Top 20 Things to Do in NYC for First Time Visitors

Check out some of these fantastic attractions and build your dream New York trip.
By Lindsay Eagan

NYC is at the top of many a traveler's wish list - it's bursting with fascinating museums, top dining spots, and stunning viewpoints. Here are 20 of the very best.

New York is famously known as the city that never sleeps - and with countless world-class restaurants, stores museums, galleries, activities, and more, it's easy to see why! Whether you’re visiting with friends, a significant other, your family members, or kids, you’re sure to have lots of fun exploring.

New York skyline at sunset

To get you all set for your trip to NYC, we've rounded up 20 of the must-see attractions that you really shouldn't miss during your trip. They're broken down into categories, so creating your dream itinerary will be a breeze.

Bus Tours Through NYC 

Start your tour of New York exploring its mega network of streets. Why not visit a collection of interesting spots in a short time by taking a bus tour?

Big Bus New York Sightseeing Tours

Big Bus New York

With the popular Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tour, you'll get a chance to see many of the top buildings, tourist attractions, and locations New York has to offer. A few of the options available include: 

  • Empire State Building 
  • SOHO/ Little Italy 
  • Brooklyn Bridge/ City Hall 
  • Wall Street/ Charging Bull 
  • High Line 
  • Madison Square Garden 
  • and many more! 

You're free to get off and on the bus at any time during the duration of your ticket to visit particular points of interest. 

Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds New York
The images shown depict wax figures created and owned by Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds New York is a must-visit attraction for anyone who loves pop culture and celebrities. Located in the heart of Times Square, this iconic wax museum brings to life your favorite stars and celebrities from television, movies, music, politics, and sports in striking detail.

From posing with the Avengers in the Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience to standing face-to-face with historical figures and world leaders in the Presidents' Gallery and the Spirit of New York exhibit, Madame Tussauds New York provides visitors with a unique and interactive experience like no other.

Take Pictures with Your Favorite Celebrities

Madame Tussauds New York immerses you in a world of glamour and fame, offering endless opportunities for fun photo ops and selfies with your favorite celebrities, from Taylor Swift and Beyonce to Albert Einstein. Additionally, the museum hosts exciting seasonal exhibits and regular updates to their collection. So, there's always something new to see during your visit!

Whether you're visiting New York City for the first time or you're a local looking for a fun and unique experience, Madame Tussauds New York is an attraction that you simply can't miss. Step into the world of your favorite actors, musicians, athletes, and heroes and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Book tickets to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in NYC with Go City

Enjoying the View 

Some of the most popular tourist destinations in New York are just places where you can enjoy a fabulous view of the skyline. The city offers breathtaking views if you can get yourself up to a good vantage point, so try not to miss these attractions: 

The Empire State Building

New York Empire State Building

This New York City attraction has been made famous time and again with cameo appearances in films like An Affair to Remember, Sleepless in Seattle, King Kong, and more. Be sure to head to the Empire State Building's 86th-floor observation deck to check out amazing 360-degree views of the city. 

Take a self-guided multimedia tour to learn more about the incredible sights you’ll see from the top of the city. The Empire State Building accommodates late-night visitors thanks to opening hours that extend until 2am. 

Fun fact: This iconic skyscraper was the tallest building in the world for almost four decades, and was designed by renowned architecture firm Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon in the early 20th century. For more info, check out our guide to visiting the Empire State Building


The Top of the Rock Observatory

View from the Top of the Rock observatory

The Top of the Rock Observatory can be found in one of the iconic hubs of The Big Apple: Rockefeller Plaza. This observation center is located at the top of Rockefeller Center, an extensive complex of 19 different buildings located between 48th and 51st Streets in Midtown.

The Rockefeller Center itself is an important sight, but those who arrange a trip to the top of the observatory enjoy a panoramic view that includes noteworthy NYC skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and the Chrysler Building. The view is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in New York.

For more info, check out our guide to visiting the Top of the Rock Observatory. Don't have time to see both, but can't decide which to focus on? Our post comparing the Top of the Rock vs the Empire State Building could be helpful.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty

New York City was a prominent welcoming port for immigrants to the United States throughout a significant portion of its history. Today, the Statue of Liberty is not just a symbol of America's history as a welcoming land of opportunity and freedom for immigrants, but also a great vantage point from which to view the sprawling metropolis.

