New York is one of the world’s best cities to live in and visit. People come to New York to see the Broadway performances, shop and dine, or simply visit the many famous sites.
There won’t be enough time to see everything New York City has to offer. The city’s top destinations are within walking distance and are only a short train journey away from each other, making touring this city a breeze.
You might want to take advantage of having New York City to yourself. Our guide to the best things to do in New York City will help you plan your trip.
17 Best Things to Do in New York City in 2023
New York City has more fun things to do than any other city on the planet. Aside from state-of-the-art museums, it hosts incredible events all year. Here’s a list of the best things to do in New York City to help you discover its beauty.
1. The People’s Ball
The People’s Ball is the chance to celebrate fashion, creativity, style, and individuality. People are free to dress up in clothing that makes them feel the most attractive and authentic. The ball is completely free and accessible to the public.
It’s actually the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). Citizens get the chance to celebrate their individualism in Brooklyn on the day of the Met Gala on May 1. This serves as one of the world’s major annual fashion shows.
2. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic sights in the U.S. It’s at the top of the best things to do in New York City. The statue was a gift by France to the U.S. and served as a universal emblem of freedom.
Having been built in 1886, it is still one of the greatest attractions in the U.S. The statue stands almost 152 feet high and weighs around 450,000 pounds, making it one of the world’s tallest monuments.
The magnificent statue can be seen from land. You can get lovely views from Battery Park on Manhattan’s southern point. However, the best way to see the statue is to take a boat ride to Liberty Island to view it up close. Don’t forget to take a leisurely tour around the base.
3. Central Park
Central Park is Manhattan’s largest and most significant public park. It has a total area of approximately 840 acres and was among the first parks in the U.S. to use landscape architecture techniques.
While all have positive feedback on the park, no one has had the same experience or suggests that you do the same things. There are nearly too many attractions and hidden gems to view, such as monuments, playgrounds, fountains, sculptures, and bridges.
Here are some of the park’s best attractions:
- Bethesda Fountain
- Alice in Wonderland
- Conservatory Garden
- Loeb Boathouse
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
- Strawberry Fields
- Wollman Memorial Rink
4. Rockefeller Center
Beautiful monuments, a gigantic skating rink, a slew of shops and restaurants, and a fishbowl view of NBC Studios are found in this historic plaza. Though there will definitely be large crowds, you should experience this event at least once.
The plaza also shines with a beautiful Christmas tree during the winter holidays. However, don’t worry if your trip to New York isn’t planned during winter because there are many things to do in New York City all year.
You may watch a taping of the Today show, admire the city from the observation deck, or see a show at Radio City Music Hall.
Visitors reported that the Top of the Rock gives some magnificent views of Manhattan, which is definitely worth the money. Travelers suggest purchasing combo tickets, including a building tour and access to the observation deck.
5. American Museum of Natural History
Located on Central Park West, the American Museum of Natural History is a popular destination for travelers. Don’t expect to see everything in a day because there are over 30 million artifacts in the museum, 45 display halls, and 25 structures.
Never miss the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Hall of the Universe, and the dinosaurs.
According to local experts, visiting this place is one of the best things to do in New York City with your family. It’s perfect for all ages, especially kids because it’s very engaging and educational. It’s one of the city’s must-see attractions.
6. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the home of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York. It stands as the symbol of the ascendancy of the New World’s religious freedom.
As a result, this famous landmark is the source of inspiration for Catholics and a light of hope for over five million tourists from all religious denominations who visit annually. Since 1879, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has proudly stood above Fifth Avenue.
The color of its beautiful windows, the charm of its music, and the vision of its charity inspire us to respond to its calling.
Don’t miss the St. Patrick’s Cathedral when you visit New York. The church possesses the past’s rich history and an excellent work of architecture that sets the monument unique.
7. Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, is one of the most well-known museums in the U.S. Established in 1870, its permanent collection has over two million artifacts spanning more than 5,000 decades.
The museum includes three sites, and Met Fifth Avenue is its focal point. Here you can find decorative items, guns and armor, Egyptian art, photos, costumes, and even musical instruments.
Exhibitions in the museum let the audience see some of the world’s most famous masterpieces. If you’re serious about visiting the Met, try getting a VIP: Empty Met Tour, allowing you to explore the museum with only 25 people prior to its opening to the public early in the morning.
8. Empire State Building
Another remarkable landmark and popular tourist destination in New York City is the Empire State Building. This 102-story structure was the world’s tallest building rising 381 meters high, until 41 years later when the 1 World Trade Center skyscraper was built.
