There are so many things to do in NYC! I have rounded up over 250+ of the best things to do in NYC to help you plan your trip.
This list of things to do in NYC into the following categories: historical/architectural sites, museums, restaurants, bars/nightlife, parks/zoos/nature, television tapings, theatre/music, tours, shopping, wineries/breweries/distilleries, sports teams, annual events, and other things to do in New York City.
There is no place like New York. The energy of the city is electrifying. It is both filled with history and the birthplace of trends. It has been home to Eloise, Holly Golightly, Carrie Bradshaw, Blair Waldorf, and Ross and Rachel. Even if you haven’t been to New York, you know New York. It has starred in more films than any actor, and some of the most iconic scenes in cinema used the city as a backdrop. When you think of Sleepless in Seattle, you don’t think of Seattle, you think of the scene at the Empire State Building. New York is a star.
This is a comprehensive list of the best things to do in NYC. Whether you are visiting for the first time, or live there and want to discover something new, this list will help you make the most of your time in New York City.
The Best Things to do in NYC:
Historical and Architectural Sites
1. Flat Iron Building – This building on 175 Fifth Avenue is a U.S. Historical Landmark and one of NYC’s most recognizable buildings. Seeing the Flat Iron Building is one of the essential things to do in NYC.
2. Empire State Building – Embarrassingly, I have not been here yet! The 102nd floor observatories offer 360 degree views of the city.
3. Chrysler Building – The Art Deco style skyscraper doesn’t offer tours or have an observation deck, but you can admire it from the outside and go into the lobby. If you really want to go inside, there is a dentists office on the 69th floor.
4. Rockefeller Center – Rockefeller Center is made up for 14 Art Deco style buildings. If you are interested in art and architecture I recommend the Rockefeller Center Tour.
5. Top of the Rock – This observation deck in Rockefeller Center has views of Central Park, Midtown, and downtown. They are open from 8am until midnight (with the last elevator up running at 11:15). I think that this is one of the best things to do in NYC because it has the best view of the skyline, and a fantastic view of the Empire State Building.
6. Brooklyn Bridge – Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge offers wonderful views of Manhattan, and the bridge itself is beautiful. If you want you can even rent bikes and ride across. This is one of the best things to do in NYC, so expect it to be busy unless you go early in the morning.
7. Grand Central Station – The Maine Concourse with its elaborately decorated astronomical ceiling is stunning and it can be fun to watch the commuters scurry around.
8. New York Public Library – There are many branches of NYPL, but the most iconic is at 476 5th Ave. This research library is where Carrie almost married Big, it is also where I did research for my graduate thesis. The lions that guard the library are a symbol of New York, and the Rose Reading Room is gorgeous. Plus, the real Winnie-the-Pooh is here.
9. Times Square – Yes, it is big and loud and full of activity. Locals avoid it, tourists flock there. It’s something you need to see. You might end up there anywhere since many Broadway Shows are near or in Times Square. There are many hotels in Times Square too.
10. Carrie Bradshaw’s House – The show said she lived on the Upper East Side, but the brownstone featured on the show is located at 64 Perry Street.
11. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – This Neo-Gothic style Romand Catholic Cathedral is on 5th Avenue on 51st Street, just a short walk from Rockefeller Center.
12. Statue of Liberty – Definitely book your tickets in advance, lines can be long! The other reason you want to pre-book is that there are different types of tickets, and tickets to go up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty are limited. (Heads up that small children cannot go to the top of the crown). The ferry ride to Liberty Island is 20 minutes, and you can spend as little as an hour there or longer if you want to go to the top of the crown. The ferry will stop at Ellis Island on the way back to Manhattan.
13. Ellis Island – You can see where many people, including my great-grandmother, entered America to begin a new life. There is a research center on site where you can learn about the journeys your relatives took to come to America. I also opted to take a 90-minute Hard Hat Tour which took me through the hospital for infectious diseases which is located on the island – spoiler alert – it was super creepy!
14. Fearless Girl – This statue is currently in Manhattan (8 Broadway) on a one year permit but it is extremely popular so it might get to stay longer. The young girl is staring right into the Wall Street Bull’s eyes. Seeing the Fearless Girl is one of the best limited engagement things to do in NYC.
15. High Line – A raised pedestrian walkway with gardens, food vendors, and incredible city views that stretches 30 blocks from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. Walk the High Line to get somewhere, or to just explore. I think this is one of the best things to do in NYC on a sunny day.
16. Roosevelt Island – There isn’t too much on Roosevelt Island, but the tram ride over gives you an amazing birds eye view of Manhattan. Once on the island you might want to see the lighthouse.
17. Federal Hall National Memorial – This landmark marks the spot where George Washington took his first oath of office when he became America’s first President. This site was also howe to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices.
18. One World Trade Center – This is the main building of the rebuild Word Trade Center complex. There is an observatory on floors 100-102. There is also a restaurant called One Dine on the 101st floor.
19. 9/11 Memorial – The memorial is located at the former site of the Twin Towers. Two enormous square waterfalls mark where the towers once stood and the names of the victims of the attack are engraved around the perimeter.
20. The Oculus – A mall/train station hybrid with incredible modern architecture. It is just beside the 9/11 memorial, and definitely worth a quick visit. Fun fact: it cost $4Billion to build.
21. Stonewall National Monument – This monument in honors the Stonewall Uprising as a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights.
