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Visiting the Big Apple? Here are the best things to do in NYC

The Big Apple is a city that never sleeps. Here’s what’s on our top to-do list to take you from day to night.

Published May 24, 2024
4 min. reading time
Image of Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square

With iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, this major United States city has a lot more to offer than just Instagram photos and magnificent architecture. 

If you’re asking, “What do New Yorkers do in New York?”, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve curated the best things to do in NYC whether you’re visiting on your own, with your partner, or with family and friends.

Browse what to do in NYC for your next Big Apple trip.

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New York things to do

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Watch a Broadway show

One of the top things to do in NYC is to watch Broadway shows at New York City’s highly-rated theatres. From classics like “Cats” and “Hamilton” to modern hits like “Sweeney Todd” and “The Notebook”, there are plenty of shows playing in New York every year.

You can even opt for the Disney classics if you're with family.

Live your TV series fantasy

A fan of “Gossip Girl”? Visit Grand Central Station and the Metropolitan Museum Of Art (MET). 

A fan of “Sex and The City”? Take advantage of their hotspot bus tour. The city was also featured in several movies like “King Kong”, “Ghostbusters” and “The Godfather”. 

Another of the best things to do in New York is to be an audience member of famous talk shows like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”, “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”. There’s nothing like watching the show live. 

Times Square NY
Photo: Pexels / David Vives

You can find most of the shows filming in Times Square and while tickets are usually free, you may have to line up early to get a spot.

See New York from above

From the iconic Statue of Liberty to the statuesque Empire State Building, New York has many skyscrapers that are worth viewing from the top. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get a birdseye view of the city. 

Most of New York’s high-rise buildings have observatories and rooftop bars with good views of the city. Head to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the top of Rockefeller Center, or make your way up to the top floor of the Empire State Building for an undisturbed view of New York’s skyline.

For those feeling more adventurous, you can book a helicopter ride for a unique way to see the city.

Ride on a carriage through Central Park 

Wondering what to do in New York that’s away from the hustle and bustle?  Why not experience riding on a carriage through Central Park? 

Central Park
Photo: Pexels / Nancy Bourque

As the first landscaped park in the United States and the most visited urban park in the country, Central Park houses hundreds of species of flora and fauna and is a famous spot for picnics, running, cycling and concerts.

While you’re there, visit the sea lions and the monkeys, amongst other animals at the Central Park Zoo for a relaxing day with wildlife.

Shop & dine at New York’s finest

From the high-end shopping strips of Hudson Yards to the variety of food available at Chelsea Market, there’s plenty to explore around the city for food and shopping. 

Hudson Yards offers famous luxury labels like Dior and Fendi and even a champagne bar on the 100th floor of the building, making it perfect for those looking for a classy affair.

On the other hand, for a more down-to-earth experience, visit Chelsea Market in New York City's Meatpacking District to explore locally sourced food with influences from all over the world.

Catch a live performance in the city

Some fun things to do in NYC include watching a show at Madison Square Garden or the Radio City Music Hall. From comedy shows to music performances by prominent artists, there’s no experience like the one in this area.

Depending on when you’re going, check Madison Square Garden’s official website to find out what performances are available during the dates you’re visiting.

Madison Square Garden
Photo: Trip Advisor

If musical performances aren’t your thing, try sports events instead. Madison Square Garden sometimes hosts major basketball games and WWE matches.

Go on a historical journey 

From the historical Penn Station to the American Museum of Natural History, New York offers plenty of opportunities to learn about American history. 

For those who love music, visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens or the Museum of Broadway in Times Square. And if you’re with the kids, visit Mickey: The True Original Exhibition place or the The Strong National Museum of Play.

Snap a photo at NY’s iconic sites

Looking for things to do in New York City that will look good for the ‘gram? You’ll want to visit all the hotspots to get the best views of NY landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn Bridge
Photo: Pexels / Guilherme Rossi

Don’t know where they are? We’ve got you covered. Here are the top spots for pictures of NY’s iconic landmarks.

Brooklyn Bridge: Washington Street is a top spot for an iconic shot of the Brooklyn Bridge. However, areas like Pebble Beach, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Pier 17 also give you a good view of the bridge for photos.

Statue of Liberty: The best way to take a photo of the statue is while you’re on the Staten Island Ferry, which leaves daily from Battery Park to Staten Island. You can also get a shot from Battery Park and Governors Island

Empire State Building: The best locations to photograph the Empire State Building are from 34th Street and Fifth Avenue and the observation decks.

Which NY experience stands out the most?

If you have the time, try and experience all the activities on our list during your visit. However, if your time is limited, here are the top three activities we recommend:

New York is a melting pot of arts and showmanship, hence we highly recommend watching a Broadway show of your choice while in the Big Apple.

For all the time you’ve spent glued to your TV, you deserve to live up to your TV series fantasy while you’re in this iconic city. Luckily, New York has many guided tours that bring you to the filming spots of famous TV shows.

To end your trip with a bang, why don’t you see New York from above? Whether you’re visiting a rooftop bar or in a helicopter, the view will be one you’ll remember for a long time.

Ready to take the Big Apple? Book these activities today.

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Prices updated on 05/24/2024. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

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Written by
Afina Najib

A journalism graduate from Curtin University, Afina Najib specializes in writing tech, finance, automotive and wellness content. Now residing in Kuala Lumpur, Afina spends her weekends hitting the gym or watching Formula 1 races.

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