If you’re planning to travel to New York City and are looking for all of the best things to add to your latest and great NYC bucket list, then THIS is the post for you!
Because guess what? I’m a 30+ year local who was born and raised in good old New York City! And I want to share all of my expert tips and secret tricks with you so that you can have the best time ever in NYC and plan the absolute perfect New York City bucket list.
And I think this post will help you do just that! Because it’s brimming over with 160 different activities that you can quickly and easily add to any New York bucket list – wickedly wonderfully attractions that can be found in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.
However, to make trip planning even easier, I’ll also throw in some amazing tips on where to stay and help you decide if the New York Pass is right for you.
So, if you’re ready to uncover some of NYC’s most secret places and to explore the city like a true local – like someone who has lived and worked here for over 30 years – then swan dive with me into this rad AF post.
Because with its iconic skyline, amazing landmarks, world-class museums, exquisite art, stunning green spaces, and to-die-for cuisine, there really is no other city in the world quite like NYC – which is why we just call it “the city” here.
I mean, there really is no other city we could possibly be referring to since, well, hello, NYC is the greatest. And yes, I am incredibly biased.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Wait! Before I Even Start This NYC Bucket List! Should I Get The New York Pass?
Honestly, this is probably the single most common question that I get about traveling to NYC. Therefore, before we even begin this NYC bucket list, I wanted to discuss the New York Pass with you.
Because, not surprisingly, there are a ton of different NYC discount passes out there that can save you a whole bunch of money if you know how to use them.
But with so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which pass is right for YOU!
Now, truth be told, I’m not gonna go into an in-depth review of all of them right this minute for a couple of reasons.
- This post is already hella long (over 11,000 words).
- I wrote an entire post with an insanely detailed review of every NYC discount pass imaginable here that you should read right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
However, if you’re looking for a short and sweet answer to the question, “Is the New York Pass worth it?” then let’s just say that if it’s your first time in New York and you’re planning on seeing a bunch of big-name attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, then you will save a TON of money with the New York Pass.
But, if you’ve traveled to New York City countless times and are looking to get off the beaten path, then the New York Pass probably won’t save you much money and is something you may want to skip..
Although to make the most informed decision possible, you’ll deffo want to read my full review here.
Seriously, it’s truly epic and really does have everything you need to know. Heck, it even includes a comprehensive price breakdown so you can actually SEE how much money you’ll save. Yup, I really am that anal-retentive.
Where to Stay When Planning the Ultimate NYC Bucket List
Look, surprising to exactly no one is the fact that NYC is ridiculously expensive – and hotels are, shocker, no exception to that rule.
That’s why, it can be a real challenge for even the most budget-savvy of travelers to find accommodations (even hostels) that cost less than $100 per night in some of the best areas to stay in NYC.
However, that being said, it’s definitely possible to find reasonably priced hotel rooms in NYC if you know where to go and if you have the help of a stupid friendly local like me.
Because we at Girl with the Passport? Well, we’re hardcore people pleasers who ALWAYS want to help – which, in reality, is kind of sort of perfect for YOU!
So, here are some of my fave hotels in New York, as organized by budget.
Pod 39 – Hidden away in the Murray Hill neighborhood (They also have the best Indian food in the city), is this uber-modern, super chic pod hotel. It has a fantastic assortment of rooms that start at just $120 per night. And yes, that price is ridiculously cheap for NYC.
Are they on the smallish side of things? Yeah, for sure since it is a pod hotel. But what their rooms lack in space they make up for with modern amenities, cleanliness, and friendly staff members.
So, if you stay at Pod 39, you’ll have everything you need for a comfy, cozy stay in the city that never sleeps. You’ll also love the fact that you get to spend the night inside a historic home from 1918 and can choose between queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with TVs and bedside shelves.
414 Hotel – I love this hotel for so many different reasons. Not only is it well-located in Hell’s Kitchen (it’s on the west side near Times square), but the modern rooms here also start at $159 per night. They also include a wealth of modern amenities like mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, and more.
Plus, although rooms here are well-priced, they definitely don’t skimp when it comes to quality, service, or the cleanliness of their rooms.
I mean, there’s even a working fireplace in the lobby that you can get all comfy around. And the staff here is always happy to get you anything you might need. Yessirree, talk about living the dream.
The James New York – Want to enjoy the finer things in life without an off-shore bank account? Then say hello to the James New York!
It sits in the ever-popular neighborhood of SOHO and is a well-located, chic hotel that is known for its comfy, clean, and refreshing rooms – all of which start at just $177 per night.
