Best Sightseeing in New York

Visiting New York? Here's a Handy List of Sights You Can't Miss

When you live in New York City, there are places that you've visited thousands of times. Why? Because whenever a family member or friend comes to visit, these places are must-sees on their list.

From the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Terminal to the quiet serenity of The Cloisters, there are sites and scenes in New York that make the city what it is. They've been featured in Hollywood movies, hit TV shows and in countless books, magazines and photographs for good reason. 

But lest you think that all of these hot spots are tourist traps, rest easy. While it's true that popular locations often draw a crowd, going during off hours or during the cooler months will give you a better chance at beating the heat and the hordes. If that's not possible, buck up and go anyway. After all, when else will you have the chance to gaze upon Lady Liberty or take a walk through the famed Central Park

Below, we cover the 10 must-see, can't miss, don't even think about skipping these sightseeing attractions in New York City. Even if you have to elbow drop a few people to get a good view, it'll all be worth it in the end. 


With extraordinary exhibitions and the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is the world's foremost museum of modern art. This multi-level museum displays cutting edge contemporary works, as well as pieces by modern masters Edward Hopper, Le Corbusier and Rene Magritte. Crowds can be intense, particularly for big-name installations and traveling exhibitions. Take the elevator to the top floor upon entering, and then work your way down, missing the masses who bottleneck on the ground floor. MoMA's Michelin-starred restaurant by New York City star chef Danny Meyer is appropriately named The Modern; Meyer's award-winning eatery is largely credited with reinventing museum fare. For casual fare, Cafe 2 is located on the second floor.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Some of the world's best artists are showcased here, with newer talent rotating regularly.

Andrea's expert tip: Free admission is every Friday between 4:00-8:00pm, but expect crowds. Get there early to get a place at the front of the queue.

Read more about Museum of Modern Art →

These two sights represent freedom for millions of people, and the Statue of Liberty, a 450,000 pound gift from the people of France, is a must-see for anyone visiting the Big Apple. Access to the islands is via a Circle Lines ferry, and a timed pass is required. Ranger-led tours detail the history and technical aspects of the statue. Inside the base of Lady Liberty you'll find a number of exhibits and concessions, and the views from the observation deck of the city and harbor are unbeatable. Circle Lines recommends that guests arrive at least two hours in advance of their scheduled departure time. Reservations are essential – call 866-882-8834 or visit

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Statue of Liberty is one of New York's most recognizable icons.

Andrea's expert tip: If you're not interested in paying the hefty fees, hop on the Staten Island Ferry. It's free and you'll still be able to sneak peeks at Lady Liberty.

Read more about Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island →

Upper East Side

The 800-acre Central Park burst out of the minds of urban visionaries like Frederic Law Olmstead. Joggers, nature lovers and bikers use the park daily. Kids young and old enjoy skating at Wollman Rink, visiting the Central Park Zoo and riding the Friedsam Memorial Carousel. Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn host free live performances, including some by The Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. Delacorte Theater sets the stage for Shakespeare in the Park; while SummerStage takes over Rumsey Playfields. Join walking tours around the North Woods, a 40-acre forest smack in the city where bird watching groups often hold court.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: No trip to NYC would be complete without a walk through this legendary and exceptional park.

Andrea's expert tip: Don't miss Bethesda Fountain and Imagine Field, an homage to the great Beatle, John Lennon.

Read more about Central Park →


The largest urban zoo in the world, The Bronx Zoo is an exciting place to view over 4000 animals (600 species) in large, realistic reproductions of natural habitats. Themed exhibits include Wild Asia with free-roaming tigers; Jungle World, an indoor Asian tropical rainforest; The World of Darkness, a look into the nightlife of nocturnal creatures; Himalayan Highlands with endangered snow leopards and red pandas; Butterfly Zone, especially active in summer months; and the Congo Gorilla Forest, a 6.5-acre recreation of an African rain forest. The Children's Zoo offers a hands-on learning and petting zoo. It's easy to get around the park by shuttle bus, monorail or aerial tram.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Not many people expect a zoo of this size and caliber in one of the world's largest cities.

Andrea's expert tip: After you peruse the animals at the zoo, head to the nearby Bronx Botanical Garden to continue the adventure.

Read more about Bronx Zoo →

For nearly a century, the brightest lights, the biggest music, the longest parties and all the star power you could ask for have stemmed off a street called Broadway. At one time not so long ago, this area was a haven for decadence. Seedy sex shops and peep shows infested the area until a successful revitalization effort and the arrival of tenants like David Letterman paved the way for a new Times Square. Now, it's one of the most influential theater districts in the world. Times Square also hosts the largest New Year's Eve celebration in the country. Half a million people flock to the square every year to bid the old year goodbye and to welcome in the New Year, New York party style.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Times Square is the feature of nearly every movie about New York. It's an icon for a reason.