There is a Statue of Liberty ferryboat tours that circle the island, and other tours offered that can be reserved in advance. These tours allow visitors to travel up the stairs to the crown of the statue, which is truly an experience unlike any other.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

9/11 Museum and memorial

One of the most important places in all of NYC is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, located on the site of the former World Trade Center. This moving attraction recounts the tragic history of one of the darkest days in recent US history through informative and moving exhibits. The 9/11 Memorial is one of the most memorable things to do while in New York City. 

The Museum has three separate sections, detailing the lead-up to, day of, and aftermath of the attacks, with stories from people who witnessed the attacks first-hand and the relics that remain from the rubble. The outside memorial is well-known for its signature water feature and lighting commemorating the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Check out New York's Top Museums

Those who visit NYC should make time as they can for the Big Apple's art. The top museums in New York are arguably some of the city's finest attractions for young and old alike. Wherever your interests lie, you can find a New York City museum to suit your tastes. With a wide spectrum of available exhibits, special events, unique programming, and more, there's never a dull moment on the NYC museum scene.

American Museum of Natural History 

American museum of natural history

As one of New York’s most beloved and top museums, the American Museum of Natural History is equal parts fun and educational. Attracting millions of visitors every year, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world. It's located right on the west side of Central Park, so it's easy to build into a larger itinerary. 

It includes more than 40 different permanent exhibition halls, covering extensive subjects in the planetary, geological, biological, and anthropological sciences.

Check out our guide for visiting the American Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Modern Art 

Museum of Modern Art, New York Duchamp

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is located in the Midtown area and features collections that focus on more recent artistic productions and diverse artistic media. MoMA exhibits showcase not only works of painting, drawing, sculpture, prints, and architecture, but also photography, illustrated books, and electronic media. 

Some of their most famous holdings include works by Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and many, many more.

Check out our guide for visiting MoMA during your NYC vacation. 

The Met

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on 5th Avenue on the East Side of Central Park, on a stretch commonly known as 'Museum Mile.' The Met is one of the most popular places to go in NYC for visitors interested in art history and gaining a deeper understanding of the studio arts. 

The Met includes more than 15 different curatorial departments and offers exhibits on art from all around the world and across time, with holdings as old as Ancient Egyptian artifacts and as recent as modern-day paintings. (If you're looking for more modern and contemporary art, the Met Breuer is another smart choice). 

Among the museum's offerings are not only artworks of the Western World dating from the Renaissance period, but also products of Asian, African, Oceanic, Byzantine, Indian, and Islamic art.

Check out our guide for visiting The Met during your trip.

The Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum on the Museum Mile

Located near the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim is found on the Museum Mile along the East Side of Central Park. The Guggenheim features mainly modern and contemporary art, and it consists of numerous private collections that are shared with sister museums around the world including in Bilbao, Spain, and Venice, Italy.

The unique thing about the Guggenheim is its philosophy of displaying art. Rather than grouping items together by genre (a sculpture gallery, a painting gallery, etc.), the Guggenheim arranges objects in thematic ways that encourage visitors to ponder connections between them. Featured artists include Cézanne, Juan Gris, Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Klee, and many others.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum

Those interested in maritime history should head to the banks of the Hudson around Midtown to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum - which features an aircraft carrier turned museum.

The Intrepid was established as a museum in 1982, but previously the structure served as an aircraft carrier both in the Pacific Theater of World War II and in the Vietnam War. Exhibits at the museum explore the vessel's service history as well as general exhibits on the naval history of the 20th century.

Experiencing NYC from the Water

Visitors to New York shouldn't forget that Manhattan is technically an island. It is surrounded by water on all sides, and this makes it a great place to explore by boat. Whether you're touring from the Upper Bay area below Manhattan, the Hudson on the West side, or the East River, exploring the city by boat is a great way to experience both beautiful views and unforgettable memories.

The Landmark Cruise: Circle Line Sightseeing

Statue of Liberty sightseeing cruise

If you've only got a short time in NYC, then you'll probably want to consider a sightseeing cruise. This Landmarks Cruise with Circle Line Sightseeing is a fun, comprehensive option. This tour includes landmarks located around Manhattan's shores south of Hell's Kitchen on the Hudson and around Lower Manhattan, up to around the 20th Street Level on the East River.

Places you'll see include the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the High Line, One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, DUMBO, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many more.

