NYC is one of the best cities in the world so it’s no wonder you’re looking for a guide on what to see in New York!
There are so many amazing things to do in NYC, you definitely won’t be bored!
I’m always in NYC, and have spent many years building up an endless list of tips, tricks and recommendations for things to do in NYC, and building the perfect list of what to see in New York… Which you’ll find here!
Hopefully this huge New York City travel guide will be useful and informative, and make your trip to NYC the trip of a lifetime!
What to see in NYC (my unmissable list)
First up on my list of what to see in New York it’s my un-missable list.
When it comes to what to see in New York and things to do in NYC, there are so many amazing attractions, sights, parks, buildings… The list goes on and on for things to do in NYC.
You’ll never run out of suggestions for things to do in NYC!
In this guide to what to see in NYC, we’ll compile all our favorite ideas for you!
Of course, what kind of New York City travel guide would this be if I didn’t include a huge list of things to do when you visit NYC, and a huge list of what to see in NYC!
You’ll want to make sure you’re ticking off all the top tourist activities and best things to do in NYC!
Here’s my list of things to do in NYC… (what to see in New York!)
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (one of the best things to do in NYC!)
- Visit Times Square (a classic choice for things to do in NYC!)
- Walk through Central Park (or take a bike tour)
- Visit Macy’s (perfect things to do in NYC for shopping addicts!)
- See the Statue of Liberty (click here to read a post on the best ways to see it)
- Visit DUMBO in Brooklyn and enjoy the skyline views
- Sip cocktails on a NYC rooftop bar (here’s a list!)
- Have a bagel for breakfast (stay fuelled up for your things to do in NYC)
- Visit an Observation deck (see below for my top picks)
- Visit the Rockefeller tree (if you’re there from Nov – Jan)
- Walk the High Line park
- Visit a museum (see below for a list of the best!)
- Explore Grand Central Terminal (click here to book a Grand Central Station tour)
- Ride the Subway
- Try a slice of NYC pizza
- See a Broadway show (we couldn’t write a list of things to do in NYC without Broadway!)
- Have a pint in an Irish bar
- Visit the New York Public Library
- Visit Brooklyn
- Sit in Bryant Park and people watch
- Ride the Roosevelt Island Tram (such an underrated choice for things to do in NYC)
- Stroll though the city and get lost
- Enjoy lots of the city’s amazing food
- Take a boat tour
- Have a drink in an Irish bar
Top NYC tip: First up, if you’re visiting NYC and plan on hitting up lots of the tourist attractions and things to do in NYC, getting a NYC PASS is one of the best ways to save money. So get one!
Next up, we’ll go through everything in a little more detail! Below, alongside things to do in NYC, you’ll find restaurant recommendations, tips of choosing between similar attractions, walking ideas, routes, photo opportunities and so much more!
We hope you find this ultimate guide to things to do in NYC useful!
Observation Decks in NYC
First up on my list of what to see in NYC… the views of course!
One of the leading things to do in NYC is obviously the observation decks.
Here’s a breakdown of the different observation decks in the city – which offer the vest views of the NYC skyline.
There are a few different observation decks in the New York City, so when you’re thinking of what to see in New York, definitely try and squeeze at least one of these into your schedule. They’re the best things to do in NYC for a reason!
Each one offers a slightly different view of the city and the skyline and they’re perfect places for taking photographs. When writing about what to see in NYC, we simply had to include these!
Here are the most popular ones when it comes to what to see in NYC:
Top of the Rock (Rockefeller)
My personal favourite observation deck for what to see in New York. It’s one of the best things to do in NYC for me. It’s not as high as the others, but I think the view is the best, as you get to see the incredible Empire State as part of the skyline. Click here to book tickets.
One World Observatory
My second favourite for what to see in New York and things to do in NYC. It’s the highest building in New York, and the views literally span for miles. Make sure you visit on a clear day for the best views. Click here to book skip-the-line tickets.
Empire State Building
My least favourite of the observation decks, but it’s a classic choice and an iconic building – so it’s not a bad choice for things to do in NYC. It’s still a great choice for what to see in New York. Click here to book skip-the-line tickets.
Things to do in NYC: New observation decks!
There have been a couple of brand new observations decks open up in 2021 and 2002 to add to your list of things to do in NYC, so we wanted to dedicate a little portion of this guide to them!
The first is called, The Edge.
The Edge is a new observation deck for our never ending list of things to do in NYC. It’s a new observation deck located in Midtown, with great views of the city’s skyscrapers!
