that come to mind. With all the things to do in New York City, it can be hard to create the perfect itinerary. We’ve put together a list of some of the best activities and attractions NYC offers. Whether you’re into sightseeing, shopping, or dining out, NYC has something for everyone. So take a road trip, flight, or hop on the Amtrak to get your NYC adventure started!
1. Take a Stroll Through Central Park
Central Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. Spanning 843 acres, Central Park is a great place to get outdoors. You can take a scenic stroll, picnic in one of the many gardens, or take a rowboat out on the lake. In the winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, with ice skating and sledding. No visit to New York City is complete without a stop at Central Park.
2. Catch a Concert at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is located in Midtown Manhattan and is home to several attractions, including a carousel, an ice skating rink, and a variety of shops and restaurants. Visitors can also enjoy various events and concerts held throughout the year. In addition to being a great place to spend time outside, Bryant Park is also a great place to people-watch. With its central location and diverse crowd, the park is the perfect place to take in the sights and sounds of New York City.
3. City Views from the Empire State Building
Your trip to New York City isn’t complete without a visit to the Empire State Building. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this Art Deco masterpiece offers breathtaking views of the city from its observation deck on the 86th floor. On a clear day, you can see for up to five miles in every direction. Visitors can also experience the building’s historic core, which houses exhibits on the construction of the Empire State Building and its place in American history.
4. Explore Times Square
This world-famous intersection is a must-see for any first-time visitor, and there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Take a walk down Broadway, do some people-watching, or simply soak up the unique atmosphere. Times Square is also home to the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat or a show to see, you’ll find it all here. So don’t miss out on this iconic destination – add Times Square to your vacation itinerary today!
5. Go Shopping on 5th Avenue
There’s no place quite like 5th Avenue in New York City. This iconic street is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s also a shopper’s paradise, with high-end stores like Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman. Whether you’re strolling down the avenue or enjoying a cup of coffee at a sidewalk café, you’re sure to see an interesting variety of people. So if you’re looking for things to do in New York City, add 5th Avenue to your list!
6. Grab a Bite at the Chelsea Market
When looking for things to do in New York City, a great option is the Chelsea Market. This food hall is located in the historic Meatpacking District and houses over 35 vendors selling everything from artisanal cheese to fresh seafood. In addition to the large variety of food, the Chelsea Historic District is full of unique things to do. There’s something for everyone at Chelsea Market, making it a great place to spend an afternoon eating, shopping, and exploring.
7. New York City Food Tours
New York City is a food lover’s paradise, with cuisine from all over the world represented in its many restaurants. For those who want to get a taste of everything the city has to offer, a food tour is the perfect activity. New York City food tours provide a chance to sample dishes from a variety of different cultures, all in one day. Plus, you’ll get to learn about the history and culture of each cuisine as you enjoy its delicious flavors. Whether you’re a fan of Italian food, Chinese cuisine, or good old-fashioned American fare, a New York City food tour is sure to please your palate.
8. Take the Family to the New York Aquarium
The New York Aquarium is one of the best family-friendly things to do in New York City. It is a world-renowned marine zoological park and one of the largest Aquariums in the Western Hemisphere. They have over 350 different species of aquatic animals for you to see. The 14,000-square feet Aquarium features a coral reef, walruses, penguins, seahorses, sharks, and much more. A visit here is an unforgettable experience for all ages.
9. Catch a Performance at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is one of the most iconic venues in the world, and a visit to this historic site is a must for any music lover traveling to New York City. Built in 1891 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the hall was originally intended as a venue for the New York Philharmonic. It has since hosted some of the world’s most famous musicians. Today, Carnegie Hall continues to be a leading stop on the international concert circuit, welcoming top artists from all genres.
10. Take the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is another one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks. Visitors can take the ferry to Liberty Island, walk around the base of the statue, and get up close and personal with this American symbol. For those who want to learn more about the statue’s history, there is a museum inside that documents the statue’s construction and installation.
