25+ Best Things to Do in New York City
As one of the culturally richest and most diverse cities worldwide, NYC is packed full of spectacular attractions. It can be quite challenging to choose among so many fantastic things to do in New York, especially if you’ve never been there. You’re probably excited about moving to New York, but you might also feel somewhat overwhelmed with such a wide range of options before you.
Should you first explore its rich culture? Join tours around museums and galleries? Spend time outdoors walking around parks and gardens? Explore each of the 5 boroughs of New York City? Go to the Statue of Liberty? Or just walk around the downtown area and get the real feel of this bustling metropolis that never sleeps? How could you possibly choose when everything sounds like the right choice, right? You are about to relocate to the financial and cultural capital of the world, the most linguistically diverse city, and one of the most desirable places worldwide. Thus, it’s completely understandable to feel somewhat perplexed at the moment and not know where to start.
To help you make some kind of a plan for your first tour, we have gathered some of the gazillions of things to do and must-visit attractions to check out here. Let’s see where to go first after you settle into your new home in the Big Apple.
#1 Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
With close to 7,000,000 visitors in 2018, the colloquially known Met is the third most visited museum worldwide. There is a variety of collections to see here, from European Paintings, Photographs, to Asian, African, and Islamic artwork. The Met has three locations – the main building at Fifth Avenue, The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan, and The Met Breuer on the Upper East Side.
Enjoy the View from the Met Roof Garden
When you feel that you need a break and grab some refreshment before you continue to admire the artwork exhibited in this majestic museum, go to the Met Roof Garden. This rooftop bar offers a breathtaking view, as well as excellent food and drinks to get energized. On Friday and Saturday nights, this café turns into a Martini Bar, so you can enjoy great cocktails, too, while enjoying the view.
#2 Spend a Day in Central Park
This is the most visited urban park in the entire country for a reason. Even though it’s the fifth largest one in NYC, it has much more to offer than many larger parks, making it such a popular attraction among tourists and locals equally. Whether you want to go for a run, to a yoga class, ride a bike, or have a picnic, here’s the perfect place to do all of that and much more.
Watch Shakespeare for Free in Central Park
Before you get to Broadway or any other major theatre, know that you can also catch a play for free here at the outdoor Delacorte Theatre. This has been a New York tradition for more than 60 years, and its popularity is only growing more and more as time goes by. Thus, be sure to book the tickets well in advance to enjoy “Othello,” “Twelfth Night,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” or some other great play under the open sky.
#3 Take a Stroll Down Bryant Park
This is a popular year-round destination with a wide array of activities and programs covering everything from fitness, yoga, and pilates to fencing, Kung Fu, and Tai Chi. You can also take part in a variety of workshops. Some of these include knitting, writers’ workshops, as well as language classes. If you’re moving during the holidays, you’ll just love their Winter Village Program, including broomball, winter fitness, and, of course, the magical tree lighting.
Have a Drink at Southwest Porch
When you get tired of all those workshops and activities and need a break, head to Southwest Porch for a drink or order something to eat, too. This is an open lounge where you can enjoy a laid-back ambiance and relax at rocking chairs or porch swings. There’s also a fire pit, so even if you come here during winter, it will be just as cozy.
#4 Immerse Yourself in Nature in Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded back in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open all year round. Depending on when you choose to plan your tour, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor or indoor exhibits. Either way, you won’t regret your tour as this is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque sights in this borough. You can walk down the paths lined with Cherry trees, take a stroll down the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, or take part in some of its education programs, to name a few options.
Don’t Miss the Cherry Blossom Festival
Entire April is dedicated to a Japanese celebration of cherry blossom, so if you find yourself in NYC at that time, it’s worth visiting the Cherry Blossom Festival held not only to celebrate cherry blossom but the entire Japanese culture.
#5 Climb the Empire State Building
Here’s one of the top-ranked places to enjoy a spectacular view of the entire city from the rooftop at the height of 1,250 feet. This experience alone would be a good enough reason to head to the “World’s Most Famous Building,” but there’s even more to it. Its Art Deco architecture is another reason why many don’t want to miss it.
