50 best New York attractions
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 topper’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.
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
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Andrea Schaffer
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.
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.
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. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
As of summer 2016, 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 (which had been closed since 2012) are still major focal points. —Jennifer Picht