The Ultimate NYC Bucket List (101 Things to Do in NYC)

The Ultimate NYC Bucket List (101 Things to Do in NYC)

[ Update: We’re spending 2018 exploring NYC. We’d love to hear all your suggestions! ]

We love visiting NYC! When we visit, we spend most our time eating, since the options for food are endless. It wasn’t until recently that we realized that we haven’t seen much of the city other than the insides of restaurants. With the help of our friends Charlene, Ted, and Caty who’ve been living here for over 10 years, we were able to put together an NYC bucket list.

We could probably make an entire 101 list for each borough, but we’ll start with the city as a whole. This list will continue to change and evolve as we find new things to see, do or eat in NYC so keep checking back. We focused more on experiences than food on this post, but we know how important food can be too, so you can check out our full food bucket list.

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Last Updated: Dec 16,, 2018      First Published: Jan 30, 2017

THE ULTIMATE NYC BUCKET LIST (101 Unique Things to Do in New York City)

Tourist Attractions

  1. Bronx Zoo, Bronx Park
  2. Brooklyn Bridge, BK
  3. Chinatown
  4. Chrysler Building, Midtown
  5. Classic Harbor Line Sunset Cruise, Chelsea – See Statue of Liberty and NY Skyline
  6. Columbia University, Morningside Heights
  7. Empire State Building, Midtown
  8. Flatiron Building, Flatiron

More: 9 Things to Do in Rockefeller Center + Best Things to Do Indoors in NYC

The Flatiron Building + 25 Best Places to Take Pictures in NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #travel #instagram #photography #manhattan #flatiron #cityscape
  1. Gospel Church or Gospel Brunch, Harlem
  2. Grand Central Terminal, Midtown
  3. Greenwich Village / West Village
  4. Hell Gate Bridge, Astoria, Queens (QNS)
  5. Mahayana Buddhist Temple, Chinatown
  6. New York Public Library, Midtown
  7. The Oculus (World Trade Center Transportation Hub), Financial District
  8. One World Observatory, Financial District
  9.  Rockefeller Center, Midtown
  10. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Midtown
  11. Staten Island Ferry (and drink a Staten Island 🥂)
  12. Times Square, Midtown – to avoid the crowds, go at 3 am or during a snowstorm
  13. Top of the Rock has one of the best views!
  14. Victorian Gardens Amusement Park
Rockefeller Ice Skating

Spectate: Shows + Events

  1. Apollo Theater, Harlem – Jacob is actually in an episode he gets boo’d off stage!
  2. Barclay’s Center – Brooklyn Nets
  3. Broadway Show or Off-Broadway Show

More: The Best Escape Rooms in New York City + Essential Tips for Watching Broadway Shows

Hamilton the Musical + Your Guide to the Best Broadway Musicals and Shows in NYC + How to Get the Best Deals on Broadway Show Tickets + A Complete List of Current Broadway Shows, Off-Broadway Shows, and Off-Off Broadway Shows
  1. Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg, BK
  2. Carnegie Hall, Midtown
  3. Comedy Cellar, Greenwich Village
  4. Film Forum, South Village
  5.  Juilliard – Some Free Performances
  6.  Las Chicas Locas for Salsa Dancing
  7. Late night show taping / SNL (how to score free tickets)
  8. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Square, UWS – includes New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera
  9. Madison Square Garden, Midtown West (We did the All Access Tour, but you can also go see the Knicks)
  10. MetLife Stadium, NJ – New York Giants
  11. National Tennis Center, Flushing, QNS – for the US Open
  12. New York Philharmonic, UWS
  13. Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg, BK
  14. The Public Theater, NoHo – an iconic theater and is famous for their logo design. We went and saw the play, Office Hour, which our friends were in.
  15. Radio City Music Hall, Midtown (Watch the Rockettes or take the Stage Door Tour to see behind the scenes)
  16. Shakespeare in the Park (Summer only, how to score free tickets)
  17. Yankee Stadium, Bronx
Rockettes Christmas Spectacular

