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The best New York attractions

From historical landmarks to newer destinations, here are the best New York attractions for locals and tourists alike

Photograph: Shutterstock
Empire State Building

Whether you're entertaining out-of-town guests or simply want to revisit iconic NYC spots, make sightseeing easier by consulting our definitive guide to New York’s best sights and top attractions. We've compiled our favorite sights in the city, featuring the NYC parks, art museums, culture spots and historical venues. Sights like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are perennial favorites, but we’ve also highlighted newcomers and lesser-known New York City attractions such as popular flea markets and Smorgasburg.

Do you want more great stories about things to do, where to eat, what to watch, and where to party? Obviously you do, follow Time Out New York on Facebook for the good stuff.

The 50 best New York attractions

1

Empire State Building

Try imagining NYC’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. 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. —Tim Lowery

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Midtown West
2

Brooklyn Bridge

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

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Manhattan
3

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. —Carolyn Stanley

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Central Park
4

The Statue of Liberty

Perhaps no other New York attraction is as iconic—or as avoided by tourist-averse New Yorkers—as Lady Liberty. The landmark was closed in the fall in order to repair damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy, but happily, it will reopen to the public on July 4. (Hor apropos.) Our tip: Dodge the foam-crown-sporting masses and skip the line for the ferry by prebooking a combo cruise-and-tour ticket (visit statuecruises.com for more information). A climb to the crown affords a panoramic view of New York Harbor and the chance to see the literal nuts and bolts of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s creation. We also recommend stopping in the museum on Liberty Island, if only to marvel at the initial ambivalence of 19th-century New Yorkers when they were asked to fund the construction of the pedestal. Ferries depart from Castle Clinton—Jonathan Shannon

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Liberty Island
5

One World Observatory

Despite occupying floors 100 through 102 of the tallest building of the Western Hemisphere, this one-year-old observation deck can be reached in just 60 seconds via a set of visually immersive 'Sky Pod' elevators. During the interactive tour experience ($32, seniors $30 and children $26), guests walk through some of the bedrock on which the building is built before entering the elevators, which are fitted with with floor-to-ceiling LED screens showing a video of the the city and buiding's history. Once at the top, the video concludes as the screen lifts up to reveal stunning 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline. 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

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Financial District
6

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

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Central Park
7

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. —Tim Lowery

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Midtown East
8

The High Line

There are few places more pleasant than a sunny afternoon on the High Line. NYC's only elevated park is one of Manhattan’s most popular destinations, and it's easy to see why. A rail track that went out of use in 1980, the High Line was resurrected as a 1.45-mile-long green space in 2009, running from Hudson Yards to the northern edge of Chelsea. Today it’s an urbanite’s playground planted with wildflowers and grasses, offering walkers some of the best views in NYC, and that makes the park simultaneously removed from the city and an inextricable part of it. — Evelyn Derico

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Chelsea
9

Theatre 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. Nosebleed seats at Jersey Boys might go for $62, but premium seats at The Book of Mormon go as high as $477. The savvy consumer can find discount tickets at most Broadway shows. NYC hurry—the curtain’s about to rise! — David Cote

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10

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 a wrecked recovery vehicles, large pieces of warped metal foundation and the 30-foot National 9/11 Flag. — Tolly Wright

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Financial District
11

Rockefeller Center

You’ll find plenty of iconic New York sites in this multiblock complex: 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’re 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

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12

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

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Midtown East
13

Prospect Park

After Olmsted and Vaux unveiled Central Park in 1859, they turned their attention south to create this bucolic Brooklyn destination. There’s plenty of room in the Long Meadow and Nethermead to bliss out on a patch of grass, while the Ravine, a towering indigenous forest, offers a woodland respite unparalleled in the borough. City planner Robert Moses was behind 20th-century additions like the zoo and the bandshell, where Celebrate Brooklyn! hosts free top-notch concerts all summer long. The Lefrak Center at Lakeside throws wild roller dance parties in the summer and hosts ice-skating in the winter. —Jenna Scherer

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Prospect Park
14

Brooklyn Museum

One of Kings County’s preeminent cultural institutions, this 560,000-square-foot venue made history as the first American museum to exhibit African objects as artwork. In addition to the more than 4,000 items in the Egyptian holdings,  museumgoers can scope pieces by masters such as Cézanne, Monet and Degas, plus an entire center devoted to feminist art. (The venue is the permanent home of Judy Chicago’s massive installation The Dinner Party.) Beyond its physical acquisitions, the spot draws crowds with the perennially popular free Target First Saturdays. —Sarah Bruning

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Prospect Park
15

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

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Meatpacking District
16

New-York Historical Society

New York’s oldest museum, founded in 1804, provides a comprehensive look at the New York of yesteryear. Rather than focusing on one particular niche, exhibits here encompass all aspects of old-school Gotham, with permanent holdings including clothing, theater memorabilia and other artifacts of daily life. in the past few years, the society has staged shows on the Selma to Montgomery March, Superheroes and the photography of Annie Leibovitz. — Dan Q. Dao