22. Radio City Music Hall – Take an hour tour through the historic Art Deco music hall, learn history, and meet one of the Rockettes.
23. Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital Ruins – If you are into creepy abandoned places, add this to your list. The Gothic Revival style building was designed by the same architect who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hospital was in use from 1856-1875 and was abandoned by the city in the 1950s. Today it is a city landmark.
24. City Hall Station – This subway station from 1904 was where New York City’s first subway ride departed and it is now abandoned. Visiting isn’t easy, the tours are very limited and you need to be a Transit Museum Member and then you need to purchase tickets in advance – they are released about 3 times a year. Based on the photos, it is worth the effort to get to see this station in person.
25. Green-Wood Cemetery – This cemetery in Brooklyn is a national historic landmark. Famous residents include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. The cemetery offers tours on historic trolleys and has an events calendar including everything from concerts in the catacombs to bird watching.
Things to Do in NYC: Museums
1. The Met – You could spend hours in this spectacular museum on 5th Avenue, it is an ideal place to spend a rainy or cold day. The American Wing has one of the best collections of works by American artists including John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, and Mary Cassatt. The museum also features special exhibitions, for which you may want to book at ticket in advance. This museum is on most lists of best things to do in NYC.
2. The Frick – This museum features a collection of fine and decorative art assembled by Henry Clay Frick, and is housed in his former residence. The collection includes works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, and Whistler.
3. Guggenheim – The art museum, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is devoted to art from the 20th century and beyond.
4. MOMA – Located in Midtown, this is where you can see Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
5. The Whitney Museum of American Art – This museum is just beside the High Line and it features 20th and 21st century art by artists in the United States. Featured artists include Georgia O’Keeffe, Claes Oldenburg, Cindy Sherman, Stuart Davis, and Jasper Johns.
6. American Folk Art Museum – This museum on the Upper West Side is dedicated to displaying folk art, including weathervanes, textiles, furniture, decorative art, and paintings.
7. The Cloisters – Part of The Met, The Cloisters is a museum that celebrates that art, architectures, and gardens or medieval Europe, located on four acres that overlook the Hudson River. This is one of the best under the radar things to do in NYC.
8. 9/11 Museum – The museum features artifacts and narratives from the September 11th attack.
9. Brooklyn Museum – This is the third largest museum in New York City and its collection includes about 1.5 million works. You can find work by Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, and Edgar Degas at this museum.
10. Museum of the City – The goal of this museum is to preserve the history of New York City and its people. The museum holds a large collection of costume and textiles and a collection devoted to the history of theater.
11. American Museum of Natural History – See dinosaur bones, mummies, and whales at this museum. There is also a Night at the Museum tour where you can see the exhibits featured in the film. This is one of the best things to do in NYC with children.
12. New Museum – Located on the Lower East Side this museum is devoted to Contemporary Art. On the first Saturday of the month they have hand-on programming for chilled aged 3-8.
13. Jewish Museum – This museum celebrates Jewish art and culture, and they have their own Russ & Daughters location.
14. Neue Galerie – Did you see the film The Woman in Gold? The Gustav Klimt painting at the center of that film is now part of the Neue Galerie collection. The museum features German and Austrian Art.
15. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex – The aircraft carrier the Intrepid is the center of this museum which also has a submarine, a Concorde, and a space shuttle. This is another one of the best things to do in NYC with kids.
16. New York Historical Society – Founded in 1804, this was NYC’s first museum. It holds a collection of Tiffany Lamps, a Center of Women’s History, and objects telling the story of the Underground Railroad.
17. Museum of the Moving Image – This museum in Queens occupied the building that was home to Astoria Studios and currently has a Jim Henson exhibition.
18. Rubin Museum of Art – See 3,800 objects spanning 1,500 years of Himalayan history. The collection also has art from the surrounding regions including Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Mongolia.
19. New York Transit Museum – Explore a fleet of vintage train cars and buses, and tour exhibitions about the history of the New York city transit system. This is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids.
20. The Museum at FIT – The self proclaimed “most fashionable museum in New York City” hold over 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to today.
21. Brooklyn Children’s Museum – This was the first children’s museum in the United States and it focuses on exhibits where children can have a hands on learning experience. There is a block lab, and in the World Brooklyn exhibit children can play in kid sized shops just like the ones found in Brooklyn neighborhoods.
22. National Museum of the American Indian – This museum is located in a former customs house and includes art and artifacts going back 12,000 years. Over 1,200 indigenous cultures are represented in the museum’s collection.
23. Children’s Museum of Manhattan – Located on the Upper West Side, this museum currently has exhibits on dance, Japan, water, and building a healthy lifestyle.
24. Children’s Museum of the Arts New York – This museum has exhibitions and lots of hands on activities of children, and they run creative camps during school breaks.
25. Japan Society – Japan Society hosts a wide variety of programming ranging from talks about cryptocurrencies to Godzilla screenings. The gallery space features rotating exhibits of Japanese art.
26. Lower East Side Tenement Museum – You can visit the restored apartments of past residents of New York City from different time period here. This museum is an ode to the Lower East Side and the American Immigrant experience.
27. Gracie Mansion – This is the official residence of the Mayor of New York City, and it is available for tours at 4 different times on Tuesdays. I went with my grad school and thought it was great.
28. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site – Visit the boyhood home of the first U.S. President to be born in NYC. The reconstructed 1848 brownstone has 5 restored period rooms to visit and they are furnished as they were when the Roosevelt family lived there in 1865.
29. PS1 – Located in Queen, PSA is part of MOMA, and is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. They host a summer music series and on Sundays they showcase performance art.
30. Museum of American Finance – This Financial District museum’s mission is to document the history of American finance and the collection features artifacts related to capital markets, money, and banking.
Where to Eat in NYC
1. Casa Apicii – A stunning restaurant housed in a former townhouse in Greenwich Village, where they serve up incredible carbonara. This is a perfect spot for a date. (pictured above)
2. Dinosaur BBQ – An affordable spot for barbecue, and some of the best ever mac and cheese. They have locations in Harlem and Brooklyn.
3. Carmines – This place in Times Square is super touristy and known for serving up massive family style portions.
4. Frank/Lil Frankies – I adore this pair of Italian restaurants in the East Village and Lower East Side.
5. Jack’s Wife Freda – This restaurant in Soho specializes in healthy meals that they describe as “South African Israeli Jewish Grandmother Cuisine”. The menu has items like Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast, a Vegetable Curry Bowl, Mustard Seed Crusted Tofu, and Roasted Cauliflower.
6. Barn Joo – My sister and I love the dumplings and bibimbap at this Korean restaurant. They have locations in Midtown and Union Square.
7. Café Mogador – A delightful Moroccan spot in St. Marks Place, it is a great spot to try cuisine you can’t find everywhere.
8. Artichoke Pizza – My favorite pizza place ever now has a few locations in Manhattan. They are known for serving up giant slices of pizza with artichokes and a creamy sauce, and they have traditional cheese pizzas too. You can buy a whole pie or buy a slice.
9. Chelsea Market – A marketplace with boutiques and a wide variety of restaurants, it is a perfect place to go to lunch. I love the grilled cheese at Creamline.
10. Lam Zhou Noodle – My sister’s favorite spot for dumplings in Chinatown. Head up, it’s cash only.
11. Shake Shack – This chain got its start in NYC and I love their burger and the veggie burger which is a portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese that is breaded and deep fried. Go to the location in Madison Square Garden, right by the Flat Iron and eat in the park.
12. By Chloe – A super popular vegan restaurant, with a menu that includes”burgers”, salads, air baked fries, pastas and more.
13. Up Thai – My sister and I love this restaurant. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it is beautiful on the inside and the pad thai is wonderful. Eating here is always on my list of things to do in NYC.
14. Essa Bagel – This is my favorite bagel place in the city.
15. Katz’s Deli – It might sound cheesy to go there since it is where one of the most iconic scenes in When Harry Met Sally was filmed, but it is seriously amazing. You need to go.
16. Clinton Street Baking Co. – This place has a great brunch and is known for their blueberry pancakes.
17. The Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany & Co. – You can have breakfast at Tiffanys now that they have opened a café.
18. Prune – A delicious spot for brunch of dinner in the Lower East Side.
19. Holy Cream – My sister’s favorite ice cream spot, we recommend the peanut butter vs. cookie dough flavor.
20. Extra Virgin – A charming little spot for classic Italian food in the West Village.
21. Orsay – A beautiful restaurant serving French food in the Upper East Side.
22. Milk Bar – There is a reason why this place is famous and it is because they make the most wonderful ice cream and the crack pie is legendary! Milk bar has a few locations in Manhattan.
23. Firenze – A traditional Tuscan restaurant on the Upper East Side, one of my Mom’s favorite restaurants.
24. Magnolia Cupcakes – Sex and the City helped this bakery gain fame and ignited a nationwide cupcake obsession. There are multiple locations today, but the original is at 401 leecker Street.
25. ABC Kitchen – A trendy restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten serving local organic modern American cuisine.
26. The Spotted Pig – Chef April Bloomfield’s acclaimed British/Italian restaurant in the Meat Packing District.
27. Raviolo – A restaurant in the West Village that serves up authentic Italian food in two bite dim sum style.
28. Il Mulino – An Italian restaurant with three Manhattan locations that comes highly recommend from a food loving friend who knows his stuff.
29. Mission Chinese – The New York location of a famed San Francisco eatery that serves Sichuan style food with an American twist.
30. Sushi Seki – My sister’s favorite spot for sushi.
31. Levain Bakery – A bakery with three Manhattan locations and world famous chocolate chip cookies. They even have a cookie line cam so that you can see how long the line is before you go.
32. WM Greenberg – A bakery on the Upper East Side that is the place for black and white cookies.
33. Brindle Room – A small plates gastropub in the East Village.
34. Friend of a Farmer – My sister recommends the chicken pot pie at this restaurant with locations in Gramercy Park and Brooklyn Heights.
35. Golden Unicorn – An upscale Cantonese restaurant serving dim sum in Chinatown.
36. Klong – One of my favorites, Klong is a Thai restaurant in the East Village that serve wonderful curry puffs and pad thai.
37. Kesté – You can find authentic Neapolitan style pizzas that this restaurants three locations.
38. San Matteo – A place for pizzas and pasta on the Upper East Side.
39. Motorino – They serve brick oven pizza in the East Village, Upper West Side, and Williamsburg.
40. Di Fara – A famous spot for pizza in Brooklyn where people wait in line for over an hour to place an order. It’s a NYC legend.