MUSEUMS + MEMORIALS + MONUMENTS

  1. African Burial Ground National Monument, Financial District (National Park Unit)
  2. American Museum of Natural History, UWS
  3. Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Heights, BK
  4. Castle Clinton National Monument, Battery Park (National Park Unit)
  5. The Cloisters, the Heights (part of the Met)
  6. Chelsea Galleries (David Zwirner Gallery to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit)
  7. Ellis Island
  8. Federal Hall National Monument (National Park Unit), Financial District
  9. Frick Collection, UES
  10. General Grant National Memorial, Morningside Heights (National Park Unit)
  11. Governors Island National Monument (National Park Unit)
  12. The Guggenheim (Solomon R Guggenheim Museum), UES
  13. Hamilton Grange National Memorial (National Park Unit), Harlem
  14. Intrepid (Intrepid Sea and Air Museum) – for Stargazing or Movie Nights
  15. Lower East Side Tenement Museum, LES
  16. The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Central Park / UES
The Metropolitan Museum of Art + Top 25 Indoor Attractions NYC // Local Adventurer
  1. MoMa / Museum of Modern Art (Free Fri 4-8PM) – we recognized so many more pieces of art here than at the Met.
  2.  MoMa PS1, LIC, QNS 
  3. Morgan Library and Museum, Murray Hill
  4. Museum of Moving Image, Astoria, QNS – We loved how interactive it was. You can learn how to make a. puppet and puppeteer, do a voice over, etc. Kids will love playing the video games.
  5. National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Financial District
  6. New York Transit Museum, BK
  7. The Noguchi Museum, LIC, QNS – loved the aesthetic here more than any other museum.
  8. Statue of Liberty National Monument (National Park Unit)
  9. Stonewall National Monument (National Park Unit), West Village
  10. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, Flatiron (National Park Unit)
  11. Tibet House, Flatiron
  12. Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District

More: 11 National Parks and National Monuments in NYC

Outdoors + Urban Parks

  1. The Battery Conservancy, Financial District
  2. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, Brooklyn (BK)
  3. Brooklyn Boulders (one of the best bouldering gyms in the US imo. We’ve been to a lot of climbing gyms and currently are part of the QB one in LIC)
  4. Brooklyn Bridge Park
  5. Coney Island Boardwalk + Brighton Beach, BK
  6. Bryant Park, Midtown
  7. Central Park

More: Central Park Secrets + Famous Attractions You Can’t Miss + Best Spots to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC

Central Park Waterfalls and More Secrets of Central Park
  1. Conservatory Garden, East Harlem
  2. DUMBO view of Manhattan Bridge
  3. Fort Washington Park’s Little Red Lighthouse, the Heights
  4. Gantry Park, LIC, QNS (our favorite park with great views and it has more locals than tourists)
  5. The High Line, Chelsea
  6. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Park
  7. The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Staten Island
  8. Prospect Park, BK
  9. Rockaway Beach, QNS
  10.  Socrates Sculpture Park, LIC, QNS
  11. Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village
New York High Line Photos + 25 Best Photoshoot Locations NYC // Local Adventurer #nyc #newyork #newyorkcity #usa #instagram #photography #travel #highline #chelsea #manhattan

Shopping or Food Experiences

  1. Afternoon tea at the Plaza, Midtown West (plus, here are some other great spots)
  2. Arthur Ave, Bronx – apparently the real Little Italy if you want real Italian
  3.  B&H Flagship Store – This is a photographer’s heaven and was high priority on my very first NYC trip. Before you go make sure it isn’t a Jewish holiday. There are so many! P.S. You can pick up your free gift using this voucher or online code: LOCALADVEN
  4. Brooklyn Flea Market, DUMBO
  5. Chelsea Market
  6. Coffee at Birch Coffee, A Little Taste, or Piccolo Cafe
  7. Eataly Market, Flatiron
  8. Fifth Avenue, Midtown – one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world
  9. New York bagel at one of these spots
  10. New York-style pizza at any of these iconic spots
  11. Smorgasburg at East River State Park, Williamsburg, BK – largest open-air food market in the US.
  12. Strand Bookstore, Union Square
  13. Union Square Farmer’s Market

