This post covers the best things to do in New York City today, tonight, tomorrow, or anytime, written by a local tour guide.
We also have sections dedicated to free activities, what to do at night, family-friendly activities, and what to do in various neighborhoods of NYC. We even list food recommendations!
- Top NYC Activities
- Free Things to Do
- What to Do at Night
- Family-Friendly Activities
- By Neighborhood + Month
- Top Attractions + Museums
- Suggested Itineraries
TOP 28 ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS IN NYC
Below are 28 of the best things to do in New York, including some free activities. Beneath this section, we list more free things to do.
In each listing, you can click on the links to go to our in-depth posts on that activity or attraction.
If you want to see how to save money on these attractions check out our post comparing tourist discount passes.
1. Take a Sightseeing Tour
If you are considering taking a sightseeing tour, especially a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, you have many to choose from.
Our guide comparing NYC bus tours can help you find the best tour for you.
Walking tours are a fantastic way to explore NYC. They're even better when they are free!
We offer approximately 40 different tours, most of which are pay-what-you-like. We also have free self-guided tours.
Our GPS-enabled audio tours let you explore NYC's most popular neighborhoods at your own pace.
Our suggested itineraries can help you plan the perfect day (or days) of sightseeing.
2. See a Broadway Show
There are dozens and dozens of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows to see. Find out what's playing when you're here.
Find out about saving money on Broadway tickets through lotteries and other discount options.
3. View the Stunning New York Skyline
For incredible panoramic views, visit one of the five observation decks.
One World Observatory (also referred to as the Freedom Tower) is atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center.
The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1977 and though it's lost that honor, it's still an art deco gem.
Edge and Summit One Vanderbilt are the newest observation decks and each has its own twist on skyscraper experiences.
While not the tallest in the group, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center offers unrivaled views of the four other observation decks.
Read our post comparing the five observation decks to decide which one to visit.
4. Attend a Sporting Event
NYC has it all: baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey and tennis!
Baseball season is from April to October. See the Mets and the Yankees. You can also take a tour of Yankee Stadium.
From August through December/January, you've got football. The New York Giants and the Jets play in nearby New Jersey.
The Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks shoot hoops from October through April (through June if they make the playoffs).
Catch hockey from October through April, with the Rangers, the Devils, and the Islanders.
From late August until Mid-September, the U.S. Open Tennis Championship comes to town and in early November you can see the NYC Marathon for free!
5. Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum are located next to each other in Lower Manhattan.
The memorial and its two massive cascading fountains are a beautiful tribute to those who perished on that day in 2001.
The museum covers the tragic events of 9/11 through artifacts, documents, and films.
While the memorial is free to visit, the National September 11th Museum does charge for tickets.
TIP: Admission to the 9/11 Museum is included with some 9/11 Memorial tours, and it's also available with some tourist passes.
6. Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
For some, this is a must-see attraction. You'll have to set aside 4-5 hours to see both islands, but it really is worth the time.
Learn how to get to the Statue of Liberty, where to buy tickets and hours, see our detailed post, Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Immigration Museum.
Find out how to get tickets for pedestal access with some Statue of Liberty tours.
7. Enjoy a Boat Cruise Around Manhattan
Choosing between the many boat rides can be maddening. There are tourist boats, hop-on,hop-off all-day boats, speedboats, and even sailboats.
Then there are nighttime cruises, dinner cruises and cruises with live music.
Figure out which boat ride is right for you by reading our post comparing NYC's boat tour options.
If you are on a budget, there are several free boat rides including the Staten Island Ferry.
8. Eat Iconic New York Foods
There are plenty of great places to eat in New York City and you don't have to spend a lot of money on some of the world's tastiest food.
Further down in this post, we recommend where to find the best versions of New York's famous foods.
You can sample a number of NYC foods in just two hours on our pay-what-you-like food tours.
You might like a tour that focuses on specific foods, like this pizza and gelato food tour in Greenwich Village.
Have fantastic food with a side portion of cultural history on a Greenwich Village food tour or Brooklyn food tour.
9. Stroll through Central Park
This 843-acre urban oasis is everything you imagined it would be.
With its great lawns, wooded areas, lakes, ponds, sculptures, and a wonderful zoo, there is no shortage of things to do in Central Park.
Watch a 32-minute version of our longer live guided tour
We offer several pay-what-you-wish Central Park tours, as well as a GPS-enabled audio tour so you can explore at your own pace.
