Find out the top things to do in New York City with our travel guide on the best experiences to be had in the Big Apple.
Planning a trip to the world’s most famous city? The Big Apple can easily overwhelm, so we have sliced it into bite-size pieces for you. At its core (still rolling with that apple metaphor) New York is a bastion of human creativity, ingenuity, and energy. A visit to New York is the experience of a lifetime, here are a few of the top things to do in New York City, as well as some tips for making the most of your visit.
Top Things to Do in New York City
Visit Central Park
The world’s most famous urban park is full of things to see and do: the Central Park Zoo, the John Lennon memorial, the Loch, Wollman skating rink, the Conservatory Garden, just to name a few. Delight your high school English teacher by visiting the Shakespeare garden, which features flowers that the Bard included in his writing. Group tours are offered regularly to suit all types of interests. Check out all the things to do in Central Park here. Entry to Central Park is always free. Opening hours are from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day of the year.
Go to Times Square
When people think of New York City they are likely imagining the iconic flashing lights of Times Square in Manhattan. Manhattan lies at the core of New York City in Manhattan serves as the centre of commerce, finance, and culture. This is where you will find most of the action that has earned New York its reputation as the city that never sleeps. While in Times Square, check out the nearby Broadway Theatres and see a Broadway show. If you want to be in the heart of New York for your trip, we suggest staying at a hotel near Times Square. For great hotel deals in New York City, use our hotel search engine here.
Head to the MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art
Visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Midtown Manhattan, which is home to a stellar collection of over 200,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art. Some highlights include Vincent Van Gogh’s A Starry Night, Salvador Dalì’s The Persistence of Memory as well as works by Cezanne and Gauguin. Don’t miss the brilliant works by Frida Kahlo – Including my personal favourite Self-portrait with Cropped Hair. The MoMA collections span from 19th-century oil paintings to modern photography, film and performance art. The MoMa is open 7 days a week from 10:30-5:30 p.m. Open until 8 p.m. on Fridays. Admission is $25, $18 for seniors, $14 for students and free for kids. Admission is free on Friday nights from 4 p.m.- 8 p.m.
Spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly called “The Met”, is New York’s focal point for historic art. The Met prides itself on being one of the world’s great art centres – and is, in fact, the largest art museum with 2 million square feet of space holding 1.5 million pieces. Over the last century and a half, the collection has grown to span over 5,000 years of art from around the world. Referred to as an “encyclopedic museum” on their website, the Met takes initiative to educate and illuminate the public. A day at the Met (with that much artwork you will need at least a day!) The Met is open 7 days a week from 10-5:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Cost is $25 for general admission, $17 for seniors, $12 for students, free for kids.
Take the kids to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
While New York City is not exactly known as a nature destination, nature lovers can get their fill at a few beautiful green spaces. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded over a century ago to preserve green space in the developing city. Bring the kids to the children’s garden where they can learn about horticulture or join the crowds that pour in for cherry blossom season in spring. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden even features their own Shakespeare garden with over 80 species mentioned in his work, laid out in an English cottage-style garden. Entry to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is $15 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 12. Hours change with the seasons, check their website for up to date info.
Madame Tussauds New York
From celebrities to famous political figures and other pop culture icons, Madame Tussauds New York has a wax representation of just about anyone you can think of from Obama to Kylie Jenner, Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. It’s one of the most popular things to do in New York City. Located on 42nd Street by Times Square, we recommend heading to Madame Tussauds New York early before the museum opens at 10 a.m. to avoid the big lines. You can take selfies with the wax figures and interactive experiences like the new Marvel 4D Experience. Admission to New York attraction is free with the New York Pass.
See the New York Rangers or New York Yankees
If you’re a sports fan, head to Madison Square Garden to catch a New York Rangers game to see one of New York’s most beloved sports teams. For the New York Rangers roster and schedule, see this website for the most up-to-date information. Another popular thing to do in New York City with tourists and locals alike is going to a New York Yankees game. The Yankees have been around for over 100 years, and you can catch a game from the end of March to September at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Just around the corner, you can find Heritage Field, the site of the original Yankee Stadium which is now a public park. Even if you aren’t a big baseball fan, it’s worth the trip just to experience this historic New York landmark.
Have a few slices of New York pizza
New York City is one of the best places to splurge on a good meal, but it’s also home to some of the best cheap food options. After a hot dog and pretzel at one of the city’s many food trucks, a slice of New York pizza is at the top of the list for what to eat in New York. A top pick for New Yorkers is Joe’s Pizza. There are a few locations throughout New York City, but the original is in Greenwich Village. Another good choice is 2 Bros Pizza, where slices go for less than $1 and it’s a popular lunchtime option with New Yorkers. There’s always a lineup but the wait is definitely worth it. See this guide to more of the best pizza in New York.
How to Save Money on Your New York Trip
There are so many things to do in New York City you might be wondering how you can afford it all. If you are travelling as a family or group, hoping to visit multiple attractions, or are staying for several days, it may be worthwhile to invest in one of the city passes. Passes can be used to pay for entry and even to skip the line in some cases. Some offer access to over 100 New York City attractions, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Hop-On Hop-Off tours, Madame Tussauds and many more.
Hop-On Hop-Off tours
There are a few Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours operating in New York City, all offering a variety of packages from a 24-hour, 48-hour, to a 5-day pass. There’s the option of a Night Tour, a pass to the Cruise Ferry, and some packages include museum and food discounts. Some buses also have free onboard WiFi. Hop-On Hop-Off tours are an ideal way to see the city at your own pace within the comfort of a double-decker bus. See the main companies that operate in New York City below and find the package that works for you on your trip. Book your tickets online for last-minute deals on various Hop-On Hop-Off tours in New York.
New York Pass
If you review the list of attractions covered under the New York Pass, you’ll find that this pass gets you everything from fast track access to the Top of the Rock Observatory to free entry into the MoMA. Access to the Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off tour is also free with the pass. The New York Pass lets you visit an unlimited number of attractions for a set number of days. You can purchase a 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, or 10-day pass on their website and collect your New York Pass free of charge when you arrive, or download the New York Mobile Pass App and have an e-version of your pass for free.
New York CityPASS
The CityPass is one flat rate that allows you to visit a selection of attractions at your own pace over the course of 9 days. This would work best if you are planning to visit all or most of the attractions they offer and have the time to get them all in. It allows you to check off all the major attractions, skip ticket lines, and save just over 40% off of each attraction. View the details on their website.
Getting Around New York City
New York is a city, a state, and a state of mind! New York City comprises five boroughs, each with its own unique character and charms. Navigating dense city streets can get confusing, but New Yorkers are generally great about giving directions and helping out the hordes of tourists that flock there every year. For a detailed visual map, you can consult the official NYC visitors map here. For getting around New York City, the best option is using the New York City subway, which connects the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. You can buy a subway pass (Metrocard) at all subway stations.