More: 99 Best Places to Eat in NYC

Seasonal or Special Events

101 THINGS TO DO IN NYC CITY MAP

Essential Tips for First Time Visitors to NYC

  • When you’re planning your trip, book a rental car at JFK or LGA.
  • LGA is the easier airport to get in and out of. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many direct flights, but we always try to fly here if it’s available and the prices are comparable.
  • Take the train. NYC hands down has the best public transportation we’ve seen in the US. If you’re planning on taking more than 12 rides then get the unlimited 7-day pass.
  • Always pack flip flops for rainy days. When it’s really pouring, the rain has gotten into my waterproof shoes.
  • If you’re planning on visiting a lot of attractions during your visit, pick up a New York Pass. There are multiple day options and it gives you access to a ton of spots. We did a 2 day pass and visited over 11 spots saving us a lot of money.
  • If you’re a first time visitor, don’t forget to read 21 Things You Should Know Before Visiting NYC, and if you’re about to move here, check out our Local Tips for Moving to NYC.
  • If you’re visiting in the winter, check out our NYC winter packing and survival guide.
  • Want to take a day trip from NYC? Here’s 21 Best Things to DO in Upstate NY and 15 Incredible Weekend Trips from NYC.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Library Hotel – our favorite boutique hotel conveniently located in Midtown East near Bryant Park, NY Public Library, Grand Central Terminal, Empire State Building. Stay for a night or have happy hour at their rooftop bar.
  • Casablanca Hotel – If you want to stay in Times Square but have a place to escape to, this is a great hotel for you. If’s perfect for any first time visitor or anyone who wants to see Broadway shows. It feels like a breath of fresh air and it’s part of the Library Hotel collection.

We try to make it back once a year because we think NYC has some of the best food in the world, but we can’t wait to see more of the city too!

Have you set foot in all five boroughs? Anything on this list you weren’t impressed with? Anything you think we missed?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

Do you live in NYC or are you visiting soon? Save this pin and click through to see our ultimate New York City bucket list to help you get out and explore. It includes 101 things to do to do in NYC • Top New York tourist attractions you have to do at least once plus other unique and off the beaten path places to visit in New York // Local Adventurer #nyc #nycgo #newyork #newyorkcity #localadventurer #bucketlist Check out our 101 Things to Do in NYC Bucket List - from the touristy spots everyone has to do at least once to the spots a little more off the beaten path. // localadventurer.com

“Meet

ESTHER + JACOB

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 25 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

Local Adventurer on Pinterest Local Adventurer on Youtube

This Post Has 67 Comments

  1. Great article. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a good day.

  2. I didn’t know about a lot of these places, but the number one on this list is trying New York pizza! Cheers for this Article!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I’m planning to visit NYC next year, this list will be useful for sure!

  4. Awesome post, guys! It’s a great list, and shows how different NYC really is – it’s not ALL just concrete!

  5. You guys should check out Long Island City, Queens – specifically Gantry Plaza State Park. Has great views of the NYC and in the summer offers a ferry to the city. I lived in LIC for four years and I still go back every time I visit. Best neighborhood imo!

    1. Thanks Lauren! :) We actually live in LIC and love Gantry Park.

  6. Such a unique city. I could spend a year there and still probably not hit every thing I would want to do!

  7. Great post! New York is the best destination to travel. I have always wanted to see it. Thank you for the great information and more destinations to add to our list! You captured literally great pics. Loved this.
    Thank you.

  8. Thanks for the information… Good Job..!!!

  9. Thanks for the ideas! I’m planning a trip up to the big Apple myself and now I won’t be bored.

  10. Truly great list to explore NYC! Thanks a lot Esther for this informative post & it would definitely be useful for the us.

  11. Thanks for sharing these easy tips. Need to follow up with this

  12. Very comprehensive list here! In truth NYC is one of those places where you create a game plan and then it goes out the window once you arrive. Still, its nice to at least have a few things you just have to do when you get there.

