The best New York attractions

Discover the New York attractions locals love including historical landmarks, stunning NYC parks and more
Statue of Liberty
Photograph: Shutterstock
By Dan Q Dao, Tazi Phillips and Time Out New York contributors |
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Use our definitive guide to the top New York attractions whenever you're entertaining out-of-town guests or simply want to play tourist and revisit iconic places. We've compiled our favorite sights and spots in the city, including NYC parks, art museums, culture spots and historical venues. Landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are perennial favorites, but we’ve also highlighted newcomers and lesser-known gems, such as one of New York's greatest flea markets and foodie haven Smorgasburg.

50 best New York attractions

1
Empire State Building
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Empire State Building

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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.

 

2
Brooklyn Bridge
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Andrea Schaffer
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Brooklyn Bridge

icon-location-pin Manhattan

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

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3
central park
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Central Park

icon-location-pin 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

4
Statue of Liberty
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

The Statue of Liberty

icon-location-pin Liberty Island

Perhaps no other New York attraction is as iconic—or as avoided by tourist-averse New Yorkers—as Lady Liberty. 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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5
One World Observatory
Photograph: f11photo/Shutterstock.com
Attractions, Towers and viewpoints

One World Observatory

icon-location-pin Financial District

Although the One World Observatory occupyies 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

6
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph: Courtsey The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museums

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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7
Chrysler Building
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions, Civic buildings

Chrysler Building

icon-location-pin Midtown East

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

8
The High Line
Photograph: Courtesy Iwan Baan
Things to do

The High Line

When the weather is pleasant, there’s nothing quite like walking the High Line. NYC’s elevated park is certainly one of more popular New York attractions everyone needs to check off their list. To give you a bit of history, the High Line was once a railway line, in use until 1980. In 2009, the 1.45-mile-long strip was transformed into what is now considered one of the most unique parks in NYC. Featuring wildflowers, greenery and outdoor art installations in addition to killer views of New York’s skyline. —Evelyn Derico

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9
Hamilton
Photograph: Joan Marcus
Theater, Broadway

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. The savvy consumer can find discount tickets at most Broadway shows. NYC hurry—the curtain’s about to rise! — David Cote

10
9/11 Memorial
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

icon-location-pin Financial District

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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11
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

Rockefeller Center

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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

12
Grand Central Terminal
Photograph: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone
Attractions

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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13
Lakeside
Photograph: Luciana Golcman
Things to do

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

14
first friday
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Art

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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15
Whitney Museum of American Art
Photograph: Karin Jobst
Museums

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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16
836.twny.nyhs08.jpg
Photograph: Alex Strada
Museums, History

New-York Historical Society

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

History buffs will love this Upper West Side institution. Built in 1804, it's the oldest museum in New York City. In a nod to the city’s heritage, the museum kept the hyphen in its name, which is how New York was known in the early 1800s. The collection features more than 1.6 million works that explore the history of the city and the country, including exhibits, art and historical artifacts. Don’t miss floor four, where you’ll find the center for Women’s History and a glowing gallery of 100 beautiful Tiffany lamps. —Cristina Gibson

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17
Red panda cubs at the Bronx Zoo
Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
Attractions, Zoo and aquariums

Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society

icon-location-pin The Bronx

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

18
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Museums

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

New York’s Guggenheim is as famous for its landmark building—designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored on its 50th birthday in 2009—as it is for its impressive collection and daring temporary art shows. The museum owns Peggy Guggenheim’s trove of cubist, surrealist and abstract expressionist works, along with the Panza di Biumo Collection of American minimalist and conceptual art from the 1960s and ’70s. In addition to works by Manet, Picasso, Chagall and Bourgeois, the Guggenheim holds the largest collection of Kandinskys in the U.S. —Howard Halle

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19
Times Square
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do

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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20
New York Botanical Garden
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair
Attractions, Parks and gardens

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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21
The Brooklyn Flea February Record Fair
Photograph: Courtesy John von Pamer
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Brooklyn Flea

Whether you're shopping addicted or not, attending an outdoor bazaar is a must here in New York, and Brooklyn Flea is hands-down one of the top spots to hit. The market has everything, including an impressive selection of throwback wares and records, which you certainly wouldn’t find in any vintage 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. When the cold snap comes, the market moves indoors, so no matter the time of year, you can always comfortably visit Brooklyn Flea. —Jennifer Picht

22
Corona Park-Flushing Meadows, Unisphere
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park

icon-location-pin Queens

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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23
Shopping, Shopping centers

Brookfield Place

icon-location-pin Battery Park City

This downtown luxury complex, originally dubbed the World Financial Center, is now home to a number of offices including Merrill Lynch and American Express. On the ground level, however, find a mecca of retail attractions ranging from fashion (Burberry, Hermes, Gucci) to dining (Amada, the food hall Le District). Beyond shopping, stroll around the space to enjoy installations of art in the glass-encased winter garden, or head outdoors for ice skating during cold-weather months. — Dan Q. Dao

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Chelsea Market
Shopping, Shopping centers

