Top attractions in Manhattan: All the best sights to visit in NYC

Visit the most famous sights and top attractions in New York City, including the Empire State Building and Times Square.

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Photograph: Wendy Connett

The American Museum of Natural History

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Photograph: Shahar Azran

Apollo Theater

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Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

Battery Park

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Photograph: Michael Kirby

Central Park

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Chrysler Building

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Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

The Cloisters

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Empire State Building

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Flatiron Building

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Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse

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Photograph: Ilenia Martini

The High Line

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The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

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Josie Robertson Plaza (at Lincoln Center)

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Photographer: Filip Wolak

Little Italy

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Photograph: Jessica Lin

Macy's Herald Square

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

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Photograph: Alex Strada

New-York Historical Society

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Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

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Photograph: Michael Kirby

Radio City Music Hall

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Photograph: Jay Muhlin

Rockefeller Center

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Photograph: Filip Wolak

Roosevelt Island

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Photograph: Michael Kirby

St. Patrick's Cathedral

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Photograph: Krista Schlueter

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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Photograph: Michael Kirby

South Street Seaport

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Times Square

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Photograph: Michael Kirby

Union Square

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United Nations Headquarters

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The Whitney Museum of American Art

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Photograph: Wendy Connett

Washington Square Park

The Empire State Building, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center: These are just some of the top attractions that are inextricably linked to Manhattan. Check out more of the borough’s best sights with our guide to Manhattan’s top attractions.

RECOMMENDED: The 50 best New York attractions you have to see

American Museum of Natural History

Critics' pick

No matter which wing you wander through or where your curiosities lie (dinosaurs, gems or something else entirely), it’s hard to explore this Upper West Side fixture without being awestruck. You’ll immediately spot the rotunda’s hulking Barosaurus skeleton replica, but delving further into the museum’s collection, you’ll find actual specimens, such as Deinonychus, in the fourth-floor fossil halls. When you tire of dinos, head to the human origins and culture halls to learn more about our evolutionary history, or gawk at the famed 94-foot-long blue whale model in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

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Upper West Side

Apollo Theater

The 78-year-old 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.

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Harlem

Battery Park

This 25-acre green space is like Manhattan’s delicate fingernail, neatly plotted with monuments, memorials, gardens, sculptures and a farm-to-table café, plus killer waterfront views from the promenade. Though the area was named for the battery cannons it once housed, the fortified walls of Castle Clinton now protect little more than summer music concerts. If you prefer a quieter nook, seek out the stone labyrinth traced in the park’s lawns; it’s not actually a maze meant to confuse, but a prescribed stroll for meditation. The new SeaGlass Carousel will open in spring 2013 in a building shaped like a nautilus shell.

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Battery Park

Central Park

Gotham’s love affair with its most famous green space is well documented in song, literature and film, but there’s still plenty to adore about the country’s first landscaped public park. Urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux sought a harmonious balance of scenic elements: pastoral (the open lawn of the Sheep Meadow), formal (the linear, tree-lined Mall) and picturesque (the densely wooded paths of the Ramble). Today, the 843-acre plot draws millions of visitors to its skyscraper-bordered vistas in all seasons: sunbathers and picnickers in summer, ice-skaters in winter, and bird-watchers in spring and fall. It’s also an idyllic venue for beloved cultural events like Shakespeare in the Park and the New York Philharmonic’s annual open-air performance.

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Central Park

Chrysler Building

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.

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Midtown East

The Cloisters

This Middle Agesmuseum 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.

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Washington Heights

Empire State Building

Try imagining New York City’s skyline without the towering spire of the Empire State Building. Impossible, right? Taking a mere 11 months to construct, the 1,454-foot-tall emblem became the city’s highest building upon completion in 1931. (When One World Trade Center is finished, it will tower over the ESB by a good 300 feet.) During your visit, pay special attention to the lobby, restored in 2009 to its original Art Deco design. You can also impress your pals with these tidbits while queuing for the observation decks: In 1945, 14 tenants were killed when a plane crashed into the 79th floor during heavy fog; a terrace on the 103rd level was once intended for use as a docking station for airships; and the topper’s three tiers of lights can illuminate up to nine colors at a time. High-speed elevators shoot visitors up 1,050 feet to the 86th-floor observatory, where you can either peer out at the city from the comfort of a glass-enclosed pavilion or brave the elements on the open-air decks. Tickets to the 102nd Floor Observatory are an additional $17. Daily 8am–10pm: The New York Skyride Visitors take a motion-picture tour over, through and below the city streets ($29; seniors, students and children 6–12 $19).

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Midtown West

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.

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Gramercy & Flatiron

Grand Central Terminal

Critics' pick

The 100-year-old transit hub funnels thousands of commuters each day, but it’s a destination in its own right: The majestic Beaux Arts framework 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. Meanwhile, ornamentation above the 42nd Street entrance includes a likeness of Mercury, the god of travel (naturally), and an ornate Tiffany-glass timepiece.

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Midtown East Free

The High Line

Critics' pick

There’s something uniquely New York about this aerie. Built on an abandoned railway track, the space is ingenious in its use of reclaimed industrial detritus, a necessity in footage-starved Manhattan. But what we like best is how the pathway takes you above the city while keeping you rooted in urban life: Where else can you walk through a field of wildflowers or sprawl on a lush lawn as cabs zoom along the street beneath you? The third and final section, the High Line at the Rail Yards, is scheduled to debut in 2014, completing one of the city’s most popular sites (with more than 3.7 million visitors in 2011).

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Meatpacking District Free

Comments

1 comments
jANI J
jANI J

Manhattan is the borough city in New York. This city was founded on November 1, 1683 as an original county of the U.S state of New York. I visited this city last year before http://www.getbustours.com/niagara-falls-tours/ with few cousins. Your shared attractions are included in the top attraction on Manhattan.I mostly like Battery Park and Grand Central Terminal. These are my favorite places there. The Battery Park offers a lot of stunning and incredible views for all visitors.