Things to Do in New York - Planning a Trip to NYC

By Kirsten McCroskrie

Planning a trip to New York? With over 60 million visitors annually, New York City is one of the most popular destinations in the world.

There’s no end to the list of fun things to do in New York; from historic landmarks and popular museums to innovative galleries and big-city culture, New York has something to offer everyone, which is why planning a trip can become very exciting.

Guided Tours of New York

One of the most popular things to do in New York is to take a guided New York sightseeing tour. Start your visit with a comprehensive city overview-type tour, like the Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tours which include stops at all the top sights and landmarks throughout the city and feature live narration on every bus.

Once you have a feel for the city layout, you’ll be in good shape to start exploring the sights and visiting attractions.

More specific tours offer a way to get to know New York and learn about topics or certain neighborhoods that interest you.

Popular guided tours include the Food on Foot Tours which bring you to some of the best authentic New York food spots, the Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tours – one of the most fun things to do in Central Park, Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour in Williamsburg which showcases the trendy areas of the Brooklyn borough, and more.

Cruises & Waterfront Attractions

Another popular thing to do in New York is to get out on the water on a New York cruise and experience the city from a new perspective. Choose from a variety of popular cruise options, including a Best of NYC Cruise which provides views of the Manhattan skyline from the water, a classic sail on Clipper City Tall Ship Cruises, the Liberty Cruise which gets up close to the Statue of Liberty, and more. the Liberty Cruise which gets up close to the Statue of Liberty, and more.

As the ‘melting pot of America,’ many New York City visitors come to pay homage to their ancestors by visiting the Statue of Liberty and investigating their genealogy and family history at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.


Of course, no trip to New York would be complete without visiting a few popular New York museums.

Pay tribute to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and see the impressive and moving memorial built in the locations of the original World Trade Center towers. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum honors the lives of all those lost during the attacks by poignantly reflecting on the events of the day, chronicling all of the efforts made by service members and volunteers in the aftermath, and displaying results of the recovery and restoration efforts made after the attacks.

One thing that many tourists in New York City are always on the lookout for is a celebrity sighting. For a guaranteed celeb-spotting, head to Madame Tussauds in Times Square where you can get up close to and interact with all of your favorite celebrities under one roof.

New York is home to one of the world’s largest Natural History Museums, the American Museum of Natural History, where you can explore fascinating exhibitions that explore animal and plant life from around the globe.

Whether you’re a fan of the fine arts or not, be sure to visit at least one art museum while you’re in the city; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Guggenheim, or the Metropolitan Museum are some of the most popular ones for visitors and locals alike. Experience the museum-going culture New York City is known for and learn something new at one of the many museums located along “Museum Mile.”


One of the most quintessential things to do in New York City is shopping (window shopping counts!); poke around the shops that line Fifth and Madison Avenues where you can find high-end designer labels and check out the seasonal, museum-worthy window displays.

Other popular things to do include catching a Broadway show, lounging around or going for a stroll through Central Park, scouting out murals and graffiti, and of course, sampling some authentic New York City pizza, bagels, the latest foodie trends, and other local cuisines.

Skyline Views

Of all the things to do in New York, one of the most exciting is seeking out the best views of the city skyline. Head to either the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building (or both to compare the views!).

Both attractions include exhibits that explore New York City’s rich history before you board an elevator to get sky-high views. Download an app or look to the exhibits to identify buildings and landmarks in your line of vision.

Tip: Save these attractions for the end of your trip if you want to get a whole new perspective on some of the places you’ve already visited—you might be able to identify some of the sights on your own based on your experiences.

Neighborhoods to Explore

Make the most of your time and your New York Pass by visiting attractions in neighborhoods you want to explore.

  • Things to do in Lower Manhattan: also known as “Downtown,” Lower Manhattan consists of everything below 14th street and includes the New York Harbor waterfront area, The Battery, and New York’s financial district.
  • Things to do in Midtown Manhattan: consisting of everything between 60th street and 14th street, Midtown is home to Times Square and lots of iconic NYC landmarks.
  • Things to do in Uptown Manhattan: everything above 60th street is considered part of Upper Manhattan. Uptown is home to Central Park, the Museum Mile, and Harlem.

