Top 12 Best places to visit in New York City, USA

New York City is one of the most iconic and exciting cities in the world. With its towering skyscrapers, bustling streets, and endless entertainment options, it’s no wonder over 60 million tourists visit every year. Deciding where to go in this sprawling metropolis can be overwhelming.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of the top 12 must-see places to visit in New York City. From world-famous landmarks to charming neighborhoods, these are the best things to do and see on your NYC vacation.

1Central ParkGreen space, outdoor activities
2Times SquareIconic landmarks, vibrant atmosphere
3Statue of LibertyHistoric monument, harbor views
4Empire State BuildingSkyscraper with panoramic views
5Metropolitan Museum of ArtWorld-class art collections
6Brooklyn BridgeHistoric bridge, scenic walks
7Broadway and Theater DistrictLive theater and musicals
8Grand Central TerminalHistoric train station, architecture
9The High LineElevated park, urban landscaping
10Rockefeller CenterEntertainment complex, Top of the Rock
119/11 Memorial & MuseumTribute to 9/11 victims, historical site
12Solomon R. Guggenheim MuseumUnique architecture, modern art collection

Known as the “City That Never Sleeps”, New York City is made up of 5 distinct boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is the most densely populated and touristic borough, home to Times Square, Central Park, and many of the city’s top attractions.

Brooklyn offers hipster charm with art galleries, indie shops, and a dynamic food scene. Queens boasts ethnic diversity and is home to two major airports. The Bronx has Yankee Stadium, zoos, and the New York Botanical Garden. Staten Island provides an escape with its small-town vibe and free ferry rides.

With so much to see and do, planning your New York City itinerary can get overwhelmingly fast. To help make the most of your visit, I’ve highlighted the top 12 attractions and neighborhoods that should be on every NYC visitor’s list. From iconic landmarks to charming brownstone-lined streets, these are the places that make New York City so spectacular.

1. Central Park

Name and Location: Central Park, located in the center of Manhattan in New York City.

Collections and Exhibits: Features several gardens, a zoo, reservoirs, performance spaces, monuments, and recreational facilities like ballfields.

What to Expect: Lush green space, ponds, trails, and open areas for sports amid the bustling city. Attractions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain.

Visitor Information: Open daily from 6am-1am. Several entrances around perimeter.

No trip to New York City is complete without a stroll through Central Park. This massive green oasis in the middle of Manhattan spans 843 acres and provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. Walk along curving pathways past gardens, meadows, ponds, bridges, and woodlands. Stop to admire Pulitzer Fountain, Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, Bow Bridge, and Belvedere Castle.

Visit the Central Park Zoo or rent a boat and row across the lake. Have a picnic, go for a jog, or simply relax in the grass and take in the city sights. With so much natural beauty and architectural landmarks, Central Park is a must-see.

2. Times Square

Name and Location: Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Ave.

Collections and Exhibits:Iconic billboards and neon signs illuminating the area 24/7. Several Broadway theaters nearby.

What to Expect: Extremely crowded streets and sidewalks full of tourists, street performers, restaurants, and retail stores.

Visitor Information: Accessible by subway, open to pedestrians at all times.

The bright lights and billboards of Times Square make it one of the most famous intersections in the world. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this major commercial intersection is known for its epic energy and non-stop action. Massive digital advertisement screens light up the area almost as much as the sun. Stars from Broadway musicals greet fans in the pedestrian plaza.

You’ll rub elbows with thick crowds, costumed characters, street performers, and visitors from around the globe. It’s sensory overload, but you can’t visit New York without experiencing the chaos of Times Square at least once. For the best views, head to the red bleacher-like steps right in the middle of the square.

3. Statue of Liberty

Name and Location: Statue of Liberty, located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor

Collections and Exhibits: The statue itself standing 305 feet tall. A museum in the pedestal displays artifacts and history.

What to Expect: Ferry access to the island. Iconic views of the statue and NYC skyline. Reserve early for pedestal/crown access.

Visitor Information: Accessible only by ferry. Reservations required for monument access. Opens daily at 8:30am.

One of the most iconic landmarks in the world, seeing the Statue of Liberty should be at the top of your New York City to-do list. Lady Liberty stands 151 feet tall on Liberty Island, welcoming immigrants and visitors to the Big Apple. You can admire the statue from various spots in Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn.

For an up-close look, take a ferry to Liberty Island. Climb the pedestal for panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline or upgrade your ticket to access the crown for a one-of-a-kind perspective. The on-site museum provides insight into the history and construction of this inspiring neoclassical sculpture. Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a moving experience.

4. Empire State Building

Name and Location: Empire State Building, located on 5th Ave in Midtown Manhattan

Collections and Exhibits: The building offers panoramic views from indoor and outdoor observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors. Over 90 floors of office space.