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Upper West Side
17

Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

Tweeting cobras and peahens aside, this wildlife park garners fans far and wide for a number of reasons—approximately 5,000 animals call it home. Strolling through the 265 acres, visitors  spot such exotic and endangered creatures as the Coquerel’s sifaka (a type of lemur), the fossa (a predatory, tree-climbing mammal) and snow leopards. More common favorites, including gorillas and polar bears, also reside at the nature park. Keep an eye out for the daily penguin and sea lion feedings, plus other rotating activities. —Sarah Bruning

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The Bronx
18

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete edifice became the home of the eponymous philanthropist’s collection in 1959; today, the iconic spiral is considered as much a work of art as the paintings it houses. In addition to pieces by masters such as Manet, Picasso and Chagall, the institution holds the most Kandinskys in the U.S., as well as one of the largest collections of Mapplethorpes in the world. And yes, there is a right way to see the exhibits: as Wright intended, beginning at the bottom and moseying around to the top. —Jenna Scherer

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Upper East Side
19

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

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Midtown West
20

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

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The Bronx
21

Brooklyn Flea

In the nearly five years since its debut, this market has elevated the vintage-shopping experience, setting a new standard for both goods and food vendors, and emphasizing local purveyors where possible. Its mini empire now includes markets in Fort Greene and DUMBO, as well as two food-focused Smorgasburg outposts. When temperatures plunge, the fest moves to the vast warehouse space of Industry City in Sunset Park. It’s as good a people-watching spot as you’ll find—plenty of established and wanna-be designers mill about—and the eats alone are worth the trip. Vendors change each weekend, so check the website the Friday before doors open to see who’s selling. —Tim Lowery

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Bedford-Stuyvesant
22

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

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Queens
23

Brookfield Place

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

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Battery Park City
24

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

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Chelsea
25

Apollo Theater

The 81-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. —Tim Lowery

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Harlem
26

Smorgasburg

Following the runaway success of the Brooklyn Flea market, founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler unveiled this food-only Saturday affair—a glutton’s paradise packed with more than 100 vendors hawking cheap and delicious snacks. A favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, Smorgasburg opens every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm from April through November, rain or shine, at Williamsburg’s East River Park on Saturdays and at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill on Sundays. — Dan Q. Dao

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Williamsburg
27

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

If you’re looking to fall in love with New York City again (or for the first time), there are few vistas more breathtaking than this one. It’s easy to forget that you’re standing atop the hectic Brooklyn-Queens Expressway while strolling along this esplanade, which opened in 1950. But the thoroughfare is inextricably linked to the Promenade’s existence: Community opposition to the BQE—which was originally intended to cut through Brooklyn Heights—led city planner Robert Moses to reroute the highway along the waterfront. He also proposed building a park atop the road to block noise.. Stroll, run or make out along its ⅓-mile length, pausing to appreciate postcard-ready views of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty; then check out some of the 19th-century row houses down Brooklyn Heights’ tree-lined side streets, or head down to Brooklyn Bridge Park. —Jenna Scherer

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Brooklyn Heights
28

Macy's Herald Square

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. —Allison Williams

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Midtown West
29

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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

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Prospect Park
30

Coney Island Cyclone

Nothing offers a thrilling jolt of Brooklyn nostalgia quite like a ride on the Cyclone. The roller coaster dates to 1927, when Coney Island was a booming seaside resort, but shuttered for six years starting in 1969, marking one of many troubled economic periods for the ’hood. Aside from grabbing a beer and hot dog at Nathan’s Famous, riding the Cyclone is the thing to do at Coney Island on a lovely summer day. —Tim Lowery

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Brooklyn
31

Staten Island Ferry

The price of a harbor crossing between Staten Island and lower Manhattan may be the only activity in New York City that’s cheaper today than it was in 1817. Back then, it was 25 cents; today, it’s free. This 24-hour ferry is a lifeline for commuters making their way from NYC’s southernmost borough, but it’s also a boat trip affording some of the finest views in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for Governors Island to the east and Ellis Island and Lady Liberty to the west as the Manhattan skyline recedes in the vessel’s wake. —Jenna Scherer

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Financial District
32

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

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The Bronx
33

American Museum of Natural History

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. —Sarah Bruning

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Upper West Side
34

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

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Union Square
35

Roosevelt Island

This mostly residential isle (technically part of Manhattan) is full of quirks; for example, the preferred method of getting there involves a four-minute trip on the city’s only commuter tram. There’s plenty to draw in visitors, notably the fancy new Four Freedoms Park (named for the principles outlined in Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address), which opened in 2012. A Gothic lighthouse stands at the island’s northern tip, and the creepy ruins of the Smallpox Hospital (which operated from the mid–19th century until the 1950s) at the southern end are a part of Southpoint Park. —Amy Plitt

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Roosevelt Island
36

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

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Flatiron
37

The Cloisters

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

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Washington Heights
38

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

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

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Hell's Kitchen
39

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

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Upper West Side
40

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 fashion hub Seaport Studios— prove that the iconic port is back and better than ever. Look out for brand new branches of Mcnally Jackson Books, Smorgasburg and iPic dine-in movie theaters to make the spot even more irresistible. —David Goldberg

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Financial District
41

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. 

