Things to Do in New York City
Guarding the entrance to New York Harbor on Liberty Island, the 305-foot (93-meter) Statue of Liberty came to the United States as a gift from France to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Lady Liberty has been a symbol of democracy and hope for NYC and the US since 1886. Together with neighboring Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty National Monument is administered by the National Park Service.
New York City’s Ellis Island was America’s busiest immigrant inspection station for more than 60 years, from 1892 to 1954. As the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States, it processed more than 50 percent of the nation’s current ancestors. Today the island’s restored main building houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, part of the adjacent Statue of Liberty National Monument. The museum honors the US’s immigrant heritage, chronicles the island’s role in immigration history, and gives voice to the immigrants themselves.
The world's tallest building from 1931 to 1977, the Empire State Building is topped with a stepped Art Deco pinnacle that's floodlit at night and boasts holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year. After admiring the mosaics in the Art Deco lobby, take an elevator ride to the 86th or 102nd floor and get ready to drink in astounding 360-degree views from this iconic skyscraper observatory.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City stands as a place of remembrance and a somber tribute to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reopened 10 years after the 2001 attacks, the eight-acre (3.2-hectare) plaza—built on the World Trade Center site—features two massive square reflecting pools whose waterfalls cascade down into the footprints of the former Twin Towers. The surrounding plaza is a peaceful and moving green space, while the museum, located beneath the plaza, lends a deeper understanding to the impact of that day. You’ll undoubtedly leave with a heavy heart.
Extending for 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) across New York City’s East River, this 19th-century bridge sees constant foot, bike, and car traffic thanks to commuters and sightseers alike. After a construction beset by tragedies—at least 20 people died during the building process—this steel-wire suspension bridge, then the world’s largest, finally opened to the public in 1883. Today crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential New York experience. Visitors come in droves to admire the bridge’s dramatic neo-Gothic towers and the stellar views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.
New York City’s hyperhip neighborhood of SoHo is renowned for its stylish shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. Though it’s more relaxed than bustling Times Square, SoHo can get mobbed with shoppers and tourists. Stroll down the cobblestone streets, browse stores—from big-name brands to posh boutiques—or peek inside its many galleries.
The heart and soul of Manhattan, Central Park is 843 acres (341 hectares) of green space featuring running paths, a boating lake, ponds, a zoo, fountains, statues, gardens, and a skating rink. New Yorkers and visitors alike have gathered at this National Historic Landmark year-round since 1857 to enjoy a respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.
One of North America’s most majestic natural wonders, Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls—American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls—which plunge dramatically over the Niagara River. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the US with viewpoints and falls-themed attractions on both sides.
Travelers looking to experience life—or, at least, New York City—on the top of the world need look no further than the One World Observatory. One World Trade Center features a high-speed elevator that shoots visitors straight to the 100th-floor observatory in just 47 seconds. On the ride up, impressive time-lapse technology showcases the city’s transformation from the 1500s to the present in immersive floor-to-ceiling screens. At the top, spectacular 360-degree views of New York City’s waterways, iconic skyline, and renowned landmarks stretch for miles.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s most prestigious art collections and cultural hubs. Five million annual visitors stroll the Met’s 17 acres (6.9 hectares) of gallery space, gazing upon pieces representing 5,000 years of art and human history. From Egyptian tombs to American abstract expressionist paintings, the museum’s permanent collection has more than 2 million objects, so expect to stay awhile.
More Things to Do in New York City
Radiating art deco glory, Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan is where you'll find Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios, the Top of the Rock observation deck, and in winter, New York City’s famous ice rink and Christmas tree. Opened by John D. Rockefeller in 1933, it’s a classic NYC stop for its history as a cultural center and architectural icon.
Both an architectural marvel and one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks, the Flatiron Building has been a city icon since its debut in 1902. Named for its uncommonly thin, triangular shape, the building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham and is a National Historic Landmark. It is not currently open to the public.
The neon lights and video billboards of Times Square are one of New York City’s most well-known landmarks. This triangular intersection between Broadway, 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue is home to the Big Apple’s famous theaters and the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop—an essential Manhattan experience.
One of the largest natural harbors in the world, New York Harbor is the gateway to Manhattan. It’s also a scenic spot to explore and a must for first-time visitors to New York City, with photo ops aplenty along its walking trails, bridges, and piers.
Synonymous with US financial markets, capitalism, and the history of early New York, Wall Street runs for eight blocks, from Broadway to South streets, through Lower Manhattan. It may be the financial heart of the city and bustling with traders most days of the week, but the area also offers plenty of historic interest to visitors.
One of Manhattan’s most storied—and macabre—buildings, the Dakota has pride of place on Central Park West. The architectural icon of the Upper West Side was a stand-in for the fictional Bramford in the horror film Rosemary’s Baby; it’s also where John Lennon was shot in 1980.
Madison Square Park is a bustling, leafy square that's packed with benches and tucked into New York's Flatiron District. Offices, trendy restaurants, and an architectural landmark—the Flatiron Building—surround Madison Square, situated at Broadway at 23rd Street. Stop for a rest in the park on a busy day exploring Manhattan.
Perhaps the most common backdrop for opening scenes of movies for the past several decades, the Manhattan skyline is New York City's shining beacon, designed to impress and inspire. From historical fixtures like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building to One World Trade Center, the man-made masterpiece dazzles at any time of day and from any vantage point in the NYC area.
While all of New York’s observation decks have their merits, Edge NYC is the tallest outdoor deck in the Western Hemisphere. Head up to the site’s glass-floored platform for a unique view of the cityscape and enjoy a sunset or just spend some time spotting city landmarks, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty.
The largest neo-Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States, New York City's St. Patrick’s Cathedral occupies an entire city block, and welcomes millions of visitors annually. First built in 1879, the Manhattan landmark is renowned for its soaring spires, colossal organ, and exemplary rose window, and is the seat of the Archbishop of New York.
Greenwich Village, known for its cobblestone streets and historical brownstones, is home to Bleecker Street, Washington Square Park, the Whitney Museum, and New York University. Once a hub for 1960s counterculture, the area has since transformed into a residential neighborhood dotted with cozy eateries, upscale shops, and Hudson River walkways.
A big name in the baseball world, New York’s Yankee Stadium is a must for sports fans, whether you catch a game or learn about Yankees history on a tour of the team’s home field. Built in the Bronx in 1923, the original ballpark closed 85 years later when the city prepared to open the new site across East 161st Street.
Home to 95,000 people, New York City’s Chinatown is one of the largest and oldest ethnic Chinese enclaves in the United States. The Manhattan neighborhood offers a heady blend of restaurants, cafés, sidewalk food stalls, street vendors, and traditional herbal medicine shops. Round out the Chinatown experience at its museums and temples.
Located at the heart of Manhattan, Grand Central Station (also known as Grand Central Terminal) welcomes 750,000 people daily who come to marvel at its spectacular architecture and murals, grab a bite to eat, or simply catch a commuter train home.
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