It’s one of the most fascinating cities in the world, often referred to as “The Big Apple” or “The City That Never Sleeps” (thanks to Frank Sinatra).
It’s referred to as New York City or NYC because it’s located in a state with the same name, New York.
The city was founded by Dutch colonists in the year 1624 during the so-called Dutch Golden Age. This also means that it was originally known as “New Amsterdam.”
This didn’t last long because this small settlement in the utmost northern tip of Manhattan island was granted to the Duke of York, the brother of King Charles II of England, in 1654.
That’s when the city was renamed New York, except for a brief period of 1 year and 3 months when the Dutch regained control and renamed it “New Orange.” Luckily, this didn’t last as well and the city has had its current name since November 1674.
Today, New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States and consists of 5 major boroughs. Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island have a combined population of over 8.8 million inhabitants, and over 22.6 million people live in the New York metropolitan area.
This also means that it’s full of amazing spots for you to discover, and in this post, we’ve made a list of the best things to do in New York City that you shouldn’t miss!
1. Take the ferry to the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is arguably one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. It’s located on Liberty Island, a small island in New York Harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River.
The sculpture was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework by the creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Gustave Eiffel.
The statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty, who is holding a torch above her head with her right hand.
The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and has since been a symbol of welcome for immigrants arriving in the United States.
Visiting this iconic attraction can be done by ferry and should be on top of your New York City bucket list.
Official website: Statue of Liberty National Monument
2. Take pictures of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the 4 New York City bridges that span the East River and the most famous bridge.
It connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan and was the first major bridge to be constructed in the city.
It was officially opened on May 24, 1883, and was originally called the “East River Bridge” until its name was changed to the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1915.
The bridge has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 meters) and its deck is located about 127 feet (38.7 meters) above mean water.
This remarkable structure from the late 19th century was the longest suspension bridge at the time of completion.
Since its opening, the Brooklyn Bridge has become one of the main icons of New York City and has been designated a National Historic Landmark as well.
Official website: Brooklyn Bridge
3. Check out the views from the Empire State Building
The Empire State building is one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world and has dominated the New York skyline ever since it was completed in 1931 after a record construction period of just 13 months.
Its planning phase was right at the end of the Roaring Twenties, a period of huge growth, which was followed by the big crash in 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The tower was designed in the Art-Deco style and is located in Midtown Manhattan, right in the heart of New York’s most famous island.
It stands 1,454 feet (443.2 meters) tall and was the tallest building in the world upon completion, a record it held until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970.
The tower is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Over 4 million people visit one of the building’s 3 observation decks.
These are located on the 80th, 86th, and 102nd floors, and the lowest only opened its door in 2019. Needless today but they provide stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
Official website: Empire State Building
4. Admire the famous Flatiron Building
The Flatiron Building is one of the most iconic buildings in the entire city because of its peculiar shape.
It was built on a piece of land that resembles a flatiron which is the reason it was named the way it is.
The building only has 22 stories and stands 285 feet (86.9 meters) tall, which technically doesn’t make it a skyscraper.
The building was completed in the year 1902 which made it one of the tallest buildings in the city upon completion.
It’s so famous that the entire district it’s located in was named the “Flatiron District.”
Apart from its remarkable architecture, the building was made famous because of it being featured in the opening sequence of the popular television series “Friends.”
Official website: Flatiron Building
5. Discover the remarkable Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building is another famous Art-Deco skyscraper in the city of New York.
It was built around the same time as the Empire State Building and held the title of the world’s tallest building for about 11 months until it was surpassed by it.
It’s located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood on the East Side of Manhattan.
The building stands 1,046 feet (318.9 meters) tall and remains the tallest brick skyscraper with a steel framework in the world.
It was built by and entirely funded by the owner of the Chrysler Company, Walter Chrysler. Its design, and specifically, its crown is the most distinctive feature of this amazing building.
Official website: Chrysler Building
6. Walk around the huge Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is a complex of 19 commercial buildings located between 48th and 52nd street in Midtown Manhattan.
