15 Best Tourist Attractions and Places to Visit in New York City

15 Best Places to Visit In New York City, NY : Things to do in NYC

New York City is one of the most vibrant, diverse, and dynamic cities in the entire world. From the pumping of the subway below your feet to the cacophony of sounds you hear on the city streets, New York has an energy that few other cities can match.  There is no shortage of American landmarks to visit and with some of the world’s best museums, shopping, hotels, performing arts venues, and restaurants,  it is no surprise that tourists have been flooding into the city for decades. There is so much to see, you could explore the city for weeks and still barely scratch the surface of what this amazing place has to offer.

Best Places to Visit in New York City

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Many New York attractions are located within walking distance of each other and there is an excellent subway system that helps you get where you are going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means you can leave the car at home and fully appreciate the beauty and grandeur of all of the New York landmarks you will see.

New York is on many travelers’ wishlists and we know that your time in the city is precious so to help get you started with your planning, we have put together our list of the top places to visit in New York.

List of Top 15 Tourist Attractions of New York City, NY

  1. Central Park
  2. Statue of Liberty National Monument
  3. Times Square
  4. Empire State Building
  5. Rockefeller Center
  6. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  7. The High Line
  8. Brooklyn Bridge
  9. Domino Park
  10. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  11. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  12. New York Public Library
  13. The Battery & the Financial District
  14. Roosevelt Island
  15. South Street Seaport

1. Central Park

Best Places to Visit in NYC - Central Park NYC

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Popular Activities in Central Park

  1. Cycling and walking
  2. Outdoor concerts, films, and plays
  3. Ice skating

Best Time to Visit Central Park

Any time of the year

About the Central Prak NYC

At 39-million square feet, Central Park truly is the urban lung of Manhattan and if you are looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, it is one of the best things to do in New York City.

Central Park is full of interesting attractions including Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, which serves as a memorial to Beatles’ frontman John Lennon, the Central Park Zoo, Tavern on the Green, and the Central Park Reservoir.  You can spend hours walking along the park’s criss-crossing pathways and relaxing on the sprawling lawns.

Central Park is a great place to visit any time of the year. In the spring and autumn, you can see the flowers bloom and the leaves fall.  During the summer, you can catch a performance of Shakespeare in the Park or an outdoor movie, and in the winter, you can lace up your ice skates and take a whirl around on the Wollman Rink while the skyscrapers of Manhattan soar up above you.

Along the west and east sides of the park, you can find some of Manhattan’s most famous buildings and museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Dakota Building, where John Lennon lived.  You can also visit the mostly residential neighborhoods of the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side to see how many New Yorkers live or check out some of the amazing cafes, restaurants, and bars there.

2. Statue of Liberty National Monument

Best Places to Visit in NYC - Statue of Liberty

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Popular Activities on a Statue of Liberty Tour

  1.  Climb up to the Statue’s Crown
  2. Explore the museum at Ellis Island
  3. See the Statue of Liberty up close and personal

Best Time to Visit the Statue of Liberty

Spring, summer, or fall

About the Statue of Liberty

When France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty in 1886, they probably never expected it to become of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and an enduring symbol of New York.  Lady Liberty welcomed many European immigrants to the city from her perch on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and still stands guard over the city today.

You can see the Statue of Liberty way off in the distance from Battery Park on Manhattan’s southern tip.   However, the best way to see the statue is on a tour.  Tours of the Statue of Liberty also include a visit to Ellis Island, the first stop for many immigrants arriving in the United States.  Over 12 million immigrants were processed there and the onsite museum tells their both uplifting and heartbreaking stories.  It is a fascinating look at the people who helped changed the face of America.

You can book a tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on the Statue Citycruises website.  There are different tickets depending on if you want to simply visit Liberty Island, enter the pedestal, or go all the way up to the statue’s crown.  Tickets to the crown sell out quickly so try to book as early in advance as possible.

3. Times Square

Best Places to Visit in New York City - Times Square NYC

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Popular Activities in Times Square

  1. Go shopping
  2. Take photos of the glittering lights
  3. People watch

Best Time to Visit Times Square

Any time of the year

About Times Square NYC

Without a doubt, Times Square is one of the most famous intersections in the world.  The bright lights of Broadway and 7th Avenue meet at Times Square here and create a captivating spectacle. Times Square was named after the New York Times Building that used to stand there and the first electrified advertisement lit up for the first time in 1904.  By the end of World War I, it was a hub for theaters, music halls, and upscale hotels.   However, the area started to decline during the Great Depression and didn’t fully recover until the 1990s.

