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20 Best Places to Visit in Upstate New York
There's plenty to see in New York beyond the Big Apple.
Occasionally, when I tell people I'm from New York, their reaction is something along the lines of, "But you don't sound like you're from New York." I wonder, have they forgotten there's a whole state beyond the Big Apple?
But upstate New York , with its majestic mountains, abundance of lakes, and charming small towns , is anything but forgettable as anyone who has been to the region knows. For those who haven't yet visited, or want to see more of it, here are 20 of the best places to visit in upstate New York.
Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger Lake , drawing crowds every year for its July 3rd Ring of Fire, when 10,000 flares are lit along its periphery as fireworks explode overhead. Nearby, the tiny hamlet of Lakeville is home to the Little Lake Brewing brewery, one of the stops along the new Livingston Libation Loop that maps out wineries, cideries, and craft microbreweries around the county. While there, don't miss the recently installed street murals and art along the 90-mile self-guided Inspirations Trail.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is just one of the notable attractions worth visiting in this quaint New York village. The Fenimore Art Museum , built on land once owned by novelist James Fenimore Cooper, features an impressive collection of American art, and the Glimmerglass Festival , held each summer, lures opera lovers from far and wide. Visitors to nearby Howe Caverns (about 38 miles east), can go caving or spelunking at New York state's second-most visited natural attraction.
Letchworth State Park
Known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth State Park features an impressive gorge carved out over centuries by the Genesee River. You'll find dozens of camera-ready waterfalls where the river dramatically crashes down along shale, limestone, and sandstone cliffs that rise 550 feet at their highest point. A recently built Autism Nature Trail , the first in the country designed for people on the autism spectrum, includes eight marked sensory stations spread across a one-mile loop.
In addition to the iconic Niagara Falls , the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is worth a stop to learn more about the history of the Underground Railroad, which often culminated at the Canadian border. Learn about Harriet Tubman and local heroes like John Morrison. The museum's permanent exhibit, " One More River to Cross ," received the 2019 Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History.
Located at the southwestern end of Chautauqua Lake, Jamestown is best known as the hometown of comedienne Lucille Ball. Visitors with an appreciation of comedy should pop by the National Comedy Center — the first museum dedicated to the art of comedy. For something more intellectual, the renowned Chautauqua Institution is a short drive up the lake, and each summer features speakers, performers, and programs focused on the "exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life."
About an hour south of Buffalo, in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, this quaint village exudes charm as witnessed by the well-preserved and restored homes and buildings dating back to the 19th century. It's also where western New York sports enthusiasts and skiers go to mountain bike, hike, or slalom down the 60 slopes and trails at neighboring Holiday Valley Resort .
Situated at the north end of Cayuga Lake, this historic spot is believed to be the inspiration for the town of Bedford Falls in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." Most notably, though, is the important role it played in the women's rights movement, having hosted the first Women's Rights Convention in 1848. The town's Convention Days (each July) attract crowds, and the Women's Rights National Historical Park is worth visiting, too. You can also toast to the suffragettes while wine tasting along one of the many nearby Finger Lakes wine trails .
This affluent town whose name means "long lake" in native Iroquois is another central New York destination known for its wine tasting and fall foliage . It's also a favorite among avid cyclists who come to pedal the 32-mile trail around the lake. Each year, starting Thanksgiving weekend, the town hosts its annual Dickens Christmas celebration with live entertainment, horse and wagon rides, and a cast of Dickensian characters.
Few lakes around New York state are known for scuba diving, so visitors are often surprised to discover that certified divers can explore 18th-century shipwrecks at the bottom of Lake George , including the oldest intact warship in North America. Vacationers flock to this town in the Adirondack region each summer, and the crowds can get thick, but there's also plenty of winter fun to be had, including snowshoeing and a family-focused carnival every February.
The Adirondack Mountains have beckoned city dwellers for centuries, including tycoons like the Guggenheims and Vanderbilts, who owned rustic yet luxurious compounds known as the Great Camps. The Point , once a Rockefeller Great Camp, still welcomes guests with all-inclusive stays that harken back to that time, complete with black-tie dinners. The resort is near the village of Saranac Lake, nestled between the mountains and lakes and filled with inviting boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.
Not only is Ithaca a top-notch college town , but it's also a natural wonderland with breathtaking gorges, parks, and waterfalls, like Taughannock Falls, with a height three times that of Niagara Falls. There's an abundance of activities around the city, too, including a botanical garden, boat tours, wine trails, and a self-guided Discovery Trail that highlights local history, astronomy, and earth science. Rumor has it that it was also the birthplace of the ice cream sundae .
Watkins Glen and Montour Falls
In upstate New York, many destinations are defined by their proximity to one of the state's lakes — and so it is, with Watkins Glen, found on the southern end of Seneca Lake. Best known for its legendary auto-racing history, the Watkins Glen International racetrack has played host to countless races, from the Grand Prix to Nascar to Formula One. It's also a good jumping-off point to hit the Seneca Lake Wine Trail , which stretches along the length of the lake and is the largest wine trail in the Finger Lakes.
Just because Saratoga Springs is already known as a popular vacation destination doesn't mean you shouldn't go. There's something classically old-school about spending a day at the races at the famous Saratoga Race Course or at Saratoga Spa State Park , which is a National Historic Landmark. The art scene is solid, too, with impressive productions at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center , the Spa Little Theatre , and other venues.
The U.S.-Canadian border snakes through the St. Lawrence River, zigzagging through the spectacular Thousand Islands archipelago where the river meets Lake Ontario. The archipelago consists of about 1,800 islands, from small and craggy to large and lush. Visitors converge here each summer and fall to soak up views of picture-perfect lighthouses and dramatic castles, including the never-inhabited Boldt Castle. On the nearby mainland, towns include Clayton, Cape Vincent, and Sackets Harbor, the latter of which has been designated a New York State Heritage Area.
An affluent upstate New York community, Pittsford is a charmer set on the banks of the Erie Canal . This year, the town — and many others along the path of this historic waterway that connects the Atlantic with the Great Lakes — celebrates its bicentennial with special programming. That includes a twilight boat tour on the Sam Patch, a replica 1800s packet boat. Come summer, visitors and locals dine at Schoen Place overlooking the canal, then line up for homemade ice cream at Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery . Other attractions include neighboring Mendon Ponds Park and The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester.
In the eastern Adirondacks, not far from Lake Champlain and the Vermont border, Ausable Chasm is a two-mile-long sandstone gorge carved out 500 million years ago. It's another ideal destination for chasing waterfalls (particularly the cascading Rainbow Falls) and exploring the Adirondacks on its many hiking and adventure trails. It's also a stone's throw from the North Star Underground Railroad Museum , which tells the stories of slaves seeking freedom at the Canadian border, located about an hour north by car.
Dia Beacon , a celebrated collection of contemporary art, brought a lot of attention — and visitors — to this city on the banks of the Hudson River. And with that attention came more appreciation for the many other galleries, shops, cafés, breweries, and antique stores that have taken up residence on its magnetic Main Street. Trek to the top of Mount Beacon or book a boat tour to Pollepel Island (known locally as Bannerman Island), which Native Americans believed was inhabited by haunted, hostile spirits.
About a three-hour drive from New York City , this mountain town welcomes adventurers with its multitude of endorphin-producing activities, including the fastest and longest zip-line canopy tour in North America. There's a charming Main Street in this "gem of the Catskills," with inviting boutiques, bistros, and galleries. In August 2022, the Wylder Windham hotel reopened with a pickleball court, heated pool, and wine tastings every weekend.
Don't write off Buffalo just because of its infamous winter weather. The city continues to evolve as a tourism destination, with the recent restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House , a restored historic carousel on the Buffalo Waterfront, and a big expansion of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (previously known as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery).
Since we're highlighting towns around New York's Finger Lakes, Oneida Lake and the village of Sylvan Beach deserve a shout-out, too. It's a great option for a classic upstate summer vacation, where visitors can spend the day at the town's old-timey amusement park, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relaxing lakeside with a bottle of local vino. Another way to while away the day is on the water: Rent a cottage at the new Cove at Sylvan Beach, where each rental includes a private pontoon boat.
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The Top Destinations in New York State
When people hear “New York,” it’s natural to think of New York City . But New York State covers 54,556 square miles and is full of incredible things to see and do. From pristine beaches to stunning gorges and canyons to quaint mountain towns to picturesque islands, New York State has so much to offer. These are the top 13 places to go in New York State.
Finger Lakes Region
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The Finger Lakes region consists of 11 lakes between Syracuse, Rochester, and Elmira-Corning in Upstate New York: Canadice, Cayuga, Canandaigua, Conesus, Hemlock, Honeoye, Keuka, Otisco, Owasco, Seneca, and Skaneateles. While some lakes are larger than others, they’re all surrounded by charming towns and plenty of wineries.
Stroll through the town of Skaneateles (pronounced SKAN-e-atlas), stopping at Skaneateles Bakery for some of their freshly made doughnuts to munch on as you stroll down the pier and walk along the lake. Go for a boat ride with Mid-Lakes Navigation Company —you can even help the Barbara S. Wiles mail boat deliver mail to lakeside homes. Head to Seneca Falls to visit the historic Women’s Rights National Historic Park , where the first women’s rights convention was held in 1848. Seneca Lake is great for kitesurfing and windsurfing, and the town of Geneva at the top of the lake is home to farm-to-table restaurants like FLX Table and Kindred Fare. Explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail , visiting vineyards like Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Red Tail Ridge Winery, and Fox Run Vineyards.
Canandaigua Lake is home to the chic hotel The Lake House on Canandaigua , which boasts a lakefront pool and hot tub, and kayaks and a yacht for tooling around the lake among other luxurious amenities. Stop in Naples to sample their famous grape pie on the way to Watkins Glen State Park to see incredible waterfalls and canyons.
North Fork, Long Island
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The North Fork of Long Island is often overshadowed by the South Fork, also known as the Hamptons. But The North Fork also has stunning beaches that are often less crowded, as well as picturesque farmland and vineyards. The town of Greenport has excellent restaurants, cafés, and boutiques perfect for window (or real) shopping and from there you can catch the ferry to Shelter Island.
Charter a boat or rent a kayak, paddleboard, or Jet Ski with Peconic Water Sports. Sip some wines at some of New York’s best wineries including Macari Vineyards, Pindar Winery, and Sparkling Pointe. Visit farms like Sang Lee Farms for fantastic produce, 8 Hands Farm to see their Icelandic sheep, Patty’s Berries and Bunches for berry picking, beautiful flowers, and fresh-made ice cream using farm ingredients, and Lavender by the Bay for Instagram-ready lavender fields that will make you think you’re in Provence . Stay at the breezy Lin Beach House , a cross between a hotel and an Airbnb that’s also home to the bar Days Like These, which features spirits from Matchbook Distilling Company, a craft distillery in Greenport by the same owners.
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Although the Canadian side of the mammoth falls is often more popular, the New York side is also stunning. To get your first glimpse of the falls, head to Goat Island inside Niagara Falls State Park . There are several observation points on the rim of the falls accessible by multiple paved walkways, views of the river rapids above the falls, and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic. Leave time to explore Cave of the Winds, where wooden staircases and paths bring you to the bottom of the smallest waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls—be prepared to get wet! And don’t forget to book a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat to get up close to the crashing falls. There are also various hiking trails with breathtaking views to explore in the park. Later, explore the nearby Niagara Wine Trail , which has more than 20 wineries.
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New York’s mighty Hudson River runs through a large chunk of the state north of New York City, with a particularly lush valley surrounding the river in Dutchess, Rockland, Westchester, Ulster, and Orange counties. The Hudson Valley region runs along the river, from the Capital District south to Yonkers and is dotted with charming towns especially popular for weekend getaways by city dwellers. The region includes the former capital of New York, Kingston , which has experienced a renaissance lately with a slew of chic boutiques, restaurants, and hotels.
Further north is the town of Hudson , a popular relocation spot for New York City chefs, giving it an impressive food scene. Just outside Hudson is Olana , a historic house with gorgeous grounds open to the public, and Art Omi , a sculpture garden museum featuring modern art.
Rhinebeck , another popular destination, is home to the beloved Bread Alone café, as well as one of three locations of the French-inspired Mirbeau Inn & Spa . Beacon , which is accessible by the Metro North train from the city, is a popular day trip, thanks to the DIA:Beacon modern art museum, and the refurbished movie house, Story Screen Beacon Theater. Poughkeepsie is a larger city and the home to Walkway Over the Hudson , a stunning pedestrian bridge over the river. Just north of there in Hyde Park is the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site , which also contains his presidential library.
Smaller charming towns worth strolling down their Main streets include New Paltz , Tivoli, Red Hook, Catskill, Athens, Leeds, and Coxsackie. There is also spectacular hiking in the region, including areas like Cold Spring, Bear Mountain, Breakneck Ridge, and the Shawangunk Mountains.
Lake Placid and Adirondack Park
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The town of Lake Placid is not actually on the body of water called Lake Placid—that’s a few miles away. Instead, the town is on Mirror Lake and it offers gorgeous views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains beyond. The area was home to two winter Olympics and the Lake Placid Olympic Center , which has a museum, is worth a visit. There’s also the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex and the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience if you’re a bit a of a daredevil. Otherwise, you can ski or mountain bike Whiteface Mountain , or simply skip the athletics altogether and enjoy the quaint town’s shopping, restaurants, and bars, which boast an après ski scene in winter.
North of town is the lake called Lake Placid where you can take out a boat and enjoy the peaceful calm. Nearby is the massive Adirondack Park with miles of hiking trails that cross the Adirondack High Peaks, thousands of rivers and ponds, and the spectacular Ausable Chasm, a deep gorge with the Ausable River running through it. Most of New York State's Forest Preserve is located in the Adirondacks, which is the largest protected wilderness area east of the Mississippi at 6 million acres.
Letchworth State Park
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Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth is a 14,427-acre, 17-mile long park in northwestern New York and is one of the state's most beautiful parks . There are 66 miles of trails, more than 50 waterfalls, and the flowing Genesee River, which runs through the gorge and over three impressive falls, the Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls. The rock walls from the gorge rise up as high as 550 feet in some places, hence the Grand Canyon nickname. Hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and hot air ballooning, as well as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling in winter are some of the activities to do in the park. Be sure to take a break at the Glen Iris Inn inside the park, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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Although the Hamptons are often an over-hyped playground for the wealthy, it also happens to be one of the most beautiful areas of New York. Located at the eastern end of Long Island, the Hamptons encompass dozens of pristine beaches and quaint seashore towns. From Sag Harbor to Bridgehampton to Amagansett, expect small town nautical vibes peppered with oceanfront mansions and restaurants serving top-quality seafood, among other dishes. There’s also a bunch of farms and wineries worth visiting, as well as the world-class Parrish Art Museum. At the very end is Montauk , a larger town with a bit more of a party scene that’s also home to the Montauk Point State Park and its resident lighthouse .
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This tiny town embodies the ideal Catskills destination, complete with scenic hiking and snowshoeing trails, fly fishing (it’s actually the birthplace of fly fishing in the U.S.) on Willowemoc Creek, a historic covered bridge, stylish yet comfortable independent hotels ( The DeBruce , Antrim Streamside , and the Arnold House ), and a main street filled with chic home goods stores (Nest and Life Repurposed), antique stores (Taylor + Ace), outdoor sporting goods stores (Morgan Outdoors, Fur, Fin & Feather, and Dette Flies), a farm-to-table market (Main Street Farm), well-executed restaurants (The Kaatskeller and The Smoke Joint), a cozy wine bar (Sunshine Colony), and a brewery (Upward Brewing Company) perched on a massive property a bit farther up the road. For a real treat, book the tasting menu at the DeBruce for an upscale meal using local and seasonal ingredients in creative and delicious ways.
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Although it’s not actually the site of the infamous 1969 music festival (that happened about 70 miles south in Bethel ), the town of Woodstock is a funky town that makes an ideal base camp for exploring the surrounding Catskills region. The town itself has two streams running through it and is host to a vegetarian-, artist-, and hippie-friendly scene, though it also has several upscale spots these days along Tinker Street (the town’s main drag). Check out restaurants like Dixon Roadside, Cucina, Silvia, Oriole 9, Tinker Taco Lab, Bread Alone, and Garden Cafe, and buy craft chocolate at Fruition. Visit boutiques like Three Turtle Doves, Candlestock, and Shop Little House, galleries like the Center of Photography, and buy books at the Golden Notebook. Woodstock also has some great hiking trails, including Overlook Mountain, which passes through hauntingly beautiful hotel ruins before reaching the top of the mountain, which has a fire tower you can climb for 360-degree views. To get your music fix, visit Levon Helms Studio , a barn venue that was the home and recording studio of the famous drummer that has attracted the likes of Elvis Costello, Phil Lesh, Dr. John, and Emmylou Harris to play there. One town over is Phoenicia, well worth the trip for a visit to the famous Phoenicia Diner, known for its delicious farm-fresh comfort food.
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A former industry city, today Rochester is a delightful city on the northern end of the Finger Lakes. Highlights include the George Eastman Museum , a photography museum devoted to the founder of Kodak; the Strong National Museum of Play, an interactive museum dedicated to toys and games; the Susan B. Anthony House , the home of the suffragette that’s now a museum; Rochester City Public Market, a massive farmers market with vendors from across the region; and Highland Park , a beautiful landscaped park that hosts annual flower festivals like the one devoted to the signature lilac.
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Saratoga Springs , 35 miles north of Albany, is known for its famous horse racetrack and thoroughbred horse breeding, its healing natural mineral waters, and its lovely Queen Anne and Greek Revival architecture. The Saratoga Racecourse is definitely worth visiting, especially if you can take in a race. Another highlight is Saratoga Spa State Park , which is listed as a National Historic Landmark. There, you can stroll along stream-side trails, do a self-guided or expert-guided tour of various springs inside the park, and have a swim in the Peerless Pool Complex or Victoria Pool, the first heated pool in the country. The most famous mineral spring in Saratoga Springs is the Congress Spring inside Congress Park, which has several other springs and a 120-year-old carousel. Other attractions include the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame , Yaddo Gardens , Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, and the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame . Spend the night at the historic Saratoga Arms or the recently revamped Adelphi Hotel .
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This small island situated between the north and south forks of Long Island is a tiny oasis reachable only by ferry (it’s only 10 minutes long though). Shelter Island has various beaches as well as several freshwater ponds ideal for swimming or paddle boarding in. You can also bike around the island, hike in the Mashomack Preserve, and rent kayaks to explore the Coecles Harbor Marine Water Trail, watching for osprey and egrets along the way. Dine out at 18 Bay or Vine Street Café or pick up produce to cook at home at the farm stand at Sylvestor Manor Educational Farm. Ice cream at the Tuck Shop for dessert is a must.
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An archipelago of more than 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the U.S. and Canada, the Thousand Islands offer scenic waterways to explore. Boldt Castle , the circa 1900 mansion of George C. Boldt on Heart Island is a must see and the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is another favorite. Of course, boating and fishing are popular pastimes, and there are hundreds of lighthouses to see. Be sure and bring your passport just in case you want to hop over to one of the Canadian islands.
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The best places to visit in New York State are full of small-town charm
Sep 16, 2023 • 12 min read
Traveling in New York State is a trip back to a gentler vision of America © Tony Shi Photography / Getty Images
Striking American landscapes, quirky antique stores, fabulous hikes and some of the best bakeries you’ll ever find. Welcome to New York State ! From one end to the other, the Empire State is crammed with outdoor adventures, cool art, great food and friendly people.
Not sure where to start? Check out these ten top New York State locations and you won’t be disappointed.
1. Hudson, NY
Best for small-town charm
In Columbia County, about 45 minutes from the state capital of Albany, the quaint city of Hudson overflows with vintage storefronts and small-town charm. The strip along Warren Street is known for its fine collection of boutique shops housed in historic buildings, each with a unique twist. Start with Spotty Dog Books and Ales , a not-so-average bookstore with a full bar inside.
Peppered throughout the neighborhood are cute antique shops and a variety of cafes and coffee shops, including Supernatural Coffee + Bakery , home to the best lavender honey latte on the strip.
Outside town are some of the best hiking trails in the Hudson Valley, including the route through the High Falls Conservation Area , a moderate 1.5-mile hike through rocky terrain, with a stunning waterfall at the end.
For accommodations, The Maker is an 11-room luxury boutique hotel with themed rooms designed to reflect the area's creative population of artists and writers, decorated with antique pieces and bits of history throughout each space. The cafe serves flakey sweet pastries such as twice-baked pistachio croissants from Bartlett House.
The Amelia Hotel , about two blocks from Warren Street, is another fantastic option, with a heated outdoor pool, huge soaking tubs, a beautiful lounge and complimentary beverages and baked goods.
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2. Beacon, NY
Best for fine art and fine dining
A stop at the Dia: Beacon gallery is a must when day-tripping to Beacon, NY. This light-filled, 300,000 sq ft space in a converted factory hosts large-scale conceptual art by Gerard Richter, Louise Bourgeois and Richard Serra. Storm King Art Center , a 500-acre outdoor sculpture garden, is a short drive away, bringing together fine art and fresh air.
When you've had your fill of creativity, there are plenty of ways to fill your stomach. The most charming place to eat is Roundhouse , a farm-to-table restaurant overlooking a waterfall. Inventive dishes such as Spicy Lobster Mac n’ Cheese pair nicely with a signature cocktail or a glass of wine. After your meal, stroll up the street to the trendy HÅKAN Chocolatier for artisanal chocolate that is well worth the trip. For lunch, dinner or drinks, head to Max's on Main for pub food and local beer.
Planning tip: Located about 70 miles north of New York City, Beacon is easily reached by car (a 90-minute drive) or it's a two-hour ride on the Metro-North Railroad. Dia: Beacon and Main Street are just a 10-minute walk from the train station, making this an easy car-free trip.
3. Woodstock, NY
Best for indie boutiques and the outdoors
Although the legendary 1969 music festival actually took place on a dairy farm near the village of Bethel, tie-dye still abounds in Woodstock, a town filled with independent art and the bounteous nature of Catskill Park . It's the perfect destination to get back to the great outdoors – take a hike up Overlook Mountain and enjoy expansive vistas of red spruces, balsam fir trees and red oaks.
A ban on chain stores keeps this town feeling free-spirited. Tinker Street, Woodstock’s main drag, entices travelers with unique gift stores and cafes. You'll find a plethora of restaurant choices in town, too, but for an extra special breakfast, you’ll want to take a 20-minute drive to the Phoenicia Diner , an elevated restaurant known for its unbelievable pancakes. It even has its own cookbook and take-home pancake mix should you miss these treats when you return to NYC.
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Best for "gorges" hiking and a college vibe
When it comes to describing this Finger Lakes gem, the slightly corny (but accurate) slogan “Ithaca is gorges” couldn't be more on point. You'll find a wide variety of hiking trails here, from easy to challenging, and countless waterfalls at sites such as Taughannock Falls State Park , Ithaca Falls, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Robert H. Treman State Park , where there's a swimming hole next to the waterfall in the summer months.
Treetops – a six-story treehouse behind the Cayuga Nature Center – is an eye-catching sight and travelers of all ages can play inside and explore. There's also a farmer's market full of international foodie treats in addition to lots of fresh local produce.
Grab a bite to eat at College Town Bagels , and head to Cornell University 's campus to visit the AD White Library – a stunning space with more than 90,000 books, ceiling-high bookshelves and intricately designed metal walkaways.
If you’re looking for a cozy, modern, centrally located hotel, Hotel Ithaca is affordable and within walking distance of some great things to do. For something a little more rustic, check out Firelight Camps ; it’s right near Buttermilk Falls, with comfortable full-size beds (and in some cases electricity and heat) in safari-style tents in the woods.
