New York City is tightly packed with historical sites and iconic buildings. And several of its high rises allow you to take in views of the city. The must-sees here include loud and crowded places as well as quieter areas. Then there are grand bridges, buildings, parks, and New-York-style entertainment that has withstood the test of time. It can be overwhelming for first time visitors to figure out what to see in the Big Apple. Here are the top 10 things to do in New York City.
1. See the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
One of the many structures that are visited by first-time visitors to New York is the world-famous Statue of Liberty. Built in 1886, it was a gift from France to the United States of America. It arrived in parts and was put together and put up on Liberty Island, southeast of Manhattan.
All of 151ft, this symbol of freedom, which is the tallest statue in the United States, can be seen from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. However, the best way to see it is by taking a boat to the island. Usually, a trip to the island means a guided tour around the statue and then a stop at Ellis Island where you can visit the Immigration Museum.
Ellis Island, which lies north of Liberty Island was the main entry point into the United States for over 60 years. A visit to the museum will educate you on the immigration process of the time and show you records of immigrants who passed this way & pictures among other things. You might also want to check out an exhibit called Treasures from Home, which showcases many ancestral possessions that immigrants brought from their home countries.
2. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
Yet another building that usually goes into the itineraries of visitors to NYC is the iconic Empire State Building. Situated in Midtown Manhattan and standing tall with a height of 381m, it enjoyed the status of the tallest building in the city for several years until WTC was built.
One of the must-dos here is to go up the building for grand views of the city and its surroundings. This building, which opened in 1931, has 2 observatories. On the 86th floor is an open-air observation deck that promises to show you up to 80 miles out on a clear day.
On the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building which is at a height of 1,250 ft. is a second Observation Deck which is an enclosed one. Make sure to take advantage of the multimedia tour that will tell you more about the building, its architecture, & its exhibits.
3. Take some time out for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
When in New York you could also pay your respects to the lives lost during the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 (as well as the 1993 bombing). At the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center used to be are two reflecting pools. And around it, engraved into bronze plates, are the names of the victims of the event.
In the same complex is the 9/11 museum that has the records of the attack, recordings from the day, & architectural remnants from the WTC.
4. Visit the Rockefeller Center
Also promising great views of the Big Apple is the Rockefeller Center. This plaza, also in Midtown Manhattan, is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. This 70-story art-deco building’s observation deck is called Top of the Rock and it’s spread over 3 levels of the building: 67th, 69th, & 70th. The deck here has both indoor & outdoor viewing, and visitors can visit it during the day and after dark to take in the daytime & nighttime views respectively.
Apart from getting on to the observation floors, visitors can tour the building, see the plaza’s sculptures, and visit the shops & restaurants in it. If you’re there in the winter, you get to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and a large skating rink too.
5. Play tourist at Times Square
Times Square is the place to go to feel the pulse of New York City. It’s colorful, crowded, & busy. Go here to see the buildings, the billboards, the neon signs, and to experience the hustle & bustle of the place.
Times Square gets its name from the New York Times Tower, which was once the home of the newspaper. In 1928, the newspaper became the first news organization to put out major headlines on a moving sign on the building.
This neighborhood is a popular attraction filled with domestic & international tourists,and is busy all year long. However, it’s busiest on New Year’s Eve when people come from far and wide to see the famous Waterford Crystal ball as makes its way down the One Times Square building.
6. Stroll through Central Park
Central Park is New York’s famous green space. This urban park sprawls over 840 acres of land between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. This is another of those must-visits in NYC, also a year-round attraction. You may not get to cover all of it but you might want to go see some of what it holds.
Central Park is filled with smaller attractions like playgrounds, meadows, ponds & lakes, fountains, gardens, sculptures, bridges, a castle, and an ice skating rink in the winter. Some of the popular stops you could consider checking out are the Belvedere Castle, Conservatory Garden, Central Park Zoo, Lake & Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial), the Carousel, & Harlem Meer.
7. Walk across Brooklyn Bridge
Also, an iconic structure that cannot be quite separated from New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. This famous bridge with Gothic Arches & cables spans over the East River connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn.
This bridge that dates back to 1883 also holds the title of the first steel suspension bridge in the world. You can see it from the east side of Manhattan and several of the ferries that go by the bridge. However, you have to get on it also.
The bridge has 6 lanes on its lower level and a pedestrian & bike path on a level above. And from the bridge, you can take in views of the East River, Manhattan, and beyond.
8. Step into Grand Central Terminal
Another historical structure to go see is the Grand Central Terminal for the architectural and engineering marvel it is. This building that was opened in 1913 is built in Beaux-Arts style and it continues to be one of the busiest train stations in the world.
Even if you’re not taking a train, it makes a worthwhile trip to go see its architecture, its zodiac-themed ceiling mural, its grand staircase, clocks, and ‘whispering gallery.’ You can also shop or dine at the Terminal.
9. See a museum of your choice at the Museum Mile
New York City has a number of museums and you could visit an institution or two depending on your interests. You’ll find the museums on Museum Mile, a stretch of 5th Avenue, towards the Upper East Side. This part of the Avenue gets its name from the concentration of museums in the area.
Your options start with popular places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA), Guggenheim Museum, & Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (a Smithsonian Institution) and go on to others like the Museum of the City of New York, El Museo del Barrio, Jewish Museum, Museum for African Art, Goethe Institute of New York, & Neue Galerie.
10. Go watch a Broadway Show
You cannot leave New York City without having attended a Broadway Show which is considered to be quintessential American theater and something almost exclusive to NYC.
New York’s Broadway is lined with theaters and is the hub of the famous theatre district that developed around it. The theaters here stage plays & musicals of all sorts. While some are family-friendly, others are for adults-only.