The 14 original Art-Deco buildings were constructed between 1930 and 1939 and were one of the only large-scale construction projects completed during the Great Depression.
The center was expanded in the following decades and now consists of a total of 19 large buildings covering an area of 22 acres (89,000 square meters).
It’s one of the most popular places in the city to visit during the Christmas period because of its famous Christmas tree and ice-skating rink.
The main tower of the complex, known as “Rockefeller Plaza,” also features an observation deck that provides amazing views of the Empire State Building.
Official website: Rockefeller Center
7. Check out the marvelous Manhattan Bridge
The Manhattan Bridge is another suspension bridge spanning the East River and connecting the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The bridge was constructed between 1901 and 1911 and has become another important landmark in the city.
It was designed by Leon Moisseiff and is considered to be the forerunner of the modern suspension bridges and a model of other important bridges with record-breaking spans, including the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Manhattan Bridge has a main span of 1,470 feet (448 meters) and the clearance below is 135 feet (41.1 meters), an amazing sight to behold while you’re in New York City.
Official website: Manhattan Bridge
8. See the historic Woolworth Building
The Woolworth Building is an iconic skyscraper in New York City built in the early 20th century between 1910 and 1912.
It was built by Frank Woolworth, an American businessman who became rich with 5 and 10 cents stores to serve as the headquarters of his company.
The building was designed in the Neo-Gothic style and with a total height of 792 feet (241 meters), it became the tallest building in the world upon completion.
It held this record for nearly 2 decades until it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building.
It has since its completion become one of the most prominent landmarks in the New York City skyline!
Official website: The Woolworth Building
9. Explore the historic Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal is arguably the most famous railway station in the world.
It was constructed in the early 20th century between 1903 and 1913 to replace the outdated Grand Central Station.
Upon completion, it became the biggest railway station in the world at that time.
It’s located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and is famous for its Beaux-Arts design and iconic Main Concourse.
The information booth in this main area has a clock on top of it which is valued between $10 and USD 20 million!
Just like many other structures in the city, it has been extensively used as a film location as well, including blockbusters such as Armageddon (1998), I Am Legend (2007), and The Avengers (2012).
Official website: Grand Central Terminal
10. Stroll around the flashy Times Square
Times Square is arguably one of the most famous squares in the world, and one of the best-recognized landmarks in New York City.
It’s located in Midtown Manhattan and is often referred to as “the heart of the city.”
It runs all the way from 42nd to 47th Street and is bounded by 7th Avenue and Broadway.
The area was originally called “Longacre Square,” referring to the fact that it used to be the center of the horse and carriage industry of the city.
This industry was located in Acre Road in the city of London, which is how it got its name in New York.
It was renamed in 1904 because the New York Times moved its headquarters there.
It’s now one of the most visited places in the world, with hundreds of thousands of people crossing the square every single day!
Official website: Times Square
11. George Washington Bridge
The George Washington Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River.
It connects the New York City borough of Manhattan with the New Jersey borough of Fort Lee. It’s the busiest bridge in the world as nearly 300,000 vehicles cross the bridge every single day.
With 14 lanes on its two decks, no bridge in the world has more lanes.
The bridge was completed in the year 1931 and has been expanded twice, once to widen it from 6 to 8 lanes and once to add a lower deck.
It’s 4,760 feet (1,450 meters) long with its main span being 3,500 feet (1,100 meters), the longest in the world at the time of completion.
The steel frame of the towers gives this particular bridge a distinctive appearance which makes it worth a visit during your stay in New York City.
Official website: George Washington Bridge
12. Check out the modern Seagram Building
The Seagram Building is one of the most iconic and influential skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan in New York, making it one of the most important of the famous landmarks in New York City.
Its modern and internationalist design set the tone for the design of countless skyscrapers in the decades following its completion in the year 1958.
