36 of The Best Things to Do in NYC
New York, New York! A city so nice they named it twice. NYC boasts a certain hustle and bustle energy. Some people love it, some people don’t – but everyone can agree on the fact that there is no place quite like New York City. I was born and raised 30 minutes from the city and visited “The City” (as locals call it) with my family almost every weekend. So this my friends, was written by a local!
In this article, I share “The 36 Best Things to Do in New York City” by neighborhood. Some things are touristy, others not so much but I will tell you that if you check these places off of your list when you’re in town, you won’t be disappointed!
Best Time to Visit New York
Whether you’re looking for autumn vibes, a winter wonderland, or summer in the city – New York offers it all! Depending on what type of experience you want that will determine the month you should visit New York. In my opinion, I would choose May/June or September October November for the most temperant weather and beautiful fall foliage at the end of October.
Best Things to Do in NYC by neighborhood
While all opinions and recommendations are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to, tours I’ve completed, and products I recommend. This means I get a small commission if you book a stay or purchase a product after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support and will continue to share the best properties, things to do, and items I love!
Visit “The Met” The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art aka “The Met” (as we New Yorkers call it) has a little something for everyone. It is one of the most extensive art collections in the world with art from ancient Egypt to modern-day contemporary art. Make sure to visit the Jackson Pollock piece “Autumn Rhythm: Number 30” and my favorite part of the museum, the entire glass wall that looks onto Central Park (pictured above).
TIP: If you’re a New York resident, it’s free to enter but you should leave a small donation to support the arts!
Have Lunch or Drinks at The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza is New York’s most iconic luxury hotel. It was built in the 19th century and it borders Central Park. The Champagne Bar inside the hotel is super fancy and it’s always fun to dress up for a night and grab one drink here before dinner (because let’s be real, that’s all we can afford).
Finally, most people don’t know that there is a Food Hall located in the concourse with a variety of dining options. It’s a great place to have lunch if you’re uptown and the prices are much more reasonable in the Food Hall at The Plaza versus the Champagne Bar!
check out this page for a list of dining options in the food hall
Visit the Met Cloisters
This is a separate part of the city from the actual Met Museum. The Cloisters are set in a park that overlooks the Hudson River. Visiting this place will make you feel as though you’ve been transported to Spain during the Middle Ages. It’s a hidden New York City gem!
See a Ballet or Concert at Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center has housed many performances throughout the years. They perform all kinds of shows from opera to orchestra. Most notably, The New York City Ballet performs here year-round and Christmas is one of the best times to visit for a performance.
For tickets and showtimes check out this page.
Catch a Yankee Game
Technically, Yankee Stadium is not uptown – it’s The Bronx – hence the name, The Bronx Bombers. The Yankees are baseball icons. And yes, I may be biased because they are my home team but visiting the stadium is a great way to experience New York culture. Fun fact: The Yankees are considered the most successful baseball team in the league. Mainly because they have 27 World Series titles under their belt!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Built in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York’s most famous landmarks. It connects Brooklyn and Manhattan and offers beautiful views of both skylines. It’s fairly easy to access the bridge and it takes roughly 30 minutes to walk the length of the bridge.
Tip: For the best lighting remember that the sun rises behind Manhattan and the sun sets behind Brooklyn.
Visit Little Island
The newest kid on the block. Little Island is a manmade island built over the Hudson River near the meatpacking district. It’s completely free to visit and has stunning views of the city. There are food trucks and even an open concert bowl that plays live music. Finally, since it’s new and noteworthy you need to book your time slot in advance from 12 pm – 8 pm (it’s open from 6 am-1 am).
Visit The Highline
The Highline is a park that is built on top of an old railway. It sits 30 feet above the street and has unique views of the city and river. It’s the perfect place to bring a picnic and people watch and the best part is? It’s completely free to visit. Finally, you can visit Chelsea Market which has multiple dining options to conjure up food for your picnic!
Shopping in SoHo
One of my favorite parts of the city! SoHo is the trendiest spot in the city with designer shops, cool eateries, cobblestone streets, and its iconic cast-iron facades. One of the main things to do in Soho is shopping but it’s a destination for foodies as well. Make sure to check out Dominique Ansel bakery for frozen hot chocolate, or Felix Roasting Co the most aesthetically pleasing coffee shop, and delicious coffee, and Balthazar for celebrity sightings.
