Luxurious Destinations
New York City
Destinations Within New York City

New York City Trip Itineraries

Your First Time in New York City

Destination(s): New York City

If you've never been to New York City, chances are you have a good idea of some of the places you want to check off your list. One of the most-photographed and most-filmed cities in the world, New York is home to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square—and these are just three of the many iconic spots that attract close to 50 million tourists every year.

Unlike many top tourist destinations, New York is appealing to visit in the rain, the snow and the heat of summer, though spring and fall are undoubtedly when the city seems to shine the brightest. It's not a cheap vacation destination, though there are bargains to be found, and some of the best dining in the city can be enjoyed for very little money. (There are even some who swear that the "real" New York City dining experience can only be found by sampling the hot dogs, sandwiches, roasted nuts, dumplings and other products sold by street-cart vendors from Central Park to Chinatown.)

Here are the top 10 must-see attractions in New York City, the ones that draw the biggest crowds and the ones your friends will ask you about when you come home. Five can't-miss dining destinations offer some of the best "local" cuisine, including overloaded deli sandwiches at Katz's and authentic brick-oven-style pizza at Lombardi's. After dinner, unwind with a little musical entertainment, a cocktail, or a beer at some of the city's most welcoming culture clubs and watering holes. Finally, go a little bit beyond the usual tourist checklist for a better idea of what makes New York City one of the most vibrant, most historic, and most interesting cities in the world.

Photo: The Empire State Building. By Matti Mattila. read more about Your First Time in New York City

Central Park

Central Park

  • 14 East 60th Street
  • The Central Park Conservancy
  • tel:+1 212 310 6600
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10022

The idea for Central Park was born in 1858, which a competition was held to choose a design for what would be the first public park built in America. The winners were Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose Greensward plan proposed an entirely man-made park that would be intended only for public use, as a refuge from the relentless rhythms of New York City's already overcrowded streets. It took more than 15 years and $14 million (the equivalent of about $200 million today) to build the Park, with its 843 acres and six-mile perimeter extending from Central Park West to Fifth Avenue and from 59th Street to 110th Street. Those 843 acres include 136 acres of woodlands, 250 acres of lawns, and 7 different bodies of water totaling some 150 acres.

Starting in 1980, a public-private partnership between New York City and the Central Park Conservancy restored and preserved Central Park, and attendance has only been rising in recent years. Now, more than 25 million visitors per year stroll its 58 miles of pedestrian paths, go horseback riding on 4.5 miles of bridle paths, bike or jog on its 6.5 miles of winding roads, or simply relax on the grass or on the nearly 9,000 benches provided. The famous Tavern on the Green restaurant - the location of the finish line for the New York City Marathon - was originally a sheepfold, housing the shepherd and the flock that grazed Sheeps Meadow until 1934. In nice weather, the still lush meadow now welcomes hordes of sunbathers, picnickers, and people-watchers, all of whom enjoy lounging underneath some of the only sky in Manhattan unmarked by tall buildings. Other special features of the park include the Central Park Carousel, the Marionette Theater, the Central Park Wildlife Center, the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, the Delacorte Theater, the Great Lawn, the Central Park Zoo, the Henry Luce Nature Observatory, Wollman Rink, Lasker Rink, the Loeb Boathouse, and the North Meadow. read more about Central Park

Lombardi's Pizza Gennaro's Caffe

Lombardi's Pizza Gennaro's Caffe

  • 32 Spring Street
  • tel:1 212 941 7994
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10012-4173

Established in 1905, Lombardi's stakes its claim as America's oldest fully-functioning pizzeria. Its influence stretches into every corner of the New York pizza establishment, as Gennaro Lombardi taught pizza-making to the founders of several other New York pizza institutions: John Sasso of John's, Patsy Lancieri of Patsy's, and Anthony Pero of Totonno's. Today, the restaurant is often overcrowded with tourists and faithful waiting to sample the classic brick-oven pizza served with a huge selection of fresh toppings. Prepare for a wait on weekends, and dining in the backyard garden (weather permitting) is more pleasant than the crowded indoor area. In the heated battles over New York's best slice, Lombardi's has its passionate defenders, many of whom cite the pizza with fresh chopped clams as one of the more memorable options.
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Metropolitan Opera House

Metropolitan Opera House

  • 30 Lincoln Center Plaza
  • Between 62nd and 65th Streets, Lincoln Center
  • tel:212 362 6000 (Tickets) / 212 799 3100 (Office)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10023
Union Square

Union Square

  • 14th to 17th Street
  • Between Broadway and Park Avenue
  • tel:+1 212 484 1200(Tourist Information)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10003
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • 1000 Fifth Ave
  • Fifth Ave. at 82nd St
  • tel:+1 212 535 7710
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10028-0198

Don't expect to fully take in all that this enormous museum has to offer in one visit. With the finest collection of American art in the world, a collection of more than 3,000 European paintings, an expansive array of art from ancient Egypt, and recently renovated halls of Greek, Roman, Cypriot, and Asian art, there is a reason the Metropolitan Museum is considered the foremost symbol of arts and culture in a city chock-full of arts and culture. Often referred to simply as "The Met", the museum is located on Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, on the eastern edge of Central Park and at the center of the so-called "Museum Mile".

