Here at Things to do in NYC, we are creating a database of the best attractions, tours, shows, events and other things to do in NYC this weekend, at night, alone, at Christmas, and by season and month.
Why New York City? And why this list? We are a small group of surprisingly content people that just happen to love New York City, AKA the Big Apple, AKA the greatest place on Earth after Bali and most of Australia.
We’ve organized this list of things to do in New York City in helpful categories, and included examples from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, plus specific neighborhoods like Harlem, China Town, and Mid-town. New Jersey too, because why not?
The goal is for you to be able to find fun activities that match your interests, group size and budget. Some of these activities are free, while others cost nearly an arm and a leg.
We regularly update this list of things to do, so we recommend that you bookmark this page and check back occasionally. You could also email this list to a friend that you are planning a trip with, or to your sweetheart if you are planning a date or anniversary or honeymoon.
By the way, in general if you like to eat and explore then you will probably find a lot of things to do in NYC. However, if you are a homebody then it might not be your jam, ya’know? Stay in bed and watch Newsies instead, the original of course.
Things to do in NYC: Table of Contents
- Best Things to do in NYC
- NYC Attractions
- NYC Shows
- NYC Tours
- NYC Comedy Clubs
- Free Things to do in NYC
- Things to do in NYC Today
- Things to do in NYC This Weekend
- Things to do in NYC at Night
- Things to do in NYC Alone
- Things to do in NYC at Christmas
- NYC Summer Activities
- NYC Fall Activities
- NYC Winter Activities
- NYC Spring Activities
- Frequently Asked Questions: Things to do in NYC
Best Things to do in NYC
It’s difficult to say what exactly makes something deserve to be in the category of the best things to do in NYC, however there are some criteria. First, it’s a known quantity, AKA people have done it before you and had a great time. Second, it’s accessible and has mass appeal. It could be that there are some awesome things to do in this city that are a match for your interests but basically no-one else, which wouldn’t qualify for this list. Finally, they don’t cost too much money; they should be somewhat obtainable for locals and tourists alike. Read on for the list.
Museum Hack ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ [Highest Rated]
Museum Hack leads renegade tours of NYC’s best museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. Tours are approximately two hours long and include fun themes like Un-Highlights, Badass Bitches and VIP Night Your.
The company’s motto is “Museums Are F***ing Awesome!” and they are on a mission to re-imagine adult museum experiences around the world. That means you are not going on an average docent tour, instead it’s going to be a whirlwind of fun stories, juicy gossip, games and activities in the galleries and sometimes wine. Also photos, because you look awesome in a museum.
Enter code TTDINYC on checkout for a special price.
It’s likely a true statement that NYC attractions are better known than any other city’s in the world. The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square and other NYC landmarks are world re-known, and for good reason; they are pretty rad. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite attractions.
The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building might be the most famous skyscraper in all of NYC and maybe even the world. The 102-story building looms large over NYC’s jaw-dropping skyline. Built in 1931, the Empire State Building towers 1,454 feet into the air, if you count the antenna (which we do!) Test your climbing abilities and climb up all 102 stories to take in some of the best views the city has to offer. Bonus: There’s a cool museum on the second floor.
The Statue of Liberty
What else could be as iconic in NYC as the Statue of Liberty? Known around the world, the Statue of Liberty is a beacon of American culture. A gift from France, the Statue of Liberty celebrates American independence. From ground to torch, the Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet in the air, rising out of New York Harbor. Fun Fact: Artist Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was rumored to have modeled the statue’s face after his mother, Charlotte.
Times Square is another quintessential NYC experience and ought to be a must-do on any first-time NYC visitors’ list. Also called The Center of the Universe, more than one million people pass through Times Square every year. NYC Trivia: Times Square’s original name was Longacre Square. Its name was only changed after The New York Times moved its headquarters to the area.
One World Observatory
One World Observatory is located inside NYC’s Freedom Tower. One World Trade Center is built on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center building as a skyscraper, office building, and observatory. The skyscraper is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and, as of late 2019, the seventh tallest building in the world. The observatory opened in May of 2015.
Central Park is an iconic landmark in NYC and one of the best NYC attractions. Though it’s perhaps the city’s best known park, it’s only the city’s fifth biggest, spanning just under 850 acres. 38 million people visit Central Park each year. Some of the best things to do in Central Park are the Central Park Zoo, Sheep Meadow, the Central Park Carousel, and Tavern on the Green.
