Whether you want to try every single idea on this list or just get some inspiration for your weekend, seeing the full list of 101 things to do in New York is enough to convince anyone that this is the greatest city in the world. We hit the streets (and social media) to find out what real New Yorkers love to do here, and below you’ll find every conceivable kind of fun, from going to the coolest gig venues and movie theaters to taking riverside bike rides and finding the best napping spots (seriously, you guys really love your napping spots). From museums to meatballs, beaches to brews, discover all of the most delightful activities NYC has to offer, right here.
RECOMMENDED: See all of the 101 things to do in New York
The 101 best things to do in NYC
“Recline on the High Line’s wooden lounges. It’s a really calming, litter-free spot of nature just above a bustling, stressed-out avenue.”—Dia, Bushwick
After years of legislation and major landscaping, the community group Friends of the High Line was able to transform the former elevated train line into a public space in 2009. Now people walking along the park’s gardens or stretching out on one of the coveted lounges can find tranquility above the busy Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
“Watch a midnight movie at Nitehawk Cinema. I love seeing the horror films of my youth —and they serve beer!”—Bill, Greenpoint
While this theater caters to late-night movie lovers, it also welcomes new parents of babies one and younger on Tuesday afternoons. (Yay, new-mom activity!) The spot also offers a robust lineup of retro film series.
“Get to the Tenement Museum for an engaging guided tour, you'll learn so much and have a new appreciation and understanding of immigrant life in New York.”—Evelyn, Greenpoint
Guided tours of this Lower East Side institution bring the history of New York’s immigrant population from the mid-1800s through to the early 20th Century to life. Before its incarnation as a museum, 97 Orchard Street was once home to dozens of working class Irish, German, Jewish and Italian families.
“Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge—it’s so romantic that is has the power to turn platonic relationships into something more.”—Javier, Little Italy
Fourteen years and 600 workers (including the original designer, who died during construction)—that’s how long it took to build the Brooklyn Bridge, which has been an iconic landmark of the city since 1883. Thankfully, the NYC Department of Transportation removed the hundreds of “love locks” that were attached to the bridge last year, protecting its status as a historic landmark.
“Watch amazing actors at Shakespeare in the Park. They somehow always manage to make the plays accessible, even to those of us who didn’t understand them in high school.”—Beth, Glendale
Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved NYC democratic tradition and one of the best free things to do in NYC: Shakespeare in the Park, presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outside in New York, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background. It's the world’s most impressive set decoration.
“Ride on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, because no roller coaster can top the thrill of not knowing if you’ll survive a jerky antique Ferris wheel.”—Cara, Gowanus
The Wonder Wheel is the center of Coney Island’s famed boardwalk entertainment. Built by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company (yes, that’s a real thing) out of Bethlehem-forged steel in the 1920s, this ride is perfect if you want a birds-eye view of the park and ocean.
“Celebrate the Sakura Matsuri [Cherry Blossom Festival] at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It doesn’t feel like spring until I’m surrounded by cherry blossoms, and I love the elements of Japanese culture.” —Liz, Windsor Terrace
When the winter finally begins to thaw in early April, the pink buds on the cherry blossom trees greet the rising temperatures, and it’s a sight to see. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden pays homage to the Japanese spring festival Sakura Matsuri with Kabuki dance, tea ceremonies, anime/manga cosplay and cherry blossom as far as the eye can see.
“Walk the fruit streets of Brooklyn Heights. They have that Brooklyn-from-the-movies feel.”—Dana, Crown Heights
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. The names stuck and to this day add even more charm to the historic 19th-century brownstones and tree-lined streets where several movies, like Moonstruck, were filmed.
“Start on a dim-sum crawl on Doyers Street in Chinatown.”—Nadia, East Village
This narrow, curved street is somehow never as crowded as the rest of the ’hood. It’s also home to a true classic: Nom Wah Tea Parlor, open since 1920, which is the oldest New York dim-sum pioneer still standing.
“Look at the tapestries at the Cloisters, because they’re really beautiful and many are quite unusual—they took a lot of time and artistry to make.”—Catie, Bushwick
Want to feel like you’ve been transported to medieval Europe without leaving NYC? Head to Fort Tryon Park to visit the Cloisters and get lost looking at the chapels, sculptures, unicorn tapestries and gardens. Impress your history-buff friends with this fun fact: the museum was reconstructed from five European abbeys that were dismantled in the 1930s, sent to New York, and reassembled as the buildings you see today. See? History is fun.