Adventure & Travel Blog Sue Talbot Photography

Things to do in New York

chrysler building best things to do new york

The city that never sleeps is a remarkable metropolis bursting with energy, iconic landmarks and diverse neighbourhoods. There’s an endless list of things to do in New York City, from exploring the sprawling Central Park to the dazzling lights of Times Square. Below you’ll find lots of fabulous experiences and places to visit, and if you’re travelling on a budget, I’ve also included some free things to do in New York.

Best Things to Do in New York City

Take in the New York Skyline

New York is known for its epic Manhattan skyline and there are several buildings that you can ascend to take in the best views. Head to the observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building where you can enjoy a unique perspective of the cityscape. Alternatively, enjoy multi-sensory, immersive experiences on the way up to Summit ONE Vanderbilt where the panoramas are mesmerising. If you don’t mind paying a little extra, book a sunset slot and see the city drenched in an orange glow.

empire state building from summit one vanderbilt
Empire State Building and New York skyline

Shopping in New York City

New York is renowned for its diverse range of shops, from luxury boutiques to flagship stores. Fifth Avenue is a shopper’s paradise, offering an array of high-end brands. From Bergdorf Goodman to Tiffany & Co., there is something for everyone. But New York also caters to more budget-conscious shoppers with its discount stores and markets. Iconic department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are also magnets for fashionistas. And let’s not forget about the vast array of specialty stores and vintage shops scattered throughout the city. If you want to buy a memorable piece of art when shopping in New York, head to Eye Origin, which creates bespoke artwork using advanced technology to take super-close-up images of your eye.

eye origin new york

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Immerse yourself in world-class art and culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fondly known as “The Met”. This renowned institution houses over two million artworks spanning several millennia, including masterpieces from ancient civilisations to contemporary pieces. Explore its vast halls, see the Egyptian Temple of Dendur and admire works by renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.

Take a Ferry to Liberty Island

An emblematic symbol of the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Statue of Liberty stands tall in New York Harbour. Take a ferry ride to Liberty Island to explore the museum and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the statue’s pedestal. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit nearby Ellis Island, which served as the gateway for millions of immigrants entering America, to learn about the nation’s rich history.

statue of liberty new york
Statue of Liberty

See a Show on Broadway

As the global epicentre for theatre, catching a Broadway show is an absolute must-do in New York. With an array of productions from classics to contemporary hits, Broadway offers something for everyone. Be captivated by world-class performances, dazzling costumes and unforgettable music. Whether you choose a long-running show or the latest musical, watching a Broadway show is one of the ultimate New York experiences.

Amateur Night at the Apollo

Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem is a legendary event that showcases the immense talent of New York. Held at the Apollo Theatre, this event provides a platform for aspiring artists. With a rich history dating back to the 1930s, Amateur Night has witnessed countless rising stars who have graced its stage. The energy in the theatre is palpable as hopefuls take their turn to perform and attempt to avoid the cruel, yet hilarious, boos of the audience.

Amateur night at the apollo harlem
Amateur Night at the Apollo

Eat and Explore in Chinatown

A visit to New York’s Chinatown will certainly jostle your senses. Immerse yourself in this vibrant area, filled with tantalising aromas, bustling markets and hidden gems. Indulge in delicious dim sum, sample authentic Chinese cuisine and explore the diverse shops and cultural landmarks. Don’t forget to stop by historic sites like the Museum of Chinese in America to gain a deeper understanding of the rich heritage of this community.

Take a Trip to Coney Island

Located in Brooklyn, Coney Island is a vibrant beachside amusement park known for its thrilling rides and, more importantly, Nathan’s hot dogs! Established in 1916, Nathan’s is famous for its annual Hot Dog Eating Contest, where participants attempt to devour as many hot dogs as possible in a given time frame. Even if you’re not a huge fan of fairground rides, visiting Coney Island is still up there as one of the best things to do in New York.

coney island brooklyn
Coney Island

Visit the Rockefeller Centre

The Rockefeller Centre is an historic landmark in New York City. Built during the Great Depression, it stands as a symbol of resilience and ingenuity. With its iconic Art Deco architecture and stunning views, the centre attracts millions of visitors each year. The complex houses a mix of commercial, office and entertainment spaces, including the famous Radio City Music Hall and the Top of the Rock observation deck. From ice skating at the Rink to exploring the art at the Channel Gardens, the Rockefeller Centre captures the essence of New York City.

Eat at Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market in New York City is a vibrant hub of food, retail and culture. Located in the historic National Biscuit Company’s former factory building, it combines rich history with the buzz of the city. As you step inside, you are immediately greeted by the aromas of various cuisines, from fresh seafood to artisanal desserts, Chelsea Market is an indulgent foodie heaven. The market also houses a variety of shops, selling everything from handmade jewellery to vintage clothing.

chelsea market new york
Chelsea Market

Free Things to Do in New York

Not everyone can afford to splash their cash, so you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of free things to do in New York. If you’re wondering what to do in New York without tugging too hard on your purse strings, try some of these great ideas…

Take the Ferry to Staten Island

The Staten Island Ferry provides a free return trip past the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The Island is situated to the south of Manhattan and has a great mall with shops and restaurants. While the Staten Island Museum and Snug Harbor Cultural Centre showcase the borough’s distinctive culture, it also offers a sanctuary from the buzzing heart of New York City.

manhattan skyline from staten island ferry
View of Manhattan from Staten Island ferry

Explore Central Park

Escape the urban hustle and venture into the city’s oasis of Central Park. Spanning 843 acres, this sprawling green refuge is home to beautiful gardens and serene walks along tree-lined paths. If you don’t want to fork out for a boat rental, gondola ride or the Central Park Zoo, take a picnic with you and just enjoy the lakeside scenery.

central park view of new york skyline
Central Park

Walk through Prospect Park

Another gem providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city is Prospect Park in Brooklyn. With its 585 acres of stunning landscapes, lakes and meadows, it’s the perfect spot for picnics, boating or walking among the neoclassical sculptures. The park also boasts a zoo and a winter ice rink during the winter, and there are often free concerts held at the Prospect Park Bandshell.

Visit Times Square

No New York trip is complete without experiencing the electric atmosphere of Times Square. This iconic intersection is adorned with towering billboards and neon signs, creating a stunning visual feast. If you don’t fancy shopping in Times Square, sit on the famous red steps instead and immerse yourself in the atmosphere and enjoy the lively street performances.

times square new york
Times Square

Roam the High Line

A testament to New York’s ability to transform, the High Line is a unique elevated park built on an abandoned railway track. Stroll along the beautifully landscaped pathway, peppered with art installations, and enjoy stunning views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. The High Line offers a serene and rejuvenating escape from the bustling streets below.

Walk across Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural gem that stands tall as a symbol of New York City’s grandeur. Completed in 1883, this iconic suspension bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River. Spanning a length of nearly 6,000 feet, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1903. Beyond its Gothic-style stone towers, magnificent steel cables and elegant arches, the Bridge holds a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers as it facilitates the daily lives of commuters and pedestrians. It has also become an iconic backdrop in countless films and photographs.

brooklyn bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

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