Planning tip: Buses from Greyhound and other companies connect Ithaca to NYC in around five hours. It's easier and faster to fly into Ithaca Tompkins International Airport , or you can drive in just over four hours.
5. The Hamptons
Best for beaches and great eats
If you’re into food, then the Hamptons needs to be on your list. Thanks to countless farm stands, gourmet markets and seafood shops with fresh, high-quality goods, you'll always be well-fed in this affluent section of Long Island .
Each area of the Hamptons has something unique to offer, from Montauk with its long beach, state park and lighthouse to Bridgehampton with its famous shops – seek out Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen, renowned for its ripe-banana ice cream – and incredible restaurants, such as Elaia Estiatorio , known for its fresh fish and homemade spreads.
Montauk is low-key and easygoing, at the tip of the Hamptons, so you can see all of the south fork while traveling here. In town, make sure to visit Duryea's restaurant in the summer, and try your best to time it for sunset – the views are incredible, and staff provide fresh, clean blankets for snuggling up as the night progresses and cools down. If you're hungry, try their incredible lobster Cobb salad, loaded with lobster meat.
Planning tip: To stay, check out the Montauk Beach House . The rooms are beautifully decorated with giant mirrors, soaking tubs and comfy beds, while the common area has a bar and two huge pools, all within walking distance of the beach.
6. Lake Placid
Best for winter fun
Lake Placid, located in the lovely Adirondacks , is an absolute blast, especially in the winter. This was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, and the village still holds onto those ties in some really unique ways – for example, you can ride in a bobsled, spouting out lines from the movie Cool Runnings as you race down the icy track at top speeds. There's also a mountain coaster that goes along a former bobsled trail, currently the longest of its kind in North America.
Visitors can ride the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the top of an active ski jump in the Whiteface ski area and watch future Olympian hopefuls practicing at terrifying heights. Check out the tobogganing shoot before heading over to Mirror Lake for ice skating.
Right across the street is the Dancing Bear , a lovely breakfast spot located inside the High Peaks Resort. Mirror Lake Inn has amazing rooms and a gorgeous indoor pool with a grotto and a hot tub big enough to fit multiple groups of people, so you can enjoy it without being on top of each other. The big new arrival in town is the Grand Adirondack Hotel , a stylish revamp of a historic Main Street hotel.
Planning tip: A few flights run from Boston and New York's JFK airport to Adirondack Regional Airport , 17 miles northwest of Lake Placid, but most visitors drive (NYC is five hours away). Alternatively, take the Amtrak train to Westport, connecting to a bus to Lake Placid.
Best for sports fans and spicy wings
Now there might be a little bias here: Buffalo is my hometown, and to say I love it is an understatement. Located in the western part of the state, the “city of good neighbors” went through a serious glow-up phase over the last 10 years, and it's filled with historic architecture, such as Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House and the art deco Buffalo Central Terminal.
Go zip-lining over the city at Buffalo Riverworks , or enjoy margaritas at Casa Azul or Breezy Burrito Bar in Elmwood Village, which is filled with local boutique shops and hosts one of the best farmers markets in the area – the Elmwood Village Farmers' Market , held on Saturdays on Bidwell Parkway. Formerly a rundown waterfront, the Canalside district has ice bikes to rent in the winter and a bike ferry that goes to the outer harbor, where you can see the Buffalo Main Lighthouse.
If you’re here in the fall, definitely try to grab tickets to a Buffalo Bills NFL game. The tailgate party is an experience like no other, and the Bills' fanbase is known for taking tailgating a little too far…in the best way. It's unclear who started the whole tradition of breaking tables, but it’s become so popular that they even do a baby-friendly version. During a wildcard Bills game in Houston, folding tables were completely sold out at Walmart stores in town!
The food in Buffalo is unbelievable. Try Toutant for gourmet southern cuisine, Remington Tavern and Seafood Exchange for fresh seafood, East Aurora's Bar-Bill and Amherst's Wingnutz for wings, and Jay's Artisan Pizzeria and La Nova for pizzas. For hotels, be sure to check out the Curtiss Hotel , which has an incredible pool and rooftop bar.
Detour: While you're in Buffalo, it makes sense to tack on a detour to Niagara Falls . The famous cascade is less than an hour's drive north from downtown Buffalo.
Best for laid-back lake views
The fourth-largest of the Finger Lakes , Canandaigua is picturesque and peaceful. The lakefront city of Canandaigua is filled with charm and entertainment, with a main strip full of pastel Queen Anne homes, stone churches and storefronts showcasing weathered vintage signage.
I highly recommend staying at Lake House Canandaigua – it’s the perfect way to enjoy beautiful views of the lake, within walking distance of the colorful boathouses at the Canandaigua City Pier. In summer, check out Roseland Wake Park to learn a new water sport…minus the boat.
For food, Rio Tomatlan has the most delicious tacos and guacamole, as well as amazing cocktails like the Cachonda, made with tequila, triple sec, house-made hibiscus syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice – ask for it spicy!
Be sure to stop by Cheshire Farms Creamery to grab a box of cinnamon buns to go (pop them in the trunk of your car so you don’t eat them all on the way home). The creamery is also known for its ice cream, featuring natural flavors such as fresh Concord grape, made from grapes harvested here in the fall.
9. Sleepy Hollow
Best for a spooky vibe
Sleepy Hollow, about an hour from New York City, is the perfect place to visit in the fall. The town has a spooky tie to Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and fully embraces the lore of this creepy tale – so much so that the town changed its name from North Tarrytown in the late 1990s.
Explore the Old Dutch Church, visit the Headless Horseman Bridge and grab a photo with the Headless Horseman statue before delving into more of what the area has to offer, such as the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, once a half-mile offshore but accessible today via a footbridge.
I highly recommend staying at the Tarrytown House Estate , ideally in the King's Mansion. Its rooms are amazing, covered in art, with a terrace leading out to views of the Hudson (and the lights of New York City on a clear night). Grab dinner at the hotel's Cantonese and pan-Asian restaurant, Goosefeather , owned by celebrity chef Dale Talde.
Planning tip: Tarrytown Station has regular train connections with NYC via the Hudson Line of the Metro-North Railroad, a journey of less than an hour.
10. Lake George
Best for fall colors
Located in the vast Adirondacks region, Lake George is such a special place, especially in the fall, when the region overflows with brightly colored red, orange and yellow foliage. Enjoy the kitschy souvenir shops that dot the main strip through downtown, or grab a scoop (or two) at the aptly named Scoop’s Ice Cream Parlor.
You can’t go wrong at any of the town’s restaurants. Cate's Italian Garden has classics such as fried calamari and lasagna, the Algonquin Restaurant (just north at Bolton Landing) has a killer lobster roll, and the Log Jam has generous portions of pub-style comfort food, steak and lamb chops.
The Sagamore Hotel is the place to stay, no competition. The hotel is just stunning, with gorgeous views, especially if you splurge for a suite with a terrace. You can spend all night on that balcony, overlooking views of Lake George that seriously feel like Hawaii, not New York. Amenities aren't bad either, including two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, a hot tub and easy access to Lake George, where you can float on inner tubes or go for a swim.
Detour: Drive a little off the beaten path to find Adirondack ATV Tours , close to the town of Whitehall, where you can head out with a group on an ATV tour, and go racing through mud, dirt and hills and over jumps – after a safety briefing, of course.
This article was first published January 2022 and updated September 2023
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The 85 best New York attractions that should be on your list
Discover the New York attractions locals love including historical landmarks, stunning NYC parks and more.
Our definitive guide to the best New York attractions is a great place to start whether you're entertaining out-of-town guests or simply want to channel your inner tourist. The list is a compilation of our favorite sights and spots in the city, including everything from great parks and art museums , to food markets and historical venues. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are obviously must-see attractions, but we’ve also highlighted a few of our favorite hidden gems, such as one of NYC's greatest flea markets , Hudson Yard's Vessel , and foodie haven Smorgasburg .
Thirsty for more? 🗽Discover the 50 very best things to do in NYC 🏡Take your pick of the coolest Airbnbs in NYC 🛥Stay in the best boat rentals in NYC ⛴Or how about the best boat tours in NYC ?
How do we know it's the best of the best? Our lists are expertly curated by our local experts far and wide to offer you the lowdown on where to go, what to eat and what to see. Btw, t his article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here .
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Top New York attractions
1. One World Observatory
- Towers and viewpoints
- Financial District
Although the One World Observatory occupies floors 100 to 102 of the tallest building of the Western Hemisphere, this observation deck can be reached in just 60 seconds via a set of visually immersive 'Sky Pod' elevators. During the interactive tour experience, guests walk through some of the bedrock on which the building is built before entering the elevators, which are fitted with floor-to-ceiling LED screens showing a video of the city and building's history. Once at the top, the video concludes as the screen lifts up to reveal stunning 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline. Folks typically spend a couple of hours here including queuing time.
Time Out tip: After soaking up the sights, head to One Café for casual fare, One Mix for small plates and cocktails or, the gem, One Dine for a full dining experience with large windows looking onto the horizon (reservations required). —Dan Q. Dao
2. Discount theater tickets
Want to see some of NYC’s top shows for less? We’ve got just the thing. We’re talking up to 50% off tickets to shows such as Asi Wind’s Inner Circle (a brilliant and intimate magic and illusion show from a highly-respected David Blaine collaborator), the hilarious Drunk Shakespeare , the critically acclaimed Titanic spoof, Titanique , and the perfect-for-kids, Gazillion Bubble Show . Plus loads more, besides.
3. Madame Tussauds New York
- Midtown West
- price 4 of 4
When Madame Tussaud first started creating wax figures in Europe in the late 18th century, she immortalized figures from the bloody French Revolution, and later, in her first museum space on Baker Street, London she presented persons involved in sensational crimes. Now, over a 150 years after her death, Tussaud’s legacy lives on with museums in several major cities around the world. Yet, few can compare in either size or popularity with the five-story Times Square, New York edition. Folks hoping to take a memento home with them should splurge for the tickets that include your very own wax hand sculpture–you certainly can’t get something like that at every tourist attraction.
4. Helicopter Tours
Fancy coasting around the Big Apple in a chopper? Well, now's your chance. There's arguably no better way to see New York City than flying high in the skies, right? Grab your camera – and your safety belt – sit back and relax as your pilot takes you over one of the most iconic skylines in the world. Not sure which one's the right one for you? Take a look at our top picks of the best helicopter tours in NYC to help you decide.
5. See a show on Broadway
Is it possible to visit New York City without catching a show on Broadway? We're not sure it is. It's one of the best ways to experience NYC in all of its live(ly) authenticity and as there are so many wonderful shows to catch, we rate you'll be pretty spoiled for choice. From emotional dramas to belly-laughing comedies, there's a show on broadway for everyone. Get your glad rags on and head on down to the theater district. The lights are calling your name.
6. New York Aquarium
- Zoo and aquariums
- Coney Island
- price 2 of 4
Seen all you can on the streets of NYC and looking for an ocean-oriented activity? It's time to head to the New York Aquarium. Whether it's visiting the penguin habitat or working up your own appetite at feeding time, the oldest aquarium in the US has so much for you to discover. Be sure to check out the sea lion pool, the recreated reef, and the shark exploration tank – only if you dare.
7. Westfield World Trade Center Oculus
- Shopping centers
The world’s most expensive train station , the Oculus serves the PATH train and 12 subway lines, and houses a beautiful mall inside of it. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the exterior resembles the skeleton of a whale, has white metal-clad steel ribs that reach up and out, which symbolize a hand releasing a dove. The structure is a lasting reminder of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 am, when the first plane struck, until 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light. The new shopping center inside has stores like the Apple Store, Aesop, Kate Spade, John Varvatos and others. Dining includes Eataly, Gansevoort Market, Wasabi Sushi & Bento and more.
8. Summit One Vanderbilt
- Midtown East
Summit One Vanderbilt sits atop the new 67-floor One Vanderbilt super-tall—a 1,401-foot-high—skyscraper. As the city's fourth-tallest building after One World Trade Center, Central Park Tower and 111 West 57th Street, it is just west of Grand Central Terminal, where you first enter the experience underground. After a trip through a mirrored hallway with its own immersive elements, visitors take an elevator up to the 91st floor, where they're 1,000 feet over the streets and sidewalks of NYC. Kenzo Digital has created a totally mirrored infinity room called "Air" that reflects the sky and city views over and over, making you feel like you're walking in the sky or on another plane of existence. Looking above you and below you in this two-story space, you see your reflection repeating forever. After you ascend to the third level of this experience, guests are introduced to "Levitation," a series of transparent glass sky-boxes that jut out of the building at 1,063 feet above Madison Avenue. Here, you can stand over the street with just glass between you and the ground. It's certainly not for the faint of heart.
9. Frick Madison
The Frick Madison is now at 945 Madison Avenue—the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Met Breuer—while Henry Clay Frick's mansion undergoes a massive renovation. This new stint will last two years, and while the Brutalist building by Marcel Breuer is a huge departure from the Gilded Age mansion, the space is offering a much different and rare look at the collection, according to museum officials. Unlike at the Frick Mansion, the Breuer building is a clean slate—stark in contrast, which actually helps to attract the viewer's attention to individual works. Eyes aren't busy looking at ornate furniture here. It's all about seeing the smaller details in the artwork that you might have overlooked at the mansion. According to Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director Ian Wardropper, "It's a different Frick than you’ve ever known."
RISENY places thrill-seekers inside a 180-degree, 40-foot projection dome that plays 8K aerial footage to create the sensation of flight. (The ride is similar to Disneyland's "Soarin’ Over California" experience.) The experience begins with a film by documentarians Ric Burns and James Sanders—narrated by everyone's fave actor Jeff Goldblum—that touches on NYC’s history, specifically Times Square and its global impact. Then visitors are taken to a re-creation of the city’s first subway station at City Hall circa 1904, which transforms into a fully immersive theater with visual and special effects. Eventually, a present-day subway car virtually transports guests to the galleries. While on the subway car, riders see NYC’s vibrant pop-cultural evolution through seven themed galleries— "Finance," "Skyline," "TV/Radio," "Fashion," "Music," "Broadway" and "Film"—that show off historic artifacts, star-studded memorabilia. Once they get through the galleries, visitors are finally whisked into the air, where they'll "soar" around NYC's landmarks (a rendering shows the Statue of Liberty) to a soundtrack with songs like Taylor Swift’s "Welcome to New York" and Frank Sinatra’s "Theme From New York." The full-motion seats will dip, turn and soar while wind, mist and scents are blown at riders' faces.
11. Edge Observation Deck
The highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere has landed at Hudson Yards. Sadly, the bird's-eye attraction dubbed Edge won't be open to the public until 2020. But judging by the rendering, it appears to be worth the wait—that is, if you’re not afraid of heights. The building’s outdoor terrace takes you 65-feet into the sky making it the highest public balcony in NYC. The deck not only features panoramic views of our city’s skyline but a killer vantage point below. Brave souls can stand on a large, see-through glass floor and wave to passerby 1,100 feet beneath. Much like the Top of the Rock concept at Rockefeller Center, there’s a 10,000-square-foot bar, restaurant and event space on the 101st floor.
12. Citi Field
- Sports and fitness
- price 3 of 4
While they haven’t been as successful as their Bronx rivals in recent years, the Mets can certainly be happy about their stadium, which opened in 2009. With great sightlines, fun activities for kids and a prodigious selection of food and booze (including Shake Shack and Blue Smoke outposts), even those with the barest interest in the game will enjoy themselves at the park, which in recent years has also doubled as a concert venue with appearances by mega-stars like Paul McCartney and Nas.
13. Little Island
- West Village
New York City’s hottest new attraction, Little Island, opened to the public in May 2021 and has since brought in plenty of visitors who flocked to see Manhattan’s newest “floating” greenspace. Open from 6am to 1am, the park is filled with open lawns, colorful shrubs and trees and a secret garden. While entry is free to the park throughout the day, entering between noon and close requires a reservation. For those feeling peckish, there are affordable food and drink options offered by Savory Hospitality. The park’s amphitheaters, The Glade and The Amph, offer a spectacular view of the Hudson River, with a majority of the events being free throughout the summer. Every Monday night at 6pm, the theater hosts Savory Talks & Performances, a free dialogue around food sustainability and industry trends. The lineup includes local farms and sustainable meat and fish companies, discussing the future of food production, including "elements of storytelling and dance" from Perform in the Park artists.
14. Queens County Farm Museum
- Special interest
Though not as easily accessible by public transit as most NYC museums, this Queens County treasure is well worth the bus trek or car ride. As the city’s longest continually farmed site in the city (it’s been in operation since 1697), the 47 acres feels like an entirely different world compared to Manhattan. Feed and pet the barnyard animals, including sheep, ponies and goats, hop aboard a hayride and come back during the fall harvest season when you can go pumpkin picking and attempt to find your way through the Amazing Maize Maze (yes, that’s a corn maze ). Don’t forget to stop by the store on your way out for fresh fruits and veggies grown on the premises!
15. TWA Hotel
- Things to do
You can actually look forward to going to JFK International Airport because of this gorgeous, completely renovated TWA Terminal , which serves as a hotel, food and drink, and convention destination. The i nterior of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 building exudes 1960s chic with 512 guest rooms that offer views of JFK’s runways, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, a rooftop pool, and an observation deck.
16. Empire State Building
- Monuments and memorials
It's practically impossible to imagine the sparkling New York skyline without the iconic Empire State Building. A famed piece of Art Deco architecture that took over 400 days to structurally complete, the skyscraper reaches an astonishing height of 1,454-feet—and while it's no longer the tallest building in New York, it held that title for several decades following its 1931 completion date. Visiting this illustrious landmark? Keep your eyes peeled for some of the finer details in the lobby, which was lovingly restored in 2009. Enjoy visions of the t opper’s three tiers of lights, which illuminate up to nine colors at a time and don't miss the rod at the top of the building, which is frequently hit by lightning—yep, you might see sparks (literally) fly. Oh, and (of course) spend some time on the observation deck—the cityscape is ace. There may be a queue but trust us, it's totally worth the wait. Besides, the Empire State is open 365-days a year, so there's no reason to pass this one by.
17. Brooklyn Bridge
- Historic buildings and sites
No mere river crossing, this span is an elegant reminder of New York’s history of architectural innovation. When it opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a feat of engineering: It was the first structure to cross the East River and, at the time, the longest suspension bridge in the world. (It also made use of steel-wire cables, invented by the bridge’s original designer, John A. Roebling.) Now it attracts thousands of tourists and locals, who enjoy spectacular views of lower Manhattan and other city landmarks (such as the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island) as they stroll its more-than-mile-long expanse. Heads up, though: You may run into the occasional cyclist trying to navigate through the crowds on the pedestrian walkway. —Amy Plitt
18. Central Park
- Parks and gardens
- Central Park
To feel truly out of the city, head to the 38-acre wilderness area on the west side of the park known as the Ramble. The area has a storied history (as a gay cruising spot dating back to the turn of the last century, among other things), and it was even proposed as a recreational area in the mid-'50s. Thankfully, the winding trails, rocks and streams remain, seemingly waiting to be discovered. If you want plenty of sunshine and more of a social vibe, spread out a blanket at Sheep's Meadow, where groups playing guitar and frisbee and tanning topless are sprawled out as far as the eye can see.
19. Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center
- 4 out of 5 stars
Let the world believe the Empire State Building has the best view of New York City–it keeps the crowds slightly more manageable at 30 Rockefeller Center’s spectacular open air observation deck. The bird’s eye view of Gotham from 70 stories up allows visitors to not only see other landmark skyscrapers around midtown–including the aforementioned Empire State building–but also to see the full sprawl of Central Park. Not quite as expensive as that other observation deck (Adults $38, seniors $36, children 6-12 $32), and for those who don't want to wait in line, there's a VIP ticket ($75) that gives guests the chance to skip lines and get priority elevator access. If you’re willing to splurge don’t forget to dress up and stop by the Rainbow Room–the historic lounge on the 65th floor–for exceptional cocktails, fine dining, live music and spectacular sightlines that rival the deck’s, albeit a few stories lower.
20. The Statue of Liberty
- Liberty Island
Lady Liberty—or Liberty Enlightening the World, as she’s officially known—was a gift from France on America’s 100th birthday. A universal symbol of freedom that welcomed over 10 million immigrants sailing past to Ellis Island during the turn of the 20th century, the copper-plated sentinel stands 305 feet tall from the bottom of her base to the tip of her torch. Reserve well in advance—three weeks or more—to see New York’s skyline from Liberty Island with access to the statue’s crown, and go earlier in the day if you want to also take the ferry to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
- 3 out of 5 stars
New York’s ever-changing skyline has acquired another sky-high attraction for Gothamites to climb: Vessel. The 60-ton sculpture, located at sleek cultural destination Hudson Yards, resembles a honeycomb, although some New Yorkers joke it looks like a waste can. Others say the larger-than-life art installation designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick is New York’s version of the Eiffel Tour. We say it looks like a good excuse to exercise and Instagram. Visitors will climb the spiral staircase made up of 154 interconnecting staircases, almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings, and while the current sight of construction is less than ideal (the attraction just opened to the public on March 15), the various outlook points offer sweeping views of the Hudson River that will appear mighty dreamy at sunset. Know before you go visiting and climbing Hudson Yards’ new jungle gym is free, but you must reserve a time slot and get tickets in advance. Every morning at 8am same-day tickets are up for grabs, if you cant get a reservation in advance.
Note: The Vessel is currently closed. Check its website for reopening plans.
22. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sprawling doesn’t even begin to describe this Manhattan institution: It’s one of the few spots in the city where you could spend literally an entire day and see only a fraction of the holdings. Behind the doors of its iconic neoclassical facade lie 17 curatorial collections spanning countless eras and cultural perspectives, from prehistoric Egyptian artifacts to contemporary photography. Those seeking to satisfy their anthropological curiosity can explore the extensive assemblage of musical instruments, weapons and armor or the Costume Institute’s centuries of wearable art. And for committed museumgoers who have made their way through the permanent collections—an admirable feat—special exhibitions merit return visits year after year. Recent blockbusters have examined the career of the late designer Alexander McQueen and featured the works of Pablo Picasso. —Carolyn Stanley
23. Chrysler Building
- Civic buildings
We won’t argue if you want to call this glimmering pinnacle of Art Deco architecture NYC’s most eye-popping skyscraper. Triangle-shaped windows in its crown are lined with lights, creating a beautiful effect come nighttime. Oozing a moneyed sophistication oft identified with old New York, the structure pays homage to its namesake with giant eagles (replicas of ones added to Chrysler automobiles in the 1920s) in lieu of traditional gargoyles and a brickwork relief sculpture of racing cars, complete with chrome hubcaps. During the famed three-way race to construct Manhattan’s tallest building, the Chrysler added a needle-sharp stainless-steel spire to best 40 Wall Street—but was outdone shortly after its completion in 1930 by the Empire State Building. —Tim Lowery
24. The High Line
When the weather is pleasant, there’s nothing quite like walking the High Line. NYC’s elevated park is certainly one of more popular New York attractions everyone needs to check off their list. To give you a bit of history, the High Line was once a railway line, in use until 1980. In 2009, the 1.45-mile-long strip was transformed into what is now considered one of the most unique parks in NYC. Featuring wildflowers, greenery and outdoor art installations in addition to killer views of New York’s skyline. — Evelyn Derico
25. Rockefeller Center
You’ll find a smorgasbord of New York sites in this distinctive, multi-block complex—in fact, the ground level alone is home to the tourist-packed ice-skating rink, the bronze Atlas statue and the ‘Today Show’ plaza. Higher up, Top of the Rock rivals the Empire State Building in panoramic city views. You may not be able to access the five private rooftop gardens if you’re not a Saturday Night Live cast member, but you can still peek at the spaces from Saks Fifth Avenue’s eighth-floor shoe department if you can't help but be curious. Special credentials are not required, however, to inspect the Art Deco murals that appear in several buildings. Don’t miss the triptych above the outdoor entrance to 5 Rockefeller Center or the rinkside Prometheus statue; both purportedly contain secret Freemason symbols. —Allison Williams
26. Grand Central Terminal
For over a hundred years, this transit hub has funneled thousands of daily commuters (over 700,000 a day) through its expansive halls and concourses. Though technically a passageway for those looking to go elsewhere, the building is certainly a destination in it's own right. With its grandiose Beaux Arts framework, the terminal is a spectacle of both form and function. Familiar features include the vaulted, constellation-adorned ceiling and the four-faced opal clock topping the main information booth, both located in the Grand Concourse. Above the 42nd Street entrance find symbolism of Mercury, the god of travel (naturally), and an ornate Tiffany-glass timepiece. — Dan Q. Dao
27. Prospect Park
Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who most famously designed Central Park, also put their stamp on bucolic, 526-acre Prospect Park. Amenities like the Long Meadow and Nethermead offer plenty of space to pull up on a patch of grass and indulge in some people-watching, and the woodland expanse of the Ravine is a towering forest within bustling Brooklyn. But we also have to give props to Robert Moses: The controversial city planner was behind some of the park’s kid-friendly offerings, including the zoo and LeFrak Center at Lakeside, where roller skating and ice skating goes down.
28. Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn’s premier institution is a less-crowded alternative to Manhattan’s bigger-name spaces, though the innovative and impactful items found inside are just as important as anything you'll find in the city. The museum, found on the edge of the sprawling Prospect Park, has a large holding of Egyptian art as well as the famous feminist piece, The Dinner Party, by Judy Chicago. Works by such Impressionists masters as Cézanne, Monet and Degas are also included in the collection along with with prime examples of Early American Art, period rooms and so much more.
Book a New York City tour.
29. Whitney Museum of American Art
When Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor and art patron, opened the museum in 1931, she dedicated it to living American artists. Today, the Whitney holds about 19,000 pieces by nearly 2,900 artists, including Alexander Calder, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O’Keeffe and Claes Oldenburg. Still, the museum’s reputation rests mainly on its temporary shows, particularly the Whitney Biennial. Held in even-numbered years, the Biennial is among the most prestigious (and controversial) assessments of contemporary art in America. The 2015 opening of the Renzo Piano-designed edifice near the High Line drew acclaim for its sleek and simplistic layout. —Andrew Frisicano
30. New-York Historical Society
- Upper West Side
History buffs will love this Upper West Side institution. Built in 1804, it's the oldest museum in New York City. In a nod to the city’s heritage, the museum kept the hyphen in its name, which is how New York was known in the early 1800s. The collection features more than 1.6 million works that explore the history of the city and the country, including exhibits, art and historical artifacts. Don’t miss floor four, where you’ll find the center for Women’s History and a glowing gallery of 100 beautiful Tiffany lamps. — Cristina Gibson
31. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society
Located in the Bronx (obvs) this massive attraction is the largest metropolitan zoo in the country. Spanning 265 acres, it has numerous exhibits, forests, outdoor activities and restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget about the 5,000+ animals! There are lions and tigers and bears (both grizzly and polar), all residing in naturalistic habitats. You can easily spend hours walking the trails past themed exhibits, like the African Plains or World of Reptiles. The zoo also has premium exhibits for an additional fee, but the sea lion feeding is completely free and highly recommended. — Rebecca Fontana
32. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
New York’s Guggenheim is as famous for its landmark building—designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored on its 50th birthday in 2009—as it is for its impressive collection and daring temporary art shows. The museum owns Peggy Guggenheim’s trove of cubist, surrealist and abstract expressionist works, along with the Panza di Biumo Collection of American minimalist and conceptual art from the 1960s and ’70s. In addition to works by Manet, Picasso, Chagall and Bourgeois, the Guggenheim holds the largest collection of Kandinskys in the U.S. — Howard Halle
33. Times Square
Manhattan’s heart was once a hub for vice, teeming with sex shops and drug dealers. Over time that notorious reputation has eroded, and now the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall. Still, changes such as the stairs above the TKTS booth and a pedestrian plaza along Broadway have improved the sightseeing experience…sort of. If the thought of attending the annual glitzy New Year’s Eve celebration gives you hives, you can see the midnight countdown re-created on a smaller scale at the Times Square Visitor Center, thanks to one of the Waterford crystal balls used in years past. —Allison Williams
34. New York Botanical Garden
Every city park offers its own brand of verdant escapism, but this lush expanse goes beyond landscaped flora. In addition to housing swaths of vegetation—including the 50-acre forest, featuring some of the oldest trees in the city—the garden cultivates a rotating roster of shows that nod to the world’s most cherished green spaces, such as the regal grounds of Spain’s Alhambra palace and Monet’s alfresco sanctuary at Giverny. —Sarah Bruning
35. Brooklyn Flea
- Markets and fairs
Attending an outdoor bazaar is certainly a must here in New York, and Brooklyn Flea is hands-down one of the top flea markets to hit. The market has everything, including an impressive selection of throwback wares and records, which you certainly wouldn’t find in any vintage clothing store or record store in the city. The food selection is also nothing to sneeze at, since the creators also operate one of the city’s best food festivals: Smorgasburg.
36. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park
Give the city’s fourth-biggest park a day and it’ll show you the world: Its most enduring icon is the Unisphere, the mammoth steel globe created for the 1964 World’s Fair. But there’s also first-rate culture and sports at the New York Hall of Science, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Citi Field (depending on how the Mets are doing). The rolling green fields also encompass a zoo, a boating lake, a skate park, a barbecue area, playfields, and a $66 million aquatic and hockey center. In 2011, wetland plants such as swamp azalea and swamp milkweed were added to better handle the park’s water runoff, improving the catch-and-release fishing in Meadow Lake. —Allison Williams
37. Brookfield Place
- Battery Park City
This downtown luxury complex, originally dubbed the World Financial Center, is now home to a number of offices including Merrill Lynch and American Express. On the ground level, however, find a mecca of retail attractions ranging from fashion (Burberry, Hermes, Gucci) to dining (Amada, the food hall Le District). Beyond shopping, stroll around the space to enjoy installations of art in the glass-encased winter garden, or head outdoors for ice skating during cold-weather months. — Dan Q. Dao
See Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Battery Park.
38. Chelsea Market
Once home to a National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) factory, this Chelsea-set food court caters to locals and restaurant-savvy tourists alike. An ever-changing lineup of dining and drinking options range from all-star Philadelphia hummus slingers Dizengoff to the oyster-and-seafood bar Cull & Pistol and the master-sommelier–helmed Corkbuzz Wine Studio, while commercial vendors include Anthropologie, Posman Books and the locally-driven Artists & Fleas. A stone's throw away from High Line Park and the nightlife hub of the Meatpacking District, the market is a must-visit destination when in the area. — Dan Q. Dao
39. Apollo Theater
This Harlem institution has been the site of more than a few historic moments: Ella Fitzgerald’s first performance happened here in 1934; Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, practically launched James Brown into the mainstream; and a young Jimi Hendrix won an Amateur Night contest in 1964. Despite its storied history and grand decor, this living link to the Harlem Renaissance feels rather cozy inside. As of late, the theater has attracted big-name comedians (Aziz Ansari, Tracy Morgan, Jim Gaffigan) and huge rock stars (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen), while still welcoming under-the-radar talent to its famed Wednesday Amateur Night. —Tim Lowery
40. Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade
- Brooklyn Heights
For a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of everything the city has to offer, beeline for Brooklyn Promenade. Opened in 1950, this one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River has long been a favorite destination of residents, tourists and couples looking to make out next to an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. Breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty are both visible from here. Follow the views with a stroll around the 19th-century row houses down Brooklyn Heights’ tree-lined side streets, or head down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
41. Macy’s Herald Square
- Department stores
Holiday windows and enormous balloons may draw gawkers to Macy’s flagship during the winter, but the mammoth department store is a year-round destination for some 20 million shoppers. The $400 million renovation in 2015 outfitted the store with ostensibly Millennial-friendly gear like 3D printers, selfie-walls and laser-imaging tech, but restored the 34th St entrance and iconic rickety wooden escalators that have been at Herald Square since its opening in 1902. This department store is also home to the always stunning and annual Macy's Flower Show . —Allison Williams
42. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Prospect Park
Those searching for a little peace and quiet would do well to spend a few hours at this verdant oasis. The garden—which abuts two other neighborhood gems: the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park—was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Each spring, crowds descend on the space for the Sakura Matsuri Festival, during which many trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. But equally impressive are serene spots like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first Japanese-inspired garden displayed in the U.S., and the Shakespeare Garden, brimming with plants (such as primrose and crocuses) mentioned in the Bard’s works. —Amy Plitt
43. Yankee Stadium
The Bombers’ current field opened in 2009 to much fanfare and stands opposite the now-flattened original. It may not be the House That Ruth Built, but many elements of the new arena—the limestone exterior, the gatelike frieze around the top—mimic the old, plus cup holders at every seat and a high-def scoreboard are noticeable improvements. A museum behind center field aims to hold signed baseballs from every living Yankees player, but the most potent relic wasn’t allowed to stay on site—in 2008 the construction staff jackhammered out a Red Sox jersey a rival fan tried to install in the structure’s foundation. —Allison Williams
44. American Museum of Natural History
- Science and technology
Beyond the iconic, show-stopping displays–the grizzly bear in the Hall of North American Mammals, the 94-feet long blue whale, the prehistoric Barosaurus skeleton rearing up as if to scare the adjacent Allosaurus skeleton–is an expertly curated, 148-year-old museum that fills visitors of all ages with a curiosity about the universe. Whether you’re interested in the world below our feet, or the cultures of faraway lands or the stars light-years beyond our reach, your visit is bound to teach you a few things you never knew. — Tolly Wright
45. Union Square
- Union Square
This gathering place was named for the union of two of Manhattan’s busiest thoroughfares: Broadway and Fourth Avenue (formerly Bowery Road). Political activism has played a large role in the site’s history; the square has hosted rallies, protests and assemblies from the Civil War through Occupy Wall Street. Nowadays, its biggest draw might be the year-round Greenmarket—the city’s first, started by a handful of farmers in 1976—which brings locally grown goods to thousands of New Yorkers every week. —Carolyn Stanley
Go on a customized walking tour.
46. Flatiron Building
This 21-story Beaux Arts edifice once dominated midtown. Although it’s now dwarfed by other structures, when it debuted in 1902, the triangle-shaped monolith represented the threat and the thrill of modernity: Naysayers claimed it would never withstand the high winds plaguing 23rd Street, while revered photographer Alfred Stieglitz—who captured it in an iconic shot in 1903—wrote that it was “a picture of a new America still in the making.” Today, it’s possibly the least tourist-friendly New York landmark. The space above the ground-floor shops, occupied by publishing house Macmillan, is inaccessible to the public, but during office hours you can admire black-and-white photos and read a few panels on the history of the tower in its lobby. If you want to see the “point” offices (just over six feet wide at their narrowest), we suggest getting to work on the Great American Novel. —Jonathan Shannon
Book a private walking tour of NYC.
47. The Cloisters
- Art and design
- Washington Heights
This Middle Ages museum may have been constructed in the ’30s, but it feels much older than that. Set in a bucolic park overlooking the Hudson River, the structure re-creates architectural details from five 15th-century monasteries and houses items from the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections. John D. Rockefeller, who donated the land for the museum, even purchased a tract across the river to preserve the pristine view. Make sure to inspect the tapestries, including the famous 16th-century Hunt of the Unicorn. —Andrew Frisicano
48. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
- Military and maritime
- Hell's Kitchen
Get schooled on the glorious history of American aviation and the brave heroes who pioneered the world's last frontier at this non-profit, educational institution featuring the titular, legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid. Founded in 1982, the museum also boasts an unparalleled collection of fighter jets, a Blackbird spy plane, a Concorde, the nuclear submarine USS Growler, a prototype space shuttle and a capsule that returned one of the first astrotourists to earth. Permanent exhibits include a harrowing 30-minute video with audiovisual effects about the kamikaze attacks the Intrepid suffered, while new, rotating programs range from a summer movie series (kicking off with Star Trek , fittingly) to an annual Space & Science Festival. — Dan Q. Dao
49. Lincoln Center
One of the world's largest campuses for the performing and visual arts, Lincoln Center began its construction in 1959 thanks in part to funding from John D. Rockefeller III. Today, the center houses 30 world-class venues—including the Metropolitan Opera House, the David H. Koch Theater and the Julliard School—as well as 11 resident organizations that collectively host thousands of events every year. At the heart of the complex is the well-recognized Josie Robertson Plaza whose fountain can be seen spouting white-lit jets of water with the golden glow of the Met lobby serving as an elegant backdrop. — Dan Q. Dao
50. South Street Seaport
Hurricane Sandy may have temporarily wounded the famed Lower Manhattan sightseeing draw in 2012, but with recent developments by the Howard Hughes Corporation—including a pop-up-friendly Culture District and a fancy dine-in movie theater iPic — prove that the iconic port is back and better than ever. — David Goldberg
51. National Museum of the American Indian
- Natural history
The life and culture of Native Americans is presented in rotating exhibitions—from Navajo jewelry to ritual tribal-dance costumes—along with contemporary artwork. The Diker Pavilion for Native Arts & Culture, which opened in 2006, has already made its mark on the cultural life of the city by offering the only dedicated showcase for Native American visual and performing arts.
52. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
Sure, you could spend a day getting lost in the permanent exhibits, which showcase all manner of priceless pieces from renowned artists. But just as essential are this museum’s other elements, including an attached cinema that combines art-house fare and more accessible offerings, a sculpture garden with works by Picasso and Rodin, and the Modern, a high-end restaurant and bar run by Danny Meyer. Free Fridays, an alluring prospect considering the sizable entry fee ($25 for adults), are best left to the tourists and penny-scraping students; visit the museum when you can hunker down for a while.
53. Queens Museum
Located on the grounds of two World’s Fairs, the QMA holds one of Gotham’s most amazing sights: The Panorama of the City of New York , a 9,335-square-foot scale model of the five boroughs, created for the 1964 exposition and featuring Lilliputian models of landmarks. With an ambitious expansion project in 2009, the museum doubled in size when it reopened in 2013, featuring public events spaces, eight new artists studios and a glass façade featuring Grand Central Parkway. —Andrew Frisicano
54. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Religious buildings and sites
Even though it faces off against the imposing Art Deco Rockefeller Center, architect James Renwick's Gothic Revival building holds it own with intricate marble towers, a cavernous ribbed vault, pointed arches and buttresses. But the real treasures are inside this active house of worship, which is bursting with awe-inspiring works. With a $175 million restoration project completed in 2015, visitors can delight in a shimmering, bronzed and polished new interior. More than 200 saints are represented throughout the church, with many alters helpfully explaining their stories for those who cut Bible studies class. Seek out the alter of Saint Louis, just north of the Lady's Chapel, designed by the Tiffany workshop and donated by Jackie O's father Michael Bouvier. To the south of Saint Louis is an oversized copy of Michelangelo's Pieta, made by the same sculptor who fashioned the lions outside the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. —Jonathan Shannon
55. MoMA PS1
- Long Island City
Fans of the Manhattan predecessor won't mind crossing the river to find this Long Island City offshoot, which is unique for its constantly evolving lineup of avant-garde artwork and new programs. And while there's no shortage of world-renowned artists supplying work here (Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson), the venue also curates one of the city’s most popular music events, Warm Up, which pairs innovative installations with live music from up-and-coming acts to challenge visitors’ expectations of what art can be. — Dan Q. Dao
Take a walk in the area south of Broome Street and east of Lafayette, and you’ll feel as though you’ve entered not just a different country but a different continent. Mott and Grand Streets are lined with stands selling exotic foodstuffs such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans, while Canal Street glitters with jewelry stores and gift shops. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants in NYC representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries and shops. As Chinatown—NYC's largest Asian community—continues to grow, it merges with neighboring Little Italy and the Lower East Side. — Tazi Phillips
57. Washington Square Park arch
- Greenwich Village
The beatniks, folkies and hippies who famously flocked to this public space are still there, though sporting slightly different facial hair than their boundary-breaking predecessors. During warmer months, the park is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, as musicians and street artists perform in the shadow of the towering 1895 Washington Arch, a modest replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe designed by Stanford White (whose fingerprints are found on more than a few landmark NYC structures). From 2007–2014, the park underwent a controversial, multimillion-dollar renovation, which has yielded more benches, paths, lawn space and vegetation. —Tim Lowery
Go on a two-hour walking tour of Greenwich Village.
58. Madison Square Garden
- Music venues
Big, beloved and not-so-beautiful MSG is perhaps the most famous sports arena in the world. Perched above Penn Station since 1968, the 20,000 seat venue is not only home to New York basketball and ice hockey teams the Knicks and the Rangers, but also is a favorite spot for college basketball tournaments (The Big East), professional boxing, MMA fighting and, as a destination for WWE. Non-sports fans, however, mainly know the Garden as the best spot in town to catch touring international sensations like Adele, Beyonce and Aziz Ansari and countless other amazing concerts.. To learn about the history of the arena, which existed in several other iterations at other locations for the past 130 years, and for a look at where the athletes get dressed, check out the all-access tour ($26.95, seniors and students $19.95, or with show ticket an additional $16, group rates available), which has stops in the locker rooms, the arena bowl and through exhibits featuring images and paraphernalia from iconic moments in sports and performance history. — Tolly Wright
59. Socrates Sculpture Park
In 1986, artists and activists created this 4.5-acre city park over a landfill. Now, it hosts large-scale sculpture exhibits year-round, and is one of the few locations in the city specifically designated for artists to create outdoor works. The splendid Queens space looks out over the Manhattan skyline and is open 365 days a year, with a Greenmarket, free yoga and tai chi classes and more.
60. AKC Museum of the Dog
Here’s a pawsh art musem for pups. On February 8, the AKC Museum of the Dog reopend in midtown, and New Yorkers have been panting in excitement ever since. The American Kennel Club moved the original exhibit, formerly doghoused in the New York Life Building, closer to its home turf and library. To be clear: This is not a relentlessly Instagrammable Museum of Ice Cream or Museum of Pizza situation. So, why dig up the 15 bones to enter? For the photo booth that reveals which dog breed you look most like. Have your pup-arazzi moment!
61. Snug Harbor Cultural Center
- Staten Island
- price 1 of 4
Sitting just a ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, this Staten Island gem, a former home for retired sailers, is still somewhat of a secret. Spread across 83 acres, the area boasts an enormous botanical garden and cultural center surrounded by cobblestone streets and tiny paths of Victorian and Tudor homes. One of the most popular attractions here is the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, fitted with magnificent rocks meant to resemble mountains inspired by the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist monks, as well as a bamboo forest path and Koi-filled pond.
62. Bryant Park
Hitting up midtown's most beloved park? Situated behind the New York Public Library lies a a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular outdoor movies. In the winter, visit the Bank of America Winter Village for the free ice skating rink and pop-up shops for the holidays.
New Yorkers love eating outside, whether it’s at one of the city’s best waterfront restaurants, elevated rooftop bars or open-air food flea markets like Brooklyn’s famed Smorgasburg. A favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, Smorg features nearly 100 vendors selling seriously delicious and graciously cheap snacks. It’s open from April to November (11am-6pm) at Williamsburg’s East River Park on Saturdays and at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill on Sundays. — Christina Izzo
64. Museum of the Moving Image
- Movies and TV
Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, it includes a three-story extension that features a state-of-the-art 267-seat cinema and expanded gallery spaces. Meanwhile, the museum’s “Behind the Screen” exhibit examines every step of the filmmaking process, with artifacts from more than 1,000 different productions, and 14 classic (playable!) video games, including Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders . And do not miss its fairly new Jim Henson exhibit, where you can "meet" all your favorite Muppets and Sesame Street characters.
Book NYC tours and attractions.
65. New Museum of Contemporary Art
- Lower East Side
The New Museum takes its name from The New School, where it originally opened in 1977. After a move to Soho, where the it became a fixture througout the ’80s and ’90s, the New Museum moved into its current location in 2007. It houses three main gallery levels, a theater, a café operated by Hester Street Fair and roof terraces. The New Musem focuses it program on emerging—and important but under-recognized—artists.
66. The Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum, housed in the 1908 Warburg Mansion, mounts temporary exhibitions of contemproary and modern art and also has a substantial collection of artworks of art and Judaica. There is a permanent exhibit specifically for children, as well as a restuarant that includes an Uptown outpost of Russ & Daughters, the iconic Lower East Side purveyors of Kosher delicacies like lox, sable and whitefish.
67. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum
In the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood are North America’s largest man-made waterfalls, the bottoms of which seem to be impossible to see. The twin reflecting pools, the 9/11 Memorial designed by Michael Arad, are a solemn reminder of all that was lost during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Lining the pools, each one acre in size, are bronze panels with the names of the 3,000 deceased victims from the attacks, including the rescue personnel who died helping the other victims. For those who wish to pay their respects to the tragedy and learn more about the events that transpired, the museum serves as the leading collection of artifacts and documentation of September 11. Inside, visitors can hear first-hand accounts of survivors, see picture and video footage of the attacks and see recovered objects such as wrecked recovery vehicles, large pieces of warped metal foundation and the 30-foot National 9/11 Flag. — Tolly Wright
68. Blue Note
The Blue Note prides itself on being "the jazz capital of the world." Bona fide musical titans (Eddie Palmieri, Ron Carter) rub against hot young talents, while the close-set tables in the club get patrons rubbing up against each other. Arrive early to secure a good spot—and we recommend shelling out for a table seat.
69. Theater District
Each year, about 13 million locals and tourists take in Broadway shows at one of NYC's 40 Broadway theaters. Most of those venues are located in the theater district—roughly, 41st Street to 52nd Street and Sixth Ave to Eighth Ave. Each season brings a new wave of megamusicals, plays and star-driven revivals. Some boast gold from the Tony Awards. At the height of the fall and spring seasons, be sure to check our homepage for new critics picks, reviews and cheap broadway tickets. The savvy consumer can find discount tickets at most Broadway shows. NYC hurry—the curtain’s about to rise! — David Cote
70. The Noguchi Museum
This 12 gallery space occupies a former photo-engraving plant, and the entire building was designed by the artist and sculpturer Isamu Noguchi to be a meditative oasis amid its gritty, industrial setting. As well as some of his most iconic sculptures, drawn, painted and collaged studies, architectural models, and stage and furniture designs, there is a garden populated with Noguchi’s work.
71. Coney Island Cyclone
- Arcades and amusements
You can guarantee that the majority of New Yorkers have ridden the Cyclone. After all, it’s stood on the banks of the Coney Island Channel since 1927, which is a fair feat considering it’s constructed from wood. Thanks to a cash injection from Astroland, an organization that took over in the ’70s, this rollicking ride is still going strong, which will bring some comfort to remember when you’re being flung around the old thrill ride. — Danielle Goldstein
Experience the magic of New York City.
72. Queens Night Market
Consider yourself a travel-loving foodie? Queens Night Market is your one-stop-shop in NYC to discover bites from 80 countries. Beginning in April through October, t ry a diverse range of grub that runs the gamut from Middle Eastern stews and Barbadian fishballs to Romanian-Hungarian chimney cake and tacos al pastor. The open-air bazaar operates from 5pm to midnight every Saturday, but the market has more to offer aside from fulfilling your late-night food cravings. There’s always a great lineup of live music and performances such as Bollywood dancers, Indian electronica tunes, DJs and more. Check out queensnightmarket.com for the schedule.