10. Save Money with a Tourist Discount Pass
Save money on many of NYC's best things to do by buying a tourist discount pass.
While the passes aren't free, if you plan your itineraries well, you will end up getting one or two attractions for free each day.
There are several types of passes so be sure to read our tourist discount comparison post to see which one will save you the most money on your trip.
11. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
This bridge is loved by locals and tourists alike, not just for the incredible views, but also because of the sense of freedom one feels when crossing the bridge.
Our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge has tips to make your walk unforgettable.
Why not join us on one of our pay-what-you-wish Brooklyn Bridge tours?
We also have GPS-enabled audio Brooklyn Bridge tours in English, Spanish, and German.
Check out the great borough of Brooklyn before or after crossing the bridge. See our detailed Things to Do in Brooklyn guide.
12. Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is one of the most prestigious museums in the world and a highlight of many people's trips to New York City.
For those who love historic artifacts, artwork, sculpture, and even fashion, a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-do.
The Met is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood that isn't visited by many tourists but does have some sights worth seeing.
13. Hear Gospel Music
For a unique NYC experience, see a gospel choir. You'll feel inspired afterward!
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to go to Harlem to hear gospel (though it is true that some of the best gospel choirs can be found in that neighborhood.)
Find out where to hear gospel music in New York City.
If you are interested in Harlem, consider taking our pay-what-you-like Harlem Walking Tour.
To discover this great neighborhood on your own, our post on things to do in Harlem has a self-guided map.
14. See New York City from the Sky
While you can get breathtaking views of the skyline throughout the city, there's nothing like an aerial view of NYC.
You may be surprised to know that helicopter tours of New York City are not only for the rich and famous!
Find out about costs, different options, and if it is a good choice of activity for you from our detailed post on NYC helicopter tours.
THE BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK CITY
Above, we've already covered some free things to do in NYC. Here are even more free (or nearly free) activities in New York City!
For hundreds of free things to do, check out our post on free things to do in NYC and our post on free museums and attractions.
15. Ride the Free Staten Island Ferry (day or night!)
Take a free ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island and back for spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
It runs 24 hours a day and the view, day and night, is something special.
Check out our guide to riding the Staten Island Ferry to plan your trip.
Before or after your ferry ride, you might like to take our free, pay-what-you-like Lower Manhattan Tour.
16. Experience the Splendor of Grand Central Station
From its massive celestial ceiling to its secret 'whispering gallery', there is no train station like it in the world.
The station is actually a terminal that includes local subways as well as dozens of train tracks destined for locations as far as 3 hours out of NYC.
Seeing its beauty is nice, but Grand Central is so much more impressive when you learn about its fascinating history (and secrets).
Watch our video guide to this great terminal.
We recommend taking a tour of some kind. Our post, Grand Central Terminal Tours, compares various tours, including our own guided pay-what-you-like tour.
17. Visit the High Line and Chelsea Market
The High Line, a most unusual city park, is built on an abandoned elevated railroad. It's lined by interesting architectural structures and has views of the Hudson River.
From stories of the Titanic survivors to the changing cultural landscape of this centuries-old neighborhood in Chelsea, there is so much to know about the High Line.
You can walk the High Line for free or you can take a free tour like one of our pay-what-you-like High Line Park Walking Tours.
We also offer a GPS-enabled audio tour of the High Line narrated by one of our professional guides.
Our downloadable PDF self-guided tour is useful as is our post on things to do on the High Line.
TIP: When you visit, grab some food at the nearby Chelsea Market to enjoy from the benches along the High Line.
18. Check out Street Art in Bushwick
New York has some of the finest street art in the world and much of it can be found in Bushwick in Brooklyn.
Visiting the Bushwick Collective Street Art Gallery is easy to do and makes for an off-the-beat activity during your stay.
You can use our self-guided tour or join us on any of our pay-what-you-like Street Art Tours including our Bushwick Street Art Tour.
19. Stroll Along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Located in historic Brooklyn Heights, the promenade offers unbelievable views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, especially at night.
Read more about the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, how to get there and what you can do nearby.
The promenade is a stop on both our pay-what-you-like 3-hour Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO Tour and our 2-hour Brooklyn Heights Tour.
20. Attend a TV Show Taping
This activity is totally free and totally fun! There are lots of TV shows to see
Some shows, like Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert require advanced planning.
