What are the top 13 things you must see in New York City?
Are you wondering what to put on your must see in New York City list? Not to worry,
I’ve got you covered. I’m a former resident and a frequent visitor, and a lifetime fan!
New York City is the epicenter of all things famous, fashion, finance, food, and fun! That makes for an endless list of what you must see in New York City. There are so many Reasons to Visit NYC!
Let’s start with this list of the top 13 attractions you must see in New York City.
While places on this list are pretty much non-negotiable sites, don’t feel like it all has to happen in one day!
If you plan well, this is totally doable in a short trip.
Put on your walking shoes, get inspired, and see it all!
My Pick for the 13 Top Activities in New York City
We all know that NYC has so much to offer, you could spend months there and not see it all.
There are famous, historic, and exciting landmarks at every corner. And a ton of fun Things to do at Night in NYC.
Here’s a guide to the top 13 must see in New York City sites.
#1 Is the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building
20 West 34th Street
The Empire State Building is open 365 days per year from 8 – 2 AM.
Don’t feel compelled to spend $77 p/adult, $71 p/child. $75 p/senior for the 102 floor.
Instead, spend $44 p/adult, $38 p/child, and $42 p/senior for the 86th floor.
The high speed elevators will take you to the famous outdoor viewing area on the 86th floor.
You can also ride a glass elevator to the new glass observatory on the 102 floor with window walls offering 360 degree views of Manhattan that will literally take your breath away.
However, I think you’ll be super happy and satisfied with the 86th floor and all the exhibits and displays that lead up to it.
Is it worth it? YES, a resounding YES! The views are beyond spectacular and the whole experience is so special.
~ Some ESB Fun Facts
- The ESB was erected in 1931 and was the tallest building in the world at the time.
- At 1454 feet tall, it is a stunning Art Deco era skyscraper which has been featured in more movies and momentous occasions than you can count.
- It’s the spot where Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin have a hilarious scene in On the Town, and where Debra Kerr and Cary Grant agree to meet in An Affair to Remember, and of course where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan finally meet in Sleepless in Seattle. And do I need to mention King Kong and Superman? You get the idea!
~ Buy your tix for late afternoon and SURPRISE!
~ You’ll be able to drink champagne and listen to music for the sunset experience.
~ It’s WINDY! But there are heating lamps and the famous viewing binoculars.
~ This will be one of the most memorable things you’ll do on your visit to NYC.
#2 Check out the Chrysler Building
42nd Street and Lexington Avenue
The Chrysler Building was the tallest building in the world before the Empire State Building.
Also the site of iconic NYC moments such as Godzilla and Spider Man, this building is not a spot to climb up and enjoy the view unless you are purchasing an office!
But you can enjoy it from the streets surrounding. It’s really Art Deco at its finest.
The stunning Chrysler Building was completed in 1930 at 1048 feet tall, designed by William Van Alen. In the “race to the sky” Chrysler beat the Woolworth building because of its 125 foot steel spire.
#3 Don’t Miss The Statue of Liberty
Do you have to see it? Yes. The Statue of Liberty is a must see in New York City, at least once in your life.
Not only is she iconic, but the windy boat ride in the New York Harbor is a tradition worth experiencing.
Just a short walk from Wall Street on the tip of Manhattan is Battery Park which will give you a view of the lady herself at Liberty Park and Ellis Island.
- Buy the Statue Cruise General Admission ticket so you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Museum on Ellis Island.
- For $23.50 you can purchase tickets online from Statue Cruises or, in person, at the Castle Clinton Fort Monument at Battery Park Ferry Terminal.
- The boats depart from Battery Park very frequently. The Ellis Island museum is really well done and fascinating. You might discover some link to your family history!
#4 Visit the New York Public Library
Also known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for his huge renovation donation, this is the flagship of New York City’s libraries.
It was built in 1911 in the Beaux Arts style with marble and the iconic lions flanking the front.
The interior is what you have to experience. The ceilings, wood paneling, reading rooms, exhibits, and artwork are well worth your time.
Did you know about their permanent collection of treasures?
It’s free! Be respectful. Photography is limited and staying quiet is essential.
It’s both a tourist attraction and a research library. So, if you are traveling alone and have a rainy day, skip the cafe and grab a good book.
