Looking for fun things to do in New York City? If this is your first trip to the Big Apple, you’re in the right spot.
New York is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and for good reason. The city is absolutely packed with incredible art, impressive landmarks, and a nightlife that just doesn’t quit. I mean, they don’t call it “The City that Never Sleeps” for nothing!
Unfortunately, it’s been well documented that New York isn’t the cheapest place to visit. The last time Holly and I were there, she had a simple grilled cheese sandwich that cost like $18. (Yep, that’s a couple of slices of cheese between two pieces of bread for almost $20!!!) So, make sure to save your pennies before you go.
Still, New York is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s a city I think everybody should definitely try to visit at least once. But with so many options, sometimes choosing what you want to do can feel overwhelming.
That’s where we come in. Here’s a list of 7 essential things to do in New York City the first time you visit. Enjoy!
Visit Times Square
Dude, if you’re going to New York, you need to spend some time exploring Times Square. Sure, you’ll be walking down the street shoulder to shoulder with every other tourist in town. Still, this is a place you can’t miss.
During the day, Times Square is buzzing with activity. If you enjoy people-watching, grab a seat on a bench and just sit there for 20 minutes or so. At night, Times Square comes alive with the dinner and theatre crowd. The glow of the lights makes it seem like it’s practically day time. Trust me, this is definitely something you’ll want to check out.
See a Broadway Show
New York is famous for its theatre scene, and there’s no place more famous for theatre than Broadway. Located right off of Times Square, Broadway is home to some of the most fantastic musical theatre you’ll ever see. Check out an old standby (like Wicked) or catch an up-and-coming show at one of the nearby theatres.
If there is a show you really want to see, it’s a good idea to book your tickets well in advance. Some tickets can be extremely hard to get, so start looking several months early. If you don’t really care and just want to see a broadway show, you can always visit the TKTS booth in Times Square. Here, you can find really cheap tickets for several Broadway shows – however, you won’t know what is available until the day you want to attend.
Stroll Through Central Park
Central Park is a massive park right in the middle of Manhattan. This place is absolutely huge, so if there are specific things you want to see or do in the park – like make a wish at Bethesda Fountain or ride the old carousel – it doesn’t hurt to have a plan before you arrive.
If you want to experience the park but would like to save a few steps, taking a carriage ride is a great way to get around. You can cover a lot of ground quickly, plus you get to enjoy a really fun experience while doing it.
Check Out the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic symbols of our country. As such, it’s also one of the busiest tourist attractions in New York City. Located in New York Harbor, a trip to the Statue of Liberty is practically a requirement for your first time visiting New York. While you’re there, carve out some time to visit Ellis Island too.
Here’s my take on visiting the statue: Definitely go, but skip going up to the crown. I spent 4+ hours inside the statue, climbing the stairs to the top of the crown. Other than having a fun story to tell now, I was highly disappointed. The view from the observation deck is far better.
Head to the Top of the City
New York is famous for its skyscrapers, and no trip to New York would be complete without visiting the top of at least one of them. The Empire State Building is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and the 86th floor observatory provides a really great view of the city. Closer to Times Square, Rockefeller Center is also a great place to soak up a spectacular view.
Using a sightseeing card like the New York Pass is a smart way to save money on over 90 of New York City’s best attractions, including both the Empire State Building and the “Top of the Rock.” It also provides free entry to all of the other landmarks on the list, plus multiple tours of Central Park! Follow the link above to read our complete review.
Visit Ground Zero
The events of September 11th, 2001 shocked and appalled the entire world. A trip to “Ground Zero” is one way for visitors to reflect on those tragic events and pay their respects to those who lost their lives.
With dual reflecting pools and a memorial wall inscribed with the names of the 2,983 victims, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum sits where the old World Trade Center once stood. Visitors can also learn more about the history of the attacks and read about some of the survivor’s stories inside the museum itself.
Spend Some Time at The Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the most visited attraction in all of New York City and the largest art museum in the nation. With works as ancient as 5,000 years old, the museum houses over 2 million pieces in all.
Of course, the collection at The Met is filled with works from some of the world’s most famous artists – including Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, and many more. The museum also hosts over 30 exhibits and installations annually. Like several of the others, this attraction is included with a New York Pass. So, if this is your first time in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one place not to miss.
Have you been to the Big Apple? What are your favorite things to do in New York City? Let us know in the comments below!