10 Things to Do in NYC for College Students on Vacation

By Casey Makovich

Planning to spend some study-free days in New York City and looking for fun things to do in NYC for college students on vacation? Whether you plan to spend three, five or seven days exploring New York City, we’ve listed the top ten NYC attractions for all of you hard-working college students that includes exciting excursions and tours including:

  • Virtual Reality Downtown Tours
  • Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tours
  • Statue of Liberty Cruises
  • The Empire State Building
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Much More!

Save on Admission to Top NYC Attractions

With The New York Pass, you and your group can save a bundle on admission to more than 90 attractions amid the city. See the best of NYC and visit as many sites as you want each day your pass is valid for one low price with this flexible pass. Simply put, you decide what to see and when you want to see it! Learn more about our available passes and attractions.

The Downtown Experience: A Virtual Reality Tour

Powered by THE RIDE, this adventure takes you through downtown Manhattan in a theatre-style luxury van with floor to ceiling glass windows and side-facing seating. Passengers are equipped with state-of-the-art virtual reality goggles that allow them to re-live some of the iconic moments that occurred within the community’s most notable landmarks. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the world’s only virtual reality traveling theater! Getting In: The Downtown Experience tickets are available on the New York Pass.

Big Bus New York: Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Rated by TripAdvisor as one of the top NYC sightseeing bus tours, jump onto one of these double-decker big busses and hop and off whenever you please to soak in the sites and sounds of Uptown, Downtown, and Midtown at your own pace. Take the full 2.5-hour loop of each district with a full day pass on the Big Bus New York and enjoy the historic commentary and learn facts about the city’s rich history, culture, and architecture from an onboard guide. Some attractions you can see on the tour include:

  • Times Square
  • Empire State Building
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Chinatown
  • Central Park
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • And More!

Getting In: Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off tour tickets are included on The New York Pass®.

Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tour

Submerge yourself in NYC’s colorful urban culture in the heart of Brooklyn during this guided tour through the community’s most creative spaces where art abounds. Learn about the history and techniques of street art throughout Bushwick’s open-air ‘galleries’ while enjoying a visual experience like no other. It’s not uncommon to come upon artists in action who are willing to show off for eager audiences. Getting In: Graffiti & Street Art Walking Tour tickets are included on The New York Pass®.

Statue of Liberty Express Cruise

Join the ranks of four million others who take to the waters of the Hudson River to visit the iconic Lady Liberty on Ellis Island each year. Board the Circle Line Downtown Cruise to get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty while enjoying panoramic views of the glorious NYC skyline. During this one hour express cruise, your tour guide will share the statue’s long history and cultural significance. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning sights you’ll encounter along the way. Getting In: Statue of Liberty Express Cruise tickets are included with The New York Pass®.

Luna Park at Coney Island

No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a visit to Brooklyn’s Coney Island to experience the mind-blowing rides at Luna Park. With a free 4-hour wristband that gives pass holders access to two dozen thrilling rides and various activities on the boardwalk. Leave your studies behind and embrace your inner thrill seeker! To access ‘Extreme Thrill’ rides at the park, guests will be required to pay an additional surcharge at the gate. Getting In: Luna Park at Coney Island tickets are included on The New York Pass®.

When Harry Met Seinfeld Bus Tour

Get on location with this entertainment filled guided tour of some of New York’s most famous set locations of popular shows like Seinfeld, When Harry Met Sally, How I Met Your Mother, The Nanny, and many others. You’ll be taken to the doorsteps of your favorite TV characters all around the city just north of nostalgic Times Square. Get into the film scene of NYC with your passes to the When Harry Met Sally Bus Tour. Getting In: When Harry Met Seinfeld Bus Tour tickets are included on the New York Pass®.

Radio City Music Hall: Stage Door Tour

Get a behind-the-scenes tour of world-famous Radio City Music Hall—NYC’s premier entertainment complex that’s home to the beautiful Rockettes and has been graced by the biggest names in entertainment. This 75-minute tour takes you behind the curtain to the backstage zones where you’ll get to meet one of the Rockettes in person and peruse the guestbook signed by notable celebrities and performers over the venue’s long and storied history. Getting In: Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour tickets are included on the New York Pass®.

SoHo - Little Italy -­ Chinatown Walking Tour

Experience the wealth of culture, arts and regional fare within the districts lovingly known as SoHo, Little Italy and festive Chinatown with a fully-guided walking tour where you’ll learn all about their significance and contribution to NYC’s melting pot. Find modern fashions, hip hangouts, cool art and tempt your taste buds with traditional cuisines along the way during this excursion. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled, as you never know when a celeb will stroll by. See the best of the best of the Big Apple during this day tour with your NYC pass. Getting In: SoHo - Little Italy - Chinatown Tour tickets are included on The New York Pass®.