#5 The Iconic Grand Central Station
This train station is one of the world’s top 10 tourist attractions because of its gorgeous Beaux Arts design.
Built in 1913, it connects people to trains all over the metropolitan area and beyond.
Enjoy the artwork in the main concourse’s 35,000 square feet!
It’s the iconic “meet me under the clock” spot for New Yorkers and tourists everywhere.
This train station has more train platforms than any other train station in the world!
Some Grand Central Station Fun Facts
- The Grand Central Station ceiling features 12 zodiac constalations, the order was reversed with east and west flipped.
- Eventually it was fixed, but Orion remains facinng backwards!
- It’s painted with gold leaf stars and twinking lights.
- If you stand in the four arched entry, you can whisper in one arch and your freind can hear you in the other arch diagonally across and 30 feet away!
#6 Wander at Rockefeller Center
Between 48th & 51st Streets at Fifth Avenue
Rockefeller Center is actually 22 acres of 19 buildings, but the iconic spots are its Top Of The Rock viewing area, the famous ice skating rink, Radio City Music Hall, and the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor.
This complex was intended to offer visitors grand displays of art and culture and it has succeeded since its opening in 1939.
It’s the home of many TV shows, movie premiers, and of course the world famous Rockettes.
Go for a skate, for the views, for the mosaics and statues, or for pics by the Christmas tree – just go!
#7 Walk in Central Park
You can wander Central Park every time you visit New York and experience something different.
Start at the top or the bottom and wander your way east or west, depending on your next destination.
Time will pass quickly and you won’t realize how far you have come! 843 acres of land in the middle of the most vibrant city.
You can find maps and tours at the Dairy Visitor Center, a Victorian Cottage built in 1871, mid park at 65th Street.
Here are some of the best Central Park spots to look for:
~ Belvedere Castle – a castle on Vista Rock by the Great Lawn
~ Bethesda Fountain – the famous Angel of the Waters sculpture
~ Bow Bridge – the famous bridge that spans the lake
~ The Carousel – the iconic 1908 merry-go-round
~ Central Park Zoo – the historic home of NYC’s favorite animals
~ Conservatory Garden – the formal public gardens
~ Conservatory Water – the model boat pond
~ Delacorte Theater – home of Shakespeare in the Park
~ Imagine Mosaic – the John Lennon Memorial
~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir – the 1.5 mile loop
~ The Mall – the famous stroll lined by American Elms
~ Wollman Rink – the famous ice skating rink
#8 Enjoy the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue and Central Park
The Met has a special place in eveeryone’s heart for its incredible permanent collection, its beautiful sitting areas, and its iconic front steps.
It’s one of the world’s most beautiful museums both inside and out, and is a part of the New York experience that you should not miss.
The Met is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere!
There will be long lines at popular times, so get your tickets in advance and plan on grabbing a pretzel or hot dog while you wait to get in!
#9 Experience Times Square
What more do I have to say? Quickly pass through Times Square or hang out for hours, and you will be sure to see things you have never seen before! It is wild and crazy any time of the day.
Have your camera ready!
Some Times Square Fun Facts
~ They say there are so many lights in Times Square that it can be seen from the International Space Station.
~ It’s known as the Crossroads of the World.
~ Broadway is called The Great White Way because of all the lights dazzling the theater marquees along Broadway.
~ It used to be called Longacre Square and was renamed when the New York Times moved in in 1904.
~ Broadway between 42nd Street and 47th Street has been closed to traffic since 2009.
~ The New Years Eve ball has dropped from the One Times Square Building since 1907. The current Times Square Ball weighs six tons with 32,256 LEDs.
#10 Visit Washington Square Park
Be sure to head to Greenwich Village, and stroll through the iconic Washington Square Park.
The 10 acre park is not just famous for its fountain and arch but is the historic spot of many a protest, many a movie set, and all kinds of art and culture.
Surrounded by NYU campus buildings, the park and Village atmosphere is unique only to New York.
#11 One World Trade Center & 911 Memorial & Oculus
Lower Manhattan is rich with things to see and do. The World Trade Center should be at the top of your list. There is a lot to take in here and you may want to spend a chunk of time on your first visit.
The 9/11 memorial is a gorgeous plaza designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker.
