20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in New York

Jul 22, 2021

The many neighborhoods that make up the City of New York offer many unique experiences for both residents and visitors. The greatest concentration of famous landmarks, museums, and galleries in New York are clustered in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, while the world-class Empire State Building, World Trade Center, and 9/11 Memorial Museum are found in Lower Manhattan. There's something for everyone in New York, and that's why it's often called the "Crossroads of the World."

However, in order to really appreciate New York, there are several other elements that are essential to experiencing the full New York experience. First and foremost, you need to see the top attractions in New York City, which are listed in the "Getting Around" section. If you're not sure where to start, our guide to the top attractions in New York City will show you the top sights and things to do.

Alternatively, you could start with the suburbs, where you'll find the top tourist attractions outside of the city, such as Central Park and the Village of the Arts. And for the more casual tourist, you can opt for the nearby beaches and towns, which are all great day trips from New York. Discover the best places to visit in New York with our guide to the top tourist attractions in New York.

Central Park

Photo of Central Park
Central Park: en.wikipedia.org

A 3,428-acre (1,437-hectare) woodland park located in Manhattan, Central Park is the second-largest park in the US and contains more than 250 works of art by renowned American and European artists. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, its unparalleled landscaping has resulted in the development of an unrivaled collection of trees, flowers, and shrubs.

Statue of Liberty

Photo of Liberty Island
Liberty Island: en.wikipedia.org

On the western end of the tip of Manhattan Island, the Statue of Liberty is a defining point in the history of the United States. Designed by Frederic Bartholdi, this symbol of the American Republic was built between 1884 and 1885 on Bedloe's Island, and is a 100-meter-high neoclassical statue made of copper and wrought iron with an illuminated crown. The pedestal was designed by Gustave Eiffel, with whom Bartholdi had collaborated on the Statue of Goliath, and is marked by the statues of Justice, Peace, and Agriculture. Following construction, Lady Liberty became a cultural phenomenon as she was exhibited in all parts of the world. A replica of the original stands on Bedloe's Island in New York City, making it the most popular monument in the United States. The statue is a universal symbol of freedom. Around New Year's Eve, people go to New York's Central Park and have a toast to the "New Year in the Year of the Goddess of Liberty."

Times Square

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Times Square: en.wikipedia.org

New York City's Times Square is best known as the world's most recognized and visited landmark, a four-square mile patch of land in the center of the country where Broadway and Seventh Avenue meet, surrounded by national monuments like the New York Public Library, the Rockefeller Center and the United Nations. A stroll around the square is the best way to enjoy the city. You can use the 1 to 1 subway line to reach the square in five minutes. There are bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels everywhere, making this one of the most popular tourist destinations. Another must-see in Times Square is the Empire State Building, which was also designed by a Jewish-American architect, William Wilgus. It stands as a monument to the city. There are plenty of shops in Times Square and, of course, big-name brands like Nike, Gucci, Tiffany's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. A visit to the home of one of the most famous fictional characters, The Wizard of Oz, should be on everyone's bucket list. The house, the Dorothy museum and the Kansas State Department of Parks and Recreation were recently featured on 60 Minutes and the film Return to Oz was released in 2005, keeping the house and the memory of the movie alive.

Empire State Building

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Empire State Building: en.wikipedia.org

The New York skyline is a sight of rare beauty. Its towering skyscrapers and other architectural wonders make a memorable backdrop to a visit. Despite this, the New York skyline has been an uninteresting one to most tourists until recent years. The public has been kept at arm's length from the upper floors of the world-famous buildings, where those who wish to go have had to make a special application and visit on tour only. This has begun to change, and the famous skyline has begun to turn into a visitor magnet. The most obvious and popular landmark is the Empire State Building. Completed in 1931, it was designed by Raymond Hood and took 10 years to build. Although, as an icon, it may lack the resonance of the Sistine Chapel or the Eiffel Tower, it remains a landmark of Western civilization. Many visitors consider going into the observation deck on the 86th floor (about $25 per person, depending on how many stories you travel). This glass-enclosed viewing gallery is open in the summer, but not in the winter. Other notable New York skyscrapers include the World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Trump World Tower, the Random House Building, and the 432 Park Avenue. Also visit the memorials to Christopher Street, women's rights activist Sylvia Rivera, the gay movement's Harvey Milk, and AIDS and HIV/AIDS awareness activists.

Brooklyn Bridge

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Brooklyn Bridge: en.wikipedia.org

The Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York City. Completed in 1883 by New York City's most celebrated engineering project, the Brooklyn Bridge and its more than 1,000-foot-long suspension span replaced a ferry and the Back Bridge, built in 1855. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is said to rank as one of the most exciting sights in the world. The legendary piers and elegant arches span the East River; when viewed from Manhattan, the curve of the bridge creates the iconic shape of the Twin Towers, seen from which, the bridge's turrets and the tip of the Statue of Liberty appear to form the numbers '77'. This is particularly true during dawn and sunset, when sunlight is reflected off the bridge, while lamps turn the bridge's piers and walkways into the most brilliant lights of New York City. The Brooklyn Bridge is open all year round but will be closed to traffic on New Year's Eve. The Manhattan Bridge has been built directly across from the Brooklyn Bridge for visitors who prefer to cross the Hudson River.

