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As the largest city of the United States of America, there is never a shortage of things to do in New York City. Both locals and tourists alike never get bored in the City that Never Sleeps. There are the typical tourist destinations that are known worldwide and have been photographed millions of times, and then there are the destinations that are a little off the beaten path that are sure to make your trip to the Big Apple unique.
This comprehensive list of NYC attractions not only gives you more information about the famed hot spots that are definite New York must-sees, but you’ll learn about some not-as-common fun and exciting things to do in New York City.
Why should you visit New York City?
If you like big cities and a fan of Sex in the City, Gossip Girl, Suits, and many other series, all of which are based in New York City, then you’ll certainly enjoy visiting some of the top spots in the city shown in these series! That said, who wouldn’t want to visit NYC at one point in their life? We think it is worth it and a must experience!
Even though the Big Apple is a massive city, it should scare you as there are tons of neighborhoods worth visiting for its vibes, arts, and culture that will never disappoint. Or simply just walk around and discover hidden places, eat at quirky restaurants, and explore its beautiful museums. The excursions are endless!
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Table of Contents
- 1 Practical information and New York City travel tips
- 2 Where to stay in New York City?
- 3 Experiences and top things to do in New York City
- 3.1 Times Square & Broadway
- 3.2 Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island & Ellis Island
- 3.3 Central Park
- 3.4 Empire State Building
- 3.5 Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, and the Met Breuer
- 3.6 American Museum of Natural History
- 3.7 Rockefeller Center
- 3.8 Museum of Modern Art
- 3.9 Bronx Zoo
- 3.10 Museum of Food & Drink
- 3.11 St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- 3.12 Chelsea Market
- 3.13 Tannen’s Magic Store
- 3.14 The Battery
- 3.15 MoMath – The Museum of Mathematics
- 3.16 Museum of the American Gangster
- 3.17 Grand Central Terminal & Campbell Apartment
- 3.18 Fraunces Tavern
- 3.19 Merchant’s House Museum
- 3.20 Hamilton Grange
- 3.21 New York Public Library
- 3.22 The Sisyphus Stones
- 4 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Practical information and New York City travel tips
When is the best time to visit New York City?
New York City get tons of visitors all year round! We don’t think there’s a bad time to visit the big apple as there’s always something happening all the time, and the prices remain the same regardless of what time of the year. However, Summer (June to August) is a good time of the year to visit as a lot of New Yorkers go away for the holidays or to escape the hot weather. Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to October) will be the most comfortable time of the year to visit because it won’t be so hot to wander around and Winter (November to February) is perhaps the deadliest and wettest time of the year but it still shouldn’t stop you from visiting this awesome city!
Do you need a visa for the U.S.A?
The U.S.A is perhaps one of the countries in the world that requires a visa from all nationalities. You can read this useful post if you’re wondering if you need a visa to enter the USA.
Where to book your flights to New York City?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you n an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in New York City?
New York City is known for its many beautiful luxury and boutique hotels, and here are some of our recommendations: The Langham, Tribeca Lofts, and The DominickHotel. These hotels start from €120 per night, and you’ll get amazing quality service and access to their luxurious facilities.
If you’re on a more budgeted side, we recommend you staying at hostels where you’ll be paying about €25 per night. Here are our recommendations: HI NYC Hostel, Blue Moon Boutique Hostel & Hotel, and Hostel, and Broadway Hotel & Hostel.
Experiences and top things to do in New York City
Times Square & Broadway
Widely regarded as one of the premier New York tourist attractions, Times Square is a dazzling display of lights and sound that hypnotizes tourists and locals alike. Nicknamed “The Crossroads of the World,” it’s no wonder that people flock to this testament to entertainment.
A lot of people don’t know that Times Square isn’t just the busy double-intersection and pedestrian walkway known from millions of selfies, and as the site of the New Years Eve Ball Drop, it is actually own neighborhood, a little strip of Manhattan laid between Broadway and 7th Avenue and spanning from 42nd to 47th Streets. In between these parameters lies about half of the Broadway theatres. Almost all of the remaining Broadway theatres are within just a couple of minutes walking distance, nestled in between 7th and 8th Avenues.
