You could spend a lifetime in New York City and still not see it all, but there are some attractions that no visitor should miss. Below, we’ve put together 12 of the best, all of which you can see with New York City Explorer Pass.
1. Top of the Rock Observatory
Why you have to see it: Its three observation decks include two that have some shelter and one that’s all open-air; it sits atop the famous 30 Rockefeller Center, where famous shows like Saturday Night Live are filmed; and it’s open until midnight for spectacular nighttime views of the world’s greatest skyline.
2. Empire State Building
Why you have to see it: This art deco masterpiece was the world’s tallest building for four decades, and remains one of the most recognizable structures anywhere on earth. The observation deck is open from sunrise until 2am, and on (most) Thursday through Saturday nights a live saxophonist provides an atmospheric soundtrack.
3. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum—Ferry Ticket
Why you have to see it: The Statue of Liberty is an icon known worldwide and an enduring, inspiring symbol of New York City’s immigrant history. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is a place where US residents can trace their families’ own stories and everyone else can go over passenger records, photos and other artifacts reflecting new Americans’ journeys to the land of opportunity.
4. American Museum of Natural History
Why you have to see it: No matter what subject fascinates you, this museum is going to teach you something that will blow your mind. Want to see full-size dinosaur skeletons? They’ve got ’em. Learn about the inner workings of the human body? Sure. Feel what it’s like to be deep in outer space or far below the surface of the ocean? It’s all there. And if you just want to go to the gift shop and buy astronaut ice cream, they’ve got you covered.
5. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Why you have to see it: This place hosts work by Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol and many more figures whose work is among the best known and most influential in the world of modern art. If you care about painting, sculpture, film, performance or the artistic history of New York City, it’s a must-visit.
6. Big Bus Tours
Why you have to see it: There’s a lot of ground to cover in New York City, and these guided bus tours are an efficient way to make sure you see sights like Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s also an easy way to get around. And while the guide speaks English, the taped audio commentary is available in 10 languages.
7. 9/11 Tribute Center and Walking Tour
Why you have to see it: While it’s undoubtedly a much more solemn occasion than most activities for an NYC visitor, the 9/11 Tribute Center and Walking Tour are a chance to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001. Many find the experience a powerful, memorable way to pay respects to those lost on that tragic day.
8. The Met Fifth Avenue
Why you have to see it: With 2 million works of art covering 5,000 years of human history, this museum receives more visitors than any other in New York City. The Egyptian galleries—which include the actual Temple of Dendur, originally built around 15 BC—and the Medieval Art collection are just two of the many reasons it’s so popular. If you go, you’ll no doubt uncover a few favorite sections of your own.
9. Circle Line Sightseeing Landmarks Cruise
Why you have to see it: There are a lot of reasons many of NYC’s most notable attractions—including the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations, One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building—can be seen during one fun 90-minute cruise. But among the biggest is the series of incredible photo opportunities that are sure to be a hit on Instagram (or just your personal album).
10. Central Park Bike Rental: Full Day
Why you have to see it: No trip to New York City is complete without a stop in its most famous park, and pedaling through the green space on two wheels is a fun, fast way to cover its 843 acres of trees, arches, meadows, gardens, playing fields and nature paths. And as long as you return the bike to where you picked it up (on West 56th Street), you can use it to power your sightseeing all around the City.
11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Why you have to see it: This 25,000-ton aircraft carrier that was deployed during World War II and the Cold War has permanently docked in the Hudson and been converted into a museum. Inside you’ll find aircraft that have served in World War II, Vietnam and other conflicts as well as relics of the space program—including the test shuttle Enterprise, which is worth the price of admission its own. You can also climb aboard the nuclear submarine Growler.
12. Yankee Stadium: Classic Tour
Why you have to see it: There may be no sports franchise known or loved by more people around the globe than the New York Yankees, 27-time World Series champions. In addition to seeing Monument Park and other parts of the stadium you might visit before a game, you’ll have the chance to step into the dugout. That’s an experience to remember and a great photo backdrop.
The New York City Explorer Pass lets you choose from over 80 top attractions, including the Empire State Building. You can visit up to 10 attractions with the Explorer Pass and save up to 50 percent off the box-office price, or Build Your Own Pass and save up to 20 percent on attractions of your choice.