So, if you decide to stay here, prepare to enjoy fabulous high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, complimentary toiletries, and an exquisite selection of linens that are made from all-natural fibers,
The Bowery Hotel – Contrary to what the name might suggest, this is a chic, five-star, Nolita Hotel that I would absolutely stay in if I had a trust fund.
But I don’t and can’t really afford to stay in a hotel with rooms that start at $300 per night. Although, a girl can always dare to dream. Sigh.
Anyway, like with most things in life, you get what you pay for. So, all of the beyond gorgeous rooms here come with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and so much more. Yeah, that’s just the tip of the iceberg since I could go on and on.
Added awesomeness? Guests will adore the impeccable service here – something that will make you feel like a true king of New York (Get the hardcore Newsies reference?).
So, what are you waiting for? Treat yourself (you deserve it) and book a room at this luxurious hotel now.
NYC Bucket List Activities in Manhattan
1. The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) – See more than 30,000 different historic artifacts at one of the greatest museums in the world…The MET. It was founded in 1880, sits along the east side of Central Park, and is just an amazing place to visit. Definitely pre-book your tickets now and say hi to the super cool Temple of Dendur for me. They also have a wicked awesome rooftop bar that opens up in the summer and gives you suck views of surrounding Central Park.
2. The Cloisters – This highly underrated branch of the MET is another one of the absolute coolest museums in NYC. It looks more like a medieval monastery than an actual museum and sits high atop a high in Fort Tryon Park. Don’t miss seeing the 16th-century tapestry, The Hunt of the Unicorn, while you’re here – especially if you’re an avid lover of all things unicorn like me.
3. Grab Some REAL Soul Food at Sylvia’s – Honestly, my mouth is watering just thinking about the divine food here. Because this place?
Well, it’s a Harlem institution of foodie goodness that is known for serving up insanely large plates of decadent Southern Comfort Food. Personal fan faves include items like smothered chicken, waffles, cornbread, peach cobbler, and candied yams. Nom nom nom.
4. The Cooper Hewitt Museum – This another one of those museums in NYC that is criminally underrated. So yeah, definitely check out this awesome design museum that is associated with the Smithsonian and that features an array of interactive exhibits that show visitors exactly how design can be used to positively change our everyday lives.
So, if you’re imagining furry touch and sniff walls, vibrating chairs that mimic everyday activities, and scratch and sniff walls straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then you’d be 100% correct.
5. Stop by Red Rooster – Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson runs this foodie mecca in Harlem and is now personally responsible for me gaining a solid ten pounds. That’s why you NEED to stop by and gobble up their collard greens, mac and cheese, Garvey Punch, mac and cheese, and chicken with waffles.
6. The Frick Collection – Located just a hop, skip, and jump away from The MET is the Frick Collection – the former home of Henry Clay frick that has expertly been transformed into a beautiful museum that houses a dazzling collection of intricate gold gilded, French ceramic ware.
Now, as you’re planning your NYC bucket list, please note that The Frick Collection at 1 E. 70th Street is currently closed since the building is undergoing renovations.
Therefore, the stunning array of works once housed in this museum can now be found at the Breuer Building at 945 Madison Avenue (formerly home to the Met Breuer).
As of right now, it’s known as the Frick Madison and pay what you wish hours are available every Thursday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
7. Hit up the Historic Apollo Theater – Be a total VIP and go on a backstage tour of the Apollo, a historic Harlem theater that is known for playing host to some of the most iconic jazz performances of all time. Because yes, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday really did all play here, just to name a few.
However, you could always just skip the tour altogether and just watch a show here instead since musical performances from every genre imaginable are routinely held here.
8. Eat all the Fells at Amy Ruth’s – This is another immortal Southern comfort food restaurant in Harlem that routinely serves up some of the best chicken and waffles in the entire city.
So, if you want to go to a comfortable, cozy-feeling restaurant where you can get down-home comfort food, then this is the place for you! And added bonus?Many of the dishes here are named for famous African Americans. Yup, hell to the yeah.
9. The Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium – Feel like a kid again at NYC’s famous Natural History Museum! Because believe it or not, there are 45 different exhibition halls here that house no less than 33 million specimens – displays that include things like dinosaur skeletons, meteorites, rocks, giant whales, and cultural artifacts,
If you have time, see the “Dark Universe” show at the Hayden Planetarium in the Rose Center for Earth since this presentation really is out of this world. Sorry, but I just HAD to throw a cheesy pun in there. it was way too easy.
