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45 Best things to see & do in New York City

  • New York City, New York, United States of America (USA)

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
  • New York, United States of America (USA)

A gift from the French to the Americans in 1886 to mark the centenary of American independence, ‘The Lady’ has become New York’s most iconic symbol. Standing 151ft high, 1 mile off Manhattan’s southern tip, she also became a symbol of freedom and opportunity to millions of arriving immigrants fleeing persecution or poverty elsewhere – and the embodiment of the American spirit.

Also on site is the fascinating former immigrant processing office at Ellis Island, now museum, that explains why the city invited mass migrations in the 19th century, how they were settled, and the impacts on life today.

Adult price: £22

Good for age: 4+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Shows on Broadway

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Shows on Broadway

As one of the globe’s two most prestigious cities for theatre (alongside London’s West End), hosting a wide variety of drama and musicals – many world-class – iconic Broadway needs no introduction.

Taking in a Broadway show is therefore a New York City must, even for those not big on performing arts; with famous names and the highest quality performers, it really doesn’t get much better.

Adult price: £35

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2+ hours

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Exterior and front entrance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of the largest art museums in the world, this treasure house hoards more than two million artworks, artefacts and decorative arts spanning thousands of years of human civilisation.

It’s focus is historical and classical art – Ancient Egyptian, Islamic, Asian, Oceanic, Greek and Roman amongst others – as well as a fine collection of contemporary art that includes Picasso, Matisse, Miro, and Balthus.

The collections, all beautifully displayed, are so vast you would need a week to see them all.

Adult price: £20

Good for age: 8+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

Since its founding in 1929, MoMa – as it is affectionately known – has dedicated itself to being the foremost museum for contemporary art, namely late 19th- and 20th-century art.

The collection is presented chronologically, taking you on an artistic journey through Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Abstract Impressionism, and Pop Art, with more than a few masterpieces along the way. There are also galleries for photographers, drawings, film and even a sculpture garden.

It’s great for families too, with special kids audio guides on the website to the masterpieces and highlights.

Adult price: £22

Good for age: 13+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Waves of immigration and economic growth, particularly after the mid-19th century, saw different ethnic groups sticking together and industries forming discrete clusters, packed into the tiny island of Manhattan.

The result was a vivid jigsaw of villages or ‘neighbourhoods’, densely packed together but contrasting sharply within short distances. Some remain original, others have evolved, but all retain fascinating architectural and cultural distinctions.

Good for age: 18+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

World-class art in New York

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World-class art in New York

The staggering wealth and cultural aspirations of New York’s industrial magnates helped lure some of world’s finest art here throughout the 20th century, making New York a global art powerhouse (rivalled only by London). Masterpieces proliferate, but the modern and contemporary art collections are equally staggering.

Even if you have little interest in Art per se, this is the place to taste it. Museums are admirably inclusive, being accessible and offering special programmes for kids.

Good for age: 18+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Housing the world’s largest collection of fossils, including two famed halls of dinosaur skeletons and one million specimens, the American Museum of Natural History is a world-class attraction and a must-see for anyone remotely interested in nature.

The location ain’t bad either – on the edge of Central Park in trendy Upper West Side – and the building is an architectural stunner, worth stopping by to see in its own right.

Adult price: £17

Good for age: 4+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but those who wish to visit the World Trade Centre memorial at Ground Zero will find an elegant tribute to the thousands who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001 and those who died in the WTC bombing in 1993. Victims’ names are carved onto ledges around the infinity pools that mark the places where the ‘Twin Towers’ stood. It’s poignant and incredibly moving.

There’s also an on-site museum that tells the story of the tragic events of that day through exhibits, media, artefacts and the harrowing personal narratives of victims and their families.

Good for age: 8+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

Fifty blocks long and the width of four avenues, this world-famous park is an essential green oasis amidst the intimidating concrete jungle. Tourists take the obligatory stroll (or a horse-drawn carriage) and miss what makes this park an institution.

Hidden within are secrets, curios, and nostalgic delights; from the John Lennon tribute, small museums and the carousel, to ice-skating rinks and a boating lake. There’s even a little zoo near East 64th Street.

It’s great to cycle around – many do, of all ages. You can hire bikes in the park.

Good for age: 4+

  • New York, United States of America (USA)

New York’s best food & drink

Bucket List Experience

New York’s best food & drink

There’s a restaurant for every cuisine in ‘the crossroads of the world’. The biggest influences are Italian-American and Jewish; so, terrific pizza everywhere and unforgettable smoked-salmon bagels at the ‘deli’. Steaks and high-end burgers also abound and cocktails are a must.

Good for age: 18+

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