First-timers and locals alike can appreciate this list of classic NYC touristy experiences.
New York City itself is a bucket-list destination. To make your Big Apple trip truly bucket-list worthy, check out our list of top bucket-list experiences in NYC, from touristy classics to locals-only favorites.
Statue of Liberty
Cruising past the Statue of Liberty really isn’t the same as stepping foot on Liberty Island — but reservations are required. There are three types of ticket available: Grounds Only, Pedestal Ticket, and Crown Ticket. If you want to go all the way up to the crown, plan ahead as tickets book up months in advance. Ferries depart from Battery Park, and it’s a pleasant boat ride over to the island. Once there, depending on your ticket, you’ll either be able to walk around the scenic island and take pictures of the statue, or go inside. There are walking tours, a souvenir shop, and a restaurant.
Central Park serves as the idyllic backdrop for harried New Yorkers. The urban park, between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, is so massive that it’s easy to forget you’re in a densely-packed urban center. It’s impossible to see everything the park has to offer in just one visit, but some highlights include the Central Park Zoo, the Great Lawn, the carousel, and Kerbs Boathouse. Biking, carriage rides, and picnics are popular activities.
Empire State Building
20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
A visit to the top of the Empire State Building is high on the list of touristy to-dos, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. The 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown has some of the best views of not only Manhattan, but also New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Plus, there’s some interesting history about how the world-famous skyscraper was engineered and built. Upgrading to an express pass is worth it if you want to skip the lines.
Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
If it’s your first time in the American Museum of Natural History, take a Highlights Tour offered hourly from 10:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. This hour tour hits the museum’s top exhibits, and narrows which halls you’d like to revisit and explore more closely. If you’re a repeat visitor, check out the Spotlight Tour schedule once you arrive at the museum. The Rose Center has an audio tour, as well. All tours are free with museum admission to groups of less than 10 people.
319 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036
One of the finest luxury hotels in Manhattan, The Belvedere is a classic Art Deco hotel in Times Square and is close to many other attractions.
Mighty Quinn’s BBQ
103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Pick your meats and watch as everything is hand carved per order. Amazing food, great atmosphere, quick service, convenient locations and ready to please.
228 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
Iconic steakhouse offering classic cuts & raw bar items in renovated digs with red banquettes.
180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
A tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future — the 9/11 Memorial Plaza is alive with twin spirits of remembrance & renewal.
2/3 train to Wall Street
Centered at Wall and Broad Streets, the Financial District is Manhattan’s original neighborhood—here, historic sites and high finance sit side by side on narrow streets that hark back to Peter Stuyvesant and the City’s days as a Dutch outpost. Among its attractions are Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull sculpture, as well as Federal Hall, the first capitol of the United States of America and also where George Washington took his oath as the nation’s first president.
- 4/5/6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall
- J/Z train to Chambers St
The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City. It connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, spanning the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge has a main span of 1,595.5 feet and a height of 133 ft above Mean High Water.
- A/C train to High Street
- 2/3 train to Clark Street
- F train to York Street
Trendy Dumbo’s cobblestone streets and converted Brooklyn warehouse buildings are the backdrop for independent boutiques, high-end restaurants and trendy cafes. Near the waterfront, St. Ann’s Warehouse, in a former tobacco factory, is the heart of a thriving performance and gallery scene. The north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park features historic Jane’s Carousel as well as picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline.
The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. The High Line’s design is a collaboration between James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf.
Grand Central Station
89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Grand Central Terminal is one of the country’s great architectural achievements and New York City’s unofficial meeting place with thousands of people.
42nd Street & Broadway
In the pedestrian plazas of Times Square, costumed characters beckon to energetic crowds under the pulsing lights of towering digital billboards. Locals and tourists gather on the giant red staircase above the TKTS booth, which sells tickets to Broadway shows running at the area’s historic theaters. On busy 42nd Street, chain stores and restaurants abound.