25 Best Things to Do in Manhattan

25 Best Things to Do in Manhattan

See also: Where to Stay in Manhattan

When foreigners think of New York City, something which a majority of them commits to memory is often always images of Manhattan.

With a treasure trove of attractions, Manhattan is one among the five boroughs in New York. It boasts a unique character and somewhat makes the crux of the New York metropolitan area. Over the years, the City has served to be one of the most powerful commercial, financial, and cultural centre of the world.

With its delightful blocks, jazzy shops, historic museums, delectable restaurants and cafes, Manhattan is second to none. While you are here, you will most likely be dashed off your feet exploring all the different area dotted across the neighbourhood.

To make things a lot easier for you and to make the best out of your stay, this guide enlists the top attractions to look out for while in Manhattan.

Have a Bird’s Eye View from The Top of The Rock

Top of The Rock
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Perched atop the Rockefeller Center, a visit to Top Of The Rock is a true classic.  With rousing air and extensive views of the Central Park, this viewpoint offers a spread-out experience of rich beauty and endless world-class recreation and attractions of New York including the famed Empire State building.

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

Feel on Top of The World at The Vessel

The Vessel
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A punctuating art installation in Hudson Yard is next on our list.  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 and heights in all its glory, 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 very well 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 Morgan Library

Morgan Library
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Grandiose in its appearance yet warm in scale, the Morgan Library 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.

Throughout the years, thanks to substantial gifts and purchases, the library has further expanded in manifold ways without losing on 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 of massive galleries, expansive libraries, and a performance hall, you will certainly enjoy your visit to the Morgan Library.

If you are planning to visit, there is a relatively small fee for entrance and will take you around an hour to have a complete stroll 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 the dazzling glamour, lights and full-of-life oomph of the small stretch of land that spans from Broadway to Seventh Avenue- the Times Square.

Eagerness and celebration run high at this emblematic centre 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.

The costumed actors and gifted musicians, you will find yourself awed by everything there. If you get to the main junction, you will find yourself in discount booths, theatres and even pedestrian-only-zones.

A word of caution though, make sure to walk fast lest there is every chance that you might get trampled by crowds.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station
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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 marvelled by its gorgeous engineering and architecture.

This cathedral-like meeting place of thousands of commuters is often hailed as the unofficial temple of visitors and thousands of people rendezvousing and “meeting at 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 destination for shopping, dining, and cultural destination.

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. It offers convenient access to absolutely breathtaking views of southern Manhattan.

This 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 Dutch Government to New York.

There are several other monuments that are worthy of your attention- Giovanni da Verrazano Monument, American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial etc. In addition, you can easily get to the Staten Island Ferry and other ferries for greater touristy activity in Manhattan

Explore Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden
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Madison Square Gardens is a well-designed, multi-functional ground in the very spirit and heart of the city. Opened for the public in 1968, the Garden is the oldest sports facility in NYC metropolis and is one of the most expensive stadium venues ever built.

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 New York Knicks. Occasionally, Madison Square Garden becomes the ground for many beautiful concerts.

Revisit History at American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History
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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 environment at large.

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

Look Back and Reflect at 9/11 Memorial Site

9/11 Memorial Site
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Erected to pay homage to the lives lost in the tragedy of 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. It stands in all its magnitude to remember and honour the victims and the survivors.

This principal institution is an extensive complex that has reflecting pools in place of the building that was lost. It is open from 7:30 am to 9 pm.

The Historic Staple of NYC Skyline- Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
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Although this 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 none other. With gorgeous views of Manhattan and larger views of Brooklyn, you cannot go wrong with this.

The walk will take you somewhere around 40-50 minutes. After your stroll, you can drop off to Dumbo in Williamsburg for an absolutely phenomenal shot of the city and grab some lunch as well.

Take a Stroll Around Central Park

Central Park
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Yet another iconic part of the borough, the Central Park is perched in midtown Manhattan. It is often referred to be the lungs of NYC but quite oddly is situated in the very hustle and bustle of the city.

It attracts thousands of visitors and is the most visited urban park in the United States.  You cannot go wrong with your visit here as there is always something going on during any season.

You can visit the world-renowned American Museum of Natural History or a stroll to  Belvedere Castle. In winters, you have ice skating and in summer, boating in the lake.

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 recreational/ amusement rides such as Wollman Rink and Central Park Carousel. If you are in luck, you can also witness special concerts by talented artists.

An Enduring Symbol of American Innovation-Empire State Building

Empire State Building
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Empire State Building is perhaps one of the few attractions that need not be furnished with introductions. It is considered as one of the most representative art deco skyscrapers of the world ad is pretty hard to miss.

With an impressive view across the city, if you fancy heading to the top of the building, it could turn out to be a great place to take in the city from above.  

Standing at a staggering height of 102 stories, the Empire State Building. If you’re planning to experience this like true New York royalty, you can drop in here anytime between 8 am – 2 am.

Since the line of visitors waiting to use to be shuttled to the top tend to be higher during the weekends, plan your trip on the weekdays if you can.

Empty Your Wallet at 5th Avenue

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

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

Buyers flock to this slice of Midtown for 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 of these high-end brands have ornately decorated window displays that beautifully light up in the dark. That sight itself draws hundreds of visitors to this couture runway on this fashionable street.

Have a Picnic to South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport
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This designated historic district was earlier a trading port for the city. In order to preserve the historic significance of the region, the seaport has gone through extensive renovation and is still ongoing to further bolster its appeal.  

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

The Iconic Cultural Epicentre- Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art
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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 US, it has a staggering collection of art in its permanent collection including classical antiquity and a wide-ranging assortment of art, architecture, and artefacts.

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

Offer Your Prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
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With an impressive and captivating display of architecture, you will definitely enjoy your time at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Deliberated as one of the most discernible symbols of the Catholic Church in the country, you can take guided tours to better understand the rich history and dynamics of the place.

Jam to The Beat at Broadway and 42nd Street

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If you want to get lost in the electrifying musicals, there is no better place to be in than in 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 tickets; 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 in the country, the Central Park Zoo opened in 1861 and has set on a mission to feature some of the world’s most unique animals and endeavours to raise awareness on the plight of animals in the wild.

The zoo is open all year long 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
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Constructed on a lofty division of old New York Central Railroad, this linear park is 1.45-mile-long. The charm of this attraction has certainly got to be its amazing transformation of an 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 Observatory

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.

Take a Day-Trip to The Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center
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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 as well.

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 Showplace of the Nation.

It was opened to the public as long as 1932. As of now, this venue has morphed into a theatre for movies, concerts and live shows.

Explore Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market
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Constructed in the 1890s, Chelsea Market is currently owned by none other than Alphabet-the parent company of Google. inc. The market comprises of shopping centres, office spaces as well as production facilities.

Another trivia about the Chelsea market is where the first Oreo cookie was created and produced.

Experience the Buzz of Musical at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall
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If you want to witness some of the world-renowned orchestras, singers and musicians, then 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.

Soak in The Chinese Culture at Chinatown

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If you want to witness the Chinese culture up-close, head over to Chinatown- a neighbourhood lodged into Lower Manhattan. This vibrant street has the oldest and the largest Chinese immigrants in the West.

This evocative neighbourhood has a plethora of options when it comes to food- you come here hungry and you’ll be pleased by the many dim sum dens and noodle joints.