Top 12 Top Attractions in New York City, USA

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Emily Johnson

As America’s biggest, busiest and most dynamic metropolis, New York City delivers nonstop energy and iconic attractions that exceed wildest expectations. From riding a ferry beneath Lady Liberty’s uplifted torch to mingling masterpieces at the Met to debating serious ideas on Wall Street’s steps, NYC continually redefines possibilities across its five unique boroughs teeming 24/7.

AttractionDescription
Statue of LibertyIconic symbol of freedom, offers museum and observation deck with views of New York Harbor.
Central ParkMassive urban park with diverse attractions, from boating to outdoor dining.
American Museum of Natural HistoryHouses extensive collections including dinosaur bones and cultural artifacts.
The Metropolitan Museum of ArtFeatures vast art collections spanning 5,000 years of history.
Top of The Rock Observation DeckProvides panoramic views of Manhattan from Rockefeller Center.
Broadway Theater DistrictWorld-renowned for live theatre, including classic and contemporary productions.
National September 11 Memorial & MuseumMemorializes the victims of the 9/11 attacks with reflective pools and a museum.
Grand Central TerminalFamous for its architectural grandeur and bustling atmosphere.
The High LineA linear park built on a historic freight rail line, offering unique city views.
Central Park ZooA compact zoo within Central Park featuring a variety of animal species.
Coney Island’s Luna ParkA historic amusement park known for its iconic roller coasters and boardwalk.

Among endless sites competing for visitors’ attention, these 12 NYC attractions guarantee incredible memories.

Statue of Liberty

Name and Location: The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

History and Significance: The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States, dedicated in 1886. It has become an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour the museum in the pedestal, see the original torch, and climb to the crown for views. Access requires advance reservations.

Visitor Information: The Statue of Liberty is open every day except December 25. Reservations are required for access to the pedestal and crown. Ferry service to the island is available from Battery Park in lower Manhattan and Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

Beneath Lady Liberty’s steady gaze, ferries shuttle travelers towards America’s enduring symbol of freedom standing tall over New York Harbor since 1886. On Liberty Island, explore the statue’s history in the museum before ascending to the 10th floor pedestal observation deck for stellar panoramas with the Verrazzano Bridge soaring beyond. Reserve early, pack patience, but visiting Lady Liberty makes an inspiring pilgrimage for people worldwide representing hope’s enduring light as engraved upon her tablet.

Central Park

Name and Location: Central Park is an urban park located in the center of Manhattan in New York City.

History and Significance: Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park opened in 1876 as the first major landscaped public park in the United States. It offers visitors natural scenery, recreational facilities, and cultural attractions.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore Central Park by foot, bike, or carriage. Notable attractions include Strawberry Fields, Belvedere Castle, the Central Park Zoo, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The park hosts events, music, sports, children’s activities and more throughout the year.

Visitor Information: Central Park is open daily from 6AM-1AM. Entry is free. Public transportation via subway stops around the park perimeter provides the easiest access.

Meandering across 843 acres of prime real estate, Central Park serves as Manhattan’s communal backyard full of surprises at every turn. Pedal past skyscrapers peering down on the lush lawns surrounding Victorian Bethesda Fountain. Rent a rowboat gliding across the lake’s sparkling waters before grabbing Shake Shack burgers to eat people watching from rocky outcrops. As an oasis for enjoying arts, sports, wildlife and serene nature despite the bustling city, Central Park continually enchants generations.

American Museum of Natural History

Name and Location: The American Museum of Natural History is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City.

History and Significance: Founded in 1869, the museum has an extensive collection of exhibits related to human cultures, the earth and planetary science, biodiversity, evolution, and more. It hosts groundbreaking scientific research and public educational programs.

What to Expect: Visitors can explore exhibit halls and galleries including famous displays of dinosaurs, mammals, human origins, ocean life, planets, and nature dioramas. An IMAX theater, planetarium shows, and special tours/events are also available.

Visitor Information: The museum is open daily 10AM-5:45PM, with extended hours on some Friday evenings. Ticket prices vary by type, with options for bundled tickets. Purchasing online in advance is recommended for discounted rates and entry times.

Meteorites, dinosaur bones and sparkly geodes captivate crowds exploring the colossal American Museum of Natural History spanning 25 interconnected buildings. Wander halls of animal dioramas meticulously crafted while gawking at towering Mammoth fossils. Learn about human cultures and ancient civilizations through interactive exhibits like the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians spotlighting totem poles and ceremonial headdresses conveying heritage. With over 33 million artifacts to blow minds, the wonderful AMNH proves vastly more spectacular than any movie imaginings.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Name and Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, known as The Met, is located on 5th Avenue in New York City.