Other Important Places to Visit

Some destinations in NYC are so iconic that they are renowned all over the world. They're deeply ingrained in the city's culture and lots of people will ask you about these three:

The Yankee Stadium Tour

Yankee Stadium

To tour Yankee Stadium, you'll have to head to the Bronx, and for sports fans, it's often a highlight of their trip. Knowledgeable tour guides take visitors through Yankee Stadium featuring highlights that go beyond the sights you’ve seen on TV. The Yankees remain a significant force in NYC culture, and an in-depth tour of the stadium shows visitors the team spirit of New Yorkers from all five boroughs.

Madison Square Garden®: The All-Access Tour

Madison Square Garden

Another can't-miss destination in New York is The World’s Most Famous Arena®, Madison Square Garden. Take a 75-minute guided tour of this historic destination to get a behind-the-scenes look at this iconic venue. Some of the most famous concerts and events have happened here, hear about them in the MSG's Defining Moments exhibits.

The Garden is also home to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Knicks NBA team. Sports fans will be interested in knowing how the floor transforms from a basketball court to an ice rink. It's a can't-miss for culture buffs!

The Radio City Stage Door Tour

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is a great place to go to enjoy performances by the iconic Rockettes. On the Radio City Stage Door Tour®, you will have the opportunity to meet and have your photo taken with a world-famous Rockette.

During the tour, you will also get to view the auditorium, look at the celebrity guestbook, and discover the secrets and history of the Great Stage. Some of the biggest and best names in entertainment have performed on this stage!

Iconic Destinations

Seeing Central Park is a must-do while you're in New York, even if you'll only be staying for a very limited time. This beautiful green space offers a haven from big city living, and it never fails to impress visitors from all parts of the world.

Central Park bike ride

Past visitors to New York City typically lament that they could have spent several days enjoying Central Park. However, you can get to many of the park's top locations during a full-day bike rental, and you'll get some great exercise at the same time. Some of the things you'll want to do during your day at the park include a visit to the Central Park Zoo, a paddleboat ride on the Lake, a relaxing nap at Sheep Meadow, and a tour of the Central Park Mall with its stately elm trees. 

If you have time, enjoy the view of the Great Lawn from the Belvedere Castle and stroll through the Literary Walk to see statues of some of the most widely renowned writers in the English language, including Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Fitz-Greene Halleck. 

Staten Island's Beautiful Views

Staten Island

Staten Island, the southern borough of New York City, has beautiful views. Staten Island includes a lengthy waterfront with picturesque vistas of the New York Harbor, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. The best way to admire these panoramas is by taking the Staten Island Ferry.

This 24/7 commuter ferry runs between St. George and Manhattan, taking 25 minutes for each journey. While aboard it allows visitors to take in amazing skylines and harbor scenes - making it a must-experience for those visiting NYC.

A ferry ride is not the only way to enjoy Staten Island's scenic beauty. Visitors can explore Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, boasting 83 acres of gardens, the Staten Island Museum, and other cultural institutions. It offers views of the harbor and the Manhattan skyline.

The Greenbelt park is also a great way to see nature at its finest, with 2,800 acres of forests and trails. With so many opportunities to explore its stunning views, Staten Island is one of New York City's top attractions.

Coney Island

Coney Island ferris wheel

Coney Island, in the southernmost of Brooklyn, is an ideal destination for anyone looking for fun and excitement. At 2.5 miles long, the iconic boardwalk has plenty of attractions, shops, and restaurants.

One must-ride attraction is the Cyclone roller coaster, which has been a thrill ride since 1927. A nearby landmark is the Wonder Wheel, a Ferris wheel standing 150 feet tall that provides stunning views of the ocean and area. The beach offers miles of soft sand and clear water for swimming or sunbathing and people-watch spots.

Coney Island isn't only about the beach and boardwalk but is a diverse community with a rich history explored at the Coney Island Museum. Visitors can learn about amusement parks, witness sideshow attractions, and observe artifacts from the past. There are opportunities for fishing, surfing, and kayaking in the area.

Consequently, Coney Island is seen as one of the top things to do in New York City and an essential destination for fun and adventure.

Visit Deno's Wonder Wheel at Coney Island with Go City® 

Battery Park

Battery Park, New York

Bryant Park is a great place to visit in New York City. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the park offers visitors a respite from the hustle and bustle with its lush green lawns and tranquil atmosphere. As one of NYC’s most popular parks, it has something for everyone – whether you want to relax on the grass or take part in an outdoor activity like yoga or chess.

