30 Best Things to Do in Manhattan, NY

30 Best Things to Do in Manhattan, NY

See also: Where to Stay in Manhattan

When foreigners think of New York City, most of them usually conjure up images of Manhattan.

With a treasure trove of attractions, Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City.

It boasts a unique character and somewhat makes the crux of the New York metropolitan area.

Over the years, the city has served as one of the world's most powerful commercial, financial, and cultural centers.

Manhattan is second to none with its delightful blocks, jazzy shops, historical museums, delectable restaurants, and cafes.

While you are here, you will most likely be dashed off your feet, exploring all the different areas dotted across the neighborhood.

To help you make the best out of your visit, here's a list of the best things to do in Manhattan, New York:

Get a Bird’s-Eye View of the City from Top of the Rock

Top of The Rock
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Perched atop the famous Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock is a classic Manhattan attraction.

This viewpoint boasts rousing air and extensive views of New York's famous attractions, including Central Park and the Empire State Building.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Manhattan sunset, make sure to book your ticket early, as they tend to sell out really quickly.

Feel on Top of the World at the Vessel

The Vessel
Francois Roux / Shutterstock.com

The Vessel is a punctuating art installation in Hudson Yard.

With its spiral staircase, this state-of-the-art landmark highpoints interactive artworks conceptualized by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio.

Needless to say, this focal point where people come to take in varied perspectives of the city from diverse viewpoints is a sight to behold.

The structure has over 154 intricate and interlocking flights of stairs that span over 80 landings.

If you’re up to the challenge of climbing 2,500 individual steps, you can enjoy incredible views of the city and beyond.

Although the entry to this art installation is completely free of cost, it is advisable to call in early and book a timeslot before you visit.

Visit the Morgan Library & Museum

Morgan Library
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Grandiose in its appearance yet warm in scale, the Morgan Library & Museum stands a stone’s throw away from the Empire State Building.

Commonly hailed as a mini Madison Avenue Campus, it was previously the much cherished private library of famed multimillionaire and financier Pierpont Morgan.

After his death, it was opened to the public as per his will.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, you will absolutely adore this spot.

Thanks to substantial gifts and purchases throughout the years, the library has further expanded in manifold ways without losing its distinctly domestic feeling.

Now, the library bears vital materials in addition to music manuscripts and other rare materials from the 20th century.

With about 20 different spaces comprising massive galleries, expansive libraries, and a performance hall, you will certainly enjoy your visit to the Morgan Library & Museum.

If you are planning to visit, there is a relatively small entrance fee, and it will take you around an hour to have a complete look around the building.

Stand in Awe and Admire the Views of Times Square

Times Square
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Almost everyone has their eyes set on the dazzling glamour, lights, and full-of-life oomph of the small stretch of land that spans from Broadway to Seventh Avenue: Times Square.

Eagerness and celebration run high at this emblematic center of New York.

Over the years, Times Square has been able to transcend its label as a mere tourist attraction to a global sentiment.

With its many flashing and bold neon lights and massive billboards, it is not only a crucial commercial juncture but a true likeness of everything big, bright, and unforgettable.

Aerial view of Times Square
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With costumed actors and gifted musicians walking around the plaza, you will find yourself awed by everything there.

If you get to Time Square's main junction, you will find yourself in discount booths, theaters, and pedestrian-only zones.

A word of caution, though: make sure to walk fast to avoid getting trampled by crowds.

Buildings along Times Square
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Visit the World-Famous Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station
Paper Cat / shutterstock.com

There would not be a more iconic and enduring symbol of exquisiteness and legacy than Grand Central Terminal.

One look at it, and you will be marveled at its gorgeous engineering and architecture.

This cathedral-like meeting place of thousands of commuters is often hailed as the unofficial temple of visitors.

Every day, thousands of people rendezvous at this spot and "meet under the clock."

Established and opened to the public in February 1913, this historic, world-renowned landmark transcends the label of a mere transportation hub.

It stands in Midtown Manhattan and is a one-stop shopping, dining, and cultural destination.

Street scene at Chelsea
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Chelsea in Downtown Manhattan is a special place because it is the birthplace of the arts in New York City.

The Chelsea Gallery District is home to more than 200 art galleries, and more than 1,000 artists call Chelsea home.

Exterior of the Chelsea Market
Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For decades, the area has also become a center for LGBTQ culture and activism.