NYC is well known for its Broadway Shows, including Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton, The Lion King, Mean Girls and other infamous productions. What tourists should know and what locals definitely do is that Off Broadway Shows can be just as impressive and charming, while also being more cost effective; it’s definitely worth checking out both types.
Hamilton is a smashing hit on Broadway. The award-winning musical is both sung and rapped, and has enthralled audiences across the world. The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers; it has received both box office and critical acclaim. Hamilton has been nominated for more than 16 Tony Awards, with 11 wins, to include Best Musical. The musical also earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Phantom of the Opera
A list of the best Broadway shows in NYC would be incomplete without mentioning the Phantom of the Opera, the longest running show on Broadway. The Phantom of the Opera has been running on Broadway since its January 1988 opening. The show has won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which has run an estimated 13,000 times in NYC, is estimated to have grossed more than $800 million on Broadway alone and more than five billion worldwide.
Wicked is a Broadway musical and, as of late 2019, is the sixth-longest running Broadway show in history. Wicked tells the story of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West, from her pre-Wicked Witch days to her side of the story about what went down with Dorothy. The original Broadway show has been playing at NYC’s Gershwin Theatre since its 2003 opening.
The Lion King
The Lion King first opened on Broadway in NYC on November 13, 1997, and it hasn’t stopped running since, making it the third longest active Broadway show. The Lion King currently shows at NYC’s Minskoff Theatre. The musical has won six Tony Awards in its lifetime, including Best Musical in 1998, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 1999. As of late 2019, The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway show in history.
Chicago is a Broadway musical about life in the Windy City during the Jazz Age. Chicago has had several runs on Broadway; it opened in NYC for the first time at the 46th Street Theatre in 1975, where it ran for almost 1,000 shows. After a run on West End, Chicago’s Broadway revival took place in 1996, and it has remained at the Ambassador Theatre in NYC ever since. Chicago has earned six Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Music, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.
Plays, Musicals, and Off Broadway Shows
Sleep No More
Sleep No More is one of the most popular off-Broadway shows in NYC. Based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the witch trials, Sleep No More offers a spooky theater experience at Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel. There will be murder and mayhem. Guests to the show wear an identity-cloaking mask.
To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s classic book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was adapted by Aaron Sorkin for the NYC theater stage. Catch the play version of the timeless novel at the Shubert Theater. From Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers: “Brimming with humor, generous heart and gritty provocation, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is as timely as it is timeless.”
The Minutes at NYC’s Cort Theatre tells the story of the inner-workings of a city council meeting in a small town with the focus on the greed, selfishness, and hypocrisy — but everything changes in a matter of minutes. From The Chicago Tribune: “Nothing in this explosive 90 minutes play is as it seems…A real-life heart-in-the-mouth experience.”
NYC’s longest running play, Perfect Crime, is a romantic thriller that tells the story of a psychiatrist who may have killed her husband. It’s funny and, critics say, perfect for fans of true crime mysteries. The New Yorker had this to say about Perfect Crime: “A cunning little whodunit…Catherine Russell gives a sly, tough performance as the leader character, a wealthy Connecticut psychiatrist.”
Matthew Lopez’s play The Inheritance debuted in London to much success, thus creating its run to NYC’s stage. The Inheritance was nominated for eight Laurence Oliver Awards in 2019, winning several, including Best New Play, Best Actor, and Best Director. Critics from The Telegraph have called it “perhaps the most important American play of this century.”
NYC is home to some of the most sophisticated tour operations in the world, including bus tours, walking tours, food tours and more. Below, we’ve listed a few options for each category, and these include some of the best ways to see New York City.
Big Bus New York Tours
Big Bus New York is an iconic NYC bus tour. Big Bus New York offers hop-on, hop-off sightseeing of the Big Apple, making it a flexible option to maximize your time in NYC. Guests will see famous NYC landmarks like Times Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. The Big Bus pass allows travelers to get on and off the bus at any Big Bus stop in NYC.