#6 Take a Tour of the Museum of Modern Art
As a culturally rich city, the Big Apple is full of many fantastic museums, including this one with more than 200,000 artworks. A tour around MoMA is always a mind-opening experience. Whether you enjoy architecture, sculpture, drawing, painting, or, perhaps, electronic media, you’ll find something you’ll love here. The MoMA is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. It’s only closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
#7 Pay a Visit to the Rockefeller Center
Located between 48th Street and 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan and spreading on 22 acres, Rockefeller Center is a national historic landmark, and as such, should be at the top of your list. Be it because of shopping, food, and drinks, or the view that you come to this complex, it will be a memorable experience. And don’t miss sitting in the Channel Gardens to relax.
Go to the Top of the Rock to Enjoy the Breathtaking New York Skyline
One of the most common reasons why people want to go here is to take in the sweeping view from the top. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck is open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., offering a 360-degree view of the city’s iconic skyline that you’ll never forget.
#8 Walk Across Brooklyn Bridge
Here’s another world-famous NYC landmark that attracts plenty of visitors who want to cross it or simply come close to this iconic bridge and take a photo. If you’re planning to ask how car shipping works and to get professional auto transport services, you can also use your car to cross it, though the feeling will be much more memorable if you cross the bridge on foot or by bicycle.
#9 Take a Walk Down Broadway
Running from State Street at Bowling Green through Manhattan and then 2 miles through the Bronx, Broadway is one of NYC’s best-known roads all around the world. It is primarily known as the heart of the theatrical industry of the entire country and widely known Broadway theatre. In addition to theatre, there are also many historical buildings, making Broadway even more glorious and enjoyable to walk around.
Catch a Show
When you settle in and decide to relax in a theater, there’s not much to think about – make reservations for a Broadway show. If you wait for a discount, the tickets might cost you around $50, but if you pay the full price, it will probably be more than $100.
#10 Take a Ride on Staten Island Ferry
The iconic Staten Island Ferry operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so whenever you feel like taking a ride, you’ll be able to do so. It reaches Staten Island in about 25 minutes, so it’s a convenient mode of transport when you need to get from Manhattan there, but it is also a major tourist attraction as one of the last remaining vestiges of the NYC ferry system.
Enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty from Staten Island Ferry
You can’t say you’ve been to New York if you haven’t seen the colossal sculpture that has become the symbol of NYC. Of course, we’re talking about the Statue of Liberty. You can get a magnificent view from the deck of Staten Island Ferry. You can also catch a glimpse of Ellis Island and Lower Manhattan.
Upon your return, you’ll want to continue the countdown of the most iconic landmarks you’ve dreamt about for so long. Thus, make sure you take some time to walk around the very heart of NYC and feel the bustling Times Square.
#11 Witness the Diversity at Times Square
Did you know that as many as up to 460,000 people pass through Times Square on a daily basis? These figures come as no surprise given that this is a major commercial district, entertainment hub, one of the most popular tourist attractions, as well as the point where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet. These are just some of the countless reasons why people are flocking to this popular destination. We have no doubts that you, too, can’t wait to join those 50 million visitors it has per year, which makes it one of the most visited tourist attractions worldwide. Let’s try to single out one of the many attractions you should check out here.
Experience National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
Would you like to feel what it’s like living under the sea, in the heart of Times Square? And by feel, we mean to see and hear, and find yourself among squids, sea lions, or escape a 50-foot whale? Sounds quite intriguing and a bit scary, too, right? Don’t worry – this is a virtual ocean, though it won’t feel virtual at all! If you’re moving with kids, this can be an amazing experience for them, too.
#12 Go to Grand Central Terminal, Even if You Don’t Need a Ride
Grand Central Terminal serves northern parts of the New York metropolitan area, thus covering a major portion of it. But in addition to that, this is one of the most exquisite public spaces in the Big Apple and a major tourist attraction that offers more than just a regular station. It’s a place with a rich history, magnificent architecture, as well as a dining and shopping destination. Grand Central Terminal is open from 5.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
#13 Wander Around Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village often ranks high among the best places to live in New York, so here’s an idea if you still haven’t picked a neighborhood to move to. Nonetheless, it’s not that affordable. Truth be told, the cost of living in New York is generally quite high, but even so, this is one of the most expensive districts. But you don’t have to live there to enjoy all its beauties. So, make sure you head to this charming neighborhood and explore every corner if possible – it’s worth it.
