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Things to Do in New York City - page 2

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Columbus Circle
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33 Tours and Activities

Columbus Circle, New York City’s only traffic circle, is indeed named for Christopher Columbus. The monument was erected on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in America. His statue rises tall on a column at the center of the busy street circle. It is the place which all official distances in New York City are measured from.

Aside from its key role in directing New York’s traffic, it stands at the base of Time Warner Center. The glass skyscraper is home to the Time Warner corporation’s headquarters and is one of the city’s best shopping centers. It also contains the Jazz at Lincoln Center and New York’s CNN offices. Central Park is only footsteps away — in fact, the circle was initially designed as a grand entrance to the famous park. Grass, plants, trees, benches, and fountains were added to the circle in 2005, giving it a more park-like appearance itself.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
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The Met is one of the world's most prestigious cultural hubs, up there with the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Vatican for sheer pulling power.

Around five million visitors a year flock here to drink in the rarefied air, rest their legs in the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, admire the Tiffany glass, and view Old Masters.

If time allows, you'll also find Roman statues, musical instruments, modern artworks and Egyptian artifacts. The Met is a fine place to immerse yourself in American art. A highlight is the series of period rooms, and paintings by Whistler and Sargent.

Take a tour of the highlights, dine on the Great Hall Balcony or have a drink in the rooftop martini bar.

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SoHo
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SoHo, or “South of Houston,” is located in lower Manhattan and is renowned for its stylish boutiques, art galleries and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood is more relaxed than Times Square but can still get crowded due to its popularity with shoppers. Stroll down the cobblestone streets browsing stores like AvaMaria for shoes and accessories, Onassis for American menswear with a Japanese flare and Legacy for vintage pieces and antique jewelry.

You can admire the work of talented artists in galleries like Agora Gallery, American Primitive Gallery and the Brooke Alexander Gallery. Make sure to also walk down Broadway to take in the cast-iron buildings, as SoHo showcases the largest collection of this type of architecture in the world. For a drink, Jimmy at The James Hotel is a sleek rooftop bar with 360 degree views of Manhattan, 508 Restaurant & Bar is a gastrobrewery where you can pair craft brews with gourmet plates and The Room is a sultry wine and beer bar.

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Trinity Church Wall Street
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An Episcopal Church located in Lower Manhattan at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in the United States. In 1696, a small group of Anglicans were granted approval from Governor Benjamin Fletcher to purchase land for a new church. The next year, Trinity Church received a charter from King William III of England. Today, the Trinity Church you see is the third building in the same location, built in 1846 in a Neo-Gothic style. Until 1890 when the New York World Building was completed, its 281-foot spire and cross was the highest point in the city. Along with the building’s impressive architecture -- including intricate stained-glass windows, sandstone facade, Gothic spires, dramatic pointed arches and heavy bronze doors depicting bible scenes -- Trinity is known for its vibrant music program and dedication to outreach.

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Hayden Planetarium
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This leading planetarium shows impressive visuals of space as viewed from Earth, using high-resolution full-dome video projection in its Star Theater. The video is based on visualization of the most advanced astrophysical scientific data available. Visitors can witness galaxies, planets, and star clusters in realistic, sharp resolution. “Star shows” display the latest in cosmic discovery, in collaboration with top scientists from around the world. Glancing up at the wide screen, it is near impossible not to imagine life beyond our planet.

The sphere measures 87 feet in diameter and appears to float inside a glass cube. In the bottom half of the sphere, visitors can witness the birth of the universe in the Big Bang Theater. After viewing the four minute programs, visitors can walk the Heilbrun Cosmic Pathway, which illustrates the history of the universe from the Big Bang to present day and connects the two sections of the sphere.

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St. Paul's Chapel
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Located at 209 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. Moreover, it is the only surviving church from the Revolutionary Era, and holds much history from this period. Opened in 1766, it is part of the Episcopal Parish of Trinity Church and has been a place of worship and refuge for many over the years, including George Washington and Revolutionary War British Generals Cornwallis and Howe, who would go there to pray and 9/11 recovery workers who were cared for inside the chapel. If you’re interested in seeing where George Washington himself sat inside the church, there is an oil painting of the Great Seal of the United State over his pew. The interior of the church is less grand and more cozy yet elegant with glass chandeliers and an ornamental design above the alter created by a French veteran of the revolution, Pierre L’Enfant.

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TriBeCa
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Located in lower Manhattan, TriBeCa, or “Triangle Below Canal,” is known for its cobblestone streets, low crime rate, trendy restaurants and high-quality boutiques. Enjoy sashimi tacos, lobster ceviche and tuna tataki at Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant, or for something more budget-friendly, Tamarind Tribeca, which offers delicious chicken tikka masala, punjabi mutton and lobster masala. If you’re sightseeing, visit the Hudson River Park, featuring 550 acres of green along the Hudson River, or the Skyscaper Museum, which offers a look into the history of New York City skyscrapers and introduces visitors to important industry people. If you’re visiting in the spring, check out the Tribeca Film Festival to see inspiring independent and family-friendly films.