Luckily, many shows allow you to apply for tickets just a few days before taping.
Our list of all the New York TV Show Tapings explains how to get free tickets.
21. Discover the Many Neighborhoods of NYC
New York is a city that is a sum of its parts. It's made up of five boroughs with their own personality.
Each borough is made up of dozens of neighborhoods with their own history, culture and sights to see.
For example, this map shows the parts of Lower Manhattan (and some of Brooklyn) that are popular with locals and tourists alike.
Click on the map to be taken to in-depth posts on each neighborhood.
If you want to get a deeper feel for New York City, set aside some time in your sightseeing schedule to explore some of NYC's most interesting neighborhoods.
See our post on 20+ NYC neighborhoods with details of each, including the main sights to see and where to stay.
Below we go over the neighborhoods that have a lot to offer visitors to NYC.
22. Ride the Roosevelt Island Tram
The Roosevelt Island Tram, which some might refer to as a cable car or gondola, provides a skyline view of the city like no other.
It's not quite free -- it's $2.75, the same as a subway ride. But it's possible the best $2.75 you'll spend while you are in New York City!
Read about the Roosevelt Island Tram and the best times to go, where you can find the tram station, how to get tickets and other tips.
23. Enjoy a Free Museum
NYC has more museums than you can count, and while most have a cost, there are several museums that are always free or have a pay-what-you-like model (just like our tours).
Some of the best museums that are free are the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New York Public Library.
Plus, there are lots of museums that offer free hours on specific days such as the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National September 11th Museum.
Read our post Free Museums in New York City to find out more. The post also includes cultural institutions, memorials, national historic landmarks and more.
24. Visit Little Island
This unique public park is not like anything you've seen before!
Little Island is a 'floating' park built on concrete piles rising up from the river and culminating into what resemble tulip pots!
Describing it isn't simple, so watch the video below!
A visit to Little Island is free, and won't take up too much of your schedule, but the views are wonderful.
25. Go Play at Coney Island
Like Little Island above, Coney Island isn't actually an island. But it is one of New York City's most famous places!
For just the cost of a subway ride, you can stroll the historic boardwalk, take a dip in the ocean or watch the cast of characters hanging out there.
There are a number of things to do that are not free but you might like to do them anyway. Eat a Nathan's hot dog or ride the Cyclone rollercoaster at Luna Park.
Visit the New York Aquarium, which charges admission but offers name-your-own-price admission after 3 pm every Wednesday. Read more here.
26. See the Vessel at Hudson Yards
Located at Hudson Yards in Chelsea, the Vessel is likely the most unusual staircase you have ever seen.
Part structure, part sculpture, the concrete, and bronzed steel Vessel is 150 feet tall (47 m), with 154 interconnecting flights of stairs with 80 landings that you can stop at along the way.
Currently, the Vessel is not open to the public, but that may change in the future, so keep checking our post about the Vessel.
27. Go Ice Skating
If you are visiting between November and March, you can go ice skating for free at the beautiful rink at Bryant Park's Winter Village!
Entry is free but if you don't have your own skates, you can pay to rent a pair.
There are quite a few ice skating rinks to enjoy in the colder months. Read our post on Ice Skating Rinks in New York City.
28. Take a Free, Self-Guided Tour
While we hope you will take many of our pay-what-you-wish guided walking tours, we also have over 30 self-guided walks that are absolutely free.
Each tour comes with step-by-step directions between each stop as well as neighborhood information.
We also offer audio tours, some that are free, and others that cost just $1.99.
Some of our most popular audio tours are:
- Central Park
- Greenwich Village
- The High Line
- Grand Central Station
- and so many more.
For hundreds of other free things to do, check out our post on free things to do in NYC and our post on free museums.
NYC MUSEUMS AND ADDITIONAL ATTRACTIONS
This section includes NYC attractions not already mentioned in this post. Beneath this is a section of the top NYC art and history museums.
For in-depth information on how to visit these, simply click on the attraction's name and you will be taken to another post with information such as:
- ticket prices and ways you can find discounts and ways to visit for free.
- open/closed days and hours.
- directions on how to get there.
- tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your visit.
- and in many cases, we include reviews of tour companies that offer tours of the attraction and self-guided tours.
As you plan your trip, you might also decide to consider purchasing a tourist pass.
Tourist passes help you save money by packaging attractions together for one flat price.
So many of the items and activities listed in this post are included in the various tourist discount passes.
