Discover 28 must-do things to do in New York

Visit New York: what are the best things to do and see in New York, an emblematic figure of an entire country?

Summary

  • 1. See the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • 2. Go to the 9/11 Memorial
  • 3. Climb the One World Observatory platform
  • 4. Climb to the top of the Empire State Building
  • 5. Top of The Rock
  • 6. Walk along the High Line
  • 7. Take a walk in Central Park
  • 8. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • 9. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • 10. Grand Central Terminal
  • 11. Take the temperature in Times Square
  • 12. Attend a musical on Broadway
  • 13. Fly over New York in a helicopter
  • 14. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
  • 15. West Village
  • 16. 5th Avenue
  • 17. Coney Island
  • 18. Board an aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
  • 19. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
  • 20. New York Transit Museum
  • 21. Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • 22. Explore the Wall Street District
  • 23. Taste the best pizzas and visit the gourmet districts
  • 24. Have a drink at a rooftop bar
  • 25. Explore Chinatown and Little Italy
  • 26. Support the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
  • 27. Chill out at Jazz clubs
  • 28. Go see stand-up at the Comedy Cellar
  • 29. See also in New York

As any New Yorker will tell you, it’s impossible to see everything about this large and complex city in one visit. And yes, that’s part of the excitement of visiting New York: there’s always something new to explore.

But all these ideas for enticing activities and experiences can also make it difficult to plan your visit to New York. So instead of trying to see, eat, drink and sight-see everything in NYC, we’ve curated the best things to do in New York: from iconic sights to local favorites.

1. See the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty, New York

Whether you discover it from Battery Park or aboard the Staten Island ferry, you really have to contemplate the Statue of Liberty if you come to visit New York. Get up close to its feet for a great view of the river and Manhattan. The most iconic copper statue in the world was designed by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi as a gift from France in 1886 on the occasion of the centenary of the United States.

“Lady Liberty” is 46 m high, with an index measuring 2.40 m long and eyes nearly 90 centimeters wide. One of the best things to do while visiting New York is to pass the statue by ferry and visit the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island . Ellis Island is an American immigration historic site that became a museum in 1990.

2. Go to the 9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial, New York

Photo credit: Flickr – David Unger

The Manhattan skyline and the lives of families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 will never be the same. But many years later, as One World Trade Center was built, the Twin Towers were replaced by the 9/11 Memorial. Two overflowing water mirrors engraved with the names of the fallen rest where the 110-story towers once stood. A museum opened in spring 2014 and is now open to the public.

3. Climb the One World Observatory platform

One World Observatory, New York

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pit Stock

Once you have seen the 9/11 Memorial, you can go to One World Observatory. It is this skyscraper that was built at Ground Zero following the attacks of September 11, 2001. From the top of its observation platform, you will have an unobstructed view of New York, including lower Manhattan, the Hudson and Brooklyn.

4. Climb to the top of the Empire State Building

Empire State Building, New-York

And if you stay among the highest peaks of New York? Undoubtedly the most famous of skyscrapers, the Empire State Building located on 5th Avenue promises you a high-flying experience and for good reason: it is now the third tallest building in the city after the One World (541 m) and the Central Park Tower (472 m). A symbol which, from its height of 448.7 meters (antenna included), invites you to travel to its 86th floor (or 102nd for the more adventurous). Up there, all you have to do is enjoy the breathtaking spectacle that will almost whisper to you that the world is yours.

5. Top of The Rock

Top of The Rock, New-York

If the Empire State Building has had its effect, expect as much spectacle from the Top of the Rock! Built at Rockefeller Center, the skyscraper propels you more than 250 meters before meeting you on its famous terrace. Facing south, the latter offers you a panoramic view of New York and its must-sees, such as the Empire State Building. On the other side, Central Park opens its arms to you. Tip: plan your visit an hour before sunset, until the sky turns magenta/orange and the light transforms the skyline into a shimmering mosaic.

6. Walk along the High Line

Visit the High Line, New York

Photo credit: Flickr-Andreas Komodromos

New Yorkers love to walk and the High Line, a 2.3 km long suspended linear urban park that stretches from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea on an abandoned train line, is a fantastic walk. Resurrected with an astonishing labyrinth of gardens (presenting 300 species of plants), paths and bodies of water, it offers a different eye on contemporary architecture, the Hudson River: or how to visit New York in the shoes of a a local.