USA Guided Tours
USA Guided Tours offers a Discover NY bus tour that we think is one of the best full-service bus tours for sightseeing in NYC. Reserve a big chunk of your day and you’ll be able to check off most of your NYC bucket list. This six-hour bus tour of NYC takes guests through the city’s best neighborhoods, with stops at landmarks like Times Square, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center. Each stop allows guests to get off the bus and explore on their own for 15 minutes. Guests are able to disembark and explore each of the top stops for 15 minutes. Depending on the time of year, guests will enjoy either a boat cruise or Grand Central Terminal tour as a bonus.
On Location Tours
On Location Tours offers a different kind of bus tour in NYC. This is a bus tour of the city for movie and TV buffs. On Location Tours takes guests to the best filming spots in the city. Choose from a Sex and The City-themed tour, a Gossip Girls-themed tour, of a general tour of more than 60 locations featured in hit TV shows and movies.
The Ride is an NYC bus tour that’s both exciting and informative for tour guests. Each bus comes with a theater on board. Your tour guide doubles as a comedian who will keep guests laughing throughout the 75-minute NYC bus tour. The tour highlights the best of Times Square and midtown Manhattan.
A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours
Some of the sights you’ll see with A Slice of Brooklyn’s NYC bus tour include the Promenade, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, the Barclays Center, the Hotel St. George, Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park, and the original home of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. The best part? This bus tour will feed you! A pastrami (turkey or tuna) sandwich lunch at Junior’s is included with your bus tour ticket.
Free Tours By Foot
Free Tours By Foot offers exactly that — free walking tours of NYC! All tours are pay-what-you-wish and there’s a good number of tours to choose from. Walk with a guide through SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown or visit the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights. Other NYC walking tour options include a Downtown Manhattan (Financial District, Soho, Little Italy & Chinatown) walking tour or an NYC Christmas Movies tour.
Real New York Tours
Real New York Tours is tops in NYC walking tours. Bonus: Real New York Tours also offers subway tours in NYC! Some of the available tours include a six-plus hour NYC in a Day itinerary, where guests visit the best the city has to offer. Real New York Tours also offers a shorter downtown tour, hitting the top spots in Little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, and SoHo. Real New York Tours also offers private tours for your group, including tours meant for kids, and a movies and music tour.
Grand Central Neighborhood Tour
Grand Central Neighborhood Tour offers free walking tours of Grand Central Terminal. Your tour guide will showcase the building’s architectural significance and point out one of the coolest spots in all of NYC that’s housed in the terminal. You don’t need a reservation to take this tour, which runs every Friday afternoon.
Big Apple Greeter
At Big Apple Greeter, guests to NYC will get to see the city through the eyes of a local. Tourists and locals are paired up for the day; the local will treat the tourist to a behind-the-scenes look at their NYC neighborhood. Tip: This is a popular option, so be sure to request a tour well in advance of your visit to NYC. It’s also free!
Big Onion Walking Tours offers several NYC walking tours, including tours of Greenwich Village, Historic Harlem, Historic Hudson, an art, sex, and rock ‘n roll tour, and an original multi-Ethnic eating tour. All in all, there are more than 30 walking tours in 20 different NYC neighborhoods.
New York City Lights Dinner Cruise
Seeing the NYC skyline at night should be on every visitor to NYC’s bucket list. What better way to check that item off than with a boat cruise and great dinner? Enjoy a three-course meal and drinks, then transition to dancing on the river with the boat DJ. The boat will sail past famous NYC landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, set behind beautiful city lights. You’ll see NYC like never before from the river as you enjoy the tastes, sounds, and sights of the Big Apple.
Best of Brooklyn Food and Culture Tour
The Best of Brooklyn Food and Culture Tour is a top-rated, half-day food tour in NYC that combines walking and travel by bus to bring guests the best food Brooklyn has to offer. The five-hour tour includes food at each stop, ranging from pizza and pierogies to kielbasa and pastrami. Vegetarian options are available at each location.
New York City Food Cart Walking Tour
Street food carts are an NYC cultural icon, so why not spend a few hours exploring the best food carts the city has to offer? On this food tour, guests can choose from visiting the Financial District or hitting up Midtown to sample six of the city’s top food carts. Enjoy fresh street food while hearing stories about the city and the history of the food cart scene. Six food tastings, a bottle of water, and a guided tour are included with your tour price.