We encourage you to read our post comparing the different New York City Attraction Passes. These passes are great deals for some and not for others.
NYC ATTRACTIONS, HISTORIC SIGHTS, AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
Here are some attractions that are popular with tourists. They are organized by type.
This list isn't exhaustive though. Lots of places you might like to visit are mentioned throughout this post so be sure to go over it all.
New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)
This 50-acre botanical garden in the Bronx was established in 1891. The landscape has over one million living plants.
During the Christmas holidays, the NYBG has a fantastic holiday train show!
Other Botanical Gardens
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens
- Wave Hill Cultural Center
- Queens Botanical Gardens
Monuments and Memorials
Castle Clinton National Monument
This fort at the tip of Manhattan was built in 1808 as a fortification against a possible British invasion.
Though the British did invade the US in 1812, they did not reach New York, and the fort wasn't needed. Read more here.
Other Monuments and Memorials
- African Burial Ground National Museum
- Irish Hunger Memorial
- Soldiers and Sailors Monument
- Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
- General Ulysses S. Grant National Memorial (Grant’s Tomb)
Famous and/or Historic Buildings
Trinity Church has had three different buildings on the site. The first built in 1698 was destroyed in a fire during the Revolutionary War.
The second Trinity was completed in 1790 but was destroyed by heavy snow so a third church (the current) was built and completed in 1847. Trinity Chruch is an exceptional example of Neo-gothic design by Richard Upjohn.
Other Famous and/or Historic Buildings
- Chrysler Building
- Flatiron Building
- Woolworth Building
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- New York Stock Exchange
- Dakota Apartments
- City Hall
You can also take a look here for even more.
TOP ART AND HISTORY MUSEUMS
Below are the most well-known art museums and history museums in NYC (except the Metropolitan Museum of Art covered above).
Many of these museums are included for free in tourist discount passes. Even better, some have free hours or are always free.
Find out more from our post, Free Museums in New York City.
This museum is known just as much for its modern art collection as it is for the museum building itself, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
See works by Kandinsky, Magritte, Koons, Klee, Chagall, and more.
Saturdays 6 pm - 8 pm is “pay what you wish” + $1 required fee.
Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
One of the most impressive modern art museums in the world.
MoMA's permanent collection is vast, with over 150,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, architectural models and drawings, and design objects.
See masterpieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matise, Monet, Dali, Basquiat, Warhol, and so many others.
This museum is included for free with most tourist discount passes
American Museum of Natural History and Rose Space Center
Five floors with 45 permanent installations and special exhibitions.
See the skeletons of giant dinosaurs, the Hall of Gems, the Wall of Biodiversity and so much more.
The Rose Center for Earth and Space has the Big Bang Theater and Hayden Planetarium.
This museum is included for free with most tourist discount passes
Whitney Museum of American Art
Contemporary American art from 20th and 21st-century artists.
Its collection features work by Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O'Keefe, and Mark Rothko among others.
The museum is located at the entrance to High Line park,
Whitney has a “pay what you wish” policy on Fridays 7:00 pm-9:30 pm.
Other museums of interest:
- Tenement Museum
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York
- National Museum of the American Indian
- Museum of Broadway
- El Museo del Barrio
- Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA)
- Museum of the City of New York
- International Center of Photography
- The Jewish Museum
- The Frick Collection
- New-York Historical Society Museum
For more, see our post on the 35 best museums in NYC.
Looking for more things to do?
Fundreds has a list of 150+ of the best things to do in New York City (including our tours!)
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS IN NYC
Our top things to do with kids in NYC post includes many of the best activities, the best times to go and also alternatives depending on the age of your children.
Take a look at our map of 25 Things To Do with Kids in Midtown Manhattan. The fun never ends for kids in NYC!
Kid-Friendly Attractions and Museums
Below are attractions that your whole family will enjoy. Click on the links to be taken to our in-depth posts on that attraction.
Those posts have useful information including prices and hours, discounts, best times to go, and things to do nearby.
- American Museum of Natural History
- Bronx Zoo
- Madame Tussauds
- Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
- The New York Aquarium
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum
- Children’s Museum of Manhattan
- South Street Seaport Museum
- New York Transit Museum
Take a Food Tour
What makes kids happier than an amazing cupcake or a cheesy slice of pizza? (Grown-ups won't complain about these either!)