Stop by Smalls Jazz Club
There are quite a few excellent bars and cafés to stop by in Greenwich Village, but Smalls Jazz Club is probably one of the stellar places to go. You won’t have to pay much to enjoy lovely jam sessions and listen to live jazz bands here. Just pick a day. In addition to great music, you can also enjoy a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails.
#14 Take a Walk Around Washington Square Park
While in Greenwich Village, it would be a shame not to visit one of the most popular NYC parks, also known as a hub for cultural activity. This is a symbolic heart of the neighborhood, but it’s quite popular among those from other districts, too. If you’re moving for a relationship, you can spend a lovely day with your loved one. If you’re single, you won’t feel so lonely (like you could feel lonely anywhere in NYC), as the nightlife is quite vibrant, too. Or you can take your dog for a walk. There’s something for everyone.
Save the Date for Movie Night Under the Arch
For movie lovers, Movie Night Under the Arch is a perfect attraction here. All you need to do is bring a blanket and some food, sit back and enjoy. Do remember the old first-come, first-served to get a place on time, so it’s advisable to arrive about two hours before the movie is scheduled.
#15 Book the NYC Helicopter Tour for an Unforgettable Experience
What better way to see the entire metropolis than up from the air, right? Consider NYC helicopter tours to have an out-of-this-world experience that will only make you fall in love with this city even more. Check out some of the best helicopter tours and get ready for an incredible flight.
#16 Enjoy Nature at New York Botanical Garden
Did you know that this botanical garden has as many as one million living plants preserved in its 250-acre area? So, when you feel that you need a break from the “concrete jungle” and get in touch with nature, here’s a perfect relaxing place to recharge your batteries. The garden is located close to the Bronx Zoo, so you can stop by there, too, and make your tour even more enjoyable.
Enjoy Family-Friendly Activities
This is a perfect destination when you want to spend some quality time with your family. No matter the season, be sure you’ll be able to find a variety of experiments and activities to take part in, with all kinds of programs for the little ones, too. There are also drop-in family programs that you can join every day, which is quite convenient if you plan your tour at the last minute or forget to get tickets for these activities. For instance, there’s Craft Your Own Garden Adventure, The Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and many others.
#17 Take a Stroll Down Fifth Avenue
Stretching from Greenwich Village to West 143rd Street in Harlem, Fifth Avenue is, again, a widely-known attraction that will contribute to getting a real feel of the city when you take a walk there. Lined with various upscale stores, it is one of the most elegant and most expensive streets worldwide. In addition to extravagant boutiques, Fifth Avenue also has a portion that’s known as Museum Mile, where you can go to some of the greatest museums, such as the Guggenheim.
Admire Art at the Guggenheim
The Guggenheim is mostly committed to preserving and interpreting contemporary artwork. To get a really memorable experience, it’s advisable to book a guided tour. A guided tour is arranged to last one hour, so if you think that’s not enough for you, you can make a plan of your own.
#18 Wander Throughout Chelsea Market and Find Delicious Food
Recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, Chelsea Market is more than a place to find excellent food. Of course, it is primarily a place where you can find various eateries offering the most diverse food, but you can also learn more about its history, as well as attend some events, including live music.
Walk the High Line
Before you head back downtown, take advantage of your vicinity to the High Line, a greenway trail from where you can enjoy the view of the Hudson River, among other things. You can also wander around its gardens and get the feeling of being in some kind of a wild space surrounded by grass, trees, and shrubs.
#19 Explore Brooklyn Heights
This affluent residential neighborhood offers more than a lovely walk down its tree-lined streets. You can go to the Brooklyn Historical Society, stop by a Historic Bar, buy handmade crafts at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, and so much more. Whatever you do here, this Victorian neighborhood will make you feel like being in a fairytale.