Empire State Building

Capture the sights of the big city and the memorable skyline from the observation deck on the 86th floor of the impressive and iconic Empire State Building. In the city that never sleeps, you can opt to experience the 360-degree views from over 1000 feet in the air during the day or when the city is brilliantly lit up in the evening hours before heading out to enjoy the nightlife in NYC. Take a moment on the way up or before departing to check out the Art Deco lobby to view fascinating displays including the iconic Dare to Dream exhibit. Getting In: Empire State Building tickets are included with the New York Pass®.

Food on Foot Walking Tours

Join one of these award-winning tours to learn the inside scoop from an experienced local guide concerning where to get the most authentic New York City cuisine during a Food on Foot Walking Tour. People travel from around the globe to venture through various boroughs to experience culinary achievements with a distinctly regional flavor representative of NYC’s vast diversity. Don’t miss out on one of these mouth-watering food tours that will put your college cafeteria to shame! Book your reservation using your pass number today. Getting In: Food on Foot Walking Tours tickets are included on The New York Pass®.

Remember to Save on Admission

There’s no limit to the number of things to do in NYC for college students and a lot of the activities and attractions mentioned in this post are included on The New York Pass. Admission to dozens of the most popular attractions in NYC is included for one low price. Save anywhere up to 70% off of the city’s most sought-after attractions with the pass versus regular gate admission prices. Learn more about The New York Pass here.

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wollman rink
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New York in December

Few cities know how to celebrate the holidays quite like New York. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city during December, you’ll notice New York’s most iconic landmarks transformed with lights, decorations and events in time for the holidays. Whatever you’re into, whether it’s festive Broadway shows, holiday markets, sightseeing or all three, it's easy to get into the spirit of the season with so many things to do in New York in December. Tree Lighting Ceremony at Rockefeller Center The sight of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is as impressive as it is famous. A New York City icon, the tree reaches up to 100 feet tall and lighting it has been a NYC tradition since 1933. The ceremony usually takes place in either late November or early December, so if you’re travelling to New York around this time, you’ll enjoy a festive treat. As well as this annual event, you can take advantage of the many shopping and dining options available nearby. Why not lace up a pair of rental skates and glide around the ice rink at Rockefeller Center? Admission: viewing the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is free and open to the public. Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111Opening times: open 24 hoursWebsite: https://www.rockefellercenter.com/ Holiday window displays Every holiday season, world-famous New York City department stores compete to create the best holiday window display. This window display competition creates a great tourist activity that's apt for the holiday season, and it's free! There are five major department stores to check out: Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Macy's Herald Square. These department stores are all located fairly close to one another in the Midtown area, along Lexington Ave, Madison Ave, Fifth Ave and Broadway. Radio City Music Hall Radio City Music Hall is perhaps most famous for the Christmas Spectacular and the Rockettes. Ask any local and they’ll agree that no holiday season is complete without this high-energy and highly entertaining performance, with the Rockettes performing eye-high kicks to the beat of festive holiday music. After viewing the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, continue the holiday festivities at the Bryant Park Holiday Market. Just head eight blocks downtown to check out the Market at 6th Ave and 42nd Street. Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020Opening times: the Apollo Theatre Box Office is open Monday to Saturday 10AM - 8PM Empire State Building Lights The celebration, which takes place throughout November and December, will include a seasonal Fifth Ave window display, holiday concerts and surprise appearances by celebrity guests. Decorations in the building's signature Art Deco style adorn the 34th Street Observatory entrance and iconic Fifth Ave lobby, making the interior of the Empire State Building shine like its world-famous tower lights. From the ground floor to the sparkling antenna, ESB spreads holiday cheer throughout every corner of New York City and the world. Visitors can enjoy the attraction’s radiant heaters, which provide extra comfort on ESB's 86th floor exterior 360-degree viewing deck. Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001Opening times: Open every day 3AM - 6PM Dyker Heights Christmas lights During the rest of the year, Dyker Heights is a small area of Brooklyn you might just wander through on your travels. But during the holidays, the area, especially the Kings County neighborhood, is transformed into an illumination-filled festive nightscape widely hailed as the best in NYC. Expect lifesize santas, sleighs, carols and a crowd of all ages. Take down a flask of eggnog and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Address: displays from 11th to 13th Ave (also known as Dyker Heights Blvd) from 83rd to 86th St in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Time Warner Center If you find the Dyker Heights lights in Brooklyn mesmerizing, try the Time Warner Center lights display. The hanging stars change color every few seconds, and while it’s not as grand and elaborate as the ones in Dyker Heights - nothing is - it’s less crowded, it’s inside (although you can also see them from outside) and you can pop into Williams Sonoma to buy some Peppermint Bark. And, if you’re still in need of more holiday shopping, check out the holiday market right across the street, as well as many others. Address: 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019Opening times: display times vary Central Park and Wollman Rink The City of New York gets Central Park all decked out for the holidays. Decorations and lights are put up all over and you may hear Christmas carolers during a holiday visit - a walk through Central Park is especially festive when it’s snowing. The park also offers horse-drawn carriage rides that contribute some rustic charm to a wintertime ride through the park. One wintertime activity that you should definitely take advantage of when you’re in the city for the holidays is ice skating at the Wollman Rink. The rink offers ice skate rentals and it’s located only minutes from the Central Park Zoo. Address: Wollman Rink: 830 5th Ave, New York, NY 10065Opening times: Woolman Rink: 10AM - 11PM / Rockefeller Center: 8.30AM - midnight Strasbourg-Alsace Holiday Market After viewing the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, continue the holiday festivities at the Bryant Park Holiday Market. Just head eight blocks downtown to check out the market at 6th Ave and 42nd Street. Or if you love shopping at the holiday markets but want to check out something new, try the Strasbourg-Alsace Holiday Market in Bowling Green Park. This is truly an under-the-radar holiday event. The market features table linens from Colmar, pottery from Soufflenheim, ornaments from Strasbourg and more. You’ll also find such delicacies as Alsatian craft beer, hot chestnuts and sausages. For more holiday markets, check out our deep dive. Opening times: these vary, but New York’s holiday markets are exclusively open from November - December. Address: 26 Broadway, New York, New York 10004
Suz Pathmanathan
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Things to Do in NYC in the Winter for Tourists