When you look around at all the shimmering lights, it is hard to imagine that this area was considered unsafe and seedy for decades during the 20th century. Today, Times Square is full of glitzy flagship shops of some of America’s leading brand names, bars, restaurants, hotels, and countless historic Broadway theaters.

While you are there, make sure to check out the historic Knickerbocker Hotel on the corner of Broadway and 42nd.  The hotel originally opened in 1906. It was owned by the Astor family, including John Jacob Astor IV who died on the Titanic, and has a beautiful old-school New York facade.  There is a rooftop bar if you want to grab a drink while taking in the view.

Times Square epitomizes the glitz and glamor of the city and it is one of the best places to visit in New York City.

4. Empire State Building

Best Place to Visit in New York City - Empire State Building, New York

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Popular Activities at the Empire State Building

  1. Admire the art deco architecture
  2. Check out the amazing views
  3. Relive your favorite Hollywood moment at the observation deck

Best Time to Visit the Empire State Building

Any time of the year

About the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is one of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings and in a city full of modern skyscrapers, it still manages to dominate the skyline. Built during the Great Depression on the site of the former Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Empire State Building is an art deco masterpiece.  With 102-stories, it was the tallest building in the world until it was replaced by the World Trade Center.

Although it is primarily an office building, there are two observation decks on top that you can visit.  The lines can be very long but it is well worth it once you step into the lavishly decorated lobby and get whisked upstairs by the high-speed elevators.   The 86th Floor Observatory, the city’s highest open-air observation deck,  has been featured in countless TV shows and movies and allows you to see up to 80 miles.  If you want to go even higher, head up to the Top Deck on the 102nd floor. The view here is enclosed and the tickets cost substantially more so you may want to ask yourself if it is worth it.  You can check out all the ticket options on the Empire State Building website.

5. Rockefeller Center

Visiting Rockefeller Center NYC

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Popular Activities in Rockefeller Center

  1. Get a bird’s eye view of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock
  2. Watch a TV show being filmed
  3. Go ice skating on Winter
  4. See the Christmas Tree
  5. Shopping and Dinning

Best Time to Visit Rockefeller Center

Any time of the year

About the Rockefellar Center

Built during the Great Depression, Rockefeller Center is one of the most well-known areas of New York City and is considered one of the biggest building projects of the 1930s.  The complex, located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown, consists of 19 different buildings including the world-famous 30 Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.  The buildings contain office space, world-class restaurants,  performing arts venues, and commercial space featuring some of New York’s best shopping.   It is also home to the NBC Studios where many of America’s favorite TV shows are filmed.  If you are lucky, you may even get a chance to see some of these shows being filmed. Make sure to visit the NBC Studios website to find out more information.

While you are at Rockefeller Center, make sure to visit the Top of the Rock located on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. This observation deck may be one of the best in the city as it allows you to see all of New York’s most iconic buildings. You can purchase tickets directly on the Top of the Rock website.

During the holiday season, Rockefeller Center really comes alive and is home to the world-famous Rockefeller Center ice skating rink and New York’s Christmas tree. You can also watch the Christmas Spectacular featuring some truly spectacular special effects and Radio City’s own elite precision dance troupe, the Rockettes. You can find a full schedule of year-round events at the Radio City Music Hall website. 

6. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Best Places to Visit in NYC - 9:11 Memorial

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Popular Activities at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

  1. Visit the 9/11 Memorial
  2. Learn more about the attack at the museum
  3. Contemplate the events that led up to this tragic day

Best Time to Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Any time of the year

About the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Most Americans remember exactly where they were when they found out the World Trade Center had been attacked. When the Twin Towers came crashing down, they took thousands of lives and propelled the country into two wars, one of which has lasted for decades.  If you want to really gain an understanding of how that fateful day shaped New York and American history,  the 9/11 Memorial & Museum should be a must-visit New York attraction.

Located in Lower Manhattan near the Financial District and Battery Park, the memorial features two reflecting pools set in the footprints of the Twin Towers etched with the names of all of the victims of 9/11.  The museum gives you a closer look at the events of September 11th, 2001 through artifacts, personal stories, imagery, and interactive technology.  They also offer programs and events for the public, students, and families.  From the haunting memorials to the fascinating museum, the complex handles this tragedy with dignity and respect.

While you are there, you can head over to One World Trade’s observation deck to get amazing views of the entire city far below.   You can purchase combo tickets for the museum and the observation deck here.