Chelsea in Downtown Manhattan is one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in New York City.

It is home to high-end fashion boutiques and some of the best restaurants in the city.

Exterior of Chelsea art museum
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Breathe in Fresh Air at Battery Park

Battery Park
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This massive public park is for anyone and everyone who wants to take in the beautiful views of tourist attractions such as the Statue of Liberty.

Battery Park offers convenient access to absolutely breathtaking views of southern Manhattan.

The 25-acre park has great meadows for a convenient and comfortable stroll.

While you are here, look out for the stone monument that commemorates the Dutch colonization of New Amsterdam: the Netherland Memorial, a gift from the Dutch Government to New York.

There are several other monuments that are worthy of your attention, including the Giovanni da Verrazano Monument and the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial.

From this point, you can easily get to the Staten Island Ferry and other ferries to enjoy more tourist activities in Manhattan.

Watch a Knicks Game at Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden
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Madison Square Garden is a well-designed, multi-functional ground in the very spirit and heart of the city.

Opened to the public in 1968, the arena is the oldest sports facility in the NYC metropolis and is one of the most expensive stadium venues ever built.

Aerial view of Madison Square Garden
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This indoor arena is situated in Midtown Manhattan and is used for professional sports such as basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, and other sports and entertainment shows.

It is famously home to the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks.

Occasionally, Madison Square Garden also becomes a venue for many beautiful concerts.

Revisit History at the American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
nyker / Shutterstock.com

Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has fast become one of the leading museums in the world.

The distinguished museum contains exhibits that celebrate biodiversity, human origin, and the environment.

With 45 permanent exhibition halls and many other galleries for temporary exhibitions as well as memorials, you will want to linger here for a long time.

Look Back and Reflect at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

9/11 Memorial Site
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The 9/11 Memorial & Museum was erected to pay homage to the lives lost in the tragedy of the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.

It stands in all its magnitude to remember and honor the victims and survivors.

This principal institution is an extensive complex that has reflecting pools in place of the building that was lost.

Take a Stroll around Central Park

Central Park
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An iconic part of the borough, Central Park is perched in midtown Manhattan.

It is often referred to as the lungs of NYC.

It attracts thousands of visitors and is the most visited urban park in the United States.

People at Central Park's open space
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com ​

You cannot go wrong with a visit here as there is always something going on during any season.

You can visit the world-renowned American Museum of Natural History or take a stroll around Belvedere Castle.

In the winter, you can go ice skating, while you can go boating in the lake in the summer.

Pathway lined with trees at Central Park
Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com ​

While you are here, you can also indulge in sunbathing, bicycling, horse-carriage rides, or even have your portrait drawn.

Another exciting slice of Central Park definitely has to be its set of amusement rides, such as the Wollman Rink and Central Park Carousel.

If you are in luck, you can also witness special concerts by talented artists.

See New York City from the Top of the Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Mihai Simonia / Shutterstock.com

The Empire State Building is perhaps one of New York City's attractions that need not be furnished with introductions.

Standing at a staggering height of 102 stories, it is considered one of the most representative art deco skyscrapers in the world and is pretty hard to miss.

The top half of Empire State Building
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Head to the top of the building and take in some of the most impressive views of the city.

Since the line of visitors waiting to be shuttled to the top tends to be longer during the weekends, plan your trip on a weekday if you can.

Binoculars on top of the Empire State Building
MNStudio / Shutterstock.com

Shop till You Drop at 5th Avenue

5th Avenue
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Home to runway copycats, bargain hunters, countless upmarket designer shops, and department stores, this well-appointed stretch of retail along 5th Avenue is a true hotspot that has steadily enticed fashion mavens.

Hailed as one of the best places to window shop, 5th Avenue is perhaps the focal artery of New York City's commercial scene.

Buyers flock to this slice of Midtown to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, Victoria's Secret, and H&M.

You can also find many multinational retailers like Zara and Uniqlo.

For a more luxurious choice, you have Bergdorf Goodman and myriad others.

Most high-end brands have ornately decorated window displays that beautifully light up in the dark.

That sight itself draws hundreds of visitors to the couture runway on this fashionable avenue.

Have a Picnic at the South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

This designated historic district used to be a trading port for the city.

In order to preserve the historical significance of the region, the South Street Seaport has gone through extensive renovations and is still ongoing refurbishments to bolster its appeal further.