History and Significance: Founded in 1870, The Met’s collection encompasses over 5,000 years of art from around the world. It is the largest art museum in the United States. The permanent collection includes world-famous works and artifacts.

What to Expect: Visitors can view an encyclopedic collection of art spanning ancient civilizations to contemporary pieces. Notable exhibits include Egyptian temples, American decorative arts, European paintings, African art, Asian art, Islamic art, photographs, musical instruments, costumes, armor, and more.

Visitor Information: The Met is open 7 days a week with varying hours. There is a suggested donation for entry, but payment is not required. Tours and dining options are available inside the museum.

Housing one of earth’s greatest art collections across 5000 years, the Met welcomes over 7 million annual visitors exploring vast galleries adorned works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt plus ancient Egyptian tombs and medieval armor. Grab audio guides to discover backstories about Raphael’s delicate Madonnas, Monet’s ethereal waterlilies or the stunning Temple of Dendur. Don’t miss people watching with cocktails on the Roof Garden overlooking Central Park either when art overload strikes.

Top of The Rock Observation Deck

Name and Location: Top of the Rock Observation Deck is located atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza (GE Building) in midtown Manhattan.

History and Significance: First opened in 1933, it offers stunning 360-degree views from 70 stories up overlooking New York City landmarks like Central Park and the Empire State Building.

What to Expect: Visitors take glass-enclosed elevators to the 67th, 69th and 70th floor indoor and outdoor observation decks showcasing aerial sights of the cityscape and various multimedia exhibits. The sunrise and sunset views are renowned.

Visitor Information: Timed-entry tickets should be purchased online in advance. Top of the Rock is open daily 8AM-midnight, with hours varying by season.

Scale 70 stories high to the Top of the Rock Observatory atop Rockefeller Center for unmatched views of Manhattan’s skyline spectacle from the open-air deck. Get bird’s eye glimpses down upon St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Empire State Building from the peak of this Art Deco icon built by legendary tycoon John D. Rockefeller before browsing the multi-media exhibits recounting NYC history. Time visits at sunset when the city transforms into a sea of glittering lights under color-changing skies revealing Lady Liberty far beyond.

Broadway Theater District

Name and Location: New York’s Broadway Theater District encompasses the theaters along Broadway in midtown Manhattan.

History and Significance: Broadway has a rich history of live theater dating back to the 19th century. Today it represents the highest level of commercial theater in the world, showcasing award-winning musicals, dramas and comedies.

What to Expect: Broadway’s historic theaters light up with spectacular marquee signs and stage spectacular live entertainment from Broadway’s best musicals to limited engagement special events.

Visitor Information: Most Broadway theaters are located between 41st and 66th Streets around Times Square. Ticket availability and prices vary greatly by show. TKTS discount booths sell tickets for some same-day performances. Backstage, museum and landmark theater tours are also available.

The neon-lit theater marquees clustered along Broadway create that iconic NYC magic synonymous with world-class entertainment, whether seeing smash hits like “Hamilton”, long-running classics such as “Phantom”, or new shows anchored by Hollywood stars making debuts on the legendary main stage. Outside historic venues like the St. James and Winter Garden, costumed characters, street dancers and “Naked Cowboy” in tighty whiteys add that fabulous freak factor unique to NYC theater crowds.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Name and Location: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.

History and Significance: The memorial and museum honor and remember the 2,977 people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The design recognizes the loss of life and resiliency.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk alongside reflecting pools marking the footprints of the original Twin Towers, read the names of victims inscribed in bronze, view artifacts from 9/11, learn about the aftermath and impact, and more in the historical exhibition.

Visitor Information: The 9/11 Memorial is free and open daily. Guided access to the museum can be reserved online in advance with varying entry times. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 9AM-8PM, Friday-Saturday 9AM-9PM.

Tributes to nearly 3,000 victims lost in the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks resonate profoundly at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum site respectfully honoring personal sacrifices. Victims’ names engraved in bronze surround reflective pools dug into the former North and South Tower footprints over which the cascading waterfalls offer sublime peace despite lingering grief. The thoughtful Museum tour revisits shared national trauma through multimedia exhibits and artifacts selected thoughtfully to educate future generations.

Grand Central Terminal

Name and Location: Grand Central Terminal is a major commuter rail station located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

History and Significance: Completed in 1913, Grand Central Terminal is a historic and iconic New York landmark praised for its Beaux-Arts architecture. It serves as a major transportation hub.

What to Expect: Visitors can admire the sweeping concourse, marble staircases, ornate astronomical ceiling, food halls, and more. Free public events, music performances, art displays and holiday markets are also held in the station.

Visitor Information: Grand Central is open daily 5:30AM-2AM with retail shops and restaurants open extended hours. Guided audio tours are available along with occasional special behind-the-scenes tours. It’s easily accessible by subway, bus or taxi.