Head to Chinatown for Dumplings
Chinatown is a popular spot that attracts foodies and tourists alike. It’s known for its soup dumplings, pork buns, boba tea shops, and some not-so-authentic designer goods (if you know, you know).
Also, it’s important to mention that Chinese Food in New York City is without a doubt, the best in the United States. I can say that because I’m a New Yorker and have never found comparable Chinese food outside of the state of New York. Really. I swear!
Visit One of the Oldest Streets in NYC
Stuyvesant Street located in NoHo is one of the oldest streets in the city! It’s unique since it runs diagonally. The ivy-covered building located on Stuyvesant and 10th is one of the most photographed places in lower Manhattan. It’s located in the St. Marks’s historical district which is another area of the city that you should get lost in.
Visit Little Italy for the San Gennaro Festival
One week a year in September, Little Italy in New York goes all out for the San Gennaro festival. It’s one of my favorite times of the year! The streets are closed to cars, the shop owners line the street with food carts, and there is plenty of entertainment all around with musical acts, rides, etc. It’s reminiscent of a street fair and is the best time to really experience Little Italy.
Visit the World Trade Center + One World Trade
Visiting the World Trade Center is not for everyone. Due to the tragedy that occurred here on September 11th, 2001 it can be very emotional for some people so know your boundaries before visiting.
If you want to pay your respects, it can be a humbling experience to visit the remembrance pools and the 9/11 museum. We will never forget it! Along with that, you can also visit One World Trade Observatory which has 360-degree views of the entire city.
Locals tip: The Oculus located adjacent to the WTC is a new architectural structure built a couple of years ago that houses multiple subway lines. It’s prime for photo opportunities!
Go to the Top Of The Rock + Rockefeller Center
The most famous place to visit (aside from Times Square) in Midtown Manhattan is Rockefeller Center. During Christmas, it houses “The Tree” and is most well known for its ice skating rink but you can enjoy Rockefeller Center year-round! It has plenty of dining options in the concourse.
The Top of The Rock is an observatory on top of Rockefeller Center that boasts the prettiest views of the city. Make a reservation for sunset to get the best lighting possible!
Book your tickets in advance for the Top of The Rock by clicking here.
Climb The Vessel
A new architectural structure that is reminiscent of a beehive. It’s located in the new development called Hudson Yards which houses many shopping and dining options. The best part about The Vessel is it’s free, but you NEED to make reservations at least a couple of days prior. The reservation time is for one hour so make sure you get there in time to enjoy every inch of this special place.
Make your reservations for The Vessel here!
See a Show at Radio City Music Hall
The iconic concert hall, Radio City Music Hall is a must-see when visiting. The most notable attraction is the Christmas Spectacular Show featuring The Rockettes during the Christmas season. But you can catch a show here anytime during the year! Click here for a schedule.
Visit The Edge
The newest kid on the block, The Edge is the highest viewing tower in the western hemisphere. It’s unique since it’s suspended in mid-air giving you the notion of floating. They even have a portion of the floor that is glass so you can look 100 stories down.
Book your tickets in advance since the best time slots (sunset) tend to sell out first click here for tickets!
Visit The Empire State Building
Being that New York is the Empire State, you HAVE to visit the Empire State Building. In recent years, they have transformed the observation decks with iconic views of the city. Finally, they have a new experience in which it highlights all the movies that were filmed here. Click here for tickets.
Walk Around Times Square
I mean, Times Square is an incredibly touristy part of the city but if you’ve never been to New York before, you HAVE to at least walk through it for the experience. It’s a must! The above photo was taken in October 2020. I can guarantee when you visit it won’t be this empty.
Catch a Broadway Show
There is nothing quite like seeing a Broadway show on Broadway. It’s such an important part of New York culture and supporting the arts is always a good idea! Broadway Shows come in all shapes and sizes and they have a show for everyone to love. Check out broadway.com for showtimes!
Visit Bryant Park
Bryant Park is a locals park located in Midtown, Manhattan that is great for people watching. It has beautiful seasonal gardens and fresco dining. During Christmas, they set up the winter village which houses specialty small business shops, an ice skating rink, and even to-go cocktails!