    1. Thanks!! So true. We def use this as a rough guide but the list is changing all the time because there are constantly new things to do. haha

  13. Awesome list, will save it. Thanks for sharing such informative post.

  14. I’ve been to NYC twice and was pretty sure I’ve seen and done all iconic things. Yet your list proves the opposite. I’ve missed out a LOT! Looks like I’m going there for the third time to fix it up. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for reading, Ethel! Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by all the things there is to do even living here. The crazy thing is that this is an abbreviated version of my personal list. I keep adding to my queue and it’s near 1000… maybe it’s getting out of hand. haha

  15. Great Post! I would love to print these and take these with me! I cant wait to go to the zoo!!

    1. Thanks, Zack. :) We’ll be working on putting up a printable pdf. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. Oh wow, amazing list! I’ve spent five weeks in NYC but whole year sounds more than great! I wish I can do that too one day and explore every place mentioned in this list. :)

    1. I hope you get to come back and see more here too, Nora! :)

  17. NEW YORK… the most favorite city and this massive list is must do list..next year holiday list done..thankyou for this article

  18. New York is a city full of life. I would really love to have this bucket list with me and try everything here. Great list Esther.

  19. Thanks for sharing. You sorted out our work by making list of places.

  20. Outstanding post. I love how complete this bucket list is. I would definitely have this printed. Kudos to you for keeping things interesting Esther.

  21. Recommend joining club free time. We lived in nyc for 4 years and saw some amazing shows and music

  22. This is such a good list! I’ve been to New York but obviously missed out on a lot. Can’t wait to go back one day :)

  23. Wow! This is one of the most detailed lists of things to do when in NYC, Esther and Jacob. You’ve covered all the important things that are to see there. How many days would be enough to explore the whole list?

    1. Good question, Lydia! It would definitely take a few trips to do them all, and the idea is for this list to be for people who’ve lived in NYC all their lives but just don’t get out to explore and also for people who’ve been to NYC at least once. We’ve lived here for over 6 months and still haven’t gotten around to everything, but that’s also partly because new things keep popping up too.

  24. Nice post.

  25. Great source of information. I’m glad to recommend these lists. Thanks

  26. I take for granted living so close to New York (Connecticut). There are so many things on this list I’d like to try. Thanks for posting.

    1. Thanks, Kelcy! We feel the same way. :) That’s why we started the blog!

  27. Wow – a very comprehensive list – thanks for sharing!

  28. Thanks for this great post! New York is my ultimate travel goal for 2018! I personally started traveling around two years ago and have been to several different countries including Egypt, Turkey and Spain.

  29. Nice List…

  30. new york is one of my fav city to visit. really like your post bro. keep it up.

  31. These post and wonderful reviews makes me want to visit the city that never sleeps(NYC). I am currently visiting Africa. The wildlife is beautiful, the scenery is scenic. I would visit Seychelles next. For me traveling is a priority.

  32. highly recommend Rough Trade NYC in Williamsburg for music lovers.

  33. When I remember new york.. I remember NYPD, ha ha.. hollywood efects .. but the city is also very cool..

  34. What a useful list! I am saving it for the next time I go to NYC!

  35. Hi, The best ever cupcakes are fund at Little Cupcake Bakeshop! The Blue Velvet is my favourite. The store has the best atmosphere and the staff are awesome! They have a few in Brooklyn but I visited the Prince St store quite a few times.

    1. Thank you, Sue. Will check them out. We’ve been trying to put food on a separate list and make this more about activities :)

  36. I need to go back to New York City. Thanks for putting together this list because there is so much to do.

    1. There really is! You can never run out of things to do here.

  37. Hello! I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and finallygot the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas!Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent work!

  38. Great NYC bucketlist! If you haven’t already tried them I also recommend the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery and also the Chocolate & peanut cookie at Levain bakery, both located on Upper West Side.

    1. Thank you, Alice. Oh yeah that banana pudding is really good. We had it the last two times we visited. I’ll have to make it up to Levain bakery next :)

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