41. La Palapa – A delicious Mexican restaurants with some of the city’s best margaritas, and outdoor seating in a courtyard.
42. Dominique Ansel Bakery – The birthplace of the cronut, which serves a variety of French pastries.
43. Lexington Candy Shop – Don’t let the name confuse you, this is a luncheonette, not a candy shop. Lexington Candy Shop first opened their doors in 1925, and it is still run by the same family. You can get tuna melts, egg creams, malted milkshakes, and sodas made with real syrup.
44. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – This ice cream place has been around for 30 years and they serve some awesomely creative flavors like Black Sesame, Durian, Red Bean, and Thai Iced Tea.
45. Roberta’s – A pizza joint with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan and one of the most famous spots of New York Style pizza.
46. Veselka – Dan Humphrey loves the pierogi at this Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village.
47. DeKalb Market Hall – A food hall in Brooklyn where you can get a sandwich from Katz’s Deli, paella, pierogi, crepes, sushi, tacos, French pastries, Asian noodles and pretty much anything you can imagine.
48. Sylvia’s – This Harlem institution has famed fried chicken and waffles, and a gospel brunch on Sundays.
49. The Halal Guys – Visit the most famous food cart in New York City. The original art is located at West 53rd and 6th, and be prepared to wait in line.
50. Momofuku – This restaurant group has several restaurants in the city (including Milk Bar), each with a different concept ranging from ramen to American and Italian restaurants.
Where to Drink in NYC: Bars and Nightlife
1. Please Don’t Tell – A speakeasy that you enter via a telephone booth in Crif Dogs. They do accept reservations.
2. NoMad Bar – A classic NYC tavern that serves classic cocktails and large format drinks.
3. Blind Barber – A neighborhood barbershop and cocktail lounge – the perfect place to get a haircut while sipping on a drink. Haircuts are available during the day, and at night it becomes a cocktail bar.
4. The Dead Rabbit – This Financial District bar is on the top of TimeOut’s list of best bars in the city. It is a modern version of a traditional Irish bar with cocktails and a large selection of whiskey.
5. Brooklyn Bowl – My sister recommended this place that brings together concerts, food, drinks, and bowling.
6. The Scratcher – A dive bar in a brownstone below street level in the East Village on 5th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, it’s a hangout for musicians (including Glen Hansard). They have live music on Sundays. Signs that it is a true dive bar, they don’t have a website and they don’t serve food. Surprisingly, they do accept credit cards. I personally love this bare-bones place.
7. Spitzer’s Corner – This Lower East Side pub is a fun place to grab a beer, and the long tables accommodate groups well.
8. Death & Company – A speakeasy lounge where bartenders in bow ties and suspenders serve up some of the best cocktails in the city.
9. The Immigrant – This spot in the East Village is a wine bar on one side and a beer bar on the other. It is in an old tenement building, and has the feeling that it has been around forever, in a good way.
10. McSorley’s Old Ale House– Established in 1854, this is the city’s oldest continuously operated saloon. Women weren’t allowed in until 1970! And everyone from Abe Lincoln to John Lennon has been here.
11. Stanton Social – Located in the Lower East Side, it is great for late dinner and drinks. My friend Lauren recommends the French Onion Soup Dumplings.
12. Marie’s Crisis – A musical theater piano bar in Greenwich Village, and the perfect place if you love Broadway. Another recommendation from Lauren.
13. Prohibition – A fun place on the Upper East Side with live music, cocktails and Jazz-age themed decor.
14. Trinity Place – Have a drink in a bar inside a bank vault from 1904. The vault is so big that custom train tracks had to be built to deliver it from a ship on the Hudson to its current location.
15. Goldbar – This over the top bar in Nolita is decorated with gold leaf ceilings, golden skulls, and chandeliers.
16. No Malice Palace – Marked by a black door with a green light, I have had many great nights at this bar in the East Village.
17. Radegast Hall – An authentic beer hall in Brooklyn, where DJs spin on Saturday nights. They have 13 beers on top, long communal tables, and a retractable roof.
18. Sabbia – Eataly’s rooftop bar and restaurant that is open in the summertime.
19. Greenwood Park – Another beer garden in Brooklyn, Greenwood Park has drinking games and bocce too.
20. Campbell Apartment – A chic 1920s era bar in Grand Central Station and a perfect place for cocktails. You might remember it from its appearances on Gossip Girl.
21. The White Horse Tavern – This bar was a hub of bohemian culture in the 50s and 60s. Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and Jim Morrison have hung out here. It is also where the idea for the Village Voice was born. Heads up it is cash only.
22. Gagopa Karaoke – Sing the night away at this Korean karaoke place has karaoke rooms for up to 30 people, and songs in many languages. And they are open until 4am (everyday except for Sundays).
23. Employees Only – One of the most well known cocktail lounges in the world, Employees Only is a speakeasy in the West Village that is tucked beside a fortune teller’s lair.
24. The Office – The New York City location of this well respected Chicago bar is inside The Aviary inside the Mandarin Oriental. If you aren’t a hotel guest you need to pre-book tickets via Tock.
25. Gibson + Luce – This bar in the Life Hotel is rumored to have been a speakeasy for LIFE magazine staffers during the prohibition. It is also one of the best places in the city for a cocktail.