Andrea's expert tip: Go at night so you can fully appreciate just what it means when people say, "bright lights, big city."

Read more about Times Square →

Located in Washington Heights, a northern neighborhood far from Manhattan's frenetic pace, but still an easy trip on the train, the Cloisters contain all of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval collection. In addition to the exhibitions within, the grounds of the Cloisters are an attraction unto themselves. Modeled after a monastery, the grounds contain four reconstructed cloisters, each with sculptures, fountains, and artwork donated by New Yorker art barons like the Rockefellers. Highlights include the rose marble fountain in the Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa Cloister, and the Trie-en-Bigorre Cloister, or Unicorn Tapestries Hall, which holds an impressive collection of 15th- and 16th-century tapestries.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Cloisters is a hidden gem of serenity that's often forgotten by locals and tourists.

Andrea's expert tip: In warmer months, pack a lunch and precede your art crawl with a picnic in the adjoining Fort Tryon Park, a 67-acre state park overlooking the Hudson and Harlem Rivers.

Read more about The Cloisters →

Spanning from the South Street Seaport to Brooklyn Heights, the famous Brooklyn Bridge has ushered New Yorkers across the East River since 1883. A must-see for any visitor to the Big Apple, the best way to experience the bridge is to take the 30-plus minute, 3,455-foot expedition and walk it. The view of Manhattan is incredible, suddenly making it easy to understand why decades of poets and painters have been fascinated by it. The great Walt Whitman even described the view from the bridge as the "most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken." For best results, we'd recommend going in the early morning during the summer months to miss the crowds.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Because you'll appreciate everything about what makes New York so great. Plus, great Instagram opportunities.

Andrea's expert tip: It's a must, but think twice before going on a cold and rainy day. The whipping winds can ruin a good time.

Read more about Brooklyn Bridge →

Union Square

The historic intersection of Union Square is located where Broadway and the former Bowery Road came together in the early 19th century. It is now a mega shopping zone with everything from Whole Foods to Forever 21 to Nordstrom Rack populating the area. During the holidays it is particularly lovely, with outdoor tents featuring all sorts of gifts, handmade soaps, scarves, and craft items. Home to the city's largest green market, Union Square is also where all the local, organic and fresh food and flowers are on display every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Cozy coffee bars, including Think Coffee are student favorites, as NYU is nearby. Many of the city's finest restaurants, including Union Square Cafe and Blue Water Grill, are here, too.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Union Square is home to the city's largest green market, and a pillar of energy and excitement.

Courtney's expert tip: Go early to get the best pick of the local bounty.

Read more about Union Square →

West Village

A true lesson in urban renewal, the High Line is built on an abandoned railroad line elevated above Manhattan's westside. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to Midtown's W. 34th Street, the High Line has quickly claimed its place in the hearts of New Yorkers and visitors. Dotted along the grated overpass are food stalls, restaurant pop-ups and magnificent overlooks. To do it best, go on a Tuesday and amble along until you find Terroir, a wine bar near 15th Street. Grab a glass of vino at dusk, and then make your way a couple blocks south to hook up with the Amateur Astronomers Association stargazers who've set up telescopes and offer explanations of what's going on in the sky.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: It's a living, breathing example of how to go from ruins to riches in terms of decaying city landscapes.

Andrea's expert tip: Try to plan your trip for a weekday afternoon. The weekends are jam-packed and hoards of people detract from the experience.

Read more about The High Line →

Said to be "Manhattan's only remaining great gateway," Grand Central Terminal (not "station" as it is often mistakenly called) is a magnificent example of art meeting functionality. The Beaux Arts facade that stretches along 42nd Street features a beautiful clock and crowning statues of Minerva, Mercury and Hercules. Inside the terminal, a vast blue ceiling twinkles with fiber optic lighting depicting the zodiac constellations, while one level below, sixty railroad tracks transport over 500,000 commuters a day. Since the building's revitalization 10 years ago, Grand Central has enticed visitors and locals alike, with quick bites and delicacies located in the Grand Central Market, fine cuisine in the Dining Concourse and free arts events in Vanderbilt Hall.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Grand Central Terminal is one of New York City's shining jewels because of its architecture, its energy and its food.

Andrea's expert tip: Start your Sunday with a free walking tour of Grand Central. Tours kick off at 12:30PM.

Read more about Grand Central Terminal →


Meet Andrea Wien

Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.

When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll...  More About Andrea