The neighborhood gets its name from the famed news outlet The New York Times. In 1904, the newspaper moved to the area, and the metro station built for the employees was named “Times Square,” and the name stuck. However, the beginnings of Broadway pre-date the origins of Times Square. The Olympia Theatre, founded by Oscar Hammerstein I, made its home on Broadway in 1895. Even though the Empire Theatre had already opened just down the road in 1893, the Olympia was the first theatre established in Times Square proper.
However, the Olympia shut its doors in 1999, and the site is now home to the famed multi-story Toys R Us with the indoor Ferris wheel. Despite its questionable history, today’s Times Square is a hub for entertainment and delight.
Visitors to the pedestrian center of Times Square have their choice of activities to partake. They can dine at one of the many restaurants, such as the multi-story Olive Garden or the Havana Central Times Square. If you’re craving something sweet, you can head to Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery for a slice of their famous cheesecake, or to the M&M Store for your own personalized M&Ms.
While in the area, be sure to try your luck at the various Broadway lotteries or no-show windows. You may get discount tickets to Wicked, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, or if you’re fortunate, Hamilton: An American Musical. If that all seems just a bit too daunting, you can make a colorful poster and stand in the background of Good Morning America and maybe catch a glimpse at a celebrity or two.
Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island & Ellis Island
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” is what everyone who visits the Statue of Liberty will read and hear. This welcoming beacon to the United States of America was one of the first things that greeted immigrants on their way to New York City via Ellis Island.
Today, the Statue of Liberty and its home of Liberty Island (one of the top attractions in New York City to visit), as well as the checkpoint of Ellis Island, are national parks. The Statue of Liberty and also Liberty Island are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is easy to get ferry tickets to visit these historic locations with multiple ferries leaving from New York City and also from New Jersey every day. If your travel plans are not strict, try and get a reserved ticket up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. There are only plenty of these exclusive tickets sold per day.
These iconic New York attractions are a must-see and do for anybody’s first trip to New York City. The Statue of Liberty, officially known as Liberty Enlightening the World, was dedicated in 1886. This dedication came after many years of design and construction by Frédéric Bartholdi of France. The statue was a present to the people of America from the people of France as a symbol not only of their alliance but their shared struggle for independence and freedom.
Today, the Statue of Liberty is not only one of the most visited American landmarks, but one of the most recognizable monuments worldwide. It was also, until 2008, the largest sculpture in the world.
Despite its small size, Liberty Island has a rather peculiar history. Once prized as a prime oyster harvesting locale to serving as a summer rental retreat, to acting as a refuge for individuals afflicted with the various disease, it’s not too surprising that the continually changing ownership made it easy for the British forces to use the island as a reconnaissance post during the American Revolution.
After the American forces finally won the war, the island remained under military control and was named Fort Wood and served to protect New York City against invaders. However, in 1886, the Statue of Liberty made Fort Wood. It is a permanent home, and then in 1956, Congress renamed the island Liberty Island. Visitors can walk through the Liberty Island museum and learn more about both the history of the island and the Statue herself.
Aboard your ferry trip, your last stop will be Ellis Island. It is where the “masses yearning to breathe free” first congregated before reaching the promising land of the American dream. Ellis Island is among the most historical places to visit in New York. You can search through immigration records, look at the countless photos of those arriving with a hope of a brighter future, and imagine what it must have felt like to be ushered through the halls of the Immigration Station.
First opened in 1892, the Immigration Station of Ellis Island processed roughly 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954 as well as the detaining and deportation of those suspected to be acting against the U.S.A. The original building burned in 1897, but the rebuilt structure that opened in 1900 is open to the public for tours. While there, see if maybe any of your family trod the halls of Ellis Immigration Station.
If you ever watched a movie or a TV show based in New York City, chances are you’ve seen the arguably most filmed location in the United States: Central Park. Smack-dab in the middle of Manhattan, this urban park is a testament to the natural beauty that once reigned supreme along the Hudson River. Lying between the 5th and 8th Avenues and the 59th and 110th Streets, the sprawling landscape of Central Park takes up about 840 acres of land.
It’s no surprise that this urban park is the most visited in the U.S.A. It is currently in contention for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, but it already sits proudly on the list of National Historic Landmarks of the United States of America.
At just over 840 acres, it’s no surprise that there are a plethora of things to see and do in Central Park. The one almost everyone thinks of first is the Central Park Zoo. It was founded in 1864 as a hodge-podge of buildings for housing abandoned exotic animals, and the zoo developed into the quaint yet diverse sanctuary that it is today.
