The Big Apple, a City That Never Sleeps, Gotham- New York has many names. It is the epicentre of art, the trendsetter, and the dining and shopping capital that offers a feast for all. There is so much to do, see and taste in this exciting city which is always on the move. For locals, it is the centre of the universe. Home to landmarks like the statue of liberty and the Empire State Building, New York City is ready to show off all that it is. Constantly changing and evolving, it houses some of the world’s best restaurants, museums, boutiques, hotels and bars. New York is different every time you visit. The hot spots of the city keep changing so everyone who wants to know what to see and which places to visit in New York needs an expert guide.
Here is a list of the best things to do in New York and the must-see sights which will make you fall in love with the city.
1. Appreciate the world’s most important art at Met Museum
Met Museum is one of the finest art museums in the world where you could spend a week browsing 5,000 years of human creativity. It is New York’s version of the Louvre where you can see Renaissance masterpieces alongside pre-Columbian artifacts. The ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur and Warhol’s Mao are some of the highlights of the museum. With a constantly evolving collection and special exhibits, you cannot say “been there, done that” when talking about the Met. It is worth a visit on your every trip to New York.
2. Fun and Frolic at Central Park
The world’s most famous green space, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives you a glimpse of the city. Most visitors get their first impression from 59th Street, the busy southern section of Central Park. We suggest you take the 72nd Street and Central Park West instead and then head east to hit up Strawberry Fields. No matter how many people congregate in Central Park, you can always find a spot to picnic, stroll, or just take in the greenery.
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3. Museum of Modern Art
Housing some of the finest collection of art in the world, New York’s MoMA showcases recognizable masterpieces from famous artists like Warhol, Calder, Picasso, and Van Gogh. With an extensive collection of art, sculpture, and photography, the museum is one of the topmost places to visit in New York. It gets really crowded during the peak tourist season like Christmas or late spring and summer when hordes of people come to get a glimpse of Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
4. Enjoy the skyline views from the iconic Empire State Building
There’s no better way to understand the endless possibilities of New York City than by making a visit to the top of one of the skyscrapers. The 86th-floor deck offers stunning views of the city with the Hudson and East Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, but the views from 16 stories up on the 102nd-floor observatory are even more stunning with the full view of the Central Park and yet, fewer visitors make it this far. Whatever you do in New York, make sure you visit the top of the empire state building on your trip.
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5. Salute the Statue of Liberty and enjoy the views from the Crown
The landmark and the quintessential symbol of American liberty, this copper statue was constructed in 1886 and its massive pedestal houses an observation deck as well as exhibits the fascinating history. For millions of immigrants, the first glimpse of America is the Statue of Liberty. Visitors approaching Liberty Island from Battery Park might experience the same feelings. Enjoy the views from the crown- a must-do in New York, but remember to book the tickets in advance.
6. Enjoy Ballet & Opera at the Metropolitan Opera House
There is something magical about watching opera at the posh Metropolitan House. With its plush velvet stairs, golden ceilings and sparkling lights- not to mention the dramatic arched entrance as well as its lobby’s immense Swarovski crystal chandeliers, it will impress even the most jaded opera-goer. The hall is also notable for its Marc Chagall paintings which can be seen from the outside during the day.
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7. Get Amazed by the Billboards at Times Square
Times Square is the most frenetic part of New York City that most New Yorkers would like to avoid. It is a cacophony of flashing lights, the chaotic mix of huge underwear billboards, digital displays, on-location television broadcasts and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. If this sounds exciting and you really like sensory overload, Times Square is the place to be! Get a taste of the mad rush of New York City here.
8. Visit the American Museum of Natural History
The largest natural history museum in the world, this 149-year-old institution is expertly curated that attracts visitors of all ages and fills them with a curiosity about the universe. Housing more than 30 million artifacts from the land, sea, and outer space, you could spend your day just looking at the things that hail from different corners of Asia, Africa, rainforests and the ocean. So it has everything for visitors whether you’re interested in oceans of the world, or the cultures of faraway lands or the stars just beyond our reach, a visit to this museum is bound to teach you a few things you never knew. With halls dedicated to an array of different cultures, you could spend a day studying and learning about the human species.
9. Pay Your Respects at the 9/11 Memorial
Hailed as the largest man-made waterfalls in North America, it was finished just in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. These 30-foot waterfalls sit at the spot where Twin Towers once stood. Each pool is nearly an acre in size and edging these pools at the plaza level are bronze panels inscribed with the names of the 2,983 people who were killed in the terror attacks at the World Trade Center site, in 93’s Plane crash in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, and people who died in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. There is also a museum that provides a glimpse of the people who perished in the bombings and delves deeper into the background leading up to the event.
