Top 50 Things to do in New York City [2021 UPDATED]
If you have come to New York and are not sure what to do, no worries, New York City is a busy place that is full of attractions to fit a diversity of people. However, it can be difficult to choose the right things to do in New York City. New York has a variety of ways to explore. Not every attraction has a fee, and you will find many ways to keep the little ones entertained. Nighttime is crawling with entertaining things to do that you will never have a dull moment in the Big Apple. This guide will help you find the right places to visit during your stay.
Best Ways to Explore New York
There are many ways to discover New York, and each one offers a different view of the city. Cruises, helicopters, and buses are just a couple of ways to discover New York. Here are a few ways that you may enjoy discovering the city.
Explore New York City By Water:
Cruises are one of the best ways to explore New York. Some may say that exploring New York on a cruise is their favorite way to see the city. You will find many different styles of cruises in New York, and there are many cruises to choose from. Here are a few recommended cruises if you want to take while exploring the “city that never sleeps” to the next level.
1. Schooner Adirondack
If you want to experience the Statue of Liberty from a different perspective, look no further. This two-hour cruise will help you wash away all the city noise and help you relax while taking in the view from the New York Harbor. You will enjoy the wind in your hair as you look at the impressive views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
2. Harbor Lights Night Cruise
If you are looking to see Manhattan at night, this two-hour cruise is what you are looking for. You will experience a stunning New York sunset on a climate-controlled boat. This boat has a fully stocked bar, so you can relax with your favorite drink in your hand while taking in some breathtaking sights. You will have the chance to view some legendary attractions like the Statue of Liberty and get perfect views of Battery Park, Pier 54 (Titanic Pier), the Freedom Tower – One World Trade Center, Empire State Building and more. This is one of the things to do in New York City that you will not want to miss.
3. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
You will get the chance to take in the wonderful sights of the city with Circle Line’s award-winning tour guides. They will take you to see many attractions including the Chrysler Building, High Line, The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty.
4. Bateaux New York Cruises
This European-inspired ship is an all-glass vessel that you will be able to explore some of the greatest sights there is to see in New York. Here is your chance to dress up while you are in NYC. Cocktail wear and dressy casual attire are appropriate for this trip. While aboard this ship, you will have a magnificent dining experience while being captivated by their tableside service and fine wines.
5. Hornblower Cruises
This is one cruise you may not want to miss. You have to option to customize your cruise the way you want it. Hornblower Cruises have different experiences for whatever your needs are. You can choose to have a jazzy champagne brunch cruise or you can chose to have a romantic dinner cruise with your significant other. There is a different event happening all the time. This is one experience you will not want to miss while you are exploring the Big Apple.
Experience the City From Above:
There are many ways to explore New York, but seeing the city from above is truly enchanting. You can choose from some of New York’s famous landmarks or use some of the city’s panoramic rooftop observation areas. Whatever choice you make, you are sure to have a jaw-dropping experience. Here are a few recommended helicopter tours to do while you are in New York.
You will take selfies to the next level exploring Manhattan from a bird’s-eye view. For two consecutive years, FlyNYON has held the Trip Advisor Certificate Of Excellence Award. FlyNYON has been creating long-lasting memories with three generations of aviation heritage. This is one of the best ways to explore New York.
7. Liberty Helicopter Charters
With Liberty Helicopter Charters, you will experience the New York skyline from the clouds with some highly experienced pilots. They will provide you with information about the history of NYC as well as many fun facts about the city. They received the Eastern Region Helicopter Council Fly Neighborly Award as well as the Annual Safety Award from the Helicopter Association International. Whether you want to view New York during the day or see it at night to see the “city that never sleeps,” you will have an unforgettable time.
8. Zip Aviation
Experience the city like you never have before with Zip Aviation. You can choose from helicopter tours of New York City and private charter services from NYC to the entire northeastern US. Some of their popular destinations include the Hamptons, Boston, Atlantic City, and Washington D.C. You will admire the city with a whole new perspective while taking in some of the historical sites and astonishing aerial views of the Big Apple.
9. Helicopter Flight Services
With Helicopter Flight Services, you will have the chance to see the city lights like never before. They have some of the quietest helicopters in their class. You will love your experience with Helicopter Flight Services because their service is custom-tailored to each client.
10. Helicopter NYC
With Helicopter NYC, you can choose from three different breathtaking guided tours. Here is your chance to take the best aerial views of the city that never sleeps. This is the perfect opportunity to end your stay in New York with the views of Brooklyn ad Manhattan from above.