Whether you’re looking for things to do in New York for a quick weekend trip or staying for a week or more, there’s no shortage of options. There are over 100 attractions included with the New York Pass, from world-renowned art museums to historic landmarks and informative guided tours. The purpose of the pass is to help you save money while enjoying all that NYC has to offer.

Don’t miss out on anything and see it all and save big on attractions, tours, cruises, and activities with The New York Pass—the only pass you need to experience the city.

Tips for How to Plan the Perfect Trip to New York:

  • When planning a trip to New York make a list of all of the attractions, landmarks, and sights you want to see as well as any activities you want to do in the city
  • Your designated New York trip planner needs to prioritize the list by “must-sees” and “nice-to-sees”
  • Look up attraction hours of operation and make a note of them
  • Download a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour map to help you visualize where each attraction is in the city (add any from your list of attractions you want to visit if they’re not included on the map)
  • Create a blank itinerary that lets you plan each day by the hour (tip: in a spreadsheet, put the days you’ll be in New York in the top row and the hours of the day in the first column)
  • To make the most of your time, visit attractions by neighborhood; this will reduce transportation time and costs (lots of popular attractions are within walking distance of each other, too!)
  • Add any reservations and travel information to your itinerary – include order confirmation numbers for quick reference later
  • Plot out when you’ll visit each attraction starting with your “must-sees” first and factor in how long you think you’ll spend at each location (be sure to allow time for any security checks or ticket lines)
  • Build out some time for meals throughout your day, too

Budgets and time constraints can be tricky to work around, but with a little research and work, it’s easy to plan a trip to New York City. Even if it won’t be the last time you visit the city, make the most of it and have fun.

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Best Photos of Tribute in Light 2016

