Things to do in New York City

You’ll need more than a New York minute to see all that this city has to offer.

The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Rockerfeller Centre – New York City is definitely not short of famous attractions to visit.

This concrete jungle where dreams are made of is one that refuses to stop, so to help max out your trip we’ve put together a list of our favourite parts of the city that will inspire you to say “I love New York!”

Here’s our succinct, but by no means exhaustive, list of attractions and things to do when visiting the Big Apple. And if you can’t get through everything in one visit, you’ll just have to go again another day. It is the kind of city that you can’t see just once, after all.

Top New York attractions and things to do


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 for sweeping city views. If the line’s too long, you can visit the Chrysler Building for similar views.


2. Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty

A trip to New York would not be complete without a visit to the lady herself. Ferries travel direct to the Statue and Ellis Island and organised tours can get you there and back in a jiffy, but if you’re on a budget, the free Staten Island ferry sails past the statue too.


3. Eat a New York slice

Chicago might be home to the deep-dish pizza, but New York is home to the first ever pizzeria in the USA. It’s called Lombardi’s and you’ll find it in Little Italy. If you find yourself waiting in an endless line and want an easy in, one of the many New York pizza tours can get you VIP treatment.


4. 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).


5. Cycle through Central Park

At the very least, cycle through part of it. The park houses a zoo and a wildlife centre, a nature observatory and a castle.


6. See Niagara Falls

There’s hot debate as to whether the Falls are better seen from the US side or from the Canadian side. You can make your own mind up about that.

New York is around a 6-hour drive from the US side so it's worth an overnight trip if you're driving or taking public transport over. If you're strapped for time, day trips are plentiful.


7. 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. Off-Broadway plays also tend to be cheaper.


8. Have breakfast at Tiffany’s

Renowned for the role it played in the famous movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the jewellery store has three outlets in New York City, but the one you want to visit is the flagship store on Fifth Avenue. While you’re there, grab a danish and a coffee from a local cafe so you can take that iconic shot. If you want to double down on famous movie locations, there’s a wealth of tours out there that will satisfy your inner fanboy or fangirl.

Image: Tiffany’s


9. Go shopping

From Macy’s to Bloomingdales, Barney’s to Saks, New York City has a wealth of department stores and designer labels to fill your suitcase with. Hit up Fifth or Madison Avenue for high end threads or check out an outlet store such as Woodbury Common, Tanger Outlet or the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls for high end finds at low prices.


10. Get an eye full of the museums and art galleries

From the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art(The Met) to the American Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim, world famous museums are entrenched in New York’s culture. Those short on time can blitz through them all with an all-encompassing circuit tour. Newer attractions include the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which is located nearby the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial, both of which are worth a visit.


11. Have a close encounter at Central Park Zoo

Located within the sprawling Central Park, New York City’s zoo is a sanctuary amongst the bustling urban jungle. Set aside a day to meet its residents, which include snow leopards, sea lions, grizzly bears and red pandas. Coordinate your itinerary accordingly to catch some of the activities and programs offered daily, such as penguin and sea lion feedings, a petting zoo and 4D theatre screenings.


12. Walk the New York High Line

When the weather is right and you’re up for a good 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’ll find artworks and installations, green spaces and open decking areas to relax on.


13. Eat a bagel

An icon of New York, bagels can be found on practically every corner of the city. In the morning, pastry carts line the streets offering bagels and many other sweet morsels of goodness. For foodies who need to know where to go, take an organised tours of the best bagel joints in New York. In case you’re wondering, yes, they do include bagel tastings.


14. See the ballet

Founded in 1948, the New York City Ballet (NYCB) is world famous. It’s graceful, it’s artistic, it’s mesmerising and it’s not one to miss. Performances occur pretty much every day and include a variety of classical and contemporary pieces. Saturday is family day, although most performances are kid-friendly, so you shouldn’t feel restricted if you’re travelling with the brood.

Image: Shutterstock

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