Walk to Explore the City
New York is one of the world’s greatest walking cities. Discovering the city by foot is a great way to engross yourself in all of the sights and sounds of New York. You will have the chance to admire the architecture and meet some locals. But most importantly, walking is free. New York is a huge city. To save time and money, it would be a great idea to map out the attractions you want to visit and cover one area at a time.
Discover the Outdoors
If the saying “the best things in life are free,” then you are sure to have the best time of your life while exploring the city streets on foot. New York has many breathtaking sights to take in. The number one thing that most people end up doing late at night in “the city that never sleeps” is taking a late-night stroll. Here are a few places that are recommended to take a walk.
11. Brooklyn Bridge
Exploring this mile-long bridge has been known as an “NYC rite of passage.” On the Brooklyn Bridge, you will see some of the most jaw-dropping views in one place than anywhere. With views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as the East River and the New York Harbor, you will understand why walking this iconic bridge is a favorite thing to do. If you are a fast walker, it could take you around 30 minutes to cross the bridge. This is one bridge you have got to walk across while you are in New York.
12. Central Park
Here is one of the best places to enjoy nature in New York. You will feel completely rejuvenated after a visit to this urban oasis. While you are at the park, you may want to see one of the park’s most photographed places which is a black and white mosaic that says Imagine. You may also want to stop by the Strawberry Fields and Sheep Meadow before you leave.
13. 5th Avenue
5th Avenue is the ideal place for both sightseers and shopaholics. Here you will find skyscrapers and big-name designer shops. This is an amazing place to be to see the diversity of Manhattan.
14. Hudson River Park
The Hudson River Park is located on the North River and is part of The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. You will find that Hudson River Park is huge. It stretches from 59th Street south to Battery Park and is the longest riverfront park in the United States. What was once decomposing piers and parking lots has been converted into a paradise. Here, you will find many recreational and educational activities to do. This park plays a big role in protecting the Hudson River environment. This is a beautiful park that you will enjoy a relaxing walk to.
15. The High Line
This elongated park was created on a former New York City railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. This park is over a mile long, and you will find that there seem to be endless ways to explore. This is the perfect place to go stargazing while you are in Manhattan. The High Line also has some of the city’s most-loved works of art.
16. Riverside Park
This scenic waterfront park is the perfect place to unwind after your busy day sightseeing. This park is four miles long and stretches from the Hudson River/Henry Hudson Parkway to the serpentine Riverside Drive. The design of this park made it “one of the most beautiful boulevards in the world.”
17. Inwood Hill Park
Inwood Hill Park is a living part of old New York. Here, you will have the opportunity to see some historical features of old NY. You will also see some amazing features caused by shifting glaciers like dramatic caves, valleys, and ridges. Native American artifacts are still being discovered in this historic part of New York. This is one interesting, historical park that you may want to visit.
18. Library Walk
If you love libraries, this is the perfect place for you to take a walk. One of the best times to walk on Library Way is in the morning so you can see the way the sun glimmers off the New York Public Library. This can be an educational walk with your children. You can stop by the library when you are done with your walk to read some good books.
19. Wall Street Walks
Wall Street is the largest and most-watched stock market in the world. It is also the symbol of the US financial system. While you are on Wall Street, you may want to see the iconic Wall Street Bull, which is a symbol of the stock market going higher. A bull market means that money is being made. There are also available tours that will take you by Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Standard & Poors, and the Federal Reserve. You will also learn about JP Morgan and John D Rockefeller while you learn the history of Wall Street.
20. The High Bridge
The High Bridge was built as a part of the Croton Aqueduct system, which carried water from the Cronton River in Westchester to Manhattan. Walking across the bridge, you are walking above the original aqueduct’s pipes which is still located beneath the walkway of the bridge. This is one of the historical attractions to visit while in NYC.
New York is a place where many dishes were created, so while you are exploring the city, you will want to try some of its signature dishes. You will find that the cuisine in New York is diverse, but finding which restaurant can become overwhelming since there are so many to choose from. Here are a few of the top recommended places to eat while you are in New York.
21. Harlem Shake
If you have come to New York looking for a place to eat that the kids will enjoy too, Harlem Shake was recommended by TimeOut on their list of Best Fun Restaurants in NYC for Kids and Families. This classy looking restaurant opened in 2013 in the heart of Harlem and was featured in several magazines including Thrillist, The New York Times and Travel Magazine. Harlem Shake becomes famous for its milkshakes, so while you are there, you may want to try one.
22. Junior’s Cheesecake and Bakery
If you have come to New York to experience some of their signature cheesecake, Junior’s Cheesecake and Bakery is the place to be, because it is home to “New York’s Best Cheesecake.” Some say, “you haven’t lived until you’ve had cheesecake at Junior’s.” However, Cheesecake is not the only thing that Junior’s will serve. They have a full menu to choose from. This is another favorite thing to do in New York City.