It may be cold outside, but you'll have a great time in New York City. In fact, winter is a great time to visit the Big Apple. Imagine seeing Central Park lightly dusted with freshly fallen snow. Or catching an event that only occurs a few times a year. Indeed, winter in New York City is a magical time to visit, and there are lots of things to see and do. Here are some of our favorites: The Museum Mile Restaurant Week Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum Fashion Week Madison Square Garden 9/11 Memorial and Museum New York Botanical Garden and more! Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Experience world-class art along the Museum Mile The Upper East Side's bevy of art museums offers shelter from cold temperatures and a chance to see some of the finest artwork collections in the world. Along the Museum Mile you'll find world-renowned cultural institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of African Art, the National Academy Museum, Neue Galerie, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and El Museo del Barrio. Admission: Museum of the City of New York tickets, Guggenheim tickets, and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass; admission to the MET, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of African Art, the National Academy Museum and Neue Galerie is separately ticketed and not included with The New York Pass. Treat yourself during Restaurant Week Each winter, some 400 of New York City's finest restaurants offer three-course, prix-fixe menus that allow you to experience fine dining at a fraction of the cost. The Restaurant Week promotion is usually held in late January and early February. If you can't get to the city for Restaurant Week, you can get a taste of New York flavor with a Food on Foot tour. Visit iconic neighborhoods that specialize in specific cuisines and experience all the different flavors that make New York such a culinary delight! Admission: Guided Food on Foot Tour tickets are included with the New York Pass. See Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum A tourist favorite, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum features likenesses of the biggest names in pop culture. Located in Times Square, the museum features more than 200 life-like wax figures. You'll find everyone from Marvel superheroes to Marilyn Monroe to Abraham Lincoln to Serena Williams. You should also plan to see Madame Tussaud's immersive exhibits like Kong: Skull Island, the Ghostbuster's: Dimension hyper-reality experience or the Fashion Experience where you can design clothing alongside Heidi Klum. Admission: Madame Tussauds tickets are included with the New York Pass. Explore a legendary venue in the Winter Some of the most notable sporting events and concerts take place right in New York City. As a result, the venues themselves are legendary in their own right. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Madison Square Garden that's hosted everything from boxing matches to presidential birthday parties. Get the scoop on what really happens backstage at Radio City Music Hall, or go behind the scenes at your favorite baseball team's home field during a tour of Yankee Stadium. Admission: Madison Square Garden Behind-the-Scenes Tour tickets, Radio City Music Hall Tour tickets, and Yankee Stadium Tour tickets are all included with The New York Pass. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum September 11, 2001 was a turning point in the United States. Located on the grounds of World Trade Center, the memorial and museum pays tribute to to the 2,983 people who were killed in the terrorist attacks. No visit to New York would be complete without a visit to the 15,000 square foot museum. You'll get to view the exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of this defining moment in American history. Admission: 9/11 Memorial and Museum tickets are included with the New York Pass. Take a Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour Jump on the Big Bus and let a knowledgeable tour guide show you around the city. If something sounds interesting, get off for further exploration. When you're done, you can catch the next bus and continue along the route. On colder days, you can grab a cup of hot cocoa and sit in the open air for a birds' eye view! Alternatively, you can also sit inside the heated cab on the lower level. Admission: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour tickets are included with the New York Pass. See where your favorite show was filmed Many television shows and movies are filmed in the Big Apple, so check out some of the more iconic settings. A walking tour of Central Park will reveal many spots you'll recognize from films like Home Alone or Gossip Girl. Head right to the doorsteps of favorites like Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother on a bus tour that travels north of Times Square. Admission: Guided When Harry Met Seinfeld Bus Tour tickets and Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour tickets are included with the New York Pass. Get glamorous during Fashion Week Each February, New York City buzzes as high-end fashion designers show off their latest creations during Fashion Week. The clothes are great; the people watching is better! If you can't make it to a runway show, consider a walking tour that explains why New York has become the fashion capital of the world and get the inside scoop on your favorite designers' places to shop! Admission: Fashion Windows Walking Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Please note: admission to Fashion Week shows are separately ticketed and not included with the New York Pass. Explore a botanical garden Yes, even in the winter, there's plenty to see and do at the city's botanical gardens. With interactive activities, learning experiences and one-of-a-kind treasures, the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are hot spots, even when it's cold outside. Admission: New York Botanical Garden tickets and Brooklyn Botanic Garden tickets are included with The New York Pass. Come aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum One of the most interesting museums in the city floats in Hudson River. Visitors can view the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a WWII-era aircraft carrier that doubles as home to exhibits, educational programming and really cool aircraft and historic artifacts. The boat has also been home to several notable concerts since 1982 when it was moored at its current location. Admission: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum tickets are included with the New York Pass. Get lost in the American Museum of Natural History Where else can you see a Titanosaur other than the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side? With 2 million square feet of space, the museum is one of the largest in the world. The space is made up of 28 interconnected building featuring 28 exhibit halls, a library, and a planetarium. You can easily spend the day here! Admission: American Museum of Natural History tickets are included with the New York Pass. Remember to Save on Attraction Admission If you're traveling to New York during the winter, then you may want to take some time to visit the wonderful indoor attractions in the city. You'll get a chance to view historic museums and tour iconic theaters throughout the boroughs. However, there's a lot of attractions to visit in New York so you'll want to stretch your dollar as much as possible. Purchase a New York Pass to save money on your trip and gain free entry to over 90 attractions in NYC. Click here for more information.
Go City Expert
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Shopping Spree In New York