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United Nations Headquarters
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One of New York's most iconic buildings, the United Nations' official headquarters takes up several blocks of real estate by the East River in Midtown Manhattan. The complex is made up of several buildings, including the domed General Assembly Hall, visitors center and the very 1950s, high-rise Secretariat building. Landscaped gardens decorated with outdoor sculptures surround the complex and flapping flags fly in the breeze.

The best way to get a feel for the international goings on is to take a guided tour. Running throughout the day, the 45-minute tours provide valuable insights into human rights history, the UN and its missions, and the UN complex.

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Grand Central Station
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Manhattan's truly wonderful Grand Central Station (meticulously restored in the 1990s) is a train terminal in the grand tradition from the glory days of the nation's railroads.

Built for the New York Central Railroad between 1903 and 1913, Grand Central is the world's largest train station and a vital New York attraction (even if catching a train is the last thing on your mind).

The main features of the lofty, opulent Main Concourse are its huge arched windows, ticket booths, the famous four-faced clock, grand staircases, chandeliers and, up above, the cerulean blue ceiling gilded with astronomical details. Statues and a Tiffany glass clock dominate the Beaux Arts exterior.

Join a public or private tour of the terminal's highlights, drop into the famous Oyster Bar while you're here, grab a snack at any number of food outlets, or join the 125,000 commuters who pick up a train or subway from Grand Central every day.

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More Things to Do in New York City

Castle Clinton National Monument

Castle Clinton National Monument

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Before Ellis Island there was Castle Clinton. This historic Lower Manhattan destination once served as the first immigration stop for foreigners moving to the U.S., with some 8 million people passing through its doors between 1855 and 1890. And while the iconic brick building has had many lives—as a beer garden, theater and even an aquarium—today it serves as a national monument and museum.

Visitors tend to agree that while Castle Clinton holds a historic place in the story of New York City and is certainly worth checking out, the interior offers only a couple of displays that showcases stories of the Big Apple. Travelers heading to the Statue of Liberty can purchase tickets inside and make Castle Clinton part of the Battery Park experience.

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Strawberry Fields (John Lennon Memorial)

Strawberry Fields (John Lennon Memorial)

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Located in Central Park, Strawberry Fields encompasses 2.5 acres dedicated to Beatles band member John Lennon. Opened in 1985, five years after Lennon was murdered outside his home at The Dakota apartments, the memorial is named after The Beatles’ hit “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The focus of the memorial is a stone mosaic with inlaid tiles spelling out the word “Imagine,” named after another famous Beatles’ song. This is where you’ll catch impromptu jam sessions by fans, especially on the anniversary dates of John Lennon’s birthday on October 9 and death on December 8. It’s also a place for vigils, such as after the September 11th attacks, as well as memorials for other beloved musicians. While the entire memorial is a place of peace, the Garden of Peace is particularly special, filled with plant life and rocks donated by 150 different countries for contemplative meditation.

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New York City Little Italy

New York City Little Italy

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Like its neighbor Chinatown, Little Italy is a vibrant remnant of Manhattan’s legendary multicultural makeup. A great area for city walks, the focus is Mulberry Street and Old St Patrick’s Cathedral.

It’s a historic neighborhood of cobblestone streets, tenements, pizza bars, and Italian restaurants. The most authentic remnant of Little Italy is the section of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal streets.

In September Mulberry Street hosts the 11-day San Gennaro street festival, with parades, street vendors, and outdoor food stalls.

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Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain

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Located in Central Park on the lower level of Bethesda Terrace, Bethesda Fountain, or “Angel of the Waters,” features a neoclassical eight-foot-bronze angel holding a lily on top of a tiered fountain. Bethesda Fountain is considered not only one of the most beautiful fountains in New York, but also in the world. It is one of the city’s largest fountains, at twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide. The angel, designed by Emma Stebbins, was the only sculpture commissioned as park of Central Park’s original design. During the initial stages of Central Park’s planning, the idea was to create a welcoming “open-air hall of reception” where visitors could enjoy views from a terrace overlooking the lake. They also wanted something that blended in with the surrounding nature, which was to be the focus of the park. Bethesda Fountain was a fitting choice then, and still is today. Additionally, when the Croton Aqueduct was opened in 1842 to bring fresh water to New York City.
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Battery Park

Battery Park

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Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a 25-acre public park sitting right on the New York Harbor. The attraction is named after the artillery batteries that were once positioned there for protection. When visiting, it’s enjoyable to explore the many gardens, as well as admire the views of the Statue of Liberty and relax on a bench and listen to the water. While Battery Park gives visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors, it also provides a glimpse into the past. For example, in 1855 the park’s Castle Garden became the world’s first immigrant depot. Additionally, the park also served as the gateway for European newcomers long before Ellis Island existed. Littered around the grounds you’ll also find memorials like the East Coast Memorial that honors the U.S. 4,601 missing servicemen who died during combat in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII and the New York Korean War Veterans Memorial, commemorating military personal who served during the Korean Conflict.

