You will get hooked on New York from the moment you land on its soil and feel the vibrancy, excitement, and energy around you. People from all over the globe visit this fast-moving city with its iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, to see Times Square, watch the world’s best shows on Broadway or just to be there and experience the Big Apple, as it is fondly called. People from Broadway or just to be there and experience the Big Apple, as it is fondly called.
The extensive underground subway system and city buses make it extremely easy to get around and see all the sights and attractions. With many of the attractions within walking distance to each other, you do not have to take public transport or a famous yellow cab but just take a walk and enjoy the atmosphere while you explore.
Listed here are a few of the top tourist attractions that you have to visit when you are lucky enough to find yourself in the Big Apple aka New York, USA.
1. Statue Of Liberty
No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty at Liberty Island in New York Harbour. The iconic statue was a gift from France to America on its 100th birthday and is a symbol of freedom that welcomed immigrants to New York during the turn of the 20th century.
The copper-plated structure is 305 feet tall and stands on a pedestal with an observation deck from where you have views over lower Manhattan. If you are fit enough you can climb all the way to the crown, which is a 220 story climb.
To get to the Statue of Liberty you can take a ferry from the Battery in Manhatten or Liberty State Park in Jersey City, with a stop at Ellis Island on the way to Liberty Island and the famous statue or take one of a variety tours available in the city. It is advisable to book long in advance to visit the Statue as tickets sell out quickly.
2. Empire State Building
For the best views over New York City, a visit to the observation deck of the Empire State Building is an absolute must. The 443.2 meters tall Art Deco Skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan is as famous as the Statue of Liberty and is depicted on most pictures of New York. It took one year and 45 days to construct and used to be the world’s tallest building for decades. It is recognizable by its antenna which stretches into the sky.
It got its name from Empire State, New York’s nickname, and has the highest open-air observation deck on the 86th floor of the building. You can walk around the entire building for 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and more. At night the top three tiers of the building light up to illuminate the skyline with up to nine colors at a time.
3. Central Park
One of the most filmed locations in the world is right in the middle of Manhattan, between the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side and a must-do on every visitor’s list to the city. It covers an area of 3.41 square kilometers and is one of the most visited parks in the United States, welcoming nearly 40 million visitors per year.
You can spend an entire day in this National Historic Landmark which is home to 29 sculptures, an ice-rink, swimming pool, restaurants, the Summerstage where free musical concerts are held during summer and much more.
Visit the park for a ride on a horse-drawn carriage or visit The Lake at 72nd Street to rent a rowboat or go on a gondola tour. If you have the time, also visit the Central Park Zoo, home to 130 different species, on 64th Street.
4. Brooklyn Bridge
You have to take a walk, cycle or ride across the historic Brooklyn Bridge which is still functioning perfectly although it is more than a century old. At the time when it was opened in 1883, it was the first roadway to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn, crossing the East River. At the time it was the world’s longest wire-suspension bridge, spanning 1.3 miles from one side to the other.
From the bridge, you have spectacular views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. See the Freedom Tower, the Empire State, and Chrysler Buildings and even the Statue of Liberty when you walk across it. It is a free activity that attracts more than a million visitors a year.
You can get a good view of the bridge from Brooklyn Bridge side at Pier 1, or from Pier 15 at the Seaport District of Manhattan.
5. The Rock Observation Deck At Rockefeller Center
Buy a timed ticket and avoid waiting in a line to visit the observation decks on op of 30 Rockefeller Plaza for panoramic views over New York City. The Rockefeller Centre is a shopping and entertainment complex that covers six square blocks between the Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, with the 872-feet tall 30 Rockefeller Plaza as its anchor.
The observation deck, also known as The Rock, looks like the deck of an ocean liner and is popular because of its unique, panoramic views of the entire Central Park and the Empire State Building. 30 Rockefeller Plaza is home to the headquarters of the NBC television network and the popular Rainbow Room Restaurant on the 65th floor.
6. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Absolutely not just a museum, the Met is an experience that warrants at least a day of your sightseeing program, preferably more if you have the time. Founded in 1870 it is the largest museum in North America with one of the largest permanent collections in the world. It is situated on Fifth Avenue on the border of Central Park in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and covers an area of 17 acres.
The Met’s collection spans a period of 5000 years of art history and consists of 36,000 objects. It includes Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, 2500 European Old Master works of art and a collection of Egyptian art and artifacts. Its Egyptian collection is the largest outside Cairo.
Admire the sculptures in the European Sculpture Court, visit The Arts of Africa, Greek and Roman Art wing, Oceania and the Americas Collection. Take a break or end your visit for something to eat or drink at the Rooftop Garden with views over Central Park.
7. Theater District
Find the fun, entertainment and action that New York is famous for in the Theatre District. The area, in the heart of Manhattan, is the home of Times Square, most Broadway- and other theatres, movie theatres, hotels, restaurants, and chain stores.
In the Theater District, you will enjoy New York with the locals because it is not only a tourist hub but also where they gather to take part in the entertainment and fun.
One of the city’s major attractions is to watch a Broadway show in one of the 40 Broadway theatres is one of the city’s major attractions. You can choose a classic like Phantom of the Opera that’s been running for years or a brand new blockbuster, Broadway offers something for everyone.
For discounted tickets of the show you wish to attend, look out for the TKTS booth on the corner of 47th Street and Broadway under the red steps in Duffy Square.
8. 9/11 Memorial And Museum
Visit the memorial and museum built in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. It is at the World Trade Center site, the exact location where the Twin Towers used to be in the Financial District, in Greenwich Street.
