What to do in New York: 25 must-see places!

Welcome to the vibrant and iconic city that never sleeps – New York! Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, the Big Apple has something for everyone. With its towering skyscrapers, world-renowned museums, diverse neighborhoods, and unparalleled energy, New York City is a destination like no other. In this guide, we’ll explore 25 must-see places that capture the essence of this bustling metropolis.

The Empire State Building: One of New York’s Top Tourist Attractions

The Empire State Building is the tallest and most famous skyscraper in New York, making it one of the most important tourist attractions. Since its construction in 1931, more than 120 million visitors, including rock band Kiss and Queen Elizabeth II, have gazed over the city from the top of its observatory. Designed by the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb and Harmon in the prosperous 1920s, this art deco classic, which was completed during the depression of 1929, lay largely vacant for several years, giving to its nickname of ”  Empty State Building “. It has been featured in many films. When King Kong returned in 1983 to celebrate the classic film’s 50th anniversary, fans around the world were able to celebrate the famous climb thanks to a gigantic inflatable gorilla placed on the building.

5th Avenue, a tourist attraction not to be missed in New York

5th Avenue in Midtown is New York‘s best known, home to 3 of the city’s most famous buildings. In the 1800s, New York’s tourist attraction was lined with homes belonging to influential families, but in the 1900s, as retailers moved north, high society migrated to residential neighborhoods. However, you can still see one of the mansions of the time, the Cartier building, which is said to have been acquired in 1917 by the banker Morton F. Plant in exchange for a pearl necklace. Although commercial enterprises now share the avenue, it remains a haven for luxury goods. 5th Avenue is at its best on Easter Sunday, when traffic is banned and the street is packed with New Yorkers wearing fancy hats.

The Rockefeller Center, a must-see tourist attraction

A city within a city and a national historic site: it is the largest private complex in the world. Started in the 1930s, it was the first commercial project to integrate gardens, restaurants and shops to office towers. The quintessential tourist attraction, Rockefeller Center is the hub of New York’s Midtown district, teeming with activity day and night. The number of buildings has increased to 19, although the new buildings do not match the art deco elegance of the original 14 structures. Over 100 works of art can be found in the complex, including a large mural in each building. This ever-expanding complex contains one of the most remarkable collections of public art in America.

The Statue of Liberty, the iconic tourist attraction

The iconic figure of New York Harbor, whose official name is “Liberty Enlightening the World,” has been a promise of freedom to millions since its inauguration in 1886 by President Grover Cleveland. The statue, a friendly gift from France on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the United States in 1876, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who devoted 21 years to the project. Slow fundraising on both sides of the Atlantic delayed its unveiling by 10 years. But there was no problem funding its $100 million restoration on its 100th anniversary. When the renovations were completed, July 3, 1986 was the occasion for one of the largest fireworks displays ever seen in the United States.

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Ellis Island is the symbol of the history of immigrants in America. From 1892 to 1954, it was the landing point for more than 12 million people fleeing religious persecution, poverty, or unrest in their homelands. Their descendants, more than 100 million people, account for nearly 40% of the current population. First and second class passenger immigration cases were processed on board the ship. On the other hand, the poor traveling in the steerage were disembarked on the overcrowded island to undergo medical and legal examinations. It was a frightening prospect, after a grueling journey to a country where few newcomers were able to speak the language. Up to 5,000 immigrants could arrive there a day. Not only does the museum chronicle their experience on the island,

6. Times Square and the Theater District

Times Square and the Theater District

Recognized as the “crossroads of the world”, Times Square is New York’s most famous intersection and the symbol of the surrounding bustling theater district, including Broadway. It was called Longacre Square until 1904, when the New York Times built a 25-story tower there. Its inauguration was marked by fireworks on New Year’s Day, and the tradition continues today. Nowadays, a giant crystal ball, which descends from the building at midnight to mark the new year, is cheered by millions of people assembled in the square. Times Square’s reputation was tarnished when the adjacent 42nd Street became seedy in the 1970s. The 1990s saw peep shows closeand X-rated movie theaters. Thus, through concerted efforts, both public and private, the street and neighborhood have been transformed.

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Central Park: A Must-See in New York City

New York’s “backyard,” an 843-acre (3.4 km 2 ) green space , provides serenity and recreation to more than two million visitors each year. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in 1858, the development of the park took 16 years and involved planting 500,000 trees and shrubs, transporting vast amounts of earth and stones to create hills, lakes and prairies, and the construction of more than 30 bridges and arches.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of New York’s top sights

One of the world’s great art museums, the Metropolitan “the Met”, is a veritable collection of museums, spanning 5,000 years of culture from all parts of the globe. Each of its specialized galleries contains a number of treasures. It was founded in 1870 by a group that wanted to create great art institutions in America and started with 3 European private collections of 174 paintings. The current number totals more than two million works. The original neo-Gothic building designed in 1880 by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mold has been extended several times. Recent additions include gardens with views overlooking Central Park.