New York Pass Holiday Shopping Spree The holidays are all about giving and spreading that magical seasons' spirit. With that being said, the New York Pass is giving back to pass holders in a big way this year and allowing them to enjoy their trip to New York City even more. As we get closer to the Holidays, many people are worried about how they will be able to buy gifts for their family or even personal presents for themselves. Especially if you've already spent money on your vacation to New York. Thus, we're giving New York Pass customers the chance to win a special $500 shopping spree. Winning the grand prize means you take home a $500 Century 21 gift card. Selected winners will be able to use the gift card inside of the Century 21 department store. There will also be a number of runner-ups selected to take home a $100 or $50 Century 21 gift card. How To Enter Getting your hands on this shopping spree will probably be the easiest money that you have ever earned. In fact, all you actually need in order to enter is an Instagram account. Pass holders can enter the contest by simply following the New York Pass on Instagram, posting pictures during their trip to NYC, and using the hashtag #NYPHolidaySweep. Piece of cake right? Contestants may post as many pictures from their trip as they like. Just remember to continually tag New York Pass for your chance to win. This is your opportunity to bring out your inner-photographer and show off the sights of the city. Winner All winners for the Holiday Sweepstakes will be selected on December 8th based on the engagement of their posts. Therefore, the more traffic that you drive to your post, the greater chance you have of winning the shopping spree. Make sure that you are sharing your posts and spreading the word to your friends to like and comment on your pictures so that you're more likely to show up as one of the top posts on Instagram in the #NYPHolidaySweep search. Now you're ready to go out and win that shopping spree! Good luck.
Go City Expert

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