If you wish to retreat away from the city and feel like you’re in a fairy tale, you can find your way to Belvedere Castle. This building was constructed solely to add “curb appeal” to Central Park, but it certainly did its job. Visitors can climb up to the castle top and enjoy some unique panoramic views of Central Park and New York City. While in the neighborhood of Belvedere Castle, be sure to take a stroll through to Shakespeare Gardens to genuinely feel like you’re in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
After you’ve finished wandering through the many gardens and over the many bridges, you could enjoy a picnic on the Great Lawn. You can pause and soak up the sun while still seeing the famed New York City skyline all around you. Maybe when you’re there, you’ll even catch an outdoor concert.
There’s so much more to observe and do in Central Park that it would take days to explore everything it has to offer thoroughly. However, there’s no harm in allowing yourself to get lost in the park and spend a couple of hours at The Lake or riding along in a horse-drawn carriage. It will help you fully appreciate the beauty of the park while also remain thoroughly impressed by the nature that is New York City.
Empire State Building
Once the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building in downtown Manhattan has been a proud member of the New York City skyline since its completion in 1931. Following the 9/11 attacks, the Empire State Building reclaimed its title as the tallest building in New York City until One World Trade Center was constructed in 2012. The building is a prime example of the Art Deco architectural style and attracts tourists and art enthusiasts alike to tour its floors and brave the heights on the observation deck.
As the first building to have more than 100 floors, the Empire State Building is continuously revered as an engineering marvel. Visitors to the Empire State building can buy tickets to get to the observation deck.
Construction of the Empire State Building began in January of 1930, just months after the infamous Stock Market crash that resulted in the American Great Depression. Despite the economic downturn, investors carried on and paid workers 24 hours a day to keep the project moving forward.
The workers had to brave harrowing conditions such as high winds, extreme cold, and perilous heights to complete the project. A reported 14 workers died during construction, but rumors claimed as many as 42. Building completed in April of 1931 and, surprisingly, came under-budget.
The Empire State Building was once the main broadcast center for New York City, hosting many television channels and radio frequencies. After the completion of the Twin Towers, many of these broadcasters moved from the Empire State Building to the taller Twin Towers.
However, after the 9/11 attacks, the Empire State Building served as a backup plan for broadcasters while new towers were built. Today, the Empire State Building still transmits for several television networks and radio frequencies. However, more income is generated from tourists wanting to snap a selfie on the observation deck than tenants renting out office space.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, and the Met Breuer
The largest museum in the United States sits just on the edge of Central Park in downtown Manhattan. If you only have time for a single museum while visiting, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is accepted as one of the top places to visit in New York and should make its way right to the top of your list. Considered one of the best things to do in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts a whopping 7 million visitors a year, making it the second most visited museum in the world, just behind the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.
Founded in 1870, the pinnacle of culture that is “the Met” is home to almost 2 million works of art and other artifacts. Visitors can see art from around the world and from various points in history and watch the history of humanity unfold before them as they leisurely meander through the seemingly never-ending halls of the famed institution.
If the Met didn’t fully satisfy your craving for art, there’s still plenty to see at the Met-governed museums of The Cloisters and the Met Breuer. The Cloisters, established in 1938, are in Upper Manhattan and expand further on the Met’s medieval European collections. Visitors can enjoy exploring the various exhibits specializing in architecture, sculpture, and other works of art. The Cloisters are fashioned after medieval architectural styles, including walled-in gardens, covered-arched walkways, and authentic relocated medieval chapels.
The Met Breuer, established in 2016, is in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The lease for the building is likely a short-term lease with the Met taking up residence until 2029. The Met Breuer is home to many of the Met’s contemporary and modern art collections, as well as several special, short-term exhibits. Both The Cloisters and Met Breuer are beautiful examples of specialized art museums that also are a little off the beaten path and give visitors a more intimate experience than many of the other large art museums.
American Museum of Natural History
Just across the road from Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world. The 45 permanent exhibit halls in this goliath of a museum are home to roughly 33 million specimens that delight and educate millions of visitors every year. The sheer volume of artifacts is what makes the American Museum of Natural History, one of the top things to do in New York.
Whether you want to spend the day wandering through one of the world’s most prominent museums and taking in the wonder that is the world around us and how we interact with it or indulge in one of the many classes the museum offers, you are sure to find plenty to fill your day.
