Things to Do in New York
When sweltering summer temperatures hit the city, New Yorkers flock to this kitschy seaside resort. As well as a boardwalk and almost 3 miles (5 kilometers) of sandy beach, Coney Island is home to roller coasters and amusements, New York Aquarium, and Nathan’s Famous, a landmark hot dog joint that started out as a stand in 1916.
At the Cave of the Winds observation decks, thrill-seeking visitors can get within 20 feet (6 meters) of the thundering Niagara Falls for an experience that feels like the inside of a tropical storm with torrents of water cascading down and winds up to 68 mph (109 kph). Safe to say, you’ll probably get wet.
Guarding the entrance to New York Harbor on Liberty Island, the 305-foot (93-meter) Statue of Liberty came to the United States as a gift from France to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence—Lady Liberty has been a symbol of democracy and hope for NYC and the US almost ever since.
You can't get any closer to the thundering cascades of Niagara Falls than on a Maid of the Mist boat tour. The little steamboats have been chugging away into the falls' misty sprays since 1846, making this one of the area’s oldest tourist attractions. Be prepared to get up close and personal with the highest-flow-rate waterfall in the world—and to get wet, which is all part of the unforgettable Maid of the Mist experience.
New York's Finger Lakes make up one of the state's most popular vacation destinations, and Cayuga Lake is the longest of the 11 bodies of water, stretching roughly 40 miles from Ithaca at its southern tip to the marshes of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge at the northern end. Like all Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake is narrow, only 3.5 miles at its widest point.
The Fingers Lakes region is known for wine-growing and outdoor attractions, both of which draw many visitors. With forests, waterfalls, marshes and rivers, travelers visit to go hiking, boating, fishing and more. There are also museums in lakeside towns and historic attractions.
Step back in time, to September 14, 1901, when Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated the 26th President of the United States following the assassination of President William McKinley. The Ansley-Wilcox house has been preserved as the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, and appears much as it did on that fateful day.
American comedienne Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York, so it's here that the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and Center for Comedy was opened in 1996.
The museum's exhibits include a recreation of the “I Love Lucy” TV sets, including Ricky's nightclub, as well as memorabilia and artifacts from the show. There are costumes, personal photographs, and awards on display.
The facility is also a “Center for Comedy,” which hosts an annual comedy festival, a comedy film festival, and a “comedic education program” that is a partnership with a university. Classes are for adults or children ages 11-17, and range in topics from improv to stand-up.
As the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States, New York City’s Ellis Island was America’s busiest immigrant inspection station for more than 60 years. Today, the island’s restored main building houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which honors the US’s immigrant heritage, chronicles the island’s role in immigration history, and gives voice to the immigrants themselves.
Its name may suggest cartoon elephants, but Dumbo—a waterfront neighborhood in the north of Brooklyn—is actually one of the borough’s most stylish and photogenic enclaves. Dumbo’s cobblestone streets and converted warehouses are home to trendy galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, and one of the city’s truly iconic pizzerias.
Formerly known as the World Financial Center, the office complex known as Brookfield Place was renovated after 9/11 and has been the home of numerous financial companies like Merrill Lynch and American Express.
Today, this incredible architectural masterpiece that overlooks the Hudson River, is a destination for art-lovers, shoppers and foodies, thanks to a wide variety of boutiques, high-end stores, art installations and top-tier restaurants. Visitors can relax on park benches near the waterfront, enjoy strong drinks at one of the lively watering holes, or shop for unique items at some of the nearby retailers.
More Things to Do in New York
While we might not regularly think of it as such, simply sitting down to play for a while is a science unto itself. What is it that captures the imagination or piques a particular interest, and what form of playing is educational—rather than just passing time? These are some the questions explored at the National Museum of Play—formerly the Strong National Museum of Play in the city of Rochester, New York. There are interactive and hands on exhibits on everything from video games to action figures, and the center has a way of bringing out the kid in even the most serious of adults. There’s a video arcade full of classic games and enormous exhibits on Sesame Street, and even an indoor butterfly garden that is filled with 1,000 butterflies. While the center is heavily geared towards kids, it ends up being a family outing that everyone in the party can enjoy, since it’s hard to go wrong when visiting a building full of 400,000 toys.