This amazing observation deck has a different angle on the city, and also has an area with a glass floor – for the daredevils! It’s a wonderful choice for things to do in NYC.
The second observation deck, is called SUMMIT ONE.
This is an observation deck with a twist, and it’s geared towards creating the most unique and fun viewpoints possible of the city.
You won’t have been anywhere like it, it’s really cool! There are so many wonderful photo opportunities and great views of the Empire State Building too. It’s a winner for things to do in NYC.
Different kinds of tours in NYC
Next up on my list of what to see in NYC… It’s all the different ways you can tour and explore the city!
When thinking about things to do in NYC, taking a tour is one of the best ways to see lots of places in the city. There are SO MANY ways you can see the city if you’re going to opt for a tour, so they’re a crucial part of any New York City travel guide, especially this guide to things to do in NYC.
Although tours might seem a bit touristy – they’re always really fun and education – and you genuinely learn a lot about the city during them. Which makes them a fantastic choice for things to do in NYC.
And you meet great people too, so they’re amazing for solo travellers.
Read more about visiting NYC: 14 amazing dog-friendly hotels in NYC
What to see in NYC: A boat tour / boat cruise
A boat tour will always make my list of what to see in NYC and things to do in NYC. There’s just something special about seeing the city from the water.
There are loads of boat tours in the city, most will take you around the majority of Manhattan, and it’s really special activity, and a great choice for romantic things to do in NYC.
I recommend an afternoon and sunset boat tour (click here to book) as it’s a good balance between comfort and sightseeing. And great views!
Trust me – the last thing you want is to be stuck on an uncomfortable boat for 2 hours! It’s also worth booking a brunch / lunch or dinner cruise, if you fancy enjoying some food while you cruise around the city. This is a great choice for what to see in NYC and things to do in NYC.
Open top bus tour
Next up on what to see in New York and things to do in NYC, it’s an open top bus tour. The open top bus tour is a classic choice in NYC, and it’s genuinely a great way to see the city.
The bus tours are designed to take you via the biggest attractions / well known sights – so you can tick them off your list. There’s a reason this makes everyone’s list of things to do in NYC, and it’s because it’s fun and practical.
What I like about this option is that you can usually hop-off if you see something you want to explore on foot, and then jump back on the next bus when you’re finished. Click here to book tickets!
The Ride Bus Tour
The Ride is a slightly quirky bus tour option. It’s a performance and bus tour all in one, with street performers perfectly positioned on street corners, so you’re watching amazing artists and performers almost everytime you reach a red traffic light.
It’s truly something special, and if you want to view the city through a more romantic lens – then I can’t reocmmend this enough.
Walking tour of NYC
If you want to stretch your legs and see NYC by foot, then a walking tour is actually a great idea. We love walking tours, and think they’re one of the best things to do in NYC.
You can take things at a more relaxed pace, and you can soak in the city in a little more detail than the two options above would allow. Usually a walking tour will only cover a certain part of the city, or a certain neighbourhood though, but it means you get far more detail and info.
Walking tours are great ways of figuring out what to see in New York, and finding new places to go back and explore. Overall, they’re a must-do for your list of things to do in NYC.
Read more about NYC hotels: 12 beautiful upper east side hotels!
Helicopter tour of NYC
Next on our list of what to see in New York, it’s a helicopter tour.
If budget isn’t an issue, then taking a helicopter tour over NYC is epic and completely unforgettable. I’ve done it once, and it was beyond amazing – the views you experience are just mesmerizing. It’s a classic choice for things to do in NYC.
Read more about visiting NYC: 34 things to do in NYC when it rains
What to see in New York: Neighbourhoods to explore
Next on my guide for things to do in NYC, it’s which neighbourhoods you should explore!
Half the fun of visiting NYC, and figuring out what to see in New York, is exploring the different neighbourhoods and seeing the city from many different perspectives. Exploring is actually one of the best free things to do in NYC.
No New York City travel guide would be complete without a list of the different neighbourhoods.
For me, I love just getting to a neighbourhood and spending the day walking around it and exploring the local food options, the cafes, the shops and the seeing the architecture. I love this for things to do in NYC.
Here are some neighbourhoods I would recommend visiting and exploring:
- Midtown (where all the touristy things are like Times Square)
- Chelsea (a beautiful neighbourhood just below Midtown)
- Greenwich / West Village (known for being the filming location of many TV shows, such as FRIENDS!)