23. Eleven Madison Park
At Eleven Madison Park, you will experience fine dining at its finest. This restaurant overlooks Madison Park and also sits next to a historic Art Deco building. This is one luxurious thing to do while you are in New York. It has been called “one of the best restaurants in the country.” This is one luxurious experience you will not want to miss.
24. The Brindle Room
This East Village restaurant specializes in American cuisine. Some say that they have the best burger in town. You would have to try it yourself so you can see if they do have the best burger in town. If you have never tried cauliflower mac and cheese, it is recommended to try it while you are there. This is one restaurant in East Village you may want to try.
25. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
This shrimp boat-style seafood restaurant is located in the heart of Times Square. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is a great restaurant for the whole family to enjoy. You can sit back and watch the busy streets while you dine. Shrimp is not the only thing on their menu, so don’t worry if you are not a shrimp lover.
26. Jekyll and Hyde Club
This is the only haunted and bar you will ever find in New York. This is one unique dining experience you will not want to miss out on that the whole family can enjoy. There will be live entertainment with special effects, and while you dine, the creatures will come to life and interact with you. You will not want to miss the transformation of Dr. Jekyll to the horrifying Mr. Hyde. The menu goes along with the theme, and you will be amazed. You may want to try their Create-Your-Own-Monster burgers or Frankenstein’s Favorite. If you have picky eaters, they also have pizzas to choose from and a Junior Club Menu. This is one of the fun and unusual things to do in New York City that you and the whole family will enjoy.
27. La Caverna
If you have come to New York looking for something to do at night, look no farther. La Caverna is a newer addition on Rivington Street. This restaurant looks like being inside a cave. It is much different than any other restaurant in New York. You will feel as if you are dining inside of a cave and the trickling water makes the experience seem real. The kitchen is open until 11 pm, but the DJ continues the night until 4 am. This is one place you should visit at night in NYC.
28. Ninja New York
This restaurant was designed to portray a ninja village. You will be amazed from the time you walk in the door until you leave with Ninja New York. While you are there, you may get the opportunity to see a ninja magician. This is one restaurant the whole family can enjoy.
29. The Black Ant
At this Mexican style restaurant, you will experience a unique and traditional cuisine made with ingredients from Mexico. Some customers say that the Smokey Jalapeno is the best margaritas they have ever had. This is one experience you will not want to miss.
30. Square 1 Community Eatery
At Square 1, the ingredients that are used are natural ingredients that come from local farms. Since New York is a diverse place, Square 1 tries to blend in with a variety of flavors to please everyone. Their menu is based on global culinary techniques. You can eat on the go, or you can dine in. However you choose to eat your meal, you will not be disappointed.
Discovering Monuments and Statues
New York is home to many monuments. Some say that New York has “the greatest outdoor public art museum in the United States.” With over 1,000 monuments, here are a few monuments to get you started.
31. Alice in Wonderland Statue
You don’t have to be a Disney fan to enjoy this statue. This sculpture was a tribute to Lewis Carroll’s late wife who read Alice in Wonderland to their children. You will find lines from his nonsensical poem, The Jabberwocky on the statue. This sculpture is a children’s favorite. They enjoy feeling the different textures and finding the different hiding spaces in the sculpture. This is one sculpture you will want to visit with your kids.
32. Balto Statue
Here is another beloved childhood favorite that you will want to stop by to see. Balto turns out to be a hero in Alaska who led a team of sled dogs to deliver medicine to villages where a deadly diphtheria epidemic threatened the children of Nome. This iconic statue is one that your children will want to see before you leave.
33. Castle Clinton National Monument
Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton was once called Castle Garden. This monument is located in Battery Park. Long ago, it was built to keep people out, now it welcomes millions of visitors. This monument is a representation of not only the growth of the city but the growth of the nation as well. This place has some amazing history that you may not want to miss while you are sightseeing.
34. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is a tourist attraction that you have to see while you are in New York. It is located in the center of Midtown Manhattan and has some of the most unforgettable views from their observatories. It is said that “no visit to NYC is complete without experiencing the top of the Empire State Building.”
35. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is a world-famous landmark and transportation hub in Midtown Manhattan. It opened to the public in 1913. Today, this landmark is a popular dining and retail destination. While you are at Grand Central, you will want to see its main attraction, the four-faced opal clock which sits in the center of the Main Concourse above the Information Booth. Grand Central is one of the most visited places in NYC.