7. The High Line Park

Best Places to Visit in NYC - High Line Park New York

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Popular Activities in the High Line Park

  1. Check out the beautiful plants and flowers
  2. Get a unique view of Manhattan
  3. Relax in the many seating areas

Best Time to Visit the High Line Park

Spring, summer, or fall

About the High Line Park

When the High Line Park opened back in 2009, it immediately became one of the most beloved city parks. It is situated on the renovated elevated railroad tracks of the West Side of Manhattan and is one city’s best examples of upcycling neglected structures.  When it opened, it ran from the Meatpacking District up to 14th Street but has now been extended up to 34th Street. As the park length has increased, so has its popularity and it is now one of the top tourist attractions of New York City.

As you walk along the High Line Park, you will find the remains of the old railroad tracks which are now being incorporated into the park’s many gardens, picture-perfect vantage points of the city below, and a bird’s eye view of some of the surrounding buildings. There are also a number of local vendors where you can buy unique treats along the way.

If you start off at 34th Street and walk south, you can finish your stroll with a beer and a pretzel at The Standard Hotel’s authentic biergarten and then head over to explore the locally owned shops and upscale boutiques of the Meatpacking District

8. Brooklyn Bridge

Best Places to Visit in New York - Brooklyn Bridge

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Popular Activities in Brooklyn Bridge

  1. Ride or walk across the bridge
  2. Take great photos
  3. View the East River from above

Best Time to Visit the Brooklyn Bridge

Spring, summer, or fall

About the Brooklyn Bridge

As the first fixed crossing on the East River to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge changed the city in immeasurable ways.  Completed in 1883, it was the world’s first steel suspension bridge and quickly became one of the primary ways of commuting between the two boroughs.  To ease congestion, other bridges and tunnels were eventually built but the Brooklyn Bridge still stands as one of the city’s iconic sights and is still part of many people’s daily commute!

Although you can see the Brooklyn Bridge from Chinatown and the South Street Seaport, the best way to experience it is to walk across it to Brooklyn.  There is a wooden pathway that you can walk on that is well out of the way from traffic.  However, since it is still a busy thoroughfare during the morning commute, it is a good idea to wait until after rush hour to visit so you don’t have to dodge too many bicycles along the way.

9. Domino Park

Best Places to Visit in New York - the Domino Park

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Popular Activities in Domino Park

  1. Play beach volleyball
  2. Admire the city skyline
  3. Watch the sunset

Best Time to Visit Domino Park

Spring, summer, or fall

About the Domino Park

Domino Park is relatively new on New York’s park scene but it is one of the best places to visit in New York City if you are looking for something a bit off the tourist trail.  The park is located in the super trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg and offers spectacular views of the Manhattan city skyline.  If that isn’t enough, it was also built on the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery and the remains of this historic factory have been incorporated into the park.  There are patches of grass and lawn chairs if you want to take a nap in the sun and a few places to grab a snack in case you get hungry.

After visiting the park, make sure to check out Williamsburg as well. The neighborhood is home to some of New York’s best nightlife and an eclectic group of residents ranging from hipsters to Hasidic Jews.

10. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Best Places to Visit in New York - The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

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Popular Activities at The Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum

  1. Explore the USS Intrepid
  2. Stay overnight on an aircraft carrier
  3. Learn more about naval history

Best Time to Visit

Any time of the year

About the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum

Not many cities can claim that they have their own aircraft carrier but New York is proud to be home to the USS Intrepid. Located in the Hudson River just west of Times Square, the Intrepid houses New York’s military and maritime history museum. While you are there, you can see a cruise missile submarine,  a Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise along with the general exhibits.

The prices are a bit expensive (you can purchase tickets here) to get in but even if you aren’t a huge fan of military history, it is well worth heading over there to check it out. It is not often that you get to see an aircraft carrier in the middle of a city! During the summer, the Intrepid often has free outdoor movies on its “rooftop” so keep an eye on their events schedule.

While you are there, make sure to take a walk along the Hudson River pathway.  This gorgeous park goes all the way along the West Side of Manhattan and is loaded with parks, picnic areas, restaurants, and boatsheds where you can go stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking during the summer.

11. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Best Places to Visit in NYC - St. Patrick's Cathedral

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Popular Activities at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

  1. Admire the beautiful architecture
  2. Say a prayer for a loved one
  3. Rest and relax

Best Time to Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Any time of the year

About St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, this beautiful church is a stunning example of Neo-Gothic architecture and is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The church was built in 1879 and the interior. features stained glass windows, sculptures, and religious paintings which make it absolutely stunning.

St. Patrick’s is open from 7 am to 8:30 pm daily and is free to visit.