- DUMBO (a neighbourhood in Brooklyn that looks over the river to Manhattan)
- Hudson Yards (a new neighbourhood, recently regenerated with The Vessel and a great shopping centre)
- Little Italy (This feels very ‘old NYC’ and is obviously a must-visit if you love Italian food)
- Tribeca (Bordering on Downtown, there are some gorgeous buildings here)
- Upper West Side (where a lot of locals live, and so beautiful and scenic)
- Williamsburg (a quirky area of Brooklyn that oozes cool vibes)
- Read more NYC recommendations: Our guide to visiting the famous floating island in NYC
What to see in New York: Museums and Galleries
We couldn’t talk about things to do in NYC, without including the many museums and galleries in the city.
If you like to spend times in museums and galleries, you’ll like this part of my New York City travel guide! When it comes to what to see in New York, you can miss out the museums and galleries! Museums and galleries are some of the most popular things to do in NYC.
Read more NYC recommendations: 40 things to do on the Upper East Side, NYC
If you love museums, there are plenty to choose from in NYC, and they’re some of the best things to see in NYC. Here are some of my favourites in the city, as well as some of the main ones (and some unconventional choices too!).
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (art museum – click here for skip-the-line tickets)
- Museum of Modern Art (art museum)
- Guggenheim Museum (art museum)
- Natural History Museum (history of the earth and animals – click here for tickets)
- Ellis Island Museum (history of NYC immigration – click here for fast-track entrance)
- Museum of Chinese in America (a museum about the history of chinese culture in NYC)
- International Center of Photography (museum about photography and capturing images)
- Center for Architecture (museum about NYC architecture)
- Museum at FIT (fashion museum)
- Skyscraper Museum (museum about NYC architecture)
- Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum (music museum)
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (oddities and curiosities)
- Madame Tussauds (wax figures of celebrities)
- Mets Hall of Fame & Museum (sports museum)
- National September 11 Memorial & Museum (museum dedicated to victims of 9/11 attacks)
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (museum of World War II aircraft carriers – click here for tickets)
- New York City Fire Museum (museum of firefighting vehicles, equipment, uniforms)
What to see in New York: Parks and green spaces
Next up on my list of what to see in New York… it’s parks and green spaces in the city! Parks are such an important part of writing any list of things to do in NYC.
There are actually loads of parks in NYC – all with something slightly different to offer, which makes them a great choice for things to do in NYC.
Yes, of course Central Park is the most iconic and famous park in the city – but if you want to enjoy some green space in other parts of NYC, these gorgeous parks in this part of our guide, will definitely do the trick!
When it comes to what to see in New York, the parks make the top of the list as they’re so unique.
How could I write a guide for what to see in New York, and not mention Central Park. I have to mention this one because it’s the biggest and the best. It’s iconic – please don’t leave NYC without visiting Central Park at least once!
There’s so much to do in Central Park, from the zoo, to the carousel, to the parks, the the views… it’s just amazing. There are loads of great tours of the park too, or your can rent a bike and tour it yourself!
When you plan your own list of things to do in NYC, don’t miss Central Park, it’s simply perfect.
Another great choice for things to do in NYC, it’s Bryant Park.
My second favourite park in the city is Bryant Park, so I had to include it in my list of what to see in New York and things to do in NYC. This one is located in the heart of Midtown, next to the Public Library.
It’s such a gorgeous little park, with a mini carousel, a huge green lawn, and even chess and other games for visitors. It’s also has an amazing Christmas market during Christmas time in the winter months.
If you’re looking for things to do in NYC in the spring and summer, this park is like a little city oasis.
Read more NYC: Wondering what to wear to a Broadway Show? Here’s our guide!
Madison Square Park
Located in Chelsea, this little park has some lovely places to sit (as well as a dog park) so it’s a fun place to hang out. It’s also right by the Flat Iron building, so a great place for taking some photos too.
I actually got engaged in this park, so of course I had to include it in my guide to what to see in New York. It’s a great pick for things to do in NYC.
Next on our list of things to do in NYC, it’s Battery Park. Right at the very southern tip of Manhattan is Battery Park.
I love Battery Park because it’s the very end of the city (kind of!) and it has lovely views out to the water. If you’re getting a statue of liberty cruise, this is probably where you’ll depart from.
Read more about NYC: How to create the New York apartment aesthetic (with photos)
Brooklyn Bridge Park
This park is located right on the river in Brooklyn, so it overlooks the Manhattan skyline. It’s one of the parks with the best views of the city – which makes it really popular. It’s one of the best things to do in NYC, and the views are unmatched.