Some of the permanent exhibits include an impressive paleontology hall, a hall dedicated solely to meteorites, and numerous anthropological halls representing many cultures and histories. In addition to the permanent galleries, multiple temporary exhibits appeal to many interests.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, this is where to go if you have an interest in television. Built by John D. Rockefeller between 1931 and 1939, Rockefeller Center has remained a vital center of entertainment and information. Rockefeller Center, spanning 48th Street to 51st Street, is home to Radio City, the International Buildings, NBC Studios, and Rockefeller Plaza, where you can go ice-skating. Rockefeller Center is now a proud National Historic Landmark.
Visitors to Rockefeller Center can walk around and view the Art Deco style of architecture and artworks that depict the struggle of America during the Great Depression. You can also go to the Top of the Rock, over 800 feet in the air, and get one of the best panoramic views of New York City possible. At first glance, it may just seem like a bunch of buildings, but after exploring a little, you will soon realize that it is easy to spend a whole day at Rockefeller Center. There are numerous shops, restaurants, art exhibits, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to sit in a studio audience for one of the many television shows that film in the area.
Museum of Modern Art
Located on 53rd Street between the 5th and 6th Avenues, The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, is heralded as one of the premier modern art museums in the world. Often considered one of the top things to do in New York, with just one permanent collection, the museum’s continually changing exhibitions give visitors the ability to let their minds wander as they interpret what the art means to them.
Home to many famous works by Warhol, Monet, and Picasso, it is no wonder that MoMA is always bustling with visitors. While you’re there, you have to see the classics, but be sure to view the contemporary artists’ works as well. You will earn a new appreciation for art today and get to see which way the creative collective is moving.
MoMA is also proud to welcome performance pieces and live events. These introduce art in a new variety of mediums while also creating art in a fleeting moment, making it that much more intimate for the viewer.
MoMA has become such a hit over the years that the museum has had to expand to the second location. Located in Queens, MoMA PS1 only showcases new work on a temporary basis, so the exhibits are always changing. However, MoMA PS1 likes to focus its energy on showcasing more fresh artists rather than the more solidified artists you may see at MoMA. So who knows, maybe you’ll get to look at the beginnings of the next Duchamp or Matisse.
If you can’t get enough of the MoMA, you can visit their store, which is stocked with items designed by many of the artists they showcase, so you can effectively, and legally, take part of the MoMA museum home with you.
Often considered one of the best things to do in NYC, the Bronx Zoo has animals guaranteed to delight any visitor. With roughly 4,000 animals, the Bronx Zoo, located centrally in the NY borough the Bronx, boasts being one of the largest research zoos in the world. No matter what the weather, you are sure to see hundreds of active animals from all the corners of the globe. The Bronx Zoo is the proud home of red pandas, two species of tiger, gorillas, and so much more. Try to go during feeding time, that’s when you’re almost guaranteed to see some rambunctious critters.
If your travel plans are a little more flexible, try to get to the zoo in the late spring, early summer. While it’s going to be quite warm, there are a few perks. During the summer, the Zoo operates a monorail through the Asian Animals section of the zoo. On this ride, you can see elephants, rhinos, and much more. You can also try a camel ride through the Asian Animals section if you’d instead go a little slower. But if you’re a real thrill seeker, you can put on a harness, climb up some trees, and zipline across part of the Zoo.
Unless you get there exactly when the gates open and you stay until the end of the day, chances are you won’t see the whole zoo. It’s essential to plan your day, and maybe even have a cut-off time and plan to go back another day. Once you’ve finished your adventure with the animals, if you have any energy left, make your way to the New York Botanical Gardens, just on the other side of the park from the zoo.
You can stop to smell the roses in the world-famous Rose Garden or get a sense of the tropics in the Orchid Collection. Or, if you want to take a break indoors, you should make a short trip on the Metro to The Bronx Museum of the Arts for some contemporary art showcasing the talents of local artists of color.
Museum of Food & Drink
Located in the borough of Brooklyn, the Museum of Food and Drink is the perfect locale for foodies of all types. You can learn everything about the history of food and the emerging fusions that are coming onto the food scene. At its inception, MOFAD was a touring museum, but now, the museum has a permanent home with a working experimental kitchen to learn more about the science of food.