Things to do in NYC Outdoors: Parks, Zoos, and Nature
1. Central Park – There is so much to see and do in the park that you could make a full day of it. One of the park’s popular sections is Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon built in his favorite part of the park after his death. Or you can rent a row boat and paddle around the lake, or take a ride in a Venetian gondola. Visiting Central Park is a one of the Must Do things to do in NYC.
2. New York Botanical Garden – My Mom loves this botanical garden that hosts a wide range of exhibitions and events.
3. Brookyn Botanic Garden – A 52-acre garden in the center of Brooklyn, that might be most well known for their cherry blossoms.
4. Central Park Zoo – This zoo within Central Park is home to penguins, sea lions, monkeys and more. The Tisch Children’s Zoo is adjacent and is home to the only cow in Manhattan.
5. Coney Island – This is the nearest beach to Manhattan and there is lots to explore beyond the beach itself. Take a ride on the Cyclone – a 90-year-old roller coaster or eat a hot dog at Nathan’s. Visiting Coney Island is one of the best things to do in NYC in summer.
6. Madison Square Park – This small park by the Flat Iron building is loaded with charm, and it is home to the first Shake Shack. In the summer there is a free concert series.
7. Greenacre Park – This 1/7 acre park in Midtown is easy to miss, but it has a beautiful waterfall.
8. Governor’s Island – Visiting this 172 acre island in New York Harbor is a great activity for a nice day, you take a ferry over and once you are there you can rent bikes and purchase food from foot trucks. There is a series of events and festivals that take place on the island in the summer.
9. Randall’s Island – Walk over 103rd Street Footbridge in Manhattan to Randall’s Island and then take in some of the best sunset views in New York City. Eight miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths run through the park and along the waterfront, plus there are tennis courts and over 60 athletic fields.
10. Bronx Zoo – The most extensive zoo in New York City, the Bronx Zoo is home to American bison, batons, giraffes, lions, bears, tigers, gorillas, seals, and more. The zoo also has a Treetop Adventure where you can climb through obstacle courses in the trees and zipline over a river.
11. New York Aquarium – This aquarium in Brooklyn, is home to sharks, sting rays, turtles, walruses, and penguins. You can also see a sea otter feeding and go to a 4-D theater.
12. Prospect Park Zoo – This zoo in Brooklyn has a barn where you can feed handfuls of grain to the friendly animals like alpacas and sheep, plus a sea lion court, and a Discovery Trail with red pandas.
13. Queens Zoo – There is an aviary, an exhibit dedicated to domestic animals, and a sea lion pool at this zoo that is home to alligators, bears, bald eagles, coyotes, and pumas.
14. Prospect Park – This large park in Brooklyn hosts activities year around, including ice skating in the winter.
15. Bryant Park – This park in Midtown used to be where I would eat lunch when I worked in Manhattan. In the summer check out the series of Broadway performances.
16. Washington Square Park – This park in Greenwich Village is a center of cultural activity. The Washington Square Arch is a landmark and the park has been featured in numerous movies.
Theater and Music
1. Broadway Shows – Broadway tickets can be pricey but you can visit the TKTS discount booths in Times Square, South Street Seaport, Downtown Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center.
2. New York Philharmonic – Tickets to hear the orchestra start at just $50.
3. The Metropolitan Opera – They put on two dozen operas each season!
4. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts – The calendar features a wide range of music, dance, film, and opera performances.
5. Upright Citizens Brigade – You can see improv, sketch comedy, and stand up for just $10 or less at this theater where Amy Poehler is a founder. They have locations in Chelsea and the East Village.
6. Radio City Music Hall – You can see music and comedy acts at this historic Art Deco theater.
7. New York City Ballet – The 2017/2018 season features 60 ballets, including 7 world premieres.
1. Saturday Night Live – You can get tickets for the dress rehearsal at 8pm or the live tapping at 11:30pm. Must be 16 or older to attend. To get tickets you have to email firstname.lastname@example.org in August and explain why you want tickets to the show, you aren’t able to request a specific date. Your best bet might be to get standby tickets which are distributed at 7am on the West 49th Street side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza on a one per person basis. Definitely one of the best things to do in NYC – if you can get your hands on tickets.
2. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Tapes Monday through Thursday at 6pm. Must be 18 or older to attend.
3. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – Tickets are available up to 2 1/2 weeks in advance, and it tapes on Sundays nights. Must be 18 or older.
4. Late Night with Seth Meyers – This show tapes at Rockefeller Center on Monday through Thursday at 6:30pm. Must be 16 or older to attend, and no groups larger than 4 people are allowed.
5. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – The Late Show tapes Monday through Friday at 5:30. Must be 18 or older to attend.
6. Live with Kelly and Ryan – The show broadcasts from 9-10am and audience members need to be there by 7:45. Children under the age of 10 not permitted, and children between the ages of 10 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
7. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – Each block of tickets opens up about a month in advance, you can also opt to go to the monologue rehearsal. Must be 16 or older to attend.
8. TODAY Show Taping – The morning show tapes at Studio 1A in Rockefeller Center at 7am on weekdays. I think it is more fun to go when there is a concert on a plaza.
Things to Do in NYC: Tours
1. Food Tours of New York – Pick between tours of 5 different neighborhoods, and get to tour ethnic restaurants, specialty food shops, and restaurants that are off the beaten path.
