Best Things To Do in New York City
Even if you’re not mesmerized by the city’s soaring skyscrapers and monuments, you’ll be blown away by its flourishing arts, food, fashion and nightlife scenes. You can spend your morning browsing Fifth Avenue’s designer racks and your afternoon catching stunning city views from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or from the seat of a helicopter. Or, if you’re an art lover, you can admire the striking works on display at the Met and the Guggenheim before feasting on ethnic fare in Chinatown or Little Italy. If you still have some energy (and cash) left over, don’t miss the chance to snag tickets to an award-winning Broadway show or hop over to one of the low-key rooftop bars and jazz clubs illuminating the Meatpacking District after dark.
1. Central Park
This part-park, part-museum, part-concert hall swallows central Manhattan, and many of the city’s most notable attractions are situated next to it or within its limits (the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, to name a few). But travelers insist that you shouldn’t just pass through Central Park on your way to another place. This 843-acre green space is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists; you can come here to exercise, dine, go to the zoo and more.“Central Park is fantastic year-round, and is a must-see for anyone coming to New York,” says Josephine Danielson, head concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel New York. “People may not realize Central Park has several hidden treasures. If you’re looking for something different, I tell guests to visit the Conservatory Garden.”
Almost everyone has a positive impression of the park, but no one has quite the same experience or recommends that you do quite the same thing. There’s an almost impossible amount of sights to see here (hidden treasures, indeed), including 20 playgrounds, 48 fountains, monuments or sculptures and 36 bridges.
2. American Museum of Natural History
Visitors love the American Museum of Natural History off Central Park West. Whether you’re exploring the interactive exhibits on the land, the sea or outer space; user reviews take on a common theme. This museum is incredible. Even the cafeteria and gift shop are worth your notice.There are approximately 32 million artifacts inside, spread across four city blocks, 25 buildings and through 45 exhibition halls, so don’t even plan on seeing everything in one day. The Rose Center for Earth and Space is a particular favorite, but you should also plan on visiting the dinosaurs, the Hall of the Universe and the Butterfly Conservatory (on display from October through May). Local experts also say this museum is one of the best things to do as a family visiting New York City. “It’s an imaginative place, good for anyone of any age … and it’s educational and interactive,” says Richard Tucker, head concierge at The Refinery Hotel. Local experts say the institution is one of the city’s can’t-miss museums.
3. Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck
This iconic plaza has it all – beautiful sculptures, an enormous skating rink, a fishbowl view of NBC Studios, plus hordes of stores and restaurants. Though undoubtedly there will be intense crowds, this is an experience that’s worth having at least once. During the wintertime holidays, the plaza sparkles with an illuminated Christmas tree and skaters gliding across the ice rink. But don’t fret if your New York adventure doesn’t take place during the cold months. There’s plenty to do year-round. If you plan ahead, you can spend a morning watching a taping of the “Today” show, an afternoon observing the city from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and an evening catching a performance at Radio City Music Hall.
4. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
This sprawling cathedral sits amid the hustle and distinctively secular bustle of Rockefeller Center. But that doesn’t take away from its otherworldly vibe. Whether you’re religious or just making an architectural pilgrimage, you can’t help but be impressed by St. Patrick’s. Travelers love the small historical church’s beauty and stained glass windows but say you don’t have to carve out too much time to see it. Previous vacationers also suggest visiting at Christmastime to really see the church in all its glory. If you’re hopping the subway to St. Patrick’s, take the B, D, F or M train to the Rockefeller Center stop. You can visit from 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. each day, plus there’s Mass every day of the week. Visit the church’s official website for specific service times. And if you don’t have the time or energy to tour St. Patrick’s, keep in mind that you can still get a great bird’s-eye view of the cathedral from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center.
5. Bryant Park
Just south of Times Square lies some of the most beautiful 4 acres in Manhattan – Bryant Park. Though its lush green space has existed for more than 150 years, Bryant Park was a revitalization project of the 1990s that made it a sanctuary for locals and tourists alike. This is the preferred place for midtown Manhattan professionals to come eat lunch, for fashionistas to strut during fashion week and for performers to showcase their talents during Broadway in Bryant Park and Piano in the Park.You don’t need a preplanned event to enjoy Bryant Park – you could simply come here to enjoy the scenery or to use the free Wi-Fi. Recent visitors do offer a few suggestions though, like stopping in the New York Public Library (which sits facing the park’s Great Lawn), ice skating around the Pond or riding on the French-style carousel. The list of activities doesn’t stop there. Bryant Park also hosts yoga and tai chi classes, knitting circles, chess tournaments and literary events. Unsure of where to start? Mull over your choices in the park’s eateries: Bryant Park Grill and Bryant Park Café. Recent visitors say a stroll through this park makes for a delightful respite from the busy city and many note how well-maintained the grounds are.