Cupcake and Cookie Crawl
Got a sweet tooth? The Village to Village Cupcake and Cookie Crawl is a dessert food tour in NYC. Tour guests will enjoy skip-the-line access at NYC’s best cupcake and cookie shops. All dessert tastings are included with your tour ticket price.
Foods of New York Tour
Foods of New York offers six different food tours of New York City. The food tour options include The Heart and Soul of Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market and The Highline, The Original Greenwich Village, Flavors of Chinatown, Nolita and Little Italy’s Secrets, and The Best of Brooklyn. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll enjoy the best food NYC has to offer, ranging from pizza to Chinese food to pastrami to dessert.
NYC Comedy Clubs
There are a number of famous comedy clubs in NYC, and other clubs that are less well known. A wildly cool benefit of comedy in New York is that sometimes the biggest stars in comedy show up unannounced, for example you could go to an amateur comic show and Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Gaffigan could be introduced as the secret headliner; it’s awesome!
Carolines on Broadway
Carolines on Broadway is one of the most famous comedy clubs in NYC and in the world. The Times Square comedy club features a new show every night of the year. Some of the best comedians in the world got their starts at Carolines, including Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Rosie OʼDonnell and Jay Leno. Carolines is the premier choice for comedy clubs in NYC.
The Comedy Cellar is an iconic comedy club in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Dating back to the 1980s, the Comedy Cellar is often considered one of the best, if not the best, in the country. At the Comedy Cellar, guests enjoy a showcase format with several comedians performing short sets each night. Famous comedians who regularly perform at the cellar include Dave Chappelle, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, and Louis C.K.
Gotham Comedy Club
Gotham Comedy Club in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood is famous for appearing in several movies and TV shows, including popular shows like Last Comic Standing and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some of the famous faces to perform at the stand-up spot are Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Dane Cook, Artie Lange, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Iglesias, and Rosie O’Donnell.
The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club
The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club is a comedy club in NYC in a basement venue. The upstairs restaurant makes it a great way to have a fun night out in NYC. Comedians who perform in the venue include Chris Distefano, Joe DeRosa, Jackie Kashian, Yannis Pappas, Lev Fer, and Nikki Glaser.
New York Comedy Club
New York Comedy Club is another NYC comedy club that serves up the laughs in the city. New York Comedy Club has operated out of its Gramercy location since the late 1980s and is famous for its traditional brick wall behind the stage. The comedy room is lit with candles and the club offers a classic drink menu to go along with the show.
Free Things to do in NYC
While some of the best NYC activities cost at least a little money, there are other free things to do that can be just as awesome. Whether visiting one of the cities best parks or enjoying the view of the skyline, you don’t have to spend money in this city to have fun.
Shakespeare in the Park
After a long winter’s nap, Shakespeare in the Park returns for spring in NYC! Shakespeare in the Park is an NYC classic. The free performances in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater have been a tradition in NYC for more than 60 years.
Take a ferry cruise
Take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the water with a free cruise on the Staten Island Ferry. Yes, it’s a slightly unconventional suggestion, but it’s a free way to get outdoors, relax, and take in some new sights in NYC. The free ferry will get you up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty. The ferry runs 24/7 and offers food and drink on board for purchase. Just be sure to avoid rush hour for a more relaxing experience.
Visit a free museum
Take advantage of some of the best deals in the city! Many museums in NYC are free for residents, but guests can take advantage of free days and times at other top institutions in the city. Museums like the American Folk Art Museum, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and the National Museum of the American Indian are always free. Check out some others for free days and times.
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is a famous NYC landmark that’s completely free to visit and enjoy! Walk over the bridge or get up close and personal with it below the bridge’s towers. Bonus: You’re right near Pebble Beach, another free and awesome thing to do in NYC.
Grand Central Terminal
Explore Grand Central Terminal, which opened in 1913. The terminal has been featured in dozens of movies, including North by Northwest, The Cotton Club, and Superman: The Movie. Grand Central Terminal is an active commuter rail station. It is one of NYC’s top ten most visited tourist attractions, with an estimated 21+ million people visiting each year (and that’s not counting travelers catching a train). The terminal has four major restaurants along with various bars, cafe, and shopping. Exploring its halls and the whispering arches are a cool way to spend a few free hours in NYC without spending a dime.
