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The 50 best things to do in NYC for locals and tourists

Experience the absolute best things to do in NYC with this epic guide to essential eats, drinks, culture, parks and more

By Tim Lowery, Will Gleason, Shaye Weaver and Collier Sutter
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Nowadays, it's hard to choose what the best things to do in NYC are, but for those looking to get out, the city has plenty to offer, even as things are a bit precarious. Finally, our iconic museums, big attractions, and favorite restaurants are back (with new rules, of course). Make sure to check back as we will be updating this list more often than we did prior to lockdown to reflect New York City as it reopens.

While we have a new reality to face in NYC, we still have the iconic mainstays that have made it the best city in the world, from its art museums (The Met and MoMA) to its attractions (The Bronx Zoo and the High Line). The dining and drinking scenes, which are undergoing major changes, are still unbeatable and boast killer bars (McSorley's) and restaurants (Gertie). Every day, we're discovering something new and wonderful about our city, whether its one of the best parks, outdoor concerts, incredible views, must-see art, or hidden-gem stores.

Consider the below your NYC Bible. 

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

The best of NYC under one roof

Jacob's Pickles at Time Out Market New York
Photograph: Courtesy Nitzan Rubin

Time Out Market New York

Restaurants Food court DUMBO

What is it? The Time Out Market New York—seven eateries and two full-service bars—located in DUMBO's Empire Stores.

Why go? We've packed all our favorite restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market New York, including fried chicken from Jacob’s Pickles, Japanese comfort food from Bessou, inventive ice cream flavors from Ice & Vice and more amazing eateries—all cherry-picked by us. Chow down over two floors with views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. 

Don't miss: You can now order from your phone or order ahead for take-out via the Time Out Market app and enjoy your meal in the nearby park or from the comfort of your own apartment.

50 best things to do in NYC

New York Historical Society. PBDW architect renovations
Photograph: Courtesy New-York Historical Society/Jon Wallen

1. See the New-York Historical Society's outdoor exhibition

5 out of 5 stars
Museums History Upper West Side

What is it? Built in 1804, the New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City and features more than 1.6 million works that explore the history of the city and the country, including exhibits, art and historical artifacts. 

Why go? The NYHS reopened on August 14 with an exhibition mounted in the museum’s rear courtyard called "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine." Writer and human-rights activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman spent two days traveling the five boroughs to interview and take photos of ordinary New Yorkers living during an extraordinary moment. 

Don't miss: Some 50 images and audio recordings accessible by smartphone.

staycations
Photograph: Timothy Schenck

2. Hop over to Governors Island

Attractions Parks and gardens Governors Island

What is it? A seven-minute ride on a ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary. 

Why go? Where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty? Off-limits to the public for 200 years, this former military outpost finally opened to visitors in 2006. You can tour some of the island's remaining military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. 

Don’t miss: The island's Urban Farm is open on weekends and its commissions for the 2019 season, including Shantell Martin’s The May Room, are still up. Visitors can take advantage of the island's 7 miles of car-free bike paths, with bike rentals available from Blazing Saddles and Citi Bike.

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Smorgasburg, New York City, dumplings
Photograph: Courtesy Smorgasburg/Scott Lynch

3. Order from Smorgasburg

Restaurants Food court Financial District

What is it? One of the largest weekly open-air food markets in the U.S., Smorgasburg attracts thousands of people each weekend to try exciting new offerings from more than 100 local vendors.

Why go? This roving market is a must for every foodie. "It's where you can sample tomorrow's next big food trend," notes deputy features editor Will Gleason. (Past viral hits like the ramen burger and Wowfulls waffle cone both debuted at the event.) 

Smorg To Go’s Williamsburg location (51 North Sixth Street) is offering takeout with Seamless to offer deliveries throughout the summer.

Don’t miss: Fried mozzarella goodness from Big Mozz. 

Elsewhere Rooftop, New York
Photograph: Courtesy Elsewhere/Luis Nieto Dickens

4. Sit on Elsewhere's rooftop

Music East Williamsburg

What is it? Brooklyn's DIY scene gets a neon-lit glow up at this sprawling music and culture complex tucked away in a burgeoning nightlife district off the Jefferson Avenue strip.

Why go? This summer, Elsewhere will be bringing back its drink hits like its frozen spicy mango margaritas and Red Bull coconut rum and a larger food menu from Holyground BBQ, full of light bites like summery salads, tacos, and smoked white bean hummus. It also has reduced capacity on the roof, there will be 15 tables set up, including seating for two, four and six.