Huge man-made waterfalls in two square reflecting pools symbolize the footprints of the Twin Towers. The pools symbolize the loss of life and void it left, whereas the waterfalls mute the sounds of the city contributing to making it a sanctuary for contemplation.
The museum houses a collection of artifacts and documentation from which visitors can learn more about what transpired, listen to accounts of the event by survivors and see pictures and video footage of the attacks.
9. Grand Central Terminal
Explore the shady past, hidden corners and secret passages and tunnels inside Grand Central Station, another one of New York’s National Historic Landmarks worth a visit. You will find this century-old transit hub for thousands of commuters on 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, close to Times Square. It was opened in 1913 and still functions with more than 750,000 people passing through it daily.
The ornate clock at the Information Booth in the main concourse of the impressive Beaux-Arts building welcomes you as you enter the building. Visit the whispering gallery to hear how the acoustics change your whisper to sound like a shout and the Kissing Room as the Biltmore Room is referred to.
Take a walking tour through Grand Central to learn more about its history and architecture and to see more of the Terminal.
10. High Line
Follow the High Line, a unique park and an elevated one and a half-mile long walkway 30 feet above the bustling city for a welcome break and views of the Hudson River and the city below. The park stretches from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea, across the West side of Manhattan, to the Hudson Yards. It can be accessed via staircases or elevators at 9 points along the route.
What was once a railway line until 1980, the abandoned railroad tracks were transformed into a beautiful park featuring greenery and wildflowers with benches and lots of art to admire along the way.
Without leaving the park, an outdoor cafe in the Chelsea Market passage area offers seasonal food carts where you can grab something light to eat with a beer or a glass of wine to wash it down with.
11. Union Square
Find the oldest saloon and the longest bar in New York City in Union Square, a famous gathering place where, up- and downtown Manhattan meet. Here you will find people playing chess with passers-by, live dance performances, art vendors and much more.
It is a vibrant area packed with restaurants, shops, and entertainment, bordered by well-known neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Flatiron District, and Gramercy Park. The area attracts New Yorkers and tourists for a variety of reasons, like The Union Square Greenmarket, the largest open-air food market in the city where farmers from the region sell products like fresh fruit and vegetables, award-winning cheeses, artisan bread, and local wine.
Get a glimpse into Olde New York and visit McSorely’s, the oldest Irish saloon in the city and one of the last “Men Only” pubs where women were only allowed to visit in 1970.
Another restaurant worth a visit is the opulent Oscar Wilde, with the longest bar in New York measuring 118.5 feet, featuring gold draft taps and Carrara marble across the length of the restaurant. Oscar Wilde is also famous for its whiskey bar where you will find over 300 varieties of whiskey.
12. American Museum Of Natural History
New York City is not short of entertainment, and certainly not of some of the largest museums in the world. One of these is the American Museum of Natural History. The museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is home to over 33 million specimens, 45 permanent exhibitions, a library, and a planetarium. The area covers an area of more than 2 million square feet and consists of 28 connected buildings.
A visit to the museum is a fun and educational experience for adults and kids, as its exhibits cover everything from dinosaurs to ocean life and outer space. The top attractions in the museum are The Dinosaurs, The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, The Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Hayden Planetarium, and the Butterfly Conservatory. You will find the museum at 79th Street and Central Park West.
13. South Sea Streetport
Head to the South Sea Streetport for a floating tour of the harbor on a 19th Century Schooner called the Pioneer. South Sea Streetport is a historic area in Manhattan featuring some of the oldest architecture in the city. You will feel transported to years gone by when you stroll down its cobbled streets past 18th-century buildings.
It is situated in Lower Manhattan along the East River, next to the Financial District, and is fast becoming one of the trendiest and vibrant areas in New York. Learn more about the area by visiting The Seaport Museum and look for historical objects from the museum that are displayed in the area, like the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse and two large anchors that were rescued from the East River in 1973 on Water Street.
The museum maintains several age-old schooners including the 1885 Pioneer which takes visitors on relaxing 2-hour-long cruises in summer.
14. Prospect Park
For a city in which space is a valuable asset, there are a number of huge parks well worth visiting like Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The park offers a welcome break from the busy city where you can indulge in activities like ice-skating, taking a cruise on the huge lake within the park, fishing or even go horse riding.
The main attractions in Prospect Park include the Prospect Park Zoo and the beautiful Boathouse and it has plenty of sports facilities like soccer fields, basketball courts, and baseball fields. The park is part of a network of open, green spaces that stretch across western Long Island called the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway.
There are a number of nearby train stations, making it easy to get to Prospect Park using the New York City subway system.
15. Coney Island
If you find yourself in New York in summer, consider taking a break to the beach and visit Coney Island, only 14 miles from Manhattan. Spend the day on the almost three-mile-long sandy beaches or visit Luna Park, a famous amusement park and boardwalk.
Take a ride on the Thunderbolt for a thrilling roller coaster ride or choose The Cyclone with scary turns and a 90-degree drop! You can even get a hang-gliding experience on WindstarZ.
You can play a game or two in the games arcade and grab a bite at one of the stalls along the boardwalk. To reach Coney Island you can take the subway from Times Square, which will get you there in an hour.
Important Tips To Help You Plan Your Visit To The City
- Take a city sightseeing tour on a New York double-decker bus to see all the attractions on your first day in the city. During the Hop-on Hop-off tour, you will learn a lot about the history of the city and its best-known attractions in order to plan your sightseeing schedule while you are there.
- A Manhattan Cruise is a must-do. See the skyline of New York and its landmarks from the water.