Things to do in NYC Today
Looking for something to do in NYC today? We’ve got you covered. The activities and options below are all available at short notice, and include free and paid things to do in various areas of the city.
Museum Hack offers daily tours of the best museums in NYC. Hop on a public tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or American Museum of Natural History and hear the scandalous, craziest, and most mind-blowing stories behind the art, artists, and exhibits. This is a great way to spend a few hours taking in some culture and wild stories in NYC, especially if you’re looking for something to do last-minute.
Looking to fill a few hours in NYC today? Check out the TKTS booth for last minute deals on same-day Broadway shows. The discounted ticket retailer offers tickets to Broadway shows at up to 50 percent off, making it a great choice for a last-minute thing to do in NYC today.
Have you been to Katz’s yet? Tourists and locals alike should all cross a visit to Katz’s off the to-do list at least once. Katz’s is perhaps the most famous restaurant in NYC. The iconic Jewish deli serves up many dishes that the Big Apple is famous for, most notably pastrami on rye. The deli has appeared in many movies and TV shows and is perhaps best known for Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm scene in the 1989 romcom When Harry Met Sally.
Central Park Zoo
Get up close and personal with the wildlife at Central Park Zoo. The six-plus acre zoo in NYC offers three major exhibits based on climate: temperate, tropic, and polar. Why not spend a few hours today getting back in touch with your wild side at the zoo?
Looking for things to do in NYC today that are active and challenging? Try climbing the Vessel, a 60-ton climbable sculpture at Hudson Yards offering unique city views. It’s a lot of steps, but it’s well worth the effort. Tickets to climb the Vessel are free!
Things to do in NYC This Weekend
Weekends are an okay time to plan out things to do in NYC. The most compelling aspect is that you are probably available, but the largest drawback is that a lot of other people are available too. The city, roads and transit get super busy and you need to plan in extra time for your commute to pretty much anywhere; even if it’s just Trader Joes, Sweetgreen or Chipotle.
Grand Central Oyster Bar
Visit Grand Central Oyster Bar, a longtime icon of Grand Central Terminal for more than a century. Established in 1913, Grand Central Oyster Bar serves some of the city’s freshest and tastiest seafood. The restaurant’s atmosphere with vaulted ceilings and marble columns is well worth the visit; the delicious raw oyster bar puts it over the top for places to eat and things to do in NYC.
Saturday Night Live
Okay, so this one might not be that easy to pull off, but it’s well worth it if you can. While tickets to the show sell out well in advance, there’s a chance you can get standby tickets for the same-day show. Stand-by tickets are handed out at 7am on the morning of the show. Once you receive your standby ticket, you’ll return later that night to see if there’s enough room to accommodate you at the show. You can choose to try for a ticket to the dress rehearsal or the live performance.
Try Hot Pot
Hot pot is a cool dish mostly from China where you order a bunch of meat and veggies and cook it at your table in boiling broth. Here’s our recommendation for a great hot pot spot in NYC:
Have you heard of Rosé Mansion yet? This is an incredible experience for wine fans. Enjoy the interactive wine tasting, play in the on-site playground that Includes five photo booths, and a cabana, and learn more about the science behind the making of the wine. Bonus: There’s a full Taco Dumbo restaurant on site to satisfy your food cravings.
Things to do in NYC at Night
Night time is a pretty cool time in NYC because there are so many things to do. You could go to a comedy show, or Broadway, or Times Square, or just out to a restaurant for sushi or Korean BBQ or pizza something else. Warning: night time tends not to be as good for Instagram pictures, so there’s that.
House of Yes
House of Yes is a great NYC nightclub that offers a good nightlife experience in the city. House of Yes takes entertainment to new levels. The club has hosted a huge variety of fun events, including roller-disco parties, deep house yoga and performances by aerialists and magicians. All events are 21+.
North Coast NYC
North Coast NYC offers a comedy, improv, and hip-hop show all wrapped up into one. Time Out New York named North Coast one of the top ten best comedy shows. The improv scenes, which are never the same among two shows, often give way to hip-hop songs and beatboxing. Think of this as half-comedy and half-concert. It’s a can’t-miss nighttime experience in NYC.