With a height of just 516 feet (157 meters) and 38 floors, it’s far from being the tallest skyscraper in the city
Its unique design and structural features have resulted in it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It has also has been designated as an official city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Official website: Seagram Building
13. Walk around on Wall Street
Wall Street is a street that runs 8 blocks from Broadway to the East River in Lower Manhattan.
The name “Wall Street” is often used to describe the financial markets in the United States as it’s the most important financial center in the country and home to the New York Stock Exchange which was founded here in 1792.
We know that the name of the street was given to it by the Dutch settlers who established a colony here called “New Netherland” in the 17th century.
They built a wall on the street’s location to protect themselves from intruders, so the name may refer to this original wall. This is also the reason why this is a relatively narrow street, despite being world-famous.
The area boomed in the 19th and 20th centuries and is now the epitome of the financial industry!
14. Stad in awe for One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center is the centerpiece of the newly rebuilt World Trade Center Complex following the devastating events of September 11, 2001.
The skyscraper was completed between 2006 and 2013 and stands 541.3 meters (1,776 feet) tall, which makes it the tallest building in the United States and all of the Western Hemisphere.
The tower was designed by renowned architect David Childs of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architectural firm.
This is also the company that built Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and the Willis Tower in Chicago, to name just two of their most notable accomplishments.
The building is adjoined by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in honor of the people who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.
Official website: WTC
15. Visit the fascinating St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most amazing churches in the world, mainly because it’s an incredible neo-Gothic cathedral located within a city full of modern skyscrapers.
The church was built between 1858 and 1878 and is considered to be the ultimate symbol of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The cathedral is located right across Rockefeller Center between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan on the east side of 5th Avenue.
It’s the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
The structure was also designated as an official New York City Landmark as well as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
Official website: St. Patrick’s Cathedral
16. Admire the huge One Vanderbilt
One Vanderbilt is a supertall skyscraper located at the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, immediately to the west of Grand Central Terminal.
The tower stands 427 meters (1,401 feet) tall which makes it the 4th-tallest skyscraper in New York.
It’s also one of the newest additions to the New York skyline as construction only started in 2017 and was completed in September 2020, even though the building topped out on September 17, 2019.
The building houses offices of a wide variety of companies and has become one of the most amazing skyscrapers in New York City.
Official website: One Vanderbilt
17. Relax near the Washington Square Arch
Washington Square Arch is a fascinating arch based on the designs of the Roman triumphal arches.
It’s located in Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan.
This is an important point in the city because it forms the terminus of 5th Avenue, a major thoroughfare in the city.
The marble arch was constructed in 1892 and replaces a similar wooden construction that was built in honor of the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States in 1789.
The original structure became so popular in the area that locals raised money to build this fascinating New York landmark.
Official website: Washington Square Arch
18. Check out the awe-inspiring 432 Park Avenue
432 Park Avenue is another supertall skyscraper that was one of the first of the new generation of thin buildings referred to as “pencil skyscrapers.”
It was completed between 2011 and 2015 and is located at 57th Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan overlooking Central Park.
The tower stands 425.5 meters (1,396 feet) tall which makes it the 5th-tallest skyscraper in New York
This magnificent structure is also the third-tallest residential skyscraper in the world and the tallest residential skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.
It’s situated on the famous Billionaires’ Row and features some of the most exclusive and expensive residences in the city.
Official website: 432 Park Avenue
19. Gape at the huge Central Park Tower
The Central Park Tower is also known as the “Nordstrom Tower” and is officially the second-tallest skyscraper in New York City after One World Trade Center.
It’s another residential supertall skyscraper located on Billionaire’s Row which means that the condos available in this fascinating structure are quite expensive, and that’s putting it euphemistically.
The building stands 475 meters (1,550 feet) tall and has the highest roof of any building in the United States.
It’s also the tallest residential skyscraper in the world and finally topped out in September 2019 after a delay in construction of 2 years.
What makes the tower especially remarkable is that regardless of its height, it only has 179 available condominiums!