Visit The New York Public Library
Who wants to go to a library on vacation? Well when it looks like Hogwart’s and it’s featured in movies like Ghostbusters, you go to the library on vacation. The New York Public Library is the 3rd largest library in the entire world and has the most stunning interior!
Check out hours of operation here!
Walk Through Grand Central Station
Grand Central Terminal is pretty iconic in New York. It is a huge hub for many different forms of transportation (Subway, Metro-North, Buses). The Main Concourse ceiling features a zodiac ceiling that is made up of 12 constellations painted in gold leaf. It’s a great sight to see!
West Village, New York
Visit Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is a popular park located in Greenwich Village that is most known for its stately arch presented to New York for the centennial year of George Washington’s inauguration as president (hence the name). It’s a great place to post up and you can always catch some live jazz performances. It’s a prime spot for people watching!
Catch a show at the Comedy Cellar
The Comedy Cellar is widely known as the best Comedy Club in the states that has “kept comedy alive”. Every big-time comedian/comedienne has performed here at one point in his/her career. They are known for having frequent surprise guests so you might be lucky to be surprised by a big-time celebrity when you catch a show here!
For showtimes head here.
Visit The Friends Building
The exterior of The Friends Building is not the actual filming place of Friend’s. It was however used as the footage for any opening scene that “The Friends” were in the apartment. Also, it’s located in a beautiful part of Manhattan. The West Village is such a charming neighborhood and should be experienced by all!
Address: 90 Bedford Street, New York, NY
Check out Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment
In Sex and The City, Carrie lives on the Upper East Side in the 70s streets. While it may seem like her life is very UES, the exterior of her apartment is located in the West Village. Many people come here to visit Carrie’s Apartment and some may just dress up as her while doing so!
Address: Perry Street, New York, NY, 10014
Visit Grove Court
Right down the way from The Friends Building, (you can easily check both of these off the list at the same time) is a small court that houses the most charming townhomes and during October they have the best pumpkin displays (above photo taken in 2020 and everyone was on a budget)!
Grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza
Another locals spot that is most popular for grabbing “a slice” on the go. Jerry Seinfeld himself endorses this spot as the best pizza in New York City. Make sure to try the Sicilian slice, you’ll thank me later!
Address: 7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014
Central Park NYC
I could write an entire blog post about Central Park (one day I just might!) but for now, these are the top sights to see in The Park…
Walk The Bow Bridge
You’ve probably seen this bridge everywhere and for good reason, it’s so dang beautiful! On the bridge, you’ll have cityscape views coupled with lake views (you may even catch a couple of row boaters).
Visit Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace is the heart of Central Park. You can always find live music, a beautiful large fountain, and lake views. It’s the perfect spot to post up and people watch!
Loeb Boat House
Adjacent to Bethesda Fountain is the Loeb Boat House. You can have lunch here if you want to get fancy but most people come to rent rowboats that you can take out on the lake. I’ve always wanted to rent a rowboat but haven’t had the chance. So go do it for me will ya?
Check out information on renting boats here.
Check out Belvedere Castle
A castle in Central Park? Sign me up! This beauty was built in 1869 and sits on the highest point in the park, Vista Rock. It’s a smaller castle but the views are incredible from this part of Central Park.
What to Pack for New York
It all depends on what season you’re visiting for the spring/summer/fall:
- Comfortable walking shoes but make them stylish. I honestly love my VANS and can walk in them all day with no issues. If you don’t care what you look like and want the ultimate comfort, these ASICS are great for sightseeing.
- Elevated basics. New Yorkers tend to dress very casually with elevated basics. I always find the best basics at either Free People, Abercrombie, and HM. It’s nice to have some neutral tees handy during your stay.
- Chic but comfortable sandals.
- A chic leather jacket will help you blend in with the locals. I love this leather jacket from Revolve – it’s not only affordable but it’s chic as well.
- An oversized denim jacket.
- My favorite crossbody bag is perfect for sightseeing. Here is my full review of it!
Thanks for reading my “36 Best Things to Do in New York”. If you’re headed here soon please make sure you take all the necessary precautions and safely travel to the city. Is there anything I missed that you love to do in New York? Please comment below!
For more of my USA travel guides head here!
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