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