Plenty of restaurants are nearby for grabbing a bite to eat after your time at the park, as well as numerous shops and attractions that make Bryant Park an ideal destination for tourists looking for an enjoyable day out. From movie screenings in the summer to ice skating in the winter and art exhibitions all year round, there is always something happening here.

Come for a day of leisure or a night of entertainment - Bryant Park is sure to be an enjoyable experience!

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square is one of the top things to do in New York City, and for good reason. This iconic landmark is a must-see attraction when visiting the city, as it has something for everyone. From its bright neon lights to its vibrant energy and entertainment, Times Square is an experience like no other.

With its endless restaurants, shops, theaters, and quirky attractions it's no wonder why so many people flock to this destination each year.

At night, Times Square comes alive with the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals alike, who all share in the excitement that comes with being part of this unique neighborhood. Whether you're looking for a bite to eat, street performers, or just some great people-watching, you can find it here. Plus it's only steps away from popular Broadway shows like 'The Lion King,' making a visit to Times Square even more enjoyable.

Visitors can also explore the interactive exhibits at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum or participate in a scavenger hunt as they search for their favorite celebrities' wax sculptures. The food offerings at Times Square are seemingly endless; there's something for every palate including Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and classic American favorites.

With so much to explore and experience during your visit to Times Square, there’s nothing more exciting than soaking up all that this remarkable place has to offer!


Q: What must I see when in New York City?
A: There are countless must-see attractions in New York City, from iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty to world-renowned museums like the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA). Whether you're interested in history, art, culture, or just soaking up the energy of this vibrant city, you're sure to find something that inspires you.

Q: What's the best way to explore New York City?
A: One of the best ways to explore New York City is by taking a bus tour, like the popular Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tours or the unique and interactive experience offered by THE RIDE. These tours offer a fun and informative way to see many of the city's top buildings, tourist attractions, and locations, while professional comedic hosts provide fun and interesting context to the sights you'll see with history, fun facts, trivia, and even karaoke.

Q: What are some of the most breathtaking views of New York City?
A: There are plenty of places in New York City where you can enjoy a fabulous view of the skyline, but some of the most popular include the Empire State Building's 86th-floor observation deck. It offers amazing 360-degree views of the city, The Top of the Rock Observatory, located at the top of Rockefeller Center features a panoramic view that includes noteworthy NYC skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Chrysler Building.

Q: What are some other important places to visit in New York City?
A: In addition to the many world-renowned museums and iconic landmarks in New York City, there are also lesser-known destinations worth a visit. For sports fans, a tour of Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden is often a highlight of their trip, while those interested in maritime history should head to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. And of course, no trip to New York City would be complete without a stroll through Central Park or a visit to the always-exciting Times Square.

Q: Is it possible to save on admission to top attractions in New York City?
A: Yes! There are plenty of ways to save on admission to top attractions in New York City, including purchasing a New York Explorer or All-Inclusive Pass, which offers discounted admission tickets to your favorite destinations. With so many amazing things to see and do in New York City, it's always a good idea to keep an eye out for ways to save a little money while still experiencing everything this incredible city has to offer.

New York City skyline at sunset

Save on Admission to Top Attractions

That's a wrap - our top picks for the most popular and top things to do in NYC for first-time visitors during their vacation. Whether you are traveling with young kids, teens, or adults, we're sure you will all have a great time.

Many of these must-see attractions are available to visit with Go City®. Choose from dozens of popular New York attractions and save on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

🤩 >> If you want to see and do as much as you can, our All-Inclusive Pass is for you.

😎 >> If you want to pick just a few attractions and visit at your own pace, our Explorer Pass is the perfect option.

🌎 Explore other destinations 🌎

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New York City Staycation - Ideas to Plan a Fun Weekend at Home