See a concert
NYC is home to an incredible arts and music scene; it would be a shame not to take advantage of the wonderful range of concerts happening every night in NYC. Check out some of the city’s most popular concert venues (think Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, the Prudential Center, the Beacon Theater, and Bowery Ballroom) to see who is playing tonight near you. This is a fun thing to do in NYC at night to get out of the house and take in some of the best culture NYC has to offer.
Make dinner reservations
Local to NYC? Think of a restaurant you’ve been dying to try and actually go there for dinner! Or do it one better and find a quintessential NYC restaurant (think Tavern on the Green) to try. If you’re visiting NYC, check out some lists of the best restaurants in the city and make reservations. Looking for suggestions? We like John’s of Times Square, Gramercy Tavern, Grand Central Oyster Bar, Carmine’s, and Peter Luger Steakhouse, as a few places to get started.
See a show
NYC is a hotbed of shows, both on and off Broadway! Whether local or visitor, there’s always a great show to take in in NYC. Find some tickets, head to the theater, then grab a late night bite to eat at a nearby bar before heading in for the night. A show is the perfect way to spend a night in NYC.
Things to do in NYC Alone
NYC is actually surprisingly fun city to explore alone, which is why we’ve included a short list of activities and things to do in NYC by yourself. Prepare to be amazed, because this city has a lot to offer the solo-traveller.
What could be a better way to relax alone in NYC than to carve out some pampering time? sundays is a nail studio in NYC offers non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products. Bonus: the salon offers meditation time while you’re getting your nails done, making this the ultimate in indulgent self-care and a great thing to do in NYC alone.
Relax and recharge at this hidden four-acre segment of NYC’s Central Park. The Shakespeare Garden is quiet, secluded, and beautiful. Stroll the tree and flower lined paths, many of which are referenced in Shakespare’s many works, or bring a copy of your favorite work by the park’s namesake and unwind on a beautiful day in the city alone.
Go to the museum
NYC is home to some of the finest museums in the world. Head on over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and take in some of the world’s most impressive art at your own pace. Spend as much (or as little!) time as you want in front of each piece and find the works that speak most to you.
Play chess in Washington Square Park
Playing chess in Washington Square Park is an iconic NYC experience, and a great thing to do alone in the city. No matter your skill level, you’ll find someone waiting to challenge you at the park’s chess tables. All of the game equipment is already at the park.
Take a sound bath
What’s a sound bath, you might be wondering? Great question! Many of NYC’s yoga and meditation spots are now offering sound baths, where guests can relax on the floor in a pile of blankets and listen to a variety of sounds meant to relax and promote meditation. It’s the perfect NYC nighttime activity to get ready for an incredible night’s sleep, so book this activity on a night when you want to feel particularly rested and relaxed.
Things to do in NYC at Christmas
Many people say that Christmas is the best time to visit NYC, probably because of all of the holiday cheer and festivities. On the plus side, even New Yorkers seem to be a little friendlier during the holiday season. On the down side, a lot of people are bustling about in the cold and the sidewalks are full of Christmas trees being sold out of vans and similar.
The Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes
The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes is an annual musical hosted at Radio City Musical Hall in Manhattan. This is a quintessential holiday experience in NYC. The show features original music, holiday classics, the world-famous Rockettes, and Santa Claus. The show, which first ran in 1933, has become a famous NYC holiday tradition you can’t miss if you’re in NYC at Christmas.
The Rink at Rockefeller Center
We’ve all seen the photos and film clips of people ice skating at Rockefeller Center. This is a great thing to do in NYC at Christmas! Rent a pair of ice skates and spend a few minutes cruising around the rink under the icon Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It’s worth noting that advance reservations are highly recommended, though general admission is also available.
Watch the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting
Speaking of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, each year, there’s an annual lighting ceremony for the tree that’s packed full of musical performances and fun holiday festivities. The tree lighting is a classic thing to do at Christmas in NYC. The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting ceremony is free and first-come, first-served. The tree is usually a Norway Spruce ranging in size between 69 and 100 feet. It has gone into place at Rockefeller Center every Christmas dating back to 1933.
Take a photo with the big ornaments
Head on over to 1251 Sixth Avenue across from Radio City Musical Hall to see the giant Christmas ornaments. Grab a hot chocolate, put on your cutest winter clothes, and take a fun festive photo in front of the larger-than-life ornaments. This is a classic thing to do around Christmas in NYC. It’s one of the most visited and photographed Christmas spots in the city!
