30 Fun Things to do in NYC
Updated: Apr 13
How to See the Best of New York City and Have a Blast Doing It
The Big Apple. The great New York City, NYC. If you haven’t already been, this is your sign to go now. Seriously, go look at flights right now. This city has something for everyone. You can’t visit NYC and not find something you absolutely love about it.
There is an endless list of fun things to do in New York City. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to actually do. So we’ve curated a list of unique and fun things to do in NYC that will guarantee you to fall in love with this city.
If you’ve never visited the great city of NYC, there are several things every first-timer simply has to do; we’ll list those first! It’s hard to visit New York City and not enjoy it. This city is full of life and energy and food and activities and countless sights. Keep reading to learn about the most fun things to do in NYC.
If you want to visit several large attractions, look into buying the New York CityPass. This allows you access to several different popular places. If you want to try and see many things and save money, check it out! Now to dive into the fun stuff.
Exciting & Fun Things to do in NYC
1. Times Square
Did you even go to New York City if you didn’t stroll around Times Square? This iconic location is known for its vibrant, electronic billboards, shops, and restaurants galore, like Mia’s Bakery, street performers, and Broadway! This bustling block is well worth a visit so you can experience the full energy of this city.
2. Central Park
Located in, well, the center of Manhattan is Central Park. This 2.5-mile-long park houses beautiful nature and walking paths, playgrounds, and monuments. Make sure you visit the iconic Bethesda Terrace and Umpire Rock. You’ll also find the Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden, and Cherry Hill Fountain, otherwise known as the “Friends” intro song fountain.
Even if you’re not the biggest live theater fan, you must see at least one show on Broadway. No one does theater and musicals like Broadway does. And the best part, there are always many different shows to choose from. You have classics like “The Lion King” and “The Book of Mormon,” as well as those that show for a limited time, like “Some Like It Hot.” Find one that suits your taste!
4. Statue of Liberty
This is another must while visiting NYC. There are several different tickets available for the Statue of Liberty. You can get a general admission ticket, which includes a roundtrip ferry ride, but you can also purchase additional tickets to access the statue’s pedestal, crown, and more!
5. Liberty Bagels
You can’t visit New York City without getting some bagels to eat! Head to Liberty Bagels for incredible NYC bagels. They have a huge selection of breakfast sandwiches and more. If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try the Birthday Cake bagel; it’s a rainbow bagel with frosting and sprinkle cream cheese!
6. Chelsea Market
A classic Manhattan activity is spending an hour or two exploring Chelsea Market. This food hall and shopping market in one holds a fun array of stores and lots of incredible restaurant options. Wander through the stores leisurely and then stay and grab some lunch. We recommend Chote Miya or Takumi Tacos, but you really can’t go wrong here!
7. Flat Iron
Calling all architecture lovers! If you enjoy admiring beautiful buildings and architectural feats, then you definitely want to head to the Flatiron building. Located in the Flatiron district, the building itself is an NYC classic, and there is also tons of shopping and eating nearby. Check out Eataly if you’re an Italian food fan.
8. The Met
As one of the largest art museums in the world, The Met is an incredible place to visit. The works here span over 5,000 years of human history from all over the world. Learn more about visiting this famous art museum here.
9. High Line
Another New York City must-do is the High Line along the lower west coast of Manhattan. This elevated walkway is 1.45 miles long. It’s like walking through a park above the streets of NYC; there are so many pretty views of the surrounding city. I recommend visiting at sunset, just after, or for sunrise!
10. Joe’s Pizza
You’re in NYC, pizza is one hundred percent a must. Stop by Joe’s Pizza for a fresh and filling meal. There are several choices, and you can buy a slice or a whole pizza. I recommend trying the white pizza, it’s super cheesy and delicious.
11. Empire State Building
If you want a killer view of NYC from above, stop by the Empire State Building and buy tickets to go to the top. You have to buy tickets and make reservations in advance so make sure you plan this out. You can even visit during sunrise for a very fun, unique experience.
Hop on the subway in Brooklyn and head to Dumbo for some beautiful city views. This is a beloved photo spot, but for very good reason! Dumbo stands for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” and is a must-see in NYC. It is NYC’s photo frame, with the bridge perfectly between buildings. Plus there is shopping and dining all around you here.
13. Ghostbusters Building
Who you gonna call? If you're a Ghostbusters fan, or even if you’re not, head over to the Ghostbusters Headquarters located in lower Manhattan. It’s a fun photoshoot opportunity and it’s within walking distance of Soho, Little Italy, and the western Manhattan coastline.
Explore the bustling streets, shop in all the little stores, and eat delicious food in Chinatown. Make sure you also stop at a bakery and try some yummy sweets! Chinatown is so fun to walk around, and you can go from here to Little Italy very quickly. Head to Mott Street for the best shops and dining!
Where are my art lovers? My museum fans? Admire and learn about all kinds of modern art at the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. With thousands of pieces spread throughout 5 floors, this is a must-visit in NYC. Head to the fifth floor for classics such as Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Monet. They have permanent exhibits as well as rotating ones, so you can return for a new experience! Make sure you leave about 3 hours free to truly explore MoMA.