73. Radio City Music Hall
New York City is full of legendary performance venues, but few match Radio City Music Hall in terms of sheer elegance. The Art Deco concert hall remains one of the prettiest in the city: Designed by Donald Deskey, its interior features opulent chandeliers and lush carpets, while the stage and proscenium are meant to resemble a setting sun. Although Radio City is probably best known as the home of the Rockettes, a plethora of noteworthy performers have graced its boards, including huge pop stars (Lady Gaga, the Jonas Brothers) and indie faves (Pulp, Grizzly Bear). —Amy Plitt
74. New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building
The century-old main branch of the NYPL is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once inside, check out the cavernous Rose Main Reading Room, spanning almost 300 feet and outfitted with chandeliers and stunning ceiling murals. Though it’s a classy setting in most instances, it’s also where Bill Murray uttered, “Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?” and “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” in Ghostbusters . —Tim Lowery
75. Governors Island
The Hills on Governors Island are alive but not necessarily with the sound of music. Instead, you can hear the hum of parkgoers and their bicycles as they tool around the island’s two-plus-mile promenade, the gleeful squeals of folks slithering down one of the four massive slides and the delighted gasps of visitors ogling perfect views of the New York Harbor and Lower Manhattan. While much of the green space’s landscape has changed (and, oh, is it hilly), preexisting features such as Hammock Grove and Picnic Point are still major focal points. —Jennifer Sugnet
See lower and midtown Manhattan on a 90-minute cruise.
76. The Rubin Museum of Art
Opened in 2004, this six-story museum (once home to Barneys New York) houses Donald and Shelley Rubin’s impressive collection of Himalayan art and artifacts, as well as large-scale temporary exhibitions.
77. Get a taste of the Lower East Side
You know, the only real way to the heart of a city it's through its belly. So what better way to dive into the history of this cultural melting pot one mouthful at a time than by sampling the best food spots on the Lower East Side – all the while discovering the rich immigrant history that gives this concrete jungle its unique cosmopolitan flavor. The tour consists of four main food stops with several sites along the way like the African Burial Ground Monument and St Patrick's Old Cathedral – a significant landmark for the Irish Catholic community. You'll cut through Chinatown as well as Little Italy and taste the beloved knish – originating from the Ashkenazi Jewish community – for the first time. Perfect if you've got three hours to kill, and are looking for something fun for under 100 bucks. Steal.
78. Village Vanguard
After more than 80 years, this basement club’s stage still hosts the crème de la crème of mainstream jazz talent. Plenty of history has been made here—John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans have grooved in this hallowed hall—and the 16-piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has been the Monday-night regular since 1966. Thanks to the venue's strict no cell phone policy, seeing a show here feels like stepping back and time. It's just you and the music.
79. The Tenement Museum
This fascinating museum—actually a series of restored tenement apartments at 97 Orchard Street—is accessible only by guided tour. Costumed "residents" give glimpses into the daily lives of immigrant clans that called the building home over the decades, bringing to life the stories in an engaging and captivating way.
The Fotografiska gallery in Stockholm, Sweden has opened a New York Branch in the heart of the Flatiron District that features three floors of exhibition space as well as Verōnika, a dining room and bar. The gallery itself mounts temporary exhibits featuring photos from “grand masters and emerging talent” that range from “easily accessible to hardcore conceptual.”
81. Merchant's House Museum
New York City’s only preserved 19th-century family home is an elegant, late Federal-Greek Revival house stocked with the same furnishings and decorations that filled its rooms when it was inhabited by hardware tycoon Seabury Treadwell and his descendants from 1835 to 1933.
82. The Morgan Library & Museum
- Murray Hill
This Madison Avenue institution began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is his artistic gift to the city. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the space houses first-rate works, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide. This is certainly not your average library.
83. Neue Galerie New York
- Upper East Side
This elegant addition to the city’s museum scene is devoted entirely to late-19th- and early-20th-century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. The brainchild of the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky and cosmetics mogul Ronald S. Lauder, it houses the largest concentration of works by Gustav Klimt (including his iconic Adele Bloch-Bauer I ) and Egon Schiele outside Vienna. You’ll also find a bookstore, a chic (and expensive) design shop and the Old World–inspired Café Sabarsky, serving updated Austrian cuisine and ravishing Viennese pastries.
84. Museum of Sex (MoSex)
Situated in the former Tenderloin district, which bumped-and-grinded with dance halls and brothels in the 1800s, MoSex explores the subject within a cultural context—but that doesn’t mean some content won’t shock the more buttoned-up visitor. Highlights include a permanent collection ranging from a silicone Real Doll torso through to a nine-foot steel-framed love pen donated by a local dominatrix, to sex machines created by keen DIYers, such as the “Monkey Rocker,” constructed from a dildo and exercise equipment. Maybe not one to visit with your mom...
85. El Museo del Barrio
- East Harlem
Located in Spanish Harlem (a.k.a. El Barrio), El Museo del Barrio is dedicated to the work of Latino artists who reside in the U.S., as well as Latin American masters. The 6,500-piece permanent collection ranges from pre-Colombian artifacts to contemporary installations. The space also features updated galleries, an exposed courtyard for programming and events, and a Pan-Latino cafe that serves tacos, chili, and rice and beans.
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15 Best Things to Do in New York State + MAP
Home | Travel | North America | United States | New York | 15 Best Things to Do in New York State + MAP
As one of the most-visited states in the U.S., you can bet that there are lots of cool things to do in New York state . Sure, everyone knows about NYC and Niagara Falls – and those places are well worth visiting – but there are other hidden gems that you must see.
During our three years living in Philadelphia, we had plenty of opportunities to explore some of the best places in New York . The different regions have their unique characteristics and charm, from the Catskill Mountains to the northern Thousand Islands, to the beautiful shoreline down south.
If you want to see the best that this state has to offer, here is a guide to the 15 best places to visit in New York . Perhaps you’ll enjoy a luxurious mountain getaway, or maybe you’re looking to do a waterfall hike to some of NY’s lesser-known falls. Whatever it is, I’m sure you’ll have a tough time deciding which New York activities to try!
1. New York City, one of the best places to visit in New York
Without a doubt, the best place to visit in New York is New York City . If you’ve never been to the Big Apple before, all the sights and attractions here might be overwhelming. We have a complete guide about things to do in New York City , but for now, I’ll tell you some of the highlights.
The Brooklyn Bridge , Central Park , and Times Square are a few New York tourist attractions you must see. For entertainment, go watch a show on Broadway or a concert at Madison Square Garden . If you want the best views of the city, check out the observation decks at the Empire State Building , the Statue of Liberty , or the Rockefeller Center .
NYC is also full of historical places and superb museums, and each of its five boroughs has a distinct vibe. If you want more ideas, our guide has everything you need to know.
- Recommended accommodations : The Doubletree by Hilton New York Times Square West has a rooftop lounge and well-equipped rooms with blackout curtains, so you can get a restful night’s sleep. Pod 51 is a cheaper alternative in the same area. I also recommend reading our guide on where to stay in NYC if you want to stay in a different neighborhood.
2. Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, two lovely places to visit in upstate New York
If you’re looking for attractions in upstate New York , make Ithaca one of your stops. This city is part of the Finger Lakes region of 11 narrow lakes in northwestern New York. Cayuga Lake is the closest one to Ithaca, and it’s the longest of the lakes, at 39 miles. The lake is also part of the American Viticultural Area, a designated wine grape-growing region, so you can find dozens of vineyards, wineries, and distilleries here.
Moreover, Ithaca is a college town, so it’s home to some great cultural institutions, including the Sciencenter, the Museum of the Earth, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, and the Cornell Botanic Garden.
Nature lovers also appreciate the wealth of parks and hiking spots in the area. For example, the Finger Lakes Trail branches into secondary routes, and Buttermilk Falls State Park has ten waterfalls, including its namesake falls, as well as a beach, campground, playing fields, and nature trails. Nearby, are the Robert H. Treman and Taughannock Falls State Parks, two other famous places in New York I’ll talk about later.
- Recommended accommodation : Stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca , a pet-friendly hotel with a hot tub, breakfast buffet, gym, and indoor pool.
3. Niagara Falls, another must-see in New York for families
This list would not be complete without mentioning Niagara Falls , one of the most well-known points of interest in New York . This attraction spills over into Ontario, Canada, but the New York side of the falls is just as beautiful.
Located about 20 miles from Buffalo, the NY side of Niagara Falls includes the Bridal Veil Falls , Horseshoe Falls , and American Falls . You can witness the immense power and rush of this natural wonder from several viewpoints, like Terrapin Point along the Niagara River or Prospect Point.
For the more adventurous types, consider taking a boat ride to the falls on the Maid of the Mist , or walking close to the base of the Bridal Veil Falls at the Cave of the Winds attraction. We took this half-day tour that includes both attractions and it was great. Just be sure to bring your poncho!
It’s also worth taking a walk along the Niagara River Gorge and visiting Old Fort Niagara. We have more info about both sides of the falls and where to stay in our things to do in Niagara Falls guide.
- Recommended accommodation : The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino is an excellent hotel with fabulous views, a gym, an indoor pool, and hot tub, a sauna, and massage services. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a busy day at Niagara Falls.
4. Lake Placid (The Adirondacks), one of the best things to see in New York
Speaking of road trips from NYC , it’s also worth visiting Lake Placid . Located in northern New York’s Adirondack Mountains , this village is a must-see in New York if you’re looking for the ideal winter vacation.
Lake Placid was the host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, so it has all the winter sports venues and facilities that you’d expect. Here, you can try bobsledding, Nordic skiing, ice skating, and other exhilarating events. If you’re visiting with kids, check out the Lake Placid Olympic Museum or the toboggan chute.
There are lots more activities to do here, so if you love the outdoors, Lake Placid is one of New York’s best destinations. Enjoy 288 skiable acres and 90 trails at Whiteface Mountain , take a scenic drive or snowshoe hike through the woods, or stroll along Main Street and hop into a pub or restaurant for a warm meal and drinks.
With its crisp mountain air and majestic snowy peaks, Lake Placid is a historical place you must visit. That said, the surrounding Adirondacks are worth a visit, too. While you’re here, check out one of the wineries, ADK Treetop Adventures rope course, or High Falls Gorge , a nature park with walking trails past waterfalls, rapids, and the AuSable River.
If you like hiking, some of the most popular routes are around Avalanche Lake (6.8 miles), Cascade Mountain (4.8 miles), and Mount Jo (1.8 miles).
- Recommended accommodation : Stay at the Crowne Plaza Lake Placid , a lake-view hotel with a restaurant, an indoor pool, a gym, tennis courts, and a putting green. It also has pet-friendly and family rooms.
5. Visit Watkins Glen State Park, one of the top things to do in New York
Watkins Glen State Park is another beautiful place in the Finger Lakes region, in the village of Watkins Glen. It’s a stunning state park, especially if you visit during the spring.
The park, which covers over 770 acres, is known for its narrow gorge, which reaches a depth of 400 feet. Cut by a stream, the gorge creates several waterfalls that make for an amazing backdrop while hiking. No doubt, the pretty waterfalls, rushing rapids, and stone steps traveling over and under the water make this one of the best parks in New York state .
There are a few trails here, although I recommend the Gorge Trail , which goes past the stream, gorge, and several waterfalls. It also connects to the Finger Lakes Trail, which I mentioned earlier. If you want to extend this adventure in New York state , Watkins Glen has tent and trailer campsites.
- Recommended accommodation : The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel has beautiful rooms with private bathrooms and showers, seating areas, and lake views. You can also enjoy the resort’s on-site restaurant, bar, and gym.
6. Letchworth State Park, another thing to do in New York State
If you like Watkins Glen, then you should also visit Letchworth State Park . Waterfalls and gorges abound here, and the park has even been called the “Grand Canyon of the East.” The park is huge, spanning over 14,400 acres across two counties in western NY. At first sight, the sweeping views, sprawling forests, and wide gorges will take your breath away.
Like Watkins Glen, there are waterfalls here, and while there aren’t as many, they’re larger. The three main waterfalls are the Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls , which originate from the Genesee River. You can find all three in the southern part of the park, in Portage Canyon. The Middle Falls are the tallest, at 107 feet.
You don’t want to miss the hiking trails and lookout points here, as they offer some of the best views in New York . There are over 60 miles of hiking routes, and among the viewpoints, I recommend the Inspiration Point Overlook , which is about a half-mile from the Visitor Center.
Besides hiking, you can go kayaking, whitewater rafting, biking, or, in the winter, tubing, and skiing. The park has several playgrounds, swimming pools, and campsites, although the historic Glen Iris Inn is a popular accommodation. Also, when the weather permits, hot air balloon rides are available in the park, making for quite a romantic thing to do in New York state .
- Recommended accommodation : The Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Mount Morris is a lovely mountain resort with free Wi-Fi and activities like hiking, nature trails, boating, and swimming. The hotel has an indoor pool, a gym, barbecue facilities, and a beautiful garden.
7. Go to Lake George, one of the best things to do in New York
Looking for things to do in northern New York state ? Then go to Lake George , a huge lake surrounded by peaks and forests at the base of the Adirondack Mountains. Known as the Queen of American Lakes, the long and narrow Lake George spans over 32 miles and contains over 170 islands, including Sagamore, Turtle, and Vicar Islands.
An affluent summer colony, Lake George has long attracted famous visitors; the Rockefeller, Roosevelt, and Vanderbilt families have all vacationed here. It’s not hard to see why, since the area offers all kinds of activities, from hiking and paddling to birdwatching, biking, and mountain climbing.
That said, this is also one of the best places to visit in upstate NY in the winter when you can go ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing around the frozen lake. Moreover, the village of Lake George is home to family-friendly attractions like sports facilities, amusement parks, shops, and museums.
So, no matter what time of year you come to Lake George, you won’t be disappointed!
- Recommended accommodation : You can’t go wrong with a room at the Courtyard by Marriott Lake George , which offers on-site amenities like a restaurant, bar, lounge, and indoor pool. The mountainside resort is also close to shopping, hiking, and skiing.
8. Taughannock Falls State Park, a fun thing to do in New York State
Another New York tourist attraction you should visit is Taughannock Falls State Park . If you’re in Ithaca, the park is about a 20-minute drive away, so you can’t miss it.
The 750-acre park’s namesake waterfall, Taughannock Falls , is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeastern U.S. Its 215-foot drop is over 30 feet higher than Niagara Falls, making it one of the most spectacular things to see in New York . Besides the Taughannock Falls, the park also features the smaller Upper and Lower Falls.
The best way to witness this amazing natural wonder is by taking one of the hiking routes. The Gorge Trail is less than a mile long, takes you past the Lower Falls, and ends at the base of Taughannock Falls. The North Rim Trail is about twice as long and offers views of the Upper Falls and Taughannock Falls.
In addition to exploring the hiking and nature trails here, you can also go camping or swimming along the shores of Cayuga Lake. Sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice skating are popular wintertime activities here. As I mentioned, the state park is close to Ithaca, so you can take advantage of the attractions there, too.
- Recommended accommodation : Stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca , which I mentioned earlier. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Taughannock Falls State Park.
9. Thousand Islands, another place to add to your New York bucket list
The Thousand Islands (yes, like the salad dressing), is one of the most interesting places to visit in upstate NY . This archipelago contains over a thousand islands: 1,864 to be exact. The islands range in size and sit in the St. Lawrence River, which straddles the border between New York and Ontario, Canada.
Collectively, the Thousand Islands were declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2002, although there are designated Canadian and U.S. islands. For example, Wolfe Island , the largest of the islands, is in Ontario, while Just Room Enough Island in the U.S. is the world’s smallest inhabited island, at 3,300ft².
Other significant islands include Ironsides Island , home to one of the largest colonies of great blue herons in New York, and Carleton Island , home to old Fort Haldimand, which was built by the British in 1779 during the American Revolutionary War.
If it’s your first time here, it’s best to choose a specific community within the Thousand Islands, such as Alexandria Bay, NY. A popular New York tourist attraction , it includes Heart Island , where you can see the famous 120-room Boldt Castle .
It’s also worth visiting nearby Wellesley Island , which has a state park and lots of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, nature walks, and swimming. If you plan on crossing the border, the easiest way to do so is by taking the Thousand Islands International Bridge.
- Recommended accommodation : The Riveredge Resort Hotel in beautiful Alexandria Bay, NY, is the perfect place to relax after a full day. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from Boldt Castle, plus it has spa bathtubs and a gym with a hot tub.
10. Saratoga Springs, a beautiful attraction in upstate New York
Saratoga Springs is a famous place in New York that’s known for its mineral springs, which are said to have healing properties that boost digestive health and improve skin. This has made Saratoga Springs a popular resort town, although you’ll find lots more to do here.
Besides the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center, you must visit Saratoga Spa State Park . This is where many of the town’s namesake mineral springs are located, as well as a hotel and pool complex. There are also several great hikes, including the Gideon Putnam Trail, Five Mile Trail, and Geyser Loop. The latter takes you to Geyser Creek, where you can see the Geyser Island Spouter . While it’s technically not a geyser, it’s still an impressive spring that shoots water up to 15 feet in the air.
If you don’t want to bathe in a natural spring, you can visit one of the many luxury spas in town. Downtown Saratoga Springs is full of salons, spas, shops, and museums, and it’s a popular destination for the performing arts.
Nearby, you’ll find wineries and golf courses to round out your upstate NY vacation. In addition, Lake George, another New York tourist attraction I mentioned, is just 30 minutes from Saratoga Springs.
- Recommended accommodation : Stay at The Saratoga Hilton , a modern hotel with lush gardens, a gym, an indoor pool, and a restaurant. It’s also very close to downtown.
11. The Hamptons, a luxurious thing to do in NY
A visit to the Hamptons , one of the main attractions in Long Island , is a must-do in New York during summer . This luxurious summer colony attracts New Yorkers and residents from nearby Connecticut and Rhode Island. The historic seaside communities of the Hamptons offer lavish amenities and beautiful beaches, so it’s no wonder coming here is a top thing to do outside NYC .
The oldest and largest village in the Hamptons is Southampton . Along with its pretty beaches, Southampton is home to the historic Tudor House and Garden, Medieval Merchant’s House, and the SS Shieldhall , one of the largest surviving steamships.
Sag Harbor is another notable area in the Hamptons, straddling the border of Southampton and East Hampton. If you want a mix of nature and culture, East Hampton is a solid choice. Known as an artists’ colony, this village has welcomed dozens of famous artists, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol. In addition, East Hampton has several state parks, including Montauk Point State Park and Lighthouse .
As I mentioned, the Hamptons are close to NYC (about two hours), so if you’ll be in the city, consider this Hamptons day trip . It goes to several beautiful areas in Southampton and Sag Harbor, so it’s a good way to see multiple points of interest in New York in one trip.
- Recommended accommodation : The Southampton Inn is one of the best places to stay in the Hamptons, thanks to its clean and modern rooms and comfortable amenities. Indulge in a meal in the courtyard or dining room, enjoy free transportation to Cooper’s Beach, or take a swim in the on-site pool.
12. Robert H. Treman State Park, a place with more activities in New York
Boasting 12 waterfalls and nine miles of hiking trails, Robert H. Treman State Park is another historical place in New York I recommend visiting. This beautiful place is close to Watkins Glen and Taughannock Falls state parks, so if you needed another reason to visit the Finger Lakes region, here it is.
Robert H. Treman State Park’s waterfalls were formed during the last Ice Age, and this geological event also created the valleys and gorges found throughout the park, most notably, Enfield Glen . This narrow gorge is a focal point for the park’s hiking routes, which also go past a historic gristmill, Enfield Creek, and lovely waterfalls.
Two of the most famous waterfalls in the park are the 115-foot, multi-level Lucifer Falls , and the Lower Falls , whose base serves as a refreshing swimming hole. The two-mile Gorge Trail leads from the park’s east entrance to the Lower Falls. You can continue on the Gorge Trail and link to the Rim Trail , creating a loop of about five miles that gives you two different views of Lucifer Falls. I recommend both hiking routes, and by far, they’re two of the best outdoor activities in New York state .
Along with the hiking trails, the park has picnic areas and campsites where you can linger and admire the striking scenery of natural stone and cascading water.
- Recommended accommodation : Again, I recommend the Hilton Garden Inn Ithaca . Its central location makes it a great deal, plus the hotel has facilities where you can relax, exercise, dine, and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.
13. Catskill Mountains , the best place to visit in New York for scenic views
The Catskill Mountains is one of the best areas to visit in New York any time of year, which is why it’s considered one of the top day trips from NYC . Nestled in the Appalachian mountain range, it’s an amazing place to go if you’re craving some time in nature.
As you can imagine, the Catskills are one of the best places to visit in upstate NY in the winter . Check out one of the ski resorts, such as Hunter Mountain , and enjoy activities like Nordic skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. For something calmer, drive along the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway and enjoy 52 miles of scenery.
The Catskills offer plenty of things to do in New York in the summer , too. Catskill Park is a popular spot for camping, mountain biking, and watersports like tubing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. If you like to hike, you’re in luck, because there are dozens of routes throughout the area. Some of the top hikes include Giant Ledge, Devil’s Path, and the Catskills Scenic Trail. The Hunter Mountain Fire Tower Loop is a challenging yet rewarding hike, and you can climb the fire tower for even better views.
13. Catskill Mountains, the best place to visit in New York for scenic views
There is a lot more to see and do here, from cultural activities to extreme sports. You can also visit the surrounding towns of Phoenicia, Saugerties, and Woodstock, or explore the nearby waterfalls, one of which I’ll talk about next.
- Recommended accommodation : Check into the Catskill Mountain Lodge , a charming accommodation with spacious rooms, private bathrooms, two seasonal pools, and outdoor firepits. Enjoy the hotel’s rustic décor and take advantage of ski passes to the nearby ski resorts.
14. Visit Kaaterskill Falls, another breathtaking thing to do in NY
Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the Catskill Mountains, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the area. This two-tiered waterfall has a combined total drop of 260 feet, and it’s one of the tallest and oldest falls in the eastern U.S. Its beauty has long inspired nature lovers and artists, and the waterfall was a common subject for painters of the Hudson River School.
Today, you can see the falls from above or below, although the upper trail is much easier. This accessible trail is wide and flat, and there is a wooden viewing platform where you can take in the immense beauty of the cascades. Here, you can get a closer look at the first drop, which is the higher of the two and leads to a large pool.
While you’re exploring the area, look out from the top of the falls to see Hunter Mountain in the distance. If you have time, it’s worth visiting the town of Hunter, NY , which is considered one of the nicest weekend getaways from NYC .
Even from the pictures, you can tell that Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most beautiful places to visit, and hiking to the falls is an excellent outdoor activity in New York state . While you’re here, you can also see Bastion Falls, a 70-foot waterfall at the Kaaterskill Falls Trailhead.
Finally, while this place is highly-rated, the route to the lower falls can be very dangerous, so always stay on the marked path.
- Recommended accommodation : The Catskill Mountain Lodge is also close to Kaaterskill Falls, so after a full day of hiking in nature, you can come back to this charming, rustic lodge.
15. Fire Island National Seashore, another fun place in New York to visit with kids
Finally, the Fire Island National Seashore is a great New York attraction for families , and a unique place to experience the surf, sand, and sun. Spanning 30 miles from Long Island to the Great South Bay, this shoreline is home to over a dozen private communities.
To get to Fire Island, take the ferry or drive down the Robert Moses State Parkway. The latter option will drop you right off at one of the best beaches near NYC , Robert Moses State Park . Here, you can visit the Fire Island Lighthouse and walk the Sailor’s Haven boardwalk trail. This 1.5-mile path leads you through the Sunken Forest, an ecological treasure with some of the most unique flora and fauna in the region. It’s a popular birdwatching spot, so keep an eye out for egrets, herons, raptors, red-winged blackbirds, sanderlings, and warblers.
Towards the eastern end of the seashore, you’ll come to Watch Hill and its rustic campground, as well as the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. Another hidden gem, this sprawling natural area is a beautiful place to see waterfowl and white-tailed deer.
