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14 things to do in New York City and event guide for 2021
You’ll need more than a New York minute to see all that this city has to offer.
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The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Rockefeller Centre: New York City is definitely not short of famous attractions to visit. Here's our succinct list of attractions and things to do when visiting the Big Apple. If you can't get through everything in one visit, you'll just have to go again. It's the kind of city you can't just see once, after all.
1. Visit the Empire State Building
Make your Sleepless in Seattle dreams come true and head to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. You'll be met with outstanding panoramic views from the 86th floor and a visit to the building's exhibitions will give you knowledge about the iconic landmark's history.
- Pocket-friendly option: Empire State Building Admission Ticket
- The ultimate experience: Skip-the-Line Empire State Building Observatory Ticket
2. Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty
A trip to New York would not be complete without a visit to Lady Liberty herself. Ferries travel direct to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and organised tours can get you there and back quickly. If you're on a budget, the free Staten Island ferry sails past the statue, too.
- Pocket-friendly option: Statue of Liberty Express Cruise Tour
- The ultimate experience: Statue of Liberty Pedestal, Ellis Island & Pre-Ferry Tour
3. Eat a New York slice
Chicago may be home to the deep-dish pizza, but New York is home to the first pizzeria in the USA. It's called Lombardi's and you'll find it in Little Italy. Join a food tour and eat your way through the city with the guidance of a native New Yorker while spotting interesting sights and learning about New York along the way.
4. Experience the unique world of Ripley's Believe It or Not
New York is already quite eccentric, but if you step into the would of Ripley's, you'll hear mind-boggling facts, navigate a maze of lasers, see an impressive collection of artefacts and discover thrilling exhibits that will keep you entertained for hours.
- Our top pick: Ripley's Believe It or Not Entry
5. Explore the filming locations of Gossip Girl
You may not spot Serena or Blair in New York City, but you can hang out at all of the popular spots from the show. The ultimate Gossip Girl fan won't want to miss the opportunity to visit 40 spots where the show was filmed. Head to the Empire Hotel, sit on the Met steps and visit the best clubs in the city, just like the cast of the Upper East Side.
- Our top pick: Gossip Girl Sites Tour
6. Learn about US military and maritime history
Take a fun and fascinating approach to learning about American maritime and aviation history at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Inside the museum, you will be able to see the first space shuttle, the USS Intrepid, and be able to go inside the only American guided missile submarine open to the public. This experience will pique the interest of history fans but everyone will enjoy picking up insightful knowledge about America's military past.
- Our top pick: The Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum Ticket
7. Explore Central Park
Central Park houses a zoo and wildlife centre, a nature observatory and a castle. You can hire a bike and make your way around the park at your own leisure, or take a walking tour around the popular backdrop for many TV shows and movies. Stop by the Gapstow Bridge featured in Home Alone 2 and the ice skating rink from Serendipity and Love Story.
8. Walk the New York High Line
When the weather is right and you're up for a stroll, take a walk along the New York High Line. This former freight rail line has been repurposed as an aerial garden built above the city streets, skirting the western coast of Manhattan. Along it, you will find artworks and installations, green spaces and open deck areas to relax on. Visit the New York High Line with a tour guide to get the most out of the experience.
9. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
Learn about the solar system, dinosaurs, history, culture and humans at one the world's largest scientific institutions. The venue has 45 museum halls, with multiple exhibitions rolling out throughout the year, so you'll always find something new to explore every time you visit.
10. Visit New York's shopping outlets
From Macy's to Bloomingdales and Barney's to Saks, New York has a wealth of department stores of designer labels to fill your suitcase with. Hit up Fifth or Madison Avenue for high-end threads or check out Woodbury Common for high-end finds at low prices.
- Our top pick: Woodbury Common Shopping Tour
11. See Niagara Falls
There's a debate as to whether the Falls are better seen from the US or Canadian side, but you can make your own mind up about that when you visit. New York City is around a six-hour drive from Niagara Falls, but there are a wide variety of tours that include transfers so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery along the way. Stop by other attractions with your tour guide who will give you insight about why Niagara Falls is an iconic place to visit.
- Pocket-friendly option: Half-Day Maid of Mist and Niagara Falls Tour
- The ultimate experience: Half-Day Small Group Sightseeing Tour of Niagara Falls
12. Catch a game
Baseball is America's national sport and if you're in New York during the season, catching a game at Yankee Stadium is a must. Alternatively, you can go all out and visit New York's best venues for baseball (Yankee Stadium), American football (MetLife Stadium), basketball and hockey (Madison Square Garden) and tennis (Arthur Ashe Stadium). For sports fanatics, a behind-the-scenes look at one of the popular sporting venues will be a definite highlight of your trip to New York.
- Our top pick: Madison Square Garden All Access Tour
13. Visit the Museum of Modern Art
There is no denying that New York is a bustling city. There is just as much to do for kids as there is for adults. A rainy or humid day in New York is the perfect time to venture through the world's leading modern art museum which features an astonishing 150,000 works of art from notable names including Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Tour free exhibitions and watch classic films screened at the museum.
- Our top pick: Museum of Modern Art Admission Ticket
14. Watch a show on Broadway
When in the entertainment capital of the world, catching a show on Broadway is a must. If you're the spontaneous type, you can nab cheap tickets on the day of the show. If you're set on which show you want to watch and are short on time, it's best to book in advance..
Things to do in New York in summer
- Big Apple Barbecue Block Party
- Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks
- Charlie Park Jazz Festival
- US Open Tennis
Things to do in New York in winter
- Three Kings Day Parade
- Winter Jazzfest
- New York Jewish Film Festival
- New York Fashion Week
Things to do in New York in autumn
- New York Film Festival
- Comic Con
- New York Chocolate Show
Things to do in New York in spring
- Macy's Flower Show
- Tribeca Film Festival
- New York International Winter Film Festival
Feeling inspired? Book your flights to the Big Apple below:
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