The Saks Fifth Avenue Window
The Sakes Fifth Avenue window is a holiday classic in NYC. Each season, Saks Fifth Avenue unveils a new window display in a holiday theme. Guests will enjoy the short story as they move from display to display. In 2019, Saks partnered with Disney to reveal a Frozen 2 themed holiday window.
NYC Summer Activities
Summer is one of the most popular times for tourists to visit New York City. You should know that the city gets pretty hot and muggy, so while there are some great outdoor things to do, you may want to look at indoor options as well, like visiting museums or taking a museum tour with Museum Hack. Here are our favorite things to do in NYC in June, July, and August.
Governor’s Island is just a short ferry ride away from NYC. The oasis is a car-free island full of hammocks, parks, and camping. It’s relaxing, quiet, and the ultimate quick city summer getaway. Sleep under the stars, read a book by the water, and return to the city recharged and refreshed.
Rooftop Cinema Club
Rooftop Cinema Club is an awesome NYC summertime activity. Rooftop Cinema Club hosts movie screenings on NYC rooftops during the summer complete with popcorn, wireless headphones, and a cocktail bar. It’s the ultimate way to relax, catch a flick, and take in NYC’s summer air.
Luna Park is the amusement park on Brooklyn’s Coney Island. The summertime hotspot is a ton of fun for people of all ages. Enjoy the roller coasters, rides, and boardwalk games. Plus, there’s carnival food like funnel cake. Need we say more about this great NYC summer activity? This is an awesome thing to do in NYC in June before it gets too hot and humid.
Kayak the Hudson
Rent a free kayak and cruise the Hudson River this summer in NYC. It’s one of our favorite things to do in NYC in July and August. Rent your kayak from the Manhattan Community Boathouse on a first-come, first-served basis at the 72nd Street Dock or Pier 96. You’ll get 20 minutes to cruise around the Hudson, enjoy the feel of the refreshing water, and take in the sights and sounds of NYC from a totally different perspective.
The U.S. Open is one of the top tennis tournaments in the world each year, and NYC is lucky enough to host it. The event takes over Queens for two weeks every summer. Head on over to Flushing Meadows for live musical performances, food trucks, great entertainment, the chance to catch a celebrity sighting or two, and, of course, some incredible tennis.
NYC Fall Activities
Fall or Autumn is easily one of the best times of year to visit NYC. It does get a little bit cold, but the air feels crisp and clean and the sidewalks tend to be a little less busy because people stay inside or take the subway. You may be able to find some budget friendly hotels as well. Below are the best things to do in NYC in September, October, and November.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Need to get in the Halloween spirit? Check out the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, located at 525 S Riverside Ave, Croton-On-Hudson, NY., the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze offers a cool fall day trip outside of NYC! You’ll be treated to beautiful fall foliage as you make your way to see more than 7,000 glowing carved pumpkins.
What’s a list of fall things to do without Oktoberfest? The quintessential festival is one of the top ideas on our list of things to do in NYC in October. The family-friendly event offers traditional German beer and food, games, and activities. Participate in beer stein contests, grab a brat, and relax with a giant pretzel at the Bavarian Festival, all without having to travel overseas.
Village Halloween Parade
The Village Halloween Parade is an NYC fall staple. It’s one of the best things to do in NYC in October. The parade first started back in the 1970s. Things to do at the parade include participating as a performer, dressing up as a zombie spectator, or just checking it out from the sidelines. Costumes are mandatory to participate!
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is tops on our list of things to do in NYC in November. The iconic parade runs through the city streets every Thanksgiving morning with giant balloons, the Radio City Rockettes, Broadway stars, and music performances. Plus, Santa Claus closes out each parade! Here’s a hack (though it may not be budget friendly): book a hotel room along the parade route so you can enjoy the parade without fighting the crowds on the streets.
New York City Marathon
The New York City Marathon is a classic NYC fall event held in November. Whether you’re a runner finally ready to try your legs at a marathon or an NYC tourist, the New York City Marathon is a cool thing to do. Non-runners are welcome along the route to cheer on the runners participating in this icon race.
