New York City is a one of a kind place, and whether you’re someone who’s lived here for years, or are visiting on vacation, we’ve created the ultimate list of things you have to do at least once! From visiting NYC’s most iconic landmarks to eating the best food out there, we’ve got a mix of “touristy” and “local” recommendations that we think everyone should follow! Without further ado, here’s our list of the best things to do in NYC right now:
1. Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty
Get up close and personal with Lady Liberty as you explore one of NYC’s most famous landmarks. Spend time walking around the pedestal of the statue, exploring the Statue of Liberty Museum, and investigating her crown (reservations required). Of course, the scenic boat ride out to Liberty Island is to be admired as well!
2. Catch a Broadway show
From Lion King to Wicked, Broadway helms some of the best actors and actresses from around the globe! Housed in iconic theaters, these jaw-dropping productions are something to truly behold. Plus, you can find any kind of show you want. We’re talking anything from movie adaptations, to musicals, to comedies! There’s always off Broadway shows happening too, so there’s never a lack of entertainment.
New York City in the fall is one of the best times. The fall foliage begins to change, the air gets a little crisper, and things become relatively less packed. There are so many things to enjoy during autumn in the city, from Halloween celebrations to apple cider donuts. Check out our list of the best fall things to do in NYC here!
4. Admire the skyline from EDGE
Nothing beats viewing the skyline of the Concrete Jungle quite like an observation deck, and EDGE is one of our favorites. Ascend to over 1,200 feet above the skyscrapers and take in breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, NYC waters, and so much more. For our adventurous folks, they even have a “City Climb” program where you can scale the building on a bungee!
5. Walk through Central Park
Lounge around in NYC’s most iconic park on a warm day and surround yourself with a great view of the city. The green space at Central Park is lovely for sun bathing, reading a book, people-watching, checking out romantic little hideways, riding a bike, and so much more. Now happening as well is CityPickle, a massive pickle ball field takeover of the iconic Wollman Rink!
6. Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge
Bask in the 19th century engineering that makes up the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the borough to Manhattan! The 1.3 mile long bridge is the perfect place to stroll with your significant other, or take in some stunning NYC views (and maybe even catch some street performers along the way). If you start in Manhattan and end up in Brooklyn, you’ll even end up in DUMBO which has a lovely park, restaurants, and markets (like Brooklyn Flea).
7. Stroll through one of NYC’s best museums
NYC boasts some of the most iconic museums in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, The Met, The Guggenheim, and so many more! You’ll find everything from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” if you look hard enough! Many museums are affordable, and even have free admission days too if you plan it right! Check out even more of our favorite museums to visit below:
- The Museum of Modern Art: 11 W 53 St
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1000 5th Ave
- Brooklyn Museum: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn
- Whitney Museum of American Art: 99 Gansevoort St
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: 1071 5th Ave
- American Museum of Natural History: 200 Central Park West
8. Visit the New York Botanical Garden
Stop and spell the roses at New York Botanical Garden, a gorgeous floral hotbed of the best the city has to offer. There’s plenty of beautiful gardens to explore, including the Perennial Garden and breathtaking Lilac Collection! Plus, during fall there’s even their Fall-O-Ween event which includes all sorts of autumn programming.
9. Celebrate Italian culture at The Feast of San Gennaro
Running from September 14 – September 24, The Feast of San Gennaro is one of NYC’s largest celebrations of Italian culture! It’s a 10 day celebration of food, entertainment, parades, live music, and so much more! There’s even a pizza eating contest. Learn more about the festivities here and stop by while it’s in town.
10. Pay homage at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Explore the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, which documents the tragic events that happened in both 2001 and 1993. A vulnerable part of NYC’s history, this museum “tells the story of 9/11 through media, narratives, and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts, presenting visitors with personal stories of loss, recovery, and hope.” Be sure to check out the Memorial Pools, as well as the fairly new Oculus Center at the nearby World Trade Center after!
11. Dine at one of NYC’s best restaurants
Humbly we have to admit, we have the best food around. And that means the best restaurants too. From Italian outposts to sushi joints, you can get just about any cuisine you’re craving. We’ve compiled our list of the absolute best restaurants in NYC for your viewing here.
12. Grab a drink at one of NYC’s best bars
New York City is home to some of the world’s most renowned award-winning bars. We’re talking about everything from sophisticated cocktail bars to dive bars with $5 beers. If you want to drink in style, NYC is the place to do it! From key lime cocktails at Double Chicken Please to pints of Guinness at McSorley’s, check out the best NYC bars right now.
13. Observe the skyline from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Another great sky deck to ascend into is SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. Here, you’ll find three levels of multi-sensory immersive experiences atop the tallest commercial skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. The views of Empire State Building and the Chrysler building are amazing of course, and you’ll truly feel on top of the world.