10. Live it Up at Clay – Go for a fancy night out on the town at Clay’s! It’s a posh eatery in Harlem that is known for their seasonal, farm-fresh, American cuisine. And if you’re not sure what to order, you really can’t go wrong with the duck confit, the lobster, the ragu, or the chocolate budino.
11. Neue Galerie – Right on Museum Mile on the Upper East Side is another stellar museum that should definitely be on your New York bucket list! It’s small but houses an awesome collection of 20th-century art, with a focus on German and Austrian artists.
Some of the amazing pieces here include Adele Bloch-Bauer (aka the lady in gold) done by Gustav Klimt in 1907, as well as works from Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Egon Schiele.
12. Inhale “Rugelach by a brother” – Not gonna lie, Rugelach is easily one of my favorite baked goods ever and is definitely a New York culinary staple.
And while you can find decent Rugelach just about anywhere you go, the best place to try it is Lee Lee’s Baked Goods in Harlem. Because this cheery, red-&-white-themed bakery bakes rugelach so good, that it’s even been talked about in the New York Times. The rugelach here is also probably one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. #justsayin’
13. Read Under the Stars at Albertine Bookstore – Easily one of my favorite bookstores in NYC, Albertine is a French-American bookstore that is basically right across the street from the MET.
It also sits inside a former embassy and features an amazing white marble atrium with gorgeous statues and exquisite column work.
However, the real magic happens when you climb the stairs to the second floor and take in a vibrant sky blue-ceiling that is filled with a dazzling array of constellations that remind me of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
14. New York Historical Society – Learn all about the history of New York and beyond at this awesome museum on the west side of Central Park.
It sits inside a beautiful pre-war mansion and includes a ton of interactive exhibits that feature things like George Washington’s inauguration chair, a leg brace worn by President Franklin D Roosevelt, a door from Jack Stewart’s house that was covered in graffiti, and a ceiling mural created by Keith Haring.
PSST…stop by on Friday between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm and you’ll enjoy “pay what you wish” admission.
15. Enjoy some Live Jazz Music at a Harlem Night Club – No 4 day NYC itinerary would ever be complete without a stop at an awesome nightclub in Harlem to listen to some epic, live jazz music.
And while there are literally 10,000 different places you could go, popular local spots include Bill’s Place, Milton’s Playhouse, and Paris Blues. Also, don’t forget to stop by the National Jazz Museum while you’re here to learn all about the history of this immortal musical genre.
16. The Guggenheim – Need a bit of modern art in your life? Then stop by the Guggenheim! Not only was this gorgeous building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but this museum contains an impressive collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art masterpieces.
So, nab a free audio guide and enjoy a wealth fo masterpieces done by greats like Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollock, Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas.
Pro Tip: Stop by on Saturdays between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm to get “pay what you wish” tickets. You can also hit up nearby Bluestone Lane (an Aussie cafe) before you go inside for some delicious avo toast and a fantastic cold brew coffee.
17. Feel Inspired at St. John the Divine – Tucked away inside of NYC’s iconic Harlem neighborhood is easily one of the best churches in the city. It’s a building with an eclectic amalgamation of Romanesque, Gothic, and neo-Gothic style architecture that is truly stunning to behold.
Step inside to see stunning stained glass windows, 17th-century tapestries, and beautiful works of contemporary art done by Keith Haring and Tom Otterness. You can also take a highlights tour of the facility, for $10, at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and at 11:00 am Saturday.
18. Gracie Mansion – I’m sure we’ve all heard of this New York bucket list item. It’s been the mayor of NYC’s resident (minus Bloomberg) since 1942. Accordingly, it’s a stunning, Federal-style home that you can do a one-hour tour of if you reserve a spot on their website.
FYI, tours are pretty infrequent and usually only happen one day a week. That’s why you might be better off just exploring the estate’s 11-acre grounds. Known as Carl Schurz Park, it’s right by the river and gives visitors sweet views of the East River and the Triborough Bridge.
19. Papaya King – Sure, you may have heard of Gray’s Papaya for NYC’s somewhat legendary “dirty water dogs” (aka hot dogs). But, Papaya King is the original and has been around since 1932. Personally, I’m not a fan but if you want to try something, get some papaya juice and chase it down with a Homerun (sauerkraut and NY-style onion relish).
20. Levain Bakery – Honestly, I forbid you to leave the city without stopping at Levain Bakery, an upper east side bakery that is known for baking some of THE best cookies on planet Earth. There are a bunch of locations now though so you can easily find one near you (the Harlem locale will probably be the least crowded).