The Guggenheim Museum: A breathtaking New York museum

One of the great architectural achievements of the 20th century, the spiral alone, designed in 1959 by Frank Lloyd Wright, makes this museum a must-see. The core of Solomon Guggenheim’s collection of abstract art has been enriched by donations from several important collections. The museum has a multitude of works by Brancusi, Calder, Klee, Chagall, Miro, Léger, Mondrian, Picasso, Oldenburg and Rauschenberg. Only a small part, periodically renewed, is on display, since the main gallery is used for temporary exhibitions. Works from the Thannhauser collection, which includes masterpieces by Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Picasso, are usually on display. The Guggenheim has the largest collection of Kandinsky works in the United States

The American Museum of Natural History: one of New York’s finest museums

Few city kids have grown up without visiting the dinosaurs, life-size dioramas of animal life and other natural wonders at this popular museum visited by more than 5 million people each year. Since its founding in 1869, the museum has grown to include 46 permanent exhibition halls covering 4 blocks, divided into 25 interconnected buildings. The museum has 32 million specimens and cultural objects, many of which are unique in the world. Newer exhibition spaces, such as the Hall of Biodiversity, the Fossil Halls, and the Rose Center, present visitors with constantly updated research through multimedia installations.

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), an essential New York institution

Contemporary art lovers will be delighted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum maintains one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art in the world and is the third most visited museum institution in the United States. It is possible to admire various paintings, sculptures, but also photos, videos and design works. You can also watch modern art films. The ever-growing collection now includes more than 200,000 works from around the world dating back as far as 150 years.

The museum, inaugurated in 1929, is located in Midtown, south of Central Park in Manhattan. The museum doubled its exhibition area in 2004, leaving room for even more artists and works to discover. For a chronological tour of artistic eras, start on the upper floors and work your way down. Also remember to get a skip-the-line ticket to avoid long hours of waiting at the entrance.

The Financial District and the 9/11 Memorial

New York is obviously famous for its “financial district”, a place where the stock market is racing and business is lively. The district is indeed the heart of the city, where the clothes and suits of business people rub shoulders with curious tourists. Hollywood films have made the famous “Wall Street” mythical with its crowded sidewalks and honking luxury cars.

The 9/11 Memorial, at “Ground Zero”, is certainly the most visited site in the financial district. Where the famous twin towers once stood is now an honorary site for the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Here you can grasp the full extent of the tragedy and pay tribute to the victims of the attacks, whose names are inscribed on the bronze walls of two huge basins dug in memory of the collapsed towers.

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Cross the Brooklyn Bridge, the mythical New York

The Brooklyn Bridge has certainly become one of the strongest symbols and one of the most important sites in New York City. Present on almost all the postcards of the city, the Brooklyn Bridge is as impressive by day as it is by night.

Inaugurated in 1883, the bridge now accommodates around 120,000 cars, 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists every day. The history of its construction is in itself a reason to visit it. The architect in charge of the work, August Roebling, died in the middle of the work and it was his son, Washington Roebling, who took over the head of the site until he himself suffered a serious accident. and that he had to manage the work remotely, with the help of his wife.

The best way to see the site is to walk across the bridge from Brooklyn towards Manhattan. The view there is breathtaking. Before starting the crossing, it is also possible to walk along the banks of the East River, at Brooklyn Bridge Park, to contemplate the urban landscape of the city on the other side. At the end of the promenade, it is also possible to see Liberty Island, where the legendary Statue of Liberty is located.

New York’s Chinatown, a spectacular attraction

New York’s Chinatown is a guaranteed change of scenery, in a guaranteed change of scenery. Colours, smells, sounds… all your senses will be stimulated. New York is home to the largest community of Chinese immigrants in the United States in this neighborhood, which today hosts between 100,000 and 150,000 people.

Located between the Canal Street and East Broadway metro stations, the vast Chinatown can be visited on foot, on your own, or with a guide. Be sure to pass by the famous Canal Street, known for its counterfeit kiosks where you can admire replicas of Rolex, Chanel, Gucci and several other prestigious brands.

Greenwich Village, a famous New York neighborhood

You probably already know Greenwich Village a lot more than you think. The district is indeed famous for having hosted the filming of several very popular American television series such as “Sex and the City” and “Friends”. We can indeed see the apartment where the extravagant journalist Carrie Bradshaw lived and that of Monica, one of the six friends of Friends where most of the scenes of the series took place.

Besides these famous places, the district is also a very lively and creative place, where several artists have made a career. Since the 1930s and still today, Greenwich has played an important role in the evolution of American culture, particularly in music, having hosted great artists such as Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond.