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7. Take a walk in Central Park

Central Park, New-York

Whether you’re heading to Central Park to ride the vintage 1908 Carousel, sip a glass of wine while admiring lake views from the Boathouse Café, giggle at the zoo’s sea lions and penguins, bird watch at the Ramble, or run around the Reservoir with the locals, this 341-hectare oasis is the largest urban garden in the world and an essential experience to explore if you come to visit New York to discover its green lungs in particular.

8. Metropolitan Museum of Art

MET, New-York

Brilliant and intimidating, the Metropolitan Museum of Art ranks among the best art museums in the world, housing medieval and expressionist masterpieces as well as an Egyptian temple ensemble. The Greek and Roman sculptures, exhibits from Africa and Oceania, and the Asian wing are also quite incredible. If you wake up one morning and it’s raining, go to the “Met” (open seven days a week) and wander through the aisles of the museum.

9. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum, New York

A visit to the Guggenheim Museum is doubly rewarding if you are looking for what to do in New York as part of an original visit: you will discover a sharp selection of collections of modern and contemporary art objects and enter one of the most iconic mid-20th century buildings in the United States. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and opened in 1959, the museum mimics a spiraling nautilus (mollusk) shell, which leads visitors down gently sloping ramps where exhibits feature works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne , Kandinsky, and others around a dramatic rotunda.

10. Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal, New-York

Emblematic of the Big Apple, it is a “reference” (often filmic) that allows you to visit New York in its most symbolic places. 750,000 people rush through Grand Central Terminal every day, so while you’re there, try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Visit this station around noon, when the light pierces the stained glass windows like in a cathedral, to best appreciate the huge main hall of this 100-year-old architectural gem. End your visit with lunch in the lower level room, where you can eat everything from oysters to hot dogs.

11. Take the temperature in Times Square

Times Square, New-York

Many New Yorkers try to avoid Times Square , not because of its sordid past (peep shows, prostitution, porn cinemas), but rather because it now resembles an urban amusement park overrun by hordes of tourists taking selfies. However, that doesn’t just mean that you shouldn’t see Times Square, go there at least once! While you’re amid giant screens and flashing neon lights, climb the ruby-red stairs, find the naked cowboy guitarist, or take to the skies in one of the cocktail bars nestled atop the buildings before continuing on to the Broadway.

12. Attend a musical on Broadway

Broadway, New-York

Cosmopolitan place, cultural myth and pantheon of musicals, Broadway needs no introduction. Emblematic of the Big Apple, the famous avenue evokes a symbol far beyond borders. Undoubtedly therefore, Broadway is one of the essential places of passage during a trip to New York.

Electrifying, dazzling, this part of Times Square will immerse you in its very special atmosphere that cannot be described, because it is lived. Let yourself be carried along its few kilometers in the sandstone of the lights and headliners that dress the avenue in such a particular costume. Better yet, attend one of the shows where plays and musicals come together, promising an unforgettable moment. You will have understood it, visiting New York without going through Broadway… you can’t imagine that!

13. Fly over New York in a helicopter

New York Helicopter Tour

Photo credit: Shutterstock – oneinchpunch

A helicopter flight over New York is probably the most unusual experience you can have during your stay. If you have the budget, we advise you to do it. The memories you will create during your flight will be engraved forever.

There are three different routes. Overall, the 3 routes all fly over the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, and Upper Manhattan. The 20 and 30 minute routes fly over Yankee Stadium and Harlem in particular. The 30 minute flight goes to Coney Island. Note that there is a night flight also.

14. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Pont de Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Capture the city’s historic energy and admire its famous skyline as you stroll the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian lane that has been there since it opened in 1883. Views are best if you depart from Brooklyn (several subway lines drop you off at less than 15 minutes walk). Go for example to visit Coney Island (in summer) or the New York Transit Museum and finish with a walk towards Manhattan at the end of the afternoon while the skyscrapers loom behind the great Gothic arches of the famous bridge.

In Brooklyn, take a trip to Williamsburg , the hipster neighborhood of New York.