Don't miss: The venue is hosting "Sunstreams," a weekly series to raise funds for racial justice community resource organizations and to give a platform for POC artists.

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The High Line
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Stroll The High Line

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Chelsea

What is it? Chelsea's above-ground park and garden set on old train tracks offers a natural respite and 1.4 miles of car-free walking space set between the daring skyscrapers of Manhattan's west side.

Why go? The High Line just opened in July and now has timed entry to lessen the amount of visitors. It's been months since the park has been open to the public. It was sorely missed.

Don't miss: Works by Sam Falls and Lara Schnitger that were part of the park's En Plein Air exhibit are still up. Look for four ceramic archways supported by the steel rail tracks from the High Line’s original railway and a large-scale sculpture Sister of the Road, made in painted aluminum.

Fern Botanica
Photograph: Fern Botanica

6. Take a floral design class at Fern Botanica

Shopping Astoria

What is it? Fern Botanica is offering a "Crown Queen" floral crown class or "Floral Basics and Beyond" that you can book through its website.

Why go? It is a local, woman-owned shop and florist with a mind for sustainability and eco-friendly products. Plus, you get to create a masterpiece with some incredibly beautiful flowers and plants!

Don't miss: Taking a small, socially-distanced class with friends and family you feel comfortable with.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Visit artworks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

5 out of 5 stars
Museums Art and design Central Park

What is it? As one of the biggest museums in the world, the gorgeous late 19th century neo-classical institution displays some of the finest examples of art spanning from mummified royalty of ancient times to avant garde fashion couture.

Why go? The Met is reopening to the public on August 29 after five months on pause. It'll be a warm welcome back to one of NYC's most famous cultural institutions.

Don't miss: The debut of its signature exhibition celebrating its 150 anniversary, called "Making The Met, 1870-2020," and its Roof Garden Commission by Héctor Zamora, "Lattice Detour," as well as The Costume Institute’s "About Time: Fashion and Duration," which this year's canceled Met Gala was going to be based upon.

Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

8. Hang out at Brooklyn Bridge Park

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

What is it? Brooklyn Bridge Park, with its grassy expanses, copious bike paths, public art displays, basketball courts and soccer pitches, has a lot of new attractions within it.

Why go? The Pier 2 Uplands, three-acre site that includes a 6,300-square-foot lawn and a water play area, and the new Squibb Bridge just opened. There's also a new Public Art Fund display to check out called Reverberation made of large-scale bells by San Francisco-based sculptor Davina Semo.

Don't miss: Brunch or dinner at Fornino's on the waterfront.

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Hester Street Fair, New York City
Photograph: Courtesy Hester Street Fair

9. Shop Hester Street Fair

3 out of 5 stars
Things to do Markets and fairs Lower East Side

What is it? The Lower East Side flea and street fair hosts one of Manhattan’s best collections of local vendors. Macaron Parlour, Petee’s Pie Company, Melt Bakery, La New Yorkina, Arancini Bros all got their start there. 

Why go? You get the best of the city's small businesses in one location and it's all outdoors. It's also known for its themed weekends, from Vintage Day to a CBD Fair and Lobster and Beer Fest.

Don't miss: The Hester Street Market usually happens on Saturdays in the summer, but now it's expanding to Sundays as well. It also has plans to do weekly night markets tailored around food and drink, as well as movie nights. 

 

Socrates Sculpture Park
Photograph: Courtesy Jeffrey Gibson/Scott Lynch/Sikkema Jenkins & Co./Kavi Gupta/Roberts Projects

10. See huge artworks at Socrates Sculpture Park

5 out of 5 stars
Attractions Parks and gardens Astoria

What is it? A 4.5-acre city park on a former landfill hosts large-scale sculpture exhibits year-round. 

Why go? Not only does it always have incredible sculptures, its art is set to the backdrop of the East River and the Manhattan skyline. It's open 365 days a year, offering music and dance performances, movie screenings, yoga and more.

Don't miss: "Monuments Now," its summer/fall exhibition featuring a trio of artists—Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas and Xaviera Simmons—presenting large-scale objects that take the premise literally.

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American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Study our world at the American Museum of Natural History

4 out of 5 stars
Museums Science and technology Upper West Side

What is it? 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 the American Museum of Natural History is bound to teach you a few things you never knew.

Why go? With a reopening date set for September 9, you can spend a whole day just looking at the taxidermied animals that hail from across the world and the ocean, study the human species and the evolutionary origins of humans and our near (now extinct) cousins, spend the day like a geologist, and be filled with child-like awe in the presence of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wooly Mammoth and the Apatosaurus in the fourth floor’s world-renowned fossil collection.