Of course, the entire shoreline offers plenty of recreational opportunities, such as boating, hiking, sailing, and swimming. So, if you’re looking for things to do in New York in the summer , you can’t go wrong with a trip to the beach!
- Recommended accommodation : Stay at Robbins Rest Retreat , an oceanfront vacation home with six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a balcony, patio, and fully-equipped kitchen.
That ends this guide to the best places to visit in New York State ! Lastly, here is a downloadable map to help you quickly locate all the places on your New York bucket list .
Of course, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment if you have any questions or other NY attractions you’d like to share. I look forward to answering you back. Until then, have an awesome trip!
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Legendary things to do in New York State
Top tourist attractions in new york state usa.
New York State is full of exciting attractions , and this article will help you find the best ones for your taste and budget. Whether you want a day trip or a multi-day adventure, learn about the most beloved and iconic experiences and discover new hidden gems in New York State.
New York is one of the most popular tourist destinations globally and with good reason. The state is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. So if you’re planning a trip to New York, be sure to set aside plenty of time to take in all this state has to offer.
New York is a big state, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The scenery is beautiful, the friendly people and there’s so much to see and do that you’ll never want to leave!
10 best places to visit in New York State for your next vacation
Niagara falls, food tours of saratoga.
- Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark
- Finger Lakes wineries
- Catskill Mountains
- Sackets Harbor
- Fort Ticonderoga
- Lake George
- Montauk Point State Park
New York State is home to some of the most famous attractions in the United States. The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, and other sites have long been on the list of must-see attractions for people around the country.
However, many other things to do in New York State are just as interesting and exciting. New York is a state with various cultural influences, including Native American, Dutch, English, and French.
Niagara Falls is one of the best places to visit in New York State. Niagara Falls comprises three waterfalls that lie between the United States and Canada. Visitors can take boat tours under the falls or walk along the Cave of the Winds boardwalk. Visitors can see fireworks over Niagara Falls at night during the summer months.
The Adirondack Mountains in northern New York offer a wilderness experience for hikers, campers, or mountain bikers who want to escape city life.
New York State is known for its beautiful natural surroundings. More than 150 state parks across New York have plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Adirondack Park boasts six million acres of forest, rivers, lakes, and mountains to explore, while Harriman State Park is popular among hikers.
Finger Lakes region
The Finger Lakes region is among the best places to explore upstate New York. The Finger Lakes region consists of 11 lakes that stretch out between Syracuse and Rochester, NY.
The Finger Lakes region is a popular vacation spot for people who live in New York City and a destination for tourists looking to explore more of New York State beyond just New York City.
Do you love food? And do you love to travel? If so, this trip is for you!
If you love food, then you are in for a treat. The New York State area of Saratoga is known for its local cuisine and tasty treats. Many tourists visit the site to experience the culinary delights on offer here.
The Saratoga Springs area is beautiful but very popular with people who enjoy cooking and eating. The good thing about this particular area of New York State is that there are so many places where you can find great food tours of Saratoga.
New York State is home to some of the most beautiful places. New York State has something for everyone, from Niagara Falls to the Adirondack Mountains.
The best places to visit in New York State include some of the most famous landmarks in the U.S., including the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. Many unique attractions make New York State a great place to visit, including the Finger Lakes and Lake Placid.
The state has plenty to do, but it has so many incredible places to see nearby. New York State is a great place to visit. Amazing cities like Boston and Philadelphia are just a short drive away. Washington, D.C., is a little further but an attractive option for history buffs.
New York City has world-class attractions, but there’s more to New York than the Big Apple. The Buffalo Zoo features one of the most significant elephant habitats! Beautiful mountain ranges and scenic waterfalls worth visiting in upstate New York.
New York State has some of the most beautiful natural scenery globally, with rolling hills and mountains that stretch as far as the eye can see. Many historical landmarks tell stories about our country’s past.
There are also plenty of fun activities like hiking trails through these landscapes or boat trips on one of many lakes throughout the state.
I'm Spencer Walsh, a professional traveler who loves to help people discover new places and learn about different cultures. I've traveled worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Africa to South America. My favorite thing about traveling is getting lost because it allows me to discover unexpected gems—finding a hidden museum or stumbling upon a beautiful park in the middle of the city.
The state of New York is home to a plethora of wondrous sites, including the calm shores of Lake George, the cliffs that jut out by Niagara Falls and the slice of ancient history kept alive in the Thousand Islands region. The best places to visit in New York state offer locals and residents alike a plethora of sites to discover and explore as they enjoy this wonderful American state.
There are a lot of reasons that New York state is one of the best places for a getaway. There are tons of attractions that you can visit. If you’re into nature and hiking, there are amazing places in Upstate New York, including Itasca State Park, Thacher Park and one of the best haunted places in America, Letchworth State Park. Being such a huge state, New York City certainly offers the option to have your own private tour when you do go to see it. You can also enjoy other things like seeing a Broadway play or visiting the Met or Natural History Museum of New York.There are a lot of reasons that New York state is one of the best places for a getaway. There are tons of attractions that you can visit. If you’re into nature and hiking, there are amazing places in Upstate New York, including Itasca State Park, Thacher Park and one of the best haunted places in America, Letchworth State Park. Being such a huge state, New York City certainly offers the option to have your own private tour when you do go to see it. You can also enjoy other things like seeing a Broadway play or visiting the Met or Natural History Museum of New York.
There are quite a few places in New York that can easily be described as ‘places to see, if I see one all in my life time.’ This state, which has some of the most famous geographical locations in America, like Niagara Falls and Adirondack mountains has something for everyone. Places like the Astor street, the Brooklyn bridge and some other great monuments and parks makes NY one of the best holiday venues for people looking for a great trip.
Home to both natural and man-made wonders, there’s no doubt that New York is one of the most beautiful states in the continental U.S. Whether you’re looking for a trip full of urban excitement or more of a serene scenic experience, New York offers it all. With some great activities, unique sites to see, and plenty of natural attractions to explore, I can’t think of anywhere better to go this spring—even if it is cold out!
New York is the state that has everything from architectural masterpieces to museums, awe-inspiring parks and even entertainment complexes. And the best part is you can see all of this without spending a fortune.
If you want to take your Instagram feed to the next level, there is no better destination than New York. With a range of natural wonders and urban marvels at every turn, New York never fails to produce stunning images for your followers. From the dazzling skyline of Manhattan to the ever-changing scene of Times Square, from quaint towns in the Hudson Valley to spectacular Niagara Falls – there is something for everyone in this vibrant state. See the best restaurants in New York and the richest people in NY as well.
The Adirondack Mountains of New York state were created as a result of ancient lava flows. Millions of years later, they’re breathtakingly beautiful. Bordering the Great Lakes and separated from the Catskill Mountains by Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks are home to hundreds of lakes and ponds, and offer leisurely walking trails for families.
New York is a mix of old and new, with everything from the city’s historical buildings to its modern architecture. New York is a landmark state, with landmarks like Niagara Falls, Central Park Zoo and the Statue of Liberty. It offers more diversity than anywhere else in America, with places like Brooklyn and Staten Island offering completely different experiences from Manhattan.
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Home » Travel Guides » United States » New York (NY) » 26 Amazing Hidden Gems in New York State
26 Amazing Hidden Gems in New York State
New York is one of the original U.S. colonies and has some of the most famous tourist attractions in the country: New York City, the Statue of Liberty, and Niagara Falls are only a few of the famous landmarks. While it is true these are extremely important parts, they just comprise a fraction of what makes New York unique. If you decide to delve deeper into what New York has to offer, you’ll discover a whole host of hidden gems awaiting you.
Check out our list of the best hidden gems in the state of New York:
1. Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, Cooperstown
Cooperstown, located in Otsego County, is home to the oldest existing covered bridge in the state and country! The Hyde Hall Covered Bridge is a must-see for those historic places enthusiasts, and is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The surrounding greenery enhances its timeless beauty and the town adds charm to the visit.
Built in 1825, this bridge is 53 feet long and incorporates the Burr arch design patented back in 1817 by Theodore Burr – it is one of only two remaining authentic Burr arch truss bridges in the state. Stop in at Cooperstown to see this surviving piece of our history. Make a day trip out of it and spend some time wandering the shops on Main Street while you’re there. You’ll find the quaint town almost as charming as the bridge it is so proud of.
2. The Tepee, Cherry Valley
A local roadside attraction, The Tepee is located near Cherry Valley in Otsego County. Built in 1954, it stands 50 feet tall and 42 feet in diameter, towering 4 floors over the surrounding land. The Tepee is on the National Register of Historic Places and continues to hold a gift shop and food stand for those in need of a chance to stretch their legs and experience a bit of old time American fun.
Harking back to the days of family vacations and roadside attractions, you can buy Native American handcrafted items, including pottery and jewelry. The Tepee stocks items only made locally and within the U.S., and is dedicated to continuing its legacy in the area. As you pass through Cherry Valley, take a moment to enjoy nature and visit this longstanding staple of the community.
3. Storm King Art Center
Storm King Art Center is an open air museum located close to the Storm King Mountain. Founded by Ralph Ogden in 1960, he opened his estate to the public and began this unusual museum with his collection of sculptures brought back from Europe. The museum collection gradually expanded and soon covered the landscape around his home.
Following a redesign to match the changing museum exhibits, the current display fuses art with nature, creating a harmonious environment. Rent a bicycle and take a ride around the museum grounds, or go on a guided tour ride! Open to the public except in winter, being surrounded by nature enhances the unique experience of walking through the sculpture displays at the Storm King Art Center open air museum.
4. Old Forge Lake Cruises
Old Forge is a hamlet at the gateway to the Adirondacks. Years ago, there were no roads north of the Old Forge community, and people continued their journeys up north via the waterways. An unincorporated community, it’s a perfect destination during the summer months. Although now roads have been built that continue north, the best way to tour Old Forge Lake and the surrounding lakes is still by boat!
Take a cruise to appreciate the beauty of the Adirondacks and keep the historic waterways alive! Retrace the old steamer routs on a boat and bring your camera for some great shots of the lake and mountains. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the natural beauty after learning a bit about its history as you travel the way those who had lived here had previously.
5. Newtown Battlefield State Park
Newtown Battlefield State Park is an important landmark of the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Newtown was fought here in 1779 between the American forces led by John Sullivan and the Iroquois Native Americans who had sided with the British. The Americans won the battle decisively, and it has since been preserved as a turning point in Sullivan’s campaign and an important part of the U.S.’s history.
Nature has since reclaimed the battlefield, with trees sprouting where soldiers once fell. A white column of granite has been erected on the top of the hill on which the battle took place, there for any who wishes to come and remember. Enjoy revisiting history while enjoying the peaceful surrounding woods. It’s important to never forget the sacrifices made by our ancestors.
6. Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Lake is the longest lake on the Finger Lakes, and just marginally smaller overall compared to Seneca Lake. Located in Ithaca, New York, there are several communities lining both shores if you wish to make a weekend out of this visit. The area is locally known for some a mysterious occurrence that has been going on for years on both Cayuga and Seneca Lakes that are called the Guns of Seneca: loud, cannon-like booms echo through the area. As of now, people have not been able to explain why.
Come visit this lake to see if perhaps you hear the ghost cannon firing invisible shots, or just to have a pleasant lakeside vacation. You should also try a glass or two of the local wine – Cayuga Lake is listed on the American Viticultural Area, and boasts more than a dozen wineries, four distilleries as well as a cidery and meadery. Ample outdoor and indoor (drinking) fun can be had here at this secluded New York lake!
7. The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center
The Safe Haven Museum preserves and educates people on a very important and often forgotten part of U.S. History. It recounts the story of the 982 Jewish (mostly) refugees who were brought to the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego through the government’s “Safe Haven” program.
This was the U.S. government’s only official activity to rescue or assist Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and refugees were brought from Italy and other parts of Europe. Some were not even Jewish in an attempt to allay anti-Semitic fears that sadly existed during those days. If you find yourself in Oswego, stop in for a few hours to browse the exhibits. Experiencing museums keeps reminding us of how far the world and how we should not forget what we have overcome.
8. Corn Hill, Rochester
While not internationally known, Corn Hill is the oldest residential neighborhood in Rochester and was founded in 1812. It is said that early Native Americans grew corn in the area that is now called “Corn Hill”, something that would have been visible from the Genesee River on which Corn Hill was located. Today you can visit the Corn Hill Preservation District to see the original neighborhood, which still is reminiscent of colonial times!
Walk along Clarissa Street, a famous and historic street integral to the lives and spirit of Corn Hill over the passing decades. Have a drink here and talk to the locals, or continue on to the Gazebo at Lunsford Park. If you’re here in July, you should attend the yearly Corn Hill Arts Festival to learn about colonial Corn Hill and enjoy the art exhibits! You’ll be retracing the steps of some of the original Rochester settlers.
9. The Scythe Tree, Waterloo
Rooted in the historic town of Waterloo, this tree has its own interesting story. It is said that in 1861, James Johnson returned from the fields, hung his scythe in the nook of this cottonwood tree, and went to fight in the Civil War. Tragically, Johnson died in North Carolina and never returned home. The scythe was left there by his parents, who always held out hope that he would one day return home. This local tradition was revived in 1918 when the Schaffe brothers enlisted to fight in WWI and hung their scythes in the tree before leaving for war. They were fortunate enough to survive, but also did not retrieve their scythes.
Today, the tree has grown around the scythes and continues to stand exactly in the spot visited by Johnson and the Schaffe brothers before they left for their respective wars. You can still spot the rusted scythe blades sticking out of the trunk, now about 10 feet up in the air. Visit this fascinating landmark that has seen so many wars and continues to remind us of the losses suffered at times of war. Much like how the tree has grown around the scythes, it can be interpreted as a tribute to human perseverance in the face of loss.
10. Grimes Glen
Located in Naples, New York, Grimes Glen is at the end of a 1 mile creek walk. It is open to the public and boasts 3 tall waterfalls, perfect for an afternoon hike. Follow the sign for Grimes Glen once you reach the end of Vine Street. Park your car and follow the trail across the bridge to reach the waterfalls.
You’ll reach the first waterfall quickly, a tributary that falls into the left side of the gorge called French Hill Falls. A bit further down is the second waterfall, with water cascading down 60 feet. We suggest enjoying the glen here and not continuing further, as the third waterfall is more remote. However, if you’re a climber, there are ropes along the steep walls that will lead you to the third, more remote waterfall. Regardless, the first two are so beautiful if you decide not to continue on.
11. Adirondack Animal Land
Adirondack Animal Land is the largest zoo in upstate New York, located in Gloversville. Set against the backdrop of the foothills of the stunning Adirondack Mountains, the zoo is open from May to Labor Day, so stop by if you are in the area during this time.
Home to more than 500 animals and stretching over 80 acres of farmland, you have the chance to get up close and personal with several animals, such as giraffes and monkeys. There is even a replica of a Western Town complete with a jail and mine! Feed the deer or ducks, and top off the day with a Safari Ride! You’ll come away informed and entertained.
12. Lucifer Falls
Located 10 miles west of Ithaca in Robert H. Treman State Park, Lucifer Falls can be found in the rugged Enfield Glen gorge. There is a comfortable paved trail and staircases built by the Civilian Conservation Corps members that lead you along the gorge, making the hike beautiful and not overly challenging.
A hike that is especially beautiful in fall, take the Rim Trail to Lucifer Falls to see the water cascading down the face of the rock. It is a beautiful and serene hike, enhanced by the sound of the rushing water. Be sure to also check out the rest of the park while you are there if you have the time – it is perfect for an afternoon picnic or a full day trip.
13. Cornell Botanical Gardens
These botanic gardens, formerly known as the Cornell Plantations, are located close to Cornell University in Ithaca, and consist of 25 acres of botanical gardens and 150 acres dedicated to the F.R. Newman Arboretum. These gardens date back to the founding of the university in the mid-1800s, and have been continually maintained and expanded since then.
Come visit this beautiful area specializing in trees and shrubs native to New York State, and boasting an especially well-known herb garden. The Arboretum has several stunning tree collections, such as their chestnuts, oaks and maples. The botanical gardens are open to all daily for no entrance fee, and is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon if you find yourself in Ithaca.
14. Ausable Chasm
A sandstone gorge located near Keeseville, the Ausable Chasm is a lovely nature attraction in the Adirondacks region. The Ausable River runs through the chasm before emptying into Lake Champlain and is partially fed by Rainbow Falls. Even the names sound beautiful, don’t they?
Either start on your own and explore the chasm rim, or sign up for guided tours to explore the rock formations. You can also explore the chasm on a raft! There are endless outdoor activities awaiting you here. Come visit the aptly nicknamed “Little Grand Canyon of the East” and soak in the beauty of the rock formations. It is well worth your time.
15. Montgomery Place, Bard College
Directly adjacent to Bard College Campus is this magnificent 380 acre estate. Montgomery Place overlooks the Hudson River and is a designated National Historic Landmark nestled in from of the Catskill Mountains. Come visit this impressive mansion and admire a piece of early American history.
Tour the mansion grounds to see the historic farm, orchards, farmhouse and accompanying buildings that occupy the estate. Walk the gardens and follow the network of paths that connect the buildings through quiet wooded trails boasting views of the Catskills and river. Tours are available seasonally only on Saturdays, but be sure to stop through if you find yourself in Barrytown.
16. Southwick Beach State Park
Southwick Beach State Park lies along a stretch of sandy beach on Lake Ontario and contains a long sandy beach stretching 3,500 feet. It is located in a rare, freshwater coastal barrier environment of beaches, sand dunes ad marshes, and is filled with wildlife and fun activities for visitors of all ages.
The park boasts extensive campgrounds with both tent and trailer sites, picnic areas and fields. There are lifeguards stationed at the swimming areas in the summer, and in winter, you can ride a snowmobile through the park! Bring your hiking boots to hit the trails that extend out to the nearby Lakeview Wildlife Management Area, or take a boat out on the lake to complete your relaxing nature vacation.
17. Camillus Erie Canal Park
Located in Camillus, this town park preserves a 7 mile stretch of the Erie Canal and holds the Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The section of the old canal stretches from Warners Road to Newport Road, and is worth the walk to better understand the historical importance of the canal.
Located along the canal is a replica of Sims’ Store, a mid-1800s canal store that used to stand nearby. Now it is a museum and gift shop where you can learn more about the Erie canal or buy a keepsake. Nearby you will also find a set of lock gates from the Old Erie Canal and an aqueduct that was in use from 18925-mid 1840s. Stop by and stretch your legs to see a bit of what is left of the original Erie Canal.
18. Whitaker Park, Black River Valley
Whitaker Park is one of the hidden gems of Black River Valley, and was originally owned and maintained by Daniel Whitaker. He left the extensive property to his daughter, who donated it to the town upon her death, leaving the beautiful gorges and maintained recreational grounds to the public’s enjoyment.
Head out here for a rural camping experience, or to pass the day. The ballfields, pavilions and picnic areas are open to the public; the area is filled with trails that lead you through the gorgeous and to beautiful vistas of the valley. Relish in this secluded park and take some time to recharge from your busy life.
19. Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island
Pollepel Island is located on the Hudson River and was first discovered by Dutch settlers. It was even used as a line of defense by the American forces during the American Revolutionary War. It is most famous, however, for Bannerman’s Castle, an old military warehouse built on the island.
Take a boat out to the island to explore this historic structure. The castle was originally built by Francis Bannerman, who used it as a place to store military supplies. Bannerman passed away and in August 1920, several tons of shells exploded, destroying part of the complex. The island is mostly in decay now, but is still accessible for intrepid kayakers who want to explore lesser known areas of the Hudson Bay.
20. Zoar Valley Swimming Hole
The Zoar Valley Swimming Hole is located in the Zoar Valley State Multiple Use Area, which spans over 2927 acres of Cattaraugus County. The swimming hole is one of the best-kept secrets in the states and an excellent and beautiful place to cool off during the hot summer months.
Hike down to the confluence of the Cattaraugus Creek and Genesee River. Have a nice swim and enjoy the surrounding nature. After you swim, dry off and explore the winding trails and explore the park. You can also take a canoe and paddle further down the river to continue exploring nature.
21. Whiteface Mountain Steps
Not for the faint of heart, the steps to the peak of the Whiteface Mountain lead you to a spectacular view. If you find yourself in Wilmington with some time to spare, take the drive out to the mountain, and skip the elevator once the road ends to scale the mountain.
The steps up are an adventure – it starts with a series of stairs, which eventually lead you to a hike up the rocks as you get closer to the top. It doesn’t take that long, and the view once you reach the peak will make you proud of your accomplishment as you gaze down into the valleys, peaks and lakes. Of course, if you are too tired and want to take the elevator, the view is just as lovely.
22. Stonecrop Gardens
Located in Cold Spring, Stonecrop Gardens was originally the private residence of Frank Cabot, and did not open to the public until 1992. Situated 1,100 feet about sea level in the Hudson Highlands, the expansive gardens cover about 15 acres and are filled with diverse plant life – thanks to the former owners who were horticultural enthusiasts.
Come visit this corner of the highlands to tour the grounds that include a woodland, water gardens, a grass garden, raised stone beds, as well as cliff rock gardens. There is also a conservatory and Alpine House that boasts a remarkable facade and pond leading up to the house. Snap a photo of this postcard-ready image and enjoy this beautiful and peaceful garden during any season.
23. Sodus Bay Lighthouse
Sodus Bay Lighthouse was built on Sodus Point and is located on Lake Ontario. The original lighthouse was replaced by a new one in 1869, and has since been excellently preserved by the town of Sodus Point, New York. Formerly operated from 1834 to 1901, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stop by to appreciate the beautiful vista at this historic lighthouse. If you happen upon it during the summer, there are concerts offered here! You should spend some time at the maritime museum, maintained by the Sodus Bay Historical Society. It is a quaint and beautiful piece of New York State history.
24. Giant Ledge, Shandaken
Located in Phoenicia, Giant Ledge is a great day hike and popular with locals. As you reach the first ledge, you’ll see why it is such a hit! Perfect for a later afternoon hike and especially lovely in the autumn, this slice of Catskill heaven is a 3.2 mile roundtrip up to the first ledge. If you’re feeling energetic, the whole loop to see all 5 ledges is about a 4 mile long.
There are even a few campsites tucked back behind the ledges if you get there early enough to claim them and want to sleep outdoors with a gorgeous view. If you’ve hiked, camped, taken a million photos of the views and still want something to do (provided you are an experienced hiker), keep going and head up to Panther Mountain for more gorgeous vistas to give you that “I’m on top of the world” feeling.
25. Boldt Castle
Located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands region, Boldt Castle is open to the public between May and October. If you find yourself in the Town of Alexandria, take a boat out to the mansion first built by American millionaire George Boldt, who intended to construct an elaborate house to rival the largest homes in the nation. It was left unfinished and abandoned upon his wife’s unexpected death until it was acquired by the state to turn into a public space.
Take a ferry, private boat or bout tour from places like Alexandria Bay, Cananoque, or Rockport. Your entrance fees contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of the buildings. Explore the extensive mansion and the island and snap some pictures of the river and the opposite shores. It feels a bit like a sleepy, enchanted castle.
26. Eternal Flames Falls
A small waterfall located in Chestnut Ridge Park in western New York, Eternal Flames is an usual attraction: behind the waterfall is a grotto that emits natural gas, which can be visible at almost any time of the year when the flame is lit!
Follow the access trail up to the falls to see this natural phenomenon in person, and bring your camera! The 30 foot high cascade is gorgeous, especially in early spring, and is accessible without paying an admission’s fee. The hike is short, only about a mile round trip, and snakes through some lovely terrain. Do take care though, as the path can be challenging at times. It is well worth it to see the flames hidden behind the falls though!
