Things to Do & Must-See Attractions 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Both an architectural marvel and one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, the Flatiron Building has been a city icon since its debut in 1902. Named for its uncommonly thin, triangular shape, the building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham and is a National Historic Landmark. It is not currently open to the public.
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.
More Things to Do in New York
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.
Madison Square Park is a bustling, leafy square that's packed with benches and tucked into New York's Flatiron District. Offices, trendy restaurants, and an architectural landmark—the Flatiron Building—surround Madison Square, situated at Broadway at 23rd Street. Stop for a rest in the park on a busy day exploring Manhattan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The smallest of the three waterfalls that comprise world-famous Niagara Falls, Bridal Veil Falls is anything but small. Located on the US side of the falls, the 56-foot-wide (17-meter-wide) waterfall thunders over a 78-foot (24-meter) drop. Its frothy white cascade is reminiscent of a bride’s veil, hence the falls’ name.
Synonymous with US financial markets, capitalism, and the history of early New York, Wall Street runs for eight blocks, from Broadway to South streets, through Lower Manhattan. It may be the financial heart of the city and bustling with traders most days of the week, but the area also offers plenty of historic interest to visitors.
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.
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.
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.
When sweltering summer temperatures hit the city, New Yorkers flock to this kitschy seaside resort. As well as a boardwalk and almost 3 miles (5 kilometers) of sandy beach, Coney Island is home to roller coasters and amusements, New York Aquarium, and Nathan’s Famous, a landmark hot dog joint that started out as a stand in 1916.
Its name may suggest cartoon elephants, but Dumbo—a waterfront neighborhood in the north of Brooklyn—is actually one of the borough’s most stylish and photogenic enclaves. Dumbo’s cobblestone streets and converted warehouses are home to trendy galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, and one of the city’s truly iconic pizzerias.
- Things to do in New York City
- Things to do in Brooklyn
- Things to do in Long Island
- Things to do in Buffalo
- Things to do in Niagara Falls
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- Things to do in Philadelphia
- Things to do in Niagara Falls & Around
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