Looking for the best things to add to your New York City bucket list? This comprehensive guide covers al the NYC quintessential must do items in the city!
New York City is one of the most popular places to visit in the USA and a top bucket list destination in the world. The city is iconic for its museums, food and culture and you will never be bored.
One of the best and easiest ways to see the city is on a Hop On Hop Off Tour. You get an overview of the city and decide which places you want to explore more. Plus you don’t have to fickle with the subway system or taxis.
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New York City Bucket List
1. Stroll the High Line
This 1.5-mile trail situated on an old railroad track is the perfect place to go for a walk. The views are incredible, the history is fascinating, and it’s free to go. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
2. Relax in Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is essential on any New York City bucket list. This 10-acre park located in Lower Manhattan is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
3. Snap a photo at Times Square
While it’s one of the most touristy attractions in New York City, this is one landmark you won’t want to miss. Surrounded by bright billboards and tons of shops, Times Square is bound to leave you breathless. Visit at night for an even more unforgettable experience.
4. Explore Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is the best place to go shopping in Chelsea! There are tons of stores, restaurants, and more. No matter what you need, Chelsea Market has it.
5. Watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve
If you can manage to make it to the city for New Year’s Eve, you have to add watching the ball drop to your New York City bucket list. It’s been a city occasion since 1907! Even though you have to get there really early to snag a spot, it’s totally worth it.
6. Take in the view from the Top of the Rock
For one of the best views in the city, purchase tickets to go to the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center. It was built in 1933 and will truly take your breath away.
Pro tip: it gets busy and entry is timed. You should book your ticket in advance, especially if you are trying to visit during sunset or early in the day before the crowds.
7. Be a photographer in Dumbo
One of the top photographed places in New York City is Dumbo, located in Brooklyn. Explore the area and see what Instagram-worthy photos you can get!
8. Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum was built in 2006 to commemorate those who were lost during the attacks on September 11, 2002. While it’s a heavy experience, it’s worth visiting.
It can get very busy, it is suggested to book your ticket in advance to guarantee entry since it is timed.
9. See the city skyline from Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1869 and is an iconic cable bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan. From the bridge, you can get one of the prettiest skyline views of NYC!
10. Walk around Grand Central Station
Grand Central Terminal is the main train station in New York City and one of the top transportation hubs. It opened in 1913, and the architecture inside is breathtaking.
11. Peruse art at the Guggenheim Museum
A top museum in New York City is the Guggenheim Museum, an art museum that is most frequently visited for being an architectural marvel created by Frank Lloyd Wright.
12. Visit Ellis Island
Ellis Island is a must-do on any New York City bucket list. This is where the millions of immigrants arriving in New York had to go through when moving to America. You may even be able to find some information on your ancestors here.
13. See the flowers at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
There’s no place more peaceful than the Brooklyn Botanic Garden located near Prospect Park. It covers 52 acres and has more than 10,000 types of plants. This is truly an underrated attraction in New York City.
14. Relax in Battery Park
Located in Lower Manhattan, Battery Park is one of the prettiest green spaces in the city. It has excellent views of New York Harbor and opened in the early nineteenth century.
15. Eat a slice of pizza at Joe’s Pizza
No trip to New York City is complete without trying a local delicacy: pizza. Stop by Joe’s Pizza, one of the top-rated pizza restaurants in the city that’s been a staple for more than thirty years. Other great pizza shops include Lucali, Razza, Di Fara Pizza, and Totonno Pizzeria Napolitana.
16. Shop on 5th Avenue
Fifth Avenue is a 6-mile street known for its excellent shopping. Many luxury and designer stores are located here, but even window shopping on 5th Avenue is fun.
17. Attend Shakespeare in the Park
Shakespeare in the Park has been happening in the city since the 1950s. What better way to witness a Shakespeare play than by seeing it in a park doubling as an open-air theater?
18. See iconic artwork at the Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA, is a well-known art museum in Midtown Manhattan. It features thousands of pieces and is free to visit on Friday evenings.
19. Climb the Vessel’s staircases
A recent addition to New York City, the Vessel is a unique architectural feat filled with staircases and shaped like half an egg. It’s the perfect spot for a photo. If you don’t like heights, this might not be the best attraction for you!
20. Step back in time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most historical attractions in all of New York City. This Gothic church opened in 1878 and is free to visit!
21. Take a photo at the Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace is a beautiful landmark in New York City that features a breathtaking fountain. It opened in the nineteenth century and is a popular spot for proposals!
22. Attend NYC Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
Visiting NYC in the winter is magical in itself, but it’s even more remarkable when you see the NYC Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes! Please buy tickets in advance. Be sure to purchase tickets well in advance.
23. Picnic in Central Park
Central Park is a huge green space located in the city, and it’s the most well-known. It’s filled with tons of areas to relax and explore, and even to have a picnic.
After your picnic, consider a horse carriage ride through the park. This is a quintessential to do while visiting New York.
