See New York City like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

7 New York Attractions that Locals Love

Updated January 18, 2022

New York attractions range from the iconic (the Statue of the Liberty!) to interactive (the Brooklyn Bridge!). Locals tell us that the following 7 attractions are definitely worth seeing—and they give suggestions on how to enjoy these incredible spots like the locals do. 

Why see NYC like a tourist when you could enjoy it like a local? Our trip planners are NYC locals who can introduce you to a new layer of their city. Learn more

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

Central Park, Prospect Park, Riverside Park…

Central Park | Alex Simpson/Unsplash

New York may be an urban jungle, but locals tell us that this is a PARK city. Many of the best places to visit in NYC are parks—from the iconic Central Park in the middle of Manhattan, to the Hudson River views of Riverside Park, to the rolling hills and hidden trails of Prospect Park in Brooklyn. 

Where you decide to go may depend on your travel style, so get some local input. Our trip planners can recommend activities that fit how you want to see NYC! 

The Statue of Liberty...but with a twist

Statue of Liberty | Avi Werde/Unsplash

If it’s your first time in NYC, locals tell us you should definitely see the iconic Statue of Liberty. Yes, you could take the ferry directly there (tickets are about $20 for anyone 13+, with extra costs to ascend to the crown). 

But if you’re looking for a unique way to enjoy NYC, our trip planners recommend hopping on a different ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is *free* and provides an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty from afar. Alternatively, you could zip over to Governors Island (locals say ferry tickets are just a couple of dollars) for a view from its shores. 

Local Tip:

If you’re visiting NYC in the summer, Governor’s Island is a great place to escape the city heat. 

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The Brooklyn Bridge (and Brooklyn!)

Brooklyn Bridge | Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash

Built at the end of the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful, iconic, and, often, quite crowded. 

Locals say this shouldn’t damper your bridge-enthusiasm!! Walking across is a cool activity—you’ll get incredible views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, aim to cross early in the morning. 

Once there, don’t skimp on one of the coolest places to visit in NYC—Brooklyn itself. The DUMBO area at the base of the bridge is full of cute shops (and a great weekend flea market). Plus, it’s easy to hop on the subway to explore places like Williamsburg or Park Slope. (Our trip planners can provide detailed transit instructions!)

Local Tip:

You can also cross the Williamsburg or Manhattan bridges. You’ll find fewer crowds but it’s also noisier since the trains cross these bridges. 

Hogwarts! Er, the Grand Central Terminal 

Grand Central Terminal | Fezbot2000/Unsplash

One look at the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal and you’ll feel like you’ve waltzed into the Harry Potter universe. (The ceiling is painted green-blue and covered with golden constellations—so beautiful!) 

There’s a good chance you’ll swing through Grand Central en route to something else. Locals recommend padding your itinerary so that you don’t have to rush to your train or subway. You’ll find a great food court here (really) and the station is lovely and clean.

Local Tip:

Grand Central is beautiful, but don’t ogle too much—it’s an active station, and you’ll irritate the commuters dashing for their trains. Also, skip Penn Station if you can. 

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The Empire State Building (but do it right) 

Empire State Building | Kit Suman/Unsplash

The Empire State building is one of those iconic NYC sights—when you see it, you know you’re here. Go ahead and climb it if you’d like—you’ll certainly get a good view. But, you know, the Empire State Building itself won’t be in it! 

Locals say if you want that iconic Empire State Building pic (and a spectacular Manhattan panorama) go to the Top of the Rock, instead. You’ll have a lot of observatory options in NYC, but this is the only one with a fantastic view of the Empire State Building. 

Not looking to spend $40 on a view? Use local advice to save money. Our trip planners tell us that the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar has no cover and provides a fantastic perspective of the Empire State Building. (It is a rooftop bar, though—so expect pricey drinks!)

Pick a museum, any museum

American Museum of Natural History | Aditya Vyas

Locals tell us that it’s hard to go wrong when choosing a museum to visit. The Met, MoMA, and the American Museum of Natural History are some local favorites to visit in New York

And we haven’t even mentioned the Whitney...or the Brooklyn Museum...or the smaller, more obscure museums throughout New York—like the ultra-cool New York Transit Museum.  

If you don’t know where to start, get some local advice. Are you into history? Art? Are you looking to save money or are you willing to splurge? Find a like-minded local who can point you in the right direction. 

The Patience (and Fortitude) of the New York Public Library 

New York Public Library | Clay Banks/Unsplash

The New York Public Library is another Hogwartsian treasure in the middle of Manhattan. Scale the grand steps in front of the library and meet the two stone lions guarding the place—their names are Patience and Fortitude

If you’re traveling to NYC on a budget, locals tell us that NYPL is a great place to visit in Manhattan. Our trip planners recommend checking the library’s calendar. They offer fantastic events and temporary exhibits. 

Local Tip:

You’ll find excellent bookstores throughout NYC, from the well-known Strand Bookstore in Manhattan to the excellent Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn.

BONUS: Hudson Valley and the Catskills

Catskills | Thomas Loizeau/Unsplash

Although you'll find plenty of attractions to enjoy in the city, locals tell us there's more to explore upstate. 

It's easy! Hop on a Metro-North train from Grand Central and soon you'll be in an entirely different universe. We have locals in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills who can help you prepare for your upstate adventure. Learn more

Still have questions about travel to New York City?
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