Don't miss: The brand-new exhibit, "The Nature of Color," the first new planetarium show in seven years, "World's Beyond Earth," and the 94-feet long blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Commune with the flowers at The New York Botanical Garden

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

What is it? Surrounded by the concrete jungle are 250 acres of verdant oasis—year round. The NYBG is a historic, verdant oasis all year round. Special exhibits include Saving the Plants of the World, gardening’s relationship to the arts and humanities and a how-to course on creating your own green oasis.

Why go? To see how the greatest city in the world sets up a garden (hint: there’s normally whimsical artistic elements).

Don’t miss: The serene Native Plant Garden and the shaded Chilton Azalea Garden. Dig deeper with the Bloomberg Connects App to embark on an adventure while there.

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Lions at Bronx Zoo,Pictured left to right: Nala (female), Shani (male), Adamma (female) and M'wasi (father)
Photograph: Courtesy WCS/Julie Larsen Maher

13. Reconnect with wildlife at The Bronx Zoo

Attractions Zoo and aquariums The Bronx

What is it? The biggest metropolitan zoo in North America. 

Why go? If you’ve got a hankering to reconnect with wildlife, check out this Bronx go-to. With more than 265-acres of animals and wildlife, you won’t be able to see everything in one day, so consider taking a two-hour tour of the Congo Gorilla Forest, World of Reptiles or the Himalayan Highlands exhibits. Be sure to pay a special visit to the American Bison, too, which was declared America’s national mammal.         

Don’t miss: Strapped for cash? “The Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays,” points out Danny of Flushing. 

Union Square Greenmarket, New York City
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

14. Pick produce at Union Square Greenmarket

Attractions Parks and gardens Union Square

What is it? An outdoor, year-round market seasonal fruits and vegetables, farmstead cheeses, artisanal breads, fresh-cut flowers, wine and more.

Why go? You’ll find yourself shopping elbow-to-elbow with top chefs for all manner of regionally grown culinary pleasures.

Don't miss: Cooking demonstrations, beer & spirits pop-ups and book signings. 

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Lilia
Photograph: Cayla Zahoran

15. Feast on epic Italian at Lilia

Restaurants Italian Williamsburg

What is it? Beloved pasta-focused eatery from Missy Robbins.
 
Why go? Robbins revamps a former auto-body shop as a 70-seat dining room decorated with handmade tiles, natural-wood tables and iron-casement windows. You can enjoy their outdoor dining now. Robbins oversees rustic plates like cacio e pepe frittelle, spaghetti with anchovies and a wood-fired leg of lamb with Roman spices. A small adjacent take-out café serves pastries and paninis.


Don’t miss: The ricotta gnocchi, delicate cheese dumplings covered in a thatch of vibrant, verdant broccoli-basil pesto studded with nutty pistachios, or the bow-shaped rigatoni, rendered sweet from crushed San Marzano tomatoes and spicy from a prodigious zap of chilies and black pepper.

Michael Che, Mikiodo
Photograph: Courtesy Mikiodo

16. Catch an outdoor concert by Culture Lab LIC

Art Galleries Long Island City

What is it? Culture Lab LIC is hosting weeknight comedy shows and live music outside Plaxall Gallery with social distancing circles and a limited capacity. 

Why go? It's a chance to catch entertainment in person, which is hard to come by these days. 

Don't miss: Michael Che has been showing up to these shows, and local food trucks serve up delicious bites and drinks here.

 

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Ugly Baby
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

17. Dine at Ugly Baby, the best restaurant in NYC

Restaurants Thai Carroll Gardens

What is it? A Thai restaurant that will keep you coming back for more self-inflicted pain.

Why go? It may not be scientifically proven, but spicy food is addictive—especially at Ugly Baby. The servers at this tucked-away spot in Carroll Gardens will warn you over and over to be careful. But you’ll go against their advice and end up begging for more of the cooling cucumbers to ward off the heat.

Don’t miss: The “stay-away spicy Udon Thani’s duck salad” or the khao soi. 

Prospect Park, 101 TTD
Photograph: Shutterstock

18. Spend a leisurely afternoon in Prospect Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

What is it? A 526-acre sprawling public park in the heart of Brooklyn. 

Why go? “Go to Prospect Park on a clear evening, lie in the grass, and watch the bats and the stars,” suggests Cat of Park Slope. While bicycling, warm-weather picnics and weekend runs are a must at this park, you can do pretty much any outdoor activity your heart desires: there’s bird-watching, baseball, basketball and more.