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Midtown West
42

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

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Midtown West
43

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

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Queens
44

St. Patrick's Cathedral

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

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Midtown East
45

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

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Midtown West
46

MoMA PS1

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

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Long Island City
47

Chinatown, NYC

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

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By: Tazi Phillips
48

Washington Square Park arch

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

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Greenwich Village
49

Madame Tussauds New York

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. A favorite among tourists and young, culture-obsessed visitors, it is best to avoid school holidays when checking out the 200-plus wax figures, which include various movie stars, singers, athletes and politicians. Each model is painstakingly made by teams of artists through the use of precise measurements, photographs, casts and oil paints and costs a staggering $300,000 to create. — Tolly Wright

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Midtown West
50

Madison Square Garden

Critics' pick

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

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Midtown West

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The best free attractions

You don’t have to spend a lot to have a great time in New York City. Save money and check out these free attractions that are guaranteed to impress.

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Comments

28 comments
Allegra R
Allegra R

What the hell Smorgasburg & Madame Tussaud's are doing on this list, and no Tompkin's Square Park or Coney IslandIS BEYOND ME. Or, the Hayden Planetarium? NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, anyone? Gah. 

latrice b
latrice b

latrice would like aplace to live in new York for free or mail 1 million to my house.

Shannon S
Shannon S

Thanks for the suggestions! I just got back from nyc, I was able to see most of the touristy places, thanks to the hop on hop off sightseeing bus tour at https://www.extrapolitan.com

LOWER EAST SIDE H
LOWER EAST SIDE H

Interested in the Lower East Side?


Check out our walking tours... We are multi-generational Lower East Siders, professional educators and authors, and an award-winning non-profit!


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Avishay V
Avishay V

New York City is amazing from museum to musicals to park to skyscrapers, China town the UN center and more and more.
You have to plan at least a week to explore New York
to see a high quality video guide for some of the attraction visit the link
http://bit.ly/1CXRyYg

Friendly-Hotels.com
Friendly-Hotels.com

I think there is probably a few hundred places to visit in New York City.  Great architecture and bridges; a wealth of museums; historic cafes and bars; parks, zoos and gardens to relax in.  Cuisine from all corners of the planet and the shopping is for everyone.  Love Central Park Botanical gardens, Bronx Zoo, the High Line and all the fantastic skyscrapers.  NYC has a lot going for it. 

Staceyrulez K
Staceyrulez K

This is good for my presentation #awesome New York is the most awesome place~well after Brazil😀

Randy S
Randy S

I recommend Soul Night Events for Summer fun in New York City www.soulnightevents.com

armida t
armida t

Thanks for sharing the New York City tourist attractions. Most people prefer to visit New York during spring time. Fall is another popular time when tourists flock to the city because of its famous foliage during this season.

Also I want to suggest some more New York tourist attractions like Ellis Island is regarded as one of the most popular attractions in the city of New York. 

Frick Collection

Housed in the former mansion of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the Frick Museum has on display the most outstanding works of Western Art.

The Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is an NYC attraction fit for young and old, New York first-timers and those who have lived here for years. But it's a real treat for those on a budget.

Rubin Museum Of Art

Opened in the year 2004, Rubin Museum of Art is dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art of the Himalayas and surrounding regions, especially Tibetan art.

Free U
Free U

@John L  For a free Uber ride (up to $30) use code UBERFALL14FREERIDE 

Marie G
Marie G

Beware 5Pointz has been painted in white and will be demolished sometime this year

Free U
Free U

@Christina  For a free Uber ride (up to $30) use code UBERFALL14FREERIDE 

Anika
Anika

This is an amazing website for my yr 6 home work I couldn't find a better one than this well done

Anika
Anika

This is an amazing website for my yr 6 home work I couldn't find a better one than this well done

Morgan
Morgan

ummmm the population of texas is 26 million, not 700,000, so no, the amount of people that pass through the station daily is not equivalent to the population of the state of texas.

Steve Kolodny
Steve Kolodny

In speaking about Grand Central Station Paul Brady suggests that 700,000 people live in the state of Texas. I suggest he rethink that one.

Cliff Strome
Cliff Strome

Nicely done Amy and staffers! If you search, on your iphone, my website: www.customandprivate.com and click on the tripadvisor icon you will see that my private tour business is ranked #12 out of 1,220 attractions in New York City. Please contact me directly at 212-222-1441 and find out why! Yours very tourly! :) Cliff Strome