Chelsea Market

icon-location-pin Chelsea

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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25
Apollo_Theater
Photograph: Shahar Azran
Theater, Musicals

Apollo Theater

icon-location-pin Harlem

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

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Takumi Taco
Photograph: Noah Devereaux
Restaurants

Smorgasburg

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

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27
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Photograph: Alex Strada
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Promenade

icon-location-pin Brooklyn Heights

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

28
New York attractions
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Shopping, Department stores

Macy’s Herald Square

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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

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29
Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Photograph: Jena Cumbo
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

icon-location-pin Prospect Park

Those searching for a little peace and quiet would do well to spend a few hours at this verdant oasis. The garden—which abuts two other neighborhood gems: the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park—was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Each spring, crowds descend on the space for the Sakura Matsuri Festival, during which many trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. But equally impressive are serene spots like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first Japanese-inspired garden displayed in the U.S., and the Shakespeare Garden, brimming with plants (such as primrose and crocuses) mentioned in the Bard’s works. —Amy Plitt

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Coney Island Cyclone
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Attractions, Arcades and amusements

Coney Island Cyclone

icon-location-pin Coney Island

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

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31
Yankee Stadium
Photograph: Courtesy New York Yankees
Sports and fitness, Stadiums

Yankee Stadium

icon-location-pin The Bronx

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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American Museum of Natural History
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Museums, Science and technology

American Museum of Natural History

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

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

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james fountain in union square
Photograph: Camille Fernandez
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Union Square

icon-location-pin 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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Flatiron Building
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Flatiron Building

icon-location-pin Flatiron

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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35
Roosevelt Island NYC
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Sopasnor
Things to do

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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Cloisters
Museums, Art and design

The Cloisters

icon-location-pin Washington Heights

This Middle Ages museum may have been constructed in the ’30s, but it feels much older than that. Set in a bucolic park overlooking the Hudson River, the structure re-creates architectural details from five 15th-century monasteries and houses items from the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections. John D. Rockefeller, who donated the land for the museum, even purchased a tract across the river to preserve the pristine view. Make sure to inspect the tapestries, including the famous 16th-century Hunt of the Unicorn. —Andrew Frisicano

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37
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Photograph: Wendy Connett
Museums, Military and maritime

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen

Get schooled on the glorious history of American aviation and the brave heroes who pioneered the world's last frontier at this non-profit, educational institution featuring the titular, legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid. Founded in 1982, the museum also boasts an unparalleled collection of fighter jets, a Blackbird spy plane, a Concorde, the nuclear submarine USS Growler, a prototype space shuttle and a capsule that returned one of the first astrotourists to earth. Permanent exhibits include a harrowing 30-minute video with audiovisual effects about the kamikaze attacks the Intrepid suffered, while new, rotating programs range from a summer movie series (kicking off with Star Trek, fittingly) to an annual Space & Science Festival. — Dan Q. Dao

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Lincoln Center
Theater

Lincoln Center

icon-location-pin Upper West Side

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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South Street Seaport
Photograph: Courtesy South Street Seaport/Chris La Putt
Things to do

South Street Seaport

icon-location-pin Financial District

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

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The Museum of Modern Art
Photograph: Timothy Hursley
Museums

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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41
radiocitymusichall1
Theater

Radio City Music Hall

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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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Museums, Art and design

Queens Museum

icon-location-pin Queens

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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43
Old St. Patrick's Cathedral
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Steven Kelley
Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

icon-location-pin Midtown East

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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New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Museums

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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ps11
Museums, Art and design

MoMA PS1

icon-location-pin Long Island City

Fans of the Manhattan predecessor won't mind crossing the river to find this Long Island City offshoot, which is unique for its constantly evolving lineup of avant-garde artwork and new programs. And while there's no shortage of world-renowned artists supplying work here (Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson), the venue also curates one of the city’s most popular music events, Warm Up, which pairs innovative installations with live music from up-and-coming acts to challenge visitors’ expectations of what art can be. — Dan Q. Dao

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Chinatown, NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Jorge Quinteros
Things to do

Chinatown

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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Emily Bowen, Katelyn May, Elise Elliott, Washington Square Park
Photograph: Courtesy Jordan Matter/ www.dancersamongus.com
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Washington Square Park arch

icon-location-pin Greenwich Village

The beatniks, folkies and hippies who famously flocked to this public space are still there, though sporting slightly different facial hair than their boundary-breaking predecessors. During warmer months, the park is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, as musicians and street artists perform in the shadow of the towering 1895 Washington Arch, a modest replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe designed by Stanford White (whose fingerprints are found on more than a few landmark NYC structures). From 2007–2014, the park underwent a controversial, multimillion-dollar renovation, which has yielded more benches, paths, lawn space and vegetation. —Tim Lowery

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Madame Tussuads
Photograph: Cindy Ord/Getty Images
Attractions, Sightseeing

Madame Tussauds New York

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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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Madison Square Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock
Music, Music venues

Madison Square Garden

icon-location-pin Midtown West

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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park
Things to do

Governors Island

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

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