Don’t miss: We recommend roller skating or renting a paddle boat at LeFrak, which transforms into an ice skating rink in the winter.

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Bethesda Terrace Central Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

19. Explore Central Park like a pro

Attractions Parks and gardens Central Park

What is it? The world's most famous green space. 

Why go? "Many visitors fight through the crowded streets to enter Central Park around 59th Street—where there’s not much to see—and by the time they reach the best bits, they are too winded to enjoy them," says Head of North American Content Rocky Rakovic. Instead, he suggests taking the subway to 72nd Street and Central Park West, then head east to hit up Strawberry Fields, the Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Fountain, the Naumburg Bandshell, the Loeb Boathouse, the Hans Christian Andersen Monument, the Conservatory Water’s model boats and the Alice in Wonderland statue, all in a “New York hour.”

Don’t miss: Head to the shore of the Lake at 72nd Street and rent a rowboat or take a gondola tour. 

Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Photograph: Andrew Tess

20. Scarf down pizza at Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

Restaurants Pizza Greenpoint

What is it? The new king of the New York slice. 

Why go? With its charred-wood–fired pies, Paulie Gee’s quickly became a cult favorite in Greenpoint. So when they unveiled a spin-off slice shop a few blocks away in 2018, it naturally got the neighborhood’s attention. The decor mimics the old-school New York dollar-slice shop, from the ’70s faux-wood Formica tables and letter-board menu to the red plastic trays and the paper plates on which each slice is served, but the ’za is the real deal.

Don’t miss: Opt for the classic cheese slice, just as as lovely as the pepperoni number or the Hellboy,which takes the pepperoni slice and douses it with sweet-and-spicy Mike’s Hot Honey. Discover all of our favorite places for pizza in NYC

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Brooklyn Bridge
Photograph: Michael Kirby

21. Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Manhattan

What is it? A true feat of 19th century engineering and arguably the one walk every local and visitor must take. 

Why go? This essential trek is "is so romantic that is has the power to turn platonic relationships into something more,” claims Javier in Little Italy. And you'll hear no arguments from us. The 1.3-mile-long stunner was the world's largest suspension bridge when it opened in 1883 it has remained an iconic landmark of the city ever since. 

Don’t miss: The Brooklyn side of the bridge ends in gorgeous Dumbo, where you can explore Brooklyn Bridge Park, gaze at Lady Liberty, visit the Brooklyn Flea on Sundays.

Empire State Building
Photograph: Shutterstock

22. Conquer the Empire State Building

Attractions Monuments and memorials Midtown West

What is it? A world-famous landmark that towers above Manhattan.  

Why go? The main deck on the 86th floor is the highest open-air observatory offers stunning 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and more. If you want to get higher, head to the 102nd floor's indoor observation deck for a full view of Central Park. And for some background, duck down to the "Dare to Dream" exhibit on the 80th floor, which honors the 3,400 people who built the 1,454-foot skyscraper and features original photographs, architectural sketches and construction notes. 

Don’t miss: Want to admire the ESB from a distance with a strong drink in hand? "For about $20, you can grab a drink, tip the bartender and take in amazing views from Rockefeller Plaza’s Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room," notes Head of North American Content Rocky Rakovic. 

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Color Me Mine
Photograph: Color Me Mine

23. Get crafty at Color Me Mine on the Upper West Side

Art Ceramics and pottery Upper West Side

What is it? Color Me Mine, a pottery painting studio, has a slew of ceramic pots, vases, figures and other home goods that you can paint and have fired for you.

Why go? The studio, which has an outdoor setup where you can design and paint safely, gives you the reigns to create your own work of art. 

Don't miss: If you'd like to do it in the comfort of your own home, you can do that, too—they now have to-go and delivery options where you can send your painted pottery back to them for firing.

TAL Bagels
Photograph: Laura Gallant

24. Start your day at Tal Bagels

Restaurants Upper West Side

What is it? An iconic Upper West Side bagel counter. 

Why go? Is there a more distinctly New York (or at least NYC- beloved) dish than the bagel? Maybe. During morning hours? Absolutely not. The fact is that we do this weekend wakeup must—or afternoon stomach-padder, depending on how last night went—better than anyone. And although Tal Bagels provides by no means the most calming bagel experience in New York—for that, head to High Street on Hudson or Sadelle's—OG New Yorkers know that they're best eaten hunched over on park bench or at a bagelry counter top anyway. And we can't think of a better spot than this.  

