A city so big and active offers things to do for any taste, whether you like arts, theater, history, food, sightseeing, shopping or nightlife, it won’t be enough with one visit to enjoy New York at its fullest and you’ll be drawn to come back to complete your bucket list. We recommend a set of must-see landmarks, many of them free, but all of the five boroughs have interesting museums, huge parks and lots of restaurants for you to feel the complete experience of the Big Apple.
1. Statue of Liberty and Staten Island Ferry
Considerably the most iconic landmark of New York City, the Statue of Liberty was a gift given to the United States in 1886 from France to remind their friendship. Recognized as a symbol of freedom, it’s one of the world’s largest statues with 152 feet from the base to the torch and it used to welcome the immigrants that went through Ellis Island to enter the country. You can get good views from the southern part of Manhattan or you can take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which takes an hour to cross from lower Manhattan to St. George. Although, it’s even greater if you go to Liberty Island and climb up to the crown. Purchase this ticket in advance because they only let a few have access to such panoramic view.
2. Central Park
The getaway for every New Yorker tired of the city hustle and an attraction for many tourists, the first landscaped public park consists of 843 acres filled with trees, lakes, sculptures and green spaces for leisure. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, it is now a famous place to do sports, sunbath, have a picnic and also an important spot to watch migratory birds. Enjoy the great views of the skyscrapers from this haven of rest, you won’t get tired of coming over and over again.
3. Empire State Building
The most famous building in NYC and the highest upon completion in 1931, holds two observation decks from its 86th and 102nd floors. Pay a visit to this marvelous attraction and contemplate the architecture and the Art Deco design of the restored lobby. The 86th floor observatory is the highest open-air deck, where you can have an exciting view of the city and the 102nd floor deck at the top of the building gives you a better perspective of the skyline, getting as far as neighboring states, however it is an enclosed area. Buy tickets in advance to avoid long waiting times.
You can’t leave New York City without attending a show in Broadway. Here you can find the classics as well as the latest shows. It is located in Times Square and encloses a whole Theater District with 40 venues, where celebrities like Ricky Martin, Robert Redford, James Dean, Maggie Smith, Woody Allen, Daniel Radcliffe, Marlon Brando, David Copperfield, Antonio Banderas and Barbara Streisand have taken part in mega-musicals, operas and plays. Be sure to book tickets for popular shows and enjoy the huge billboard and screens of Times Square.
5. Rockefeller Center and top of the Rock Observation Deck
This entertainment and shopping complex is home to NBC and stands out for its observation deck on top of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza, an awesome skyscraper with art deco design and 70 floors. It offers spectacular indoor and outdoor views of the landscape and it is the preferred place for people to observe the concrete jungle. If you happen to visit NYC on winter, don’t forget to skate in the famous outdoor rink in front of the Prometheus sculpture and a big Christmas tree. You can also reserve tickets to see Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon or Late Night with Seth Meyers and get the opportunity to meet celebrities and even attend a live music show. On the other hand, Radio City Music Hall hosts concerts, shows and performances.
6. The High Line
A rail line abandoned in 1980 transformed into a popular attraction thirty years later, where people can take a walk above the busy streets of NYC and enjoy a natural atmosphere in the middle of the city. It offers amazing views, seating areas, art installations and a retreat from traffic jams. Located between Gansevoort Street and West 34th Street, this linear park has various points of access and covers some interesting spots like the Whitney Museum of American Art and Chelsea Market.
7. Grand Central Terminal
Opened in 1913 as a station for the train and the subway, this transit hub became rapidly a landmark because of its stunning decoration in Beaux-Arts style and the various shops and restaurants inside. Amaze yourself with the constellation adorned ceiling, the main information booth opal clock, the Campbell Apartment, the Whispering Gallery in front of the Oyster Bar and the Grand Staircase. Besides, you can admire art and statuary above the 42nd Street entrance.
8. Brooklyn Bridge
A masterpiece in architecture and engineering, it was longest suspension bridge in the world by the time it was completed and the first to use steel wire cables. Built between 1870 and 1883 by designer John Augustus Roebling, this Gothic style bridge crosses the East River and connects Brooklyn Heights with Lower Manhattan, offering astonishing views of the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. It has a viewing platform to see one of the granite towers and a walkway where pedestrians and cyclists make their way through the crowds.
9. Fifth Avenue
The most famous shopping street and one of the most expensive in America. You can find stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple Store, Versace, Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany, FAO Schwarz, Louis Vuitton and many more. Enjoy the best shopping experience between 39th and 60th Street.
10. One World Observatory
The observation deck at the One World Trade Center occupies floors 100 through 102, with outstanding 360-degree views of the skyline. While you reach the top of this glass building, the elevator Skypod shows the transformation of NYC from its starts in huge LED screens in less than one minute, a short time considering you’re rising 1,776 feet. It is worth a visit to this newly constructed skyscraper, the highest in New York, not only for the amazing sights but also because it was erected where once were seen the Twin Towers.