What to do in NYC: 40 fun NYC activities (for every budget)

December 3, 2020

Are you looking for ideas on what to do in NYC? If so… This ultimate list of NYC activities should give you loads of ideas and inspiration!

If you’re looking for ideas on what to do in NYC… You’ve come to the right place!

I absolutely LOVE NYC, it’s my favourite city and one of the best places in the world. My husband and I try to visit a couple of times a year, and there is always something new to do or see.

There’s something around every corner in NYC, so finding out what to do in NYC isn’t hard! But if you’re unsure where to start… This list will help!

things to do in nyc

The Statue of Liberty

OK, let’s start with the classics… The Statue of Liberty is a pretty iconic part of the city and it’s a must-do to put on your list of what to do in New York! I’ve written a post about all the best ways to see the Statue of Liberty… but as a quick run-down… there are boat tours, walking tours, and ferries!

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is another classic choice for what to do in NYC! This is simply iconic NYC, and you’re going to love it. The views are amazing, and there are so many photo opportunities on the viewing platform!

The Empire State dominates the skyline of midtown Manhattan, and it’s something any first-time visitor to NYC will want to ensure they squeeze in at some point!

what to do in nyc

The Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock is another famous viewing platform in NYC – and one that offers up insane views of the Empire State and the rest of the NYC skyline. In terms of what to do in NYC – this is such a brilliant choice and next on my list of what to do in NYC.

I recommend (if you only have time for one viewing platform) make it this one. It’s seriously amazing, and the views at sunset are so beautiful.

The Museums (there are a lot of them!)

When thinking of what to do in NYC… There are so many museums you could add to your list. Your choice just depends on what you’re interested in and how you fancy spending your time!

I’ve included some of my favourite NYC museums below… But any of the museums would make a great option for what to do in NYC.

list of what to do in nyc

The art galleries (again, there are loads!)

OK, onto the art galleries. NYC has a ton of art galleries (some of the best in the world) so if your wondering what to do in NYC, art galleries would be a pretty safe bet!

Again, there are so many art galleries, so I’ve just included some of my favorites choices below… Any of these would be brilliant options for what to do in New York.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is one of my favorite parks in NYC, so it had to make my list of what to do in NYC. It’s wonderful all year round, but Christmas is beautiful here!

Bryant Park is particularly amazing in the wintertime because it hosts a free ice-rink and also the winter village – which is a collection of festive market stalls and a food hall of independent food stalls. It’s a perfect festive night out and one of my favorite places in the city during the winter months.

what to do in New York

Have an out-of-this-world spa day

There is one spa in NYC that I adore, and it’s called Aire Spa and Ancient Baths. It is the most incredible, insane, beautiful and exclusive place – and ever since I went there, no other spa has been good enough!

Aire is the underground cove of relaxation, and it feels like you’ve been transported to another world. The entire cave is lit with candles, and there are around 7-8 pools to choose from, each offering different styles of relaxation. There are super-hot pools, jacuzzi pools, salt baths, steam rooms, ice-cold pools… Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this place.

It’s worth every penny – and probably one of my favorite experiences in the city and definitely one of the best options for what to do in New York.

aire spa nyc

The Edge

The Edge is a pretty new addition to my list of what to do in NYC. It’s a pretty amazing observation deck, and it overlooks midtown and downtown. If you love observation decks and enjoying those sweeping views of the city – then this is for you!

Central Park

Central Park is one of the best parks in the world… So it had to make my list of what to do in NYC. Central Park is just wonderful, romantic and whimsical – Central Park is just perfect all year round. Here are some of my favorite photo spots in Central Park (if you’re a photographer like me!).

In the winter time you’ll get to see it with a blanket of snow, and in fall you’ll see the beautiful red and orange leaves. Honestly, Central Park is so incredible… Please don’t miss it!

The Vessel at Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards is quite a new neighborhood in NYC, so it had to make my list of what to do in NYC. Hudson Yards is probably most famous for the awe-inspiring ‘Vessel‘ – which is a huge vertical park, made up of a multitude of staircases, leading up to a majestic city view.

Make sure you check this out – it’s a really unique option for NYC activities!

what to do in new york city

Chelsea Market

If you love food, then NYC is a city you’re going to LOVE. One place you can embrace your inner foodie, is to visit Chelsea Market and dig into some of the city’s best dishes.

what to do in new york city.