Stroll on the Promenade
Those well-known skyscrapers are not the only place from where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of NYC skyline – Brooklyn Promenade is another excellent place to do so, while also relaxing away from the hustle and bustle. Quite convenient, isn’t it?
#20 Go Swimming at Rockaway Beach
Let’s move on to attractions in yet another borough – Queens. This sandy beach is one of the favorite destinations among the locals, too. You can go swimming, surfing or skateboarding. For those who’re not that in the mood for an adventure, there’s beach volleyball. Or simply enjoy sunbathing.
#21 Get a Stunning View from the top of One World Trade Center Observatory
When you’re in such a majestic metropolis such as the Big Apple, you can’t get enough of spectacular views from various locations. To add one more to your list, we should mention One World Trade Center Observatory offering a jaw-dropping view from its 1,776-foot high top.
#22 Spend a Day With Your Dog at Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park is one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the Big Apple, boasting enchanting gardens, meadows, and long walking paths where you can leave all your troubles behind. It is also a perfect destination if you’re moving with pets, as there’s Manhattan’s largest dog run.
Visit the Met Cloisters
If you’re interested in learning more about European medieval architecture and sculpture, with emphasis on the Romanesque and Gothic periods, the Met Cloisters is the right choice for you. The buildings are all centered around four cloisters, hence the name.
#23 Explore Lincoln Center
For more arts and culture, don’t miss to see what Lincoln Center has to offer (and there’s quite a lot). This complex hosts about five million visitors a year, so it’s safe to say that it’s that popular and visited for a reason. It is one of the best places to go if you enjoy opera.
Metropolitan Opera House
Metropolitan Opera House is a world-class opera house opened in 1966, and the largest repertory one worldwide. Its technologically advanced stage allows for a wide array of ballet and opera performances. It hosts over 200 performances during one season. Make sure you book the tickets early enough.
#24 Watch the Nicks at Madison Square Garden
First opened back in 1879, Madison Square Garden has become a multi-purpose indoor arena where many different events are held. Whether you want to watch a Nicks basketball game, a concert, attend ice shows or professional wrestling, you’ll be able to find all that and more in Madison Square Garden.
#25 Unusual Things to Do in New York City
The Big Apple is known as a highly diverse metropolis in every sense of the word that’s why you will adjust without a fuss. There are many unusual, cool things to do that you might have never had a chance to see. Here are a couple of ideas to help you get started.
Experience Indoor Skydiving
How fantastic would it be to be able to feel the exhilaration of flying? If you ever wished for such an experience, but you never had the chance to find such activities, guess what – NYC offers plenty of places where you can go experience indoor skydiving.
Relax at AIRE Ancient Baths
You’re already somewhat worried about how to get a job before you move. Perhaps you are also wondering how to change your address when you move. And then there’s packing. All in all, relocation can be a stressful period, and many struggle to avoid relocation depression.
So, when you finally set foot in NYC, you should look for a place to relax, such as AIRE Ancient Baths. Set on a unique journey across various baths with water at varying temperatures to leave all your troubles behind.
Visit the Museum of Moving Image
When you’re in the mood for this kind of dynamic attraction, look no further than one of NYC’s most dynamic institutions. Get a chance to be a part of a creative process of exploring behind some of your favorite movies.
Check out Ghostbusters Firehouse
This one will be interesting for Ghostbusters fans, in particular. You’ll be thrilled to hear that the iconic Hook and Ladder 8 building is located in Manhattan, easy for you to go and take a photo in front of it, as entry is forbidden.
Get Ready for an Adventure!
As you can see, there’s so much to do and experience here, from the iconic symbols like the Statue of Liberty to the less known ones, so don’t let relocation anxiety stop you from experiencing it all if you’re moving alone to another state. You should, of course, plan your moving budget first and decide where exactly you’re going to relocate, and whether you want to do it yourself and have one of the cheapest ways to move out of state, or with the help of New York City Movers with professional moving services. Whether you’re moving to the suburbs or moving into a smaller home, you’ll never get bored in NYC. It is, indeed, the city that never sleeps.