Right now, MOFAD can only host a couple of exhibits at a time, but this unique and fun museum is worth the trip. Also, if you look in advance, you may get lucky and snag a spot in a cooking or a tasting class. You can taste delicious food from all over the world, like dumplings from China or baklava from Greece.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Who says you have to leave to Italy or Germany to see some of the world’s best cathedrals? You can find them right in New York City! The most prominent is St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located on 5th Avenue. This neo-gothic goliath is a functioning Catholic cathedral and one of the most beautiful things to see in New York City.
Construction on this massive structure began in 1858 and didn’t finish until 1879, but it has served New York City well during its time. St. Patrick’s is very open to visitors; you can take tours of the Cathedral or even attend a mass. Though it will be tempting to take a photo, you should refrain from making one inside and instead focus on the splendor and tranquility offered by this functioning work of art.
Located on the 9th Street, this massive indoor market is open year-round to locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re just browsing or you want to up your wardrobe or pantry, Chelsea Market is a magnificent place to spend a rainy day.
With more than 50 shops and restaurants, it’s almost like you’re getting a tour of everything to eat and what to see in New York all in one place. Locals like to go to Chelsea Market to grab some lunch at one of the many vendors, but there are plenty of stores where you can browse around as well.
You can go to the bookstore and then sit down at one of the many coffee bars and read your new find. Or, you can shop for home décor and reward yourself for making adult purchases with a huge scoop of gelato or a fresh donut. If that doesn’t interest you, then maybe shopping at one of the several fashion boutiques and getting a sense of New York fashion before you go out and conquer all of the things you want to do in New York City. You can shop popular brands or sample local vendors, but no matter what, Chelsea Market will have something for you.
Tannen’s Magic Store
Whether you’re a professional magician or just an enthusiast of magic who is still waiting for their letter from Hogwarts, Tannen’s Magic Store is sure to delight and mystify. Tannen’s, founded in 1925, is the oldest magic store in New York City and has had its share of famed musicians come through their door, Houdini being one of the rumored patrons. Sometimes, finding it requires a little bit of magic because the store is quietly nestled within one of the many office buildings on 34th Street.
If perusing the store’s many artifacts, books, and magic tricks intrigue you, not only will the employees demonstrate the various magic tricks for you, but you can sign up for a class and start your journey into becoming a magician. Whether you’re looking to spice up the party or you want to be the next David Blaine, Tannen’s Magic Store is a fun and exciting way to spend an afternoon.
Located in southern Manhattan, with a panoramic view of the New York Harbor, once the home of multiple artillery stations in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is now a relaxing respite away from the cacophony that is the New York streets. During the numerous construction, land development, and landscaping initiatives undertaken by the city, hundreds of thousands of artifacts dating back to the 1600s have been unearthed and put on display in The Battery and around the town.
The most famous is a 200-year-old stone wall, believed to be one of the oldest pieces of historic Manhattan remaining today. Visitors to the park will see the stone wall in the South Ferry subway station as they travel to and from the Battery. No matter what you look for in a park, The Battery is a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
The Battery is overflowing with memorials. Due to its desired location overlooking The Harbor, many veteran organizations wanted to use the space for their tributes to America’s fallen heroes. There are memorials to World War II, the Korean War, and 9/11.
Once you’ve finished your tour of the breathtaking sculptures, get dazzled by the SeaGlass Carousel. A relatively new installation, the functioning carousel is made up of 30 fish that, instead of moving in circles like they would on a carousel they swim around the room in a pattern similar to how a school of fish might swim.
After your day of whimsical adventure, it may be best to relax on the lawn, known as Battery Oval, or take a contemplative stroll through The Gardens. You can watch the sunset dance along the waters of the New York Harbor, the perfect end of another perfect day in New York City.
MoMath – The Museum of Mathematics
Founded in 2012, the National Museum of Mathematics, affectionately called MoMath, is designed to intrigue and delight visitors with the spectacle and wonder provided by mathematics that your required schooling may not have rewarded you. Located on 26th Street, the museum, through the 20 of hands-on exhibits and regular events, can teach visitors a little more about math and the systems behind it while having a blast.
The purpose of the museum is just that, to get visitors excited about the different uses and implications of mathematics and help them realize it is so much more than just memorizing equations and dealing with fractions. Math can unlock so much more to discover, and visitors can fully experience this while they digitally paint with symmetry to create captivating works of art or ride on a tricycle with different sized square wheels and still get to where you’re going. No matter what your expertise level in math is, you are sure to have a greater than average time at MoMath!
