When you visit New York City you won’t be wondering for very long why they ‘had to name it twice’ – it really is that good, and I’m sure it’s 8.5 million residents would agree, too!
There is so much to do, see, taste, smell, listen to; well, you get the picture. Home to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and venues you may only have dreamed of, this fast paced exciting city is ready to show off all that it is.
And if you want to see it all the New York way (smart!), purchase a New York Pass that allows you cash free entry to over 80 New York tourist attractions, saving you not only money but time, too, which you are bound to appreciate as you swipe your pass to enter attractions and tours, skipping all the long lines! Let’s have a look at the best things to do in New York!
1. Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has often been identified as the world’s most influential museum of modern art. It is filled to the brim with both contemporary and modern art, including works of drawing, painting, architecture and design, sculpture, prints and photography, as well as over 300,000 books and exhibition catalogs, plus lots more besides. The museum is very family friendly too, and has a well stocked cafeteria with ‘kid appeal’ food as well as the American Café, which has a seasonal menu including beer and wine, and is open late for dinner.
2. Empire State Building
Get a feel for New York City when you visit one of its most famous icons, the Empire State Building. This 102 story art deco wonder has a roof height of 1,250 feet, though it adds up to even more if you include its antenna spire! Currently the 29th tallest building in the world, it is proud to have been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Treat everyone to spectacular views from the Observation Deck – something the whole family is sure to remember for a long time.
3. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, her motto being ‘Enlightening the World’ (in French, ‘La Liberté éclairant le monde’), stands proud watch over her people from her home in New York harbor. One of America’s most popular attractions, the copper statue, recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy, was designed by French Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, given as a gift to the United States from the people of France. To visit the statue, you will arrive and depart Ellis Island and Liberty Island via ferries. It can get really windy out there so make sure the family is dressed appropriately!
4. Greenwich Village
The Village is a fun place for the whole family to explore, walk around, sample different coffee shops and restaurants, and visit some of its unique shops. The area retains its eclectic vibe due to the fact it is home to quite a few colleges in the vicinity, including NYU and more. If you’re in the mood to simply people watch, head for Washington Square, next to the University, where you will more than likely see some of the regular street performers as well. And try not to miss a walk through MacDougal and Bleecker Streets with its pretty houses and abundance of eateries, bakeries, bars and clubs.
5. Staten Island Ferry
To reach the famed Statue of Liberty you will need to take a ferry ride! Staten Island Ferry has been in service since 1905, transporting over 21 million passengers every year on the 25 minute journey to ‘Lady Liberty’. Board it from the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal at South Ferry near Battery Park and, from Staten Island, the ferry arrives and departs from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Richmond Terrace. The service is extremely reliable, running about every 30 minutes 24 hours a day. A nice to know; from the ferry you are in for some spectacular views of several New York bridges, downtown Manhattan and much more!
6. The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
This museum was built in commemoration of all those who lost their lives on February 26, 1993 when a bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and once again on September 11, 2001. Together with the story of Flight 93, and events at the Pentagon, the historical exhibition is made up of three parts: the day of 9/11, before 9/11 and after 9/11, providing visitors the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who perished. It also delves deeper to explore the background leading up to the events and examines the aftermath and continuing implications. The exhibition may not be suitable for kids younger than 10.
7. The Ride
A fun and informative way for the family to enjoy New York City is by coach! The Ride’s comfortable motor coaches are equipped with state of the art audio and visual technology, which also include 40 plasma TV screens. The pop up presentations along the way add to the mix, with entertaining performances from the coaches’ hosts so you and the family are kept constantly amused! You will drive past interesting landmarks through midtown Manhattan like Times Square with a selection of street rappers performing outside the bus, giving everyone a very New York experience. The seats and vehicle temperature are very comfortable too.
8. Madame Tussauds New York
This famous wax museum made its home in the United Kingdom for many years, and in 2000 opened its doors to New York City. With over 200 replica wax figures spread over 5 floors, it quickly became very popular! The kids in particular will love seeing all their much loved sports personalities, actors, actresses, rock stars and other well known figures and, if they’re interested, can also visit the section dedicated to explaining how each wax figure was made. There is also a brilliant short 4D show of the Avengers. Have fun posing with your favorite heroes.
9. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
This wonderful venue has to be one of the city’s major sightseeing attractions, so make sure the family adds it to their New York City itinerary! The Observation Deck is situated midtown in the historic Rockefeller Center, and offers mesmerizing views of the stunning Manhattan panorama. There are 3 short films to follow before you ascend which will give you an excellent background, and then you can delight in the dramatic views to be found on the three floors of indoor and outdoor decks. And don’t forget your camera!
10. Radio City Music Hall/Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour
This landmark venue is worth a double review, so I have separated it into two parts!
Radio City Music Hall, the largest indoor theatre in the world, first opened in 1932. It was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who already owned midtown property worth a cool $91 million, and who decided to build this iconic venue after the challenges of the Great Depression, deciding to develop the iconic venue into “A place of beauty offering high-quality entertainment at prices ordinary people could afford.” Its combination of razzle-dazzle décor and lively shows has drawn in more than 300 million people! Take in a show and see for yourselves!
The Radio City Stage Door Tour gives an insider’s view of this legendary music hall where you can admire the venue’s art deco works, learn all about the secrets of the Great Stage including fog and cloud special effects and what goes on behind its shimmering gold stage curtain, the biggest in the world. And best of all, you get to meet a Rockette!
If you’re planning a tour and a show, make sure to give yourselves enough time as the tour lasts 2 hours.
11. The Frick Museum
Henry Frick began his considerable art collection when he started to amass his substantial fortune. Within this beautiful and impeccably preserved museum you will have the opportunity to admire many of his wonderful collection of art, furniture, sculpture, pottery, together with other stunning items. Some of the treasures include painting by Manet, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Vermeer and other Dutch Masters. With the admission price you receive an audio player that has a very informative accompanying commentary. There is a charming courtyard leading up to the museum in which to relax, too.
12. The High Line
The High Line is an outdoor, elevated walkway on the West Side, starting in the Meatpacking District and ending on 34th St. Relatively new, this 1.45 mile long linear park is built on a raised section of disused New York Central Railroad. The idea of the High Line was inspired by Paris’s Promenade Plantee (tree lined walkway). Officially opened to the public in September 2014, it attracts many visitors who now enjoy the lovely sight of the Hudson River and other skyline views. It is especially pretty in the spring when the carefully landscaped area has flowers in bloom. And from a practical view, it is a very convenient way to travel from anywhere on the west side while avoiding the city’s busy streets.
13. Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station (also known as Grand Central Terminal), is a commuter railroad terminal with 44 platforms –more than any other station in the world – and covers 48 acres, serving commuters to and from counties both within and beyond the New York State. All of its platforms are below ground, on two levels. Built in 1913, it is one of the world’s most visited attractions, clocking up over 21 million visitors in 2013, who come to admire not only its stunning designs but also to visit the many shops and eateries within its compound. The kids will have a blast at the “whispering gallery” located in the dining concourse, where the acoustics cause even a whisper to sound like a shout. Stand at opposite ends of the entryway to check it out.
14. Tenement Museum
This is a fascinating museum for those interested in how New York immigrants lived when they first arrived in their new country. The museum is now a National Historic Site, and tells the stories of one of its buildings, 97 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Circa 1863, this tenement building was home to roughly 7000 working class immigrants, intent on making a new and better life than the one they had left behind and how they had helped shape America into the multi cultural society it is today. There is also the option of differently themed guided tours.
15. New York Public Library
With approximately 53 million items, this is the second largest public library in North
America (second only to the Library of Congress), as well as being fourth largest in the world. Financed by John Jacob Astor who had bequeathed $400,000 (about $10.9 million dollars in 2015) for its creation, the library started its development in the 19th century, initially opening its doors in 1908 (though the magnificent lion statues keeping guard at the library’s entrance had not yet been installed). Regardless of how much the family enjoys reading, a visit here will certainly be of interest.
16. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Home to the New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet and Metropolitan Opera House, the Lincoln Center is a complex of buildings within Lincoln Square which opened in 1962 to become one of the city’s central cultural hubs. There really is an amazing array of presentations on offer here for music lovers of many genres, from jazz to classical, and from ballet to Broadway. Kids are not forgotten either, with special theater, dance and circus performances at the Clark Studio Theater as well as free stories, music and parties available all year round.
17. Central Park
You really cannot visit Manhattan without stopping by Central Park, being such an intrinsic part of New York life. The most fascinating thing about it is the park’s 843 acres of open space, slap bang in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world! Built initially in 1857, it grew extensively and is now designated as a National Historic Landmark. From Strawberry Fields, memorial to John Lennon, and Cleopatra’s Needle, the 3,500 year old Obelisk, and from the state of the art zoo to Shakespeare’s Garden, named for the famous playwright and scattered with bronze plaque quotes, together with so much more, a visit here any time of the year will be something for the whole family to remember.