First opened in 1872, the Met has been significantly expanded over the years, and its permanent collection now contains more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. In addition to its giant holdings of American, European, Egyptian, African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art, the museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. A number of notable interiors, ranging from 1st century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met's galleries. The Met also organizes and hosts a continually changing series of special exhibitions each year. read more about Metropolitan Museum of Art

Katz's Delicatessen

Katz's Delicatessen

  • 205 E Houston Street
  • At Ludlow St
  • tel:1 212 254 2246
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10002

Established in 1888, Katz's has the honor of being the city's oldest delicatessen, and its classic New York Jewish style has made it into a top tourist destination (watch those buses stop at the curb). Inside, you can wait in the cafeteria-style line or sit in the area marked "waiter service," where a sign marks the table where Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan sat while filming their famous scene in "When Harry Met Sally." Come for the dill pickles, old-fashioned cream soda, or--most famously--the thick sandwiches of pastrami and roast beef carved by hand, old-school-style.


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The Filmore New York at Irving Plaza

The Filmore New York at Irving Plaza

  • 17 Irving Place
  • Between 15th & 16th Street
  • tel:212 777 6800 / 212 777 1224 (Concert Hotline)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10003
Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the City of New York

  • 1220 Fifth Ave
  • At 103rd St
  • tel:+1 212 534 1672
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10029
Times Square

Times Square

  • 1560 Broadway, Between 46th & 47th streets
  • tel:+1 212 768 1560 (Times Square Alliance)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10036

Located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Street, its glittering lights and neon signs make Times Square one of the most iconic sights of New York City. Formerly the property of fur trading and real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor, the square got its name in the early 1900s when the New York Times moved into a new skyscraper on 42nd Street. After new subways brought thousands of commuters to 42nd Street, the city's theaters moved up from the Bowery and lower Broadway, and the area is now the center of New York's bustling theater district.

In the decades after the Great Depression, Times Square became known as a dangerous neighborhood and a symbol of the city's decline and corruption from the 1960s to the 1990s. After a long-term development plan and a comprehensive crackdown on crime by the city government, the infamous center of pickpockets and porno theaters has been thoroughly reinvented and filled with more upscale and tourist-friendly attractions, hotels, vendors, and street performers. read more about Times Square

Gramercy Tavern

Gramercy Tavern

  • 42 E. 20th St
  • tel:1 212 477 0777
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10003-1300
230 Fifth

230 Fifth

  • 230 Fifth Avenue
  • tel:1 212 725 4300
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10001
Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

  • 90 Orchard Street
  • (at Delancey Street)
  • tel:+1 212 431 0233 / +1 212 431 0714
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10002
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

  • Liberty Island
  • On Liberty Island in New York Harbor
  • tel:212-363-7620
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10004

This iconic copper statue was presented to the U.S. by France in 1886 as a commemoration of the U.S. centennial and a gesture of friendship between France and the U.S. Since then, it has stood at Liberty Island in New York Harbor as a welcome to all visitors, immigrants, and Americans returning from abroad. Construction of the statue, supervised by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and engineer Gustave Eiffel (mastermind of Paris's famous tower), began in France in 1875 and was completed in 1884, after which the statue was dismantled and transported across the Atlantic to be reassembled.

Lady Liberty stands approximately 151 feet tall and weighs 225 tons (450,000 pounds). Visitors used to be able to climb the 354 steps to peer at the view through the windows in her crown, but this option is no longer available. Currently, the museum and ten-story pedestal are open for visitation but are only accessible if visitors have a "Monument Access Pass" which is a reservation that visitors must make at least two days in advance of their visit and pick up before boarding the ferry. There are a maximum of 3000 passes available each day (with a total of 15,000 visitors to the island daily). read more about Statue of Liberty

Corner Bistro

Corner Bistro

  • 331 West 4th Street
  • (between Jane Street and Eighth Avenue)
  • tel:1 212 242 9502
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10014
Pegu Club