Times Square

I couldn’t write a list of what to do in NYC, without mentioning Times Square. Of course this makes my list of what to do in NYC… it’s literally one of the most famous streets in the world, and one of the busiest places in the city.

Heading to Times Square is all about enjoying the views and soaking in the atmosphere. It’s truly unique! I recommend going in the daytime and evening… the view is completely different!

list of what to do in nyc.

Watch a Broadway show

There are so many epic Broadway shows in NYC, so it’s a perfect option for what to do in NYC. There’s something on Broadway for everyone… From family-friendly musical such as Frozen, to more in-demand shows like Hamilton.

Honestly, Broadway is the best place in the world to enjoy musical theatre, so make the most of it! Here’s my guide to the best broadway shows, and finding the right choice for you.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Next on my list of what to do in NYC… it’s The Brooklyn Bridge. This bridge is iconic in the skyline of Manhattan, and it’s probably one of the most famous bridges in the world.

It’s instantly recognizable when you approach it, and walking across it has to be one of the most ‘New York’ things you can do. I recommend walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan, so you can enjoy all the views of the city as you walk (you’ll be facing the right direction).

list of what to do in new york city

Eat a sandwich at Katz Deli

Katz Deli is an NYC establishment that sums up the NYC way of life. It’s loud, it’s busy, it’s delicious. If you want to eat something truly ‘New York’ then this is the place you need to put on your what to do in NYC list.

These sandwiches are out of this world. Seriously.

what to do in ny - katz deli

Take a helicopter tour of the city

I mean, if it’s your first time in the city – then a helicopter tour is a must.

Yes it’s a bit on the expensive side, but it’s worth every penny to sweep over the city and look down on one of the most famous cityscapes in the world. It’s genuinely incredible, and such an amazing experience.

Take a food tour

OK, did you even visit NYC if you didn’t take a food tour? This city is FAMOUS for it’s food… so if you’re even remotely interested in food, a food tour is the best way to dicover some of the best eats in the city.

You can tailor your food tour to the kind of taste you have. There are coffee tours, donut tours, Little Italy tours, pizza tours, burger tours… you name it.

Taking a food is one of my favourite things to do in any city because it gives you a glimpse into local life, and the best places to eat – so make sure this is on your list of what to do in NYC.

Visit Macy’s

The World’s biggest department store (or so I’m told!) this is a landmark in the city and should definitely be on your list of what to do in NYC. It’s absolutely HUGE and you’ll find anything in there.

Even if you’re not that much into shopping – take a wander around Macy’s anyway – try and find the wooden escalators – they’re my favourite bit!

New york activities

Eat at the Time Out Market

The NYC Time Out Market is relatively new on the NYC food scene, but it’s an amazing choice for what to do in NYC. If you’re looking for a market style restaurant, with loads of choice for food and plenty to pick from – this is it.

There is also a killer view from the rooftop too – so bear that in mind!

time out market in nyc

Take a bus tour

Next on my list of what to do in NYC – Take a boat tour of the city! AS NYC is surrounded by water, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the city by boat, or take a romantic sightseeing cruise.

There’s something for everyone on the water – from the more laid back ‘scenery tours’ to the more informative tours which will give you a detailed history of the city as you sail.

Explore Koreatown

I know people often talk about Chinatown or Little Italy (both worth visiting also!) for me, it’s all about Koreatown. You’ll find Koreatown on 32nd Street between Madison Avenue and the intersection with Sixth Avenue and Broadway.

It’s a hub of amazing Korean restaurants and BBQ places (so many to try!) – and let me tell you – there is so much amazing food there! Definitely somewhere to add to your list of what to do in NYC.

Kunjip is my absolute favorite! And is where the photo below was taken!

koreatown nyc

Explore Brooklyn

Whilst we’re talking about Brooklyn – make a little time to explore this famous NYC neighborhood too!

If you’re short on time, I recommend setting aside a couple of hours to walk along the DUMBO shoreline for some great photo opportunities of the city.

new york what to do

Go for rooftop cocktails

There are loads of cocktail places in NYC (it’s the city that never sleeps after all). So if you’re of legal drinking age then adding a few cocktail bars to your list of what to do in NYC should definitely be a priority!