Enjoy some of our picks of the best images from yesterday's moving Tribute in Light, which happens every year on September 11th. Lady Liberty #statueofliberty #landmark #tributeinlight #1wtc #wtc #worldtradecenter #instacity #911 #nyc #newyorkcity #newyork A photo posted by Albert C. Lee (@albertclee) on Sep 12, 2016 at 8:41am PDT Tribute in light... #september11 ----------------------------------------------------- • • • • • • • • • • • #newyorkcity #nyc #nycprimeshot #nycprime_ladies #usaprimeshot #what_i_saw_in_nyc #newyork_instagram #icapture_nyc #city_of_newyork #Made_In_NY #ig_nycity #ig_unitedstates #ig_all_americas #just_newyork #TeamCanon #agameoftones #MoodyGrams #ig_masterpiece #topnewyorkphoto #ig_worldclub #watchthisinstagood #instagoodmyphoto #itsamazingoutthere #weekly_feature #nyloveyou #featuremeinstagood #nbc4ny #abc7ny #fox5ny A photo posted by Alex & Candice (@fallinginlovewithnyc) on Sep 11, 2016 at 3:14pm PDT To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die. - Thomas Campbell . 09.10.16 Tonight's preview of the #TributeinLight and its reflection, from Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City . Designed as a solemn, yet uplifting memorial to those who died at the World Trade Center, the Tribute in Light comprises of 88 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs positioned into two 48-foot squared, echoing the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers. . The display debuted on March 11, 2002, the sixth month anniversary of the attacks. On Sept 11, 2003, it became an annual memorial. . Shooting with @killahwave and @gigglegiver2 Welcome back to NYC Alexa, enjoy the rest of your stay. . #NeverForget 💙 . #amazing_longexpo #agameoftones #awesome_photographers #artofvisuals #freedomthinkers #heatercentral #huffpostgram #igpodium_night #ig_global_life #ig_shotz_sept16 #igpowerclub #igworldglobal #igglobalclub #igshotz #ig_nightphotography #main_vision #phototag_it #longexposure_shots #photooftheday #special_shots #urbanromantix #usaprimeshot #weekly_feature #worldbestgram #worldbestshot A photo posted by Gigi A ( on Sep 10, 2016 at 9:31pm PDT 15 years later.. . . . . . #artofvisual #streetshared #imaginatones #illgrammers #agameoftones #hypebeast #moodygrams #theimaged #ThisIsMyCommunity #streetactivity #streetmagazine #shotaward #Thecreatorclass #heatercentral #justgoshoot #createexplore #urbanromantix #watchthisinstagood #what_i_saw_in_nyc #justliving2016 #way2ill #igworldclub #createcommune #fatalframes #thecreative #streets_vision #instamagazine_ #hboutthere #menwithurban A photo posted by 🗽👁🇦🇱🕋 (@thousand.visions) on Sep 11, 2016 at 8:09pm PDT I never forget how brave NYC fireman and police officers were that day... . I never forget how many brave people volunteered to help... . We are strong.... And we will never forget.... . ============================ "Check Out" @mattpugs ============================ 9/11 memorial lights 2016 ============================ . . . . . . #splendid_shotz #arist_world #ig_dynamic #folkvibe#ig_great_shots_nyc #weekly_feature#igglobalclub #newyorkcity #nightshooters #sky_high_architecture #mycity_life #canon_photos #nationalgeographic #ig_great_shots #picture_to_keep #longexpoelite#rsa_streetview#igshotz#inspiring_photography_admired#ig_mood#fatalframes#earthpics#beautifuldestinations#instagramnyc#topnewyorkphoto#newyork_instagram#artofvisuals#awesome_earthpix#igpowerclub #instagram A photo posted by Craig's Beds (@craigsbeds) on Sep 11, 2016 at 6:31am PDT I can still feel you here. #Honor911 A photo posted by MISSHATTAN (@misshattan) on Sep 11, 2016 at 12:14pm PDT Never Forget. 🙏🏻9/11/01🙏🏻 =============================== ⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️ It's Black and White Sunday time again ⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️ Join the movement folks. Every Sunday post at least one Black and White photo and be sure to tag. #bnw_sundays for a chance to be featured. @bnw_sundays =============================== 🎞Shot info🎞 • Date: Sept 7th, 2016 • Location: NYC • Camera: Nikon D5500 • Lens: Nikkor 55 - 300mm f/ 4.5 -5.6 • Focal Length: 66mmmm • Shutter: 30 seconds • Aperture : f/9 • ISO: 100 • Shot: @mefototripods Roadtrip / Auto Mode • Shot in RAW • Edit: Lightroom / Photoshop / Instagram =============================== Big thank you to the pages who have featured my pics recently🙏🏻👊🏻🙏🏻 Your support is greatly appreciated @ =============================== Be sure to check out all my very talented friends I have tagged in the pic 💪🏼👍🏻💪🏼 =============================== #blackandwhitenyc #pocket_bnw #bnw_diamond #bnw_captures #rsa_bnw #icapture_nyc_bnw #bnw_life #love_bnw #blackandwhite #blancoynegro #bnw_magazine #bw_photooftheday #blackandwhitephoto #bw_society #superhubs #cbviews #ig_mood #ig_all_americas #igs_america #igglobalclub #inspiring_photography_admired #artofvisuals #globalcapture #master_shots #livetravelchannel #sky_high_architecture #awesomeglobe #exklusive_shot #ig_nightphotography A photo posted by Killian Moore (@killianmoore) on Sep 11, 2016 at 6:13am PDT Never forget! Tribute lights lit up in remembrance of 9/11 ========================= ========================= #SuperHubs #ig_today #igs_world #igmasters #citybestpics #lifeonourplanet #ig_captures #special_shots #travelnoire #ig_all_americas #weekly_feature #ig_mood #igrecommend #wildnewyork #hubs_united #icapture_nyc #what_i_saw_in_nyc #seeyourcity #gramoftheday #igs_NYC #instagramnyc #hot_shotz #aov #agameoftones #boss_properties #folkgood #incredible_masterpiece #amazingphotohunter #ig_exquisite #newyorklike A photo posted by NADIA BLOCK (@bklyn_block) on Sep 12, 2016 at 5:36am PDT Tonight was a truly incredible experience that I'll never forget. Flying over the #TributeInLight on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 🇺🇸. #NewYork has been my home for the last 7 years but seeing the city light up from this perspective brought me back to the excitement of the 1st day that I arrived. I couldn't be more proud to be associated and working with #NewYorkCity right now, this place really is the best city on earth 🙌🏽. Huge thank you to my friends at @flynyon and @nycgo for making this special experience possible 🚁🎥 #SeeYourCity 🗽. (🎶: "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, Jay Z Re-Mix) A video posted by TOM JAUNCEY (@tomjauncey) on Sep 12, 2016 at 1:37am PDT If you found other images that particularly moved you and you would like to share them with us, tag #newyorkpass and @newyorkpass on Instagram.
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Best Art Museums in New York City

