We get this question all the time: "What should I do in New York City?"
The answer is not as easy as it looks. With so much to see and do packed into a relatively small amount of space means the options are nearly endless. To narrow down choices, we'll usually want to talk to you to get a better sense of what you typically like to do: are you a culture buff, art enthusiast, music aficionado, theatre fanatic, sports nut, Broadway baby, and/or gourmet foodie? Are you on a romantic vacation, family trip, business travel, girlfriend getaway? How many days are you staying in New York? Do you have time to take any day trips outside the city? Is this your first trip to New York?
Here are our top picks:
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
When riding the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, it's nearly impossible not to think about the thousands of immigrants who crossed these waters as their first experience of America. Today, both sites remain as symbols of the sacrifices so many people have made in the name of liberty and a making a better life. Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close and walking the halls of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum brings US history to life.Tip: if visiting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, bring a blank sheet of paper and pencil or crayon. You can etch over the names of your relatives (known or unknown) from the memorial outside. The perfect souvenir or memento-- frame it when you get home.
How: Ferries run 9am to 5pm daily from lower Manhattan's Battery Park and stop at both islands. Allow yourself plenty of time (at least 4 hours) to see both. To ascend 300 stairs to the crown of Lady Liberty, advance tickets are required and book up months in advance.
Or, to make it easy on yourself, buy a discounted New York Pass.
When: All year round
Good for Kids?: Absolutely.
A Broadway Show & Times Square
Even if you don't consider yourself a fan of the theatre, you won't regret the experience of a Broadway Show. The sheer spectacle of a show is a thing to see. If you aren't a fan of musicals, there are plenty of plays to choose from as well. You'll find every genre available: light hearted comedies, family fun animations brought to life, serious dramas, chilling mysteries, and of course the big fun musicals. Before or after the show, take time to enjoy one of the many wonderful restaurants in the Times Square area-- our team will be happy to make your pre- or post-theare dining reservations!
How: Just call our New York City experts or search our Broadway ticket availability and pricing for a complete list of our recommended shows. Shows play every day of the week, though many do not play on Mondays.
When: All year round.
Cost: Depends greatly on the show. Ask us about economy seating options! Also, plan to see a show Tuesday to Thursday for access to better prices.
Good for kids?: Some shows yes, others no. Again, ask us about what kid friendly options are playing during your trip.
The Empire State Building and/or Top of the Rock Observatory
One of the most iconic images in the United States, the Empire State Building should be on everyone's sightseeing list. Boasting views of up to 80 miles on a clear day, you'll get to see the panorama of the entire NYC metro area up on the 86th Floor Observatory. The Observatory at Rockefeller Center, called Top of the Rock is another great alternative-- with one big advantage: you get to see the Empire State Building as part of the panorama! Tickets for both sites can be arranged in advance with New York Guest-- this will save you the time it takes to wait in the ticket line. Buy Empire State Building Tickets
How: Tickets can be bought in advance from New York Guest and delivered to your hotel.
When: All year round
Good for Kids: Yes, but only if they are not afraid of heights.
A Harbor Cruise
A harbor cruise is a wonderful and relaxing way to take in the New York City skyline. Choose from short trips from Midtown to view the Statue of Liberty and back (about 75 minutes), longer circuits around the New York Harbor (2-hours) or even a 3-Hour circumnavigation around the entire island of Manhattan. This is a great option any time of year since the tour boats have indoor and outdoor areas to sit. Also a great sightseeing option if you are traveling with people with limited mobility. Buy your harbor cruise tickets online!
How: Vouchers are valid for any sailing of the type you have purchased, but you need to arrive at the pier 30 minutes prior to departure. Check the current schedule before leaving for the pier.
When: All year round
Cost: $26 to $35 for adult tickets depending on which harbor cruise you pick.
Good for Kids?: Most definitely!
Since 1859 Central Park has provided a refuge from the busy city streets of New York. Today, the park consists of 843 acres of stunning greenery including several natural-looking lakes and ponds, extensive walking and bridle paths, two ice-skating rinks (one of which is a swimming pool in July and August), the Central Park Zoo, gardens, a wildlife sanctuary, natural woods, a 106-acre reservoir, and an outdoor amphitheater called the Delacorte Theater which hosts summer festivals. Indoor attractions include Belvedere Castle with its nature center, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel. 25 Million visitors enjoy the park annually, making it the most visited city park in the United States.
How: Just walk on in! Learn more about the park at: http://www.centralparknyc.org/
When: All year round
Cost: the park itself is free, but attractions like the zoo require a ticket. See website for details.
Good for Kids?: What kids don't enjoy a good park?