15. West Village

West Village, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Paul Arps

From the zigzag streets that inspired folk musicians to the Beat Generation , to the Meatpacking district, the West Village is not a neighborhood like any other: here, visiting New York promises to discover a new facet. Discover the typical dishes of this cultural hotspot before heading south to 14th and west to Fifth Avenue to simply stroll among charming houses, eclectic shops, legendary bars, cafes and restaurants. stores such as White Horse Tavern, Corner Bistro and Murray’s Bagels.

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16. 5th Avenue

5th Avenue, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Andreas Komodromos

What to do in New York among the other must-sees? For the pleasure of the eyes or a shopping break, go to 5th Avenue. If it is often compared to the Champs-Elysées in Paris, the very posh Fifth Avenue alone symbolizes the most beautiful boutiques of the Big Apple: it is here that the biggest luxury brands have taken up residence. Stretching from the north of Manhattan to Washington Square Park , it is also home to prestigious buildings (to take your eyes off it, go to Millionaires’ Row), museums and historical monuments such as the Empire State Building, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral or Rockefeller Center.

In short, 5th Avenue promises you mountains and wonders, sometimes just for the pleasure of the eyes. And then who is it, maybe you will have the chance to meet a celebrity there?

17. Coney Island

Coney Island, New-York

In Brooklyn, it emerged from Hurricane Sandy with a few bruises, but Coney Island came back as new by reopening its two most famous monuments: the Luna Park amusement park, more than a century old, and the first Nathan’s Famous hot dogs .

Go for a stroll on the oceanfront promenade and on Stillwell Avenue before lounging on one of its beaches. Perfect for a relaxing break, Coney Island above all offers a more local experience very popular with New Yorkers, the district and its attractions symbolizing an essential meeting place for locals who like to meet there for a stroll. .

18. Board an aircraft carrier at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum

Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Alexander Stirn

Fans of aeronautics, the US Navy or children of the air, head to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum! Located on an aircraft carrier along the Hudson, this unique museum immerses you in military and maritime history. And it starts with its site, the aircraft carrier: a witness to the Second World War and the Vietnam War, it now hosts historical aircraft, submarines and simulators which, during a visit, will immerse you in a universe worthy of an episode of Top Gun. Aviator’s glasses on your nose, the intoxication of an attraction like no other!

19. Visit the American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History, New York

Photo credit: Shutterstock – legacy1995

Although it doesn’t come alive when the doors close (like in the movie Night at the Museum ), the American Museum of Natural History is a truly fun and educational place. This gigantic museum has 45 permanent exhibition halls, millions of plant and animal specimens, as well as cultural works. Built in 1869 (although it moved to its current building in 1877), the museum educates visitors about the history of our planet, from its living creatures to the evolution of cultures over time. The museum is so big that it takes several days to visit it.

20. New York Transit Museum

New York Transit Museum

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Felix Lipov

While the gigantic Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum is a must-see for parents with kids, also consider a subway ride to Brooklyn Heights to explore the New York Transit Museum. Located underground in a 1936 station, this is where old subway trains, some dating from the early 20th century with woven rattan chairs, rest as works of art that you can discover the time of a timeless getaway.

Rather discreet (which is not so bad!), the New York Transit Museum does not often include New York travel guides, yet one thing is certain: it promises just as much as the big names who make it The shadow. The museum’s address is at 87 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10001 .

21. Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Museum National of Art, MoMA, New-York

Founded in 1929, MoMA is one of New York’s most popular museums, home to over 100,000 works of modern art, mostly by renowned artists like Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Pollock, Bourgeois and many more. Paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, design, videos and films… the MoMA collection is rich for a moment full of discoveries.

22. Explore the Wall Street District

Wall Street, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Dave Center

Financial district of New York, Wall Street symbolizes above all the economic lung of the city. Workplace dressed in glass towers, Wall Street also hosts its essentials. This is also where the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial mentioned above are located.

In the morning, immerse yourself in its business district atmosphere where traders and businessmen have taken up residence before setting off for a trip to Battery Park, the green lung of the district and observation point of the Statue of Liberty. A few streets away, the famous Bull of Wall Street awaits you, especially at the turn of a few photos. Contrary to legend, this one is located on Bowling Green Park near Battery Park, and not on Wall Street itself. Be careful though, the statue is often stormed. A word of advice: take advantage of the general spectacle, early in the morning!

