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21 Top Things to Do in New York City – First Time Visitor

21 Top Things to Do in New York City – First Time Visitor

New York City is one of the biggest and most influential cities in the world. You can live here for your whole life and still not run out of things to do.

Deciding on what to do in New York on your first visit can be overwhelming which is why we narrowed down the options for you. You can wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, enjoy the view from a skyscraper, eat a bagel, see a Broadway show, or stroll around Central Park.

We hope you enjoy this list of the top things to do in New York City.

Wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is one of the greatest art museums in the world with more than two million artifacts spanning over 5,000 years. Here you can explore Egyptian temples, paintings, old roman art, and more. 

Click here to book a guided tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

See the Statue of Liberty from Staten Island Ferry

The Statue of Liberty has become an enduring symbol of freedom throughout the world and was once a gift from the French to the American people. You can get a beautiful and close view of the Statue of Liberty from the State Island Ferry which goes right by it. The ferry is free if you already have a metro card, or it costs as much as a single subway ride.

See a Broadway musical

If your wallet allows it, you might want to go see a Broadway show. If you end up going it will most likely be the best part of your trip! The Broadway shows are scattered around Times Square.

Explore Central Park

This is probably the calmest place in the city. Central Park is a green paradise for both New Yorkers and visitors to the city. Central Park has something for everyone.

central park rowing boat summer

Outlet shopping in Woodbury Common Outlet

Many people go to New York to shop for clothes, bags, and shoes. Woodbury Common Outlet is one of New York’s best and biggest outlets and you get there by bus.

Click here to purchase bus tickets to Woodbury Common Outlet.

Enjoy the view from the Empire State Building

You have seen King Kong climbing on it and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan kissing there in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. The Empire State Building is one the most beautiful and elegant skyscrapers in New York City and it’s a special feeling going up to their observation deck. Visit the Empire State Building to get a spectacular view of New York City.

Click here to purchase tickets to the Empire State Building.

empire state building new york

Stroll through Times Square

Love it or hate it, the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue is arguably the heart of New York City. Times Square is a restless place always jammed with people. This place has glimmering lights and giant billboards everywhere which makes it as bright at 2 am as it is during daylight. You can also spot the naked cowboy, Elmo, and some Marvel action heroes walking around Times Square.

times square new york

Cross Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest icons of New York, connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan since 1883. Walking over Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular things to do in New York and will give you wonderful views of the city. Depending on how often you stop to admire the view, the walk takes around 30-60 min.

brooklyn bridge top things to do in new york

Walk The High Line

Strolling through Chelsea’s rooftop gardens at The High Line is a must during your trip to New York. The High Line is a stunning transformation of an elevated railroad that they made into a beautiful walkway that offers interesting perspectives of the city below you.

the high line new york city

Explore the Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum has one of the world’s best collections of modern art. It’s worth coming here only to see the building itself which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Click here to purchase tickets to the Guggenheim Museum.

guggenheim museum new york city

Explore masterpieces at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

This modern art museum has some of the world’s most comprehensive collections. Visit The Museum of Modern Art to see art from Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, and more.

Click here to purchase tickets to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Eat a bagel for breakfast

Eating a bagel in New York should definitely be on your bucket list. New York is famous for its bagels, and you can grab one from all over the city. Here are a few places to look out for: Pick a Bagel, Ess-a-bagel, or H&H Bagels.

Catch a baseball game at Yankees Stadium

Come here to watch a game at the most famous baseball stadium in America. If you consider yourself a sports fan, this world-class stadium is a must on your bucket list. The best thing about this experience is the price. A ticket to Yankees stadium is very cheap, especially if you sit high up in the stadium.

Click here to purchase tickets to a Yankees game.

yankee stadium new york

Visit a Jazz bar

Live jazz is still going strong in New York City. You can enjoy live jazz music at the iconic Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Smoke Jazz Club, and Birdland, or visit smaller more intimate jazz bars in Harlem.

Visit Chinatown

You can find these busy streets of Chinatown in Lower Manhattan. A visit here is one of the best things to do in New York City. Chinatown is known for its good Chinese food, crowds, food markets, and vendors selling fake designer bags.

chinatown new york city

Experience SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

There is no shortage of beautiful views of the city. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt is a room filled with mirrors that will give you an interesting view of New York City.

Click here to purchase tickets to the SUMMIT.

summit one vanderbilt

Explore MoMA PS1

This is no ordinary museum. MoMA PS1, located in Queens has work from contemporary artists, experimental art, music, and temporary exhibitions. They attract many new upcoming artists.

See Grand Central Terminal

Since it opened in 1913, Grand Central Terminal has been a symbol and gateway of the city. Grand Central is built with marble floors and ticket counters, but the most beautiful part is the vaulted ceiling, designed by the French painter Paul César Helleu. Grand Central gets around 750,000 visitors every day and is one of the most-visited places in New York City, second only to Times Square.

Head to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. Bedford Avenue has restaurants, record stores, thrift stores, bars, coffee shops, and more. Grab a coffee and go sit in McCarren Park to enjoy some people-watching or just to relax.

Take a trip to Coney Island

Coney Island has a reputation for being a tourist trap, which is exactly what it is. You might be surprised by this old beach town. Head to Coney Island to eat a hot dog from Nathan’s, relax on the beach, walk the boardwalk, or ride a rollercoaster at Luna Park.

coney island brooklyn luna park new york

Have a drink at 230 Fifth rooftop bar

Have a drink next to the Empire State Building and enjoy the views of New York City. 230 Fifth is located on the building’s top floor and is the perfect place if you want to visit a rooftop bar.

What do you think are the best things to do in New York as a first-time visitor? Leave a comment!