26 Amazing Hidden Gems in New York State:
- Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, Cooperstown
- The Tepee, Cherry Valley
- Storm King Art Center
- Old Forge Lake Cruises
- Newtown Battlefield State Park
- Cayuga Lake
- The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center
- Corn Hill, Rochester
- The Scythe Tree, Waterloo
- Grimes Glen
- Adirondack Animal Land
- Lucifer Falls
- Cornell Botanical Gardens
- Ausable Chasm
- Montgomery Place, Bard College
- Southwick Beach State Park
- Camillus Erie Canal Park
- Whitaker Park, Black River Valley
- Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island
- Zoar Valley Swimming Hole
- Whiteface Mountain Steps
- Stonecrop Gardens
- Sodus Bay Lighthouse
- Giant Ledge, Shandaken
- Boldt Castle
- Eternal Flames Falls
22 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City
Written by Lana Law Updated Aug 1, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
One of the greatest cities in the world , New York is always a whirlwind of activity, with famous sights at every turn and never enough time to see them all.
Some people come here to enjoy the Broadway shows; others come specifically to shop; and many come simply to see the tourist attractions: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, historic neighborhoods, and world-famous museums . As someone who visits regularly, I like to come with friends, try new restaurants, and discover new experiences.
Many of the best places to visit in New York are within walking distance of each other, or just a short ride away, making this city a delight for sightseeing. If you have plenty of time and enjoy the water, touring New York City using the NYC Ferry System offers a unique way to see the sights.
Any time of year and any time of day or night there are an endless array of things to see and do in New York.
1. Statue of Liberty
2. central park, 3. rockefeller center & top of the rock observation deck, 4. metropolitan museum of art, 5. broadway and the theater district, 6. empire state building, 7. 9/11 memorial and museum, 8. american museum of natural history, 9. high line, 10. times square, 11. brooklyn bridge, 12. fifth avenue, 13. grand central terminal, 14. lincoln center, 15. one world observatory, 16. the frick collection (frick madison), 17. new york public library, 18. wall street, 19. radio city music hall, 20. st. patrick's cathedral, 21. carnegie hall, 22. bryant park, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to new york, map of tourist attractions in new york city, new york, ny - climate chart.
America's most iconic sight, the Statue of Liberty is at the top of every first-time visitor's list of things to do in New York. It was France's gift to America. Built in 1886, it remains a world symbol of freedom and is one of the top attractions in America .
It is one of the world's largest statues, standing just under 152 feet tall from the base to the torch, and weighing approximately 450,000 pounds. You can see the statue from land, with particularly good views from Battery Park , on the southern tip of Manhattan.
To truly appreciate the Statue of Liberty, the best thing to do is to take a short boat trip to Liberty Island and see it up close. Take a pleasant stroll around the base, and if you have reservations, enter the pedestal or the crown. The crown is open for tours, but book well in advance if you want to enjoy this special experience.
On a tour of the Statue of Liberty, you have the option to stop at Ellis Island and explore the Immigration Museum . This fantastic museum is located in the historic immigration station complex, where thousands of immigrants were processed before entering the United States.
Displays focus on the process, the experiences, and the stories of the people who came through here on their journey to the United States. You can even search the on-site computer database to see a record of immigrants who came through here.
Tickets to go inside the statue sell out. Pre-purchasing tickets is a must during the high season and a good idea at any time of year. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour takes you to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This tour allows reserved access to board the ferry and includes access to the Museum at Ellis Island.
Author's Tip: Buying tickets near the ferry can be tricky, with hawkers swarming you as you exit the subway claiming to be "official representatives" and trying to sell you more expensive tickets before you can find the ticket booth. Be sure to buy in advance at the link above or ignore the hawkers until you reach the booth in Castle Clinton in Battery Park.
Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in New York State
An oasis of green amongst New York's concrete canyons, Central Park is a sanctuary of peace and quiet for visitors and locals alike.
A walk, pedal, or carriage ride through the crisscrossing pathways of Central Park is a must-do on anyone's New York City itinerary. In winter, you can even lace up your skates and glide across Wollman Rink . This huge park in the city center, a half-mile wide and 2.5 miles long, is one of the things that makes New York such a beautiful and livable city.
Besides being a great place to experience a little nature, Central Park has many attractions within its borders, and most of them are free, making it one of the few cheap things to do in NYC. Some of the most popular places to visit include the Belvedere Castle , Strawberry Fields , the Central Park Zoo , and the Lake . If you are exploring the park on your own, start by picking up a map at one of the visitor centers and plot your route.
Central Park also offers activities throughout the year, from 5km runs and yoga classes to penguin feeding at the Central Park Zoo. Have a look at the park's events schedule for details on what's happening during your visit.
If you're visiting during the summer months, you may want to catch a performance of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This is a relaxing way to spend an evening in New York City and performances are free.
Read More: Best Parks in New York City
When it comes to New York attractions, Rockefeller Center is on almost all tourists' itineraries. This vast entertainment and shopping complex in the middle of Manhattan is home to NBC-TV and other media, but the centerpiece is the 70-story 30 Rockefeller Plaza , an Art Deco skyscraper that offers awesome views over Manhattan from the famous Top of the Rock Observation Deck .
The "deck," as it's known, includes three floors, located on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. Indoor and outdoor viewing spaces offer spectacular views by day or night. You can buy a Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket in advance. These tickets come with a flexible voucher redemption policy, so you can change the date if your plans change or the weather doesn't cooperate.
Skating on the outdoor skating rink at the base of the tower is one of the most popular things to do in winter in New York City and a fun activity for families and couples. The rink is typically open from October to April. If you aren't a strong skater, don't worry, the rink is tiny, and for many people, this is their first time on skates, so the skill level is pretty low.
After Thanksgiving, a huge Christmas tree is erected in front of the skating rink, lighting up the complex for the holiday season. Many people visit New York in December just to see this site.
Another point of interest in this area is the famous bronze sculpture of Atlas in front of the International Building. It's a popular subject for photographers.
Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York
Read More: Best Places to Go for Christmas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art , or the Met, as it is commonly known, was founded in 1870, and is one of the most famous museums in the United States. The permanent collection of The Met contains more than two million works of art, spanning a period of 5,000 years.
Although the museum has three sites, the centerpiece is The Met Fifth Avenue . Highlights of this collection include American decorative arts, arms and armor, costumes, Egyptian art, musical instruments, photographs, and much more.
Always-changing exhibitions bring some of the world's most famous works to the public.
The Met Cloisters , located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, is another extremely popular New York museum. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, housed in an outstanding structure, built around medieval cloisters, chapels, and halls, focuses on the medieval art and architecture of Europe.
Address: 1000 5th Avenue, New York, New York
Read More: Top-Rated Museums in New York City
Attending a Broadway show is one of the top things to do in New York City. Considered the pinnacle of American theater, this is the place to see the latest shows and the long-running classics.
Broadway usually refers simply to Broadway theater, which encompasses a large number of theater venues in the Theater District and along the street of Broadway. For the most popular shows , tickets should be purchased well in advance from the website.
Shubert Alley is a famous pedestrian-only alley in the Theater District and home to two well-known playhouses: the Shubert on 221 West 44th Street and the Booth at 22 West 45th Street. Historically, aspiring actors would frequent Shubert Alley looking for opportunities to perform in a play sponsored by theater baron, Sam S. Shubert.
A Chorus Line played at The Shubert for a record 6,137 shows. The musical Oklahoma debuted in 1941 at the St. James playhouse just down the street. Other legendary places include Sardi's restaurant, where many famous actors met, and the Music Box Theater, where Irving Berlin staged The Music Box Revue in 1921.
The Empire State Building is one of New York's most famous landmark buildings and key tourist attractions. The 381-meter-tall, 102-story building was the tallest in the world until the 1 World Trade Center tower rose higher, 41 years later. Topped with a mooring mast for airships, the Empire State Building immediately became a landmark and a symbol for NYC when it opened in 1931.
There are actually two observatories atop the Empire State Building , both offering astounding views. On clear days, you can see up to 80 miles, looking into the neighboring states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
The 86th Floor Observatory (1,050 feet) is the city's highest open-air observation deck, and what most people are expecting to find when they go up the Empire State Building. If it feels familiar, it's because this area has been featured in countless movies and TV shows.
Reached by high-speed, automatic elevators, it has both a glass-enclosed area, which is heated in winter and cooled in summer, and spacious outdoor promenades on all four sides of the building. The views are incredible. The Top Deck on the 102nd Floor stands 1,250 feet above the bustling streets below. While you are 16 stories higher, the viewing area here is enclosed.
The line to go up the Empire State Building is almost always long; moves slowly; and during peak times, it can be ridiculous, making the whole experience more frustrating than it needs to be. Be aware you can easily burn up half your touring day just at this one attraction.
It's well worth buying the Empire State Building Ticket – Observatory and Optional Skip the Line Ticket that lets you bypass the lines .
The World Trade Center's twin 110-story towers once dominated the Manhattan skyline but were destroyed by suicide-piloted jetliners on September 11, 2001, with a tragic loss of life. Where the two towers of the World Trade Center once stood, now stand two square reflecting pools, each one acre in size.
Known as the National September 11 Memorial , this area is a moving tribute to the almost 3,000 people killed as a result of attacks on September 11, 2001, and also the six people killed in the earlier World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
Surrounded by trees and grass, the pools are recessed, with water cascading over the sides and flowing into a seemingly bottomless square. These are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America . Around the pools are bronze panels with the names of all those who were killed in the attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located in an architecturally stunning, curving glass building, between the two pools. It features displays that include artifacts, photos, and videos, presenting the story of 9/11, as well as the aftermath and impacts.
The building is constructed around the remnants of the World Trade Center and incorporates the old structures within the extraordinary new museum building. The memorial and the museum are located on the south side of One World Trade Centre, on Greenwich Street.
Also worth seeing in this area, on the opposite side of Greenwich Street, is the eye-catching Westfield World Trade Center , which contains Oculus Plaza . You can't miss this building with its white fins and spaceship-like appearance. This is a public building with shops and high-end stores, but it's worth popping in for a quick look at the architecture.
Tickets to the 9/11 Museum must be purchased online or at the window in advance. This is one of New York's most popular things to do, so booking ahead is essential to avoid disappointment. If you are traveling as a family, be sure to book the discounted family rate for up to five.
When purchasing your tickets, you will have the ability to select a time to visit, and you must make your time slot. On Mondays, museum entry is free from 3:30 to 5pm, but tickets still need to be booked in advance, starting at 7am, and are limited to four per person.
Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, New York
One of New York City's best museums for a family outing, the American Museum of Natural History has always been an important institution, but now it's even more exciting.
One of the newest additions to the New York City attraction scene is the recent opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science , in May of 2023. This impressive renovation and expansion is quickly becoming one of the city's top things to see, with a design reminiscent of the imaginative style of Antonio Gaudi.
The stunning four-story wing features flowing concrete in intriguing formations. Once inside, you can explore the brand-new insectarium, butterfly conservatory, research library, and a wealth of educational opportunities. It's an exciting addition to the city's cultural landscape that is sure to inspire visitors of all ages.
The museum's permanent exhibit halls showcase all that's interesting about the natural environment of our planet, from science and the environment to animals and fossils. It also hosts special exhibits that run for a set block of time.
Some of the current exhibits that are well worth seeing include one on sharks, featuring models of these amazing creatures that you can actually touch. Another fascinating display is the rare 22-carat Okavango Blue Diamond.
Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, New York
An exciting, and recently expanded, attraction in New York City, the High Line is a former rail line that has been transformed into an urban walking trail above the city streets.
This unique linear public park has been planted with a variety of plants and trees, many of which are native species. In spring many of these come into bloom. The park is lined with glass railings in most areas, giving it a natural feel, while still offering outstanding views of the city.
This oasis on Manhattan's West Side runs from Gansevoort Street at the south end (just south of West 13th Street) to West 34th Street at the north end, running parallel to 10th Ave most of the way. You can access it at various points along the route, some of which offer stair access only, and others with elevator access.
Although the High Line is only about two to three stories above street level, the views of the city's architecture and the lookouts over the streets offer a whole new perspective. Along the route are art installations and benches , and near the south end is a sitting area with bleacher-style seating and a glass wall looking out onto the city . The trail is heavily used, and on weekends it can be extremely busy, but without the surrounding traffic, it's still a peaceful retreat.
One of the highlights of the High Line is the Hudson Yards overlook, called The Vessel, near 34th Street. This is a stunning multilevel structure.
You'll find other interesting places to visit just off the High Line. The south section runs through the Meatpacking District , with plenty of trendy restaurants and fine dining. The southernmost access point is adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is also worth a visit.
If you hop off the High Line at the 16th Street access (elevator access), it's just a short stroll to the popular Chelsea Market , located in a former Nabisco factory, where you'll find restaurants and unique shops.
In the spring of 2023, a new extension called the High Line — Moynihan Connector opened to much fanfare. This extension adds new access points, public spaces, and transit connections via the Moynihan train station. The new additions consist of two new 600-foot-long bridges, one made of steel and one made of wood.
Tours of the High Line are offered year-round and trace the history of the attraction from its industrial beginnings through to the structure it is today. Tours are free and are 90 minutes long in the spring, summer, and fall, and 45 minutes long in the winter.
Although a late-night stroll on the High Line on a hot summer's night or after a concert or Broadway show may sound enticing, the High Line closes at 10pm.
Location: Manhattan West Side
Lined with huge, brilliantly lit billboards and screens, Times Square is the place to go in New York in the evening, but still exciting at any time of day. This is the location of New York's New Year's Eve Celebrations and the famous "ball drop" at midnight, when the square and surrounding streets are filled with people.
Times Square is busy and perpetually crowded but has its own unique appeal. Bleachers set up at one end are a great place to take a break and appreciate the scene.
Formerly Longacre Square, Times Square was named in 1904 after the New York Times tower. The newspaper first posted current headlines along its moving sign, the first of its kind in the world, in 1928.
If you've had your fill of sitting on the bleachers and are looking for something fun to do either as a group or a couple, stroll over to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum . The eerily life-like wax figurines feature NYC icons like Jimmy Fallon and the set of The Tonight Show , Broadway cast members, and shows where you actually get to dress up and participate. The building's glass dome protrudes over Times Square for awesome views.
Address: Broadway and 7th Avenue, New York, New York
The Brooklyn Bridge, with its Gothic-shaped arches and suspension cables, is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks and has inspired generations of poets, songwriters, and painters. This historic bridge, spanning the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn, was completed in 1883 and was the world's first steel suspension bridge .
You can see it from many of the ferries, or the east side of Manhattan, but the best way to experience this icon is to take an hour and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. A wood plank walkway, only open to pedestrians and cyclists , runs above the lanes of traffic. If you are not up for walking the whole distance, at least go as far as the first pillar, where there is a viewing platform, and you can see one of the granite towers up close.
From the bridge are beautiful views over Manhattan, the East River, and beyond to the Statue of Liberty. Biking over the bridge is another option, but pedestrian traffic is often very heavy, and cycling can be slow and challenging on busy days. Be aware that the access to the bridge begins well back from the water's edge.
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Brooklyn
One of the most famous shopping streets in America, Fifth Avenue is New York's premier shopping area , where many top designers have their flagship stores. Cartier, Tiffany, Bergdorf-Goodman, the famous Apple Store Fifth Avenue, and of course, Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as many others, line this posh avenue.
Even non-shoppers can enjoy a walk along Fifth Avenue. The best area runs from approximately the south end of Central Park to the New York Public Library, or more specifically, between 60th Street and 40th Street.
Grand Central Terminal , often called Grand Central Station, is a fantastic Beaux Arts building, and it's definitely worth popping in to take a look at this famous landmark. The building first opened in 1913 as a terminal for the subway and train stations.
Outside, the 42nd Street colonnaded faces and the statuary on top are some of the key highlights. Inside, you can't miss the Grand Staircase , where you can stop to gaze out over the concourse. The beautifully restored ceiling here shows a celestial scene.
One of the most iconic sights within Grand Central Terminal is the Main Concourse Information Booth Clock. This four-sided clock has been the site of countless meet-ups (and even a marriage proposal or two) and has been featured in many famous movies including The Godfather , Men in Black , and Midnight Run .
You'll also find an extensive selection of retail shops and restaurants inside the terminal.
Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, New York
If you plan on taking in one of the performing arts such as ballet, symphony, or opera, it's likely that your plans will involve an evening or afternoon at the Lincoln Center . Musicians, dancers, and performers of all kinds dream of gracing one of the 30 indoor and outdoor stages spread throughout the center.
Throughout the summer from mid-June through to mid-August Lincoln Center is one of New York's cheapest cultural hotspots with hundreds of free events during their Summer for the City series . All kinds of entertainment for all ages are on offer.
The Lincoln Center is home to the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the Juilliard School of Music, the Lincoln Center Theater, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and it's almost a certainty that some sort of event will be taking place during your time in town.
In addition to live performances, Film at Lincoln Center showcases innovative movies on a daily basis.
Location: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, New York
At the top of the newly constructed One World Trade Center building , One World Observatory is the highest observation deck in the city offering outstanding views from floors 100, 101, and 102, 1,776 feet above the ground. The elevator to the top is part of the attraction. As you ascend, the surrounding panels show New York as it transformed over the years, from a rural landscape to the metropolis you see today.
This glass building, which can be seen from all over the city, is a unique structure on the Manhattan skyline, with angles that give it a very distinct appearance. If you stand near the base and look straight up, the tower appears pyramidal.
If you want to go up and see the view, you can buy an NYC One World Observatory Skip-the-Line Ticket to save you some time, but note, you will still need to clear security.
Address: One World Trade Center, 285 Fulton Street, New York, New York
For ambience, the Frick Collection tops the list when it comes to New York City museums. Housed in an early 1900s mansion, the building and the original collection were donated by Henry Clay Frick, who had the mansion built to display his art collection.
However, the original mansion is currently closed for a massive renovation and will be for several more years. A decision was made to move elements of the Frick Collection to the former site of the Whitney Museum. The temporary home is known as Frick Madison .
A visit is still worthwhile — the most notable artwork, which includes a mix of paintings, porcelain, and furniture, are on display, as are works by Monet, Rembrandt, Bellini, El Greco , and many other famous artists.
Temporary Address: 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
The New York Public Library's main branch was designed by architects, Carrere & Hastings, in the Beaux Arts style. The library, with its impressive rooms, is a prominent city attraction that has been featured in many movies and TV shows over the years.
Although colloquially known as the main branch, the proper name is actually the Stephen A. Schwarzman building . It opened in 1911 to immediate acclaim. An enormous library, the Main Reading Room alone stretches two city blocks, and the Periodicals Room holds 10,000 current magazines. The collection at this location is vast, to say the least.
Location: Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, New York
Stretching for eight city blocks from Broadway to South Street is the world-famous Wall Street. This street and the surrounding area are home to some of the most important exchanges in the world, including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Also located nearby are the impressive Trinity Church and Federal Hall . Look for the bronze statue of Charging Bull at Bowling Green, on Broadway. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Financial District and a popular photo opportunity for visitors.
Lying in the shadow of Rockefeller Center is Radio City Music Hall , a famous entertainment venue and a designated city landmark. This 1932 Art Deco theater offers musical extravaganzas and films and is the home of the dance company, The Rockettes .
The building was built and financed by the Rockefellers during the 1930s and contained the largest indoor theater in the world at the time. Today, the venue frequently hosts major events, including the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards. Its prominent marquee is hard to miss as it curves around the building and stretches down the block.
Address: 1260 6th Avenue, New York, New York
St. Patrick's Cathedral is one of New York's finest examples of Gothic Revival, with its massive bronze doors, white marble façade, 330-foot spires, the Great Organ, rose window, bronze baldachin, 2,400 seating capacity, and the statue of Pieta at the side of the Lady Chapel. With millions of visitors annually, the cathedral is a major destination for believers and tourists alike.
The building was erected in 1879 and has been carefully restored and maintained throughout its existence, including a $200-million renovation that was completed in 2016.
Location: 5th Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets, New York, New York
Carnegie Hall opened in 1891 as New York's first great concert hall. Musicians from Tchaikovsky, who conducted on opening night, to Leonard Bernstein and The Beatles have filled the hall. It is said to have some of the best acoustics in the world.
While the best way to enjoy the hall is to take in a performance, one of the best ways to learn about it is on a guided tour . The tour offers a comprehensive look at the hall, insight into the construction, and discusses some of the artists who have taken to the stage. Tours end at the Rose Museum.
Address: 881 7th Ave, New York, New York
On a summer's day, it's hard to beat a leisurely afternoon at Bryant Park . The grounds feature monuments and gardens, and "Le Carrousel," a popular carousel. A games area makes available chess boards, checkers, and backgammon boards for a small fee.
Bryant Park was a seedy area known for crime and a hangout for undesirables until 1989, when the city reclaimed it and turned it into a beautiful urban oasis. Locals have embraced this park, and today, it's a pleasure to walk through. If you don't want to play a game, it is still interesting to watch others playing.
When the snow flies and the temperature drops, an outdoor skating rink emerges at Bryant Park. This small rink is free to use, unlike the one at Central Park. Bring your own skates or rent a pair at the concession stand. Don't know how to skate? No problem. Skating aids, similar to walkers that elderly people use, are available to rent. If you can, try to visit on Tuesdays or Thursdays. At 12:40pm, artistic skating performances by the Ice Theater of New York take place.
The park is located adjacent to the New York Public Library.
Location: Between W 40th Street and W 42nd Street, at 6th Ave, New York, New York
With so much to see and do in New York, purchasing a couple of tours can really help cover all the main attractions and make sightseeing easy and enjoyable. Walking everywhere can be tiring, and figuring out the subway isn't for everyone. There are many tours to choose from, but the following offer a good mix of attractions and experiences, and they are all guaranteed lowest prices.
Explore the City :
- For getting your bearings, seeing the sights, and learning a little history, there is no beating the traditional open-top sightseeing bus. Take a Big Bus New York Hop-on Hop-off Tour to cover all the top sights and save yourself a whole lot of walking, so you will still have some energy to take in dinner or a show in the evening.
- If you are spending several days in the city and plan on sightseeing each day, you can save yourself money and hassle by picking up a New York CityPASS , which covers five major attractions and will allow you to bypass the lines. The pass is good for nine days.
See the Sights from the Water :
- Take a Manhattan Island Cruise to see the city skyline and city landmarks from the water, along with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. These are 2.5-hour cruises that run in the morning and afternoon and include a live guided narration.
Get an Aerial Perspective :
- Indulge yourself with a Manhattan Helicopter Tour and fly over one of the most amazing cities in the world. These 15-minute shared-occupancy flights take you past the landmark buildings in downtown, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. This tour will give you a whole new appreciation for the density of the buildings and the size of Central Park.
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The Boroughs of New York City: If you have time to tour areas outside of Manhattan, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Take a trip on the Staten Island Ferry and discover the sights of Staten Island . Hop on the subway and explore the attractions of Queens . Walk or bike over the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy the numerous attractions in Brooklyn . Lastly, home to the Yankee Stadium and the largest zoo in the United States, it's worth taking some time to visit the Bronx
Where to Go near New York City: If you want a quick break from New York, have a look at our top day trips from New York City or our best weekend getaways . In summer, you might even want to consider heading out to explore the best beaches on Long Island .
More on New York
New York City Travel Guide
35 Best Things to Do in NYC
There are countless reasons to be mesmerized by New York, from its skyscrapers and monuments to its vibrant art, food, fashion and nightlife. Across the city, fresh perspectives are yours to be found; go for a stroll in Central Park or along the High
- All Things To Do
- 1-Day Itinerary
- 2-Day Itinerary
- 3-Day Itinerary
Central Park Central Park free
This part-park, part-museum, part-concert hall swallows central Manhattan, and many of the city's most notable attractions are situated next to it or within its limits ( the Guggenheim , the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History , to name a few). But travelers insist that you shouldn't just pass through Central Park on your way to another place. This 843-acre green space is a favorite of New Yorkers and tourists; you can come here to exercise, dine, go to the zoo and more.