14. Take in one-of-a-kind art exhibits in NYC
Alongside our great museums comes one-of-a-kind exhibits that showcase anything from immersive experiences to full-blown artist solo showcases. See works that range from paintings of Claude Monet to exclusive photos of Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls. Exhibits are constantly visiting the city, and you can check our favorites here.
One of our favorite outdoor activities in NYC right now is pickleball! And through October 9, you can play at Wollman Rink in Central Park. The iconic space has transformed into 14 courts where you and friends can compete in today’s hottest sport! Learn all the details on how to reserve a spot here.
Thanks to NYC’s prestigious music venues there are always so many concerts to be seen! Touring acts from all over the world make NYC feel like home, ranging in genre and size! You never who might be in town! Check out our monthly guide to see our hand-picked concerts happening in the Big Apple.
Pinkies up, because we’re going to a rooftop bar! There’s arguably no better NYC activity than sipping on a signature cocktail from a rooftop bar. You get views, vibes, and great company! From SoHo, to Chelsea, to Williamsburg, and beyond, there’s so many places to sit back, relax, and enjoy a rooftop drink. Check out our favorite places here.
18. Walk on The High Line
If you’re looking for a nice walking path in NYC, check out this car-free walkway that runs 1.4 miles along Manhattan’s west side. The above ground walkway on old train paths includes all sorts of gardens, public outdoor art installations, cool building views, and more! Plus, there’s always good food and art galleries to see near Chelsea along the way!
Right in the heart of Midtown, Rockefeller Center Plaza always has something going on. During the summer, Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, a massive roller rink takes over the space, and during the holidays you’ll find an ice skating rink and the world famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree! Not to mention it’s right near all of the shops on Fifth Avenue.
20. Take in a stunning concert by candlelight
We bet you’ve never seen a concert like this before! Concerts by Candlelight is a series of music events around NYC dedicated to certain themes of music, played in gorgeously candlelit venues. The multi-sensory musical experience brings orchestras into beautiful places…playing out themed-nights that range from Taylor Swift to Frank Sinatra! See all of the events coming up here.
21. Relax at an NYC beach
Soak up the sun at one of NYC’s beaches, and get ready to feel the sand underneath your feet! In particular, Coney Island is a great place to catch some waves and feel the cool breeze, and their amusement park Luna Park is loads of fun too! What could be better than the beach, some Coney Island hotdogs, and rollercoasters? It’s pretty hard to top…
22. Laugh the night away at an NYC comedy show
The beauty of NYC’s comedy clubs is having the potential to see famous comedians before they blow up! New York’s most famous spots like Gotham Comedy Club and the Comedy Cellar are institutions by now, but there are so many “underground” places you can stumble into for a laugh as well. It’s a perfect date night or a lovely alternative to dinner or clubbing.
23. Devour an authentic slice of NYC pizza
Attempt to end the longest lasting debate in NYC food scene history: the best slice of pizza. You’ll definitely have to visit the landmark spots like Prince Street Pizza and John’s of Bleecker Street before you get to your final answer, but it’s a great adventure to go on! Divide and conquer by neighborhood, or take our recommendations for a test spin and let us know what you think!
24. Refine your tastebuds at a Michelin-starred restaurant
If you’re a food connoisseur, don’t be shy to dive into NYC’s diverse restaurant scene! Our cuisine is award-winning and Michelin-recognized, ranging from elegant chef tasting menus to suit and tie wait staff. If you’re willing to shell out some money for a world-class dining experience, New York is the place to do it. Check out our favorite Michelin-star restaurants right now here.
25. Lay out in the sun at Little Island
New York City’s floating park is one of our favorite things to do in NYC, especially when it’s warm outside. Walk around the park, hang out in the green area, or grab a bite to eat. It’s a great spot to visit all year around, but especially in summer when they have free outdoor entertainment, plus more!
26. Go shopping at an NYC street fair
New York City’s street fairs and festivals are just the niche thing we love about the city. Looking to do some shopping? Bored and want something to do? From farmer’s markets to food festivals to the old fashioned street fair, there’s so many pop-up happenings to bookmark. Check out some upcoming fairs here!
27. Search for the best bagel in NYC
We’ll take a B.E.C please! Start your morning off in NYC with one of the most iconic breakfast items the city has to offer. Between the different types of bagels and the fix-ins inside that you can order, the opportunities are truly endless. You’ve got to see what all the NYC bagel hype is about.