Museum of the American Gangster
If you find yourself quoting The Godfather, or maybe even dreaming of your bank heist, then the Museum of the American Gangster is the place for you to spend the afternoon. Located in the East Village in Manhattan, this comprehensive museum is filled with enough conspiracy and intrigue to keep you entranced throughout the day.
You can spend the day learning about the process that goes into running a speakeasy or the ins-and-outs of the guerrilla warfare style of the various warring families of the infamous gangster-age of America. If you contact them before your schedule, they may even be able to organize a tour for you and your traveling party to fully immerse yourself in this era of American history.
Grand Central Terminal & Campbell Apartment
Everyone familiar with the New York City ins and outs knows about the grandeur that is the Grand Central Terminal, affectionately called Grand Central Station. One of the key New York City points of interest, Grand Central, is a proudly named Historic Landmark and boasts the title of one of the most frequented tourist stops in the world.
Whether you need only to catch a train or you want to marvel in the architecture, be sure to glance up at the painted ceiling and arch-work and soak it all in, but you may want to stand off to the side, so you don’t get run over by a bustling commuter.
Grand Central was built in 1871 by the Vanderbilt tycoon family, and it has seen its fair share of history. The terminal has always served as the crossroads of Manhattan, getting locals and tourists alike to any destination desired. As New York City grew, it became evident that they would need a more spacious depot, and so the old construction was torn down, and the Grand Central Terminal that reigns today was built in 1913. While it is often undergoing renovations to ensure that commuters and tourists reach their destinations smoothly, Grand Central will always withhold the splendor that is New York City.
If you’ve got time to kill before your train, there are several places to eat in Grand Central, but none quite as unique as the Campbell Apartment. Once serving as the tycoon John Campbell’s private office, this cocktail bar and lounge spent most of its history in the state of opulence you can see now.
Though the Campbell Apartment once functioned as a jail for particularly rowdy commuters, now the only rowdiness you’ll see is if someone suddenly realizes they’re going to miss their train. The Campbell Apartment transports you back to medieval Italy regarding décor while still maintaining an element of the Art Deco that New York City’s architecture is so famous for. Whether you want only a drink or a full lunch, the Campbell Apartment will make you feel as lavish as any Vanderbilt or Rockefeller.
If you consider yourself a history nerd and you want your “what to do in NYC” list to center on historic sites, look no further than the Fraunces Tavern. Located on Pearl Street near Battery Park, The Fraunces Tavern predates the entire country of the United States of America. The building itself was constructed in 1719 as a private residence, but when the family sold it in 1762, it became known as the Queen’s Head Tavern.
Not only is it the oldest tavern in NYC, but it is also actually believed to be the oldest still-standing building in Manhattan. At the beginning of the Fraunces’ life, the bar quickly became a favorite spot for American patriots and turned into an informal meeting place for the Sons of Liberty.
It is where crucial moments in history, like the Boston Tea Party, were planned. It is here where the Patriots celebrated the withdrawal of British troops, despite the building having taken some heavy cannon and artillery damage during the war. The Patriots loved it so much, that when it came time to establish their government, several departments, such as the department of war, were housed on the upper floors of the Fraunces.
Although the movement of the U.S. capital to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and then to Washington D.C. took the Patriots out of Fraunces Tavern, the atmosphere of hope and excitement still exists there today. It’s no surprise that the building is a proud member of the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, you can sit at the bar and order a pint and a plate of tapas or make a reservation in advance and sit “in the room where it happened” and enjoy a hearty American meal in the rooms stylized with Federal design elements and feel like a part of history. Once you’re done eating, if you’re still craving some more history, you can go upstairs to the Fraunces Tavern Museum.
You can see paintings of the Revolution, the room where Washington bid farewell to his troops at the end of the war, and learn more about the espionage that went on for America to gain its independence. The Fraunces Tavern often hosts special events, so be sure to check their calendar before you go to see if you can get a ticket to a sure-to-be memorable experience.
Merchant’s House Museum
One of the few remaining historic residences left in New York City, the Merchant House Museum, is the private house of the Tredwell family, a well-to-do merchant family from the 19th century who lived in the home until the 1930s. The house is now open to the public and serves as a museum for those who are interested in the day-to-day life of years gone by.