Seriously, these cookies ooey, gooey, big AF, and oh so delicious. They also definitely live up to the hype. So, naturally, there will be a line out the door. Flavors include chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chip, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, and oatmeal raisin. Although, I personally am partial to the chocolate chip walnut. #justsayin’
21. Roosevelt Island Tramway – This tram is home to one of the best views in NYC – stellar panoramas that will only cost you the mere swipe of a Metrocard. Just grab the tram from the aptly named Roosevelt Island Tramway Station and take a four-minute ride across the river to Roosevelt Island. You’ll get sweeping views of Manhattan’s East Side and the Queensboro Bridge along the way so have your camera at the ready.
22. Riverside Park – Designed by the same men who brought you, Central Park, Riverside Park sits along the Hudson River on NYC’s upper west side, between west 59th and 155th streets. So yeah, it’s flipping long. It’s just a nice place to go fr a walk and stop for a quick bite at Boat Basin Cafe (West 79th street).
23. William Greenberg Desserts – If you want an iconic NYC dessert then come here. They sell next-level delicious black and white cookies that make a perfect snack on the go. They’re soft and cakey, circular cookies that are sipped in half chocolate and half vanilla glaze.
And if you really want to go for the glory, chase it down with an egg-cream soda (spoiler alert, their brownies are really good too). You can also find an outpost tucked away inside the food court in the basement of the Plaza Hotel.
24. Central Park – I feel like I shouldn’t even mention this place because it’s SOO iconic. But, I’m gonna say it anyway because it’s NYC’s most famous park and you should 100% go for at least one walk here.
Just some of the ridiculously awesome things you could do here include Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields (the memorial to John Lenon), Sheep Meadow, Bethesda Terrace, The Mall, the Alice and Wonderland statue, the Literary Walk, Ther Conservatory Garden, The Ramble, the Shakespeare Garden (on the west side between 79th and 80th Street) The Boathouse (home Tavern on the Green, one of the best brunch spots in NYC), and more.
25. Sarabeth’s – Thankfully, there are a bunch of different locations (Upper West Side, Central Park South, Tribeca, and Park Avenue South). But, this place is an iconic brunch spot that you CANNOT miss.
And my fave dish du jour? None other than the lemon and ricotta pancakes with blackberries. Simple, delicious, and the stuff that foodie dreams are made of. BTW, yes you can make reservations so definitely do that.
26. Alice’s Tea Cup – With locations in Brooklyn and on the upper east and west side of Manhattan, Alica’s Tea Cup is an afternoon tea staple for New Yorkers with kids.
It’s a place that is also known for its charming, Alice and Wonderland-inspired decor, as well as its tea and scones. Personally, I didn’t think the food was that great but it’s a fun place to go if you have young children and want to do something extra special.
27. Laduree – I went to Laduree when I solo traveled Paris so visiting the outpost in NYC wasn’t all that appealing to me. But, I’ve had afternoon tea here with friends who can’t make it all the way to Paris and it’s nice.
Obviously, get the macarons (all the flavors are good) since this is an iconic Parisian bakery that is known for creating this delicate French dessert. The decor is also stunning, making this an ideal place for a photo op (or 12).
28. Afternoon Tea at King’s Carriage House – Skip the pricey spread at the Plaza and go to this Upper East Side cafe instead! It’s a lovely antique-laden duplex that is illuminated by stunning chandeliers.
However, the only thing better than the decor is the traditional afternoon tea spread. It includes salmon pinwheels, goat cheese tartlets, lemon curd squares, and apricot coconut tea cakes – and all for just $25 per person. Yeah, that’s a price that is totally underheard of in NYC.
29. Visit Carl Shurz Park – This hidden gem of the Upper East Side is a gorgeous, waterside park that also happens to be home to Gracie Mansion. So, be sure to check it out while exploring Gracie Mansion and some of the other things on this NYC bucket list.
30. Jewish Museum – Learn all about Jewish Culture and heritage at the fantastic, Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side. There’s even a Russ and Daughter’s Cafe in the basement where you can stop for a bagel with cream cheese and lox.
31. Have Some Pancakes at Lexington Candy Shop – They’ve been open since 1925 and are currently the oldest luncheonette in all of NYC. So, stop in today and add tasting a homemade egg cream and strawberry pancakes to your NYC bucket list.
32. Stop by the Grollier Club – Learn all about the history/art of bookmaking at the amazing, Grollier Club. It’s the oldest club for bibliophiles in the USA, was first founded in 1884, and is a New York bucket list item that enables you to marvel at the 100,000+ books in their rare book collection.
