cindyycheeks strolling through Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Top Things To Do & See in NYC

New York City is one of those places where you could live your entire life and still not experience everything it has to offer! I’ve visited three times now and there is still so much I have yet to do and explore. NYC is full of iconic, world-famous landmarks, beautiful architecture, bustling streets, and fascinating museums. Not to mention, it is always changing and there is always something new to do.

With so many options, creating an itinerary for your NYC visit can be quite overwhelming. So, I decided to make a list of all the top things to do and see in NYC to help narrow down your New York bucket list!

I even categorized them into two groups: free & not free but worth paying for. I also subcategorized them by neighborhoods, this way you can plan your days by location and save money and time on transportation.

I hope you enjoy my “Top Things To Do & See in NYC” list!

Free Things To Do & See in NYC

Location: Midtown Manhattan 

Central Park

Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States and it’s also one of the most filmed locations in the world. I am seriously in love with this park and I don’t think anyone should skip it, especially if it’s your first visit. The park has so much to offer and it is beautiful during every season.

You can bike around the park, rent a boat and row your way through The Lake, go on a walking tour or scavenger hunt for all the movie film locations, rent a remote-controlled model sailboat at Conservatory Water, visit Central Park Zoo or the Met Museum, or even ice skate during the winter months.

Grand Central Station

Another world-famous landmark, Grand Central Station is one of them most visited tourist attractions in the world, but that’s not the reason why I love it. I fell in love with the architecture and the interior design. The main concourse ceiling has a huge and beautiful celestial masterpiece that you could stare at for hours. It’s also a perfect spot for dining and shopping.

Times Square

A lot of locals, and even tourists, avoid this area because it’s more of a tourist hub than anything else, but it’s something everyone should experience at least once. Simply standing in the middle of Times Square and looking up at all the brightly adorned advertisements and billboards…it’s surreal.

cindyycheeks standing in the middle of Time Square NYC

Rockefeller Center

This is a complex of commercial buildings, but what everyone loves is the large sunken square along with the private street called Rockefeller Plaza. It’s such a lively place and it’s even more spectacular during Christmas!

Go See Jimmy Fallon Live

Who doesn’t love The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon? He’s seriously one of my favorite talk show hosts ever, and you wouldn’t just get to see him live but also other celebrity guests!! And even better, tickets are FREEEEEE! All you have to do is keep an eye out for the tickets release, which is once every month on the first week of the month. You can find more info here.

Location: Flatiron District (right below Midtown Manhattan)

Flatiron Building

By far one of my favorite buildings ever! It’s triangular shaped and looks like a clothes iron (hence flatiron) haha. It’s super cool to look at and take pictures with!

cindyycheeks posing in front of Flatiron building in NYC

Location: Chelsea (west of Flatiron District)

The High Line

I recently explored The High Line during my last NYC visit and it quickly became one of my favorite things to do in the city. It’s a 1.5 mile long park that was built on an elevated railway. It stands 30 feet above ground level and offers city skyline and Hudson River views. They also have food vendors, weekly events, and art installations. It’s such a cool place to explore.

Location: Greenwich Village (south of Chelsea) 

Washington Square Park

Another beautiful park in Greenwich Village where you can sit back, enjoy some coffee and people watch. It also has a beautiful fountain and a monumental arch honoring George Washington.

cindyycheeks admiring the Empire State Building from Washington Square Park NYC

Location: Tribeca, Financial District (south of Greenwich Village)

9/11 Memorial

A tribute of remembrance, honoring all the people who lost their lives in 9/11. The memorial features twin reflecting pools that drop 30 feet into a square basin and water flows down from the edges. Each pool is an acre in size, making them the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The names of everyone who died are inscribed on the endless of the pools. I have visited the memorial every single time I’ve visited NYC.

The Oculus

The Oculus is a shopping mall within the World Trade Center transportation hub. The architecture is amazing and the ceiling features huge, white, rib-like structures that interlock. This shopping center offers fine retail and dining but I just like to go to walk around after visiting the Memorial.

Location: Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO

Brooklyn Bridge + Brooklyn Bridge Park

This has easily become one of my favorite things to do in NYC! Brooklyn has risen in popularity over time but now more than ever, and with good reason! Brooklyn is artsy, cultural, diverse, hip and exciting! I recommend heading over to Brooklyn Bridge and walking through all the way to DUMBO. Take some pictures, explore the local shops, food spots, and Brooklyn Bridge Park for a gorgeous view of New York’s skyline.

cindyycheeks strolling through Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Location: Everywhere

Explore All The Pretty Neighborhoods

New York City is not all skyscrapers and huge buildings. It’s also home to some of the prettiest neighborhoods I’ve ever explored — like Chelsea, SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village, West Village, Upper West Side, Lolita, and more! You can find townhouses that are charming and quaint, and streets that are cozy and welcoming. Just grab a cup of coffee and start exploring, you never know what you’ll find!

Looking for a City Getaway? Check out my London Bucketlist here!

Things To Do That Are Worth The Splurge

The following activities are not free but definitely worth spending on, so make sure you budget and plan accordingly! 🙂

Take a Ferry

Riding a ferry in New York is so much fun, there’s a gorgeous view in every direction! If you choose the right one, you can even cruise right past the State of Liberty without paying extra. You can look up more info here and hare.

cindyycheeks enjoying a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park in NYC

Rent a Row Boat in Central Park

Such a fun and cute little activity, perfect for romantics and nature lovers! Row your way through The Lake at Central Park and admire all the natural beauty! You can purchase tickets here.

Top of The Rock

This is the only thing that is kind of pricy and that I would encourage  everyone do in NYC! The views from Top of The Rock are absolutely jaw-dropping! A lot of people head over to the Empire State Building for views but, trust me, you want your pictures to have the ESB in them!

*Please note that the Empire State Building is still an amazing option for views, I just prefer to have such an iconic building in my pics. But you can purchase ESB tickets here.

Take a Helicopter Tour

I’ve literally been dying to do this in NYC! I’ve taken helicopter tours in other cities but never in New York! It’s just so pricy and not nearly long enough. But, I recently saw one of my bloggers friends do it and the videos were absolutely spectacular, so now it’s on my list for my next NYC visit!

How To Get Around

Getting around New York City can be overwhelming…and expensive! So make sure you group your activities by location/area. You can save some money by takin the subway everywhere and purchasing an unlimited day/week/month pass. You can find more information here and here.

cindyycheeks taking the subway in NYC

I hope you enjoyed this NYC post! Comment below if you have any questions or if there’s anything you would add to this list! I’d love to hear your opinions!

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