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Meatpacking District

Meatpacking District

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New York City’s famous Meatpacking District is a 24-hour destination known for its fashion, culture, design and food. This neighborhood, located on the west side of Manhattan, spans approximately 20 square blocks and is popular for its nightlife and even its historical side. The market-filled industrial center was once solely home to meatpacking plants, lumber yards and scores of open-air meat markets, and after an unseemly period during the 1980s when the area was a hotbed for scandal, a new transformation began. In the late 1990s, high-end boutiques and restaurants began opening, and the completion of the High Line Park in 2009 really set the Meatpacking District apart. And in May 2015, one of New York’s most well-respected art institutes, the Whitney Museum, opens its doors in the neighborhood. Although the Meatpacking District has changed significantly over time, its historical past is still evident today.

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George Washington Bridge

George Washington Bridge

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Transporting more than 100 million vehicles annually, the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River connects northeastern New Jersey to Manhattan. With its steel beams and cables, the double-decker suspension bridge is one of the most recognizable in the world. Informally known as “GW” or “The George,” the bridge also allows for pedestrians and bikers to cross, allowing for sweeping views of the New York City skyline. Its lower level (affectionately referred to as “The Martha,” after Washington’s wife) was added after initial construction to allow for greater capacity.

Considered a marvel of modern engineering, the bridge has been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. At the time it was built it was twice as long as any existing suspension bridge, and remains a favorite New York City landmark. It is the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, and os home to the world’s largest free-flying American flag.

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New York City Chinatown

New York City Chinatown

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New York's Chinatown is a heady blend of cafes, sidewalk food stalls, street vendors, and traditional herbal medicine shops. There's more than 150 years of history to explore in this fascinating ethnic enclave, including the Museum of Chinese in America and a Mahayana Buddhist temple.

Bargain for not-quite-right perfumes and handbags, dine on dim sum at an authentic Chinese tea house, shop for exotic Chinese antiques, and find unusual ingredients in the Asian food markets to cook up a Chinese storm.

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Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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This bank in the heart of Lower Manhattan is one of 12 Federal Reserves in America. Visitors can go behind the scenes of trading rooms, museum and the famous vault—which holds some 900 tons of gold—on a guided small group tour of this iconic finance destination. Informative guides share stories about the banking system, American currency, global trade and importance of gold to the national economy.

Although tours are free, space is limited and most visitors will need to book at least 30 days in advance. Tours of this high-security landmark are ideal for families and visitors receive packets of shredded out-of-circulation cash as they leave the premise. It’s unlikely non-ticketed travelers will be able to enter the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but the building’s exterior is impressive and still worth wandering past while in Lower Manhattan.

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Bowling Green

Bowling Green

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The oldest public park in one of America’s oldest cities, Bowling Green offers a serene escape in the middle of New York City’s urban jungle. Situated at the heart of the financial center and beside Wall Street, it is home to the famous Charging Bull bronze statue that has become a symbol of New York. Many visit the bull, which stands for aggression and economic success, to receive good luck.

The public area dates all the way back to 1733, and you’ll notice it is still surrounded by an 18th century iron fence. The teardrop-shaped square is framed with trees and manicured greenery, with an elegant fountain at its center and many benches for people to pause and enjoy.

Historically the space did indeed house a bowling green. It has also served as a trade route, market, and even a cattle field. It has always been a central meeting point in the city. It is even thought that the sale of Manhattan lands from an Indian tribal leader took place on these grounds.

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Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

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The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is one of the oldest buildings in Morningside Heights (a neighborhood in Manhattan’s Upper West Side) and is the home of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The historic cathedral is not only one of the oldest buildings in the area – it’s one of the most secretive. A tour through the cathedral yields the perceptive visitor many visual treasures, from a rare gold triptych by Keith Haring (his last work before his death) to an unusual sculpture of the Archangel Michael, the decapitated head of Satan, and nine giraffes (!).

The cathedral is home the largest rose window in the United States (the fifth-largest in the world), constructed from 10,000 stained-glass pieces. Other stained-glass windows depict historic, religious, and modern scenes. The cathedral is also one of the few buildings in Manhattan that allows visitors to access its roof, which provides a fantastic view of the New York City skyline.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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The 20th-century artwork displayed on the gently inclining white walls of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum often take second place to the building's landmark Frank Lloyd Wright design.

The great architect's last work is an uplifting sight, from both outside and within, and a thorough restoration program was completed in 2008. Unwinding like a coil of white ribbon, the exhibition space spirals upwards around a central skylight.

As well as hosting changing exhibitions of photographs and paintings, the Guggenheim's permanent collection includes works by Gauguin, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, and other early Modern masters.

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New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

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The New York Stock Exchange is an icon of commerce and capitalism. Synonymous with Wall Street, it’s the world’s largest stock exchange.

It’s been closed to visitors since 9/11, but the impressive building’s Roman temple design makes an impressive photo stop, complete with soaring columns, carved pediment, lofty proportions, and fluttering US flags.

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Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

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