These days, it can be hard to get the resources together for a real getaway every time we feel like we truly need a break. So why not opt for a New York City staycation and make the most of your hometown or local city? Take the opportunity to see and do things you never get to, dine out, and maybe even stay in a hotel to make it more fun. If you’re a New York metropolitan area resident and are looking for some fun staycation ideas, check out this post. We’ve curated our favorite hometown activities, from romantic couples’ activities to educational kids’ museums. Our top staycation ideas include: The Met Top of the Rock Central Park & Bike Rides Big Bus New York 9/11 Memorial and Museum American Museum of Natural History New York Botanical Garden Harbor Lights Cruise: Circle Line Sightseeing New York Historical Society Museum Save on Admission Looking to save on tickets to your favorite staycation ideas? Pick up a New York Explorer Pass® to save up to 50% on top area museums, tours, activities, and more. See all available attractions and prices – here. The Met While we’re sure that you’ve hit up the Met at least once during your time in NYC, there’s always more to see at this phenomenal institution. Whether you’re interested in Ancient Egyptian artifacts, medieval armor, or Impressionist paintings, you’ll find it at the Met. They also host frequent special programming and events that you can take advantage of as a local – especially if you spring from a membership that gives you access to elite events all year. Getting In: Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Top of the Rock While this is certainly a top attraction for out-of-towners, it should also be high on your staycation list. It’s especially important to enjoy this observation deck if you’ve never been before (and be honest – many of us never get to the coolest things in our hometowns). You can opt to come in the evening for some romantic cityscape views, or early in the day to avoid crowds. Getting In: Top of the Rock tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Central Park & Bike Rides Central Park has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most wonderful things about NYC. Exercise your rights as a New Yorker to enjoy this fantastic urban park as much as you’d like. Stroll around. Enjoy a picnic in warmer weather. Take a tour. Ride a bike. Watch the kids play any number of games and sports. There’s practically no end to the fun and relaxation you can indulge in with a trip to this park – so put it high on your staycation itinerary. Getting In: Central Park is free to explore; Central Park bike rentals are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Big Bus New York If you’re one of those couples who has lived in NYC for a while but hasn’t really gotten out to all the big name stuff – whether that’s because of work, or other commitments keeping you busy – a New York City staycation/weekend 'getaway' in the city is the perfect opportunity to remedy that. Hop aboard a bus tour and play tourist for a day as you enjoy learning more about your city, seeing the big name sights, and traversing the city in a vehicle that’s much nicer than the NYC subway. Getting In: Big Bus New York tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. 9/11 Memorial and Museum This poignant attraction is still relatively new in the city and there’s a decent chance you haven’t been able to visit yet. As a local, the events of 9/11 are particularly emotional, and a visit to this memorial and museum could be a good way to think through your experiences. The striking exterior Memorial also provides opportunities to appreciate NYC’s architectural strengths. Getting In: 9/11 Memorial and Museum tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. American Museum of Natural History Another top museum option for locals to enjoy is the eclectic American Museum of Natural History. In addition to exciting permanent collections, they’ve got fun and informative temporary exhibits that rotate seasonally, so there’s always something new for you and the kids to enjoy. If you’ve got kids under 12, then you absolutely must head to the Discovery Room for some interactive and educational ways to access the museum’s collections. Getting In: American Museum of Natural History tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. New York Botanical Garden This is one for you nature lovers out there. If you’ve never visited this Bronx treasure before, you’ll be amazed at the variety of flora that you can find right in NYC. Hop aboard the tram for a tour of the complete gardens, or wander about on the paths to see specific areas of interest. Be sure to consult their website before you visit so you can see what’s blooming. This will help you decide the ideal time to go – especially if you’re interested in elusive blooms like the iconic cherry blossoms! Getting In: New York Botanical Garden tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Harbor Lights Cruise: Circle Line Sightseeing If you’re looking for something romantic to do on your staycation – a chance to enjoy something special with your significant other – then we suggest the Harbor Lights Cruise by Circle Line Sightseeing. This two-hour cruise departs at sunset and sails around the island, offering stunning evening views of major sites like Ellis Island, the USS Intrepid, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many more. Getting In: Harbor Lights Cruise tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Please note that a small upgrade fee applies. New York Historical Society Museum Our last suggestion is a fun one, and kind of a hidden gem. While you may be aware of the New York Historical Society Museum (it’s right next to the AMNH), have you ever taken an hour or two to visit? Come here for a taste of NYC that’s as eclectic as it is fascinating. You’ll find everything from Native American artifacts from the Lenape to twenty-first-century industrial objects. In addition to the main Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, there’s also the interactive DiMenna Children’s History Museum, which your kids will adore. Getting In: New York Historical Society Museum tickets are available with the New York City Explorer Pass. Don’t Forget to Save Hopefully, these ideas help you plan that ideal New York City staycation for you and your family. Remember, if you’re looking to save money while enjoying your local attractions, pick up a New York City Explorer Pass today!
Katie Sagal
New York a novembre