Our most popular pay-what-you-wish food tours for families are:
For a food tour that includes some of NYC's best gelato, try Take Walks' Greenwich Village food tour.
TIP: Some of our pay-what-you-wish non-food tours are suitable for kids, our Central Park Tours (video), our High Line Tours (video), and for the courageous kids, our New York Ghost Tours.
Take a Bus Tour or Boat Ride
Gives the little ones a chance to rest their legs on your day of sightseeing.
Since hop-on, hop-off bus tours generally stop at popular attractions, you can use the bus to travel from destination to destination.
Read our post, The Best Hop-On, Hop-Off NYC Bus Tours, to see which is best for you and your family.
If you are traveling with tweens or teens, take a ride on one of NYC's speedboats, The Shark, The Beast and The Sea Wolf.
Both The Shark and The Beast are included in all tourist passes except the City Pass, so you can save some money if you do get a tourist pass.
Save even more money by taking the free Staten Island Ferry or one of the other free New York boat tours.
For even more choices, see our post, Which New York Boat Tour or Cruise is Best?
Parks and Playgrounds
When you and your child are tired of concrete sidewalks and noisy cars, head off to one of these green spaces where you can romp and play in New York style.
Visit Governors Island
Governors Island is a small recreational vehicle-free island just 7 minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan.
You can rent bikes, kayak for free, picnic, visit the various playgrounds, and try out the longest slide in NYC -- three stories high and 57 feet long!
Read our post on Governors Island for information on open hours, how to get there, and what activities are offered.
Romp, Ride, and Roll in Central Park
As we wrote above, Central Park is filled with activities which we list in our post Things to Do in Central Park.
You can go roller-skating in the summer, ice-skating in the winter, or take a bike ride.
We have a pay-what-you-wish Central Park bike tour (bike rental costs extra) which is something that everyone in the family can enjoy.
Climb, Kayak, and Carousel-Ride in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Located near Brooklyn Heights, the enormous Brooklyn Bridge Park offers all sorts of athletic activities from rock climbing, roller skating, kayaking, and more.
There are basketball and handball courts, multiple playgrounds, and even a seasonal pop-up pool. The little ones will love the historic Jane's Carousel.
THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT
There is no lack of things to do at night in NYC. Below are a handful of great things to do at night in the city that never sleeps.
Keep in mind that many of the activities listed throughout this entire post can be enjoyed at night as well.
For even more ideas, check out our in-depth post on things to do at night in NYC.
Go to the Theater
An unforgettable way to spend an evening in New York City is to see a Broadway show or play.
You don't have to pay full price for tickets if you are flexible with your choice of shows.
Read our post on how to get discount Broadway tickets.
If Broadway or Off-Broadway isn't your thing, how about a live comedy show?
See a Stand-up Comedy Performance
No matter when you come to New York City, chances are there will be at least a few notable comedians in town doing a stand-up show.
There are also plenty of up-and-coming comedians playing in clubs and bars.
If you want to see who will be perfecting their routines during your trip to the city, check out this list of stand-up comedy shows in NYC.
NOTE: The New York Sightseeing Pass includes admission to the LOL Times Square Comedy Club and 10% off all food and drinks in the establishment.
You can also use this pass to save 20% off admission to both the Broadway Comedy Club and Greenwich Village Comedy Club.
Take a Nighttime Sightseeing Tour
Seeing specific parts of New York City at night with a guide to point out things you might not have otherwise noticed can make for a great and inexpensive way to spend an evening.
Our pay-what-you-wish night tours cover several different neighborhoods, each beautiful at night in its own way.
We have a Midtown Manhattan Night Tour, 911 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge Night Tour, Ghost Tours, and a Dark Side of the High Line Tour.
If you want to start your evening early and get some beautiful photos of New York City, try a sunset tour.
We have a Sunset on the High Line as well as Central Park. During the holiday season, we offer a Holiday Lights Tour and an NYC Christmas Movie Tour.
See a Concert, Opera, or Ballet
Spend an evening at one of New York City's renowned performance venues.
Lincoln Center has it all -- ballet, opera, jazz, film, modern dance, and more!
Carnegie Hall has a nice variety of musical genres. The Apollo Theater has the famous Amateur Night, where stars like Michael Jackson got his start.
For pop and rock, see who's playing at Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.
ENJOY A NEW YORK MEAL
There are plenty of great places to eat in New York City and you don't have to spend a lot of money to do so.
