One of the largest cities in the world, New York is always a whirlwind of activities, with famous landmarks at every turn and never enough time to see them all. Some people come here to enjoy Broadway shows; others come specially for shopping and dining; and many simply come to see the sites: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, historic districts and many world-renowned museums. Many of the best places to visit in New York are within walking distance of each other, or a few minutes by car, which makes this city a pleasure for tourism.
Some of the most recent tourist attractions that have opened in New York in recent years, such as the High Line and One World Observatory, offer unique perspectives on the city. There are endless things to see and do in New York at any time of the year and any time of the day or night.
1. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was France’s gift to America. Built in 1886, it remains a famous world symbol of freedom and one of the greatest American icons. It is one of the largest statues in the world, measuring just under 152 feet tall from base to flare, and weighing approximately 450,000 pounds.
You can see the statue from the ground, with a particularly good view from Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. However, to truly appreciate the Statue of Liberty, the best thing to do is take a short boat trip to Liberty Island and see it up close. You can walk around the base, enter the pedestal or, by prior reservation, climb up to the crown. While visiting the Statue of Liberty, you have the option of stopping at Ellis Island and exploring the Immigration Museum. This fantastic museum is located in the complex of the historic Immigration Station, where thousands of immigrants were treated before entering the United States. The exhibits focus on the process, experiences and stories of the people who came here during their trip to the United States. You can even search the on-site computer database to see a record of immigrants who have passed through here. Tickets to enter the statue are sold. Pre-purchasing tickets is a must in high season and a good idea at any time of the year. The guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a four-hour trip that takes you to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This tour provides early access to the reserve line for boarding the ferry and includes access to the Pedestal Museum and the Ellis Island Museum.
2. Central Park
A walk, peddle, or carriage ride through the crisscrossing pathways of Central Park is a must-do on anyone’s New York City itinerary. In winter, you can even lace up your skates and glide across Wollman Rink. This huge park in the city center, a half-mile wide and 2.5 miles long, is one of the things that makes New York such a beautiful and livable city.
Besides being a great place to experience a little nature, Central Park has many attractions within its borders, and most of them are free, making it one of the few cheap things to do in NYC. Some of the most popular places to visit include the Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, the Central Park Zoo, and the Lake. If you are exploring the park on your own, start by picking up a map at one of the visitor centers and plot your routing.
3. Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock Observation Deck
When it comes to New York attractions, the Rockefeller Center is on almost every tourist route. This expansive entertainment and shopping complex in the middle of Manhattan is home to NBC-TV and other media, but the centerpiece is 70-story 30 Rockefeller Plaza, an Art Deco skyscraper that offers breathtaking views of Manhattan from famous Top of the Rock Observation deck.
The “bridge”, as it is called, has three floors, located on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. The indoor and outdoor viewing areas offer spectacular views day and night. You can buy a ticket for the rock summit observation deck in advance. These tickets come with a flexible coupon exchange policy, so you can change the date if your plans change or the weather does not cooperate. Skating on the outdoor skating rink at the foot of the tower is one of the most popular winter activities in New York and a fun activity for families and couples. The ice rink is generally open from October to April. After Thanksgiving, a huge Christmas tree is erected in front of the skating rink, lighting up the complex for the holiday season. Many people visit New York in December just to see this site. Another point of interest in this area is the famous bronze sculpture of Atlas in front of the international building. It is a popular subject for photographers.
4. Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or Met, as it is commonly known, was founded in 1870 and is one of the most famous museums in the United States. The Met’s permanent collection contains more than two million works of art, spanning 5,000 years.
Although the museum has three sites, the centerpiece is The Met Fifth Avenue. Highlights of the collection include American decorative arts, weapons and armor, costumes, Egyptian art, musical instruments, photographs and much more. Exhibitions present to the public some of the most famous works in the world. If you are serious about your visit to the Met, consider a VIP: Empty Met visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover this incredible museum with only 25 people before it opens to the general public in the morning. Another extremely popular New York museum is the Met Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, housed in an exceptional structure, built around cloisters, chapels and medieval rooms, focuses on medieval art and architecture of Europe.
5. Broadway and the Theater District
Attending a Broadway show is one of the top things to do in New York City. Considered the pinnacle of American theater, this is the place to see the latest shows and the long-running classics. Broadway usually refers simply to Broadway theater, which encompasses a large number of theater venues in the Theater District and along the street of Broadway. For the most popular shows, tickets should be purchased well in advance. Shubert Alley is a famous pedestrian-only alley in the Theater District and home to two well-known playhouses: the Shubert on 221 West 44th Street and the Booth at 22 West 45th Street. Historically, aspiring actors would frequent Shubert Alley looking for opportunities to perform in a play sponsored by theater baron, Sam S. Shubert.
A Chorus Line played at The Shubert for a record 6,137 shows. The musical Oklahoma debuted in 1941 at the St. James playhouse just down the street. Other legendary places include Sardi’s restaurant, where many famous actors met, and the Music Box Theater, where Irving Berlin staged The Music Box Revue in 1921.
6. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is one of New York’s most famous buildings and a major tourist attraction. The 381-meter-tall, 102-story building was the tallest in the world until the tower of 1 World Trade Center rose higher, 41 years later. Covered with an airship mooring mast, the Empire State Building immediately became a landmark and symbol for New York when it opened in 1931.
There are actually two observatories at the top of the Empire State Building, but both offer incredible views. On a clear day, you can see up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The 86th Floor Observatory (1,050 feet) is the tallest outdoor observation deck in the city, and what most people expect to find when they climb into the Empire State Building. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this area has been featured in countless movies and TV shows. Accessible by high-speed automatic elevators, it has both a glass area heated in winter and cooled in summer and large outdoor walks on all four sides of the building. The views are incredible. The 102nd floor upper deck rises 1,250 feet above the busy streets below. While you are 16 floors higher, the viewing area here is closed. The line to go up the Empire State Building is almost always long, and during peak periods it can be ridiculous, making the experience more frustrating than it should be. It is well worth the purchase of the Empire State Building – Observatory ticket and the optional skip-the-line ticket that allows you to bypass the lines. It is a flexible ticket, valid for up to a year, so if the weather is bad you can save the ticket and use it on another day.
7. Memorial and Museum
The World Trade Center’s 110-story twin towers once dominated the Manhattan skyline, but were destroyed by suicide airliners on September 11, 2001, with a tragic loss of life. Where the two World Trade Center towers once stood, there are now two square reflective pools, each one acre. Known as the National September 11 Memorial, the area is a moving tribute to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and to the six people killed in the previous World Trade Center bombing in February 1993 .
Surrounded by trees and grass, the pools are sunken, with water cascading down the sides and flowing into a seemingly bottomless square. These are the largest artificial waterfalls in North America. Around the pools are bronze panels with the names of all those who were killed in the attacks. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located in an impressive curved glass building, between the two pools. It presents displays that include artifacts, photos and videos, presenting the story of September 11, as well as the consequences and impacts. The building is built around the remains of the World Trade Center and integrates the old structures into the extraordinary new museum building. The memorial and museum are located on the south side of the One World Trade Center on Greenwich Street. Also to be seen in this district, on the other side of Greenwich Street, is the Westfield World Trade Center, which houses the Oculus Plaza. You can’t miss this building with its white fins and its spaceship appearance. It is a public building with high end shops and stores, but it is worth taking a look at the architecture.
8. High Line
An exciting new attraction in New York, the High Line is an old railway line that has been turned into an urban walking trail above the city streets. This unique linear public park has been planted with a variety of plants and trees, many of which are native species. In the spring, many of them bloom. The park is lined with glass railings in most areas, which gives it a natural feel, while offering an exceptional view of the city.
This oasis on the west side of Manhattan stretches from Gansevoort Street at the south end (just south of 13th Street West) to 34th Street West at the north end, parallel to 10th Avenue most of the time . You can access it at different points along the route, some of which only have access by stairs, and others with access by lift. Although the High Line is only about two to three stories above street level, the views of the city’s architecture and the lookouts on the streets offer a whole new perspective. Along the route, art installations, benches and near the south end are a seating area with tiered seating and a glass wall overlooking the city. The trail is very busy and on weekends it can be extremely busy, but without the surrounding traffic, it’s still a peaceful retreat. There are other interesting places to visit just off the High Line. The southern section crosses the Meatpacking District, with many trendy restaurants and fine cuisine. The southernmost access point is adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is also worth a visit. If you descend from the High Line at the 16th Street access (elevator access), it is a short walk from the famous Chelsea Market, located in a former Nabisco factory, where you will find restaurants and unique shops.
9. Times Square
Lined with huge billboards and brightly lit screens, Times Square is the place to go in New York City at night, but always exciting at any time of the day. This is where New Year’s celebrations take place in New York and the famous “ball drop” at midnight, when the square and the surrounding streets are filled with people. Times Square is busy and perpetually crowded but has its own unique appeal. The stands installed at one end are a great place to take a break and enjoy the scene.
Formerly Longacre Square, Times Square was named in 1904 after the New York Times tower. The newspaper first published headlines along its moving sign, the first of its kind in the world, in 1928.
10. Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge, with its Gothic arches and suspension cables, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and has inspired generations of poets, songwriters and painters. This historic bridge, spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn, was completed in 1883 and was the first steel suspension bridge in the world. You can see it from many ferries or from the east side of Manhattan, but the best way to see this icon is to take an hour and cross the Brooklyn Bridge.
A wooden plank walkway, open only to pedestrians and cyclists, passes over the traffic lanes. If you’re not ready to travel the full distance, at least go to the first pillar, where there is an observation platform, and you can see one of the granite towers up close. From the bridge, you have a magnificent view over Manhattan, the East River and beyond to the Statue of Liberty. Cycling on the bridge is another option, but pedestrian traffic is often very intense, and cycling can be slow and difficult on busy days. Note that access to the bridge begins well behind the water’s edge.
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