The best New York City tourist attractions that locals love

Visit ten of the best New York City tourist attractions that even New Yorkers love.

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RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions


Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

This massive green space still features remnants of the 1964–1965 World’s Fair, including the 140-foot-high Unisphere, a mammoth steel globe that was the fair’s symbol (and site of the apocalyptic battle scene between humans and aliens in the first Men in Black movie). Also visible are the remains of the New York State Pavilion, erected by Philip Johnson for the fair. Measuring 350 feet by 250 feet, this now-eerie plaza is bordered by 16 100-foot steel columns. While you’re there, pop into the Queens Museum of Art (New York City Building, enter at 111th St and 49th Ave, Flushing, Queens; 718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org; Wed–Sun noon–6pm; suggested donation $5, seniors and students $2.50, children under 5 free), home to the Panorama of the City of New York, a ginormous scale model of New York City featuring Lilliputian landmarks, including the Empire State Building and Queens’s own Citi Field.

  1. 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy, (between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy)
More info

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

  • Free

One of the thrills of living in New York City is staring at the iconic skyline—obviously the world’s best—every once in a while. You’ll find no better vantage point than the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge (enter at Park Row and Centre St; nyc.gov). Stroll across the legendary structure and take in the view—if you look to the south, you’ll see Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty. Once you’ve hit Brooklyn, head into Brooklyn Heights and stroll along the Promenade, overlooking lower Manhattan.

  1. Columbia Heights, (between Montague St and Middagh St)
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Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

The massive institution is home to more than 5,000 creatures in myriad exhibits, including an outdoor baboon reserve, a sea lion pool and an exhibit dedicated entirely to Madagascar. Visitors can ride the Wild Asia Monorail, which tours 38 acres of exhibits that house elephants, Indo-Chinese tigers, deer, antelope and Mongolian wild horses, or wander over to see two gargantuan Nile crocodiles. Amphibian fans can also read about the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to save the Kihansi spray toad, a species now extinct in the wild. On a rainy day, step into any of the indoor attractions: the World of Birds, Mouse House, World of Reptiles and Congo Gorilla Forest. Step into the Mouse House to coo over a litter of baby degus, tiny chinchilla-like rodents native to Chile.

  1. 2300 Southern Blvd, (at Fordham Rd)
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Central Park

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Divide-and-conquer might be the best strategy when exploring Central Park—its sprawling 840 acres are too great to take in during one visit. Instead, hit some of the highlights: Go for a stroll around the tranquil Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (circle the 1.58-mile track a few times for an actual workout), or join the semiclothed hordes who lay out in Sheep Meadow during the summer. Or find the details in some of the park’s most famous attractions, such as lines from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” inscribed along the base of the Alice in Wonderland statue.

  1. 59th St to 110th St, (from Fifth Ave to Eighth Ave)
Book online

Coney Island Cyclone

  • Price band: 1/4

No visit to Coney Island is complete without a ride on the Coney Island Cyclone, a fixture since 1927 that has spawned seven clones around the world. Heck, it was even declared a city landmark in 1988 and a National Historic Landmark in 1991. The twister takes just under two minutes to whiz you through a dozen drops (one at a heart-stopping 60-degree angle), achieving a top speed of 60mph. That may not sound very fast, but you’ll surely be humbled (which is to say petrified) by the ancient wooden tracks that look like they belong underneath a steam locomotive.

  1. 834 Surf Ave, (at 8th St)
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Empire State Building

It’s worth braving the long lines, steep ticket prices and dizzying heights to see the city from atop this storied building. Built in 1931, the skyscraper is currently the tallest building in New York, and is one of the most immediate symbols of Gotham—so much so that it’s played a role in films such as King Kong, An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle.

  1. 350 Fifth Ave, (between 33rd and 34th Sts)
Book online

Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

The MTA spent 12 years removing decades of cigarette smoke and train exhaust from the ceiling of the train station in order to recapture its sea-green splendor. You can get an idea of how much elbow grease was needed for the project—the cleaners left an untouched, almost-black tile over Michael Jordan’s steakhouse. Visit at midday, when you can stare up at the zodiac signs painted in gold leaf on the ceiling without being trampled by commuters.

  1. 42nd St to 44th St, (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves)
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The High Line

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice
  • Free

Not all art in Chelsea is in the galleries—the neighborhood’s elevated park also features a number of rotating public art installations. With the opening of the green space’s second half between 20th and 30th Streets in 2011, this landscaped aerie doubled in size, providing twice the escape from the bustle of the city.

  1. Washington St, (at Gansevoort St)
More info

The Statue of Liberty

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Lady Liberty’s beacon still beckons (although these days, it’s mostly to the city’s visitors, not new immigrants). Rather than admire her from afar, hop on a boat to check out the 125-year-old statue. For a closer look, snag a spot on one of the National Park Service’s free half-hour tours of the grounds; the NPS also offers tours of the statue’s crown, which are limited to 240 people per day (so reserve your tickets in advance). Or simply climb aboard the New York Water Taxi (departs from South Street Seaport, Pier 17, South St at Fulton St; call 212-742-1969 or visit nywatertaxi.com for details; $15–$25), whose Statue of Liberty Express Tour Route allows you to circle her island before heading back to shore.

  1. Liberty Island
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South Street Seaport

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Critics choice

The former Fulton Street Fish Market building at Pier 17 was rebuilt as a high-end shopping mall in the early 1980s—but if you’re looking to avoid throngs of people, we suggest detouring to the pier itself, where you can check out the largest privately owned fleet of historic ships in the country. Afterward, hit one of the area’s surprisingly decent drinking destinations: We’re especially fond of Fresh Salt (146 Beekman St between Front and South Sts; 212-962-0053, freshsalt.com), a cozy, nautically themed bar that was formerly a fish smokehouse.

  1. 19 Fulton St, (at Front St)
More info


Users say

5 comments
johnson
johnson

These are great but you just can't leave Times Square out. Merely passing by Times Square is not the same thing as taking a day exploring it. It has some of New Yorks finest tourist attractions. One that comes to mind is the Discovery Exhibition center that keeps changing it's exhibits (they're always fantastic!) - http://www.discoverytsx.com/ is where you can find more details about their latest exhibits.

Piedad
Piedad

Cosas distintas para visitar

Del
Del

We could go in to the city.

Del
Del

We could go into the city.

Sam
Sam

Great thing to do as a tourist - photo tours! citifari (www.citifari.com) offers 3 great tours: concrete jungle, central park and night tour. The night tour is a must. Check them out!!