Popular Attractions in New York

Empire State Building

This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper was the world’s tallest building for more than 40 years, constructed in 1931. The American cultural icon has been featured in hundreds of movies and tv shows, has two observation decks with one in the open-air, and is located in Midtown South near other popular attractions such as Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, and Macy’s Herald Square. The panoramic views are the main attraction but getting to the top includes two exciting new exhibits, Dare to Dream and the Sustainability Exhibit.

Top of the Rock

The Rock is an art deco skyscraper at the heart of Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan and the main observation deck resembles the deck of an ocean liner. Your experience begins the moment you step into the Grand Atrium Lobby and see the stunning Swarovsky chandelier sparkling with over 40,000 crystals. Do you remember the iconic image of construction workers eating lunch on a steel beam high in the sky? Take the interactive Beam Walk and let the magic of technology make you feel you are up there. Stop by a mini theater for short movies about the building before taking the “sky shuttle” elevator that zooms you to the top. On the 65th floor is the famous Rainbow Room and SixtyFive Bar and Lounge for the hungry or thirsty folks. Open until midnight, this is another place where sunset views on a clear day are spectacular, as are the daytime views of the East and Hudson Rivers, Central Park, and the Empire State Building.

MOMA or Museum of Modern Art

Modern and contemporary art fills the galleries at the Museum of Modern Art located in midtown Manhattan on 53rd St. between 5th and 6th Avenues. Keep in mind that the term modern art refers to the era when traditions were tossed aside in a spirit of experimentation and runs from about 1860 to the 1970’s. You’ll find paintings, photography, sculpture, architecture, electronic media, and more. Each floor of the museum houses collections from a different time period, with the 5th floor showcasing famous artists such as VanGogh, Picasso, and Matisse as well as collections called Abstraction and Utopia, Design for Modern Life, and many more arranged throughout 23 galleries. On the 4th floor, each gallery explores a different topic and may be devoted to a particular artist, a particular medium, or a moment in time. Examples include Planes of Color, Out of War, In and Around Harlem, Architecture Systems, and At the Border of Art and Life. The 2nd floor collection brings you into the 1970’s where Public Images reveals how artists took control of camera and television to talk back to media, Inner and Outer Space explores borders, both personal and geographic, and Building Citizens, addresses how architects can generate new ideas about how to occupy our world. In addition, there are over 50 exhibitions each year rotating in and out, so whenever you go, you’ll have surprises in store even if you’ve been to MOMA before.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

While NYC is chock full of exciting, fun things to do, many also take time to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. Today you can take an informative and moving self-guided audio tour narrated by Robert DeNiro at the World Trade Center. You’ll hear stories from that day of victims and survivors, see panoramic timelapse footage and artifacts, plus learn how the event continues to affect our world. Incredibly, the new structure incorporates the remains of box columns that once formed the exterior structure. Outside, the waterfalls cascade into a reflecting pool where you can pause to remember the victims and heroes of 9/11. A visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is somber yet the museum and memorial are sensitively done and beautiful at the same time.

Times Square, Crossroads of the World

While you won’t see the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop at any other time of year, Times Square is officially happening all day, all year. Installations and performances are continually changing and inspire people from around the globe to meet at the “crossroads of the world” just for the fun of being there. Concert series throughout the summer are free and open to the public, Broadway buskers adorn every corner, and abundant shopping opportunities are everywhere. Hershey’s Chocolate World and M & M’s World appeal to all ages, and you’ll simply have to go to these places if you have kids along. At Hershey’s you can personalize a candy bar wrapper and get made-to-order gooey s’mores, while at M & M’s you’ll meet characters and print a personal message on your candy while marveling at floor to ceiling colorful displays of M & Ms. Dining ranges from coffee shops to five-star restaurants so walk around and pop into whatever place appeals to you in the moment.

High Line Park

The High Line is a public park built on an elevated old freight line that runs 1.45 miles filled with art, nature, and relaxation. It runs from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. on Manhattan’s west side. There is a full calendar of free and low-cost events throughout the warmer months targeting families. You can dip your toes in a water feature, enjoy sundecks and overlooks, and admire lots of botanical gardens complete with dogwoods, magnolias, hollies, bottlebrush buckeye, and other dense shrubs. Between 14th and 15th streets is the 14th Street Passage which is semi-enclosed and comes alive at dusk with outdoor video programming from High Line Channel 14. You may be treated to art videos, historic productions, or curated series. If wandering outdoors is your thing you will love the High Line Park with remarkable views of iconic buildings popping up here and there.

American Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History is one of the most beloved and prestigious museums, showcasing the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world. A great place for families and children, you should pan on several hours to roam through the many halls and see both permanent exhibits and the current special ones. Explore historical periods and natural history from around the planet, see realistic dinosaurs and African animals as well as ocean dwellers and tools related to ancient civilizations. Located right next to Central Park, a great way to spend a full day is partly at the museum and later at the park. There is a Central Park Walking Tour available as well, which highlights the southern portion of the park including Bethesda Terrace, Wolfman Rink, Alice in Wonderland, Bow Bridge, and Strawberry Fields.