Broadway and Theater District

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Theater District, Manhattan: en.wikipedia.org

As the world's most famous and most-visited theater district, New York's Broadway is the perfect place to start your tour of the Big Apple. Here you'll find Broadway's leading theaters, megastructures like The New York Times Building, bustling streets, the newest and oldest bars, plus popular tourist spots, like Central Park and Times Square. From Times Square, you can take the bright yellow cabs of taxis and catch public transportation to the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall, and St. Patrick's Cathedral. When you visit Times Square, be sure to visit the TKTS booth where you can get discounted tickets to a Broadway show. When visiting the Theater District, be sure to visit The Public Theater, where the production of Les Miserables was filmed, and the Lincoln Center, which is home to New York City's most respected orchestras, ballet troupes and opera companies. Other popular sites include Rockefeller Center, where the Radio City Music Hall and the skating rink make a great combination, and the iconic Empire State Building, which offers sweeping views of the Big Apple.

Rockefeller Center

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Rockefeller Center: en.wikipedia.org

Rockefeller Center was constructed in 1932 as a New York City landmark that towers over the busy cityscape at the northeastern corner of Central Park. Inside, the visitor is immediately surrounded by the fabulous Empire Stores, which now sell the shopping brands of Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany's and other famous high-end brands, as well as a number of deluxe boutiques selling luxury goods. Along with the Empire Stores is the impressive Atlas Restaurant, where patrons can dine in fine surroundings. If they wish to stay to watch the stage shows and musical revues presented, it's a very popular option.

Grand Central Terminal

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Grand Central Terminal: en.wikipedia.org

Grand Central Terminal (informally referred to as GCT) was the site of the New York's flagship railroad station until Grand Central opened in 1947. Completed in 1912, the building features 60 clocks, clocks, and other timepieces in the ceiling of its concourse. There's a time zone clock, seven on a monumental stone-and-glass clock tower, a gold-on-gold-tone time capsule, and five identical wall clocks along the concourse corridor. Throughout, the clocks are synchronized to the local New York City time.

Bryant Park

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Bryant Park: en.wikipedia.org

Bryant Park is a major New York City park bordered by Fifth Avenue, 42nd Street, 42nd Street, Madison Avenue, and Central Park West. It was created in 1890 from an acre and a half of landfill, from which the Statue of Liberty was extracted. The park is famed for its lawn and fountain, in which the fresh waters of the fountain rise up from a pool in the center, cascading over the sidewalk and around the pool. The circle of water moves around the pool in four directions, meeting at its corners. Many New Yorkers of all classes and ethnic backgrounds refer to the fountain simply as "the water". Nearby is the Central Park Zoo, New York's most popular public zoo. The Bronx Zoo is also very close. New York's Central Park is perhaps the most visited park in the world, with more than seven million people visiting it each day.

Union Square

Photo of Union Square, Manhattan
Union Square, Manhattan: en.wikipedia.org

There's no better way to start exploring Manhattan than with a walk through its epicenter, Union Square. Designed in the 19th century for leafy strolling and gathering in the square's ubiquitous coffeehouses and bars, the area today is considered to be the heart of the city. In the northeast corner, where Fifth Avenue intersects Broadway, is the famous bronze statue of President Abraham Lincoln by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Highlights of the square include Washington Square Park on the northeast side and the brand-new Puck Building on the northwest corner. It is one of the world's best-preserved brick structures and contains the American Museum of the Century, which showcases the renowned American folk art of the 19th century, and the Shakespeare Garden, an evergreen oasis of flowers and sculpture located between Madison Square Park and Central Park. One of the country's busiest and most popular squares, Union Square is open to the public from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm daily. During daylight hours, access into the square can be as simple as walking through the door of a jewelry store or going through the revolving doors of the Empire State Building. During the evenings and on weekends, a designated shuttle runs from the square to the theaters, museums, and other destinations in the neighborhood.

Madison Square Park

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Madison Square and Madison Square Park: en.wikipedia.org

New York's Madison Square Park is home to a little-visited historic park of gardens, lawns, and fountains. A natural area surrounded by buildings, the park is a haven for urbanites who come for exercise or relaxation. A popular spot for run-of-the-mill recreation, it is the perfect place to unwind, hike, bike, picnic, play sports, or just sit and read a book or newspaper. Several nice walking paths leave from the park and take you through parks, gardens, or woodlands in the surrounding neighborhood, while the more strenuous trail leads out of the park through the Central Park.

New York Public Library

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New York Public Library: en.wikipedia.org

The New York Public Library has one of the most stunning interior designs in the United States. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this library houses over 100 million books and offers several high-tech exhibition halls. The Wall Street Library is open to the public and is a must for every architecture enthusiast. The library has a circular design which makes visitors feel as if they are walking through a giant doughnut. The glazed interior glass makes it light and bright during the day but also casts a dramatic shadow throughout the day.