What to Expect: Iconic views of NYC skyline. Displays about the building’s history and construction. Long lines common.

Visitor Information: Open daily from 8am-2am. Ticket required for observatory access.

The Empire State Building soars 1,454 feet above Midtown, offering breathtaking views from the observation decks. This Art Deco skyscraper stood as the tallest building in the world for over 40 years after its completion in 1931. Two outdoor decks on the 86th and 102nd floors provide stunning 360-degree panoramas over the entire city and surrounding waterways.

You can see top attractions like Central Park, the Hudson River, Statue of Liberty, and more. Get there early or late to avoid the biggest crowds. For a special experience, splurge on tickets for sunset or after dark when the city lights sparkle below. The views from the top of the Empire State Building are simply unforgettable.

5. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Name and Location: The Met, located on 5th Ave in Upper East Side of Manhattan

Collections and Exhibits: Over 2 million works spanning 5,000 years of world culture and art. Egyptian temple, American Wing, sculptures, paintings, costumes, instruments, arms & armor and more.

What to Expect: Massive art museum. Plan to spend hours. Popular highlights include Egyptian Temple of Dendur and European painting galleries.

Visitor Information: Open 7 days a week. Suggested donation for entry but pay-as-you-wish.

For art lovers, no trip to New York City is complete without visiting The Met. This sprawling museum on the Upper East Side houses over 2 million works spanning 5,000 years of world culture. You’ll find important pieces from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome along with expansive European painting galleries with masterpieces from the Renaissance to the Impressionist eras.

Don’t miss iconic American works and the Temple of Dendur. Other wings feature Arms & Armor, Islamic Art, Modern & Contemporary Art and photography. You could easily spend an entire day wandering The Met’s labyrinthine halls and expansive galleries. Don’t forget to rest in the rooftop garden with views overlooking Central Park.

6. Brooklyn Bridge

Name and Location: Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River

Collections and Exhibits: Iconic suspension bridge structure, pedestrian and bicycle walkway with views.

What to Expect: Walking across the bridge offers scenic views of downtown Manhattan skyscrapers and Brooklyn. Avoid weekends due to crowds.

Visitor Information: Accessible 24/7. Subway access to both ends in Manhattan and Brooklyn. 6,000 pedestrians cross daily.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline and East River. This iconic suspension bridge connects Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights. Completed in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. Pedestrian access along a raised wooden path in the center of the bridge makes for a memorable New York experience.

Admire views of the Statue of Liberty and dramatic architecture framing the Financial District and Lower Manhattan. For the best views, start on the Brooklyn side and walk towards Manhattan. You’ll get unobstructed panoramas and avoid the bike lane crowds going the other way. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a quintessential NYC bucket list activity.

7. Broadway and Theater District

Name and Location: Broadway theaters concentrated on Times Square and Theater District in Midtown West Manhattan

Collections and Exhibits: 40 historic theater venues staging award-winning plays and musicals. Marquees light up theater row.

What to Expect: Broadway shows, crowds on theater nights, glowing neon lights. Purchase tickets in advance. Consider backstage tours.

Visitor Information: Most Broadway shows have evening performances on Tuesday through Sunday. Many offer matinee shows as well.

As the theater capital of the world, New York City’s Broadway district is a must for theatergoers. Broadway refers to the theatrical productions while the Theater District stretches along and around Times Square on the West Side. Behind the neon lights you’ll find 40 legendary theaters that host epic musicals, dramas, and comedies. Watching a show on Broadway is a bucket list item for many.

Some long-running popular shows include The Lion King, Wicked, Hamilton, and The Phantom of the Opera. You can snag better prices for off-Broadway productions which feature smaller more experimental works. With so many world-class theaters within walking distance, the New York Theater District shines bright.

8. Grand Central Terminal

Name and Location: Grand Central Terminal, located at 42nd St and Park Ave in Midtown Manhattan

Collections and Exhibits: Magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture with clock in main concourse. Food and retail stores. Transit Museum.

What to Expect: Busy train terminal full of commuters. Grand architecture and starry ceiling. Top restaurants and food market inside.

Visitor Information: Open 24/7. Tours available. Over 40 million annual visitors. Main concourse open to public.

Grand Central Terminal is not just a major transit hub, it’s an architectural marvel and living piece of history. About 750,000 people pass through this Beaux Arts-style terminal every day. Visitors flock to admire the cavernous Main Concourse with its astronomical mural ceiling glittering with thousands of stars. Intricate carvings, statues, and chandeliers add to the wow-worthy ambiance.