33. Park Avenue Armoury – Take a guided tour of this historic, Greek-revival structure or enjoy a performance at this amazing performance arts space on the Upper East Side. Just an all-around great place to add to your New York City bucket list.
34. Catch a show at Lincoln Center – Easily one of the best things to do on the Upper West Side, Lincoln Center is a great place to add to your New York City bucket list since the theater is small – making seats even in the back row awesome. You can also see the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, and performances from the Julliard School of Music – many of which are free since they are done by students as practice.
35. The American Folk Art Museum – Add this highly underrated NYC museum to your NYC bucket list. After all, it was first founded in 1962 and is home to a fantastic collection of 7,000 different pieces of folk art that date all the way back to the 18th century. Highlights include wood carvings, quilts, stone statues, ceramics, and carousel animals. However, what makes this place an even more impressive addition to your New York bucket list is the fact that all of these works were crafted by individuals with no formal artistic training.
36. Bryant Park – This cute little park sits right in the back of the New York Public Library and is brimming over with fun things to do. So, add this nifty little place to your NYC bucket list and enjoy ping pong tables, food kiosks, a nice lending library, a gorgeous fountain, and copious amounts of metal tables and chairs where you can sit and eat lunch.
Before you leave though, take a ride on the French-style carousel here and stop by the Bread’ Bakery kiosk for some delish chocolate babka that makes for the ultimate NYC bucket list experience. #YUM
37. Ess-a-Bagel – Look, every New Yorker has THEIR bagel place. And mine is Ess-a-Bagel since they’ve been open since 1976 and clearly now how to make EPIC bagels. They also now have an outpost in Manhattan that is right near Grand Central, making it a super convenient place to stop.
It also doesn’t hurt that they have a ton of speciality cream cheeses that you can can easily pair with any bagel you like. My bagel of choice? A cinnamon raisin bagel with chocolate chip cream cheese. I know, I can feel you judging me. But, whatever. It’s delicious.
However other fantastic bagel places you might want to add to your NYC bucket list include Bo’s Bagels (uptown, west side), Bagel Talk (upper west side), Tal Bagels (upper east side), Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Co, Murray’s Bagels, Tompkins Square Bagels, etc.
38. Morgan Public Library – Just a hop skip and jump away from Grand Central, Bryant Park, and the NY Public Library is this awesome museum/library. It was once owned by JP Morgan and is now a stunning library/museum (it looks like the library from the animated version of Beauty and the Beast) that houses things like manuscripts, tapestries, copies of the Guttenberg Bible, and original compositions from Mozart.
Pro Tip: Visit on Fridays between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm for free admission to the library. You also might even get serenaded by some live music since that’s what happened to me.
39. Grand Central Terminal – Often mistakenly referred to as Grand Central Station, Grand Central Terminal is known for the turquoise, constellation studded ceiling that you’ll find above the building’s iconic main concourse.
However, other fun things to do here include taking an audio tour (it’s pretty fun and informative), shopping for souvenirs at the Transit Museum outpost here, dining at the famous Oyster Bar, and eating at either the Great Northern Food Hall or Grand Central Market (more like a grocery store where you can grab food for a picnic). There’s also a great food court in the basement that has some really awesome eats, like, cough, Magnolia Bakery, Doughnut Plant, and Shake Shack,
40. Magnolia Bakery – Is Magnolia Bakery primarily known for its cupcakes? Yes. But, any New Yorker worth their salt knows that you come here for their legendary banana pudding. Think crispy vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and sweet creamy vanilla pudding and you have a small notion of how amazing this dessert really is.
FYI, this iconic pudding is also available in a chocolate flavor (not my fave but what do I know), as well as seasonally appropriate varieties like, you guessed it, pumpkin in the fall.
41. New York Public Library – Easily one of the best free things to do in NYC, New York Public Library sits on Fifth Avenue (near Grand Central) and is quietly guarded by Patience and Virtue – the two marble lions out front. Step inside though and admire the grandeur of the Rose Main Reading Room during a free guided tour.
Just don’t leave without fully appreciating a place that is home to original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Gutenberg Bible.
42. Empire State Building – No trip to NYC would be complete without admiring the beautiful art-deco style architecture of this building and riding an elevator to the 102nd floor since this building is easily one of the most iconic landmarks in North America.
For photo ops though, head to the 86th floor since you aren’t entirely surrounded by glass here. Just be sure to visit at sunset, on a clear day, for the best photos possible.