2. Helicopter Tours – Helicopter Flight Services offers 4 different sightseeing tours, and prices start at $244 per person.
3. New York City Photo Safari – Sharpen you photography skills on a walking tour of NYC.
4. Sex and the City Tour – This tour takes you to 40 different filming locations from the show.
5. Speed Levitch – He is probably the most well known tour guide in NYC. He was the subject of a documentary titled, The Cruise, in 1998. His website isn’t up to date, but according to a recent article in British Airways he is still giving tours.
6. Pizza Walking Tours of Manhattan – Learn the history of pizza while walking through Little Italy, Lower Manhattan, and Greenwich Village and stop to taste different styles of pizza from top pizzerias.
7. Wall Street Tours – Join a tour of the NY Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve, and Wall Street led by Wall Street insiders.
8. Tribeca Sailing – See New York City from the water. Tribeca sailing can accommodate up to six people and you can see Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
9. Central Park Pedicab Tours – You can see more of Central Park in a shorter amount of time with a 1 or 2 hour pedicab tour.
10. Circle Line Cruises – Take a sightseeing cruise, several options are available including landmarks, the best of New York, and harbor lights.
11. NYC TV and Movie Tour – Visit locations from Friends, The Mindy Project, When Harry Met Sally, Seinfeld, Younger, and more.
12. Central Park Bike Tour – Take a 5 mile guided tour of the park including Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and the Shakespeare Garden.
13. City Sightseeing Bus Tour – See more of Manhattan by booking tickets for a hop on hop off bus tour. Narration is available in 10 different languages too.
14. New York Gallery Tours – New York City has over 600 galleries, and this tour will take you to see some of the most innovative art in the city.
15. Sopranos Tour – Take a 4 hour bus tour to see spots in New York and New Jersey where the show was filmed.
16. Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts – Choose from indoor or outdoor scavenger hunts in a wide range of locations including the Bronx Zoo, Central Park, Time Square, and the Lower East Side.
17. Hamilton’s New York – Learn more about one of America’s founding fathers while exploring historic sites.
18. City Running Tours – This running tour can accommodate runners of different abilities. Turn your workout into a chance to see the city.
19. The Tour of NBC Studios – This tour will give your behind the scenes access to the studios where Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and the Late Show with Seth Meyers are filmed. The tours are led by an NBC Page.
20. Street Art and Graffiti Tour – Learn more about street art and graffiti culture, or even take a graffiti art lesson.
21. Gossip Girl Tour – New York Magazine called this show “the greatest show of our time” and it filmed all over the city. Sit on The Met steps, stop at Bendels, and get macaroons at Laduree.
22. The Domestique – This tour is perfect for cyclists. Hop on a road bike and head off on a ride through the city. Ride range from 2 – 4.5 hours, with the option for a custom ride.
23. Mafia Walking Tour – Learn the history of organized crime in New York City with this tour organized by the Lower East Side History Project.
24. Scott’s Pizza Tours – Choose from a bus tour or walking tour and eat your way through the city. The company offers server tours focused on different parts of the city.
25. Rock ‘n Roll Tours – Take an East Village Punk tour, a Beatles walking tour, or a Greenwich Village Rock Tour.
26. The New York Beer and Brewery Tour – Visit the finest local breweries and taste a wide variety of craft beer on this tour perfect for beer lovers.
27. CityHUNT – This company knows how to host a crazy, fun scavenger hunt around New York City. You will discover areas you didn’t even know existed, all while being entertained with a group of friends. You can customize a scavenger hunt based on your needs and accompanying participants. Be prepared for a day full of adventure.
1. Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue- These two parallel streets in the Upper East Side are filled with high-end shopping including Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Cartier, Tiffany, and Louis Vuitton.
2. Soho – Many of the boutiques have been replaced by national retailers, but it is still a fun place to shop. Take the subway to Broadway/Lafayette or Prince Street and stroll down Broadway and Spring Street.
3. Bloomingdales – The original Bloomingdales is located at Third Avenue and 59th Street.
4. Brooklyn Flea Market – This weekend flea market in Brooklyn features vintage, design, antiques, collectibles, and food.
5. Fishs Eddy – I love this shop at Broadway and 19th, even if their grammatically incorrect name bothers me. They have the most incredible selection of dishware and everything you could need for your tabletop. They also have vintage plates from restaurants and hotels.
6. Strand Bookstore – Please go here and support this wonderful independent bookstore near Union Square. Browsing this shop is one of my favorite things to do in NYC.
7. The Evolution Store – This shop in Soho is filled with preserved butterfly and insect specimens, fossils, minerals, skulls, and more.
8. Tannen’s Magic Store – The oldest magic shop in NYC is located in Herald Square, and it has been catering to the needs to amateur and professional magicians since 1925. They offer classes and lecture and an overnight magic camp.
9. Pearl River Market – I was sad to hear that the location ins SoHo closed, but luckily, this giant store of Chinese home goods is back and in TriBeCa. This place is so fun to browse and they sell gorgeous ceramics.
10. Chelsea Market – This is also on the list under Restaurants, but their is fun shopping there too.
11. Story – A boutique in Chelsea that re-invents itself every 6 weeks and it is considered one of the best independent retailers in the city.
12. Brooklyn Super Hero Company – This Park Slope shop sells capes and costumes, plus jars of invisibility, bravery, mind control, x-ray vision, and truth serum. Sales raise money for 826NYC, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting students with their writing skills. How cool is that?!