24. Learn at the American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is filled with tons of historical exhibits and artifacts. It’s arguably one of the best museums in the city, and children love it!
25. Visit Strawberry Fields
Located inside of Central Park is Strawberry Fields. If you’re a Beatles fan, you may already get the reference, but this is a landmark dedicated to John Lennon’s memory, a member of the band.
26. Buy a book from The Strand
The Strand Book Store is the best place to go if you’re a bibliophile. They say that they have 18 miles of books, and visiting is a true experience!
27. Visit Trinity Church
This nineteenth-century Gothic church is truly mesmerizing on the inside and outside. Be sure to go inside because it’s free, and the stained glass windows are beautiful.
28. Go on a Gossip Girl tour
Gossip Girl was famously filmed in New York City, and if you’re a fan of the show, you should go on a self-guided walking tour of the city to see the filming locations.
29. Peruse the New York Public Library
Even if you aren’t a reader, you’ll want to visit the New York Public Library. It opened in 1895 and is filled with millions of books, and the building itself is architecturally beautiful.
30. Ice skate in Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is an area in New York City located near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s most well known for being where the massive tree in the city goes up every holiday season!
31. Walk around Bryant Park
Bryant Park is another green space in New York City. While it’s nowhere near as big as Central Park, it’s still beautiful and has excellent views all around.
32. Visit the iconic Flatiron Building
This triangular building near Madison Square Park is one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It’s a true landmark that should be seen by anyone who visits!
33. Experience the view from the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is easily the top place on this New York City bucket list that you should visit if you have minimal time. At the top is an observatory with the most epic views.
This is a popular attraction. You can easily get skip the line tickets so your day doesn’t fill up with waiting around to get in.
34. Have fun at Coney Island
Home to fun amusements, Coney Island, is a welcome reprieve from New York City! Whether you’re traveling with kids and want to entertain them or you want to go on rides yourself, Coney Island is the perfect place to visit during the summer.
35. Visit the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a historic landmark and sculpture gifted to the USA by a French sculptor. It’s situated on its own island and can be visited by taking the ferry.
Consider taking a tour that also includes Ellis Island.
36. Attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a great festival to attend if you’re visiting in autumn! The whole city comes together to celebrate the holiday with iconic floats.
37. Ride the Central Park carousel
The Central Park Carousel is located inside none other than Central Park and is considered a staple in the city! No matter your age, it’s fun to go on the carousel.
38. Shop at the Brooklyn Flea
This Sunday flea market is the perfect way to support locals in the New York City community. Plus, you might even be able to find a unique souvenir to bring home and remember your trip!
39. Visit the Oculus
The Oculus is inside the World Trade Center and serves as a hub for transportation. The architecture is incredible, so even if you don’t have to go somewhere, at least see the architecture!
40. Eat a bagel from a local bagel shop
New York City is known for its fantastic bagel food culture. There are tons of shops throughout the city where you can order one, including Ess-a-Bagel, Absolute Bagels, and Best Bagel & Coffee.
41. Attend a Broadway show
Whether you enjoy theatrical performances or not, Broadway is top-notch. From Hamilton to Dear Evan Hansen, Broadway performances are constantly making headlines. See a show on Broadway so you can see what it’s all about!
42. Try a pastrami sandwich at Katz
Pastrami sandwiches are a staple here, and no New York City bucket list is complete without adding this. The best spot to try a pastrami sandwich is Katz, but you can get them at many different places.
43. Explore Chinatown
A great way to spend the afternoon is exploring Chinatown. Take the time to test some of the food at the restaurants and go shopping; this is a great experience.
44. Go kayaking on the Hudson River
Will you be visiting New York City during the warmer seasons? Consider going kayaking on the Hudson River! The views are epic, and it’s a great way to be active in the city.
45. Look for street art in Brooklyn
If you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for a photo. Throughout Brooklyn, you can find tons of great street art by local artists. If you do a quick online search, you can also find a map of some of the best street art.
46. Visit galleries in Chelsea
Chelsea is a borough known for its marvelous art galleries. Some of the popular ones to visit include Matthew Marks Gallery, Luhring Augustine Gallery, and the 303 Gallery.
47. Catch a game at Yankee Stadium
Even if you aren’t a fan of sports, there’s no better way to get introduced to the city’s culture than by attending a Yankees baseball game. Just make sure you don’t show up in Red Sox apparel!
48. Explore Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is located between Queens and Manhattan. Historically, it was home to an insane asylum, but today it’s known for its views of the city.
49. Attend a Madison Square Garden concert
The main stadium for shows in New York City is Madison Square Garden! They have tons of performances throughout the year, so attend one if your favorite band or artist performs. Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time because they can sell out quickly.
50. Listen to jazz in Harlem
Jazz has a deep-rooted history in Harlem, and when visiting New York City, you have to visit a jazz club to listen to music. You can learn more at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem!
51. Take flight over the city
Get off the ground and take a helicopter flight over New York City! This experience of the city is entirely different than anything else and you can truly see the city at its best.
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