They’ve also recently redone the entire experience so you’ll actually get to learn all about the history of the building before heading to the top – making it more of an experience than just a view. So yeah, definitely pre-book your tickets now and enjoy one of my favorite NYC bucket list activities.
43. Go Shopping on Fifth Avenue – Truth be told, this is 110% not my thing but I know some people live for it. So, stroll down the iconic avenue and shop until you drop at places like Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s Herald Square, Tiffany’s, and more.
44. Listen to the Dueling Pianos at Bar Nine – This is the only dueling piano bar in all of NYC. So yeah, you definitely need to come here and sing along to songs from every decade imaginable. Tickets are $25, shows start at 7:30 pm (arrive by 7:00 pm) Wednesday through Saturday, and don’t leave without checking out the sweet skeeball setup in the back.
45. Get some Desserts at Grace Street Coffee and Desserts in K-town – Tucked away in Korea town (right near the Empire State Building), is this awesome coffee/tea/dessert shop. And while everything here is good, must-try dishes include a huge AF shaved snow, mochi ice cream, milk tea boba toast, matcha beignets (my fave and a house specialty), and rose or lavender flavored lattes.
46. Gagopa Karaoke – Since you’re in K-town anyway, why not do a little karaoke while you’re here? Don’t worry, you can book a private room with your friends and “sing” along to all your fave tunes without unnecessary judgment from rando strangers who don’t appreciate how awesome your rendition of “I will Survive”really is.
47. Top of the Rock/ Rockefeller Center – This is an iconic part of the city where you can see the Today Show live, attend the Today Show Summer Concert Series, admire the famous Atlas statue, and see the tree/go ice skating in the winter. You can also do an NBC Studio Tour (it’s pretty cool since you see where Saturday Night Live is taped) or head to the Top of the Rock for impressive views of the City (it’s 70 floors up, open-air, and gives you sick views of the Empire State Building and Central Park).
Or, you could always head across the street and see…
48. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Yup, this is definitely THE most famous church in NYC and a total must-see for anyone in NYC for the first time. It’s also America’s biggest Catholic Church, features gothic-revival style architecture, and sits right on Fifth Avenue. Head inside through to admire the Louis Tiffany–designed altar, and a gorgeous Rose stained glass window above the entrance on Fifth Ave.
49. Times Square – I’m not gonna lie to you, I really hate Times Square. I legit think it’s the worst and a total tourist trap with people walking around in rando animal costumes (you WILL have to pay for photos with them). But, visitors love it and I’d be remiss if I didn’t add it to this NYC bucket list. So, stop by, hit up the TKTS booth for cheap same-day tickets to a Broadway show, and get the hell outta there.
50. See a Broadway Show – Real talk? Never pay full price for Broadway Tickets. You can also skip the line for the TKTS booth in Times Square and just use the TodayTix app to quickly and easily nab Broadway tickets for 50% off. However, there are a bunch of other easy ways to save money on Broadway Tickets like a local that you should totally check out.
51. MOMA – One of my fave art museums in NYC, MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) is a must-see since it houses a vast collection of art from the late 19th century through today. Highlights include works from Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko, and Pollock, just to name a few.
You also are forbidden to leave without relaxing in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden and grabbing an awesome audio guide since it’s included with the price of your ticket. So, get your tickets now or enjoy free admission on Friday evenings instead (currently suspended).
Pro Tip: If you love MOMA but hate the crowds, then check out the MOMA Design Store for cool souvenirs in Chinatown or visit MOMA PS1 in Queens to enjoy contemporary videos through floorboards, DJ parties, and site-specific modern art installations. Warm-Up is also an epic, live electronic music event that is held on Saturday afternoons from July through September.
52. The Vessel – Love it or hate it, The Vessel is a new modern structure that helped breathe life back into the Hudson Yards area. Before you visit though, be sure to reserve a free ticket to the top so that you can snag some photos and enjoy sweeping panoramas of the Hudson River.
53. Enjoy Some Italian Food at Eataly – Part restaurant, part gourmet Italian food market, this is a great place to go for anything and everything Italian (which makes sense since it was created by the one and only Mario Batali). Because it’s one of those awesome places that really does live up to all the hype.
So, grab an espresso, enjoy a cup of gelato, sit down for some homemade pasta/pizza, or grab some fresh cheese to take home with you. No matter what you do though, it’s all delicious and there are multiple locations throughout the city.
I prefer the Flatiron location though since it’s home to SERRA by Birreria – a popular Eataly rooftop restaurant that is known for their over the top seasonal decor. The food is OKAY but if you want the photo ops, be sure to make a reservation since it’s super popular.