Wine, Brewery, and Distillery Tours
1. Brooklyn Brewery – This is one of my favorite breweries. Basic tours are free, and a two-hour tour with with tastings is $15. I especially recommend the Brooklyn Lager.
2. New York Distilling Company – This gin and whiskey distillery offers complimentary tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays. There are VIP tours on Saturday that include a flask and a cocktail too.
3. The Bronx Brewery – There are free brewery tours on weekends at this brewery that makes an Pale Ale, a Kolsch, an IPA, and a Session IPA. The brewery also makes seasonal beers and serves up and coming beers from the innovation labs.
4. City Winery – This winery is also a music venue and restaurant.
5. Brooklyn Winery – This winery makes small batch artisanal wines. They offer 30 minute tours followed by 30 minute tastings.
6. Rockaway Brewing Company – The brewery is now located on Long Island City in Queens and they still have a tap room in the Rockaways. They host a variety of events in their tap room ranging from crawfish boils, comedy shows, and food pop ups.
7. The Flagship Brewing Co. – Take the ferry over to Staten Island and enjoy a $5 brewery tour complete with a tasting. Or just swing by the tap room which promises no cover charge, no reservations, communicate tables and good tunes.
8. Port Morris Distillery – This distillery in The Bronx produces Pitorro a Puerto Rican version of moonshine.
9. Kings County Distillery – This distillery located at the entrance to Brooklyn Navy Yard produces moonshine, and several styles of bourbon and whiskey. Tours are offered every day except Monday, and reservations are recommended. Tickets include admission to the Boozeum.
10. Van Brunt Stillhouse – A distillery in Red Hook that produces whiskey, rum, and grappa. They are open Thursday – Sundays and they do offer tours.
Where to Stay in NYC: Hotels
1. Crosby Street Hotel – A luxury hotel 4-star hotel in the Lower East Side.
2. Edition – A boutique hotel by the Flat Iron building.
3. The Mark – A hotel on the Upper East Side that describes itself as “boldly lavish”.
4. The Carlyle – A hotel with Art Deco style on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.
5. The Greenwich Hotel – A 5 -star hotel in TriBeCa.
6. Wythe Hotel – This hotel in a 1901 factory building is on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
7. The Plaza – Eloise lived here, and Kevin McCallister stayed here. The Plaza is a classic with a prime location beside Central Park.
8. The NoMad – Located on Broadway between the Flat Iron Building and the Empire State Building, The NoMad is located in a Beaux Arts mansion.
9. Loews Regency – Located on Park Avenue at 61st, this hotel has a prime location putting you within easy walking distance to Central Park, Upper East Side shopping, and the Roosevelt Island Tram (which offers great views of the city). Another plus is that its just two blocks from multiple subway lines making getting aroudn NYC easy.
10. Refinery – My husband loves this Midtown hotel with a nice rooftop bar.
11. The Jane – A boutique hotel in a historic landmark in the Meatpacking District. Amenities include complimentary bicycles. The hotel, which used to the the American Seamen’s Friend Society Sailors’ Home and Institute, housed the surviving crew members of the Titanic. Oh and Rupaul lived in the tower during the 80s.
12. Williamsburg Hotel – A stunning hotel right over the bridge in Brooklyn with impeccable style. Plus, it is dog friendly!
13. The James – A boutique hotel in SoHo that has a rooftop pool
1. Yankees – The baseball team plays in the Bronx and the stadium is so luxurious that it received the American Academy of Hospitality Services’ Six Diamond Award.
2. Mets – The Mets play in Citi Field in in Queens, and usually you can scoop up last minute tickets cheap.
3. Knicks – The basketball team plays at Madison Square Garden.
4. Rangers – The hockey team also plays at Madison Square Garden.
5. Brooklyn Nets – Brooklyn’s basketball team plays at Barclays Center.
Other Things to Do in NYC
1. Milk Bar Cooking Class – Learn to make cake truffles and cakes at a class at one of the city’s most beloved bakeries.
2. Gallery Hop in Chelsea – This Manhattan neighborhood is the place is what is going on in the art world.
3. Coney Island Art Walls – This outdoor museum of street street art is open daily in the summer and features dozens of street art murals.
4. Union Square Farmer’s Market – This famous farmers market got its start in 1976. The market takes place year round (but does get canceled in winter if weather is bad) and is a fun place to eat lunch of to buy produce and flowers.
5. Central Park Concerts – There are a wide range of music events held at Central Park in the summertime including Summerstage, the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series, New York Philharmonic Certs, and the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series. These concerts are some of the most popular things to do in NYC in summer.
6. Shakespeare in the Park – This is one of the best free things to do in the city. The Delacorta Theater, an open-air theater within the park, is home to this summertime event series. This is one of the things to do in NYC that the locals love.
7. Aire Ancient Baths – Head to TriBeCa to relax at this upscale bath and spa.
8. Sleep No More – Experience immersive theater at the McKittrick Hotel’s performance of Sleep No More, which is based on MacBeth. Guest wear white masks as they explore the rooms of the multilevel space. And yes, if this sounds familiar, it was featured on Gossip Girl.
9. Trapeze School – Take a flying trapeze class outside at Pier 40 in Hudson River Park.
10. Outdoor Summer Movie Screenings – See a movie outside in one of the city’s parks in the summer, it is one of the most magical things to do in NYC.