Almost everyone has a positive impression of the park, but no one has quite the same experience or recommends that you do quite the same thing. There's an almost impossible amount of sights to see here (hidden treasures, indeed), including more than 20 playgrounds, 48 fountains, monuments or sculptures, and 30 bridges. Here's a shortlist:
National September 11 Memorial & Museum National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum serves as the primary tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as the six lost in the 1993 bombing. The memorial's twin reflecting pools and human-made waterfalls rest as eerie footprints where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood. The 1-acre pools are enclosed in bronze panels on which the names of every victim are inscribed. The museum spans across 110,000 square feet and relays the narrative of the attacks through a series of multimedia displays, real-time recordings, authentic artifacts and an interactive table.
Recent visitors cited the overall atmosphere of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as sobering and moving. Many travelers say they were impressed with the site as a whole, noting its respectful and informational displays. Reviewers say you won't want to rush your time here, with some recommending that you budget three to four hours to see all of the exhibits.
Empire State Building Empire State Building
U.S. News Insider Tip: Watch out for "sunset peak" pricing, which adds an extra $10 per ticket for two hours around sunset each evening. But on a clear day, it just might be worth it. – Elizabeth Von Tersch, Senior Editor
New York City Tourist 101 dictates that you must swing by this landmark structure in midtown Manhattan. And despite the hefty admission fees, the crowds and the long lines, recent visitors insist that you won't be sorry. In fact, taking a trip to the top of the Empire State Building is either the perfect way to begin or end your Big Apple excursion – on a clear day you'll be able to the see the city's major highlights some 1,250 feet beneath you.
New York in One Day Guided Sightseeing Tour
from $ 99.00
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour: All Options
from $ 44.00
Central Park Pedicab Guided Tours
from $ 50.00
Metropolitan Museum of Art Metropolitan Museum of Art
U.S. News Insider Tip: Come for the art, stay for the rooftop cocktails. A seasonal rooftop garden bar offers views over Central Park, which is especially coveted at sunset. The roof garden stays open into the evening on Friday and Saturday. – Jessica Colley Clarke
No museum in the United States is as celebrated as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Spilling over with masterpieces from all over the world, including notable collections from ancient Egypt and classical antiquity, "the Met" is an art experience unlike any other, and like much in New York, it's impossible to see all the museum has to offer in one day (or even two days, for that matter).
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Statue of Liberty is at the top of many travelers’ must-see lists. A feat of 19th-century technical engineering and a beacon for immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, the statue can be admired from several different vantage points around Manhattan, including Battery Park and the High Line . But to truly appreciate its size and significance, you’ll want to visit the statue and Ellis Island while on your NYC vacation.
The only way to access the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is by using the official National Park Service ferry operator, Statue City Cruises. If you’re departing from the New York side, you’ll hop on a ferry at Battery Park in lower Manhattan. If you’re departing from the New Jersey side, you’ll depart from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The ferry ride takes approximately 15 minutes.
Brooklyn Bridge Brooklyn Bridge free
One of many signature landmarks of New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge is also one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country and a National Historic Landmark. Its six lanes (and one pedestrian and bicycle walkway) span the East River, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. Walking across the bridge remains a tourist pastime.
Some visitors decide to skip the bridge in favor of other attractions, but if you're short on money, this truly is one of the best ways to experience the city and to get a unique view of either borough at no cost. Several reviewers warn that since there is no shade along the bridge, it can get quite hot in the summertime (though there are vendors selling bottles of water). Many also warned that it can get quite crowded, and advised visiting in the morning before 9 a.m. if you don't want to maneuver around crowds.
The High Line The High Line free
U.S. News Insider Tip: Visit early in the morning or on a weekday to avoid crowds. If you walk from north to south, add on a visit to The Standard Biergarten or the vibrant Chelsea Market for great people-watching, food and drink. – Erin Evans, Managing Editor
Set on an abandoned rail track on Manhattan's West Side, this sprawling, nearly 1½-mile-long landscaped park stretches over three of the city's most lively neighborhoods: the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen. Standing 30 feet above street level, the High Line offers sweeping views of the Hudson River and Manhattan's cityscape. But the vista isn't the only reason visitors and Manhattanites flock to this manicured green space. Here, you'll find continually changing public art installations, a handful of food vendors and a sprawling picnic and sunbathing area (known as the 23rd Street Lawn).
NYC Food Tours NYC Food Tours
Known for everything from cheap eats to authentic international fare to Michelin-starred restaurants, New York City is a culinary hot spot and undoubtedly one of the best foodie cities in America . However, chances are you won't have time to experience everything the city has to offer in just one trip. One way to get a taste of New York's excellent cuisine across a variety of neighborhoods is to take a food tour.
Whether you want to explore a particular borough or neighborhood, or even a specific cuisine or dish, you'll find a tour to appease your taste buds. Relying on traveler reviews and expert analysis, U.S. News rounded up the best food tours in New York City . Though tours vary in length and price, they all receive rave reviews from past travelers, who applauded the variety of food and the expert knowledge of the guides.
Classes & Workshops
Manhattan Evening Jazz Cruise
from $ 108.00
2 Hour Authentic Fresh Pasta Making in East Village
from $ 101.30
Central Park Yoga Class with a View in the Heart of New York City
from $ 35.00
Washington Square Park Washington Square Park free
U.S. News Insider Tip: Finding an empty bench in Washington Square Park after visiting one of the neighborhood's independent bookstores – from The Strand to Three Lives & Company to Left Bank Books – is a true lower Manhattan pleasure. – Jessica Colley Clarke
The central gathering place of Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park, an almost 10-acre green space known for its downtown buzz. Here, kids splash in the fountain, musicians perform to a crowd, artists sell sketches or photographs, and chess enthusiasts gather to challenge each other to a game. What was historically a cemetery and later a bohemian hot spot is now a neighborhood institution that draws locals and visitors alike with its kids' playground, sizable dog run and ample shady space for picnics. An arch dedicated to George Washington is the dominant architectural feature of the park.
U.S. News Insider Tip: Start your day with a stop at the TKTS booth in Times Square or at the Lincoln Center location to snag discounted same-day tickets for an array of Broadway and off-Broadway shows. – Catriona Kendall, Associate Editor
Some out-of-towners spend their entire New York trip at one show or another on the Broadway circuit. And if you like plays and musicals, this is where you should be: "The Great White Way" represents the heart and soul of American theater. Considering that nearby Times Square is a dizzying maze of sights and sounds with no real starting point, some visitors suggest you can see all you need to of that neighborhood just by trundling back and forth between shows.
One World Observatory One World Observatory
Formerly known as Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in lower Manhattan. This observatory sits atop the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the highest point in the city. You'll find it adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial . At more than 125,000 square feet, the three-level observatory is located on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of this office skyscraper. Travelers enjoy the panoramic, 360-degree views, up to 45 miles in every direction on clear days.
Visitors reach the observatory by direct express elevators known as SkyPods. The trip upward includes a visual presentation showing how New York has changed over the decades, from open land to smaller buildings to skyscrapers. The trip takes less than a minute. Expect a multimedia presentation at the top before stunning views are revealed. A restaurant and bar on the 101st floor are open to guests who have purchased tickets to the observatory.
Grand Central Terminal Grand Central Terminal free
At this beautiful train station, you can eat some lunch or shop till you drop, but recent travelers most enjoyed just taking in the scenery. Before you enter, be sure to snap a few shots of the exterior's ornate beaux-arts neoclassical architecture. Inside the celebrated main concourse, you're treated to glimmering marble floors, gold and nickel-plated chandeliers and a sky-themed ceiling. Other must-sees include the Information Booth clock, the Whispering Gallery and Grand Central Market, a European-style food market that sells produce, gourmet ingredients and treats. Food options range from the upscale (Cipriani Dolci and The Campbell Bar) to the legendary (the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant) to the fast and easy (Shake Shack). As mentioned, there are also plenty of shopping options, though most travelers suggest you leave most of Grand Central's pricey merchandise in the store. If you want a train-themed souvenir, visit The New York Transit Museum Store in the shuttle passage.
Travelers call the train station "iconic" and say it's a beautiful space to walk through or to grab a meal and people-watch.
Bryant Park Bryant Park free
U.S. News Insider Tip: This Midtown park draws crowds for two seasonal events: summer movie nights under the stars and a holiday market complete with ice skating. For summer picnics or winter shopping sprees, Bryant Park delivers year-round. – Jessica Colley Clarke
Sprawling across nearly 10 acres, Bryant Park sits just south of Times Square – though it feels a world away. Though its lush green space has existed for more than 150 years, Bryant Park was a revitalization project of the 1990s that made it a sanctuary for locals and tourists alike. This is the preferred place for midtown Manhattan professionals to eat lunch, for fashionistas to strut during fashion week and for performers to showcase their talents during annual events like Broadway in Bryant Park and Piano in Bryant Park. If you're interested in learning more about the park's history, consider joining one of its free tours. Tours, which last 45 minutes, are free and offered every other Wednesday, year-round.
Circle Line: New York City Harbor Lights Cruise
from $ 49.00
Staten Island Ferry Staten Island Ferry free
Perhaps the most famous ferry service in the United States, the Staten Island Ferry runs daily between the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. The city has been operating the ferry service since 1905 and transports some 70,000 passengers across New York Harbor every day. It’s one of the last remaining vestiges of an entire ferry system that served New York City residents before the construction of any bridges.
But the Staten Island Ferry is more than a transportation service; it’s an attraction, drawing tens of thousands of out-of-town visitors a year for a free ride across the harbor (that’s right, no charge; the service is provided by the City of New York). The 5-mile ride lasts about 25 minutes. Passengers must disembark and then reboard to make the return trip to Manhattan. Travelers remark about the views of the Statue of Liberty , Ellis Island, Manhattan skyscrapers and the bridges of lower Manhattan.
Museum of Modern Art Museum of Modern Art
You don't have to be an art lover to appreciate the Museum of Modern Art; this airy midtown gallery also doubles as a shrine of pop culture and 20th century history. Some of the most significant contemporary pieces hang on its walls, including Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Cans," Van Gogh's "Starry Night," Dalí's "The Persistence of Memory," Monet's "Water Lilies," and the list goes on and on. In October 2019, the museum reopened after completing an expansion project that added more than 40,000 square feet of gallery space, as well as a performance studio that features live programming.
Recent travelers were impressed by the extensive art collection and loved being able to see the museum's famous paintings. The $25 entry fee for adults ($14 for students; $18 for seniors; free for kids 16 and younger) can be hard to stomach for some, but reviewers insist you won't regret the money spent. A few travelers express disappointment with the crowds (which are most common on rainy days), but suggest getting some fresh air at the museum's Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
New York Public Library New York Public Library free
U.S. News Insider Tip: If you love all things book-related, consider visiting The Morgan Library & Museum nearby, which features J.P. Morgan's stunning 1906 library. The museum offers free admisson (and live jazz music) on Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. – Elizabeth Von Tersch, Senior Editor
This main branch, officially called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, attracts plenty of book lovers, history junkies and architecture aficionados. Most people swing by the Bryant Park landmark to say hello to Patience and Fortitude (the famous marble lions guarding the entrance) and to admire the lovely beaux-arts design.
American Museum of Natural History American Museum of Natural History
Visitors love the American Museum of Natural History off Central Park West. Whether you're exploring the interactive exhibits on the land, the sea or outer space; user reviews take on a common theme. This museum is incredible. Even the cafeteria and gift shop are worth your notice.
There are more than 34 million artifacts inside, spread across four city blocks, 26 buildings and through 45 exhibition halls, so don't plan on seeing everything in one day. The Rose Center for Earth and Space is a particular favorite, but you should also plan on visiting the dinosaurs, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe and the Butterfly Conservatory (accessible November through May), which houses nearly 500 butterflies. Local experts say the institution is one of the city's can't-miss museums , especially for families.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Wander along Brooklyn's Washington Avenue, and you can't avoid stumbling upon this verdant 52-acre park. A main highlight here is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, punctuated by wooden bridges and Japanese maples. And if you arrive at the end of April, you can't miss the Cherry Esplanade ( Sakura Matsuri ) when rosy cherry blossoms burst into bloom. Another standout: the Shakespeare Garden, which contains more than 80 plants described in the playwright's works.
Thanks to the garden's extensive collection, which includes 13 gardens and five conservatories, there's plenty of scenery to soak up here. Plus, you can take advantage of year-round exhibits and events, such as children's gardening workshops and Lightscape, the annual wintertime lights display. After you've taken respite in Brooklyn's cherished green space, recent visitors suggest moseying over to two staples located down the street: Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum.
Art & Culture
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour
from $ 54.99
Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park free
Located on the Brooklyn side of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre oasis at the foot of the famous bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The park stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s waterfront, connecting Columbia Heights and Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, an eclectic neighborhood of boutiques, trendy cafes and restaurants. Travelers rave about the views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the New York Harbor and the bridge.
Among the city’s newest parks, Brooklyn Bridge Park was once an industrial district and home to a transportation terminal that served as an entry point for immigrants. Today, the park features rolling hills, promenades, playgrounds, basketball courts, sports fields, a roller skating rink, gardens, and more among six piers and the riverfront. What’s more, the park is home to more than 12,000 species of plants and wildlife. It also hosts a variety of events and programs throughout the year, such as sunset yoga and stargazing.
The Guggenheim The Guggenheim
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, or simply, "The Guggenheim," is one of the most well-known art museums in the country, and it's just as renowned for its cutting-edge design as it is for its pieces. The coiled building (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) stands out on Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. Inside, the halls are chock full of works from the likes of Picasso, Cézanne, Degas, Manet and Van Gogh, among others.
Visitors loved the building's design and architecture, but offered more mixed reviews for the art on display. Some raved about the permanent collection and the special exhibitions, while others felt the cost of entrance tickets was overpriced for the amount of art displayed. Reviewers recommended the Museum of Modern Art over the Guggenheim if you're short on time.
Off-Broadway Shows Off-Broadway Shows
Off-Broadway may not have the glitter of the Great White Way , but these smaller theaters and their productions are often innovative and are no less engaging. Unlike Broadway, these theaters are not centered around Times Square , but scattered all over Manhattan and generally seat fewer people (between 100 to 499 audience members). Smaller venues provide a more intimate experience for plays, musicals and revues. Many of New York’s most famous productions found their start off-Broadway, such as “Hair,” “Rent” and “In the Heights.”
Tickets also are more affordable, generally between $20 and $75 per person. Look for innovative productions at places like the Public Theater, Cherry Lane Theatre or Playwrights Horizons. The Signature Theatre showcases revivals and new plays.
Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck Rockefeller Center and Top of the Rock Observation Deck
This iconic plaza has it all – beautiful sculptures, an enormous skating rink, a fishbowl view of NBC Studios, plus a plethora of stores and restaurants. Though undoubtedly there will be intense crowds, this is an experience that's worth having at least once. During the wintertime holidays, the plaza sparkles with an illuminated Christmas tree and skaters gliding across the ice rink. But don't fret if your New York adventure doesn't take place during the cold months. There's plenty to do year-round. If you plan ahead, you can spend a morning watching a taping of the "Today" show, an afternoon admiring the city from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and an evening catching a performance at Radio City Music Hall .
Travelers say the Top of the Rock offers some of the best views of Manhattan and say the experience is worth every penny. Visitors recommend booking the Rock Pass ticket that includes a tour of the building and observation deck access.
Little Island Little Island free
New Yorkers have long needed to get creative to maximize space on the island of Manhattan, where space is limited. But with the opening of Little Island in 2021, that creativity stretched beyond the island's borders and into the water. Little Island is an artificial island located on the west side of Manhattan in the Hudson River. This public park, which is free to visit, offers a new space for locals and visitors alike to immerse themselves in nature, art, free events like concerts and one of the most memorable locations in New York City to catch the sunset.
Most recent visitors praised Little Island for its peaceful atmosphere, splash of greenery and views of the Hudson River and beyond. Some recent visitors recommend planning a visit on a weekday rather than a weekend, when this attraction can be crowded with people picnicking, especially during the golden sunset hours. Regardless of what time of day visitors stop by, almost everyone is left with a positive impression of the park and note its sculptures, family-friendly vibe, impressive variety of plants and free concerts.
Niagara Falls One Day Tour from New York City
from $ 200.00
Gospel Mass in Harlem plus VIP Contrasts
from $ 80.00
New York To Boston and Harvard in One Day
from $ 130.00
St. Patrick's Cathedral St. Patrick's Cathedral free
This sprawling cathedral sits amid the hustle and distinctively secular bustle of Rockefeller Center . But that doesn't take away from its otherworldly vibe. Whether you're religious or just making an architectural pilgrimage, you can't help but be impressed by St. Patrick's. Opened in 1879, the neo-Gothic cathedral spans the length of an entire city block and features 330-foot spires. Its interior is just as impressive thanks to its numerous altars, stained-glass windows, organs and imposing 9,000-pound bronze doors. The church welcomes more than 5 million visitors annually.
Travelers love the historical church's beauty and stained-glass windows, but say you don't have to carve out too much time to see it. Previous vacationers also suggest visiting at Christmastime to really see the church in all its glory.
Little Italy Little Italy free
U.S. News Insider Tip: Taste the best of Little Italy at C. Di Palo Wine Bar. With connections to the fine foods store serving this neighborhood for more than a century, this wine bar serves Italian cheeses, meats and wines in a comfortable, modern environment. – Jessica Colley Clarke
Once a thriving enclave of Italian immigrants, Little Italy is now a popular tourist destination (though remnants of the past remain). Restaurants serving classic Italian dishes on red-and-white checkered tablecloths can still be found in the neighborhood. Among the neighborhood staples is Lombardi’s, a restaurant that has been tossing pizzas since 1905 and claims to be the first pizzeria in the United States. Ferrara Bakery & Cafe, another famous Little Italy eatery best known for its cannolis and espresso, has been around since 1892.
Times Square Times Square free
Some say that Times Square is like a five-block metaphor for New York City itself – it's exciting, colorful and always jumping. Others describe this area of midtown Manhattan as artless, overpriced and congested. Perhaps this commercial stretch from West 42nd to West 47th streets is a little of both, and though locals would advise you to avoid it, you should at least catch a glimpse of its neon lights. Most travelers recommend visiting the area after dark to see the marquee displays. Many add checking out Times Square before or after a Broadway show is the perfect time to fit it into your schedule. However, if you're not a fan of crowds, reviewers suggest you avoid this area altogether.
Times Square's biggest tourist draw is the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. Revelers crowd the area to see New York's famous Waterford crystal ball descend 77 feet from a pole on the One Times Square building. If you're feeling brave, take a trip to New York and Times Square at this time of year and watch the ball drop for free! Just plan on coming in the early morning and staying all day, and note that the area is super crowded, even by New York standards.
Fifth Avenue Fifth Avenue free
It's fitting that St. Patrick's Cathedral would be on the same street as stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. That's because for many people, shopping is a religious experience, and here between 34th and 59th streets you'll find the holy grail.
Even if you're not planning to put your credit card to work at high-end stores, travelers say a stroll along Fifth Avenue is a must. It's one of the top places to shop in the city, according to local experts. Plus, during the winter holidays, the street is decked out in festive decor.
Bronx Zoo Bronx Zoo
According to travelers, these 265 acres sheltering more than 10,000 animals should be near the top of every young family's itinerary in New York. And if you're an older visitor, the Bronx Zoo could be a great way to escape the nonstop activity in Manhattan. This zoo's claim to fame is that it's one of the largest metropolitan animal parks in the country. It's also one of the best zoos in the U.S . Originally opened at 1899, the zoo also houses several famous landmarks, including the Rainey Memorial Gates, the Rockefeller Fountain and the historic Zoo Center, which was constructed to look like a palace.
Among the zoo's popular exhibits is JungleWorld, which aims to recreate the jungles of Asia with animals like white-cheeked gibbons, gharials, tapirs, fruit bats and more. There's also the Wild Asia Monorail, a seasonal outdoor monorail that allows visitors to observe animals like rhinos, tigers and red pandas roaming freely in the outdoor habitat. Other star attractions include the Congo Gorilla Forest, the seasonal butterfly garden, Tiger Mountain and the Children's Zoo. Along with the animals, there are also several rides and experiences, such as a carousel and sea lion feedings.
Food & Drink
New York Dinner Cruise
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The Original Chinatown and Little Italy Food Fest EST 2009
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New York City Sunset Cruise on Yacht Manhattan
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Apollo Theater Apollo Theater
U.S. News Insider Tip: Go to BLVD Bistro on 116th St. before or after your visit to the Apollo. They serve breakfast all day and literally have the best grits and pancakes I have ever had in my life. It is also Black-owned! – Lawrence Phillips, founder and CEO of Green Book Global
One of the most famous music halls in the United States, "the Apollo" started as a burlesque theater in 1914. By the 1930s, it transformed into a concert hall that helped launch the career of several black musicians. A then-unknown Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson (with the Jackson 5) and Stevie Wonder all performed on the Apollo stage during an Amateur Night competition. If you're in Harlem on a Wednesday you can still go to Amateur Night, an experience some previous travelers highly recommend.
Frick Collection Frick Collection
While the 20th-century mansion that traditionally houses this robust art collection undergoes a renovation (through 2024), highlights of the institution’s works will be showcased in a temporary home, the Frick Madison (located five blocks north on Madison Avenue and 75th Street). In a departure from its customary presentation, the collection at Frick Madison will be organized chronologically and by region. The treasured pieces on display include paintings and sculptures by Bellini, Clodion, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Turner, Vermeer and Whistler. Renovation of the collection’s permanent home is expected to be completed within two years.
The museum's permanent collection features works that span from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century, and include renowned artists like Manet, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Goya, Degas and Turner, among other masters. The collection also includes several permanent galleries, as well as the Portico Gallery, which showcases sculpture, ceramics and decorative arts. Along with the artworks, the mansion itself is a sight to behold. It once belonged to steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick and sits along Fifth Avenue across the street from Central Park .
Metropolitan Opera House Metropolitan Opera House
Stroll through the courtyard of the Metropolitan Opera House even if you're not going inside for a performance. Every element of this opulent building – from the limestone architecture, to the lobby's glittering chandelier, to the acoustics in the concert hall – is gorgeous. Travelers call this opera house a feast for the eyes and ears. Tickets are notoriously expensive (as much as several hundred dollars for the best seats), but the sticker shock evaporates quickly if you're into performing arts. You can try to score a same-day ticket at a discounted rate, plus there are discounts for senior citizens.
The Metropolitan Opera House features spring performances by the American Ballet Theatre and fall and winter performances by the Met Opera Company. Showtimes and ticket prices vary by performance and seating, so check the Met Opera's website for additional details. You'll find the opera house at Lincoln Center Plaza on Manhattan's Upper West Side – take the 1 train to 66th Street.
Radio City Music Hall Radio City Music Hall
It's where Ella Fitzgerald pined for the man she loved, the Rolling Stones couldn't get no satisfaction and Lady Gaga had a "Bad Romance." Among performers, there's no New York concert venue that's quite like Radio City Music Hall. Not only is it the largest indoor theater in the world, its marquee spans a full city block. Opened in 1932, the theater is a New York City Landmark. Today, the theater welcomes musical performers like Ben Platt and Lil Nas X, as well as comedians like Chris Rock.
If you're in town any dates between November and January, consider attending the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which stars the Rockettes. According to recent visitors who attended a show, there's not a bad seat in the house. If you're not able to attend a performance, consider signing up for the hourlong Radio City Stage Door Tour. The guided tour includes stops at areas of the historic venue not typically seen by the public, such as Radio City’s secret apartment, The Roxy Suite. You'll also an enjoy an in-depth history lesson about the stage and its iconic art deco design. The tour concludes with a meet-and-greet with a Radio City Rockette. Tours are offered Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; tickets cost $42 per adult and $38 per kid 12 and younger.