Below are our suggestions of where to find the best versions of famous New York foods, as well as restaurants that will suit your mood, budget, and location.
You might also consider taking one of our food tours of NYC. They are pay-what-you-like.
New York Bagel
You haven't really had a bagel until you have had a New York bagel. Here's our list of the 15 Best Bagels in New York City,
New York Pizza
Here are the best pizza places in New York City. They are organized by neighborhood so no matter where you are, you can find a great food stop.
For an authentic New York dining experience, eat a meal al fresco on Mulberry Street at the best Little Italy Restaurants.
New York Delicatessen
There are very few real delicatessens left in NYC. Fortunately, we still have Katz’s (yes, the very same one where (Harry met Sally).
A Harlem institution is Sylvia’s but there are lots of excellent places where you can find some of the best Harlem Soul Food.
For inexpensive, delicious food, head to Chinatown.
Other Great Eats
Our list of Greenwich Village restaurants has a nice variety of ethnic foods as well as kid-friendly food, cheap street food and restaurants that are good for groups.
We have a Greenwich Village Food Tour but if you are unable to join us or want to explore the area and food on your own, use our Greenwich Village Snack Food with a self-guided tour.
We also have Lower East Side restaurant recommendations.
If you want to get a sampling of the foods typical of the neighborhood, try our Lower East Side Food Tour.
Grab a drink
Start off with our Guide to Bars in New York City. If you want to save some money, find a bar with Happy Hours.
To mix your drink with some New York history, visit one of several Historic New York City Bars, like McSorley’s Old Ale House.
If you want some guidance, or maybe you are traveling solo and want some drinking buddies, Pub Crawl, Cocktail Tour or Bar Tour.
You can also try a Free New York Brewery Tour.
One way to organize your trip to New York is by neighborhood. Using our 40+ self-guided tours as well as several GPS audio tours makes it easy!
Of course, you can join us for one of our many pay-what-you-wish walking tours for deeper insight into the neighborhoods shared by one of our knowledgeable and personable guides.
Here are some top neighborhoods with lots to see for those who are new to the city or are visiting for a second time
Learn about many more from our post, New York City Neighborhoods Explained.
At the tip of Manhattan, this neighborhood is where New York City was born (as New Amsterdam in 1624!)
The Financial District and Wall Street are in Lower Manhattan. Be sure to get a picture with the iconic Charging Bull!
National historic landmarks like Federal Hall sit side-by-side with skyscrapers, like One World Trade Center, with the One World Observatory atop.
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum are here as are the terminals for the Statue of Liberty ferries and the free Staten Island Ferry.
Midtown is the center of New York City. It's so huge, there are numerous sub-neighborhoods, most notably, Times Square and the Theater District with its Broadway shows.
Some of NYC’s most beautiful structures are here: Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library and the Chrysler building.
It’s where you’ll find three observation decks, the Empire State Building, SUMMIT, and Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.
Located just north of Central Park, Harlem’s African-American roots go back to the 1880s.
Harlem has a rich cultural scene, with several small museums, jazz and live music clubs, and innovative restaurants.
There are some famous attractions like the Apollo Theater and Sylvia's Soul Food Restaurant, but Harlem has much more to offer.
Greenwich Village is both a charming and historic neighborhood with many quiet and leafy streets. The hub is Washington Square Park with the Washington Square Arch as a centerpiece.
Some parts of the Village are lively 24 hours a day, especially at night when people are dining out, enjoying music and comedy clubs.
Some sights are the Friends building, the Stonewall Inn and Carrie Bradshaw’s stoop (Sex and the City).
If you love architecture, art, and great shopping, SoHo is for you!
Its narrow streets are lined with majestic cast-iron buildings from the late 1800s.
With over two dozen art galleries, you could spend an afternoon seeing all kinds of artwork.
There’s shopping for all budgets and plenty of dining options.
Chinatown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in NYC and one of its most fascinating.
Wandering its old, narrow streets lined with Chinese signs transports you to another time and place.
Its storefronts are colorful, some selling vegetables and dried goods, others selling souvenirs.
Perhaps the best thing about Chinatown is the food. It’s just fantastic and pretty cheap.
Read about where to eat in Chinatown.
Little Italy, a popular tourist destination, really is little. It’s now just a few blocks centered around Mulberry Street.
Chinatown has taken over what was historically a much larger Little Italy.
To the north, the neighborhood was transformed into NoLita (north of Little Italy), a trendy area with boutiques, bars, and restaurants of all cuisines.