To learn about the 200 year history of the Erie Canal, head to the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Housed in the Weighlock Building (which was built in 1850 and once weighed cargo passing through the canal), the museum holds artifacts, interactive exhibits, and a full-sized replica of an old canal ship.
The smallest of the three waterfalls that comprise world-famous Niagara Falls, Bridal Veil Falls is anything but small. Located on the US side of the falls, the 56-foot-wide (17-meter-wide) waterfall thunders over a 78-foot (24-meter) drop. Its frothy white cascade is reminiscent of a bride’s veil, hence the falls’ name.
The world's tallest building from 1931 to 1977, the Empire State Building is topped with a stepped Art Deco pinnacle that's floodlit at night and boasts holiday and commemorative colors throughout the year. After admiring the mosaics in the Art Deco lobby, take an elevator ride to the 86th or 102nd floor and get ready to drink in astounding 360-degree views from this iconic skyscraper observatory.
On the shores of the East River and in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park offers an expanse of green and unmatched views of the Lower Manhattan skyline. Spanning some 85 acres (34 hectares), the park hosts destination eateries, the restored antique Jane’s Carousel, seasonal events, and other attractions.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City stands as a place of remembrance and a somber tribute to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Reopened 10 years after the 2001 attacks, the eight-acre (3.2-hectare) plaza—built on the World Trade Center site—features two massive square reflecting pools whose waterfalls cascade down into the footprints of the former Twin Towers. The surrounding plaza is a peaceful and moving green space, while the museum, located beneath the plaza, lends a deeper understanding to the impact of that day. You’ll undoubtedly leave with a heavy heart.
Extending for 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) across New York City’s East River, this 19th-century bridge sees constant foot, bike, and car traffic thanks to commuters and sightseers alike. After a construction beset by tragedies—at least 20 people died during the building process—this steel-wire suspension bridge, then the world’s largest, finally opened to the public in 1883. Today crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential New York experience. Visitors come in droves to admire the bridge’s dramatic neo-Gothic towers and the stellar views of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront.
New York City’s hyperhip neighborhood of SoHo is renowned for its stylish shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. Though it’s more relaxed than bustling Times Square, SoHo can get mobbed with shoppers and tourists. Stroll down the cobblestone streets, browse stores—from big-name brands to posh boutiques—or peek inside its many galleries.
The heart and soul of Manhattan, Central Park is 843 acres (341 hectares) of green space featuring running paths, a boating lake, ponds, a zoo, fountains, statues, gardens, and a skating rink. New Yorkers and visitors alike have gathered at this National Historic Landmark year-round since 1857 to enjoy a respite from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.
In Niagara Falls State Park, three footbridges link Goat Island to the Three Sisters Islands. From there, you can see impressive views of the rapids of the Niagara River racing toward the falls. It’s a peaceful place to take a walk amid the highly popular park and town of Niagara Falls, New York.
A cultural beacon centrally located in New York's hippest borough, the Brooklyn Museum boasts a permanent collection of more than 1.5 million pieces and hosts several rotating exhibits yearly. The museum has a little of everything, from one of the largest Egyptian art holdings in the country to a robust American decorative arts collection.
Brooklyn is New York's coolest borough, and Williamsburg is hipster mecca. Packed with galleries, music venues, and arts spaces, Williamsburg is a prime destination to soak up Brooklyn's eclectic culture. From its cupcake shops and dive bars to its independent movie theaters, Williamsburg is an ideal place to shop and indulge.
One of North America’s most majestic natural wonders, Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls—American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls—which plunge dramatically over the Niagara River. The falls straddle the border between Canada and the US with viewpoints and falls-themed attractions on both sides.
Opened in 2018, the National Comedy Center in Jamestown is the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to comedy as an art form. Featuring more than 50 immersive exhibits and interactive experiences, the museum celebrates the great minds and voices of American comedy and gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the comedic process.
- Things to do in New York City
- Things to do in Brooklyn
- Things to do in Long Island
- Things to do in Buffalo
- Things to do in Niagara Falls
- Things to do in Pennsylvania
- Things to do in New Jersey
- Things to do in Massachusetts
- Things to do in Newark
- Things to do in Philadelphia
- Things to do in Niagara Falls & Around
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- Things to do in South Carolina