It honors the 2977 people killed at the World Trade Center, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon on 9/11 as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on 2/26/1993.
The space features twin reflecting pools, each with cascading waterfalls which are surrounded by the names of 9/11 victims etched in bronze.
White Oak trees grow around the pools. You’ll see roses tucked into the names of some because the foundation places the flowers on each of the victims’ birthdays.
Head to One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, which is the rebuilt World Trade Center complex.
You won’t be able to miss The Oculus, which is the remarkable white architectural wonder.
It’s a transportation hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, meant to resemble a dove leaving a child’s hands.
The Oculus replaced the train station which was destroyed in 9/11 and hosts shops, restaurants, and a view of the Freedom Tower.
#12. NY Stock Exchange & the Charging Bull &
The Little Girl
Find your way to the corner of Broad and Wall St. and visit the one and only New York Stock Exchange Building. If you are there at 9:30 AM on weekdays, you can hear the opening bell!
While you’re no longer allowed inside, you can take photos with The Fearless Girl statue and in front of the famous facade of the exchange building.
Fearless Fun Fact
The Fearless Girl statue was made in 2017 in honor of International Women’s Day and she is a 4 foot inspirational powerhouse! She was originally placed staring down the Charging Bull. Of course, that was controversial for the Bull artist, so she was eventually moved to the stock exchange building.
#13. Walk the High Line
Climb the steps from the Whitney up onto the High Line.
This is a MUST see in New York City any time of the year.
The High Line is a 1.45 mile walk from Gansevoort St. to 34th St.
It’s a public park built on the historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.
The neighborhood residents saved the old rail line from demolition in 2009 made it one of the best loved sustainable nature, art, and design filled spaces in NY.
Open from 7AM to 7PM in the winter and until 10PM in the summer months.
Best Places To Stay In
New York City?
I’ve done some research for you and have found these hotels with great reviews and I know they are in good neighborhoods.
Arlo Soho is in the heart of Greenwich Village, has a rooftop bar, and views of the river. This spot can cost you $292 and up.
The Hotel Beacon is a historic building on the Upper West Side with apartment style rooms near Central Park. This hotel can cost you $479 and up.
Lotte New York Palace was formerly the historic Villard Mansion, on Madison Avenue. This grand, 5 star hotel can cost you $595 and up.
When is the best time to visit
New York City?
Mid June – early July will give you great weather before it gets too hot.
Mid July – August tends to be the hottest time in the concrete jungle.
Fall is perfect with average temps in the 60’s and 70’s and fewer tourists.
I love NYC in November and December. The winter months can be wet, cold and windy, however, the holidays are so much fun in the city! Check out the Best Things To Do In NYC at Christmas!
February or March can be unpredictable! I have been there in snowstorms and at other times, just needing a sweater!
What is the best way to get around in
New York City?
Walking is the best way to see the most and get a feel for the real NYC.
Taxis and ride apps are always available.
The subway and bus systems are also very efficient and easily accessible.
Purchase a Metrocard at subway stations and use it on the buses as well.
Each ride costs $2.75, but a 7 day, unlimited ride card is $33 for one person use.
The Regular Pay Per Ride cards allow you to swipe through the turnstile and pass the card to your travel partner behind you. It’s actually legit to do that with up to 4 people.
Buy one unlimited card for the trip or load up a regular card and use it for the whole family!
Best Restaurants in New York City
So many choices, so little time. Here are some new favorites. They all have Gluten Free options. And a lot of my favorite food and things to do are in Lower Manhattan.
Dante – historic Italian cafe in Greenwich Village
Jack’s Wife Freida – American/Mediterranean in several locations
Katz’s Deli – famous Jewish deli on the Lower East Side
Modern Bread & Bagel – the best gluten free bakery in the world on the Upper West Side
La Pecora Bianca – Italian in several loacations
Lola Taverna – Greek in Soho
Lure Fishbar – Japanese in Soho
The Waverly Inn – American comfort food in Greenwich Village
Via Carota – Seasonal Italian in Greenwich Village
Now you’re ready to enjoy these 13 top must see in New York City spots!
In a nutshell…
If you’re a first time visitor or you’ve been to New York 100 times, make sure you enjoy the must see spots from uptown to downtown. They’re the most famous and historic landmarks that help make New York City the special place that it is!