Things to Do in New York
Guarding the entrance to New York Harbor on Liberty Island, the 305-foot (93-meter) Statue of Liberty came to the United States as a gift from France to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence—Lady Liberty has been a symbol of democracy and hope for NYC and the US almost ever since.
The world's tallest building from 1931 to 1977, the Empire State Building is topped with a stepped Art Deco pinnacle that's floodlit at night and boasts holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year. After admiring the mosaics in the Art Deco lobby, take an elevator ride to the 86th or 102nd floor and get ready to drink in astounding 360-degree views from this iconic skyscraper observatory.
One of North America’s most majestic natural wonders, Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls—American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls—which plunge dramatically over the Niagara River. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the US with viewpoints and falls-themed attractions on both sides.
The heart and soul of Manhattan, Central Park is 843 acres (341 hectares) of green space featuring running paths, a boating lake, ponds, a zoo, fountains, statues, gardens, and a skating rink. New Yorkers and visitors alike have gathered at this National Historic Landmark year-round since 1857 to enjoy a respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.
As the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States, New York City’s Ellis Island was America’s busiest immigrant inspection station for more than 60 years. Today, the island’s restored main building houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which honors the US’s immigrant heritage, chronicles the island’s role in immigration history, and gives voice to the immigrants themselves.
Extending for 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) across New York City’s East River, this 19th-century bridge sees constant foot, bike, and car traffic thanks to commuters and sightseers alike. After a construction beset by tragedies—at least 20 people died during the building process—this steel-wire suspension bridge, then the world’s largest, finally opened to the public in 1883. Today crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential New York experience. Visitors come in droves to admire the bridge’s dramatic neo-Gothic towers and the stellar views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City stands as a place of remembrance and a somber tribute to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reopened 10 years after the 2001 attacks, the eight-acre (3.2-hectare) plaza—built on the World Trade Center site—features two massive square reflecting pools whose waterfalls cascade down into the footprints of the former Twin Towers. The surrounding plaza is a peaceful and moving green space, while the museum, located beneath the plaza, lends a deeper understanding to the impact of that day. You’ll undoubtedly leave with a heavy heart.
The neon lights and video billboards of Times Square are one of New York City’s most well-known landmarks. This triangular intersection between Broadway, 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue is home to the Big Apple’s famous theaters and the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop—an essential Manhattan experience.
Radiating art deco glory, Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan is where you'll find Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, the Top of the Rock observation deck, and in winter, New York City’s famous ice rink and Christmas tree. Opened by John D. Rockefeller in 1933, it’s a classic NYC stop for its history as a cultural center and architectural icon.
More Things to Do in New York
At the Cave of the Winds observation decks, thrill-seeking visitors can get within 20 feet (6 meters) of the thundering Niagara Falls for an experience that feels like the inside of a tropical storm with torrents of water cascading down and winds up to 68 mph (109 kph). Safe to say, you’ll probably get wet.
One of the largest natural harbors in the world, New York Harbor is the gateway to Manhattan. It’s also a scenic spot to explore and a must for first-time visitors to New York City, with photo ops aplenty along its walking trails, bridges, and piers.
Admire New York City from on high at the One World Observatory, the 100th-floor viewing deck which you’ll reach in just 47 seconds view high-speed elevator. On the ride up, impressive time-lapse technology showcases the city’s transformation from the 1500s to the present in immersive floor-to-ceiling screens. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of the city’s waterways, iconic skyline, and renowned landmarks.
One of the most instantly recognizable backdrops for movie montages over recent years, the Manhattan skyline is New York City's shining beacon, designed to impress and inspire. From historical fixtures like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building to the One World Trade Center, this man-made masterpiece dazzles at any time of day and from any vantage point in the NYC area.
The World War II-eraUSS Intrepid aircraft carrier retired to Manhattan’s West Side, where it was transformed into a museum. The complex hosts noteworthy craft, including NASA’sEnterprise space shuttle, theUSS Growler missile submarine, and a Concorde jet. While there, check out original artifacts, film, and photographs, plus simulators that recreate the flying experience.
Known as the Great White Way because the theater lights burned so brightly in the early days of electricity, New York City's Broadway has been the home of the New York theater district for almost 150 years. The history-drenched street is one of Manhattan's most famous thoroughfares, and many consider seeing a blockbuster Broadway show an essential New York City experience.
You can't get any closer to the thundering cascades of Niagara Falls than on a Maid of the Mist boat tour. The little steamboats have been chugging away into the falls' misty sprays since 1846, making this one of the area’s oldest tourist attractions. Be prepared to get up close and personal with the highest-flow-rate waterfall in the world—and to get wet, which is all part of the unforgettable Maid of the Mist experience.
Greenwich Village, known for its cobblestone streets and historical brownstones, is home to Bleecker Street, Washington Square Park, the Whitney Museum, and New York University. Once a hub for 1960s counterculture, the area has since transformed into a residential neighborhood dotted with cozy eateries, upscale shops, and Hudson River walkways.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s most prestigious art collections and cultural hubs. Five million annual visitors stroll the Met’s 17 acres (6.9 hectares) of gallery space, gazing upon pieces representing 5,000 years of art and human history. From Egyptian tombs to American abstract expressionist paintings, the museum’s permanent collection has more than 2 million objects, so expect to stay awhile.
Explore the biggest urban zoo in the world. The Bronx Zoo’s 265 acres (107 hectares) showcase species from across the globe, from monarch butterflies and Inca terns to snow leopards and lions. And special exhibits give you the chance to interact with gorillas and other animals.
One of New York City's most recognizable and distinct skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building is considered a masterpiece of art deco architecture. The tallest building in the world when it debuted in 1930, it was soon surpassed by the Empire State Building. Today, however, the Chrysler Building remains the world's loftiest brick building.
The largest neo-Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States, New York City's St. Patrick’s Cathedral occupies an entire city block, and welcomes millions of visitors annually. First built in 1879, the Manhattan landmark is renowned for its soaring spires, colossal organ, and exemplary rose window, and is the seat of the Archbishop of New York.
New York City’s hyperhip neighborhood of SoHo is renowned for its stylish shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. Though it’s more relaxed than bustling Times Square, SoHo can get mobbed with shoppers and tourists. Stroll down the cobblestone streets, browse stores—from big-name brands to posh boutiques—or peek inside its many galleries.
Dedicated to the history, complexity, and evolution of human sexuality, the Museum of Sex (aka MoSex) manages to be both risqué and informative. You’ll find a permanent collection of more than 15,000 objects—from photographs and artworks to sex toys—as well as several temporary exhibitions hosted throughout the year.
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