New York City is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s a city where tourists from different parts of the world love to visit because of its beauty. Some visit the city because of the Broadway Shows, several other come to see the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, famous museums, historic neighborhood, while others come to shop and dine. The sights of New York can be overwhelming especially if you are there for the first time and this is the reason for this article.
In this article, we will show you which sights you are not allowed to miss in New York and give you the necessary information you need for visiting each of them. We have put together 24 best tourist attractions and highlights in NYC and many of the best places to visit are within walking distance of each other or a short from each other so you don’t miss it.
In recent years, some newer tourist attractions that have opened include One World Observatory, Help Line, just to mention a few. These attractions whether old or new, they all provide unique perspectives of the city so if you are planning a trip to New York City, you can use this article as your guide to the best tourist attractions in NYC.
Tips on how to make visiting New York attractions stress-free
Here are some helpful tips to help you make the best of your time in New York before we delve into the tourist attractions and highlights in NYC.
1. Buy tickets in advance
Sightseeing in New York can be a little stressful. The first order of business at most of these attractions is standing in the long queue, security control, buying tickets, waiting for elevators. To avoid unnecessary stress you have to plan a little time for each attraction so you don’t get yourself into a tight situation. For example, you can avoid standing in the long queue at the ticket counter for your ticket if you have already purchased your ticket online. It is cheaper and saves you time once you are there
2. Saves time and money with city passes
There are 5 different city passes for New York and with these passes; you can gain entrance to several attractions in New York. It is also cheaper than buying tickets separately. For each attraction in the article, we will let you know if its entrance is part of the city passes.
3. Carefully plan your visit to the sights
It’s important to plan your visit and the attractions you’d love to see beforehand. write it down each sights you would like to see, this way you can follow your plan and make the most of your day without getting overwhelmed.
New York Tourist Attractions
1. The Statue of Liberty
This is the symbol of New York and it is the most popular structure that you cannot afford to miss it. The Statue of Liberty used to be the first thing that immigrants saw as they entered US port by ship. Today, it is one of the most well-known sights in New York and also that of the United States.
The Statue of Liberty was built in 1886 and it remains the world symbol of freedom. It is one of the largest statues of the world, it is 152 feet tall from the base to the torch and it weighs approximately 450,000 pounds.
The statue can be seen on good views from Battery Park on the Southern tip of Manhattan but to really get the best view is to take a short boat trip to Liberty Island to take a closer look.
Here is some information you need about visiting the Statue of Liberty;
Information on visiting the Statue of Liberty
Admission ticket – $23
Opening Hours – Daily 9:30 am to 3:30 pm (last ferry going to Liberty Island)
Subway – Whitehal St (R): South Ferry State(1)
Website – www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm
The Statue of Liberty is on the small Liberty Island in South of Manhattan. Close to Liberty Island is Ellis Island. Between 1892 and 1954, newcomers were registered here and about half of the present population in the United States has ancestors that came through Ellis Island.
Ellis Island is a Museum today, and there you can retrace the steps of immigrants of that era from luggage room to the medical examination. At the Ellis Island, Americans can find out in a database their ancestors that landed there and from where they started their long journey to the US.
You should plan a long time for your visit to the Statue of Liberty. Security at the ferry alone can take up to 2 hours and in general you will need about half a day for the visit.
Tickets for visiting the Statue of Liberty
If you want to go to the Statue of Liberty, there are different ticket options to choose from, there tickets sold on the Statue Cruises webiste. All tickets include the visit of Liberty Island and Ellis Island and also the museum on Ellis Island. YOu can still book a visit to the base and crown of the State of Liberty if you want to but the crown tickets are strickly limited so you have to get the ticket as quickly as possible before it is sold out.
PS: With any of the 5 New York passes, you can visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
Boat ride that goes past the Statue of Liberty
The Circle Line – You can take a boat tour to see the Statue of Liberty, The Circle Line offers an amazing boat tour. They can also take you around Manhattan besides the statue so you can also see some important landmarks of the city from a new perspective on the water.
The Harbor Light Cruise – They also offer a very nice boat tour that goes along the same route but mostly in the evening. And its also a lovely time in New York for such a cruise
If you are traveling on a tight budget, you can join the free ferry ride from the southern tip of Manhattan to Staten Island to and fro.
