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18 Must-Visit Spots To Make The Most Of Before Tourists Return To New York City

By Claire Leaden

18 Must-Visit Spots To Make The Most Of Before Tourists Return To New York City

When we asked what was on your 2021 NYC Bucket List, this was one of the answers we got:

“Visit all the touristy areas before tourists return!”

And it was such a great idea! Although travel is still down and the NYC tourism industry is suffering due to the pandemic, one silver lining is that New Yorkers themselves can enjoy this coveted spaces in the probably the emptiest they’ve ever been (especially with capacity limits and timed-ticket requirements).

Sure, sometimes what makes you a New Yorker is not going to these places, but you don’t want to spend your life not stepping foot in the Empire State Building!

So, here are some of our (and your!) suggestions for being a tourist in your own city…without the crowds!

1. Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island

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This iconic location, where thousands of immigrants made their way to NYC in hopes of a better life, is always a must-visit for visitors and New Yorkers alike. Get an up-close view of the symbol of New York with this guided tour that will take you through Battery Park, to the Statue of Liberty (with access to the pedestal and Pedestal Museum), and cross to Ellis Island to learn about the immigrant experience at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Pick up tickets here.

2. Madame Tussauds NYC

Instagram / @madametussaudsusa

This may be your one chance to get photos with your favorite celebrities! At this famous spot in Times Square, walk though and pose with the most well-known people in our culture from historical figures to modern movie stars remade as hyper-realistic wax figures! Get tickets here.

3. Bronx Zoo

Instagram / @bronxzoo by Julie Larsen Maher

Escape the city for the jungle with a visit to the iconic Bronx Zoo! With these tickets, enjoy special access to a host of other premium exhibits and activities including the Bug Carousel, JungleWorld, Nature Trek, and Congo Gorilla Forest! Purchase here.

4. Empire State Building

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There is perhaps no more iconic NYC location than the Empire State Building! In countless movies and TV shows, and an essential part of the NYC skyline, this art-deco landmark provides some of the best views of NYC. Find out more here.

5. Wall Street “Charging Bull”

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Here’s a completely free tourist attraction! This statue on Wall Street was created in 1989 and was installed after a stock market crash to show the “bullish” optimism of the market coming back. Also, don’t miss the newer “Fearless Girl” statue staring him down. Definitely makes a good photo op!

6. The High Line

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This gorgeous elevated Park is one of NYC’s crowning jewels. It’s innovative just like the city: Created on the former New York Central Railroad tracks, it runs 1.5 miles through the West Side of Manhattan and has been a favorite for New Yorkers since it opened in 2009. It reopened over the summer, just make sure you check on visitation safety rules!

7. Brooklyn Bridge

photo: @joethommas via Instagram

The Brooklyn Bridge is such a picturesque part of NYC, and at least once in your life you should walk across it! Read other fun facts here.

8. Coney Island

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Coney Island is a place where New Yorkers have enjoyed their summers since 1895! You must enjoy a hot dog from Nathan’s, walk the boardwalk, and scream your head off on the Cyclone to get the full NYC experience. And luckily, Governor Cuomo just announced outdoor amusements parks can reopen in April!

9. Edge

Courtesy Edge

The Edge is the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere, and it’s right here in NYC! Located in Hudson Yards, it rises 1,131 feet high and offers unprecedented views of Manhattan. Though it shut for many months because of the pandemic, it reopened this fall and is open with safety measures from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. You can reserve tickets on their website here.

10. New York Botanical Garden

NYBG.org

Don’t knock a visit to NYC’s beautiful gardens during the cold winter months! There are still over 250 acres of trails to explore, with seasonal blooms and historic forests. Bonus if everything is covered in a layer of snow! Get tickets here.

11-16. Museums:

Guggenheim

Now is the perfect time to visit NYC museums, especially since there are capacity limits you can practically have them to yourself!

Here are some of our favorites to check out, from more traditional art museums to more creative new venues:

17. Ripley’s Believe it or Not

Instagram / @ripleysny

Enter the world of the uncanny and the bizarre at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Located in the heart of New York City, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square brings people of all ages face-to-face with the world’s most unbelievable curiosities. With more than 500 hundred rare artifacts, astonishing relics, and thrilling interactive exhibits, this one-of-kind attraction welcomes visitors to experience the unusual and unexpected, where the entire family will rediscover wonder around every corner. Grab tickets here.

18. Helicopter Ride Around NYC

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There’s no place to see NYC from than way up high! These incredible helicopter tours lift off from Westchester Airport, and reach New York City airspace in just a few minutes. You’ll see Yankee Stadium, The Bronx Zoo, Central Park, Madison Square Garden, Times Square, The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building and so much more…Get tickets here.

featured image source: Pexels