The Battery The Battery free
Also known as The Battery, this 25-ace park sits at the very southern tip of Manhattan Island, and offers a green respite from the steel and concrete of lower Manhattan. The park, named after artillery batteries that protected the settlement in the 17th century, is popular with visitors because of its views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty .
The park is home to perennial gardens, bike paths, grand lawns, an urban farm and a unique carousel, known as the SeaGlass Carousel. On the carousel, riders sit within iridescent fish and glide through a 360-degree aquatic adventure. The carousel’s bioluminescent design honors the waterfront site as well as another landmark, the Castle Clinton, one of the country’s earliest aquariums.
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Coney Island Coney Island
Known as the "the People's Playground," this famous amusement area in Brooklyn has witnessed an illustrious past. In the early 1900s, Coney Island enticed New Yorkers to visit with its bathing pavilions, seaside resorts and amusement park. The Great Depression took its toll on the fun-loving spot, causing many attractions to close. But after years of economic instability, Coney Island has reclaimed its place on the Brooklyn map, with a fresh roster of eateries and entertainment (including a July Fourth hot dog-eating contest and an annual Mermaid Parade ) found along the boardwalk. Coney Island now features several separate amusement parks, as well as a museum, which hosts a variety of exhibits and shows.
According to recent visitors, Coney Island is a worthwhile trip in the summer if you have the time and are traveling with young kids who would enjoy the rides. If you're not up for indulging your inner thrill-seeker, you can also walk along the beach, which spans nearly 3 miles and features several sports courts, as well as playgrounds. A walk along the iconic Riegelmann Boardwalk is just as memorable, according to recent visitors.
Chrysler Building Chrysler Building free
Technically, the Chrysler Building is an office building open Monday through Friday, but you don't need to go inside to appreciate its aesthetic appeal. Recent visitors praised the building's unique architectural style (though a few wished you could still go inside to admire its intricate lobby and elevators).
Built in 1930, the Chrysler had a short-lived run as the tallest building in the city, before it was usurped of its title by the Empire State Building . Nevertheless, this 1,046-foot-high skyscraper remains a favorite among New Yorkers for its classic art deco style. And unlike the Empire State, at this site you won't need an expensive entry ticket, a strong stomach to stand soaring heights or patience for long lines to see what all the fuss is about. You can behold the building's menacing gargoyles and triangular openings from many spots in Manhattan. Though the lobby is currently closed to visitors, there have been talks of building an observation deck, though none is available at this time.
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10 Underrated Things To Do In New York City For The Holidays (Besides Seeing The Rockefeller Center Tree)
Posted: November 6, 2023 | Last updated: November 6, 2023
- Escape the tourist crowds and experience the magic of the holidays in NYC through lesser-known activities like ice skating in Washington Square Park and exploring the festive winter village in Bryant Park.
- Indulge in a German Christmas extravaganza at Rolf's Restaurant, where you can enjoy traditional dishes in a whimsical atmosphere filled with twinkling lights and holiday decorations.
- Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by catching the iconic Nutcracker ballet performed by world-class dancers at the Lincoln Center, or by visiting Dyker Heights in Brooklyn to witness the dazzling Christmas light displays.
New York City sparkles even brighter during the festive holiday season, with twinkling lights, festive music, and holiday crowds filling the streets. There are iconic attractions like the famous and giant Rockefeller Center Christmas tree , which gets lit up for the holidays, and gazing at the elaborately decorated department store windows along Fifth Avenue. But beyond the famous sites in NYC at Christmas, there are so many underrated and lesser-known holiday activities for visitors to enjoy in the city.
New York has something for everyone wanting to experience the magic of the holidays. By venturing to some of the city's hidden gems and seasonal attractions, travelers can soak up that warm holiday feeling while avoiding huge crowds. Whether it's seeing The Nutcracker performed by world-class dancers, wandering through an interactive holiday pop-up exhibit, or simply strolling through a park adorned with twinkling lights, there are tons of lesser-known things to do in New York City for Christmas.
For travelers looking to escape the tourist crowds and see the concrete jungle's lesser-visited gems, here are some of the most underrated things to do in NYC at Christmas and throughout the holiday.
Related: 14 Most Beautiful Destinations To Celebrate Christmas On The East Coast In The USA
Soak Up The Christmas Sights In Washington Square Park: Washington Square's Festive Hub
Washington square park comes alive with lights, ice skating, carolers, and festive cheer during the holidays..
While many people visit Washington Square Park for its alluring history , it is a great place for travelers to experience some festive cheer away from the crowds. The iconic arch and central fountain remain lit up at night, creating a romantic atmosphere.
Visitors can go ice skating on the seasonal rink for $15-$20 , browse the local vendors selling gifts and snacks, or enjoy free holiday performances. Carolers, jazz bands, and dance troupes often stop by to entertain travelers. The annual tree lighting ceremony also takes place in early December, with the park's towering 50-foot tree sparkling with over 5,000 lights.
- Address: 5 Avenue, New York, NY 10003
- Cost: Free general admission
- Hours: Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Things to Do: Ice skating, browsing vendor stalls, enjoying free entertainment and performances
- Top Attractions: Holiday tree lighting, central fountain, Washington Square Arch
Celebrate Christmas German-Style At Rolf's Restaurant: Experience A German Christmas Extravaganza
Rolf's restaurant fully embraces christmas with three floors of lights, ornaments, and german holiday dishes..
For a kitschy German dining experience, Rolf's Restaurant serves up traditional dishes like schnitzel and spaetzle across three floors decorated top-to-bottom in twinkling lights and Christmas ornaments. Visitors can sit inside quirky dining rooms packed with humorous decorations as festive German music plays. Rolf's really leans into the holiday aesthetic, with Santa and reindeer figures galore.
Visitors can warm up with hot alcoholic drinks like mulled wine or hot toddies as they soak in the über-festive surroundings. It's perfect for getting visitors into the holiday mood, so it is no surprise it ranks among the top NYC restaurants with enough Christmas decor to make Santa jealous .
- Address: 281 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010
- Cost: Entrees $30-60
- Hours: Open daily, 12 pm–10 pm
Catch The Nutcracker Live At The Lincoln Center Performed By New York City Ballet
See the iconic nutcracker ballet performed by world-class dancers at lincoln center..
Looking for underrated Christmas events in NYC? Nearly every December, the New York City Ballet performs its iconic production of The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center . Visitors can see the Tchaikovsky ballet brought to life onstage with elaborate sets and costumes.
Watching this Christmas classic performed by world-class dancers is an ethereal experience. The choreography and music whisk travelers away to a magical world. Outside of the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular , this is one of the best holiday performing arts events in New York City.
- Address: Lincoln Center, New York, NY 10023
- Tickets: $50-$250
- Hours: Performance times vary, typically 2 hours with intermission
Related: Three Days In NYC: The Perfect Winter Itinerary
Explore Bryant Park And Go Ice Skating At This Winter Wonderland Village
Bryant park becomes a festive winter village with an ice rink, gift shops, and entertainment..
One of the Christmas destinations in New York City worth the hype , Bryant Park transforms into a charming alpine village right in the middle of Manhattan during the winter. Travelers can lace up their skates and glide around the seasonal ice rink or wander around the wooden gift shops and food kiosks of the Bank of America Winter Village.
On select days, visitors can enjoy free ice skating lessons. There are also fun free events like jazz performances, jugglers, magicians, and Christmas movie screenings. For smaller crowds, it's best to go during off-peak times as Bryant Park tends to get crowded.
- Address: 41 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018
- Cost: Free admission, skating $18-$55
- Hours: Shops open daily until 10 pm, Skating open 8 am-10 pm
- Things to Do: Ice skating, shopping, eating, enjoying free entertainment
- Top Attractions: Winter ice rink, gift shops, food kiosks
Experience The Dazzling Brooklyn Light Show At Dyker Heights
The dyker heights neighborhood glows with elaborate christmas light displays and life-size decor..
In the residential Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, locals decorate their houses in over-the-top Christmas light displays each year. Voyaging around the brightly lit streets almost feels like walking through a theme park. Visitors can ooh and ahh over life-size Santas, gigantic snow globes, massive reindeer, and twinkling candy canes.
Neighbors even synchronize some light shows to music. Dyker Heights offers a truly one-of-a-kind holiday spectacle without the tourist crowds. Travelers can either wander around on foot or pay for a trolley tour. Going on a weekday around 7 pm is best.
- Address: Around 11th-13th Aves from 83rd-86th Sts, Brooklyn, NY 11228
- Cost: Free to view by walking, trolley tours $60
- Hours: Best seen evenings 5-9 pm
- Things to Do: Walking or driving past elaborate light displays
- Top Attractions: Life-size Christmas decorations, music-synched light shows
Capture Unforgettable Empire Views At Igloos 230 Fifth
Sip seasonal cocktails in a private heated igloo overlooking the dazzling empire state building..
For amazing NYC views at Christmas alongside holiday cocktails, the igloos at 230 Fifth are a fun experience. The rooftop bar sets up private, transparent, heated igloos that seat around eight people. Visitors can slide into warm, cushy chairs as Christmas music plays overhead.
Servers take drink orders while visitors gaze out at stunning views of the historic Empire State Building lit up red and green for the holidays. It's a lively scene as groups mingle between igloos with cups of hot cider or mulled wine to ward off the cold. The igloos get booked up early, so reservations are a must.
- Address: 230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001
- Cost: Igloo reservations $50-100
- Hours: Daily 4 pm-12 am, reservations for 1.5 hours slots
Related: The Empire State Building: Why Its Story Will Make You Want To Take The Tour
See The Holiday Train Show At The New York Botanical Garden
The ny botanical garden displays model trains amidst 140 tiny nyc landmark replicas..
At the beloved New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, a dazzling miniature train set gets built annually for the holidays. It features model trains zipping around nearly a quarter mile of intricate, recreated NYC landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center - all made from natural materials like bark, leaves, and acorns.
As visitors walk around this magical world, the model trains chug along past 140 replicas of NYC buildings. Seeing famous city sites like Yankee Stadium rendered in miniature is amazing. And with the gardens dazzlingly decorated for the holidays, this display is a must-see.
- Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458
- Cost: General admission $23 adults
- Hours: 10 am-6 pm daily , until 8 pm on select evenings
Witness The Holiday Lightscape At The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Walk a path illuminated by artful light installations and color-lit trees at night..
From November to January, travelers can experience Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden . After dark, the gardens transform into a twinkling holiday wonderland. Visitors follow a winding 1.5-mile path illuminated by color-changing light installations, with moments like walking through a tunnel of glowing orbs or underneath suspended burning bushes.
The massive tree canopies overhead are lit in hues of pink, orange, and purple, with the buildings of Brooklyn in the distance. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase, but tickets must be reserved online in advance.
- Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
- Cost: Timed tickets $18
- Hours: 4:30 pm-9 pm daily mid-November to early January
Astra Lumina: Take An Enchanted Night Walk At Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing meadows becomes an enchanted forest with colorful light sculptures and effects..
Flushing Meadows Corona Park becomes home to an immersive nighttime walking experience during the winter called Astra Lumina. Travelers follow a 1.5-mile path, entering different realms surrounded by colorful lights and sounds. In one area, hanging jellyfish-like sculptures light up and change colors to music. In another, travelers walk alongside giant lit-up deer statues as squirrel sculptures play overhead.
Other spaces feature enormous flowers and mushrooms to walk under and traffic signal trees. At the end, a field of lights synchronizes a grand finale. It's a magical experience akin to walking through a fantasy world.
- Address: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY
- Cost: Tickets $32 adults
- Hours: Timed entries 5 pm-10 pm
Related: Where It's Holiday Everyday: 10 U.S. Places Named After Christmas
Enjoy Opulent Hotel Holiday Themes At Lotte New York Palace
See elaborately themed holiday suites at lotte palace with characters like the grinch..
One of the best NYC hotels for Christmas , Lotte New York Palace recreates various winter wonderlands and Christmas stories across multiple floors. Each elaborately decorated suite transports visitors, from strolling through a decorative replica of the North Pole to eating treats inside a life-size gingerbread house.
Costumed characters like the Grinch, Ralphie, and Buddy the Elf also greet travelers for photo ops. The detail put into each room's theme is impressive. Those wanting to dive into Christmas worlds will love exploring Lotte Palace's holiday spectacle.
- Address: 455 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022
- Cost: General admission approx. $61
- Hours: Varied times on select dates in December
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17 Top Tourist Attractions in Moscow
Last updated on November 3, 2023 by Alex Schultz -
The capital of Russia is an incredible place to explore. Visitors to Moscow come away spellbound at all the amazing sights, impressed at the sheer size and grandeur of the city. Lying at the heart of Moscow, the Red Square and the Kremlin are just two of the must-see tourist attractions; they are the historical, political and spiritual heart of the city – and indeed Russia itself.
A fascinating city to wander around, stunning cathedrals, churches, and palaces lie side-by-side with bleak grey monuments and remains from the Soviet state. In addition to its plethora of historical and cultural tourist attractions, Moscow is home to world-class museums, theaters and art galleries.
Renowned for its performing arts, fantastic ballets and amazing circus acts, catching a show while in Moscow is a must. The wealth of brilliant restaurants, trendy bars, and lively nightlife means there is something for everyone to enjoy.
See also: Where to Stay in Moscow
In this post, we'll cover:
17. Tsaritsyno Palace
Once the summer residence of Catherine the Great, the stunning Tsaritsyno Palace is now a museum-reserve. The architecture is magnificent and there is a lovely park surrounding it for visitors to explore.
Located in the south of Moscow, the palace was commissioned in 1775 and recent renovations mean its lavish interior looks better than ever before with its elegant halls and beautiful staircases.
The exhibits on display look at the life of the empress as well as the history of Tsaritsyno itself. The huge palace grounds are also home to some other delightful buildings with the elegant opera house and wonderful brickwork of the Small Palace being particularly impressive to gaze upon.
Starting out in 1935 as the ‘All-Union Agricultural Exhibition’, VDNKh has slowly morphed over the years into the fascinating open-air museum of today. Remarkably, over 400 buildings can now be found within its confines.
The huge park complex has numerous pavilions representing former Soviet republics on show, such as those of Armenia and Turkmenistan and the distinctive architecture of each of the buildings is always interesting to gaze upon. In addition to this there is the fascinating Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics which is dedicated to space exploration and the fun Moskvarium aquarium even offers you the chance to swim with dolphins.
With lots of eateries scattered about and numerous entertainment options such as horse-riding and zip-lining, there is something for everyone to enjoy; the Friendship of Nations fountain truly is wonderful.
15. Kremlin Armoury
One of the oldest museums in the city, the Kremlin Armoury has a wealth of treasures; highlights include the ornate Grand Siberian Railway egg, the historic Cap of Monomakh and the stunning Imperial Crown of Russia which often has a crowd of tourists around it, jostling to take a photo.
Once the royal armory, there are loads of fascinating objects on display. Perusing the many sabers, jewelry, armor and more is as interesting as it is educational and entertaining and the swords are so finely crafted that you’ll almost wish you could pick up one and wield if yourself.
Established in 1851, the museum is situated in the Moscow Kremlin.
14. GUM Department Store
Standing for ‘Main Universal Store’ in Russian, GUM is stunning. Its wonderful skylights and beautiful facades mean it doesn’t look out of place alongside its illustrious neighbors on Red Square.
With over 200 shops, boutiques and upmarket eateries inside, it is a shopaholic’s heaven and concerned partners will be glad to find more affordable options alongside luxury brands such as Dior and Prada.
The main department store in the city, GUM was opened in 1893. The stunning architecture makes it well worth a visit even if shopping isn’t your thing.
13. Moscow Metro
It’s not often that public transport looks like a work of art. So many stops on the Moscow Metro will astound visitors with their beauty and elegance.
Decked in marble and with frescoes covering the walls, the stations are amazing to gaze upon and are part of one of the longest metro systems in the world, with the first stations opened in 1935.
Using the metro is the quickest and easiest way to get around Moscow and braving the crowds of commuters is well worth it for the beauty all around you.
12. Arbat Street
An elegant yet lively street, Arbat is full of impressive architecture and was once a popular place to live for aristocrats, artists, and academics.
A historic place, it is down Arbat Street that Napoleon’s troops are said to have headed on their way to capture the Kremlin.
Nowadays, there are many cafes, restaurants, and shops, as well as various monuments and statues to former residents such as Alexander Pushkin who was reputed to be a lover of the Russian Empress due to his massive influence in court.
11. Novodevichy Convent
Drenched in history, the Novodevichy Convent is located in a striking building that was once a fortress. This captivating place is well worth visiting when in Moscow.
Founded in 1524, the convent houses four cathedrals; Smolensk Cathedral is the undoubted highlight due to its delightful 16th-century frescoes.
Wandering around the grounds is like stepping back in time. The Novodevichy Cemetery is where many famous leaders of the Soviet Union are buried, such as Yeltsin and Khrushchev.
10. Pushkin Museum
Despite its name, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts actually has no connection at all to the famous poet other than that it was named in his honor after his death. A delight to visit, its extensive collection focuses on European art with masterpieces by Botticelli, Rembrandt, and van Gogh all featuring.
Sculptures, graphic art, paintings and more can be found in its beautiful galleries; various sections look at themes and epochs such as the Renaissance, the Dutch Golden Age, and Byzantine art.
Among the many highlights are the clownish characters which can be found in Cezanne’s Fastnacht (Mardi Gras) and the twirling ballerinas who look so elegant in Degas’ Blue Dancers. Picasso’s Young acrobat on a Ball is also well worth checking out for its interesting use of shapes and colors.
9. Christ The Savior Cathedral
This gorgeous Russian Orthodox cathedral is located on the banks of the Moskva River, just a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin.
The church as it stands today was consecrated in 2000, as the original church that stood here was destroyed on the command of Josef Stalin in 1931 due to the anti-religious campaign.
With its delightful golden dome, spires and dazzling white facades, the Christ the Savior Cathedral is stunning. The interior is just as captivating to wander around, with its beautifully tiled floors and impressive altar.
8. Lenin Mausoleum
Opened to the public in 1924, Lenin’s Mausoleum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Moscow. The red granite structure is located at the heart of the city in Red Square.
Lenin’s embalmed body lies in a glass sarcophagus; it is a somewhat eerie experience walking past the former leader of the Soviet Union but is well worth doing as you understandably can’t do it anywhere else in the world.
After visiting the mausoleum, head to the Kremlin wall right next to it for more graves of important communist figures such as Stalin and Brezhnev.
7. Tretyakov Gallery
Home to the most extensive and impressive collection of Russian fine art in the world, the State Tretyakov Gallery is definitely worth visiting when in Moscow for the wealth of amazing art pieces that it has on display.
Having started out as the private art collection of the Tretyakov brothers, there are now over 130,000 exhibits. Highlights include the iconic Theotokos of Vladimir which you will almost certainly recognise despite probably not knowing the name and Rublev’s Trinity which is considered to be one of highest achievements in Russian art.
An absolute must for art lovers, the State Tretyakov Gallery will delight visitors with all that is has to offer.
Once a royal estate, Kolomenskoye is now a museum-reserve and lies a few kilometers outside of the city center. A captivating place to visit, there is a plethora of history on show and the site overlooks the Moskva River.
Consisting of four historical sites, there are extensive gardens for visitors to explore, as well as loads of interesting old buildings, the former village of Kolomenskoye itself and the impressive Palace of the Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich – once considered the Eighth Wonder of the World by contemporaries.
Among the many stunning sights, it is the brilliantly white Ascension Church that is the undoubted highlight – dating back to 1532.
5. Gorky Park
Lying alongside the Moskva River, the huge Gorky Park is a lovely place to visit. Its extensive gardens are home to numerous cultural institutions and visitors should definitely check out the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and while the eclectic exhibits may not always feature such incredible sights as a balloon-covered rider on a zebra; they certainly always succeed in pushing back the boundaries of art.
Pop-up exhibitions and festivals can be found from time to time in the park itself and there is an open-air theatre and numerous eateries alongside a plethora of leisure activities.
Whether it’s cycling, table tennis or yoga that you are after or beach volleyball and rowing, Gorky Park certainly has it. In winter, there is a huge ice rink for visitors to enjoy.
4. Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is the main theater in the country. The amazing opera and ballet performances it has put on over the centuries go a long way in explaining Russia’s rich history of performing arts.
While the Bolshoi Ballet Company was established in 1776, the theater itself was opened in 1825. The glittering, six-tier auditorium is lavishly and decadently decorated; it is a fitting setting for the world-class performances that take place on its stage.
Spending a night watching a performance of such classics as The Nutcracker or Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theatre is sure to be a memorable experience and the beauty all around you only adds to the sense of occasion.
3. Moscow Kremlin
This famously fortified complex is remarkably home to five palaces and four cathedrals and is the historic, political and spiritual center of the city. The Kremlin serves as the residence for the country’s president. It has been used as a fort, and this fact is made clear by its sheer size. The Kremlin’s outer walls were built in the late 1400s.
Under Ivan III, better known as Ivan the Great, the Kremlin became the center of a unified Russian state, and was extensively remodeled. Three of the Kremlin’s cathedrals date to his reign that lasted from 1462-1505. The Deposition Church and the Palace of Facets were also constructed during this time. The Ivan the Great Bell Tower was built in 1508. It is the tallest tower at the Kremlin with a height of 266 feet (81 meters).
Joseph Stalin removed many of the relics from the tsarist regimes. However, the Tsar Bell, the world’s largest bell, and the Tsar Cannon, the largest bombard by caliber in the world, are among the remaining items from that era. The Kremlin Armory is one of Moscow’s oldest museums as it was established more than 200 years ago. Its diamond collection is impressive.
The Kremlin’s gardens – Taynitsky, Grand Kremlin Public and Alexander – are beautiful. The Kremlin has also served as the religious center of the country, and there is a tremendous number of preserved churches and cathedrals here. The collections contained within the museums include more than 60,000 historical, cultural and artistic monuments. Those who enjoy the performing arts will want to consider attending a ballet or concert at the State Kremlin Palace. Completed in 1961, it is the only modern building in the Kremlin.
2. Red Square
Lying at the heart of Moscow, Red Square is the most important and impressive square in the city. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions due to its wealth of historical sights and cultural landmarks.
Drenched in history, the huge square is home to incredible sights such as the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum, among others. Consequently, it is not to be missed when in Moscow as it really is home to the city’s most stunning monuments.
It is here that many important moments in Russian history took place; the former marketplace has hosted everything from Tsar’s coronations and public ceremonies to rock concerts and Soviet military parades. Wandering around the massive square is a humbling experience and undoubtedly one of the highlights the city has to offer.
1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Located in the impressive Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral is gorgeous; its delightful spires appear as if out of a fairytale. The most recognizable building in the country, the cathedral is very much a symbol of Russia. No visit to Moscow is complete without having taken in its unique and distinctive features.
Ivan the Terrible ordered the cathedral’s construction in the mid-16th century, and legend holds that Ivan put out the architect’s eyes so that he would be unable to build another cathedral more glorious than St. Basil’s. Designed to resemble the shape of a bonfire in full flame, the architecture is not only unique to the period in which it was built but to any subsequent period. For various reasons, both Napoleon and Stalin wanted to destroy the cathedral but fortunately did not succeed.
Known for its various colors, shapes and geometric patterns, St. Basil’s Cathedral houses nine different chapels that are all connected by a winding labyrinth of corridors and stairways. On the lower floor, St. Basil’s Chapel contains a silver casket bearing the body of St. Basil the Blessed.
Throughout the cathedral are many beautiful murals, frescoes, wooden icons and other art works and artifacts. Outside the cathedral is a lovely garden with the bronze Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, who rallied an all-volunteer Russian army against Polish invaders during a period of the late 16th century known as the Times of Troubles.
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