Most Popular Tourist Attractions in New York City
Staten Island Ferry
If you have time for only one tourist attraction in New York City, the Staten Island Ferry will give you the most bang for your buck: it's free for pedestrians! The five-mile, 25-minute voyage between Lower Manhattan and the borough of Staten Island offers spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline.
Statue of Liberty
A gift of international friendship from France, dedicated in 1886, this 305-foot-tall beacon of freedom was the first glimpse of the United States for millions of immigrants en route to the processing center on Ellis Island. Regularly scheduled ferry service to Liberty Island serves thousands each day, but be sure to make reservations, especially if you want to climb the 354 steps to the crown of this New York tourist attraction.
This funky neighborhood below 14th Street and west of Broadway found its passion in the bohemians and starving artists who made it their home for decades. Though many of those poor-but-creative types can no longer afford to live in the now-pricey district, the atmosphere once fueled by the visionaries of the Beat Movement still permeates the shops, parks and coffeehouses of this popular New York tourist attraction.
Empire State Building
The top of the Empire State Building's spire pierces the sky at 1,453 feet, but unless you're a giant ape, the closest you'll get is in the 102nd Floor Observatory, the highest publicly accessible space in the iconic art-deco skyscraper. The views of the city are jaw-dropping from this NYC attraction, but the more spacious observatory on the 86th floor is a not-too-shabby 1,050 feet high, with a glass-enclosed area surrounded by wide, open-air promenades.
The verdant oasis provides 843 acres of valuable green space for tourists and residents in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. A day spent in Central Park could include a photo shoot of its more than 50 fountains, monuments and sculptures; jogging, walking or bicycling along its miles of paths; fishing in the summer or ice skating in the winter; or just peaceful relaxation or meditation in the tourist attraction's seven designated quiet zones. Parents can let the kids explore one of the 21 playgrounds while they watch from one of Central Park's more than 9,000 benches.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Visitors to this mammoth museum wander through galleries showcasing more than two million works of art from prehistory to modern times, collected from around the earth. At two million square feet, there's plenty of room to display the diverse collections that include paintings by European masters, medieval arms and armors, ancient Egyptian and Asian art, and contemporary pieces. The Met hosts more than 30 traveling exhibitions each year representing a variety of artists, eras and cultures, so you'll see something new each time you visit this popular New York City tourist attraction.
Site of the world's most famous New Year's Eve celebration, this popular tourist attraction sits at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and between West 42nd and 47th streets. Prepare to be dazzled by the illumination of animated neon and LCD signage at night, advertising national brands and displaying giant video feeds of broadcast and cable events. If you want to watch the famous ball drop as the New Year is counted down, be sure to arrive early to stake out a space.
The site in Lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center towers once stood is a somber attraction visited by many to reflect in silent tribute to the memory of the thousands killed on September 11, 2001, after hijacked airliners were crashed into the buildings, leading to their collapse. The city offers guided walking tours at the site, which is currently an active construction zone.
Photo by Abir Anwar on Flickr