Stroll down 5th Avenue
The stretch of 5th Avenue between 49th Street and 59th Street encompasses some of the most exclusive shops in the world. Even if you're just window shopping, it's a great way to experience the luxurious side of Manhattan. High end shops like Saks Fifth Ave, Tiffany's, Bulgari, Bergorf's, Prada, Harry Winston, Cartier, Fendi, Versace (and so many more!) are all found along this route. 5th Ave is also one of the city's primary routes for parades, like the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Speaking of St. Patrick, you'll want to make sure to leave enough time to also visit iconic St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th and 51st.
How: Put on your comfortable walking shoes (or your Manolo stilettos) and take a stroll!
When: All year round.
Cost: Free to walk, pay to buy!
Good for Kids: Unless you schedule stops at The Disney Store, Build-a-Bear and FAO Schwarz, kids would likely be bored otherwise.
A Museum (or two!)
There are over one hundred museums worthy of your time and attention in New York City. Which are best for you to see during your stay depends on your personal interests. The most popular museums include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The American Museum of Natural History, The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of the City of New York, the Tenement Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, and The Children's Museum (to just name a few). Entrance fees vary per museum. Also, some museums have sponsored Free Nights where entrance fees are waived. Contact us for more details on which museums are best for your trip.
How: Plan for tickets in advance, especially for popular exhibits that might sell out.
When: All year round, look for "Free Nights" to save on entrance fees.
Good for kids?: Try making it fun for kids by planning your own "museum bingo"-- make them a game board in advance and tell them to be on the look out for certain things in the museum. This boosts the fun for any kid!
A Helicopter Ride
Seeing the landscape of New York City from a helicopter in an amazing experience you won't regret. It's hard to truly appreciate the immensity of the city skyline until you have seen it from this perspective. People have described it as breathtaking and awe-inspiring-- and having done it ourselves, we couldn't agree more. Helicopter rides vary in length and itinerary and generally speaking helicopters seat up to 6 guests.
We recommend the Classic Helicopter Tour which lasts 15 minutes and departs from lower Manhattan.
How: Pre-book your helicopter ride with New York Guest by calling 212-302-4019 or e-mailing email@example.com
When: Helicopter flights don't fly in foggy or inclement weather
Costs: Starting at around $190 including tax and airport fees.
Good for kids?: Depends on the kid, we think it's an activity more suitable for adults.
Also recommended in the area is a visit to St. Paul's chapel and churchyard, which miraculously escaped destruction despite it's proximity to the Twin Towers. This church also served as a haven to firefighters, police officers and construction workers in the 9/11 aftermath.
How: Several subways stops are located in the area and this is a feature stop on double decker bus tours. Ask us for directions or tickets.
When: All year round.
Costs: Donations are very appreciated.
Good for kids?: Yes, but be prepared to talk with them about the events of 9/11.
Washington Square Park & Greenwich Village
You've seen this neighborhood in countless TV shows and Movies; Greenwich Village is a great place to spend an afternoon, but bring a map because it's easy to get lost in this part of town. Stroll tree-lined streets and marvel at the Greek Revival townhouses. Poke in to funky neighborhood shops and restaurants. This area is also dominated by NYU, so it is a haven for young people. If you are a fan of "people watching" grab a coffee and a seat on a park bench and take it all in. At one end of the park, marvel at the Washington Arch modeled after Paris' Arc de Triomphe.
How: Also accessible by CitySights hop-on and -off double decker tour busses-- buy your New York Sightseeing tickets online today!
When: Daylight only is recommended for those not very familiar with the area.
Good for kids?: Sure.
Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
Everyone should walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at least once and reflect on the modern marvel it truly is. There is an elevated wooden plank suspended over the traffic, making the walk surprisingly peaceful. The history of the bridge is a fascinating one-- and much too detailed to go into here. It is a take of innovation, endurance and perseverance. Our favorite tid-bit however is the take of PT Barnum demonstrating the stability of the bridge (after rumors of the contrary) by marching a heard of 21 elephants across the bridge.
How: Take the subway to Brooklyn's High street. It's a 20- to 40-minute stroll over the bridge to Manhattan, depending on your pace, the amount of foot traffic, and the number of stops you make to behold the spectacular views (there are benches along the way). The footpath will deposit you right at City Hall Park.
When: Year Round
Good for kids: absolutely.
Great Day Trips
DC isn't too far for a day trip! As if Manhattan doesn't have enough for you to see and do, there's so much more in the metro area! Within a short subway ride from Manhattan you'll find gems like the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, Yankee Stadium, Coney Island and more. A little further afield you can find outlet shopping, wineries, beaches, historic mansions, nature preserves, fishing, hiking, antiques, festivals, fine art, and just about a million other things that might interest you. Lots of people visiting New York City will also take day trips to Boston, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C.!
Telephone: +1 (212) 302-4019