Fortunately, what's left of Little Italy still has its old New York charm with restaurants and cafes lining the streets. The annual Feast of San Gennaro Festival is still going strong after
Lombardi's is the oldest pizzeria in the US, opened in 1908. Food shops like Alleva sell freshly made cheeses, meats, and Italian snacks.
This ultra-cool neighborhood has a fascinating past stretching from its Dutch roots of the 1600s to its punk rock scene of the 1970s.
It’s one of the best places to see street art in Manhattan.
There’s lots of great shopping in small boutiques and vintage clothing stores.
Whatever kind of food you are in the mood for, you’ll find it in the East Village. The bar scene is the best in the city!
Chelsea is a lively neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, north of Greenwich Village and south of Midtown.
Its biggest attractions are the High Line, Chelsea Market, and Little Island.
Chelsea has lots of trendy restaurants, some very charming streets with historic homes, and the highest concentration of art galleries in NYC.
Upper West Side (UWS)
This is one of the most popular (and expensive) residential neighborhoods in NYC, especially among families.
It’s adjacent to Central Park, has quiet side streets and its avenues are filled with shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.
The main sites on the UWS that visitors are interested in are the American Museum of Natural History and Lincoln Center.
Upper East Side (UES)
Located above 59th Street to 96th Street, this affluent neighborhood is on the east side of Central Park.
It is best known for being home to several world-class museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim.
The UES is a combination of residential high-rises and brownstones. There are lots of shopping and dining options for all budgets.
Located near the Brooklyn Bridge, this is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in New York City, and also one of its oldest.
Its origins date back to 1646 as it was a Dutch Village. In 1776 it was the site of the Battle of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Heights’ history is rich, but it also has a wealth of beautiful streets and brownstones, as well as striking buildings representing several architectural styles.
Last - but not least - is the breathtaking view from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
First things first. The silly acronym stands for the District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass!
Just north of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO is a waterfront neighborhood between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
Head to DUMBO to snap a picture of this iconic NYC view.
Dumbo is a mix of residential buildings, some shopping and restaurants, and lots of green space with incredible views of Lower Manhattan.
The most popular reasons to visit DUMBO are the views and the famous Grimaldi’s pizza!
THINGS TO DO BY MONTH AND SEASON
Below are annual events that occur during the 12 months of the year, and if you click on the link you will be taken to our detailed posts of these events and more.
Check out our post on when is the best time to visit NYC with tips for each season.
We also included links to the typical weather for each month so you know what to expect and pack accordingly.
- January (weather)
- February (weather)
- March (weather)
- April (weather)
- May (weather)
- June (weather)
- July (weather)
- August (weather)
- September (weather)
- October (weather)
- November (weather)
- December (weather)
Winter Holiday Season (Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb)
- Christmas in New York City
- Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting
- New York Holiday Lights Tour
- Holiday Shows in NYC
- NYC Christmas Movie Tour
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- New Year's Eve in Times Square
- NYC Broadway Week (Mid-January to Mid-February)
- Restaurant Week in January
Springtime (March, April, May)
- Free Tours by Foot schedule is blooming with more than 8 free guided tours offered every day.
- Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival
- Tribeca Film Festival
- Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival
Summer in the City (June July, Aug)
- New York City Summer Guide
- Shakespeare in the Park
- Things to Do on Governors Island
- Free concerts in Central Park at Summerstage
- New York City Beaches
- Restaurant Week in late July
- 4th of July Fireworks
Fall (Sept, Oct)
- Little Italy's San Gennaro Festival
- New York Caribbean Carnival Parade
- Village Halloween Parade
- Columbus Day Parade
For those looking for some structure planning a short stay in New York City, we've created several different itineraries so that you can hit the road running.
There's no need to spend your time figuring out how to squeeze it all in. Our itineraries take care of that for you.
These itineraries can also be used enhanced with our pay-what-you-wish two-hour guided walking tours or enhanced with our self-guided tours and GPS- enabled Audio Tours.
One Day in New York City
When planned well, you can see an awful lot of New York City in just one day. Our One Day in NYC tour is a lot like the 1890s song "Sidewalks of New York!"
We've got you going to the "East side, West side, all around the town". How's this for one day?
- Morning: A stroll in Central Park, seeing the world-famous Rockefeller Center followed by lunch in Grand Central Terminal.
