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Aerial view of the New York City skyline at sunset
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The 7 Best Things To Do In New York City

SmarterTravel

There really are countless things to do in New York City but we’ve attempted to narrow down our favorites to the top seven attractions. New York City quite literally has something to offer everyone. Skyline views, nature walks, artwork, architecture, musicals and photo opportunities fill our list of things to do in NYC. Whether you’re visiting the Big Apple for the weekend or a week, we’ve gathered a few ideas in a variety of New York neighborhoods so you can enjoy every New York minute. 

Here are the best things to do in New York City. 

Go to the Top of the Rock

View of Central Park and city from the Top of the Rock in New York City
Thierry | Adobe Stock

The best place to start a visit to New York City is at the top. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center features 360-degree views of the Big Apple below. There are three indoor and outdoor observation decks that offer every angle and viewpoint of the city skyline. Sitting 70 floors above Rockefeller Center, it is quite literally the top thing to do in New York City.

As you work your way to the Top of the Rock, check out the variety of art and exhibits along your journey. There is a three-story 14,000 Swarovski crystal Joie Chandelier in the atrium that is not to be missed. Photos, exhibits and the history of Rockefeller Center can be found as you make your way to the Sky Shuttle, an elevator ride that takes less than a minute to ascend 850 feet. You will witness great views from the 67th and 69th floors but the ultimate, unobstructed NYC photo op is located on the 70th floor’s open-air roof deck. 

To get the full experience, add a historian-guided Rockefeller Center Tour to your visit. The tour showcases the National Historic Landmark’s architecture, history, art and more. Proof of vaccination is required for everyone 12 and older, and a face mask is required for all visitors over the age of 2. 

Visit Midtown Manhattan

Street view of people crossing street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, United States
BullRun | Adobe Stock

After seeing much of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock, explore everything else that Midtown Manhattan has to offer on the ground. Iconic and historic skyscrapers like the Empire State Building (which has tours and observation decks) and the Chrysler Building (which does not offer tours or currently have an observation deck) can both be found there. Take a Big Bus tour to witness all the hustle and bustle of NYC without having to drive or see Midtown from the water on a Circle Line boat cruise tour. The sightseeing Best of NYC Cruise circles Manhattan and in 2.5 hours sails by all of the iconic landmarks including the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, High Line, and Statue of Liberty to name a few. 

Stroll the stacks at the New York City Public Library, admire the architecture and beauty of Grand Central Terminal and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or shop at the flagship Macy’s department store on Herald Square. 

Watch a Broadway Show

Close up of Broadway street sign in New York City, United States
Comugnero Silvana | Adobe Stock

The curtain rose again on Broadway in September 2021 after the lights went dark due to the pandemic. The stage came back to life with full houses and restrictions in place. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant brought some curtain calls again in the winter of 2021/2022 but Broadway is still very much alive and a great thing to do in New York City. 

Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Dear Evan Hanson, Come From Away, Aladdin, Girl From the North Country and Mrs. Doubtfire are just a few of the shows currently taking the stage on Broadway. Whether you are seeking a musical, a comedy, drama or history–the stage is waiting for you on Broadway. 

Be sure to check the status of any Broadway show you may be interested in seeing prior to buying tickets or if you have already purchased tickets, make sure to stay current on the show’s status. Proof of vaccination for guests 12 and older is required and face masks must be worn while inside the theater. Find the latest COVID-19 requirements for Broadway here

Walk the High Line

High Line Walkway in Manhattan, New York City, United States
Brad Pict | Adobe Stock

The High Line is a 1.4-mile elevated park on Manhattan’s West Side. The public park that sits above the streets was created from a former freight rail line that was set for demolition. Visitors experience nature, unique design and art while walking the High Line. Enjoy a stroll or take a free docent-led tour to hear the stories of the park’s history and design. Tour length, day, and time vary by season, and are first come, first serve. After strolling the High Line, be sure to explore nearby Chelsea Market and admire The Vessel art installation.

The High Line is open daily, no reservations are needed and elevator access can be found at Gansevoort Street, and 14th, 23rd and 30th streets. Face masks are encouraged. 

Wander Around Greenwich Village

Washington square park in Greenwich village
defaultespiegle | Adobe Stock

Not far from the High Line is Greenwich Village, where visitors can find tree-lined streets, and an artistic and bohemian culture. Washington Square Park is at the center of Greenwich Village. Named after George Washington, the park’s marble arch, honoring the first president, and fountain are its most popular landmarks. Chess, children’s play areas, walking paths and gardens can be found in the park too. 

Less than a 10-minute walk from the park, TV lovers can also witness the Friends apartment building at 90 Bedford Street at the corner of Grove and Bedford streets, as well as Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex in the City at 64 Perry Street in Greenwich Village. Both locations were used for exterior shots only but grabbing a selfie in front of either is still fun! 

There’s much to do at night in Greenwich Village as well. Catch an Off-Broadway show, listen to jazz while playing Ping Pong at Fat Cat Jazz, have a laugh at the Comedy Cellar, and grab a drink at a National Historic Landmark bar, the iconic Stonewall Inn. 

Check Out the One World Observatory 

People looking out the windows of the One World Observatory in New York City, United States
aliaumesouchier | Adobe stock

One World Observatory is located atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower) in Lower Manhattan. Before heading up high, visitors are greeted by 145 screens for a multimedia moment filled with icons and iconic moments. The SkyPod Elevator then whisks you up into the sky, 102 stories up in 47 seconds, to be exact. The audiovisual experience at the See Forever Theater won’t prepare you for the outstanding NYC views that await at the end. 

You can connect with landmarks below through interactive presentations, or step out onto the circular glass floor that sits more than 100-stories above the city streets below. Grab a cocktail, coffee or dinner at ONE Dine while you enjoy the skyline views. Proof of vaccination is required for everyone 12 and older, and a face mask is required for all visitors over the age of 2. 

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City, United States
rmbarricarte | Adobe Stock

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City aka the Met displays more than 2 million works of global art from more than 5,000 years. The museum, which opened in 1872, sits on the edge of Central Park on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Numerous paintings and sculptures from around the world fill the Met but art enthusiasts will also find a collection of costumes, weapons, armor, musical instructments, ancient artifacts and much more. 

Guests can download audio exhibit tours, commentary on artwork or playlists for kids to listen to while browsing the galleries and using your own device. Proof of vaccination is required at the museum, and a face mask is required for all visitors over the age of 2. 

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