In New York, Greenwich is a must-see attraction for enjoying a coffee on the terrace, a good meal with friends, a walk in the park or simply to discover one of the neighborhoods that has shaped American culture.

The Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn

Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, on the other side of the river, is a vibrant, young, dynamic neighborhood that deserves to be visited. This is the place where artists meet, create and make their works known to young and old who come to discover them.

Restaurants, cafes and bars are plentiful and varied. Beer lovers will also be pampered since Williamsburg is full of local micro-breweries where it is possible to discover and taste new beers, made on site, which have nothing to envy to the commercial beers found everywhere else.

It is also increasingly popular to rent accommodation in Brooklyn, near Williamsburg or elsewhere to save on hotel costs. The area is well served by public transport and it is possible to reach Manhattan in just a few subway stops.

The SoHo neighborhood in New York

Abbreviation of “South of Houston”, SoHo is a district where many textile industries were established and whose streets are now dedicated to shopping for brands of all ranges. It’s also one of the best places to shop for unique, original design furniture.

The district is also thought to welcome tourists since several restaurants are there as well as several cafes and terraces. Let yourself be charmed by the streets that look sometimes industrial, sometimes European.

The Lego store at Rockefeller Center in New York

Children will find fun and wonder in New York. In Rockefeller Center is the Lego store, where many children’s dreams come true. For their part, the older ones will be delighted to revisit this playful universe.

In the shop, everything is lego. While the children have fun building all kinds of creations at the stations provided for this purpose, you will be able to appreciate the colossal work of the multiple constructions found in this store.

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Madison Square Garden, a must in New York

Madison Square Garden is an institution. The building hosts the games of major professional sports teams such as the New York Knicks in basketball and the New York Rangers in hockey. On match nights, it is often possible to bump into Hollywood celebrities.

Madison Square Garden is also a well-known venue where the biggest international stars perform night after night. During your stay in New York, be sure to find out what shows are on.

The High Line Park, an essential walk in New York

The High Line Park is a suspended park that crosses different neighborhoods in New York. The park has been open to the public since 2009 and its 2.3 kilometers long is visited by millions of people each year.

First used as an elevated railroad, the High Line was gradually transformed into a park accessible from several entry points along its route. Among the most impressive views are the landscapes of the Hudson River and its industrial docks, the New Jersey state shores, urban architecture and the Empire State Building. In the evening, the lights will make you discover the city from a new angle.

The Meatpacking district, an unmissable neighborhood in New York

The Meatpacking District is the perfect place to appreciate all the vitality of the city. New York is nicknamed the city that never sleeps, and the Meatpacking district certainly contributes to that reputation. It is indeed the New York district best known for its legendary nightclubs.

A former working-class neighborhood where more than 250 slaughterhouses were located, the Meatpacking District is now one of Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods. Here, life revolves around nightclubs and fashion. Come and have dinner in a good restaurant, have a drink on a terrace or two before going to heat up the dance floors in one of the most famous nightclubs on the planet.

Grand Central Terminal (Grand Central Station), a must in New York

This train, bus and subway station is a mythical place in New York City. The station is grandiose, with an unusual and magnificent architecture.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, visitors, travelers and passengers from all over have rubbed shoulders under this same roof. The terminal has also served as the setting for several major film productions, including Armageddon, to name only this one.

It is possible to visit the Grand Central Terminal by our own means or with a guide, who will be able to teach you the rich history that this mythical place conceals.

Yankee Stadium, a must-see attraction in New York

Yankee Stadium in the borough of the Bronx is a baseball stadium that is home to the renowned Major League Baseball team of the same name, the New York Yankees. Recently, the stadium also hosts New York City FC, an MLS soccer team.

On game nights, the square is particularly frequented by many New Yorkers, but also by international stars. The stadium also hosts large-scale events such as concerts, or large-scale sporting events. Check the schedule of events when you’re in New York.

Coney Island, New York’s legendary site of attractions

At the southern end of Brooklyn is Coney Island, a peninsula devoted to entertainment of all kinds. The beaches overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are very popular there and the amusement park on the peninsula is almost legendary.

Several amusement parks coexist on Coney Island, but “Luna Park” is certainly the best known and most popular. If the place has already experienced a decline in traffic, the New York administration has recently undertaken to revitalize the area, so that it is now much more modern.

The Bronx Zoo, a must for the whole family

The Bronx Zoo, north of Manhattan, is the largest urban zoo in the world. Open to the public since 1899, it has more than 4,000 animals of 600 different species. You can see, among others, elephants, lions, tigers, bears, giraffes and gorillas, to name a few.

In addition to the animals, the zoological park has several attractions that will please the whole family. There is an elevated train, thematic greenhouses, many activities for young and old. Getting there and getting around is very easy. The place also has several restaurants for all tastes. As the zoo gets busy, arrive early to fully enjoy your experience.

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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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