NYC Winter Activities
Winter is our favorite time to find things to do in NYC because of all of the holiday celebrations going on. You probably know you will see Santa and the various giant Christmas trees, and there are some neat indoor and outdoor options too. Check out the best things to do in NYC in December, January, and February below.
The Winter Village at Bryant Park
Visit NYC’s Bryant Park for an awesome winter celebration to get into the holiday spirit. The Winter Village at Bryant Park has been operating since the early 1990s, transforming the famed NYC park into a winter wonderland worthy of the holiday hit song. The village offers close to 200 shops, a bar, and food vendors. Take a break from the holiday shopping and skate a lap or two around the Bryant Park ice rink.
New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
This might only be something to do once in NYC in January, but it should be on every NYC tourist bucket list. Join the millions of people who pack into NYC’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop. Guests are kept entertained with performances by top musicians before the famous ball ticks down the last seconds of the old year and rings in the new.
Find the best hot chocolate in NYC
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy a delicious glass of hot chocolate and many coffee and dessert shops in the city lay claim to the title of city’s best. It’s up to you to test them out and determine which shop truly offers the most delicious hot cocoa in NYC. Try Serendipity 3 and Jacques Torres Chocolates to start.
The New York City Ballet
Take in The New York City Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. It’s one of the most critically acclaimed performances of the famous ballet. The show runs from November through early January, so it’s a great winter and holiday activity to indulge in while in NYC.
Sled in Central Park
What’s the point of spending winter in a snowy climate if you don’t get to enjoy it? Head out to Central Park after the next snowfall and enjoy some sledding! The two best spots to sled in Central Park are on Pilgrim Hill and Cedar Hill. Pilgrim is the steepest (but also most crowded) sledding hill in NYC.
NYC Spring Activities
Similar to the Fall, Spring is a great time to visit NYC. In the spring, there are a lot of beautiful blossoms on the trees and you can visit the various parks and stay active without getting all sweaty like in the summer. It’s pretty cool. Below are our favorite options for things to do in NYC in March, April, and May.
The Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden
The Orchid Show at New York Botanical Garden is an awesome springtime activity in NYC. Thousands of flowering orchids are a welcome sight after a long winter in the city at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. It’s an incredible experience that has to be seen to be fully understood. Plus, the show includes live music, tours, and vendors.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a great things to do in NYC in March. It’s about as New York as the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square and, if you’re in NYC in the spring, it shouldn’t be missed. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which travels on Fifth Avenue from 44th to 79th Street, has operated in the city for more than 250 years. Enjoy all the green beer and bagpipes you can handle!
Fleet Week is another classic NYC spring tradition. During Fleet Week, active military ships of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard that have been recently deployed dock in major United States cities for the week. Fleet Week allows those on board a chance to disembark and explore the city. NYC goes all out, with parades and events hosting the military.
Take in a baseball game
Spring means the start of Major League Baseball and NYC is lucky enough to have two professional MLB teams call it home. Check out the Yankees in the Bronx or the Mets in Queens. Find a daytime game to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and one of the best spring activities in the city.
Union Square Greenmarket
The Union Square Greenmarket is a year-round market, but is particularly great to visit during the spring months in NYC. Find fresh produce, handmade products, and beautiful fresh flowers to help say goodbye to the dreary winter blues and hello to the warm sunshine of spring. Sample delicious food from vendors and consider making a visit to the market a weekly springtime tradition.
Frequently Asked Questions: Things to do in NYC
Have a burning question about things to do in New York City? We’ve heard them all. Below you’ll find a few of the most common questions and are uncommon answers.
What is the best thing to do in NYC?
Museum Hack is the best thing to do in NYC with 300+ five star reviews on Yelp and thousands more on TripAdvisor and other platforms. The company runs unconventional tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History, led by actors, performers, comedians, academics and nerds. The New York Times, New York Post, and Vogue have all featured these tours.
What is the best free thing to do in NYC?
The best free thing to do in NYC is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge if you haven’t yet! This is a great touristy way to see one of the best sights in NYC (and to get in a little exercise, too!).
How can I get discounted show tickets in NYC?
Discounted show tickets in NYC can be obtained same-day at the TKTS Booth in Times Square. TKTS offers available seats for same-day Broadway shows in NYC at up to half off the retail price.