Grab a bite at the Grand Central Market or walk down the cosmopolitan corridors lined with shops. There’s even a whispering gallery perfect for sharing secrets. Tour the lovely Vanderbilt Hall then step outside and look up at the impressive exterior facades along 42nd Street. Grand Central Terminal is a photography-lover’s paradise.

9. High Line

Name and Location: The High Line, a linear park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above Manhattan’s west side.

Collections and Exhibits: Carefully landscaped greenery and scenic views of the city. Public art installations. Food vendors.

What to Expect: Strolling above the city on park walks and viewing gardens/cityscapes. Avoid weekends if crowds are a concern.

Visitor Information: Free and open daily 7am-10pm. Stretches 1.5 miles from Gansevoort St to 34th St.

Escape the city streets with a stroll along the High Line, an innovative elevated urban park built on old railroad tracks. This lush linear space runs 1.5 miles from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District up to 34th Street in West Chelsea. The High Line features carefully curated landscaping interspersed with contemporary public art installations.

Find many cool spots for photos along the way. Grab a snack in the food courts or bring a picnic. Walk the entire length for peaceful views above the bustling Chelsea neighborhood. You can access the High Line at various points from staircases dotted along 10th and 11th Avenues. This urban sanctuary offers a nice change of pace from the crowded streets below.

10. Rockefeller Center

Name and Location: Rockefeller Center, spanning Midtown Manhattan between 48th & 51st Streets

Collections and Exhibits: Iconic Art Deco buildings and architecture. Statues, artworks, and seasonal displays such as the Christmas tree. Observation decks.

What to Expect: Shopping, dining, and observations decks with panoramic city views. Ice skating rink in winter. Media/broadcasting studios.

Visitor Information: Open daily with extended holiday hours. Paid Top of the Rock observation deck has timed entry.

Rockefeller Center is a midtown complex of art deco skyscrapers full of restaurants, shops, gardens, and studios. This National Historic Landmark centers around the iconic 30 Rock building with its famous Top of the Rock observation decks. The Lower Plaza bustles with tourists and its Instagram-famous central skating rink in winter. Check out the imaginative LEGO store and grab lunch in the dining concourse.

Join a tour of the NBC studios or catch a bite and admire the views from one of the rooftop restaurants. Don’t miss the lovely Channel Gardens with its robust rows of pink, purple, and yellow flowers in warmer months. With its mix of entertainment, gardens, observatories, and studios, Rockefeller Center makes for an exciting NYC visit.

11. National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Name and Location: National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan on site of the former World Trade Center.

Collections and Exhibits: Memorial with twin reflecting pools and waterfalls on footprints of old towers. Museum displays artifacts and personal stories about 9/11 attacks.

What to Expect: Contemplative memorial and captivating museum chronicling that fateful day. Plan 2+ hours to see museum.

Visitor Information: Requires timed entry tickets. Museum open daily 9am-8pm. Memorial open daily 7:30am-9pm.

Remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001 with a visit to the moving 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan. The museum takes you on a walking tour through the history of that fateful day and aftermath. Interactive exhibits showcase victim stories, archival photographs and videos, recovered artifacts, and physical remains of the World Trade Center.

Outside, stroll through the peaceful Memorial Gardens where the footprints of the Twin Towers hold enormous waterfall pools and reflective edges engraved with the names of the victims. Seeing the memorial fountains and learning about the impact of 9/11 is an emotional yet meaningful experience.

12. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Name and Location: Guggenheim Museum on 5th Ave in Manhattan’s Upper East Side

Collections and Exhibits: Collection of modern art including major works by Chagall, Pollack, Van Gogh. Its spiral architectural design is a landmark.

What to Expect: View modern artworks in unique spiraling gallery space. Exhibits change often.

Visitor Information: Open 10am-5:45pm Fri-Wed, closed Thursdays. Ticket required for entry.

See an exceptional collection of modern art housed in an architectural wonder at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum’s distinctive spiral white building is a work of art itself. Inside, the galleries wind upward, following the building’s cone-shaped curves.

Admire renowned works from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and Contemporary eras. Artists include Monet, Picasso, Pollock, and more. Tours provide insight into the exhibits and architecture. The peaceful museum interior encourages visitors to ponder intriguing concepts and designs. Don’t miss the chance to visit this world-class modern art institution.


From towering skyscrapers to leafy parks, New York City delivers non-stop action, energy, arts, and entertainment. The top 12 attractions covered here encompass must-see landmarks, neighborhoods, museums, and more for an unforgettable first visit. But the list is just the beginning of what this dynamic city offers.

Spend time wandering beyond the tourist zones to find NYC’s hidden delights, from cozy cafes and bookstores to street art murals and underground jazz clubs. Whether you seek culture and history or just want to feel the buzz of the city, New York offers endless inspiration, pinch-me moments, and memories waiting around every corner.

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