Official website: Central Park Tower
20. Check out the thin Steinway Tower
The Steinway Tower, also known as “111 West 57th Street,” is yet another supertall residential skyscraper and the thinnest of all pencil towers that were recently constructed in the city.
Better yet, it’s officially the thinnest skyscraper in the world as well with a width-to-height ratio of just 1:24.
This fascinating skyscraper stands 435 meters (1,428 feet) tall and is located on Billionaires’ Row as well on the north side of 57th Street and near 6th Avenue.
It was constructed in such a way that it incorporates Steinway Hall, a New York City designated landmark that was completed in 1925, into its base as well.
Official website: Steinway Tower
21. Watch the gilded roof of the New York Life Building
The New York Life Building is one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the city, mainly because it features a gilded roof, a feature that really makes it stand out in the New York Skyline.
It was designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert in a combination of the Art Deco and Gothic Revival architectural styles and was completed in 1928.
The building was constructed to serve as the headquarters of the New York Life Insurance Company and still serves this purpose today.
It’s located at 51 Madison Avenue and is connected to Madison Square Park.
The huge building covers an entire block even though it only stands 187 meters (615 feet) tall.
Official website: New York Life
22. Enjoy a concert at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is one of the most famous concert venues in New York City and is located between West 56th and 57th Streets on 7th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
The building was opened in April of the year 1891 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and a New York City Landmark in 1967.
The building was named after the man who sponsored its construction, rich Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919).
The concert hall has a seating capacity of 3,671 and is considered to be one of the most prestigious venues for classical and modern and popular music.
Official website: Carnegie Hall
23. Discover history at the Federal Hall National Monument
Federal Hall is one of the most prominent landmarks on Wall Street in the Financial District of Manhattan.
It refers to 2 buildings, a Federal-style building that was built in 1703, and a Neoclassical building completed in 1842.
The original building on the site was used as the first city hall of New York.
Even more remarkable is that this was the location that Congres met for the first time and where George Washington was sworn in as first President of the United States in 1789.
This original building was demolished in 1812 and replaced with a remarkable Greek-Revival style building later in the 19th century which is now officially called the “Federal Hall National Memorial.”
Official website: Federal Hal National Monument
24. Climb the stairs of Vessel
Vessel is one of the most fascinating landmarks in New York and one of the most amazing tourist attractions to visit.
It’s a structure that takes the shape of a honeycomb and stands 16 stories tall with a total height of 46 meters (150 feet).
The structure is interconnected with a total of 154 staircases that consist of a total of 2,500 steps.
It’s the main attraction of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in Manhattan and is located on the Hudson Yards Public Square.
The construction of this USD 200 million projects started in December 2017 and it was finally opened to the public on March 15, 2019.
The 80 interconnected observation platforms offer amazing views of the Hudson Yard area.
25. Watch a sports event at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is an iconic multi-purpose indoor arena that is located between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to 33rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan.
The arena is often referred to as simply “The Garden” or as “MSG.” and it was built on top of Pennsylvania Station.
There were 3 earlier buildings in New York referred to as Madison Square Garden but these have all been demolished since the second one notably to build the New York Life Building.
The current building has a maximum capacity of about 20,000 and was constructed between 1964 and 1968 and is often used for boxing, basketball, hockey, pro-wrestling, and concerts.
Official website: Madison Square Garden
26. Check out amazing views from 30 Hudson Yards
30 Hudson Yards is one of the most amazing new skyscrapers in the city of New York and it’s situated in the Hudson Yards neighborhood in the West Side of Manhattan.
It’s part of a much larger redevelopment project called the “Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project” (of which also Vessel is a part) and it’s the tallest building of the entire project.
It also became the 6th-tallest building in the city upon completion in March 2019 and is now occupied by some of the biggest companies in the world, including Facebook and various television studios of CNN.
Its most popular feature is the outdoor observation deck called “The Edge” which is the second-tallest outdoor deck in the Western Hemisphere.
This astounding lookout point is situated at a height of 340 meters (1,120 feet) and offers visitors astounding views of the city.