Four Days in New York

Planning to spend four days in New York City and wondering whether it’s enough time to see everything? One of the world’s most intense and invigorating, energetic, and ever-changing cities in the world, the sprawling metropolis has so much to offer, you could live there for a year without seeing and experiencing everything. However, four days in New York is enough to see all the top attractions and get a feel for the city. While you’ll have your work cut out for you and will end up walking a good few miles, it’s just enough time for you to take a bite out of the Big Apple and fall in love. So, what to see and where to go? This four-day itinerary will guide you through the top sights and food spots you simply can’t miss on a visit to New York City. Top Tips for First-Time Visitors to New York City With just four days in New York, time is of the essence, so here are a few tips to help make the most of your stay. Comfortable shoes are essential! New York City is best explored on foot, and you’ll spend a lot of time walking around. It’s essential to bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes for your four-day adventure. Expect long lines at popular places New York City is one of the most visited cities in the world and is busy year-round. Prepare for long lines at the top attractions. Get the 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metro Card New York City has an outstanding public transportation system that provides a quick way of getting around the city. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride Metro Card is worthwhile if you plan on using the subway. For only $33 you’ll have unlimited access to the metro for seven days. Now that you’re prepped, let’s hit the streets! Four-Day Itinerary for New York City Day 1 Morning in Central Park Your first stop on your Big Apple adventure must be Central Park. One of New York’s most recognized attributes, Central Park is the lush green heart of Manhattan. Designed by the award-winning landscape architect team, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park spans 843 acres and is home to everything from a lake to an ice-skating rink. You could spend the entire day in the park and not see everything, so why not use your pass to rent a bike from Central Park Full Day Bike Rental on two wheels! Visit the most popular attractions in the park like the picturesque Loeb Boathouse, the historic Belvedere Castle, Sheep's Meadow, and the rolling Strawberry Fields. When you’re done exploring, head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of New York’s top museums. Founded in 1870, the MET is home to over two million pieces of art spanning 5,000 years. Don’t miss Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies and Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat. If you prefer archeology over art, head to the American Museum of Natural History on the border of Central Park in the Upper West Side. Use your pass to gain access to the museum and marvel at the incredible collection of natural wonders. Don’t miss the life-size model of a 94-foot blue whale in the Hall of Ocean Life. Afternoon in Midtown After lunch, it’s time for a bit of retail therapy on one of the best shopping streets in the world! Head down Fifth Avenue to browse the stunning window displays of the top luxury brands in the world and do some shopping if your credit card will allow it. Make a stop at the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral along the way. Hailed as one of the most beautiful churches in the world, the Neo-Gothic style cathedral took 21 years to complete due to the Civil War. Use your pass to enjoy express entry into the cathedral where you can wander around in awe of the breathtaking architecture. Evening in Times Square Times Square is one of New York’s most visited attractions and can’t be missed during your NYC sojourn. Brace yourself for the massive screens and neon lights lighting up the night sky. Be prepared for crowds – Times Square heaves with tourists, especially at night, but it’s an experience of a lifetime that will leave lasting memories. Another must-do when in New York is to catch a Broadway Show if you can afford it. Broadway Shows are an integral part of New York and even if you’re not the greatest theater fan, watching a show like The Lion King or Wicked on Broadway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Use your pass to enjoy a Broadway and Time Square Walking Tour. Walk in the footsteps of stars as you visit legendary Broadway locations like the Edison Hotel and Shubert Alley. Day 2 Morning in Greenwich Village When in New York, do as New Yorkers do and grab a bagel for breakfast. You’ll find plenty of bakeries and cafés selling mouthwatering versions – try salmon and cream cheese if you really want to be a New Yorker. The best way to explore this charming neighborhood is on a walking tour. Use your pass to join a Greenwich Village Walking Tour and enjoy a two-hour guided tour of the ‘birthplace of American Counter-Culture.’ Visit Washington Square Park, the symbolic heart of Greenwich Village and a gathering place for avant-garde artists and students from NYU. Eat your bagel on the steps of the fountain and watch street art performers and musicians ply their trade. Discover film locations (Friends and Mozart in the Jungle) and learn about the area's famous residents like Edgar Allan Poe and John Wilkes Booth. Visit the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ Movement in America, the Stonewall Inn. Afternoon in Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown Your next stop is the neighboring areas of SoHo (South of Houston Street), Little Italy, and Chinatown. Save some time by using your pass to enjoy a SoHo, Little Italy & Chinatown Walking Tour and dive right into the heart of Manhattan. Enjoythe ritzy shops and their museum-worthy window displays in SoHo and shop until you drop. Venture into Little Italy and be prepared to salivate as you wander around NYC’s tastiest neighborhood. Discover the rich history of Chinatown and explore its secret underground tunnels. Evening in Chelsea As the sun begins to set , head to the unique High Line Park to take in some spectacular city views. The once-disused railroad track was converted into a verdant floating garden that now passes through some of New York City's most historic neighborhoods. Wander along the elevated park on a High Line, Chelsea & Meatpacking District Walking Tour with your pass. Take in the art installations and admire some of New York's most famous buildings, including the Empire State Building and Frank Gehry’s IAC Building. When you’re done walking the High Line, pop into Chelsea Market for something to eat. The world-famous food hall is home to a mix of restaurants and shops selling an array of mouthwatering gourmet goodies. Day 3 Morning at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and One World Trade Center Visiting New York City without spending a few hours in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum would be remiss. Based next to the overwhelming might of the monolithic One World Trade Center, the museum details the horrific events that took place on that day and honors the almost 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. Use your pass to gain entrance to the museum and be prepared for a deeply moving and reflective experience. Join a 9/11 Museum Workshop with your pass where you’ll learn about the nine-month recovery period after the events of 9/11 and the people involved. Don’t miss the never-ending waterfall that cascades into twin reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood. The names of victims of both the 1993 and 2001 attacks are engraved in stone around the waterfall. Afternoon in Wall Street and Brooklyn As you wander towards Wall Street and the Financial District, be sure to check out the architecturally significant and rather curious design of the Oculus Mall, which is like the spine of a long-forgotten fish. Walk around the Financial District and see the iconic New York Stock Exchange. Have a photo taken with the famous Charging Bull and admire the historic Trinity Church. Next stop, the famous Brooklyn Bridge and the charming neighborhood of DUMBO. Connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in the country and one of New York’s most iconic attractions. A lovely way to explore this area is on a Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Walking Tour. Stroll across the architectural icon and be sure to take tons of photos – it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in NYC. Learn the history of the bridge from your guide as you soak up spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Stroll around the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood called DUMBO which is famous for its art galleries, high-end boutiques, and scenic waterfront views. This is the place for out-of-this-world New York pizza, so find a spot for dinner! Day 4 Morning at in the Diamond District Your first stop today should be the beautiful Grand Central Station. Take in the breathtaking design and the grandeur of the celestial ceiling of the central terminal. Grab breakfast and a coffee in the food hall downstairs. A short walk from Grand Central Station is the Museum of Modern Art. Fondly known as MoMA, the striking Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building houses one of the most significant collections of modern art in the world, with works by world-renowned, such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Cézanne, Magritte, Pollock, Matisse, and Warhol. Use your pass for free access to the Museum of Modern Art and spend the morning marveling at masterpieces. Afternoon at the Empire State Building You can’t leave New York without visiting the Empire State Building. This world-renowned building is a short walk from Bryant Park and is the perfect place to see the sunset over Manhattan. Built during The Great Depression, Empire State Building is a glorious example of Art Deco design with a magnificent lobby boasting 24-karat gold and aluminum leaf ceiling murals. Use your pass to gain access to the Empire State Building and head up to the 86th floor to get a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. Take in the city from the observatory deck and see Connecticut and Pennsylvania more than 80 miles away on a clear day or watch the city lights begin to twinkle as it gets darker. Evening at Madison Square Garden Spend your last evening in New York watching a Knicks basketball game or the New York Rangers on the ice at Madison Square Garden. The 20,000-seat venue in the heart of Herald Square witnessed Marilyn singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to JFK and hosted two Ali-Frazier fights. If you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets, you’ll find plenty of top-notch restaurants in and around the square for your last NYC dinner.
Alex Birungi
Aerial view of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, New York.