Grand Central Terminal stands as America’s most magnificent railroad station bustling daily with commuters & tourists gaping upwards at the twinkling zodiac frescoes painted across the soaring 125 ft ceiling. Listen for secret acoustic whispering corners or snap selfies at the classic clock centerstage streaming crowds checking departure boards. Fuel up on Junior’s cheesecake, sip classic cocktails at the Campbell Bar and admire the landmark Beaux-Arts architecture before boarding trains towards the next NYC adventure.

The High Line

Name and Location: The High Line is an elevated linear park spanning 1.45 miles from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street along Manhattan’s West Side.

History and Significance: Built atop an unused 1930s elevated freight rail line, the High Line park opened in 2009 as an innovative reuse and repurposing of urban infrastructure into a vibrant public green space.

What to Expect: Visitors to the High Line can walk, enjoy views of the city, see public art installations, relax in gardens/seating areas, experience special events or programs, visit integrated eateries or shops, and observe unique wild flora.

Visitor Information: The High Line is free, publicly accessible, and open from 7AM to 7PM daily. It runs parallel to streets with multiple entry/exit points, accessible by stairs/elevator.

Once an abandoned elevated rail line slicing across Chelsea, the High Line park invented itself into vibrant green space for strolling above traffic offering unique vantage points of London Plane trees, public art and NYC architecture. Grab awesome views of the Hudson River or snack on tacos at the many eateries lining this quirky walkway. Sunny weekends mean Prime Spotting Hours for hip locals and visitors hanging out together high above bustling city blocks.

Central Park Zoo

Name and Location: The Central Park Zoo is a small 6.5-acre zoo located within Central Park in New York City.

History and Significance: Founded in 1864 as the first public zoo in New York, it provides important education, conservation and refuge to rare and endangered species. Its sea lion pool and historic scenic penguin pool are iconic attractions.

What to Expect: Zoo visitors can see snow leopards, red pandas, lemurs, a tropical rain forest biome, a polar circle with polar bears, and a diverse aviary up close while enjoying a compact, intimate zoo experience in a park setting.

Visitor Information: The Central Park Zoo is open daily 10AM–5PM. Ticket prices are $12 for children, $18 for adults. Entry is timed and tickets must be purchased online in advance to manage capacity restrictions.

Penguins waddle endearingly, mischievous monkeys swing about, and regal snow leopards lounge across Central Park Zoo, a petite 6.5-acre menagerie perfect for animal encounters without overwhelming crowds. Say hello to the adorable red pandas practicing acrobatics in trees and check out sparring polar bear cubs tumbling together at the pool’s glass edge. When wanting more mammal and bird interactions without museums’ vast overwhelming halls, the Central Park Zoo lets visitors get intimate watching creatures’ silly antics guaranteed to make anyone smile.

Coney Island’s Luna Park

Name and Location: Luna Park is a Coney Island amusement park located on the Coney Island peninsula of Brooklyn, New York.

History and Significance: Coney Island has been a major amusement destination since the late 1800s. Luna Park itself has a history of fires and rebuilds since opening in 1903. It continues the area’s tradition of innovative and record-breaking rides alongside family classics.

What to Expect: Luna Park features over 40 rides and attractions including cutting-edge roller coasters, thrill rides, family rides, arcade games, entertainment, restaurants, and more overlooking the Atlantic Ocean beach and boardwalk. Popular rides include the 88-foot tall Zenobio swing ride and historic 1927 wooden Cyclone rollercoaster.

Visitor Information: Luna Park’s operating season runs annually from early April through September, with select rides open for Halloween events. Pricing varies greatly based on date, distance traveled and ride type. Combo passes offer discounted unlimited access to attractions over multiple consecutive days. The park is accessible by subway and bus.

Home to America’s first roller coaster the Cyclone built in 1927 that still thrills riders with dizzying 85-foot drops, Coney Island’s historic amusement parks and iconic boardwalk¬†electrify kids of all ages. Scream aboard the motorbike-themed Thunderbolt racing nearly 2,000 feet of steel track with high-banked turns and dark tunnels or spin donuts whirling the teacups-style rides lit bright by a million bulbs. When wanting old-school carnival diversion, Coney Island’s beachside playground delivers delightful summer fun.

The City That Never Sleeps overflows with famous sites and attractions from soaring skyscrapers glowing electric to world-famous museums and theaters showing only-in-NYC creativity. But nothing beats ferrying towards Lady Liberty under New York Harbor’s sparkling waves or screaming Coney Island roller coasters as salty ocean air fills lungs with joy. Simple pleasures like central park picnics or Grand Central’s celestial ceiling can inspire as profoundly as ground zero’s memorials and Broadway show glamor. NYC offers visitors endless attractions begging discovery – these 12 count among the absolute best.

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