Things to Do in NYC: Annual Events
1. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – See the parade and its massive balloons and Broadway performances, or see the balloon as they are blown up the night before by the National History Museum. This takes place on Thanksgiving day, which is the fourth Thursday in November. This is one of the best and most iconic things to do in NYC.
2. Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade – This takes place the weekend before Halloween and according to CNN it is the largest dog costume parade in the world.
3. New Years Eve at Times Square – You can buy tickets to one of the many parties that take place at bars and restaurants in Times Square or you can watch the music performances and the ball drop outside.
4. The Gay Pride Parade -This event first took place in 1970 and is an annual civil rights demonstration and celebration of LGBTQ culture. The parade takes place in June and it goes down Fifth Avenue from 37th Street to 8th Street.
5. The Mermaid Parade – This parade is an annual event in Coney Island, and it offers some of the best people watching ever. Participants craft homemade costumes mades on the parade’s theme and categories.
6. Fashion Week – Fashion week takes place twice a year in February and September and is filled with fashion shows and events.
7. Village Halloween Parade – This parade takes place on Halloween and features people marching in over the top Halloween costumes. The parade runs up 6th Street from Spring Street to 16th Street.
8. Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic – This usually happens in March, April or May depending on the weather that year. It is one of the best things to do in NYC in the spring.
9. Refinery29 Rooms – This event is Refinery29’s funhouse of style, culture, and technology. A group of artists design 29 individual rooms for an interactive art experience. This sells out very quickly and generally takes place for about a week during Fashion Week in September.
10. Governors Ball Music Festival – An annual three-day music festival that takes place on Randall’s Island. It attracts similar musicians to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. This music dest is one of the things to do in NYC that locals look forward to.
11. New York City Marathon – This race takes place in early November and almost 50,000 people run and many more cheer from the sidelines. Registration for the race is open in January and February.
12. Manhattanhenge – Twice a year the sun set aligns perfectly with the city’s grid. Projected dates for 2018 are around May 28th and July 13th.
13. Chinese New Year Parade – The Lunar New Year celebration takes place on the first day of the Lunar New Year and involves a parade and fireworks. The date for Chinese New Year changes annually, but is in January of February and is one of the things to do in NYC if you want to experience local culture.
14. St. Patrick’s Day Parade – This takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, not the weekend before or after, and it goes up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street and is lasts most of the day. It made for an interesting work day when I worked on the parade route.
15. TriBeCa Film Festival – This film festival launched after 9/11 to promote the cultural and economic revival of Lower Manhattan and involves film screenings, lectures, and panel discussions. The festival takes place in April.
Things to Do in NYC At Christmastime
1. Fifth Avenue Windows – Stores like Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Tiffany & Co. go all out with their holiday windows. If you want to venture beyond Fifth Avenue, check out the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. This is one of the things to do in NYC at Christmas that can’t be missed.
2. Ice Skating – There is something magical about ice skating in New York City. The most famous rink is at Rockefeller Center. There are also two rinks in Central Park (unfortunately owned by Trump), plus rinks at Bryant Park, and Abe Stark Rink in Coney Island. This is one of the most popular things to do in NYC in winter.
3. Rockettes – The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is one of the most classic NYC things to do in NYC at Christmastime.
4. Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting – The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is probably New York City’s most famous. The tree lighting takes place at the end of November, after Thanksgiving, and features celebrity and musical performances. Even if you can’t make the tree lighting, you should make a point to see Rockefeller Center decked out of the holidays.
5. Winter Village at Bryant Park – An ice rink takes over the park in winter, and at Christmas time there is a holiday market too.
6. See the Christmas decorations at Rolf’s German Restaurant – this Gramercy Park restaurant goes all out with their Christmas decorations… and they keep them up until May. (At that point, why take them down?)
7. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights – This Brooklyn neighborhood is known for their over the top holiday lights displays.
8. The Nutcracker – See the New York City Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker.
9. The Christmas Carol at the Merchant’s House – This isn’t your typical Christmas Carol performance, the play is performed by an actor playing Dickens in a candlelit 19th-century home.
10. Unsilent Night – This interactive musical performance takes place in December. Participants with boomboxes gather in Washington Square Park, pick up a CD or cassette, hit play, and walk to Tompkins Square Park. The websites describes the event as “A luminous soundscape placed by the audience on boomboxes carried through city streets.” It’s been happening since 1992.
11. Explore Hotels – New York City’s grand hotels go all out for the holiday, so hop from hotel lobby to hotel lobby… or from hotel bar to hotel bar.
12. Ride a Vintage Train – Trains from the Transit Museum’s vintage fleet run on the F line during the holiday season.
13. Train Exhibit at New York Botanical Gardens – The annual exhibit features miniature version of New York landmarks.
Read More Things to Do in NYC
A 3-5 Day New York City Itinerary
NYC Packing List
Gossip Girl Filming Locations
What to do in Brooklyn
What to do in Union Square
What to Know about Visiting New York City
Which NYC Airport to Fly Into
What to do in the Upper East Side
What to do in the Upper West Side
What to do in Greenwich Village and Chelsea
What to Do in the West Village
What to Do in Lower Manhattan
24 Hours in NYC and a Visit to Roosevelt Island
Exploring NYC with Mom
My Favorite Places in NYC
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