2. Empire State Building
This is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world. Several decades ago, it was the tallest structure in the world; it is 381 meter-tall. There are two observatories at the top of the Empire State Building both provide breathtaking views of the city skyline. You can actually see up to 80 miles on clear days and looking into the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The 86th Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building which is 1,050 feet is the city’s highest open-air observation deck. To access this floor, there are glass-enclosed high-speed automatic elevators to take you. The line to the top of the Empire State Building is always long and moves slowly. It can be frustrating during its peak times and you can spend up to the whole day at this attraction.
Information on visiting the Empire State Building
Address – 34th Street / 5th Avenue
Admission ticket – $42
Subway – 33 St (4, 6)
34 St Herald Square (B, D, Q, R)
Website – www.esbnyc.com
This is one of the highlights of the city that you would not want to miss. It is often crowded and admission tickets costs 42 dollars and its best you purchase them online to avoid the long queue at the ticket counter.
Visiting the Empire State Building should take about 2 to 3 hours or more, sometimes it might be half your day depending on the time of the year you choose to visit so you should plan for it.
Tickets for visiting the Empire State Building
Admission ticket for the Empire State Building costs $42. You should purchase the ticket in advance because this will save you a lot of time. When purchasing this ticket online, you would be presented with two options;
Option 1: Standard ticket – This ticket costs $45 and with it you bypass the long queue at the ticket counter
Option 2: Express ticket – This ticket costs $85 and with it you can jump the long queue at the entrance and at the escalators. This is a good option if you are working with time.
PS: With any of the New York passes, you can visit the Empire State Building.
3. Central Park
Central Park is one of the things that makes New York a beautiful city. You cannot afford to miss a walk, or carriage ride through the crisscrossing pathways of Central Park. In winter, you can even glide across Wolman Rink on york skates. The Central Park is half-mile wide and 2.5 miles long. It attracts about 500,000 visitors on a daily basis.
There are several attractions within Central Park borders and almost all of them are free. You can visit some of the most popular places such as the Central Park Zoo, Strawberry Fields, the Lake and the Belvedere Castle. If you are alone, to make it easy for you pick a map at one of the visitor centers and plot your routing.
Information on visiting Central Park
Opening Hours – Daily 6:00 am to 1:00 am
Subway – Line A, B C (various stations)
Website – centralparknyc.org
You can spend half or a whole day in Central Park. There is too much to see and almost all are free. But if you are on a time budge, we recommend you visit the southern part of the Central Park. There is where Strawberry Field, the Lake and several other attractions are.
PS: With some of the New York Passes, bike rentals in Central Park are included. The New York Sightseeing Pass contains Central Park Zoo.
4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
This museum was built because of the attack that happened in September 11th 2001, the city of New York remembers this day and its victim with this museum. The memorial museum and the Tribute museum are worth seeing. The place where the twin tower once stood are two deep pools with water falling into them from their edges. The names of all 2,983 people who lost their lives on that day are engraved around the pool.
At these museums, there are photos, videos recordings and several original sounds from that day. There are also various display items that were recovered from the rubble. It is indeed worth seeing.
Information on visiting the 9/11 memorial & museum
Address – 180 Greenwich Street / Fulton Street
Admission ticket – Museum is $26, Memorial is free
Subway – World Trade Center (E)
WTC Cortland (t)
Park Pl (2, 3)
Website – www.911memorial.org
Ticket to the museum costs 26 dollars but tickets to the memorial are free. To avoid long queue at the ticket counter, you can purchase them online and in advance.
You will have to give 30 to 60 minutes for visiting the memorial but for the museum you should plan for it because you can spend up to 2 or 3 hours.
PS: With any of the New York passes, you can visit the 9/11 Museum.
5. Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock
Rockefeller Center is also one of the most popular New York attractions, it is a huge entertainment and shopping complex in the middle of Manhattan and it is home to NBC-TV and other media. Out of all the viewing spots in the city, this is one of the nicest. It offers an amazing view of Central Park in the north and the Empire State Building to the south. This centerpiece of 70-story 30 Rockefeller Plaza, an Art Deco skyscraper offer great views over Manhattan from the popular Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
The view from the Top of The Rock Observation Deck is really amazing because there are no obstructions; there are three floors located on the 67th, 69th and 70th floor. The indoor and outdoor viewing point offer breathtaking views of the city either by day or night.