As of the present, you can visit the South Street Seaport to take in beautiful views of the Brooklyn Bridge while indulging in some fine dining and shopping choices.

Visit the Iconic Cultural Epicenter, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Colloquially called the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most visited museums in the world.

The largest art museum in the United States, its permanent collection includes classical antiquity and a wide-ranging assortment of art, architecture, and artifacts.

In addition, there are myriad contemporary paintings, sculptures, and an exhaustive collection of costumes, accessories, and musical instruments.

Offer Your Prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Jon Bilous / shutterstock.com

With an impressive and captivating display of architecture, you will definitely enjoy your time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

It has been deliberated as one of the country's most discernible symbols of the Catholic Church.

You can join a guided tour of the cathedral to better understand its rich history and dynamics.

Jam to the Beats at Broadway and 42nd Street

Broadway
Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

If you want to get lost in the electrifying musicals, there is no better place to be than on 42nd Street, particularly at the very essence of Broadway and Times Square.

You will find yourself hemmed by euphonious music at every corner.

Even though you haven’t booked any shows, don’t fret.

There is a good chance of finding discount tickets at TKTS booths.

Be wary of the fluctuating ticket sales; it’s always better if you can arrive early to get the best deals.

Greet Animals at Central Park Zoo

Central Park Zoo
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One of the oldest zoos in the country, Central Park Zoo opened in 1861.

It has set on a mission to feature some of the world’s most unique animals and endeavors to raise awareness of the plight of animals in the wild.

The zoo is open all year round and provides protection to a large number of animals, from snow leopards to grizzly bears.

Moreover, they have an amusing range of tropical birds as well.

If you’re visiting with kids, remember to visit the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which is sure to turn into a playful adventure for them.

Walk the High Line

High Line
Francois Roux / Shutterstock.com

Constructed on a lofty division of the old New York Central Railroad, this linear park is 1.45 miles long.

The charm of this attraction has certainly got to be its amazing transformation of otherwise fallow land into a stunning respite.

Although it tends to get crowded, it is definitely worth a visit for its naturalized plantings and breathtaking views of the city.

You can also take in the beautiful views of the Hudson River from here.

Feel Inspired at One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center Observatory
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Also known as Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center is the main building of the restructured World Trade Center complex.

It is also the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and stands at a height of 1,776 feet.

Although it is chiefly an office space, the construction of the novel structure is a measure to memorialize the annihilation of the original World Trade Center complex.

Spend a Day at Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center
DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock.com

This large complex consists of spread-out commercial buildings between 48th Street and 51st Street.

Among those, some of the art deco buildings have been commissioned by the Rockefeller family.

The best time to visit here is during winter.

You will have the most iconic views of the plaza, metamorphosing into a slithering rink.

There are many markets, a couple of shops, and cafes.

Check Out Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall
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Located within Rockefeller Center, this entertainment venue is fondly referred to as the "Showplace of the Nation."

It was opened to the public in 1932.

Over time, the venue morphed into a theater for movies, concerts, and live shows.

Stroll along the United Nations Headquarters

Exterior of United Nations Headquarters
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Completed in 1952, the United Nations Headquarters is an iconic building located in Downtown Manhattan.

The Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the building to house the United Nations.

The U.N. General Assembly convenes in the building's General Assembly Hall, which has a seating capacity of 1,800.

Sculpture of peace on the grounds of United Nations Headquarters
JJFarq / Shutterstock.com

The U.N. Headquarters is also home to the Secretariat, which is the executive branch of the United Nations.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations resides in the Secretariat Building.

Additionally, the U.N. Headquarters is the location of several other vital U.N. agencies.

General assembly hall in United Nations Headquarters
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

Explore Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Constructed in the 1890s, Chelsea Market is currently owned by none other than Alphabet, Inc., Google's parent company.

The market comprises shopping centers, office spaces, and production facilities.

Another trivia about the Chelsea Market is that it was where the first Oreo cookie was created and produced.

Remember the Past at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Exterior of Museum of Modern Art
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The Museum of Modern Art is world-renowned for its contemporary art collections and exhibitions.

The museum is in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

Colorful art exhibit in Museum of Modern Art
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

It was founded in 1929 and is home to over 200,000 works.

Over 3 million people visit the Museum of Modern Art every year.