Here are a few of my favourite rooftop bars in NYC to enjoy in the summer time.

new york things to do

Go to the golf driving range on Pier 59

If golf is your thing, then you should check out the Pier 59 golf driving range. It’s a lot of fun, and well worth the money! Definitely something to add to your list of what to do in NYC.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry

It’s free, there are great views, and you don’t have to queue that long. That ticks all my boxes for what to do in NYC – I don’t know about you! Don’t overlook this amazing activity – it’s so great, and an NYC classic.

staten island ferry

Tour the NYC catacombs

If you want to add something a little bit different to your list of what to do in NYC, then the NYC catacombs tour might do it for you.

On this tour you’ll go behind the scenes at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (one of the best churchs in the city – and one of the most famous!) and you’ll get to see parts of the church that are otherwise off-limits to visitors. It’s pretty epic actually, even if churches aren’t really your thing.

Ride the Roosevelt Island Tramway

This is a pretty cool option for what to do in NYC. It’s something most first-time or even second and third time visitors overlook (or have just never head about) – so I’d class the Roosevelt tram as bit of a hidden gem.

For the cost of a metrocard ride, the tramway leaves from manhattan and takes you soaring over the city and the river to Roosevelt island. You can explore the island if you want, or you can just do a U-turn and hope on the return tram back to the city.

There are some great views and it’s a fun way to spend an hour!

what to do in nyc - roosevelt tram

Catch an NFL game

Next on my list of what to do in NYC, it’s catching an NFL game. The NFL season runs from September (ish) to February – so if you can grab some cheap tickets to a New York Giants game during your visit, then do it!

It’s so much fun to watch the NFL games, and it’s a great way to experience a bit of ‘local life’ rather than just the typical tourist stuff.

I absolutely love watching a Giants game when we’re in the city. It’s so much fun, even if football isn’t really your thing.

New York Giants what to do in NYC

Check out Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

If you’re visiting NYC during November or December, then checking out the Dyker Heights Christmas lights is a must-do. Dyker heights is a famous neighborhood in Brooklyn, and every year they go ABOVE AND BEYOND with their Christmas decorations and lights.

It’s honestly amazing – you’ll never see anything quite like it. You can do tours from the city (who will take you right there) and the tours are a great way to see them!

Get free tickets to a famous TV show

A lot of the morning shows and stand-up late-night TV shows in the US are filmed in NYC, and getting tickets to a screening is actually free – you just need to know where to look!

So if you like TV (and you’ve never seen a live filming before) this is a pretty cool thing to add to your list of what to do in NYC.

Walk the Highline

The High Line is a public park in NYC, and it’s kinda cool. It’s an elevated train track, that has been landscaped and overgrown into a beautiful walkway and park.

It can get pretty crowded (it’s popular!) in the height of summer and autumn, so it’s worth heading there early if you want to avoid the crowds.

Walk around Grand Central Station

Grand Central station is next on my list of what to do in NYC. Whilst, yes, it’s only a train station – it’s not! There’s so much more to this station than trains.

The art, the atmosphere, the food market – seriously you could spend a couple of hours exploring Grand Central – and I highly recommend it!

grand central station nyc

Take an all-access tour of Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden is next on my list of what to do in NYC. If you’ve heard of this venue, you’ll know it’s one of the most famous in the city and it’s huge! Taking an all access tour is a must-do if you’re interested in seeing behind the scene!

I really recommend this tour, there’s something kind of special about seeing a stadium empty and having it all to yourself! Click here for tickets.

nyc activities and tours

Check out the local street art

NYC and Brooklyn are really well known for their street art scene. I mean, this city has some of the best street art in the world… so it had to make our list of what to do in NYC.

The best way to see the best street art, is actually by taking a tour – this way you get an experts guide – and also all the correct information about who created the art and any history behind it!

Go shopping on 5th Ave

When writing about what to do in NYC, I couldn’t not mention shopping! There are so many amazing places for shopping in NYC (literally hundreds) but 5th Ave is one of the most popular!

new york city stuff to do

Do something quirky

It’s easy to stick to the standard tourist stuff, but there are actually some really fun quirky things to do in NYC too! When thinking baout what to do in NYC, I always like to find the quirkier things!

These three suggestions below and three of the most quirky things I could find, that won’t pop up in the standard guide book!


I hope this list of what to do in NYC has helped to give you lots of inspiration and ideas!

There are so many things to do in NYC, so when you’re looking for what to do in New York for your trip – you shouldn’t struggle!

There’s hopefully something on this list for every budget and interests – to make your trip to NYC even more amazing!

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