Information on visiting the Top of the Rock
Address -50th Street / 6th Avenue
Admission ticket – $40
Subway – 47-50 St – Rockefeller Center (B, D)
Website – www.topoftherocknyc.com
Tickets for the Top of the Rock
The Rockefeller Center viewing terraces are larger, the Top of The Rock Observation Deck is not mostly crowded compared to the Empire State Building so it’s better up there.
You should give yourself about 1 to 2 hours for your visit.
Tickets costs $40 per person, it is better you purchase your ticket online in advance so as to avoid the long queue at the ticket counter
PS: With any of the New York passes, you can visit the Top of the Rock.
This is the highest outdoor viewing platform of the Western hemisphere; it was being built in the vast new Hudson Yards building complex. At 335 meters high, this building made of glass extends over 20 meters away from the skyscrapers called 30 Hudson Yards giving a 360 degree view of Manhattan and the rest of the city as well as the state of New Jersey. Through the glass floor, you can look at the streets of Manhattan 100 stories down.
In 2020, the viewing platform opened and ticket costs $36 per person, you can purchase it online and in advance.
Address – Level 4 of the shops and restaurants Hudson Yards
Admission ticket 0 $36
Subway – Hudson Yards (7)
Website – www.edgenyc.com
6. Times Square & Musical visit
Formerly Longacre Square, but in 1904, Time Square was named after New York Times tower. It is the location of New York’s New Year’s Eve Celebration. It’s a beautiful sight in Times Square when all the billboards on the skyscrapers light up. It is a place to go in the evenings and it’s still exciting any time of day.
Times Square is often crowded and busy. There are bleachers on one end where you can sit and appreciate the scene. There’s a lot to do, you can walk down to the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
Information on visiting Times Square
Address – 46th Street / Broadway
Subway – 49th St (n, R, W)
Times Square is often crowded most especially in the evenings. There are thousands of tourists at the square wandering and taking pictures. You can choose to visit this New York attraction any time of the day. If you are staying in any of the hotels nearby you can stroll down to the square whenever you like.
Information on seeing a musical
You cannot be visiting New York and you do not plan going to a musical, it is often rare. There are several music theaters around Times Square so it might be difficult to choose one but if you have a specific show you would like to see you should buy the tickets in advance and on time. But if you are not quite sure of the play you want to see, then you should look for cheap tickets when you are there.
You can check online in advance which tickets are available. However, at the TKTS booth, on the corner of the Broadway / 47th street, you can get cheap last minute tickets. There is a huge selection of tickets of the website Hellotickets.
7. Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station also known as Grand Central Terminal is definitely worth seeing. This famous landmark in New York was first opened in 1913 as a terminal for train stations and subway. There is this Grand Staircase inside where you can stop and look over the concourse; you do not want to miss this spot. The ceiling of this building shows a celestial scene and there are several restaurants and shops inside the Grand Central Station.
In general, there are over 67 tracks at the Grand Central Station, more than any other train station worldwide.
At the station, there a place called Whispering Gallery; it is located right before the Oyster Bar, in a side entrance to the main hall. This is a special place many people are yet to discover, it is really a place to be. It is a foyer with four archways and four corners. If someone stands in one of the four corners and says a word, the person standing in the opposite corner can hear it.
Address – 42nd Street / Park Avenue
Subway – Grand Central – 42nd (4, 5, 7, S)
8. One World Observatory
The new One World Trade Center now stands on the site of the old World Trade Center. The One World Observatory is the highest viewing platform of New York City and it is on the One World Trade Center. Although some might say it is not better than what you get from the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock but one thing is sure, the view from this space is absolutely amazing and you can find out for yourself which one is better.
The World Trade Center new subway is also a sight to behold, the main hall which is called the Oculus is really amazing and a great photo spot.
Information on visiting the One World Observatory
Address – 285 Fulton St
Admission ticket – $42
Subway – World Trade Center (E)
WTC Cortlandt (1)
Park Pl (2, 3)
Website – www. oneworldobservatory.com
Ticket to the One World Trade Center costs $42. You can purchase it online and in advance to avoid the long queue at the ticket counter
PS: The One World Observatory is not included in all New York Passes unlike many attractions of the city but it is included in the Explorer Pass and the New York Sightseeing Pass.
9. Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge was complete in 1883 and it was the world’s first steel suspension bridge making it an icon of engineering. This historic bridge is the city’s most recognizable landmark spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The bridge can be spotted from many of the ferries or the east side of Manhattan but of course the best way to experience this amazing bridge is to walk across it. There is a wood plank walkway that is only open to cyclists and pedestrians.
From the Brooklyn Bridge are breathtaking views over Manhattan, the East River and beyond to the Statue of Liberty. You can take a bike over the bridge because there is always pedestrian traffic and cycling can be slow on busy days.
Information on visiting the Brooklyn Bridge
Subway – Manhattan side: Brooklyn Bridge / City Hall (4,5)
Chambers Street (J)
Brooklyn side: High Street / Brooklyn Bridge (A)
On the Brooklyn Bridge, the pedestrian walkway is almost always crowded and there are narrow places for tourists and commuters on bike but they usually get in each other’s way. In order not to disturb commuters on their bicycles keep to the pedestrian side of the bridge.
10. Chinatown & Little Italy
The highlight of New York is wandering through the different neighborhoods, there is so much to see and appreciate. There are two neighborhoods that you cannot afford to miss, which is Chinatown and Little Italy. In each of these neighborhood, it as though you are in another country.
In Chinatown, all the signs and stores are in Chinese, there are great Chinese restaurants and shop. On some days, Chinese elders meet there and play board games and enjoy music together.
To the north of Chinatown, there is Little Italy. Recently, the Italian quarters were absorbed by Chinatown and there are no more than a few streets. However, you’d still get the impression of how it used to be when the Italian community was larger. You can still get their pizza, it is absolutely delicious.
11. Greenwich Village & SoHo
There are two of the nicest neighborhoods in New York. Greenwich Village & SoHo are both located in the southwest of Manhattan. Although there are no attractions in both Greenwich Village & SoHo but wandering the streets of these neighborhood is just beautiful.
The center of student life in New York is Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is the heart of campus for New York University (NYC). All the building around the Park belong to the university.
12. Wall Street
Wall Streets are home to the worldwide finance market and it is the most popular icon of American capitalism. The New York Stock Exchange is located in the middle of the street in the Financial District. Nearby are the Trinity Church and Federal Hall.
In recent years you would hardly see stockbrokers waving papers around and screaming since trade is now handled electronically.
You can check out the Charging Bull, it is really close to Wall Street in Bowling Green Park. The sculpture is always surrounded by lots of tourists.
Subway – Wall Street (4, 5)
Broad Street (J, Z)
13. High Line
The High Line used to be rail line but has now been transformed into an urban walking trail above the city street. This attraction in New York City has unique linear public park with variety of trees and plants and in spring many of these bloom. There are areas lined with grass railings which give this attraction a natural feel.
High Line is located on Manhattan’s west Side and it runs from Gansevoort Street at the south end to West 34th Street at the north end, parallel to 10th Ave. This New York attraction is only two to three stories above the street but you can still get a great view of the city’s architecture and over the streets. There are art installations and benches on the route, there are bleachers and a glass wall close to the south end looking out onto the city. On weekends, this spot can be really busy.
This place is really a beautiful place to be but one of the highlights is the Hudson Yards overlook, it is called The Vessels, close to 34th street, it is an amazing multilevel structure. There are nice places to see off the High Line. You can get to the Meatpacking district through the south section. There are several trendy restaurants and dining.
14. Discover New York’s neighborhoods
There are several neighborhoods to explore in New York, for example the hippy East Village; this is an amazing place that has experienced a true renaissance in recent time. There is Harlem; this is a historical center of African American culture. To really enjoy and grasp all New York has to offer release yourself and drift through different areas.
15. Metropolitan Museum of Art
There are several mind-blowing museums in New York ranging from art to science and technology but one of the ones you can cannot afford to miss is the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Met. Over 7 million visitors come to the museum yearly. There are over 3 million exhibits collections that are shown alternately across 130,000 square meter exhibition space.
Information on visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Address – 5th Avenue / 82nd Street
Admission ticket – $25
Subway – 86 St Lexington Av (4,%)
Website – www.metmuseum.org
This museum is divided by eras, from antiquity to modern art and photography are included. You would need to make a plan to see what interests you because it can take you the whole day to even begin to cover the various collection.