If you want some great images of the NYC skyline – this place needs to be on your to-do list. I love taking photos here, so I definitely had to include it in my list of what to see in New York.
NYC hacks and tips
When figuring out what to see in New York, it also helps to have some tips and trick for getting around the city!
Here are some of my NYC travel hacks and tips for whilst you visit – these are a bit random, but I wanted to make sure I included them! No New York City travel guide would be complete without some money-saving tips and travel hacks.
- If you plan on riding the subway, be sure to get a weekly Metro card (it’ll work out cheaper)
- Citymapper (it’s an app for your phone!) is amazing for navigating the city. Just type in your location and it’ll give you various routes you can take to get there.
- Need the toilet whilst sightseeing? Most hotel lobby’s have toilets – so just use those! Alternatively – Starbucks!
- Avoid hailing a cab in Times Square, you’ll have clocked up a huge fare before you’ve even got out of the area just because the traffic is so bad.
- For cheap food, look out for food courts or food markets. You’ll be able to get one-person portions for under $10. I love Time Out Market at the moment.
- Don’t order room service – it’s so overpriced! Use services like Uber Eats instead, they’ll deliver from external restaurants to your hotel room.
- Visit Times Square in the morning (it’s so much quieter) or after 10pm (again, less crowds!)
- Save money on attractions by buying a NYC pass (that includes lots of attractions within the price)
- A bagel with cream cheese is the CHEAPEST breakfast and will keep you full for hours. It shouldn’t cost more than $4. For a cheap dinner, grab a slice of $1 pizza. You can’t go wrong.
Read more about visiting NYC solo: Dining solo in NYC and the best places to eat alone in NYC!
Where to stay in NYC has a big impact on what you’ll see and do.
Finally, a big thing that can have an impact on what you see in New York, is where you stay!
When thinking about what to see in New York, you’ll want to make sure you stay in the right place too! New York is a pretty big, and where you stay can make a huge impact on how much you enjoy your trip and the kinds of things you’ll spend time doing / seeing.
In this part of my NYC travel guide, I’ll talk about the best neighbourhoods to stop in, and which areas of the city might be best for your particular needs.
For first timers: Go for Midtown
If you’ve never been to the city before, then Midtown is hands down the best place to stay. You’ll notice a lot of the activities in this New York City travel guide are based in Midtown, so it’s a great place to be based if you want to be within walking distance of loads of NYC attractions.
Try and opt for a hotel between 30th St and 52nd St, and you’ll be in the heart of all the action.
If you want somewhere a little more ‘local’: Go for Chelsea or Greenwich Village
There are still touristy attractions in Chelsea and Greenwich Village, but the general ‘vibe’ in these neighbourhoods is much more local, than touristy. It’s usually this part of NYC that you see in TV shows and sitcoms.
The buildings aren’t as tall as in Midtown or Downtown, but they’re older, and feel a bit more ‘old-school’ NYC.
If you’re on a budget: Go for Brooklyn
Brooklyn is gaining in popularity as every year passes, but hotels are still cheaper there compared to Manhattan. One thing I will say about Brooklyn though, is be careful of your location. Brooklyn is a little more ‘spread out’ than Manhattan – so try and ensure you’re close to a Subway Station (it’ll make getting around so much easier!).
If you want romance: Go for Columbus Circle or near Central Park
For me, the most romantic hotel rooms in NYC (so I wanted to include this area in my New York City travel guide) are the ones with views of Central Park. It’s just my opinion, but I love being able to see the park peeping through the sky scrapers.
If you’re there on a romantic getaway, I’d really recommend somewhere north of 56th street, in the blocks leading up to Central Park. You’ll still be walking distance to loads of attractions, but you get the peacefulness of the park too. Ask for a room on a high floor so you get an amazing view!
Explore NYC food
If you’re looking for what to see in NYC, you’re probably also looking for recommendations on what to eat in NYC too! So let us be your guide!
If there’s one thing we LOVE writing about, it’s food in NYC!
Take a look through the list below and find the ones that will be most helpful to you!
Some other useful resources!
And last up on my list of what to see in NYC, some other blog posts you may find useful!
I love NYC and I’ve spent so much time here over the years (we visit multiple times a year!). So, as you’d expect, I’ve been writing about this city for almost a decade! Here are some other blog posts I’ve written, that might be useful for you!