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23. Taste the best pizzas and visit the gourmet districts

Grimaldi's Pizza, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Chun Yip So

What to do in New York, where to go when hunger strikes? Nothing divides New Yorkers more than where to find the best pizza in town. Several addresses stand out, such as Lombardi’s on Spring St, John’s on Bleecker St, Patsy’s Pizzeria on First Ave in Spannish Harlem, Sal & Carmine on Broadway and 102nd St or even Grimaldi’s Pizzeria on Front Street in Brooklyn. You can also go and taste Italian specialties in Little Italy, taste burgers all over the city, or have lunch in one of the famous delicatessens like Katz’s .

When it comes to nightlife, you might like wine and/or beer, but if you want to be “trendy” in New York’s hip scene, make whiskey your cocktail of choice. A popular meeting place for locals, whiskey bars will therefore be the best places to go for a drink. Among them, the Reserve at the Morgan’s Hotel, the Whiskey Bar at the SoHo Grand, or the Henry at The Hudson Hotel.

24. Have a drink at a rooftop bar

Rooftop bar, Brass Monkey, New-York

Photo credit: Facebook – Brass Monkey

Formerly places kept secret by the locals, the rooftops now open their doors to visitors. Trendy, trendy and above all very popular, these panoramic bars echo a concept that is now integrated all over the world: having a drink, on the roofs of a skyscraper, to the sound of lounge music. If the addresses are numerous and depend on budgets, we particularly recommend the Rooftop Reds for its wine, the Jane for its privileged setting at The Grand Budapest Hotel or the Brass Monkey for its superb vintage side.

25. Explore Chinatown and Little Italy

Little Italy, New-York

Both sheltered by the Manhattan district, Chinatown and Little Italy together call for a change of scenery. In Chinatown, push the doors of Asia and dive into the doors of its culture: temples, typical restaurants and authentic shops take you beyond borders, as if you were there, all to the rhythm of Mandarin, the language of piece. Then head to Italy in the neighboring sector of Little Italy where flavors and scents will guide you to its best addresses! Renowned above all for its typical and authentic dishes, Little Italy calls for a rediscovered taste of Italy, the real one, that of the Dolce Vita.

26. Support the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Diana Robinson

A must-do for a trip to New York, Madison Square Garden hosts, among other shows, the city’s basketball club, the Knicks. If during your stay you have the opportunity to see a basketball game , take your tickets! Whether you are amateurs, enthusiasts or even novices, the unequaled and symbolic atmosphere of the place guarantees you a boosted moment that you are not ready to forget.

27. Chill out at Jazz clubs

Blue Madonna, New York

Photo credit: Flickr – Zhang Yu:New York

It beats to the rhythm of the city and gives it that particular tempo. With its hushed and intimate dimension, jazz fully integrates the musical culture of the Big Apple to Harlem or The Bronx, which have seen the birth of legends like Betty Carter. Nestled in the clubs dedicated to it, the artists who interpret it invite you to a fully-fledged experience with such a special atmosphere. From the famous Blue Note to the Iridium Jazz Club to Bill’s Place, many are waiting for you to pass through their doors to visit New York at their own pace!

28. Go see stand-up at the Comedy Cellar

Comedy Cellar, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – SnippyHolloW

Legend of New York stand-up, the Comedy Cellar invites you to discover the talents of laughter. Nestled in a basement in Manhattan for a privileged moment, the comedy club welcomes the artists of today and tomorrow to its small stages. If English is not a barrier and you understand the local humor, then enjoy one of the many comedy shows that will undoubtedly make you leave with a smile. For the anecdote, Gad Elmaleh has also proven himself there!

29. See also in New York

Greenwich Village, New-York

Photo credit: Flickr – Daniel Mennerich

If you are still wondering what to do in New York during your trip, here is an additional list of some other must-sees in the city that never sleeps…!

  • See the headquarters of the United Nations
  • Attend a gospel mass in Harlem on a Sunday morning
  • Governors Island: the largest island in New York Bay
  • Greenwich Village: the bohemian district of New York
  • Bushwick: the eldorado of street-art lovers
  • The Oculus: the new futuristic station of the city which is already talking about it
  • Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: a superb Catholic building

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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