Don't miss: The everything bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese. Still hungry? Discover all of the best bagels in NYC

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Photograph: Jena Cumbo

25. Salute the Statue of Liberty

Attractions Monuments and memorials Liberty Island

What is it? Since 1886, the most famous copper statue in the world has held her torch high in New York Harbor as the quintessential symbol of American liberty. 

Why go? The statue’s massive pedestal houses an observation deck as well as exhibits detailing the fascinating history of the 305-foot copper statue gifted to the U.S. from France to celebrate the friendship of the two nations. Check out the original torch and read the bronze plaque with Emma Lazarus’s poem “A New Colossus” (you know, the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free). 

Don’t miss: Strapped for cash? "The Staten Island Ferry is free and sails near the robed icon," points out Time Out New York's Rocky Rakovic. "What’s more, it travels fast enough that your trip won’t take up the whole day, but it’s slow enough that you can nurse a beer and find the right angle for a nice Instagram of you and the old green gal." 

Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Photograph: Courtesy Tishman Speyer

26. Check out Rockefeller Center

Things to do Midtown West

What is it? A National Landmark where you’ll find a smorgasbord of popular New York sites in a distinctive, multi-block complex.

Why go: 30 Rockefeller Plaza happens to be home of NBC. So if you’re lucky, you might get tickets to see a live recording of The Tonight ShowLate Night with Seth Meyers or even SNL

Don't miss: The Top of the Rock, the 9,500-square-foot observation deck on 30 Rock that has an unobstructed, 360-degree panoramic view.

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Photograph: Courtesy Jake Lindeman

27. Have the best Brooklyn lunch at Gertie

Restaurants Cafés Williamsburg

What is it? Inspired by Los Angeles all-day cafes like Gjelina and Sqirl, this  spot serves up bowls and toast with the soul of real New Yorkers. 

Why go? This luncheonette-style diner made for today, has adapted to the times, with a new "Summer Shack" concept, featuring beach chair seats to hangout on while listening to vinyl records. Think: summer-y picnic staples such as an English muffin cheeseburger or a chicken schnitzel sandwich on a challah roll.

Don’t miss: Their killer bread game: Their sandies are made on carby goodness like their English muffin, which is made in-house. 

Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

28. Take in some impressive street art

Music Coney Island

What is it? New York is the city where street art was born, and it’s still the best place to see it in the world. 

Why go? Catching art on the street is a far more visceral experience that seeing it on a museum wall. For proof, check out the Bowery Graffiti Wall on the corner of Houston and Bowery to see what world-class street artist is currently on display (past artists have included Banksy, JR and Shepard Fairey) or  peep the rotating lineup of artists at Coney Island Art Walls.

Don’t miss: If you’re looking for an arty outing after dark, head down to the Lower East Side for the 100 Gates Project, which displays impressive works on the grates that cover businesses at night. 

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Photograph: Jake Cohen

29. Gorge on donuts from Peter Pan Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Greenpoint

What is it? An old-school bakery famous for their doughnuts.

Why go? “Start Sunday with a Bavarian cream from Peter Pan; it’s a total hangover cure,” says Ana of Greenpoint. Peter Pan isn’t a gourmet doughnut shop by any stretch, and in this neck of the woods, thank God for that. Its freshly made fried sweets and legit 1950s environs, complete with an S-shaped counter, means it’s busy daily with regulars. But trust us: The lines are worth it.


Don’t miss: Pair your doughnut with one of the bakery’s tasty egg creams.

The Strand Bookstore
Photograph: Nadia Chaudhury

30. Stock up at Strand Book Store

Shopping Bookstores East Village

What is it? Founded in 1927, Strand is perhaps the most beloved indie bookseller in NYC.  

Why go? With more than 2.5 million new, used and rare tomes—or as the sign outside says, 18 MILES OF BOOKS—Strand absolutely crams its shelves, with many new titles sold well below list price. Bibliophiles can spend hours checking the staff picks, classic novels, poetry, novels and nonfiction. We suggest walking up to the third floor, where early editions and rare signed copies are available for purchase.

Don’t miss: “Perusing the $1 shelves,” says Rachel of Washington Heights.  

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Union Square Farmer's Market
Photograph: Shutterstock

31. Gather in Union Square Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Union Square

What is it? A centrally located Manhattan park that serves as a bustling gathering point and houses the popular Union Square Greenmarket.