36. 9/11 Memorial and Museum
At this memorial, you can visit the museum that has artifacts associated with the events that happened on 9/11. You will find stories of loss and stories of recovery at this museum. There are also stories of hope told by New Yorkers. This is an amazing monument and museum that you will want to visit.
37. Fearless Girl Statue
This statue is responsible for arising conversations about the power of women in leadership. She is a global inspiration to companies to add women to their boards. This statue is reinventing investing. Fearless Girl is a symbol of power and potential for women in leadership and is now located in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
38. Hans Christian Andersen Monument
Hans Christian Anderson wrote many beloved children’s novels such as The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Ugly Duckling. This has become a favorite spot for children to gather and listen to stories with the storytelling program that began after the statue was introduced to the city.
39. General Grant National Memorial
If you enjoy seeing historical monuments, this is General Ulysses S. Grant and wife’s final resting spot. You will see some magnificent architectural work. You will find that there are Junior Ranger Programs for the little ones, as well as Ranger-guided walking tours. This is an amazing national monument that you will want to visit while you are in New York.
40. Teardrop Monument
This monument was made because of the Struggle Against World Terrorism. It serves as a memorial of the 9/11 attacks. This monument was donated by the Russian government because 26 Russians were killed in the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. The artwork is impressive and at the base of this monument, you will find the names of the people who lost their lives.
Fun Attractions in New York
New York is a diverse place, so finding the right things to do should not be too hard if you know where to look. There are many fun things to do that everyone can enjoy. Here are a few recommended places for you to try while you are in New York.
41. Luna Park
This amusement park is located on Coney Island. Coney Island is home to the first roller coaster which opened up in 1884 and started up the thrills. The first Luna Park that was built was almost destroyed by a fire. In 2010, Luna Park opened its doors to the public and was the first amusement park built on Coney Island in over 40 years. If you are in for a thrill, you may want to try their Parachute Jump.
42. Fantasy Forest Amusement Park
If you are looking for the perfect way to spend your day with your little ones, Fantasy Forest Amusement Park is what you are looking for. Your kids are sure to have the best time at this enchanting amusement park. They have rides that are just right tor little tykes like Flushing Meadows Carousel, Spinning Teacups, Fantasy Frog Hopper and much more. This is the place where little dreams come true.
43. Runaway Rapids Waterpark
This water park has more than 18 water slides that send you down at different speeds. You may also want to stop by their lazy river and spa pool to relax and enjoy the tropical decor around the pool. This is one water park you may want to try if you are needing to cool down.
44. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Sky Zone has a chain of indoor trampolines that you can do some freestyle jumping on, as well as dodge ball and a foam zone. This place is not just for kids. They also have fitness programs available for those who are looking to get in some exercise. This is a fun place that has attractions for everyone.
If you are looking for an indoor amusement park, FunFuzion is the only indoor amusement park located in Westchester. Here, you will have the chance to let your inner child come out as you play Lazer Tag, Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling, Miniature golf and plenty of other attractions.
46. The Tour at NBC Studios
Here is your chance to get backstage at NBC Studios. This tour is the most famous studio tour in TV history. You will enjoy this tour, exploring the historic halls of the NBC Studio. You will learn all about the production process while you are here. This is one tour you will not want to miss.
47. Gulliver’s Gate
This is one attraction that will allow you to see the miniature version of many places all over the world. Gulliver’s Gate is a favorite among many who visit, and it is sure to be your favorite as well. Some secrets are waiting to be revealed at this magical place. There are many exhibits to discover like Asia, Latin America, New England and much more. This is one attraction you will want to see if you are at Times Square.
48. Escape Room NYC
Do you think you can escape? Behind every door is either a secret or a sweet victory. These hour-long sessions will challenge your brain. This is also a great way to polish up on your teamwork skills. If you think you have what it takes, be sure to make your reservations.
49. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
If you are interested in history and space, this is the place for you. The Intrepid fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. It also served in other missions, now it is a National Historic Landmark. While you are there you will have the chance to view historic video footage and examine interactive exhibits. There is a space shuttle pavilion, you will even get to see the only American guided missile submarine that is open to the public, called Growler. If you like stargazing, you may want to come on astronomy nights. This is an amazing historical attraction you will not want to miss.
50. Rockefeller Center
Visiting New York and finding the perfect way to spend your time can be difficult since there are so many attractions. New York has many ways to explore, from the water and even the sky. You will also find that there are plenty of fun things to do with the kids in New York City. There are also plenty of ways to treat your significant other with the best time of their life. The options are limitless in NYC and this guide will help you with choosing the right place for whatever you are wanting to experience.