Carnegie Hall

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Carnegie Hall: en.wikipedia.org

Carnegie Hall (Carnegie Hall), a famous concert hall and performance space in New York City, is a popular venue for some of the most important international orchestras and ensembles, such as the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and New York City Ballet. Built in 1891 by Scottish industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as a venue for symphonic concerts and recitals, it boasts an internationally recognized reputation as one of the greatest concert halls in the world. The theater, with its acoustics designed by Karl Ritter, is nearly one mile (1.6 km) long, and the magnificent auditorium has a capacity of about 1,500. The black granite venue, renowned for its famous Main Audience Circle and Golden Parterre Garden, is a haven of calm, elegance, and tradition. Its most famous resident is New York's Symphony No. 4, Gustav Mahler's sprawling, five-movement work that was originally commissioned for the grand opening of the Hall on 25 May 1902.

One World Observatory

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One World Trade Center: en.wikipedia.org

One World Observatory is one of the world's leading places for the public to access space and advance science. Located on the Hudson River and open daily, the installation in the World Trade Center site is designed as an education and outreach resource on a global scale. The One World Observatory was inspired by the historic International Space Station. The ultimate destination for missions into orbit, it is also an interesting visitor site. In addition to a lunar and planetary auditorium, the site has an observatory with world-class telescopes, and a number of public access telescopes with large windows that give a panoramic view of the Hudson River and the skyline of Lower Manhattan.

Battery Park

Photo of The Battery (Manhattan)
The Battery (Manhattan): en.wikipedia.org

New York's Battery Park is a calm escape from the hectic city life of Manhattan, even as the Atlantic waves roll in to cradle it. Here, the main reason to visit is the 2.5-hectare green area and its array of museums and cultural institutions. But the park also offers views of the Verrazano Narrows and the Upper Bay, with Long Island beyond. On the periphery of the park is the Dakota Building, a skyscraper now owned by the National Park Service. This famous landmark is best known as the site of the conspiracy meeting of eight of the world's most powerful intelligence agencies in 1950 to spy on the Soviets. However, the observation deck is open to the public on a limited basis, offering great views of the city and harbor. Also in Battery Park is the New York Harbor School, an institution that runs an early-childhood education center where children ages two and three have the chance to play, explore, and experiment in a vast, bright, indoor environment. Visitors can visit the facility in their child's school uniform, which doubles as their class for the day.

Radio City Music Hall

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Radio City Music Hall: en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1932, the largest acoustically perfect theater in the world is famous for its annual concerts and music. The Hollywood Bowl is the smaller of the two buildings. One can choose between the intimate 1,100-person Bowl, or the mega-giant 2,000-seat Bowl. The US Supreme Court also holds events there, and the World Series and many conventions are held there, too. Visit the fabulous movie museum to learn about this great theater and everything else about the great musical theater town that is New York.

New York Botanical Garden

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New York Botanical Garden: en.wikipedia.org

A former women's college founded in the late 19th century, New York Botanical Garden is a world-famous research center and a large public garden that offers classes and opportunities for all ages. The Garden is known for the best collection of American plant species in the world, and provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of horticulture in the United States. Visitors can also enjoy learning about the horticultural heritage of the country from natural history experts, experiencing nature through one of the Garden's many activities, and watching seasonal garden exhibitions throughout the year.

Coney Island

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Coney Island: en.wikipedia.org

Coney Island is an infamous amusement area in the United States, located on the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Originally an amusement area, the establishment has since turned into a hipster and locals haven as it has evolved into a street art zone. Coney Island's most famous sight is the Cyclone, the largest wooden rollercoaster in the world, built in 1911. You can also visit Luna Park and Wonder Wheel, two other amusement parks, or go to Coney Island beaches, which are popular among locals, and I.N.S.T.A., which stands for International Northside Summer Training Association. There are many events throughout the year, including the New York International Fringe Festival, Coney Island Arts Festival, Coney Island Cyclones Baseball and more. If you would like to see more sights, visit a boat and ride the Coney Island and Seaside (both open from Memorial Day to Labor Day) or take the train to Luna Park (part of the famous Six Mile Island train ride).

Museum of Modern Art

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Museum of Modern Art: en.wikipedia.org

The best art museums in the world are found in the US. Most of them include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The MoMA in New York is probably the most famous of all art museums, while the Smithsonian in Washington DC is home to thousands of artifacts, including an Olympic medal and a football from Super Bowl XXVI. The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses the world's finest collection of 19th and 20th-century art.

Washington Square Park

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Washington Square Park: en.wikipedia.org

Washington Square Park, located in the lower west side of Manhattan's Washington Square West district, is a historic oasis. The winding path was built in 1848 with the hope of attracting immigrants. Each summer, the public is invited to perform 'opera-in-the-park' concerts during the reopening of the park. A wide variety of artistic events, plays, and musical performances take place at the park.