Why go? Operating four days a week, the Union Square Greenmarket has vendors of every variety. The market began with just a few farmers in 1976, and in addition to some of the freshest produce in town, today’s park-goers can buy artisanal cheeses, wines from upstate vineyards, sweet jams and other goods from dozens of rotating stands. 

Don’t miss: The seasonal restaurant located inside the park, Bocce USQ.

32. Fill up at Russ & Daughters

Shopping Specialist food and drink Lower East Side

What is it? Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods on the Lower East Side since 1914.

Why go? "Russ & Daughters is already is our go-to spot for Jewish apps shelling out the best lox in town, so while you’re there why not stock up on sweets?" asks Jake Cohen. He reccomends their black & whites, which are a stunning iteration of the classic, yet simple cookies, all baked out of their location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

Don’t miss: The Super Heeb, a mix of horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad that forms a holy trinity with an unholy name.

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Brooklyn Heights
Photograph: Shutterstock

33. Walk the streets of Brooklyn Heights

Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

What is it? A ridiculously photogentic neighborhood teeming with tree-lined streets and Brooklyn brownstones. 

Why go? “Walk the fruit streets of Brooklyn Heights," suggests Dana in Crown Heights. Those streets (Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple) do indeed, as she puts it, "have that Brooklyn-from-the-movies feel.” And there's a nifty backstory: In the mid-1800s, prominent Brooklyn Heights resident Lady Middagh saw the “pretentious” street names in her ’hood—those named after Brooklyn’s wealthy families—and decided to take matters into her own hands by changing the street signs by cover of darkness to Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple. 

Don’t miss: Head to the water and hit the Brooklyn Promenade, a one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River overlooking an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. 

Washington Square Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

34. Meander through Washington Square Park

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Greenwich Village

What is it? A 9.75-acre public park that serves as the beating heart of Greenwich Village. 

Why go? “Listening to the Piano Man [Colin Huggins] play in Washington Square Park—it’s so cool watching him wheel out his grand piano, and he’s an amazing performer,” says Sophie of the West Village. Most buskers are content to use instruments that are, you know, portable. But Huggins, the self-proclaimed “crazy piano guy,” is more ambitious. On nice days, he wheels out a baby grand to perform beautiful renditions of classical pieces.

Don’t miss: On hot summer days, dip your feet into the giant circular park fountain.

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White Bear
Photograph: Ali Garber

35. Eat dumplings at White Bear

Restaurants Chinese Flushing

What is it? A closet-size mecca for dumpling aficionados.

Why go? We recommend the the No. 6: a dozen pork wontons, doused in roasted chili oil and topped with a smattering of diced pickled vegetables, which arrives on a Styrofoam plate. Despite more than 30 items on the menu, it’s the dish everyone seems to order. 

Don't miss: Still hungry? Plan a food crawl and eat your way through Flushing

New York attractions
Photograph: Alys Tomlinson

36. Ride the Staten Island Ferry

Attractions Sightseeing Financial District

What is it? A free ferry that transports people between Manhattan and Staten Island. 

Why go?
“Take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free and you can drink!” says Suzannah of Kew Gardens, Queens. You heard the woman: It’s free and you can drink! Need we say more? Okay, fine, how about “amazing views of the Statue of Liberty”? Oh, by the way, the hour-long round-trip ride boasts some of the lowest beer prices in the city—cans of Bud go for $4—so you can live it up booze-cruise-style for less than a five-spot. Classy.


Don’t miss:
The sparkling Seaglass Carousel next to the Manhattan terminal is an entertaining diversion.

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madison square park
Photograph: Shutterstock

37. Enjoy Manhattan’s liveliest greenspace, Madison Square Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Flatiron

What is it? Madison Square Park is a green oasis in the Flatiron district—not to be confused with Madison Square Garden.

Why go? There’s always something going in the environs (three streets by one avenue block) from outdoor art exhibits to free concerts. The park is also home to the first Shake Shack, which still consistently see lines that would make the hottest clubs jealous. Tourists go for Shake Shack, workers go to eat their lunch, pooch owners go for the dog run, guardians go for the children’s playground… and because the park  is snaked with benches it lends for the best leisurely people-watching.

Don’t miss: Stepping onto the southwest corner of the park is debatably the hallowed grounds on which baseball was born.

 

Photograph: Roxanna Marroquin

38. Sift through comics at Forbidden Planet

Shopping Bookstores East Village

What is it? A comic shop with an alternative feel and a crazy-vast selection.  

Why go? We’ll let the door handle at this Union Square shop do the talking: It’s a replica of Captain America’s shield. Comic book fans visiting this geek paradise can snag graphic novels, toys, movie memorabilia, Magic: The Gathering cards and more. “The people who work there are really nice, too,” adds Joey of Murray Hill. 

