From famous landmarks like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty to the glittering lights of Times Square, the island of Manhattan is teeming with things to do and see. It’s impossible to conquer the Big Apple in just one trip, but my list of must-see NYC attractions is here to help. Put these attractions at the top of your New York City itinerary.
Statue of Liberty
Meet Lady Liberty, the symbolic statue standing in New York harbor, and gaze upon history. You can see the Statue of Liberty onboard the Staten Island Ferry or at Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park, but I suggest purchasing tickets for the Statue Cruises tour. It’s the only way to visit Liberty Island. Walk the grounds of the 151-stores tall Statue, snap photos with the copper icon, and if you’re lucky enough to have access, climb to the top of the crown for a unique perspective of New York City.
I can never choose between the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock Observation Decks, so I’m recommending you visit both. The Empire State Building, an art-deco architectural icon, is New York’s tallest and most well-known skyscraper. The views from the 86th-floor observation deck is truly mesmerizing. On a clear day, you can see up for 80 miles while at night, the central location of the Empire State Building provides a dazzling view of the New York City skyline. Top of the Rock is a must-see for its views of New York City landmarks like the Chrysler Building and Central Park. The real highlight here, though, is the view of the Empire State Building. It’s spectacular – especially at night when the Empire State is aglow with color.
Connecting two fantastic New York City boroughs, the Brooklyn Bridge is a visually stunning, architectural marvel. You can walk it, drive it, bike it, view it from a harbor cruise or admire its span from DUMBO (which is an idyllic location for photos). Walking the Brooklyn Bridge, which is just over 1 mile, provides excellent view of Manhattan. Greet the city by starting your walk on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. The sights along the way are magnificent. Even born-and-bred New Yorkers can’t argue with them!
New York City’s natural gem – Central Park- can be explored by foot, bike or horse-drawn carriage ride. Must-see sights within this sprawling city park include Belvedere Castle, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, Onassis Reservoir, Bow Bridge, Central Park Zoo and the Imagine mosaic. With over 800 acres to explore, this urban greenspace offers an exceptional juxtaposition to the chaos of the city.
New York City theater is lauded the world over. Illustrious stage productions boast some of the most talented actors and singers anywhere. Broadway shows are innovative, inspiring and captivating, and shouldn’t be left off your must-see NYC list. Choose from the theatrics of The Lion King, the emotional saga of Les Miserables or the fairytale twist of Wicked and many other fantastic live shows. You can’t go wrong; they’re all worth a standing ovation!
New York City Museums
The museums in NYC are exceptional, world-class institutions. There are too many to visit in one trip, but a good start is Museum Mile. Both the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my favorite!) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum are located on this cultural stretch along Fifth Avenue. The Met is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world, housing over two million pieces from Egyptian artifacts to impressionist paintings. Touring the Guggenheim, known just as much for its collections of Picasso’s and Kandinsky’s at it is its design, is a unique art experience. For the best in modern masterpieces, visit the Museum of Modern Art. Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol are among the remarkable artists on display. On the Upper West Side, The American Museum of Natural History presents a diverse collection of historical artifacts and exhibitions. These are the must-see New York City museums, but other museums of note include the Whitney Museum, Frick Collection and Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
It’s touristy, it’s busy and it’s exactly what every New York City visitor imagines. Times Square in New York City is the hub of the hustle and bustle surrounding Manhattan. The larger-than-life spectacle is a visual dream. Your eyes won’t know where to rest! Walk around, people watch, gawk at the bright lights, then have a seat on the TKTS stairs to really take in the scene.
One cannot celebrate New York City without also honoring the tragic events that happened here. The 9/11 Memorial is an emotionally poignant New York City site. It pays tribute to the men and women lost on September 11, 2001, and does so in an extraordinary fashion. The design of the 9/11 Memorial, with waterfalls flowing into two large, seemingly never-ending reflection pools, is imprinted in the Twin Towers’ footprints. I was beyond moved at the massive tribute. Visiting also drove home the extreme magnitude of this moment in American history.