The 8 Best Things to Do in NYC

Planning a trip to the Big Apple? No matter what your expectations, you’re sure to be in for a pleasant surprise with the nearly endless sights and attractions. In fact, it may seem a little overwhelming.

To get a head start on planning, consider this list of the eight best things to do in New York City.

1. Visit Central Park

Often seen in movies and TV shows, this is a not-to-be-missed destination. The park is ideal for people watching and you just might spot a celebrity or two. Plus it’s vast—bigger than you’d imagine—so you can enjoy a long day here.

There are many activities and attractions available within its 843 acres of trees, lakes, fields and bike paths. The best way to experience it is on two wheels. Rent a bicycle for a couple hours to get a true sense of what nature’s like in New York City.

Ride through an oasis of colorful gardens, sculptures and statues, taking time to stop at Strawberry Fields. This is a living memorial to John Lennon, the late Beatles singer and peace activist who campaigned for the world “to live as one.”

Other sights to see include the Alice in Wonderland sculpture and Bow Bridge; dating back to 1862, the bridge is one of the park’s most photographed locations. Belvedere Castle, sitting atop Vista Rock, provides another perfect photo op.

Many tourists and locals enjoy visiting the Central Park Zoo and its over 150 species of animals, or renting a row boat to paddle across the park’s 22-acre lake.

2. Browse in Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village is one of the city’s most charming neighborhoods, providing a great escape from the chaos of the rest of Manhattan. This historically edgy borough is ideal for browsing or shopping. Stroll the streets and get caught up in its relaxed vibe. Be entertained by street performers, including jugglers and musicians, or check out the cool record stores, antique and craft shops, bookstores and gourmet food markets.

Head to Washington Square Park for more good people watching—here you’ll find NYU students studying and playing musical instruments or just socializing. At any given time, there is plenty of great entertainment to be found.

3. Empire State Building

You can’t visit New York City without going to the top of the Empire State Building. The best way to experience it is to go just after midnight, avoiding the crowds and endless lines. The observation deck on the 102nd floor is open until 1:30 a.m. and the views of the city are really the most breathtaking at night.

4. Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is one of our country’s most historical landmarks. This beautiful building first opened in 1913. This is not merely a train station, but is technically named Grand Central Terminal.

This is the hub of transportation, where you can mingle with commuters and explore hidden elevated passageways to discover the best views of the concourse. You’ll also find excellent opportunities for shopping and dining here.

5. The Met

The Met, short for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the most distinguished art museums in the world. It takes a few days to see everything, including its over two million works of art. This is the #1 single-site attraction in the city, with over five million people coming through its doors annually.

With the exception of families who have very young children, most everyone will find it to be one of the highlights of their time in New York City. Best of all, entry is donation-based.

6. Ground Zero Museum Workshop

Few Americans can say they weren’t affected in some way by 9/11. The Ground Zero Museum Workshop is referred to as the “Biggest LITTLE Museum in New York.”

Visiting this memorial is a very moving experience; you’ll find incredible images as well as artifacts from the horrific, yet unforgettable, event.

7. Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

Take a journey back through the nation’s history with a visit to Ellis Island. There you can tour the museum and take a closer look at the Statue of Liberty.

Learning about the immigration experience and what our early pioneers went through is far more enlightening here than what you’ll get out of a history book. 12 million immigrants entered America through Ellis Island, with their descendants accounting for more than half of the American people today.

Audio tours and self-guided exhibits feature artifacts, photographs, oral histories, interactive displays and more.

8. Broadway

Seeing a live show on Broadway is the quintessential New York City experience. Broadway is known as the theater capital of the world, but there is much more to do in the Theater District.

Nearby Times Square is the hotspot for people watching, shopping, street vendors and fabulous restaurants. This is the heart of the city and must be experienced to be believed. The nighttime is without a doubt the best time to see it.

Get tickets ahead of time to be part of the audience at the David Letterman Show, housed in the legendary Ed Sullivan Theater, or listen to the symphony at the New York Philharmonic. While you’re in the area, visit the oldest park in the city, Bowling Green, and its famous Charging Bull sculpture.

Need somewhere to stay in NYC?

Price and location are crucial in the Big Apple! For cheap hotels in New York, don’t look past the Marriott, which has over a dozen beautifully appointed hotels in the best spots that NYC has to offer, all at great rates. Book here now:

If you’re looking for more ways to save on your trip to the Big Apple, be sure to read my article on taking a cheap vacation in NYC. You don’t need thousands of dollars to enjoy this incredible city!