You can focus on the exhibition rooms with modern artworks, this alone can be overwhelming. This is why it is important to plan your day so you can focus.
Tickets are sold for $25 and they are valid for only three consecutive days for the main museum, the Met; and as well as for the two outposts, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer.
PS: With any of the New York Passes you can visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Museum of Modern Art or MoMA as it is also called is one of the nicest museums in New York that you do not want to miss. You will find all the famous and great modern artists. You will find the works of Gerhard Richter, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Matisse and so on.
Information on visiting the MoMA
Address – 53rd street / 5th Avenue
Admission ticket – $25
Subway – 5 Avenue / 53 St (E,M)
Website – www.moma.org/collection/
You will need two hours or a whole day depending on what your interests are. This is a very beautiful place with amazing collection. There is just so much to learn and see at this museum.
PS: With any of the New York Passes you can visit the Museum of Modern Art.
17. Flatiron Building
This building is located at the junction of Broadway and 5th Avenue. It is one of the most striking buildings in New York. This is a really coolplace. You can get a great view from above this building from the viewing platform of the Empire State Building. You can add visiting this building to your itinerary when you are in New York; it is indeed one of the nicest places to be.
Address – 23rd Street / 5th Avenue
Subway – 23rd Street (6)
This is one of the 5 New York district or boroughs and it is more than just a city quarter. Brooklyn and Manhattan are divided by the East River and it is made up of many small neighborhoods. Before now, this district were not part of tourist attractions but all that has changed, this borough or district is hip and has so much to offer tourists from all parts of the world.
19. Broadway and the Theater District
Going to the Broadway show is one of the major things to do in New York, it is considered the pinnacle of American theater. At the Broadway shows, you would see the latest shows and the long-running classics. Broadway mostly refers to Broadway theater comprises of a large number of theater venues in the Theater District and also on the street of Broadway.
You have to purchase tickets in advance for popular shows before they are sold out.
In the Theater District, there is a famous pedestrian-only alley, Shubert Ally. It is home to two popular playhouses; the Booth at 22 West 45th Street and the Shubert on 221 West 44th Street. Actors looking for opportunities would frequent Shubert Ally to perform in a play
20. Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is New York’s top shopping area and it is one of the most famous shopping streets in the United States. It is home to many to designer stores such as Tiffany, Cartier, Bergdorf-Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple Store Fifth Avenue and so on.
You can still stroll along Fifth Avenue and enjoy the scenery whether or not you are shopping. The best area runs from the south end of Central Park to the New York Public Library.
21. New York Public Library
Address – Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
This is one of New York’s attractions that have been featured in various movies and TV shows over the years. The main branch of the New York Public Library was designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Carrere and Hastings.
The collection at the library is vast; the Main Reading Room is as long as two city blocks and the Periodicals Room hold 10,000 current magazines.
22. Bryant Park
Address – Between W 40th Street and W 42nd Street, at 6th Ave.
Bryant Park is located adjacent to the New York Public Library. It used to be a place for crime and hoodlums before the city claimed it and turned it into a beautiful place for everyone to relax in 1989. Since then, locals and visitors go there to walk through, play games like checkers, chess board etc. In winter as the temperature drops and snow flies, it turns to an outdoor skating rink free for everyone to use. You can rent a skating board at the concession stand if you do not know how to skate, there are skating aids that’s like walkers and they are available to rent
23. Radio City Music Hall
Address – 1260 6th Avenue, New York
This designated city landmark lies in the shadow of Rockefeller Center. The Radio City Music Hall was built and financed by the Rockefellers in the 1930, in 1932; it was set up as Art Deco Theater offering film and musical extravaganza and has the largest indoor theater in the world to this day.
The venue till this day, hosts major events like the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards. The building is hard to miss with the bold sign on it which says “Radio City Music Hall”.
24. Lincoln Center
Address – 70 Lincoln Center Plaza
This is the home to the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, The New York Philharmonic, The Juilliard School of Music, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Theater. And it might be possible that some sort of event will be happening when you visit because how much events happens here.
If you have plans on taking one of the performing arts like opera, ballet or symphony, then you should plan to see this place.