Grand Central Terminal

“Be transported” states Grand Central’s web page. This transportation hub is definitely not only for those headed to trains and buses. One of the country’s great architectural achievements is a popular meeting place for friends or travelers who meet under the Main Concourse Information Booth Clock. This cathedral-like building is hailed as a modern temple to the commuter with its celestial ceiling and beaux-arts architecture. It’s a cultural destination with 60 shops and plenty of restaurants. Visit Grand Central Market, a European style food market with fresh produce and gourmet treats and ingredients, and check out the Great Northern Food Hall, NYC’s only Danish food pavilion. The lower level dining concourse has over 20 fast casual dining options. Whether you’re looking for a coffee bar or a Michelin-starred meal, it’s all here. Be sure to step outside at 42nd St. and Park Avenue to see the 2nd most famous clock in Grand Central. Fourteen feet in diameter, it is the largest example of tiffany glass in the world. At night, the surrounding viaduct is brilliantly lit to guide pedestrians to the terminal.

The Guggenheim and The Met

Two great museums are within good walking distance of one another so if you’re a museum lover, get tickets to both the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and the Guggenheim for the same day. Visit the Guggenheim first, because the MET is so large that once you’re in you may not come out! The Guggenheim is Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece of a museum that was commissioned with the words “I want a temple of spirit, a monument!” The white, inverted ziggurat spirals upward both outside and in, satisfying Wright’s aspiration for “one great space on a continuous floor.” Modern and contemporary art is showcased against white walls partially lit by the domed skylight. Moving on to the MET, you’ll find yourself meandering throughout 2,000,000 square feet of space dedicated to names you know, such as Rembrandt, Picasso, VanGogh, and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as Dutch Masterpieces, Watercolors of the Acropolis, Indian Painting, the Art of London Firearms, and so much more. You might want to download a map of the MET before entering so that you can readily find your favorite exhibits.

DUMBO Neighborhood of Brooklyn

DUMBO is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, where the neighborhood has been transformed into an artsy hotspot with plenty of boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, parks, and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. This is where you’ll go to get fantastic, sweeping views of the Manhattan you just left behind. Cobblestone streets, restored brick buildings, and the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park running along the shoreline create an atmosphere just right for anyone. Take a ride on the historic Jane’s Carousel, enjoy the 85-acre waterfront park, go to the famous Flea Market on Sundays from April to October, and have lunch at Bluestone Lane, an Australian-style café with plenty of room to relax and talk as you dine on sandwiches, avocado toast, and specialty coffee drinks. Get dessert at Jacques Torres, a chocolate emporium, then roam the stacks at Powerhouse Books. The most popular Instagram spot in Brooklyn is on Washington St. between Front and Water Streets, so join the crowd and get your selfie featuring cobblestones, the Manhattan Bridge, the Empire State Building, and you.

Wall Street and Charging Bull

Can you say you’ve been to New York if you’ve never been to Wall Street? Of course, but don’t shortchange yourself if the words “financial district” are not appealing. There is plenty to do and see on and around Wall Street, starting with the famous Charging Bull statue. It was illegally dropped off by Sicilian artist Arturo di Modica on December 14, 1989 and intended to inspire people to carry on fighting through hard times after a market crash. Take the Wall Street Insider Walking Tour to hear about the NY Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve, and colorful tales from “inside the trenches.” Surrounded by skyscrapers and the weekday bustle, the tour captures the genuine feel of the NYC Financial District. Keep in mind that this is the same area where you’ll find the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and One World Observatory so it’s easy to combine all these activities. You can also stop at St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church, nicknamed “the little chapel that stood” as it is located right across from the Twin Towers disaster but suffered no damage. This was the round-the-clock relief and ministry station for nine months, in service to rescue and recovery workers. In addition, the Stone Street Historic District is nearby, loaded with charm and lined with great restaurants and pubs.

Radio City Stage Door Tour

Visit Radio City Hall, home to the famous Rockettes precision dance company. The hall was originally intended to host stage shows but today it is primarily for concerts as well as televised Award shows and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Neon signs assure that it can be seen from the Broadway theater district and the interior has a majestic grand foyer. The public and opulent lobby areas on all levels feature many works of art suitable for “the Showplace of the Nation.” The Radio City Stage Door Tour takes you behind the scenes for a 75-minute guided tour. You’ll see the secret apartment called the Roxy Suite and learn the history of the magnificent stage. As an extra perk, you’ll get to meet a real Radio City Rockette!

Edge, Hudson Yards

To round out our choices for a baker’s dozen of popular New York attractions, we include one that is due to open for the first time in March, 2020. Hudson Yards is New York’s newest neighborhood, expanding the midtown Manhattan business district westward to the Hudson River. The Edge is a sky deck with a glass floor 100 stories up. It is called Edge because it is located on the edge of the city. The observation deck is literally suspended off the building and has angled glass walls so that as you look out, leaning forward, all you see is the sky and the city around you. The one-of-a-kind design hopes to give you the feeling of floating sky high, champagne glass in hand. Tickets are already being sold for this attraction that is likely to become a major destination for travelers. When you’re in Hudson Yards, you won’t be able to miss The Vessel, a new spiral staircase landmark comprised of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs and 80 landings. More views! Be sure to have your camera ready when you go to Hudson Yards and experience the newest developments in the city. Free same-day tickets to climb the Vessel are available at all the interactive kiosks in the shops and restaurants at 20 Hudson Yards.