Pegu Club

  • 77 W Houston St
  • 2nd Floor
  • tel:212 473 7348
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10012
Morgan Library

Morgan Library

  • 225 Madison Ave
  • Between 36th and 37th Sts
  • tel:212/685-0008
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10178
Ellis Island

Ellis Island

  • Ellis Island
  • (in Hudson River)
  • tel:+1 212 561 4588
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10004
Gray's Papaya

Gray's Papaya

  • 2090 Broadway
  • (at 71st Street)
  • tel:1 212 799 0243
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10025

A New York favorite for almost 30 years, this hot dog joint offers a long-running special--one juicy hot dog with a slightly mysterious "papaya" fruit drink--that stakes a claim as the best dining deal in town. The store's famous facade has featured in several movies, and star chef Mario Batali is among the prominent New Yorkers who have proclaimed themselves fans of these dogs. There are three locations in the city, including this Upper West Side branch, the West Village (402 Sixth Avenue at 8th Street) and Hell's Kitchen (539 Eighth Avenue at 37th Street).  read more about Gray's Papaya

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

  • Off South Street Viaduct
  • Park Row, near Municipal Building
  • tel:212 484 1200 (Tourist information)
  • Visit website
  • New York, 11201

Opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It stretches 5,989 feet (1825 meters) across the East River and connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the time of its construction, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. The bridge was designed by the New Jersey architect John Augustus Roebling, who died before construction began after he contracted tetanus from a wound sustained in a ferry accident during surveys for the bridge project. Built from limestone, granite, and cement, the Brooklyn Bridge is an example of Gothic-style architecture, with its characteristic pointed arches topping twin passageways through huge stone towers. Because Roebling designed a bridge and truss system six times stronger than he thought it needed to be, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing, while many other bridges built around the same time have had to be replaced.

In the past, the inside lanes of traffic on the bridge carried the elevated trains of the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transport (BMT) Corporation from stations in Brooklyn to a terminal at Manhattan's Park Row. Streetcars shared the other lanes with other traffic until the elevated trains stopped using the bridge in 1944 and the streetcars moved to the center lanes. Six years later, the streetcars also stopped running, and the bridge was rebuilt to its present configuration, with six lanes of automobile traffic. A separate walkway runs along the centerline for pedestrians and bicyclists, and boasts some of the best views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. read more about Brooklyn Bridge

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

  • 350 5th Avenue, Suite # 3210
  • between 33rd and 34th Streets
  • tel:+1 212 736 3100
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10118

This 102-story Art Deco skyscraper, located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street, has been one of New York's most notable landmarks since its completion in 1931. Built as part of an intense competition to build the world's tallest building, the Empire State Building overtook its rivals - 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building - to gain the distinction, which it held for four decades, before the World Trade Center towers were completed in 1971. With the destruction of the World Trade Center in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City. It was designed by Gregory Johnson and his architectural firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon.

The building's fašade is classic, with modernistic stainless steel canopies marking the entrances on 33rd and 34th Streets and leading to corridors surrounding a core of 67 elevators. Though the Chrysler Building is undoubtedly the more attractive of New York's two Art Deco towers, the Empire State Building has earned its reputation as a top destination largely due to the popularity of its indoor and outdoor observation decks. The outdoor observatory on the 86th floor, with its sweeping 360-degree views of the city, is one of the most popular in the world, and has been visited by more than 110 million people. The second observation deck, on the 102nd floor, is completely enclosed and much smaller, and it may be closed on days with especially high traffic. In addition to the observation spaces, the building has 85 stories (2,158,000 square feet) of commercial and office space. In 1964, floodlights were added to illuminate the top of the building at night; special colors are chosen to match seasonal and other events, such as Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, or victory by any one of New York's sports teams. read more about Empire State Building

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

  • 82 East 42nd Street
  • 42nd St. at Park Ave
  • tel:+1 212 340 3404
  • Visit website
  • New York, 99723

Often called Grand Central Station, this major transportation hub located on the corner of Park Avenue and 42nd Street serves commuters on the New York City subway as well as the Metro-North Railroad, which travels to Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties in New York and Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. Aside from its importance as a transportation center, Grand Central Terminal is also one of New York's most durable landmarks, and a dramatic symbol of the hustle and bustle of the city. The decision to electrify New York's trains around 1900 meant that rail yard operations were moved underground and centered in a new, breathtaking Beaux-Arts terminal building, completed in 1913. Later, Grand Central was almost destroyed (the fate of the original Pennsylvania Station across town), but preservationists including Jacqueline Kennedy had it declared landmark in the mid-1960s.

