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Empire State Building on New York skyline

Including places to eat in New York

If you are looking for the best places to visit in New York City then this is the post for you. We’ve included everything that, as a first-time visitor to New York City, you have to see!

There are loads of tourist attractions all vying for your attention and it can be hard to know which one to pick first. We’ve come up with a huge list of top attractions in New York that can not be missed.

What is New York like to visit?

New York City is well known for being one the most amazing cities in the World to visit. It has everything you’ll need for an amazing holiday including great food, entertainment, shopping, and top attractions.

The city of Manhatten is busy with tall-rise buildings and gridlock traffic. Think of London or Paris but with more skyscrapers. Many New Yorkers work or take the Subway to get somewhere as the roads can be very busy throughout the center of the city.

You’ll need at least three days in the city to really appreciate the city as a whole and to get around everything that you want to see.

We normally visit in February due to Presidents Day Weekend which hosts loads of sales. It can get really cold though and does drop below freezing and can snow in the winter months. During summer it can get quite barmy, up to about 30 degrees.

The flight to New York City from the UK normally takes about eight hours to JFK. Once you step out of the airport you’ll have a choice of either catching a taxi into the city or taking the Subway.

The first time we visited New York City we took a taxi as it gave us the best views of the city. It meant we didn’t have to worry about getting lost. This did come at a cost though as getting from the airport to anywhere inside Manhatten can take about an hour, depending on the time of day.

If you decide on the Subway, which is what we do now, then it’s a lot cheaper and gives you the real experience of New York life. Don’t be scared that you’ll be the only ones with suitcases as you won’t be. It’s how the locals travel and is a great way to really get a feel of the city straight off.

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Where to stay in New York City

Depending on how long you plan to stay in New York City, you have a wealth of options open to you.

When we first went, we opted for a budget option but now we go more mainstream as we like the luxury and the location that spending a little more offers us.

Budget – The first time we went to New York City we stayed in Hotel Thirty Thirty which is on 30 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016. It was clean, tidy and quite cheap for what you get, which is a cleanroom. Being on 30th street though meant that you do have to walk for the tourist attractions and for good food. We found quite a few great pizza places by just walking around and asking the locals.

You could also look at a bit further afield in Chelsea or Greenwich Village that are a bit further from the action but can offer some chic accommodation.

Mid-range – We’ve stayed at quite a few mid-range hotels including The Wellington Hotel which is in midtown and great for shopping and DoubleTree by Hilton Millennium Times Square New York is right in the middle of the action in Times Square. We actually stayed here three times as it offers amazing views in their suites and the service is second to none.

Luxury – There are loads of luxury options but the big ones are The Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue and Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenue. These offer a view of New York like no other!

Places to eat in New York

Cheese Cake Factory Times Square – This is the best place to get cheesecake from, fact! They are open really long hours and not only serve every flavour of cheesecake you can think of, also offer huge American style meals like hot dogs and burgers. It’s pretty reasonable prices and great for a dessert option after a show.

Lucali – This is the best pizza in town. You do need to queue for it though so make a plan to get there before 5pm.

TGI Fridays Times Square – There are loads of places to eat in New York City but this is our go-to place on our first night after a long flight. They are open all kinds of hours and serve all the home comforts plus more; everything you come to expect from TGI’s.

Best places to visit when in New York

Here are the best places to visit in New York City as a tourist. Try and plan your days if you can so that you can get as much in as possible. Walk or take the Subway to really experience what the Big Apple is really like.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

You can find the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 5th Ave, New York City, NY 10028-0198. This is one of New York City’s most popular museums and has over art from all over the world displayed here. It’s an interactive museum that takes you through history one piece at a time.

Columbia University campus

Take a self-guided tour around this Ivy League university campus. Learn about its history and view some of the most amazing architecture that you’ve ever seen. You can find Columbia University campus at 16th Street, New York City, NY 10027.

The Cloisters

Make sure you visit The Cloisters which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was built from sections of French medieval monasteries. You can find The Cloisters at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive Fort Tryon Park, New York City, NY 10040.