Don’t miss: Manga DVDs and books, anime and sci-fi toys and action figures, offbeat horror and imported magazines like Gothic Beauty.

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Sarge's
Photograph: Jake Ratner

39. Eat up at Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner

Restaurants Delis Murray Hill

What is it? An old-school, 24-hour Jewish delicatessen.

Why go? NYPD Sergeant Abe “Sarge” Katz opened the restaurant in 1964, and the building still has the burgundy vinyl booths, Tiffany’s lamps and a wall of celebrity photos to prove it. Sarge’s offers all the classic deli sandwiches—corned beef, pastrami, reuben—plus the Monster. Billed as the city’s largest sandwich, it is indeed a towering stack of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, salami, tomato, lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye.

Don’t miss: The bacon egg and cheese sandwich. "The contrasting textures of gooey cheese and eggs with crispy bacon makes for a breakfast to behold whether you’re eating it at 8am or 11pm," says Jake Cohen. 

Pelham Bay Park, 101 TTD
Photograph: Alex Strada

40. Explore the massive Pelham Bay Park

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

What is it? A sprawling public park in the Bronx. 

Why go?
“Explore the trails around Pelham Bay Park. It’s actually the largest public park in New York City and there’s so much to see there, ” says Greg of City Island. Pelham Bay Park isn’t just the end of the 6 line—it’s a green space three times bigger than Central Park. Among its treasures: two golf courses, a massive historic mansion, a 13-mile saltwater shoreline along the Long Island Sound, plenty of hiking trials and, for you bird watchers, a hearty population of osprey.


Don’t miss:
The Bronx’s only public beach, Orchard Beach

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41. Get buzzed at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Bars Beer bars East Village

What is it? NYC’s oldest continuously operated saloon.

Why go? "Not only do we love a bar with character, but if you make the trip, you’ll be able to join the ranks of past patrons like Abe Lincoln and John Lennon," says Jake Cohen. In traditional Irish-pub fashion, McSorley’s floor has been thoroughly scattered with sawdust to take care of the spills and other messes that often accompany large quantities of cheap beer. Established in 1854, it has became an institution by remaining steadfastly authentic. 

Don't miss: McSorley’s Dark Ale and McSorley’s Light Ale. Both beverages have a lot more character than PBR, though at these prices, it won’t be long before you stop noticing. 

Rockaway Beach
Photograph: David Rosenzweig

42. Take the subway to a shore town: Rockaway Beach

Attractions Beaches Rockaways

What is it? A stretch of sand that is one part New York attitude, one part beach-bum lifestyle.

Why go?  As Joey Ramone once sang about the Queens coastal anthem “Rockaway Beach,” “It’s not hard, not far to reach!” Indeed, it’s only about an hour A-train ride from Fulton Street to the beach, complete with a view of the coast for a good portion of the ride. 

Don’t miss: With hip shops and eateries (including a snack shack by the crews of Roberta’s and Meat Hook called Rippers) the area is far less carnival than Coney Island so the crowd on the boardwalk is far more chill.

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Astoria Park Pool
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Young Sok Yun

43. Take a dip at Astoria Park Pool

Sports and fitness Gyms and fitness centers Astoria

What is it? Not your typical NYC public swimming hole, the Astoria Pool is one of the largest in the country.   

Why go? With a 330-foot main pool, an Olympic-standard diving pool and an additional wading pool, this Astoria summer staple is the fruit of city planner Robert Moses's labor. He reportedly designed it in 1936 with somewhat narcissistic intent: Swimmers looking up from the water could see one of his greatest accomplishments, the Triborough (now RFK) Bridge, also completed in 1936.

Don’t miss: “Remember to bring a lock,” says Tim in Greenpoint. "Otherwise, you can't enjoy this freebie."  

Brooklen Heights promenade and views of Manhattan
Photograph: Michael Kirby

44. Stroll the Brooklyn Promenade

Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

What is it? A perfect place to enjoy a panoramic view of the city.  

Why go? This one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River is 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, but the Promenade wasn’t originally built for aesthetic reasons: City planner Robert Moses originally wanted the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to run through Brooklyn Heights. After lots of opposition from the local community, the promenade was built to insulate the mansions and tree-lined streets nearby from highway noise and has been doing so since it opened in October 1950.  

Don’t miss: Be sure to break off the path and head further inland to explore the beautiful brownstones of Brooklyn Heights. 