12. New York Public Library

Best Places to Visit in NYC - New York Public Library

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Popular Activities at the New York Public Library

  1. Take a free guided tour
  2. Visit the map room
  3. Check out the gift shops for great New York souvenirs

Best Time to Visit the New York Public Library

Any time of the year

About the New York Public Library

While a trip to the library may not be at the top of everyone’s vacation wish list, the New York Public Library is one of the best places to visit in New York for history and architecture fans.  This beautiful Beaux-Arts structure was built between 1897 and 1911 and is located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown. The marble facade is flanked by a pair of stone lions that have become the mascots of the entire New York Public Library system.

Inside, you will find the Main Reading Room, a Public Catalog Room, and many other smaller reading rooms as well as a fascinating Map Room. You may even recognize it as it has been used as a filming location for many TV shows and movies. Visitors are welcome to go inside and look around and there is even a very interesting free tour that takes you through the library.

Bryant Park is located behind the library and stretches back to Sixth Avenue.  It is known as Manhattan’s Town Square due to its location in the center of Midtown and year-round events.  During the summer, you can watch free outdoor movies there, and in the winter, there is a wonderful Christmas market and an ice skating rink.

 13. The Battery & the Financial District

Best Places to Visit in NYC - The Battery & the Financial District

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Popular Activities in the Battery & the Financial District

  1. Visit Wall Street
  2. Explore Battery Park
  3. Wander through the narrow streets of New Amsterdam

Best Time to Visit the Battery & the Financial District

Any time of the year

About the Battery & the Financial District

Located at the very southern tip of Manhattan, the Financial District & Battery Park are the oldest parts of the city. This area was the original New Amsterdam and you can find many of the colonial-era locations here including Federal Hall, Wall Street (minus the actual wall), and the defensive battery from which Battery Park gets its name.

Unlike northern Manhattan with its grid-like streets and wide avenues, the Financial District is a jumble of streets that more closely resembles a European city than an American one. It is a fascinating place to visit and you can admire some of the city’s most important historical buildings while the people who work there rush to and from their offices. For history buffs, this is one of the best places to visit in New York and a walk down the narrow streets can easily be combined with a visit to the Statue of Liberty,  9/11 Memorial and Museum, Brooklyn Bridge, and the South Street Seaport.

14. Roosevelt Island

Best Places to Visit in NYC - Roosevelt Island

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Popular Activities in Roosevelt Island

  1. Wander around the landscaped grounds
  2. Ride the Roosevelt Island Tramways
  3. Grab a coffee at a cafe

Best Time to Visit Roosevelt Island

Spring, summer, or fall

About the Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is located in the East River near Midtown and is a little-known destination, even to many New Yorkers.  The island is mostly residential with a few restaurants, bars, and shops and was previously the location of some of New York’s hospitals, a prison, and an insane asylum.

Although the island itself is pretty interesting, the best part about coming here is actually the trip itself.  To get to Roosevelt Island, you can take the Roosevelt Island tramway, an elevated cable car that travels above the streets of Manhattan and the East River before setting passengers down on the island.  Along the way, you get really cool views of 1st and 2nd Avenues and the corresponding cross streets.

15. South Street Seaport

Best Places to Visit in NYC - South Street Seaport

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Popular Activities in the South Street Seaport

  1. Visit the South Street Seaport Museum
  2. Stroll along the cobblestone streets
  3. Grab a beer at Jeremy’s Ale Huse

Best Time to Visit the South Street Seaport

Any time of the year

About the South Street Seaport

The South Street Seaport is another gem of Lower Manhattan. As the name suggests, the area was originally a seaport and features the largest collection of preserved 19th-century buildings in the city. The area has been an important part of New York’s maritime history since the first pier was built here in 1625 by the Dutch West India.

The Seaport began to decline in the 1930s but luckily, most of the buildings there were spared.  As you walk down the cobblestone streets and view the historic storefront, you almost feel like you are traveling back in time to another era.

Author Details

Originally from Ohio, Kristin Templin is a digital nomad who loves to learn about the world around. From climbing through Roman ruins to swimming with whale sharks, she is always up for an adventure. So far, she has been to 124 countries and all 7 continents and has lived and worked in New Zealand, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, India, and Mexico. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and a Master's degree in geopolitical studies and over 15 years of experience working in the tourism industry. She also loves animals and has been vegetarian for the past 25 years. Her favorite part about traveling is breaking down the stereotypes surrounding people and places and gaining a better understanding of the world. She is a strong believer in travel and tourism being used for good and hopes that more people around the world will be able to uplift themselves out of poverty thanks to the opportunities it provides to the economies of developing countries. When she is not roaming the planet with her red backpack strapped to her back, you can often find her spending time in New York and Ohio. She loves nothing more than reading a history book at a dive bar, trying a new IPA at the local craft brewery, singing along to her favorite Broadway musical, petting a random stray dog, and hanging out with old friends and making new ones.