28. View Times Square at night
We know this is a little controversial…but we couldn’t make our list complete without the legendary sights of Times Square. The astonishing crampedness of crowds, street performers, and massive billboards makes the illuminating square one of the most recognizable spots in all of NYC! Immerse yourself in the flashing lights, take a seat on the famous steps, and snap a few pictures of the famous strip. Don’t forget about the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop that takes place every year too!
29. Go out dancing at an NYC nightclub
NYC is ranked the 2nd best city in America for nightlife, and it’s all because of the city’s lively night clubs. From aesthetic upscale lounges like Little Sister to house and techno outposts in Brooklyn like Elsewhere, there’s so many great places to dance the night away. Check out our favorite nightclubs in NYC here.
30. Elevate to the Top of the Rock
Might we recommend going to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, because it quite possibly has the best aerial view of NYC! Of course there are a ton of people who choose the Empire State Building’s observation deck as preference, but Top of the Rock is just as good AND you get the ESB view in your skyline shot!
31. See animals at an NYC zoo
Take a step onto the wild side and visit one of NYC’s zoos, including The Bronx Zoo, the world’s largest metropolitan zoo in North America. Each zoo comes complete with a range of animals, exhibits, activities, and more! It’s the perfect way to spend a day with kids, or to just see some animals you wouldn’t normally see!
32. Read a book at a gorgeous NYC library
Read a book and cozy up at the gorgeous New York Public Library in Midtown. It’s the perfect peaceful escape for when you want to just relax and take some self-care time. The stunning corridors are something to behold, and the library of available readings seem endless. Remember, that’s only one of the many beautiful libraries there are in NYC!
33. Admire Grand Central Terminal
No matter whether you’re taking a train from the iconic station, or just want to feel like the main character of a movie, we suggest spending a second at Grand Central. Take a moment to admire the stunning artwork on the ceiling, shop and dine to your heart’s content, and learn the history of one of NYC’s most iconic transit landmarks!
34. Go shopping around SoHo
NYC is home to just about any retail store you can think of, especially in SoHo where the famous streets of Canal St, Prince St, and more reign home to flagships of the world’s most popular brands. For our shopaholics, spending a both shopping and window shopping in SoHo is definitely worth it. Odds are you’ll probably stumble into a few local NYC businesses too.
35. Check out Governors Island
If you’re looking for a little day trip idea, head to Governors Island…a sweet little getaway that has some lovely restaurants, attractions, and view of the Manhattan skyline! The island is maintained by the city, state and the National Park Service, so it’s well-groomed and perfect to explore. You can ride bikes, hit up the QCNY Spa, dine at Gitano Island, and so much more. Learn more here.
36. Lounge at Bryant Park
Just steps away from Times Square is Bryant Park, a green space where it feels like something is always going on. While it may seem like a spot many business people take their lunch in, it’s much more than that! During the summer you can find pop-up markets, Broadway in the Park, yoga classes, movie nights, and much more. Same in the cooler months…it get its own holiday market, ice skating rink, and more. It’s the perfect pitstop if you’re touring Midtown.
37. Eat and drink your way through Little Caribbean
If you want to feel like a local, take our secret recommendation of checking out the Little Caribbean neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s a Flatbush-based cultural hub that’s full of different restaurants, bars, art, and local businesses. Not only are you supporting local, but you’ll also be treating yourself to some of the most authentic Caribbean cuisine in all of NYC! Check out our favorite things in the area here.
38. Watch an MLB game
Take the train to either Yankee Stadium (4 or D line) or Citi Field (7 line) and enjoy an evening of peanuts and Cracker Jacks! A day or night at the ballpark is never a bad idea, and of course their concession items make it worth a visit too. Yankee Stadium is selling their limited 99 Burgers to promote star player Aaron Judge, while Citi Field boasts Shake Shack, Pig Beach BBQ, and many more yummy options. It’ll definitely be a home run decision!
Chinatown is one of NYC’s most popular downtown neighborhoods, and for good reason. Stroll through the narrow streets and enjoy authentic Asian cuisine at Chinatown restaurants, with everything you could possibly want, from dim sum to dumplings to noodles. Visiting during Lunar New Year is always an exciting time as well, since it’s decked out in decor and vibes.
40. Go on a cruise around NYC waters
All aboard the (arguably) best means of transportation around NYC! Thanks to our bodies of water, there are so many great cruises happening that you should be capitalizing on! From food tasting tours to standard dinner outings, there’s a little something for everyone. Check out some of our favorites below and grab tickets before it’s too late:
Think you might know the password? Test your luck at one of NYC’s hidden speakeasies, which offer dark and intimate sessions away from the hustling backdrop of NYC. These places often have great cocktails, aesthetically pleasing decor, and a sense of mystique around them. We’re talking everything from a secret speakeasy under the subway to a bar designed as a locksmith and shoe repair shop!