Those approaching Grand Central Terminal from the south are rewarded with views of the building's impressive fašade, topped by a 13-foot clock. The clock features the world's largest example of Tiffany glass and is surrounded by huge sculptures of the Roman gods Hercules, Minerva, and Mercury. The interior of the terminal's main concourse is 120 feet wide, 375 feet long, and 125 feet high, and is covered with an impressive vaulted ceiling, painted like an evening sky, with gilded stars and constellations (part of a recent four-year-long renovation). Some 125,000 commuters pass through the terminal every day, in addition to some 500,000 visitors. read more about Grand Central Terminal

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium

  • 161st Street
  • (at River Avenue)
  • tel:+1 718 293 4300
  • Visit website
  • Bronx, 10452

The new $1.5 billion home for the New York Yankees baseball team opened in April 2009 on the former site of Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, across the street from the previous Yankee Stadium (built in 1923). In an effort to preserve a sense of the Yankees' storied history and its star players--who included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio--many aspects of the new stadium reflect those of the previous one, including the design of its exterior and the actual playing field.

Inside, visitors will find hundreds of photographs from throughout the team's history, taken from the archives of the New York Daily News and other sources. Seats are wider and have more legroom than in the previous stadium, and there are hundreds of thousands more square feet of space for food concessions and other amenities. Soon after it opened, the new Yankee Stadium became known for the high number of home runs hit there, earning the derision of some sports commentators, but the number of homers significantly slowed over the course of the 2009 season.


read more about Yankee Stadium

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

  • 47th to 51st streets
  • Btwn 48th and 50th sts., from Fifth to Sixth aves
  • tel:+1 212 332 6868 / +1 212 632 3975
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10112

A major commercial center covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is one of the city's foremost shopping and entertainment destinations. Oil billionaire and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. leased the site from Columbia University in 1929 with plans to build a new home for the Metropolitan Opera. After the stock market crash of that year, plans were changed. Now, 19 buildings constructed in the Art Deco style house shops, restaurants, and offices, along with Radio City Music Hall.

The centerpiece of Rockefeller Center is the 70-floor, 872-foot GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (aka "30 Rock") - formerly known as the RCA Building - centered behind the complex's sunken plaza. The building is the headquarters of NBC and houses most of the network's New York studios, including the legendary Studio 8H, home of Saturday Night Live. The windows of the studio where NBC's Today Show is filmed are usually mobbed by crowd jostling for a look of the show's hosts and guests. Tours of the NBC studios are also available, and many visitors choose to wait in line for tickets to one of the many shows taped in the building. read more about Rockefeller Center

Tribute WTC Visitor Center

Tribute WTC Visitor Center

  • 120 Liberty Street
  • tel:+1 212 393 9160 x138 / +1 866 737 1184
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10006

Located within the Standard Oil Building, just south of the World Trade Center, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center was created in the wake of September 11, 2001. Tribute offers visitors to the World Trade Center site a place where they can connect with people from the September 11th community. Through walking tours, exhibits and programs, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers "Person to Person History," linking visitors who want to understand and appreciate these historic events with those who experienced them.

The space features interactive exhibits and five galleries that deal with different aspects of the 9/11 tragedy. All walking tours make five stops while traveling around the site. Most of the tour takes place indoors, traveling along the windows of the World Financial Center and looking out onto Ground Zero. Guides share key facts and reveal specific events of the day while weaving their personal experiences of survival, loss, and healing throughout the tour, giving visitors an unparalleled opportunity to connect with history first-hand. read more about Tribute WTC Visitor Center

American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

  • Central Park West
  • at 79th Street
  • tel:+1 212 769 5100
  • Visit website
  • New York, 10024

Founded in 1869 by a group that included J.P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., father of the 26th U.S. president, the American Museum of Natural History is a remarkable architectural landmark, with its combination of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles and its grand white-columned entrance on Central Park West, marked by a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt. The museum complex contains 27 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibit halls, a planetarium, temporary exhibition halls, research and collections facilities, and a library in the natural sciences; add parking and service amenities and the area totals 1.6 million square feet.

The museum's vast selection of permanent exhibitions and its various special temporary exhibitions focus on illuminating various aspects of the earth's evolution, from the birth of the planet through the present day. Those that have the energy and perseverance to tour all of the museum's four floors of gallery space will be rewarded with a "field guide to life on Earth, the cultures of humanity, and the latest discoveries in the cosmos," according to the museum's Web site. In addition to the expansive galleries of dinosaurs, whales, birds, snakes and aquatic life, the museum features the recently revamped Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth. Other permanent exhibits are the Fossils Halls, the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, Biodiversity, Mollusks, and Our World. read more about American Museum of Natural History