18. Nintendo World
For a really special treat for the kids after all that sightseeing, how about a visit to Nintendo World, 10,000 square foot of interactive game demos, colorful accessories, apparel & collectibles? Spread over two floors, they can lose themselves in all the new exciting titles available for the Wii U console and the Nintendo 3DS family of handheld systems. There are also plenty of demo booths where they can enjoy their discoveries! And to keep the adults in the family amused, visit the top floor for exhibits showcasing the history of Nintendo. Service is efficient and friendly.
19. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
This military and maritime history museum is a must see for all the history and plane buffs of the family and everyone interested in the military. This cultural and educational center concentrates on the aircraft carrier Intrepid as well as the Growler and Concorde. Take a tour to hear all about the story of Intrepid and how, armed with a crew of over 3,000 sailors and state of the art aircraft, it had won victories against Imperial Japan in the Pacific War. The Museum’s guides and volunteers are helpful and full of interesting pieces of information.
20. Coney Island
This well known site is worth a visit if you are in New York between Easter and Halloween seasons. With over 50 rides and attractions, plus the added advantage of being by the sea, it is a fantastic day out for all the family, and just less than an hour away from the city! With rides like Luna Park, Scream Zone & the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Eldorado Bumper Cars and many more, plus fireworks that shoot off at 9:30pm every Friday night, this will certainly be a fun filled day! And don’t forget the famous boardwalk where you can stroll along eating a tasty hot dog (which originated on the island) or choose from one of the many eateries. To get there from midtown Manhattan, take the D, Q, N or F train to Stillwell Avenue, hop on Express Bus X28 and X38 or enjoy an easy car drive.
21. The Strand Bookstore
The Strand Bookstore in the east Village is 18 miles worth of reader heaven, selling new books, used books, out of print books, rare books, art books, posters, souvenirs and also a great selection of book accessories, totes, journals and kitchenware! With multiple floors containing large, tall racks of books that stretch throughout the building, this bookstore is a real treasure trove of reading delight. The staff is very helpful, too. There are plenty of decent eateries nearby where you and the family can talk about all the literary delights you discovered.
22. The Wall Street Experience – Wall Street Tours
The Wall Street Experience provides a comprehensive experience to visitors interested in this über famous financial district of North America. Licensed by New York City, the tours are handled by informative guides who work or have worked on the great street itself, managing billion dollar trading businesses and some who were also on the front lines of the financial crisis. Whether or not you are familiar with the details and events of the financial calamity, the guides break it all down into such manageable pieces that it is clear to all, and moves on only when everyone understands. An engaging tour for the family, including the young adult members.
23. Little Italy
Who could visit Manhattan without dropping into Little Italy, the home of Italian immigrants who decided to settle in New York? Famous for its lively residents and delicious local food and drink, and with films and songs having been dedicated to the area too, as you walk through the neighborhood smelling the pungent odors, you will feel as if you were walking along the streets of Naples itself! Why not treat the family to a meal in one of the authentic Italian restaurants here? And, if your visit extends over September, drop by Mulberry Street to help celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples, and enjoy the 11 day street fair festivities!
24. Chelsea Market
On the subject of food again (well this is Manhattan!) don’t overload at breakfast and instead, save your appetite for a visit to Chelsea Market, one of the city’s urban food courts. Built in the home of Oreo cookies, the former Nabisco Biscuit Company, it now offers some of the best and most economical eats around, and all under one roof!
Choose from an amazing variety of shops selling wine, nuts, spices, baked goods, beef, sausage, seafood, ham, bread and even flowers and jewelry all within a lively, fun atmosphere. A really great time can be had for all the family!
25. FDNY Fire Zone
For a wonderful learning experience, take a trip to the New York City Fire Museum. The venue welcomes over 40,000 visitors every year who come to see the stunning displays which showcase the development of firefighting from the bucket brigades of Peter Stuyvesant’s New Amsterdam up until today’s modern firefighting techniques and equipment. There is also a special memorial to the 343 FDNY members who lost their lives in 9/11. Kids will have a great time climbing in a fire truck and dad can even try on a fire jacket! There are useful fire safety tips to learn here and a generously filled shop, proceeds of which are returned to the Fire Department.