10+ Things to Do in Central Park During Your Trip to New York City

One of the most famous urban green spaces in the entire world is Central Park. Home to dozens of attractions like bike trails, sculptures, ponds, picnic spots, tours, and even a zoo, Central Park is bustling with excitement and energy. Come here to have fun and be active or to relax and unwind. Whatever your approach to Central Park, you’re bound to have a great time. If you’re looking for things to do in Central Park and near by during your trip to New York, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions, including... Central Park Bike Rides Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour The nearby American Museum of Natural History The nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art And more! Save on Central Park Attraction Admission Admission to many of these top New York City attractions and activities and more are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Choose as you go from many top attractions and save up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more. Central Park Full Day Bike Rental One of the best ways to get around NYC while avoiding the notoriously terrible traffic (and the occasionally frustrating subway system) is to ride around on two wheels. Pick up a full day bike rental in Central Park for the opportunity to explore the city at your own pace and to be as active or as leisurely as you’d like. Getting In: Full Day Central Park Bike Rentals are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Central Park Bike Tour If what you’re really interested in is a thorough exploration of the lovely Central Park, then a bike tour is a great option. Ride around for two hours while seeing the top sights and sounds of the country’s most popular urban park, with the chance to stop at major spots like the Imagine Mosaic, the Cherry Hill Fountain, Strawberry Fields, and many more. Getting In: Central Park Bike Tours are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour Enjoy a leisurely walking tour while taking a peek at over 40 TV and movie locations scattered throughout Central Park. You’ll recognize top sites from movies like Serendipity, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, When Harry Met Sally, and more. Don’t forget about TV shows like Glee! Getting In: Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tours are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Central Park Walking Tour Another fun walking tour option for the curious – this time focused on the Park as a whole, including major landmarks and famous sites. This easy two-hour walking tour covers a good amount of the park, from famous fountains and iconic statues to little-known paths and ponds. Getting In: Central Park Walking Tours are available on the New York Explorer Pass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Of all the diverse art museums in NYC, the Met is probably the most iconic. Featuring some of the most famous paintings in the world alongside cultural artifacts stretching from the days of Ancient Egypt to the modern world, the Met is an unbeatable cultural attraction. Getting In: Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Central Park Zoo Animal lovers of all ages will relish the chance to visit this charming little zoo, nestled in Central Park. With a surprising variety of species including grizzly bears and snow leopards, as well as the popular Tisch Children’s Zoo, this attraction can provide an enjoyable afternoon for the whole family. Getting In: Admission to the Central Park Zoo is separately ticketed and is not included on the New York Explorer Pass. To purchase tickets and for more information about this attraction, please visit the attraction website. Lasker Rink If you’ve seen a romantic movie or TV episode set in NYC in the winter, there’s a decent chance there’s some ice-skating involved, possibly even at Lasker Rink in Central Park. Throw on some skates and go for a spin around this modest but well-regarded rink on your next wintertime trip to New York. Getting In: Admission to Lasker Rink is separately ticketed and is not included on the New York Explorer Pass. To purchase tickets and for more information about this attraction, please visit the attraction website. Things to Do Near Central ParkMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA) Explore the New York City arts scene with a visit to one of the world’s premier art institutions – the Museum of Modern Art. The MoMA showcases modern and contemporary art from around the globe, with a little bit of everything from Van Gogh and Monet to Warhol and Pollack. Getting In: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) tickets are available on the New York Explorer Pass. American Museum of Natural History One of the largest and most varied natural history museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History is famous for many of its signature collections -- like dinosaur fossils, gemstones, and human cultural artifacts. Don’t miss a chance to explore their popular Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, complete with its 94-foot whale model. Getting In: American Museum of Natural History tickets are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Guggenheim Museum Another great modern art option for the culture buffs, the Guggenheim features a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art masterpieces in a variety of media. Be sure to appreciate the building itself, too – this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structure is a twentieth-century marvel. Getting In: Guggenheim Museum tickets are available on the New York Explorer Pass. The Met Breuer A newly opened attraction on the New York arts scene, Met Breuer is the place where the Met’s vast collections of modern and contemporary art have space to breathe. Visitors to the Met Breuer will appreciate the opportunity to see rarely displayed works of art that have been hidden away in storage for years, with everything from painting and sculpture to textiles and decorate arts making an appearance. Getting In: Met Breuer tickets are available on the New York Explorer Pass. Museum of the City of New York A smaller but no less fascinating museum, the Museum of the City of New York has a particular focus on the heritage, culture, and day-to-day experiences of NYC. Alongside some carefully curated permanent collections they offer special exhibitions, educational programs, and public events. Even New Yorkers get a lot out of a visit here! Getting In: Admission to the Museum of the City of New York is separately ticketed and is not included on the New York Explorer Pass. To purchase tickets and for more information about the attraction please visit the attraction website. Remember to Save on Attraction Admission These are our top recommendations for things to do in Central Park and near Central Park during your trip to New York City. Don’t forget - many of these great attraction options and more are included on the New York Explorer Pass®, which can save you up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. We hope you consider adding a few of these great attraction options to your NYC vacation plans.
Katie Sagal

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