You can’t go to New York City without getting some cheesecake, and the best place to get it is at Junior’s. This New York restaurant started in Brooklyn and added a few locations throughout the city. It is a full-on restaurant with tons of yummy things to eat, but you have to at least try their cheesecake. We highly recommend the carrot cake cheesecake! Stop by Junior’s on 45th before or after a Broadway show!
17. Pebble Beach
Want to get pretty pictures of Manhattan? Head to Pebble Beach in Brooklyn and you’ll have a great view of Manhattan from across the bay! This is close to Dumbo, so visit the two on the same day for a great little jaunt around the area. If the weather is nice, you won’t want to go inside, this is such a pretty area with great city views!
18. Little Italy
Another must-visit neighborhood is Little Italy. It feels like you’ve been transported to the streets of Florence when you’re walking around Little Italy. Grab an authentic Italian meal here, or stop for a cappuccino while you relax from exploring.
19. Ground Zero
A beautiful and moving monument, Ground Zero is a memorial for the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. There are two huge “pools” where the two towers once stood. This is free to walk around; you can read the names of victims on the rim of the pools. There are often roses placed in names. There is also a museum which requires tickets.
An immersive art experience, Artechouse is located right next to Chelsea Market. The focus is on connecting art, science, and technology in one incredible display. The exhibit changes frequently and will take about 30 minutes to one hour. Stop by while you’re exploring Chelsea Market; the entrance door to Artechouse is on 15th St. outside of the market.
21. Magnolia Bakery
Known for its banana pudding and cupcakes, you have to stop at a Magnolia Bakery for a sweet treat! This NYC chain is much loved and offers an array of sweets. I recommend grabbing a vanilla cupcake and a magic cookie bar. Stop by the one on 6th avenue for a pick-me-up after wandering through MoMA; it’s only a couple of blocks away!
22. Little Island
A super fun place to get a view of New Jersey across the bay and a tiny Statue of Liberty in the distance is Little Island. This pier-type structure is made up of tiny “little islands,” and there are interactive parts to have fun with too. Make music by jumping on squares, hula hoop if the weather is nice, or climb to the highest viewpoint for a picturesque bay.
23. TimeOut Market
Where are my fellow foodies at? If you’re like us and enjoy trying all different kinds of food, another must-visit food hall is TimeOut Market. Located within walking distance of Dumbo, is the perfect place to grab some lunch after a morning of exploring. There are so many delicious options in this indoor dining hall; from ramen to Indian to vegan, there is something for everyone!
24. Oculus Center
When in New York, shopping is a must. There is a store for absolutely everything in this city, and one of the best malls is the Oculus Center. It is located right next to Ground Zero and is nearly impossible to miss. It is the “whale tail” shaped building. The architecture is very unique, inside and out. There are tons of shops and dining options, as well as a huge train station inside.
25. The Morgan Library & Museum
This is another great option for you museum lovers. Tour the historic Morgan Library and admire the current art exhibits. These rotate out every few months or so. Once the personal library of Pierpont Morgan, this museum holds so much interesting history and charm.
26. Bronx Zoo
Looking for a family-friendly option? The Bronx Zoo is the perfect option! Sitting at over 250 acres with 10,000 animals, this is a great place to explore for any age. It is the largest metropolitan zoo in the US and will take 4 to 5 hours to see all of it. Or make your own path through the zoo to check out your favorite animals at your own pace.
27. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Are you visiting NYC in the spring or summer? Head to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a flower-filled day of exploring. There are over 10,000 plant species here, and it takes about 2 to 3 hours to see the entire garden. Tickets currently cost $18 for adults, but they do have free admission on weekdays from December through February. Just keep in mind fewer plants will be blooming.
28. Grand Central Terminal
Who knew a train station could be so pretty and popular? Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world and holds so much history and art, like the magnificent ceiling mural in the main concourse. This free sight is fun to visit and doesn’t take very long to explore. There are also dining options inside. Check out the Whispering Gallery while you’re here!
29. Summit One Vanderbilt
A one-of-a-kind observation deck and museum in one, the Summit One Vanderbilt is the place to get one of the best views of New York City while immersed in a unique environment. This is located right next door to Grand Central Terminal; check the rules before you go as certain shoes are not allowed and pants are recommended due to lots of reflective floors.
30. Intrepid Sea, Space, & Air Museum
Included in the New York CityPass, the Intrepid Sea, Space, & Air Museum is full of history and science. Learn about space shuttles, submarines, and more. This is fun for all ages, and is even great for those with kiddos!
The list of fun things to do in NYC could go on for miles, this city is filled to the brim with views, activities, and restaurants. But these sights and activities are some of the best that NYC has to offer!
Make sure you eat your weight in food and try everything you can while you’re in New York City. If you have the time, take a few hours to just stroll around a neighborhood. There is so much to find, and it’s a fun way to see different parts of NYC.
New York City is a popular travel destination, but it is for a very good reason. The city is buzzing with life and waiting to be explored by you. Where will you be heading first when you arrive in NYC?