36 Must See Places in New York
New York, New York! A city so nice they named it twice. It can be hard to narrow down the must see places in New York is that it’s the biggest city in America! 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 Must See Places 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 Christmas wonderland, or summer in the city – New York offers it all! Depending on what type of experience you want 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. Finally, if you love the holidays then you’ll want to visit in December for the most magical place to celebrate Christmas in the states.
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!
Must See Places in New York: Uptown
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).
You can check out the hours of operation and purchase tickets here. If you are looking for a guided tour this one is the best and is fairly reasonable!
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 the 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 performances. 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 the Lincoln Center Website.
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. If you’re looking to experience the bridge with fewer crowds visit before 8 am. Photo 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).
Walk 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’s bakery for frozen hot chocolate, 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 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 observation deck is located on top of Rockefeller Center and it boasts the prettiest views of the city. Make a reservation for sunset to get the best lighting possible! Finally, book your tickets in advance to get the best time slot.
Visit Hudson Yards + The Vessel
Hudson Yards is a brand new area in New York that was finished in 2019. It’s home to tons of new shops, dining options, and The Vessel. This architectural structure is reminiscent of a beehive. Sadly, the interior is no longer open to the public, and not sure if they will be opening it anytime soon.
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!
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. Finally, book your tickets in advance since the best time slots (sunset) tend to sell out first!
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. Also, they have included new exhibits to showcase all the infamous movies filmed at the Empire State Building.
Walk Around Times Square
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! If you’re going to pick one experience in this must see places in New York guide – let it be this. 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 local 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! It’s completely free to enter and is open most days 11 am – 6 pm.
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, and Buses). The Main Concourse ceiling features a zodiac ceiling that is made up of 12 constellations painted in gold leaf. It’s a great free sight to see! Finally, there is an iconic eatery located in Grand Central called the oyster bar.
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 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!
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” 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 local spot that is most popular for grabbing “a slice” on the go. This casual eatery doesn’t have any tables but you can post up in the window. 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
Must See Places in New York: Central Park
I wrote an entire blog post about The Best Photo Spots in Central Park, make sure to check that out for more detailed information.
Walk The Bow Bridge
You’ve probably seen this bridge everywhere and for good reason, it’s a beaut! 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. The rowboat experience costs $20 an hour with a $20 deposit. They do only take cash and one hour is enough to see the sights.
Visit 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 and it’s free to enter.
Where to Stay in NYC
The Langham New York
I’ve stayed in lots of NYC hotels over the years and The Langham New York is easily my favorite. Not only are you located in the most central part of Manhattan but the ambiance, staff, and views of the city make this stay perfect! By booking an Executive Club Room you have access to the Executive Club which serves breakfast, lunch, and light bites for dinner all included in your room rate. Talk about convenience in the city that never sleeps! Book your stay here.
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. These Madewell Sneakers are not only comfortable but they are cute as well so it’s a win-win. I 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 Free People, Abercrombie, and HM. It’s nice to have some neutral tees handy during your stay.
- 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 Must See Places in New York”. If you’re headed there during the holidays check out my Christmas Activities in NYC post. Finally, forget to check out more of my USA travel guides!
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Thanks for all the great tips, especially the sunset and sunrise tips. I still haven’t made it to NY yet. Maybe next year!
I’m going to NYC this weekend to visit my boyfriend’s little sister at NYU!! PERFECT timing with this article, thank you!!
You’re so welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it
Thank you! That can be a tricky one so I’m glad you appreciated it!
I love New York so much! I visit every single year at least once. There are still a few things on the list that I haven’t done. I am so excited about The Edge. It was not open yet last time I went.
Have the best time! I haven’t been able to check it off my list yet!
I’ve never been to NY but I’d love to go! These things all sound amazing, I’d definitely visit the Edge!
It’s a cool new spot!
Born and raised New yorker you tend to take all these for granted. Such a great guide!
What an amazing tips! Thank you love, I cannot wait to really see NY for all her beauty one of these days.
We need a trip together to experience the city as a boujee team! XOXO
Thank you angelica! I totally agree, we forget how amazing our own backyard is!
This is an amazing guide Courtney! I also love NYC during San Gennaro. I really hope they have it next year since it was canceled this year. I also need to get to the Edge now. 🙂
It’s one of my favorite times in the city! Thanks for reaching Taylor! I still need to get to the edge too lol I hope you get to go soon!
Ohh my! Girl, you so make me wish to visit NYC. It’s my dream since I can remember! Such a useful post!
Thanks for saying that girl! Hoping you can get there in 2021!