Every year the world celebrates International Museum Day on May 18th. Art and knowledge lovers gather all over the world to celebrate museums and their invaluable contribution to the betterment of society and the development of communities. In New York City, we enjoy the presence of some of the most amazing art museums in the world. When visiting the Big Apple a trip to a museum or two (or twelve) is an essential itinerary item. Metropolitan Museum of Art The Met The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the most visited museums in the entire world. The Met boasts with an impressive collection of art across all periods, ranging from ancient Egyptian artifacts to the most avante-garde contemporary pieces. The Met consists of three separate museum spaces, The Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue, The Met Cloisters, a stunning space dedicated to medieval Euorpean art and architecture located in Fort Tryon Park in Harlem and the brand new Met Breuer, space dedicated to modern and contemporary art, located in the Marcel Breuer-designed building on Madison Avenue. The Met Fifth Avenue: 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028 The Met Breuer: 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021 The Met Cloisters: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040 MoMA (photo by mikeoregon via Flickr) Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) This famous museum in Midtown Manhattan boasts with one of the most impressive collections of Modern Art in the world. The museum is full of recognizable pieces by artists such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne or Salvador Dali, as well as many pieces and exhibitions from lesser-known modern and contemporary artists. Visit the museum to see the current Edgar Degas: A Strange Beauty exhibit and explore the lesser-known print pieces by the French Impressionist artist known for his whimsical exploration of movement and perspective. Visit MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens for a bigger dose of contemporary art. MoMA: 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497 MoMA PS1: 22-25 Jackson Ave. at the intersection of 46th Ave.Long Island City, NY 11101 The Whitney by Timothy Schenck Whitney Museum of American Art Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and many other American artists have found their home at the Whitney. This cool, Meatpacking District museum attracts visitors to its brand new, ultra-modern building, as well as its location in one of the hippest neighborhoods in Manhattan. The Whitney is located at the tail end of the High Line, one of the most popular and innovative urban parks in the world. The permanent collections is full of recognizable pieces by American artists, and the temporary exhibits are always fresh and though-provoking. The layout of the new building flows very well and the rooftop offers great views. Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014 Panorama of the City of New York The Queens Museum Located in the magnificent Flushing Meadows Park, Queens Museum is one of the most popular attractions in the borough. The museum is home to many famous pieces of art from a wide variety of artists, but perhaps the most notable is the Panorama of the City of New York (pictured above). Flushing Meadows Park has been a sight for many important events in New York City history, including the 1939 and 1964 World's Fair. The New York State Pavilion located in the park served as a setting in the 1997 film, Men in Black. Address: New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY 11368 The Guggenheim (photo by F11 Photo) The Guggenheim Named the World's Most Photographed Attraction, The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum is truly one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The Upper East Side staple was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and attracts millions of visitors annually. Its signature rotunda is a piece of art in an of itself and photographs beautifully from every angle. The museum hosts a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art as well as provocative temporary exhibits. Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128 Brooklyn Museum (photo by Mark Lennihan/AP) Brooklyn Museum Brooklyn Museum is located in the heart of Brooklyn in the cross section of different residential neighborhoods in the borough, close to other Brooklyn attractions such as Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza. The French-inspired Beaux-Arts building is majestic and impressive and hosts the third largest museum in New York City. The permanent collection is diverse, with works from classical Europe as well as contemporary America. The temporary exhibits celebrate the diversity of the borough. Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238 You can visit all of these (and many more) museums for free with your New York Pass.
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