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

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

Whether you live here or you’re visiting for the 10th time, here is the ultimate list of 101 things to do in NYC.

While we had a love-hate relationship when visiting NYC, we absolutely loved the city when living here. We spent most of our visits eating our way through the city, and later realized that we hadn’t seen much of the city other than the insides of restaurants.

I’ve always had an extensive list of things we wanted to do, but with the help of our friends who’ve been living here for over a decade Charlene, Ted, Caty, and Debbie who was born and raised, we were able to narrow down the options and put together the ultimate NYC bucket list for you.

The Ultimate NYC Bucket List - 101 Things to Do in New York City

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Last Updated: Mar 14, 2020

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

It’s easy to 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.

Currently Closed

If there’s no date listed, these NYC institutions are closed indefinitely until further notice. Click links to see updates on each location.

Events

Tourist Attractions

  1. Bronx Zoo

The largest metropolitan zoo in the US

  1. Brooklyn Bridge

Walk across or bike across or take in the views of one of NYC’s iconic symbols from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

  1. Chinatown

Pick up some Eggloo waffle ice creams and eat the chicken over rice at Taiwan Pork Chop House.

  1. Chrysler Building

(Midtown) Art Deco skyscraper that’s an iconic part of the skyline

  1. Classic Harbor Line

(Chelsea) Take the sunset cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and views of the NY Skyline from the water

  1. Columbia University

(Morningside Heights)

  1. Edge NYC

(Hudson Yards) Great views of the city from the highest outdoor sky deck in the western hemisphere

  1. Empire State Building

(Midtown) The most photographed building in the world and the tallest of its time until 1970.

  1. Flatiron Building

(Flatiron District) another iconic and historic landmark

The Flatiron Building + Your Ultimate NYC Bucket List - 101 Things to Do in New York City
  1. Grand Central Terminal

(Midtown) Go upstairs and set up a long exposure shot.

  1. Hell Gate Bridge

(Astoria, Queens / QNS)

  1. Mahayana Buddhist Temple

(Chinatown)

  1. New York Public Library

(Midtown) No photos are allowed in the main reading room.

  1. The Oculus

(Financial District) The World Trade Center Transportation Hub and popular photography spot.

  1. One World Observatory

(Financial District) Not our favorite view but they still have nice views of the city. Also, the reveal is epic.

(Midtown) popular for its Neo-Gothic style architecture

  1. Staten Island Ferry

Have you tried a Staten Island? 🥂 The ferry is free.

  1. Times Square

(Midtown) The crowds are part of the experience and it’s worth witnessing once, but for locals this is their least favorite place to be. If you want to take photos without crowds, your best bet is around 3 am or during a snowstorm.

(Midtown) They have one of the best views of the city.

  1. The Vessel
(Hudson Yards) New NYC landmark made of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs. Tickets are free. Reserve here.
Rockefeller Ice Skating

Spectate: Shows + Events

  1. Apollo Theater

(Harlem) Jacob is actually in an episode he gets boo’d off stage!

  1. Barclay’s Center

Watch the Brooklyn Nets.

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. Fat Cat Jazz Club
  5. Film Forum, South Village
  6.  Juilliard – Some Free Performances
  7.  Las Chicas Locas for Salsa Dancing
  8. Late night show taping / SNL (how to score free tickets)
  9. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Square, UWS – includes New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera
  10. Madison Square Garden, Midtown West (We did the All Access Tour, but you can also go see the Knicks)
  11. MetLife Stadium, NJ – New York Giants
  12. National Tennis Center, Flushing, QNS – for the US Open
  13. New York Philharmonic, UWS
  14. Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg, BK
  15. 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.
  16. Radio City Music Hall, Midtown (Watch the Rockettes or take the Stage Door Tour to see behind the scenes)
  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

Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel NYC

Seasonal or Special Events

101 THINGS TO DO IN NYC CITY MAP

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Essential Tips for First Time Visitors to NYC

  • When to Visit: Fall and Spring are the prettiest times to visit for fall foliage and cherry blossoms. December until New Years is crowded but has all the Christmas decor. January and February are the least crowded seasons but frigid cold. Summer is crowded and hot and humid.
  • When you’re planning your trip, book a rental car at JFK or LGA.
  • Best Airports: 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.
  • Best Way to Get Around? 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. You can uber, but traffic sucks.
  • Always pack flip flops and high boots 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.

What to Pack / Favorite Travel Gear

Best Places to Stay in NYC

  • 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.

More Resources

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

Now when we visit, we spend most our time eating, since the options for food are endless.

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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

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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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