Located near Washington Square Park, visitors can explore this upper-class home and even speculate as to why this is rumored to be one of the most paranormal sites in New York City. The entire house has been immaculately preserved since the youngest daughter’s passing. This unique situation allowed history buffs to experience life in the 19th century fully.
The Merchant House Museum creates one of the unique experiences available in NYC. Whether you are a history connoisseur or not, you can always speculate about the validity of the paranormal claims while you walk through these historic halls.
Sure, you may have heard of Monticello or Mount Vernon, but the home of another Founding Father is located in St. Nicolas Park in Manhattan’s Harlem: the home of Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton’s personal history is one of the remaining scrappy and pushing through. Orphaned at a young age, Hamilton immediately began to work, and his hard work earned him a good reputation. People who knew him worked together to send him to college in New York City, and that is where he began with the Revolutionary cause.
He later joined Congress and then became the first Secretary of the Treasury. While Hamilton, unfortunately, did not live at Hamilton Grange for long, it has gained tremendous support and attention. The house itself has had to be relocated multiple times. Hamilton Grange’s present-day Harlem location is it is the third and final resting place.
Visitors to Hamilton Grange can tour the home and see it recreated in its splendor of the early 1800s. Visitors can also enjoy St. Nicolas Park, which was then re-landscaped to match Hamilton’s written descriptions of how he had landscaped his land. Everything is laid out in accordance to Hamilton’s specifications, and so present-day visitors can feel what living at Hamilton Grange would’ve felt like in its heyday.
New York Public Library
One of the largest public libraries of the world, The New York Public Library, located on 5th Avenue, is home to roughly 53 million books and other pieces of print. Founded in 1895, this cornerstone of the New York Public Library system is located in Midtown in Manhattan. Luckily enough, you don’t need a library card to access this pinnacle of the library establishments.
Now, if you don’t have a library card, you cannot check out any books, but you can still browse. And browsing is likely one of the best things you can do in this immaculate institution. The New York Public Library proudly owns a Gutenberg Bible, an illustrated history of NYC, and the permanent home of the beloved stuffed animals that A.A. Milne’s cherished Winnie the Pooh and Friends are based on. Even though there are millions upon millions of manuscripts to peruse, there is plenty of New York and American history to observe.
Besides the massive quantities of information and history that reside in the opulent and informative halls of the New York Public Library, there is a multitude of classes and special events that visitors can partake in. You can take courses to expand your knowledge of various fields further or attend a talk given by a famed author. Even if libraries aren’t your idea of a good time, there’s no harm is swinging by the central entrance of the New York Public Library and getting a picture with the famous lion sculptures of Patience and Fortitude sitting out front.
The Sisyphus Stones
Once considered a big artistic mystery of the Hudson River, the Sisyphus Stones have long been on the tourist watch list as a strange and peculiar destination. The problem sometimes was, however, that the stones would move. While there are many art installations along the Hudson River, sometimes the Sisyphus Stones would vanish into thin air. But now, it looks like the stones may be here to stay.
The Sisyphus Stones are a found piece, using what is around them, to create a work of art. Large, semi-cylindrical rocks are stacked on top of other cylindrical stones to create serene, yet imposing, towers.
For years, no one knew how or why these stones materialized in this pattern, but now their artist has been revealed as immigrant Uliks Gryka. While it appears that the occasional disappearance of the rocks is linked to vandals, Gryka is determined to keep the stones a present work of art for individuals to marvel at and discern what they will.
So if you find yourself not quite knowing what to do with an afternoon, you should head to the shores of the Hudson. Absorb not only the natural beauty but also the artistic loveliness of the installations around you. With some luck, you may stumble upon the ever-changing and ever-moving Sisyphus Stones. Be sure to take a picture, because chances are they will never be in that exact formation again.
Even though this seems like a long list of things to do in New York City, this barely scratches the surface of the Big Apple. If you’re at a loss of what to do in New York, don’t be afraid to ask a cab driver, barista, or hotel clerk. Everyone has their favorites and own secrets for dodging the overly crowded places.
Your trip to NYC will be memorable because it is your trip, but while you are there, be sure to stray off the trodden path once or twice. New York City is the most populated city in the United States of America. This fact results in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and because of this, it is bursting with opportunity and no shortage of things to see in NYC for any tourist.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.