When it first opened in 1931, it served as a symbolic landmark for New York City. The building has two observatories on top, which provide a spectacular view.
You can even see the neighboring states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut on a clear day. The observatory, with 86 floors, is the tallest open-air observation deck in New York.
In fact, it’s what most tourists anticipate seeing when visiting the Empire State Building. When you visit the place, you might find it familiar because it has been used in several films and T.V. series.
The building has an indoor space enclosed by glass that is cooled during summer and heated during winter. It also has ample outdoor spaces all around the building.
All are reached by automatic, high-speed elevators. The line to enter the Empire State Building is always long. Plus, it moves too slow and can go ridiculously slow and long during peak periods.
If you don’t have the patience, this experience can frustrate you. Remember that this attraction alone can easily consume half of your day. So, plan your trip carefully.
9. Bryant Park
Located just south of Times Square, Bryant Park has some of the most beautiful areas in Manhattan. The park was a 1990’s redevelopment initiative that converted it into a haven for locals and visitors, even though it’s been a magnificent green space for over 150 years already.
Professionals from midtown Manhattan prefer this place to meet and have lunch. It’s also where fashion gurus parade during fashion week. Plus, entertainers show off their talents during Piano in the Park and Broadway in Bryant Park.
A trip to Bryant Park doesn’t require a planned event. Simply go there to take in the view or enjoy the free Wi-Fi. Recently, travelers recommend visiting the New York Public Library found on the Great Lawn.
Other recommended activities are riding the carousel and ice skating on the Pond. In fact, there are still many things to do in Bryant Park. You can join yoga classes, knitting, chess games, tai chi classes, and even literary activities held at Bryant Park.
Not yet sure where to begin? Consider the Bryant Park Café or the Bryant Park Grill. Travelers mentioned that a stroll around the park gives a relaxing break from the city, and tourists commend how well-kept the place is.
10. Grand Central Terminal
Visiting the Grand Central Terminal is one of the best things to do in New York City because it’s the most remarkable public space in the city.
In 1913, it was opened to the public for the first time and became a well-known Midtown landmark. The terminal has a long and rich past which is a history of incredible engineering and vast wealth.
With over 750,000 people daily, the terminal is one of the world’s busiest train stations. The Metro-North Railroad, iconic retail stores, restaurants, and the most enticing Apple Store are all found in the Grand Central.
When you visit the terminal, don’t miss the highlights of your tour, including the world’s largest Tiffany Glass Clock, the opal-faced clock worth $20 million, the transportation statue weighing 1500 tons, and the acoustics of the Whispering Gallery facing the Oyster Bar and Restaurant.
If you’re interested in history, there are guided tours provided to help you know about the history of the Grand Central Terminal. It also has a website that offers more information about tours and how you can maximize your trip.
11. Times Square
Times Square is currently regarded as the city’s beating heart. With its massive advertising hoardings, Times Square has become the icon of this fast-moving metropolis throughout time. It’s also featured in many films.
It’s located at the junction of 7th Avenue and Broadway. In fact, Times Square is the city’s most renowned landmark and liveliest district with its giant billboards and bright lights.
Times Square is home to many museums, theatres, bars, and restaurants. When the city is illuminated by the bright lights of Times Plaza at night, both locals and tourists are entirely charmed by the city’s most renowned square.
As a visitor, a trip to Times Square is a must. The busiest place in Manhattan, which has served as the location for several films and T.V. shows, is situated in the heart of the Big Apple.
Perhaps, when visiting Times Square, the main attraction is undoubtedly the recognizable advertisements. They are almost everywhere, like a big show of colors and lights.
12. The High Line
This huge manicured park, about 112 miles long, is located on an abandoned rail track on the West Side of Manhattan. It runs over three of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city — the West Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Meatpacking District.
The High Line rises 30 feet above the ground and offers panoramic views of Manhattan’s skyline and the beautiful Hudson River. However, the views aren’t the only reason tourists flock to this area.
Locals and travelers come to this groomed green space for various reasons, including many public artworks, food hubs, large picnic areas, and sunbathing space, the 23rd Street Lawn.
If you want to take a break from the busy life in the city, travelers recommend going to the High Line. On a clear day, many consider it to be the best place to get spectacular views of Manhattan. People refer to it as an urban oasis.
Visitors to New York spend their entire time in the city seeing one or more Broadway shows. And if you enjoy musicals and plays, Broadway is the best place to be. The magnificent marquees, snug theaters, and incredible talent on stage wowed most of the audience.
Given that neighboring Times square is the bewildering jungle of lights and sounds, tourists recommend that shuffling back and forth between performances is all you need to see all of the neighborhood.