- Afternoon: Catch your breath and gear up for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, exploring Wall Street and the oldest streets of New York City, a free ferry ride with amazing views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, finished with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza.
- Evening: Dinner at one of the many eateries in the Oculus, the newest part of the World Trade Center. Or see a Broadway show instead. You can also take one of our pay-what-you-like New York Night Tours.
3 Days in New York City
"Bright Lights, Big City - Throw yourself right into the heart of the city in Midtown Manhattan starting at Times Square, the gorgeous and historic New York Public Library, and the stunning Grand Central Terminal.
You'll visit Rockefeller Center and visit the Top of the Rock, one of the city's three observatories. The 360-degree views will take your breath away.
After looking down on Central Park from above, you'll then spend some time exploring its most well known parts. Afterward, if you can muster the energy, see a Broadway show!
"Historical New York" - Find out where it all began by strolling some of the oldest streets of the city. Start off at Trinity Church, built in 1846 but with a congregation that dates back to colonial days.
Head over to Wall Street with the world-famous New York Stock Exchange Building and Federal Hall, where George Washington was sworn in as the first president.
Walk down to Battery Park, where the Dutch colonized 'New Amsterdam" in 1624.
Ride the free Staten Island Ferry for fantastic vistas, see the solemn and moving 9/11 Memorial and go to the top of One World Observatory and be blown away by just how much and far you can see. End your day with a relaxing walk along the High Line Park.
"Live Like A Local" - Having seen the big sights, it's time to relax and spend the day doing what New Yorkers do on their days off: walk, shop and eat.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is a great way to start your day and you will certainly work up an appetite. Lunch in Chinatown fits right in. After your meal, you can explore the old streets and shop for souvenirs or knock-off bags.
Wander up through Little Italy and over into SoHo. Round out your day in Greenwich Village with an inexpensive meal and people-watching that is priceless.
Just click here to get all the details on this itinerary.
3 Days with Kids in New York City
This itinerary is a variation of the above, with more emphasis on the places kids enjoy like the American Museum of Natural History and the Bronx Zoo.
It's not so overly child-focused so it is an itinerary that will keep the whole family entertained.
Because some of the most popular sights among the young ones (and adults too) are a bit pricey, we include tips and advice on how to get discounts or even pay nothing at all!
Click here to see this family-friendly itinerary.
A few hours in New York - a Layover itinerary
There's no reason you can't see a heck of a lot in a few hours. This post recommends different tours and activities that won't take all day and won't take a bite out of your wallet.
The post also includes details on the quickest ways to get to and from the major airports and where you can store your luggage.
Itineraries with a tourist pass
One way to add some structure to an itinerary is to purchase one of several tourist passes that offer savings on activities and ticket prices while offering you the flexibility to decide which of those activities or attractions to see.
TIP: For a complete explanation of tourist passes, which ones are available and which might be right for you, read our post, New York City Attraction Passes: Which One Is the Best to Buy.
Having a tourist pass is like being a kid in a candy shop! So much to see and it's already included in your pass -- but where to even begin?
The New York Pass has some great suggested itineraries on their website that make the most of your time and save a fair amount of money when using their pass.
- Day 1: Start the morning off with a Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour. Get oriented to the city while seeing major sights from an open-top bus. Then midday, visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum. In the late afternoon, spend some contemplative time at the 9/11 Memorial. Then step inside the 9/11 Museum to learn about the events of that day through pictures, videos, and artifacts.
- Day 2: Wake up and head up to the Empire State Building to admire the 360-degree views of the city. A great way to start your day. Then take a relaxing Circle Line Cruise and see the city from an entirely different perspective. Finish your day with an easy bicycle tour in leafy Central Park.
- Day 3: Begin your last day with a voyage on the unique bus tour called The Ride. You’ll see some major sights and get some surprises too. Then go see your favorite celebrities at Madame Tussauds wax figure museum. Afterward, go to the Top of the Rock observation deck for panoramic views of the city. Finally, spend your evening enjoying a taste of New York on a food tour.
If you were to visit all these places without a New York Pass, you'd pay $400. With a 3-Day New York Pass, you would save $141 on admission!
They also have suggested a 5-Day Itinerary and a 7-day Itinerary. Definitely consider looking into buying a pass to create an itinerary.
That's it! And don't forget to join our NYC Travel Tips + Hacks Facebook group and get ideas from visitors to NYC.