It has been called "the most influential museum of modern art in the world."

Music exhibit in Museum of Modern Art
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Catch a Musical at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall
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If you want to witness performances by world-renowned orchestras, singers, and musicians, Carnegie Hall is where you should be.

Sitting through a concert here would be truly an enriching part of your experience in New York City.

Explore the Guggenheim Museum

Unique building of Guggenheim Museum
Tinnaporn Sathapornnanont / Shutterstock.com

The Guggenheim Museum is a world-renowned art museum on Manhattan's Upper East Side in New York City.

Philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim founded it in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting.

The museum's original collection comprised paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and other European avant-garde artists.

Interior of Guggenheim Museum
ItzaVU / Shutterstock.com

The Guggenheim Museum is famous for its striking architecture, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The building's distinctive spiral shape has become a symbol of modern architecture.

The museum is also famous for its extensive modern and contemporary art collection.

Side facade of Guggenheim Museum
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

Explore the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Exterior of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a world-renowned performing arts complex in the heart of Manhattan.

The 16-acre complex is home to some of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the Juilliard School.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' water fountain
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Lincoln Center is a must-visit for classical music, theater, dance, and opera fans.

The complex is also home to a variety of restaurants and shops.

It's a great place to spend an afternoon or evening in downtown Manhattan.

A sculpture on the grounds of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Andrea DiSavino / Shutterstock.com

Soak in the Chinese Culture in Chinatown

Chinatown
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

If you want to witness the Chinese culture up close, head over to Chinatown, a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.

This vibrant street has the oldest and the largest number of Chinese immigrants in the West.

This evocative neighborhood has a plethora of options when it comes to food.

Come here hungry, and you’ll be pleased by the many dim sum dens and noodle joints.

Spend the Day at SoHo

Buildings along SoHo
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SoHo, Downtown Manhattan, is a neighborhood that has a long and rich history.

Situated between Houston and Canal Streets and bounded by the Hudson and East Rivers, SoHo has become a center for art and culture since the early 1800s.

People eating at a deli at SoHo
eric laudonien / Shutterstock.com

The area was once the Cast Iron District, because of the many cast-iron buildings constructed there in the mid-19th century.

Today, SoHo is a popular tourist destination and a center for arts and culture.

Many of the area's buildings have become major New York City landmarks, and the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A cafe at SoHo
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Take a Walk Down Little Italy

People walking around Little Italy
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Little Italy in Downtown Manhattan is a neighborhood known for its Italian-American culture and cuisine.

Houston Street borders the neighborhood to the north, West Street to the west, the Brooklyn Bridge to the east, and Canal Street to the south.

Food vendors along the street of Little Italy
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

Little Italy was once a thriving ethnic enclave but has experienced a significant decline in recent years.

The area is now home to only a few hundred residents, most of whom are elderly.

However, the neighborhood remains popular with tourists, who enjoy its restaurants and cultural attractions.

Exterior of a cafe at Little Italy
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

Get the Hustle Mindset at the Financial District

Aerial view of Financial District buildings
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

The Financial District of Downtown Manhattan is also known as Wall Street.

It has become the center of American finance since the early 17th century.

The district gets its name from the 17th-century wall that Dutch settlers built to defend the town against English colonial attacks.

People walking along Financial District
Tpt / Shutterstock.com

Today, the Financial District is bounded by Broadway to the north, Chambers Street to the south, Trinity Place to the east, and Church Street to the west.

It is one of the most essential and iconic commercial districts in the world.

Exterior of the new york stock exchange at Financial District
Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock.com

Other Things to Do Nearby

Walk the Famous Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
TTstudio / shutterstock.com

Although the Brooklyn Bridge isn’t technically in Manhattan, you cannot simply afford to miss a stroll through the bridge.

Completed in 1883, the bridge stands over the East River.

Even if it’s your first time in NYC, a walk through this architecturally stunning bridge will satisfy you like no other.

With its gorgeous views of Manhattan and  Brooklyn, you cannot go wrong with a stop at this iconic attraction.

A walk across the bridge will take you somewhere between 40 to 50 minutes.

After your stroll, you can drop off at Dumbo in Williamsburg to take phenomenal photos of the city and have a delicious meal.

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent list of things to do in Manhattan.

Exploring this section of New York City is a moving and informative experience that everyone should have the chance to visit.