There are also ranger-led tours available that provide even more information about Lady Liberty. Of course, no trip to the Statue of Liberty would be complete without taking in the stunning views of New York City from the crown. Although it requires climbing stairs, the experience is well worth it and provides visitors with some of the best photo ops in the city.
11. Unwind and Relax on Coney Island
Coney Island is a legendary boardwalk and beach in New York City. Its famous rides, concessions, and sideshows make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can enjoy the historic Cyclone roller coaster, take a spin on the Wonder Wheel, or cool off with a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Coney Island is also home to the world-famous New York Aquarium.
12. Enjoy the Little Island at Pier 55
Little Island at Pier 55 is a 2.4-acre public park in New York City, located on the west side of Manhattan. The park has a playground, picnic tables, and a performance stage. Visitors can also enjoy views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty. Little Island is accessible by ferry from both New York and New Jersey. The ferry ride takes about 10 minutes, and tickets can be purchased online or at the pier.
13. A Family Outing to the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City. Located in the Bronx borough of New York City, the zoo is home to over 4,000 animals representing over 650 species. Visitors can see everything from African lions and Asian elephants to American bison and red pandas. Whether you’re looking for a fun day out with the family or a chance to learn about wildlife, the Bronx Zoo is worth a visit.
14. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is located on Fifth Avenue and is home to a collection of modern and contemporary art and a rotating selection of special exhibitions. Visitors can explore the galleries at their own pace or take one of the museum’s guided tours. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for all ages, making it an excellent destination for families.
15. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
With over two million visitors each year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the city’s most-visited museum. The Met is home to a vast collection of art from around the world, spanning 5,000 years of history. Visitors can see works by masters such as Rembrandt, van Gogh, and Monet, as well as ancient Egyptian artifacts and Asian sculptures. So, whether you’re a lifelong art enthusiast or simply looking for things to do in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is sure to impress.
16. The Museum of Modern Art
Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art is one of the most popular things to do in New York City. The museum boasts a collection of over 150,000 works of art, making it one of the largest in the world. Visitors can see paintings by legendary artists such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh and works by many other contemporary artists. In addition to paintings, the museum also has a substantial collection of photographs, sculptures, and films.
17. American Museum of Natural History
Situated on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the American Museum of Natural History is home to over 32 million specimens, ranging from ancient fossils to contemporary artwork. Visitors can explore the museum’s many exhibits, including a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and a life-size blue whale model. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and planetarium shows.
18. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Looking for an out-of-this-world experience? Then you need to head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. This world-famous museum is home to a wide variety of unique exhibits, including an actual space shuttle! Visitors can also explore the historic aircraft carrier Intrepid, experience a simulated combat mission, and see firsthand what it was like to live and work on a submarine. With so much to see and do, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting New York City.
19. National September 11 Memorial Museum
Located at the tragic World Trade Center site, the National September 11 Memorial Museum tells the story of the 9/11 attacks and pays tribute to the victims. The museum features artifacts from the attacks, including memories and personal effects of those who passed away. Visitors can also view footage of the attacks and learn about the heroes who responded. The museum provides a moving and intimate look at one of the most tragic events in American history.
20. Stroll the New York Botanical Garden
Few things are more pleasant on a warm day than strolling through a verdant garden, and the New York Botanical Garden is one of the best places to do just that. Founded in 1891, this vast public garden spans 250 acres and contains 50 different gardens and plant collections. Visitors can explore themes like native plants, medicinal plants, and roses or simply wander the grounds and take in the diverse array of flora on display. And with its convenient location in the Bronx, the Garden is easy to reach from anywhere in New York City.
21. Rockefeller Center Observation Deck
If you’re looking for things to do in New York City, a visit to Rockefeller Center should be on your list. The Observation Deck provides stunning views of the cityscape, and on a clear day, you can even see all the way to the Statue of Liberty. There’s also a lot to see and do inside the center, including shopping, dining, and exploring the famous art deco architecture.
There’s never a dull moment with all the things to do in New York City. So, if you’re looking for an amazing and unforgettable trip that will make you feel like a New Yorker in no time, be sure to put some of these things on your list and enjoy every minute!
Alexandrea Sumuel is the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel better.