Broadway is definitely an inextricable aspect of New York City. You are assured it’s family-friendly, and there’s something for everyone.
14. Fifth Avenue
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is located on the same street as Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Bergdorf Goodman. It’s probably because many believe that shopping is also a religious experience, and the Holy Grail is located between 34th and 59th streets.
Despite not having a plan to spend your money at these high-end boutiques, travelers recommend taking a trip down Fifth Avenue. Local experts mentioned that it’s one of the best things to do in New York City and the best place to shop also.
While many argue that the shops on Fifth Avenue are too pricey, you can find budget-friendly shops such as Gap, Sephora, and the Disney Store for kids. The shops on Fifth Avenue are more well-known, but if you prefer an edgy style, you can go to SoHo.
15. Coney Island
Coney Island is a great neighborhood featuring an amusement park with over 50 rides and attractions, although it isn’t as centrally controlled as Six Flags or Disneyland.
If you have questions about attractions or filming privileges, you should direct them to the concerned businesses. Their site is managed by Coney Island, USA — a non-profit organization that hosts the Sideshow, the Mermaid Parade, and other programs.
Coney Island is only seasonal that operates from Easter through Halloween. The rides and attractions are open to the public during weekends from Easter to Memorial Day to Labor Day and then weekends until October.
The beautiful beach and boardwalk are open throughout the year, and the New York Aquarium and Nathan’s Hot Dogs usually are available daily.
16. The Guggenheim
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, also called The Guggenheim, is among the country’s most famous museums.
It’s well-known for its spectacular coiled structure, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building is the highlight on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. The halls within are lined with the best artworks from Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, and Norman Rockwell.
The Guggenheim never fails to impress travelers. Its extraordinary design and architecture and its diverse artworks held within are highly valued by guests.
17. Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is among the oldest suspension bridges in New York. In fact, it’s among the city’s most iconic attractions. The bridge spans the East River and connects Brooklyn and Manhattan with six lanes.
One of the best things to do in New York City is walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Some travelers choose to skip visiting the bridge in favor of other destinations.
However, if you’re short on budget, the bridge is one of the best ways to see New York. Consider taking a boat or helicopter tour to get unique views of the bridge. Many of these tours pass under the renowned landmark.
Things to Consider Before Visiting New York City
While you can read countless suggestions on what to see and do in the Concrete Jungle, here are some things to keep in mind before stepping onto the tarmac of John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- Research how to get to and from the airport
- Know how to get around the city
- Give yourself more time to walk around
- Take the subway
- Put on some comfortable sneakers
- Get a multi-day MetroCard
- If traveling on weekends, make sure to allow extra time
- Save money by getting a New York Pass
- Know how much to tip
- Find free hosted events
- Save money and get discount tickets
- Make lunch or dinner reservations
- If on a tight budget, stay away from midtown
- Be careful of pickpockets
NYC Travel FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to NYC.
Is New York City safe as a whole?
New York City has a relatively low crime rate. When crimes happen, they seldom occur in tourist-heavy locations. For example, travelers are reluctant to see the Bronx, Harlem, and other boroughs where crime is most frequent.
However, there are some things that visitors to New York City should be aware of. To begin with, it’s never the best to visit Central Park at night. While the park is a beautiful tourist spot, it’s closed at night until the early hours the following day.
Can I visit other boroughs of New York?
Yes, definitely. Visiting the other boroughs of the Big Apple is some of the best things to do in New York City. While Manhattan is beautiful, you can still find more fantastic museums, beautiful parks, and lively activities outside of it.
You might even want to venture outside of New York City. It’s pretty simple to catch a Metro-North train from the Grand Central and travel upstate.
What’s the best season to visit New York?
You can visit New York all year round. In fact, there’s no wrong time to see the Big Apple. When it comes to things to do and events to see, each season has something unique and exciting to offer travelers. Spring and fall are usually the most enjoyable seasons because the weather is perfect.
When is the cheapest time to visit?
If you’re on a tight budget, go to New York in the late fall or winter, when the travel cost is usually lower. While it’s cold outside, it won’t bother you anyway with so many exciting museums, events, and activities you can enjoy.
Can I bike around New York?
Even though many ride bicycles in New York, it’s not known for being bike-friendly due to a large traffic volume. Additionally, there are too many potholes on the streets, and the dedicated bike lanes are always blocked by parked vehicles.
Your Turn — Book Your Trip to NYC Today!
Now you some of the best things to do in New York City. Traveling and doing things that satisfy your need to explore and grow definitely fill the soul. We hope that this list inspires you to travel and appreciate the city and its every corner of magic. Happy travels!