Most Popular Tourist Attractions in New York - Top 10

By Stuart Bak

No one could ever accuse The Big Apple of lacking bite when it comes to world-beating tourist attractions. From Brooklyn Bridge to the bright lights of Broadway, Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, MoMa to The Met, and the Empire State Building to Edge, there’s something for everyone here, and then some! Dive in for our guide to 10 of New York’s most popular tourist attractions…

Central Park

Belevedere Castle in Central Park, New York

NYC icons don’t come much bigger than Central Park. Explore 843 acres of manicured gardens, rocky ravines and pleasant glens but, fear not, if that sounds like a lot of hard work there are over 9,000 benches on which to rest weary legs. And, you know, you can also just leave your adventurer hat at home and potter around a few key Central Park attractions instead. We’re talking the peaceful, elm-shaded Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, the romantic Bethesda Fountain, the meandering path that snakes around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Belvedere Castle, a fairytale folly that doubles as a weather station. Hire a bicycle to see the sights at a leisurely pace or – why the heck not – strap on your roller skates and cruise the broad leafy avenues in style.

The Statue of Liberty

Man photographing the Statue of Liberty

Believe it or not, the Statue of Liberty isn’t even one of NYC’s most-visited attractions, despite being indisputably its most iconic. That’s because the majority tend to view it from Manhattan observation platforms (more on these later), or perhaps from the Staten Island Ferry, rather than disembarking at Liberty Island itself for the real deal. But in fact nothing beats getting right up close with a roundtrip to Ellis Island, where you can visit the Immigration Museum and even set foot inside sections of the Green Goddess herself. Those with a head for heights will likely thrill to the idea of getting right to the heart (or indeed crown) of the definitive emblem of American freedom, with a 354-step climb up the internal staircase and into the famous headgear. A positively regal experience.

MoMA

Tourists admiring a sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York

If you’re only going to visit one art museum in New York, make it MoMA, the most popular and arguably the best. Here, over 200,000 pieces of 20th and 21st Century art occupies some 700,000 square feet of prime Midtown Manhattan real estate. Dive in for some of the most famous modern masterpieces on the planet, including Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, to namecheck just a few. In a word: wow.

Natural Highs

Manhattan skyline, including the Empire State Building

New York has more sky-high observation decks than you can shake a very large stick at, many of which feature regularly in lists of the most popular tourist attractions in town. It’s not hard to see why. Just zip to the top of the One World Trade Center, Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center and let those far-reaching views across the iconic Manhattan skyline do the talking. You can even (gulp) take an al fresco stroll across the top of the 30 Hudson Yards building at relative newbie Edge, an experience for which only those with nerves of absolute steel need apply. Check out our comparisons between some of the biggest hitters here and here.

American Museum of Natural History

Easter Island head at the American Museum of Natural History

Who doesn’t love a natural history museum, am I right? And this one’s a doozy. Set inside a purpose-built 19th-century Romanesque Revival building on the edge of Central Park, its labyrinthine interiors showcase millions of ancient relics that chart the entire story of life on Earth. Highlights of this mind-bogglingly vast collection include a 122-foot-long titanosaur skeleton, a 34-ton section of the 200-ton Cape York meteorite, an Easter Island head statue, and an epic butterfly vivarium with around 1,000 of the free-flying critters. 

Times Square

Classic yellow cabs and bright lights on Times Square, New York

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that no one leaves Manhattan without first bagging a selfie amid the dazzling lights and iconic yellow cabs of Times Square. Heck, you can even have your beautiful face beamed onto the huge digital billboard – your 15 seconds of fame for a mere $40. Bargain.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal in New York

It takes a special kind of train station to make it into any city’s top 10 most popular attractions, let alone somewhere like NYC, but then the Grand Central Terminal is no ordinary station. Insta addicts flock to this Beaux-Arts beauty for its epic architecture and features that include a massive astrological ceiling mural (2,500 stars, fact fans), glittering chandeliers, the famous four-faced information-booth clock, and a fun whispering gallery. So good, in fact, that you’ll probably miss the train you rushed here to catch.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

US flag at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York

Built on the former site of the World Trade Center, this stunning memorial and museum tells the human stories behind the tragic events of September 11, 2001, combining moving personal testimonies and memorabilia with multimedia presentations to provide a real insight into the day's events. The courageous stories told by survivors and first responders are frankly awe-inspiring, and twin reflecting pools – each almost an acre in size – provide serene spots for quiet remembrance.

Coney Island

Young couple on a ride at Coney Island, New York

Unleash your inner child in the birthplace of the theme park. There have been rides at Coney Island since the late 19th Century and the oldest ride still operating here – the 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park – has been thrilling kids young and old for well over 100 years now. For more modern kicks, hit up the revived and revamped Luna Park, where 21st-century coasters with names like Cyclone, The Tickler and Thunderbolt are every bit as nerve-jangling as they sound. 

Broadway

Theater stage

Yes, Broadway shows can be a little pricey, but there’s really no better place on the planet to take in a spot of high-end drama or musical theater. Here’s where the likes of Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews and Idina Menzel cut their teeth. And where you, dear reader, can see the stars of today (and tomorrow) singing their lungs out at huuuge shows like Chicago, Hamilton, Wicked and The Lion King. Indeed, an evening of musical theater on Broadway might just be the quintessential Manhattan night out.

Save on New York’s most popular tourist attractions

Save on admission to New York attractions with the New York Pass. Check out @NewYorkPass on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.