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45. Slurp on an egg cream at Eddie's Sweet Shop

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Forest Hills

What is it? If you want a real trip down memory lane, this old-school soda fountain and diner will tap right into the New York nostalgia you're craving.

Why go? This Forest Hills gem has been in business for more than 100 years and still that attracts all generations to come in for a homemade scoop. "Aside from the famous sundaes, the chocolate egg cream is one of the most famous in the whole dang city—and that’s saying a lot," says associate Food & Drink editor Alyson Penn.  

Don’t miss: The sundaes are still served in the same metal tins for the perfect retro touch. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/catherinecronin/16801266398/
Courtesy CC/Flickr/catherinecronin

46. Be a bookworm at Three Lives & Company

Shopping Bookstores West Village

What is it? A cozy bookstore straight out of a bygone era that's lined with shelves packed with a skillfully chosen range of titles.

Why go? “Three Lives & Company is kind of amazing to me," says actor Charles Busch. "I don’t know how they manage to be here when large chains are closing. It’s a place where you really can feel comfortable browsing and picking up a book, and they always have interesting stuff you won’t find at Barnes & Noble. You’ll find some rare biography that was printed in England that’s usually not found in this country.” Focusing on literature (primarily fiction and narrative nonfiction), Three Lives also has a dedicated NYC section and an especially large travel shelf.

Don’t miss: The incredibly knowledgeable and well-read staff will not only help you pick out your next beach read, they’ll also fulfill custom orders.

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freemans
Photograph: Courtesy Freemans Restaurant

47. Indulge in salon-style rhetoric at Freemans

Restaurants American Lower East Side

What is it? A cozy restaurant at the end of an alley in the Bowery where tastemakers and influencers (but not the kind of people who refer to themselves as such) rub elbows.

Why go? “View art at the New Museum, then grab some drinks at Freemans right nearby.” says Sabella of Nolita. One of few museums in the world devoted only to contemporary art, the New Museum is always a conversation starter, whether you love, hate or don’t quite get its exhibits. Discuss them over a few cocktails at Freemans, where retro portraits in fittingly worn frames should inspire intellectual conversation.

Don’t miss: Quaff their expert French 75 (gin and lemon topped with sparkling wine).

Hudson River Park, Pier 66
Photograph: Julienne Schaer

48. Surf the Hudson River off Pier 66

Attractions Chelsea

What is it? Right off the Hudson River Park a number of watersports companies will get you onto a paddleboard, kayak or sailboat and into the Hudson.

Why go? Picture yourself standing on a wide surfboard in the middle of the Hudson, balancing like a champ while paddling to and fro using a long oar. Revel in that for a sec. Now picture the reality: a lot of wobbling and yelping and splashing into the water, unless you have insanely strong abs. Either way, it’s still totally fun, and taking in an up-close view of the Upper West Side while cruising along the Hudson is pretty breathtaking.

Don’t miss: The Frying Pan is a permanently docked lightship on which, during season, you can have a drink and regal the patrons with your tales of the high sea

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green-wood cemetery
Photograph: Shutterstock

49. Explore Green-Wood Cemetery

Things to do Walks and tours Greenwood

What is it? A beautiful final resting place in Brooklyn filled with Victorian mausoleums, cherubs and gargoyles.  

Why go? If you were alive in the 19th century, one of your goals in life was to reserve a place to rest here. Today, this cemetery boasts over 560,000 residents—including Civil War generals. But there’s more to do here than grave-spot: Check out the massive Gothic arch at the main entrance or climb to the top of Battle Hill, one of the highest points in Kings County and a pivotal spot during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

Don’t miss:  A fan of all things spooky? “Take one of the moonlight tours of the cemetery," suggests Joseph of Gowanus.  

Courtesy Natalie Black

50. Eat fancy without spending a ton at Crown Shy

Restaurants American Financial District

What is it? Inside the highly sought-after Art Deco residential building, 70 Pine Street, resides the first collaboration between James Kent, longtime chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and executive chef at NoMad, alongside Jeff Katz, managing partner of Del Posto. 

Why go? Here, elevated meals are crafted by New York’s fine dining elite. You can ball out like a banker without breaking your piggy bank.

Don’t miss: “Pastry chef Renata Ameni’s satsuma orange ice cream is served with a hat of toasted marshmallow and crumbles of honeycomb, tasted like a creamsicle and comes with a big enough scoop for sharing," explains Associate Food & Drink editor Emma Orlow. 

More great things to do across the globe

Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016

The 40 best things to do in the world right now

Things to do

Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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