10. People-watching at Grand Central Terminal
With over 700,000 daily commuters and subway riders, Grand Central is not only the UK’s busiest but also the world’s largest railway station. It also named one of the world’s most magnificent and majestic public spaces. Admire the glimmering chandeliers of the waiting room and the jaw-dropping main concourse which is modelled after an ancient Roman public bath. Overhead, the blue ceiling resembles a fiber-optic map of the constellations. To fully appreciate the beauty of it all, avoid visiting at rush hour.
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11. A day out at the Coney Island
A go-to place since the 1920s when looking for fun and frolic, Coney Island has not lost its century-old charm. It is especially attractive and worth a visit during Easter and Halloween. With over 50 rides and stunning seaside views, Coney Island is only an hour away from the city and promises a fun day out for the entire family. With exciting rides like Luna Park, Scream Zone and the Cyclone Roller Coaster, plus fireworks that start at 9:30 pm every Friday night, kids will especially enjoy the visit. And while you’re there, don’t forget the famous boardwalk.
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12. Take a ferry to Staten Island
Some 70,000 people ride the free ferry daily to Staten Island which is one of the city’s outer boroughs. Without paying a cent, one gets to enjoy the phenomenal views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island during the hour-long boat ride across New York Harbor. Plus, the ferry boasts some of the lowest beer prices in the city and you can drink up aka cruise-style.
13. Walk around Greenwich Village
Explore the Village as you walk around, sampling different coffee shops and restaurants, and visiting its unique shops especially through MacDougal and Bleecker Streets. The area has an eclectic vibe because of the fact it is home to colleges like NYU and so on. Head to Washington Square if you’re in the mood to simply people watch. You are also likely to see some of the regular street performers as well.
14. Madame Tussauds New York
This famous wax museum of the United Kingdom opened its doors to New York City in 2000. With over 200 replica wax figures spread over 5 floors, it has become extremely popular in the city. The kids especially love seeing their much-loved sports personalities, actors, actresses and rock stars. One can also visit the section that is dedicated to explaining how each wax figure was made. Have fun taking selfies with your favourite stars.
15. Relish Fancy Cocktails at a Speakeasy Bar
New York City has gone crazy with the speakeasy trend and the most fun part of these bars is the thrill of finding it and getting a table. While some harder to find than others like Bathtub Gin (entry through the coffee shop) and The Back Room (entry through a grimy Lower East Side basement). Few of these places hold on to the speakeasy theme with costumes and decor, others just serve good cocktails. Please Don’t Tell is the most famous speakeasy which can be accessed through the phone booth of a next-door hot dog hut but getting a reservation can be extremely hard.
16. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
One of New York City’s must-visit attractions, make sure you add Rock Observation Deck to your itinerary. Situated midtown in the historic Rockefeller Center, it offers mesmerizing views of the stunning Manhattan panorama. There are 3 short films to catch, offering an excellent background before you ascend to deck for enjoying the dramatic views. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
17. Catch a few Broadway shows
Broadway is another word for theatre and practically synonymous with New York City. More than three dozen Broadway theatres are located in the area around Times Square and host some of the greatest spectacles in town. From big-budget musicals to critically-acclaimed plays to stage debuts featuring Holly wood stars, you are likely to find something interesting playing on the boards. It is one of the top things to do in NYC but remember to buy tickets in advance for popular shows. However, if you are just curious and willing to see anything, stop by the TKTS booth in Times Square, which sells same-day tickets.
18. Admire the Downtown Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Located in the Meatpacking District, between the High Line and the Hudson River, Whitney opened this museum in early 2015 inside the fabulous new Renzo Piano-designed building. With more than 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art gallery space, the museum has 8 floors but only 6 are accessible to the public. There is also 13,000 square feet of outdoor space with views of the Hudson River and the surrounding District.
19. Discover the history of African American Culture in Harlem
A haven for artists and writers, Harlem was the heart of African American culture in the 20th century, when writers like Langston Hughes and James Baldwin led the Harlem Renaissance and made this neighbourhood famous. Despite the massive modern real estate developments, one can still sense the old neighbourhood charm. Today, it has become a cultural and dining destination. Celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster is such a spot in this neighbourhood that serves chicken and waffles alongside jazz in an elegant setting. To experience a taste of African culture, visit the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market where you will find stalls selling traditional crafts and textiles from the different corners of Africa.
20. Savour Dishes from the Different Corners of the World
We know New York City is famous for bagels and pizza, but you can get it anywhere. When in New York, venture off the beaten track to sample something truly authentic. You can try food from all over the world here, especially if you’re ready to travel to the outer boroughs. Gorge on Ethiopian food at Bushwick’s Bunna Café or feast on Yemeni cuisine at Yemen Cafe in Brooklyn Heights. If you can’t travel to Brooklyn or Queens, you can still try Afghan cuisine at Khyber Pass or Georgian food at Old Tbilisi Garden, which are all located in Manhattan. If trying new dishes is not your thing, there are world-class French, Italian, and Japanese food joints in every neighbourhood.