Dive into the world of local flea markets, as you browse different arts and crafts, foods, baked goods, and so much more. Many vendors and artists located in the markets are local to NYC and make their products with lots of love and care! You’ll never know when you may stumble across a 1 of 1 item you might want to take home with you!
Grab a blanket, some food, and friends, and lay out in one of NYC’s parks for a picnic! It’s a lovely activity to do in the warmer months and is a great alternative to going out to eat. We of course suggest Central Park as a main attraction, but there are tons of other parks and secret gardens to cozy into!
44. Take in the West Side Highway
The West Side Highway has become one of our favorite places recently, and that’s because there is always so much happening! For the athletic type, plan your biking or running route alongside the Hudson River Greenway, and for everyone else, plop a seat in the green grass to enjoy some people watching and waterfront views!
NYC’s street art culture is abundant, and between colorful murals on walls, big bold writing on subway cars, and spray painted words on sidewalks and streets, it’s evident that anything can be a canvas here in New York City! Our insider tip is checking out the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn where much of the art lies, but there are many works scattered around the Big Apple to gaze at.
46. Revel in beautiful architecture at The Met Cloisters
The Met Cloisters is a museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights that specializes in European medieval art and architecture, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods, and it’s the only museum in the country dedicated to the art of the Middle Ages. Here you’ll feel like you were on a trip to Europe! Read more about it here.
Where: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr.
47. Catch a game at one of NYC’s best sports bars
Hanging out at a sports bar on game day is vital to our society and when game day arrives we need three things: a rowdy place to catch the game at, good food in front of us, and an ice cold drink by our side. No matter what sport you’re into, four of our fav sports bars in NYC are:
- The Irish American, FiDi
- The Whiskey On Grand, Williamsburg
- The Bronx Public, The Bronx
- Smithfield Hall NYC, Chelsea
See six more of our favorites here.
48. Score the best happy hour deals
There’s not much New Yorkers love more than eating and drinking with friends, and considering it’s so expensive to live in New York City we’ll take all the deals we can get. That’s where happy hour comes in! Lido in Harlem offers $5 beers and $7 wine and sangria at their happy hour. And they extend this happy hour to their bites, serving up some $9 items like creamy garlic bread and fried calamari.
49. Give yourself the creeps while checking out some of NYC’s most haunted places
Halloween isn’t the only time to get spooky! If you’re feeling brave why not head to some of the most haunted places in NYC, like these five spots:
- Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx
- Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
- Blood Manor, Tribeca
- House of Death, Greenwich Village
- Hotel Chelsea, Chelsea
Click here to find more haunted spots if you dare.
The one downside to New York City is how expensive it is and how quickly a night out can break the bank. But, even though it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are loads of completely FREE things to do. Here are some free things we think you must take advantage of:
- Join a walking tour, like the ones offered by Central Park Conservancy
- Play tennis at Hudson River Park
- See a live TV show taping
- Tour the Ample Hills ice cream factory/museum in Brooklyn
Our full list of the best free things to do in NYC can be found here.
51. Get buzzed at brunch
Brunch is the perfect weekend activity, year-round, and is literally the answer to any “What should we do this weekend?”. Some of our favorite places to get brunch include:
- Wicked Willy’s, Greenwich Village
- Mojave, Astoria
- Ainslie, Williamsburg
- Beatstro, Bronx
See more of our favorite spots here.
52. Unwind at one of NYC’s gorgeous secret gardens
It can be easy to forget about the parks, courtyards, and secret gardens when you think of the “concrete jungle,” but if you take a stroll through your neighborhood you’ll definitely stumble across some greenery. Some of our favorites are:
- Grove Court, West Village
- Amster Yard, Turtle Bay
- 6B Garden, East Village
Find more gorgeous gardens here.
Only in New York City can you grab a table at a waterfront restaurant with lovely skyline views. We’re talking everything from floating Mexican restaurants to picnic tables right along the East River. Check out all our favorite waterfront spots here, including the likes of La Barca Cantina, Grand Banks, and more!
54. Escape the city for a bit to go on a nearby hike
There are a ton of really great hiking trails right around NYC that are accessible by public transport—many of which also provide you with stunning views. Here are five of our favorite trails:
- Franny Reese State Park
- Anthony’s Nose Hike
- Camp Smith Trail
- Stairway to Heaven
Click here to see seven more, all of which are organized by increasing level of difficulty.
Rainy days often make us want to stay inside and hide under the covers, but when it comes to New York City there’s definitely something romantic about a rainy day. If you’re brave enough to venture out into the rainy streets, here are some suggestions of what you can do:
Find some more suggestions here.