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Best Things to do in NYC

Friends often ask us what they should do while visiting NYC. There are tons of “things to do in NYC” lists, so this list is for those that constantly ask for our opinion. The truth is, there are an unlimited number of things you can do in the greatest city in the world.   Much depends on your time, budget and travel preferences. Start searching for flights to New York, because we have provided you with a huge checklist of things to do!

Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - NYC at Night

Be a Tourist in NYC

Our list is for the NYC tourist. It’s for those that don’t have much time, but want to see some of the greatest attractions or iconic travel photos.

NYC is best explored by walking around the different neighborhoods, but beware, it’s very cold in winter. Be sure to ride the subway and hail a cab ride. Purchase a metro card in the subway, which can be used both on the bus and in the subway.

List of Best Things To Do in NYC

Iconic NYC

  • Top of the Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Center – less crowded, great views of Central Park
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Brooklyn Bridge – walk it!
  • Times Square – best at night and now even better with pedestrian only streets
  • Little Italy – enjoy strolling through the neighborhood and grab a pastry, but don’t eat the overpriced touristy food
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • West Village – walk this classic NYC neighborhood with old brownstones
  • Ground Zero
  • Stroll Soho – grab a seat at an outdoor cafe
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - The Brooklyn Bridge

Eating in NYC

With restaurants, bars and clubs changing so rapidly in NYC, we avoided adding much to this section.

  • Brunch at The Boat House in Central Park – best in summer/spring
  • Pizza, almost anywhere minus Sbarro’s
  • Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn
  • Becco NYC – My favorite Italian restaurant
  • Street Food – falafel, hot dog, roasted nuts, kabobs, pretzels, dumplings, the list is endless
  • Meat Packing District – fine dinning and posh night clubs
  • Time Warner Center – for fine dinning and cocktails
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - Pizza

NYC Parks

We are obviously big fans of hanging out in parks.

  • Central Park – always entertainment going on, best in spring / summer
  • Horse and Buggy Ride in Central Park – overpriced, but still popular ($50)
  • Battery Park – excellent views of Financial District skyscrapers, Statue of Liberty and East Side bridges
  • Pier A in Hoboken – Not technically in Manhattan, but incredible views of the Hudson River and NYC
  • Bryant Park – catch a movie under the stars during the summer or grab some lunch
  • Washington Square – near NYU campus & boutique shops & restuarants
  • Union Square – people watching & sometimes street entertainment
  • High Line Park – NYC’s best creative park
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - Central Park

Activities, Entertainment

  • Watch a Broadway Show – seek TKTS discount booths
  • Ride a bike on the West Side – bike path for scenic views and excellent parks near Battery Park
  • Rent a bike in Central Park
  • Visit a Bar in Hoboken – home of Frank Sinatra, baseball, and tons of bars with best views of NYC, take a ferry or subway
  • South Street Seaport – street entertainment, shopping, bars and great views
  • Williamsburg Brooklyn (Bedford Ave) – art, food and bars, a young artistic vibe
  • Get tickets to a Late Night Talk Show – sometimes difficult to get
  • Madison Square Garden – get tickets for a sporting event
  • Comedy Club – possibly bump into your favorite comedian
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - Rockefeller Center during the Holidays

NYC Museums

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

NYC Tours

  • Gray Line Bus tours – they may be cheesy, but many are informative and will take you all the way up to Harlem
  • Statue Cruises to Statue of Liberty – An all day affair to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Circle Line Cruises – offering various cruises around Manhattan
  • NYC Pizza Tour
  • NYC Street Food Tour
  • Staten Island Ferry – and it’s free! Not technically a tour, but you can make it one.
Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - Statue of Liberty

NYC Shopping

  • Canal Street – flea market type shopping and black market brands
  • Madison Avenue
  • Fifth Avenue
  • Macy’s
  • Times Square
  • FAO Schwarz
  • Time Warner Center

Things to do in NYC

NYC Travel - 9/11 Memorial


If you have more to add to our list geared towards the NYC tourist, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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Vicky says:

Great list. Definitely agree that the High Line is NY’s most creative park – I love hanging around that area — Chelsea Market is also nice to walk through (right by the High Line) — I always end up staring at the glass window bakery operation and watching them bake and form all the dough. Have you been?

Katie M says:

I want to go to NYC to see it so much. I’ve never been anywhere on the East Coast, but if I went to see anywhere I think I’d choose NYC first. I can’t believe you were able to make such an inclusive list that wasn’t longer. I think I would add Greenwich Village to the list because I’ve always been curious what it is like. But other than that, I would want to see a lot of these things, and I feel like there would be no way to do it in under a week! I wish NYC was less expensive though- that is always the factor that keeps me from visiting.
What is your favorite non-tourist spot to spend time in?

Globe Tales says:

We were in New York City back in July ’09. Four days was not nearly long enough! Can’t wait to get back and check out the many things we didn’t hit on your list. Christmas would be nice next time :)

It’s very nice to see the list of NYC travel. Its my dream city..

What a fabulous list. It’s been a while since I’ve been to NYC but this list is coming with me next month just to make sure I don’t miss anything!

These are great tips. Way to narrow it down — there really is just way too much to do.

Great list Jason…Just when I thought I’d done it all, I see a list like this and find a few new things!

benjinman says:

WOW……What a great job you just got!!! Just visiting somewhere,aboard around the world and enjoy your live,NYC is absolutely an excellent city.In my opinion,it’s the greatest city in the world(not one of)…..But,you know what,I love Brooklyn most.It maybe a little wired,but I got my reasons,of course.I think Brooklyn is special.

Carole says:

Great job. For someone who lived on the upper west side for three years I can attest to your choices for the “best of” Lovec the pics , they brought Back memories. if only I were 21 and it was the late 60’s I could be catching a show at the limelight or hanging out in Washington square listening to the street music. It is a magical place to live or visit,
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Thanks Carole. It’s one of our favorite cities too. Many touristy things on here, but it is for the tourist visitor.

There is just so much to do in NYC! I can’t believe I’ve only been there on stopover.

Samuel, You have to add it on your travel list down the road. NYC should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Dalene says:

Hmmm…this list certainly looks familiar! Thanks for sending this over to me earlier, it sure helped during our time here!

Glad we could help Dalene!

What a great list you’ve compiled of my favorite city in the world!

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