Museum of the City of New York

This museum is full of urban life exhibits that celebrate the city’s past and present. The building is beautiful in itself and, if you can’t get a ticket, then just walking around the outside is amazing. 

Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History overlooks Central Park and is a huge building full of wonders. Walking in, you’ll find the famous whale, and then it’s time to get down to explore this amazing museum.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

This is an international landmark that overlooks 5th Avenue. This cathedral is full of rich history that dates back to 1879. You can find St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street & 5th Avenue Wheelchair accessibility located off the corner of 51st Street and 5th Avenue, New York City, NY 10022-6863.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is an amazing building that serves over 700,000 people every day. The building was first opened in 1913 and is steeped in rich history that is open for you to explore.


Walk along Broadway and see how many theatres you can spot. There are loads of restaurants that you can enjoy then take a walk through these culture-rich streets. You can find Broadway at 599 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012-3235.

Times Square

One of the most famous parts of New York City, Times Square is home to many historic theaters, which host a mix of shows like Mamma Mia and The Lion King. Its busy streets shouldn’t put you off! With its bright lights and huge buildings, Time Square must be on your to-do list.

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is famous in its own right. It’s been in many feature films and is free for you to walk around and enjoy.

Empire State Building

We love the Empire State Building! Right at the top, you get a 360-degree view of Manhatten from the 6th & 102nd Floor Observatories. At the top, sit and enjoy a drink while overlooking the most famous skyline in the World.

Chelsea Market

With loads of chic shops and great places to eat, Chelsea Market hosts a range of small businesses that sell everything you need. Walk around and explore the market for the afternoon while trying to pick where you are next going to eat.

One World Trade Center Observatory

This thought-provoking memorial is a great way to get a feel of New York City. Make sure you leave at least three hours though as there is so much to see while you are there.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

This is a non-profit museum that remembers and honors the people that died. this shows the after-effects of the attack and remembers those that risked their lives.

Brooklyn Bridge

As one of the most famous bridges, Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 and can be walked across from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Coney Island

Right by the seaside, Coney Island is home to Cyclone Roller Coaster and any amazing rides. It’s about an hour away from central Manhattan but is a little bit of seaside fun.

Kings County Distillery

This makes a great afternoon activity. Have a tour of this famous distillery and try the bourbon for yourself. You can find Kings County Distillery at Paymaster Building, Brooklyn Naval Yard, New York City, NY.

Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island

Take a boat ride over to Ellis Island and explore the Statue of Liberty yourself. This famous statue is a world symbol of freedom. It takes about half a morning to walk around so save loads of time to fully explore the island.

United Nations Headquarters

This amazing building is home to some huge moments in history. Take the tour around this building and take in the full history that it has to offer.

Rockfeller Plaza

From the famous ice skating rink to the amazing shops, Rockfeller is the place to be on a busy afternoon. Sit in the downstairs plaza and people watch or go to the Top Of The Rock which takes you up the Rockfeller so you can see New York at its finest.

Radio City Music Hall

This tour is amazing and takes you through New York’s history with music. We can’t recommend this tour enough! The tour takes about three hours and can be found at 1260 6th Avenue Between 50th and 51st Streets, New York City, NY 10020.

Central Park

Central Park offers you everything you need from walks around the lakes to across bridges and between trees. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy some fresh air right in the middle of the city.

New York Botanical Garden

Located in the Bronx, New York Botanical Garden boasts over 45 breathtaking gardens, indoor rain forests and deserts, and 50 acres of native forest. You can find the New York Botanical Garden at 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458-5153.

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Riverside Park

Second, to Central Park, Riverside Park will take your breath away. They have an ice rink, relaxing trails and gives you the views of Manhattan that you’ll only see on postcards. 

The High Line

This is an elevated railway that offers rich horticulture and great views of the Hudson River. The High Line runs between Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street.

Laura x

If you enjoyed this post and would like some more destination or travel ideas then look at our full section here that will give you holiday ideas like no other. You could also pop over to our Pinterest boards for lots more travel ideas on our Destination and Travel Ideas, Travel Ideas for Solo Travellers and Travel Ideas for Couples.

These are the best places to visit in New York for adults. We've included everything from museums and walks by Laura at Tweet Your Trip.

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