Top 10 Best Things to Do in NYC
Planning a trip to New York for the very first time can be challenging – especially if you’re only visiting the city for a couple of days. There are so many things to do! Many of our clients are worried that they won’t get the full New York experience and ask us what they should definitely put on their travel agenda.
So, without further ado, here’s our carefully selected list of the top 10 best things to do in NYC! You can do those things all year round.
#1 JOIN A GUIDED TOUR
Joining a guided tour is more than essential to your trip and we suggest you book a tour for the first day of your visit. Not only will you be escorted to the best spots of Manhattan in just 4 hours, you’ll also get a bunch of valuable insider information from experienced tour guides. Furthermore, a guided city tour will give you a first idea of how Manhattan is structured and makes your personal discovery of the city much easier. This comes in handy if you’ve discovered a landmark here or a nice neighborhood there during the tour that you want to check out later again more thoroughly. At VOLATOUR you can join our classic 4-hour New York City Tour for only $65 per person.
#2 WALK ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
You’re not New York approved until you’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. If you only have time for one way, then we suggest you walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan as you can get a better and more comfortable view of the skyline. However, if you have a couple more hours, then you can walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn first and maybe discover DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park as well before returning. On your way back you can make more stops for pictures and enjoy the beautiful view. Good to know: A relaxed stroll from one side of the Brooklyn Bridge to the other takes approximately 1 hour. Keep in mind that you can easily spend 1.5 – 2 hours on the bridge if you stop frequently for skyline pictures or the perfect Instagram selfie!
#3 CONQUER THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
OK, by saying “Conquer the Empire State Building” we don’t necessarily mean King Kong style… a normal ticket to the observatory should be sufficient. All jokes aside though – Visiting the Empire State Building is a classic activity with an incredible view and therefore one of the best things to do in NYC. We love all of the observatories you can find in Manhattan (including the One World Observatory and the Top of The Rock Observatory), but if you have to pick one and one only, we’d say: Go to this icon.
#4 WATCH BILLBOARDS IN TIMES SQUARE
Day or night – Times Square shines bright. Surrounded by hundreds of billboards you have the perfect scene for some great vacation snaps. We recommend you place yourself on top of the big red steps at Duffy Square. From there you can get a great bird’s-eye view of Times Square. While there, check out the “time ball” on top of the One Times Square building and try to imagine the crowds during the annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Unbelievable, right?! And that’s why you should definitely put Times Square on your NYC bucket list.
Image: Courtesy of Joan Marcus
#5 CATCH A BROADWAY SHOW
New York equals Broadway. And going to a Broadway Show is basically a must-do while you are visiting the city. It doesn’t even matter if you are going to a normal Broadway show or an Off-Broadway show. It’ll be one of the best things you’ll do in NYC regardless! And it’s really about the experience! Depending on what kind of show you prefer (musical, play, popular, newcomer), you can either see big hits like Chicago, Wicked or The Lion King or you can go to more affordable shows like the Blue Man Group or the fun, interactive play Drunk Shakespeare. If you are lucky, a ticket might only cost you $20 (that’ll probably be an Off-Broadway show then). The best part is that you can get tickets to every Broadway show and Off-Broadway show at VOLATOUR!
#6 TAKE A STROLL THROUGH CENTRAL PARK
If you are looking for the best things to do in NYC… without a doubt, one of it is a stroll through Central Park. Over 39 million square feet of nature always guarantees you a quiet spot to yourself. If your legs are still restless you will find lots of activities and walking paths to landmarks in the park. For example, you can visit the Strawberry Fields memorial, take a stroll along the famous Central Park Mall or join a Horse Carriage Ride. More active visitors can rent a bike or climb the huge (natural!) rocks for the best skyline views. No matter if you are going to visit Central Park during the summer or autumn – A magnificent experience is always guaranteed!
#7 HOP ON A NEW YORK HARBOR CRUISE (OPTIONALLY TO THE STATUE OF LIBERTY)
Many of our guests at VOLATOUR ask us where they can get the best view of the Statue of Liberty. Our answer: Do a sightseeing harbor cruise. Sure, you can also take a Ferry directly to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But if you really want great pictures of this icon then hop on a harbor cruise. The boats are usually taking a break in front of Lady Liberty so you can snap the best pictures of this iconic landmark for your photo album. Need more reasons why a harbor cruise is one of the best things to do in NYC? Sightseeing cruises are also taking you all the way around the southern tip of Manhattan so you can see many other attractions from the water as well, including the Brooklyn Bridge!
#8 DISCOVER ROCKEFELLER CENTER
Rockefeller Center is not just a single building! It’s a huge complex of 22 acres with many famous attractions. Therefore, exploring Rockefeller Center is one of the best things to do NYC. The Channel Gardens promenade and the Lower Plaza with it’s gilded Prometheus sculpture are probably one of the most recognized places. This part of the Rockefeller Center is especially popular during the holiday season as you can find the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree towering above the ice rink in the heart of the Lower Plaza. While in the area, you should also check out the famous Radio City Music Hall – the home of the Rockettes dance company and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. But also the Atlas statue in front of the complex on 5th Avenue is worth seeing. And if you have another minute or two, you can go and check out St. Patrick’s Cathedral opposite the Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue.
#9 NEVER FORGET: THE 9/11 MEMORIAL POOLS
A trip to the 9/11 Memorial Pools is definitely an emotional but a necessary one. Until 2001 the twin towers were majestically dominating the New York skyline. After the tragic 9/11 terror attack the towers collapsed and buried almost 3,000 people. As a memorial, two gigantic pools, each almost exactly the length and width of each twin tower was installed with the names of all victims surrounding the pools. Depending on how much time you have, you can also go and explore the 9/11 memorial museum or dive into the future by visiting the One World observatory on top of the One World Trade Center.
#10 VISIT AT LEAST ONE MUSEUM
There are so many great museums in Manhattan and each deserves a recommendation as a top thing to do in NYC. But it’s impossible to see all of them in a couple of days. You can find museums all over the city, but they are especially dense on the Upper East Side along 5th Avenue (which is why this part of 5th Avenue is also often referred to as “Museum Mile”). Which museum you should visit really depends on your personal preferences. For example: If you are visiting with children or teenagers, then the interactive wax museum Madame Tussauds or the American Museum of Natural History with its huge skeletons would be perfect. If you are more into contemporary art, you should definitely head to the MoMA. And if you are looking for a classic, you should put the Metropolitan Museum of Art on your bucket list. With nearly 7 million visitors a year it’s the third most visited art museum in the world.
With this list you will cover the top 10 best things to do in New York – especially if you’re only visiting the city for a couple of days. If you are interested in specific events in New York, go check out our event calendar where we’ve listed the top 10 best Events in New York for each month of the year.
AND NOW –
DISCOVER MODE: ON!
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Hi! We are team VOLATOUR. Our commitment is to provide the best guided sightseeing experience in and around New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami in order to ensure an unforgettable vacation from start to finish for you and your loved ones.