Continue reading

Blog

Holiday Markets in New York

Shopping at the holiday markets in New York should be on everyone's holiday must-do list. From soaps to stationery, they're the place to find goodies for just about everyone in your list. Holiday Shops at Winter Village in Bryant Park The holiday shops at Bryant Park are on pretty much everyone’s list of must-do holiday experiences in the city. And why not? Inspired by open-air European Crafts fairs, the market features vendors from literally around the world. The little kiosks are like tiny shops, and feature goods ranging from African baskets to one-of-a-kind-jewelry handcrafted in Brooklyn and made from materials like copper and bronze. (Through Dec. 24.) Columbus Circle Holiday Market With its festive striped booths, the Columbus Circle Market is visually one of the most appealing holiday markets. Located right across from the Time Warner Center and nestled into the entrance to Central Park, it’s also one of the most well-located (easily accessible by public transportation.) Here, you’ll be able to browse jewelry, home goods, crafts and food—ensuring that you’ll find something for just about everyone on your list. (Through Dec. 24) Renegade Crafts Fair The Renegade Crafts Fair offers up everything from jewelry to paper goods to poultry (yes, poultry)—it’s kind of one-stop shopping. The fair focuses particularly on up-and-coming makers (Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 at the Brooklyn Expo, but check for dates at other locations.) Since one of those places is Brooklyn, it’s probably not surprising that you can also expect to find live DJ sets, various food offerings, and “creative installations” -- we’ll just let you wonder about that one. Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair The holiday market at Grand Central is something of an unexpected pleasure—it’s a nice surprise to find artisan crafts nestled inside one of the country’s busiest train stations. The focus is on American and locally made products; it’s one of the longest running indoor crafts fairs in the city. Half of Vanderbilt Hall is taken over with clothing, artwork, toys, and home goods. You’ll also find holiday ornaments, jewelry, bath products, and even pet accessories. After all, Fido deserves a nice handmade holiday, too. (Through Dec. 24) Union Square Holiday Market The Union Square Market is great all year round (that produce! those jams!) but it’s especially great at the holidays. Through Dec. 24, you’ll find 150 festive artisan booths that feature works of local craftsmen and artisans. The market always has a nice community feel, which is amped up during the holidays. In addition to crafts and food, you’ll also find a Kid’s Art Studio; live music; and a warming station. It’s also got a stellar vendor selection-- check out ones like Little Brooklyn and Urbanspace Provisions. (Through Dec. 24) Crafts at St. John the Divine Cathedral From Dec. 6-8, the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral plays host to a crafts fair just in time for the holidays; it’s actually inspired by Medieval crafts fairs. You’ll find gorgeous jewelry, textiles, leather goods, ceramics, metalwork, wooden pieces, and more, all displayed in one of the world’s most magnificent buildings. You’ll be supporting both the cathedral as well as local artists; the very shopping experience will be uplifting. (Dec. 6-8) Want more tips? Check out a fun way to use the New York Pass!
Go City Expert
nyc hero
Blog

Tips to make the most of Christmas in New York

Tips for preparing for your Christmas trip to New York It'll be around 40 degrees or lower, so make sure you pack warm clothes and a jacket. If you plan to make the most of the Christmas markets or take a walking tour, wear a pair of shoes that will be kind to your feet – stilettos need not apply. If you're planning on loading up on artisanal gifts, make sure you take a bag to ensure you're an eco-conscious traveler. There are a number of camera-catching moments during the holiday season in New York, so don't forget to bring your camera! If you choose to be dazzled by the high kicks and the glamor of New York's Christmas shows, polish your dress shoes and iron your shirt. Ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center is perhaps the city's most famous seasonal spot. The lines can drag on for hours, so reserve your ice time at Bryant Parks winter village. Bring your Christmas wish list – you never know when you might bump into Santa. If you're scared of not bumping into Santa, visit Macy's Santaland to see the big guy himself. If you only have a few days in New York it can be overwhelming when thinking about what to see and do. Plan your trip and experience the top attractions – The New York Pass can help you decide which attractions to explore. Our favorite Christmas attractions in New York Holiday shopping in Bryant Park The holiday shops at Bryant Park are on pretty much everyone's list of must-do holiday experiences in the city. Inspired by open-air European Crafts fairs, the market features vendors from literally all around the world. The little kiosks offer the same kind of choice as full-sized shops and feature goods ranging from African baskets to one-of-a-kind jewelry handcrafted in Brooklyn. Columbus Circle Holiday Market With its festive, candy-striped booths, the Columbus Circle Market is visually one of the most appealing holiday markets. Located right across from the Time Warner Center and nestled into the entrance to Central Park, it's also in an ideal location, easily accessed by public transportation. Browse jewelry, home goods, crafts, and food to find something for just about everyone on your list. Take a tour There's no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by taking a guided tour of New York's best traditional markets. Learn about the city's Christmas traditions. Take in the holiday lights. Wander around movie locations of your favorite festive movies. You'll also have the opportunity to browse artisanal goods, local art and winter attire stalls while enjoying traditional foods and indulgent desserts. With your New York Pass, you'll be able to enjoy this tour without paying more than the pass price. Journey down Fifth Avenue to see the department stores lit up before hitting up markets from Bryant Park's Winter Village where you can also use your pass to get in a spot of ice skating. For more things to do in New York, check out what attractions you can get with The New York Pass: you'll pay nothing but the pass price.
Kirsten McCroskrie

Have a 5% discount, on us!

More savings? You're welcome. Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, vacation inspiration and much more.

  • Thick check Icon