If you’re coming to New York City, you know that you have to visit the big attractions—the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the American Museum of Natural History and the other places you can see for less with a CityPASS. But do you know how to get the most out of them? We’ve got the hacks you need to have a perfect NYC visit; read on for all the secrets.
American Museum of Natural History
• Take one of the free guided tours hourly from 10:15am to 3:15pm.
• Don’t like crowds? Try visiting on late afternoons and early Sunday mornings.
• Head to the fossil halls to see a 122-foot-long cast of a titanosaur, a newly discovered dinosaur species.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
• Choose the tour that works for you—there are day and night options, a Brooklyn-specific cruise and host of other choices.
• Listen closely to your tour guide. These guys are often New York City natives, and they’re always knowledgeable.
• In the warmer months, wear sunscreen and bring a light jacket. It’s sometimes a bit cooler out on the water, and you’ll get some sun.
Empire State Building
• To beat the crowds, arrive early in the morning (around 8am), in midafternoon (around 3pm) or after 11pm.
• For a fun, only-in-NYC experience, visit late. The observation deck is open until 2am every night (the last elevator goes up at 1:15am).
• Enjoy live music from a saxophonist after the sun sets, Thursdays through Saturdays.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
• Experience some major thrills in the on-site flight simulator.
• Try an audio tour, available in English and a slew of other languages.
• With an upgrade at the box office, you can see the Enterprise—a NASA space shuttle prototype that played an important role in the American space program.
The Met Fifth Avenue
• Make a day of it and visit the Met Cloisters and/or the Met Breuer. Your ticket’s good for all three.
• Take a free guided tour—there’s one every 15 minutes.
• In the summer months, don’t miss the Met Fifth Avenue’s roof garden. You’ll find city views, an art installation and a café-bar for refreshments.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
• The museum includes Survivors’ Stairs, down which men and women escaped on the day of the attacks.
• On Tuesday afternoons, the museum hosts talks centered on personal remembrances from those who were witness to the events.
• Spend some time aboveground at the memorial’s reflecting pools, located within the footprints of the former Twin Towers.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
• Take a free tour to learn more about the art and history of the Guggenheim; it’s at 2pm every day that the museum is open.
• Eat at The Wright, an on-site restaurant—the cool design and New American menu would make it worth a visit even if it weren’t part of the museum.
• Feel free to bring a pencil and notebook or sketchbook—but leave the easel and paints at home.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
• Use the passenger arrival records at Ellis Island to check your own family’s US immigration history.
• Don't forget that there's an actual museum in the Statue's pedestal, chock-full of fascinating historical information.
• Eat and shop in Lower Manhattan before or after you catch the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
• Consider a nighttime visit—the decks close at midnight, with the last elevator up at 11:15pm.
• Explore the rest of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where many famous TV shows tape—including The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.
• All three observation decks have outdoor space, but to really feel like part of the skyline you should head for the highest of them, which is completely open-air.