54. Slurp Down Some Ramen at Tonchin New York – Ain’t no ramen like Japanese ramen! And the NY outpost of this popular Tokyo chain is the place to go for all things ramen and for an awesome New York City bucket list expeirience. Just be sure to go early since the line will be out the door. And if you’re not into ramen (I honestly don’t know how that’s possible), you can always order okonomiyaki, gyoza, or shaved ice instead.
For a classic taste of Tokyo though, get the signature Tonchin Classic Tokyo Tonkotsu Ramen.
55. Stop for a Photo op at the Flatiron Building – Honestly, there’s not much to do here – besides go to Eataly of course. Nope, you’re here for the photo op. So, stand to the right of the building, in the little pedestrian area out front, and take all the photos you want (don’t photograph the building head-on since you’ll lose its iconic shape). Get here hella early though if you want pics with hordes of people in them.
56. Spyglass Rooftop Bar – For some of the best views and craft cocktails in the city, head to the top of the Archer Hotel, admire the views of the Empire State Building, and sip on divine cocktails like the Warmer Climes (rosemary vodka, strawberry, sparkling wine, lime). FYI, drinks here start at $16 each but they also do offer a nice selection of craft beer that is a whole lot cheaper.
57. The Edge NYC – Enjoy stellar views from 100 stories up whie standing atop the tallest outdoor viewing platform in the western hemisphere. Also, because of the structure’s unique design, you’ll basically feel like you’re floating in mid-air while taking in the vast 360-degree views of the city below. It also just opened in March 2020 so be sure to get your tickets now.
58. Spyscape Spy Museum – Wanna become a spy for a day? If so then channel your inner 007 and check out the super cool, totally interactive, and incredibly fun Spyscape Spy Museum.
During your visit, you can learn all about the history of espionage and take part in a ton of interactive challenges to discover exactly what type of spy role you should have once you leave (I got handler and am NOT happy about it. WTF?).
59. Radio City Music Hall – See a show (I saw Ringo Starr here), marvel at the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, or go on a backstage tour and learn all about this historic and wonderfully beautiful concert venue.
Truth be told, I thought the tour was pretty interesting and the Rockettes show is fun if you have kids. But, if you’ve seen it once you don’t need to see it again since the performance doesn’t change much from year to year.
60. Eat at IndiKitch – Order take out like a local at Deep Indian Kitchen – one of the best contemporary, fast food Indian restaurants in the city. Try their build your own biryani or the Live Fire Feast for a taste of everything. It’s super cheap and basically like an Indian version of Chipotle. The Ginger Lemonade is also pretty damn good too.
61. Check out Sushi Donut Shop – This is like the one place on this NYC bucket list that I have not personally been to. But, apparently, their uber-Instagrammable sushi donut is a must-try for any die-hard foodies visiting NYC. It’s basically a bunch of different sushi rolls shaped like a donut, or bagel, or whatever. Check it out though and let me know what you think.
62. Visit the Wafels and Dinges Kiosk at Bryant Park – What can I say? It’s open year-round, has a bunch of locations throughout the city, and serves up delicious Belgian waffles with speculoos cookie butter. Yup, I think a little drool just got on my keyboard.
63. Party it Up at the Frying Pan – This iconic docked coast guard lightship turned bar at Pier 66 is the place to be from May through October. So, party it up with the locals and expect a loud and crowded bar scene. FYI, the food deffo sucks, so do not eat here. Also, don’t come here if you’re looking for a quiet intimate setting where you can chat with friends. Because, yeah, that’s not gonna happen.
64. Stop by Ellen’s Stardust Diner – If you’re looking for dinner and a show then stop by this classic ’50s themed diner. It’s right on Broadway and has servers that sing show tunes to you while you enjoy your meal. It’s popular though so expect to wait. The food also isn’t great so I’d order a drink or something light and then eat somewhere else.
65. Art Gallery it Up in Chelsea – In addition to having insane nightclubs (think acrobats flying through the air and fire eaters living it up), Chelsea is home to an insane art scene. So, live like the other half for an evening and visit the many galleries that proliferate throughout the area.
One of my personal faves is Pace Gallery. It’s an impressive, 8-story, 75,000 square foot building that is made of volcanic ash and that has an awesome 6th-floor open-air terrace.
Pro Tip: Stop by on Thursday night when many galleries have openings that feature free wine and cheese. Whoop, whoop.
66. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – Everyone swears by Junior’s (it’s good but very mainstream) but I go to Eileen’s instead. Because this bad boy of the baking world serves up traditional, NY-style cheesecake and has been around since ye olde 1975.
So, stop by their store in Nolita and get one of twenty different flavors that range from classic to dulce de leche (so flipping good).
And if you’re in the market for Italian-style cheesecake (there is a huge difference between the two) then hit up Veniero’s Paticceria & Caffe instead. They’ve been open since 1895 and serve any traditional Italian dessert you can dream up.
67. Statue of Liberty – No New York bucket would be complete without lady liberty herself. If you want, you can also save a bit of $$$ by getting a combo ticket with Ellis Island. However, if you’re looking to visit her crown, book tickets well in advance. Like, at least 6 months out. Personally, though, I’d just admire Lady Liberty from afar while aboard the totally free, Staten Island Ferry.
68. Staten Island Ferry – Real talk? This is my FAVE way to see the Statue of Liberty. It’s also free and runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Just as an FYI though, the ride to Staten Island takes about twenty-five minutes and you WILL have to get off and then get back on to return to Manhattan. Also, avoid it at rush hour since it’s packed with commuters.
69. The Whitney Museum of American Art – Located right at the southern end of the Hgh Line is THIS epic museum. It was also recently opened in 2015 and is brimming over with contemporary art from giants of the American art world like Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, and more.
So grab your tickets now and head to the rooftop for stunning views of the surrounding area. You can also save a bit of money by visiting on Thursdays between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm when tickets are “pay what you wish”.
70. Get a Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery – A cross between a donut and croissant, this icon of the pastry world is the stuff that foodie dreams are made of.
Personally? I wasn’t all that impressed but since they change the cronut flavor every month (and flavors are never repeated), I might have just visited on an off month. I did love the cookie and milk shots though, which are chocolate chip cookies in the shape of shot glasses that are covered in chocolate and served with vanilla-infused milk inside. #YUM
Pro Tip: Pre-order your cronuts online and you can order six at a time. You know, instead of the two, you’re limited to when buying them at the store.
71. The Highline – Nestled atop an old subway track, this stunning 1.45-mile park will take you all the way from the Javits Center to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Along the way, you can stop at Chelsea Market for a snack and admire the beautiful outdoor art displays that help make this one of the most popular parks in NYC.
72. Chelsea Market – Speaking of Chelsea Market, you should go here and eat/shop all your feels away. Highlights include Bar Suzette Creperie (fresh crepes), Doughnuttery (mini-doughnuts), Mok Bar (Korean Ramen), Takumi (Japanese/Mexican food),
and Fat Witch Bakery (get the brownie and thank me later).
73. The Tenement Museum – Easily one of the BEST things to do in lower Manhattan, a tour of this incredible museum should 100% be on your NYC bucket list since this place has wonderfully well-preserved tenements here that show visitors just how awful living conditions were for immigrants here in the late 1800s/early 1900s. And yes, you must visit as part of a tour.
But, they are super cool-themed tours that are definitely worth your time…at least if you like history almost as much as I do.
74. The New Museum – Located right on the Bowery (don’t let that deter you), this is the place to go for the latest and greatest contemporary art exhibits in NYC. Trust me, there’s always something and exciting going on here. Plus, if you head to the top floor, you can enjoy nice views of the adjacent neighborhood
And Thursday evenings? Yup, you guessed it. You can enjoy “pay what you wish” admission between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
75. Stand in awe of Manhattanhenge – No, I haven’t started speaking in tongues. Manhattanhenge actually refers to a yearly event during which the rising and/or setting sun is aligned with the east–west streets of Manhattan.
So, time it correctly (usually sometime in May or June), and you can get a shot of the sun in between NYC’s iconic skyscrapers.
76. The Comedy Cellar – Honestly, it’s small and crowded and tucked away in a basement in the village. But, the Comedy Celler is THE place to go in NYC for a comedy show since tickets are cheap and you can actually see (if you’re lucky) well-known comics like Dave Chapelle, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and more. And yes, there is a two beer minimum, three beer maximum.
77. Fabrique Bakery – This one brings me back to Stockholm like whoa. And that makes sense since this is an NYC outpost of this very Swedish bakery. So yeah, run, don’t walk here. And yes, eat all the cardamom and cinnamon buns you can get your hands on. Yes, that’s a direct order.
78. Stop for a slice at Artichoke Basille – Not your traditional slice of NY-style pizza, the signature pizza here is next-level delicious and tastes like spinach artichoke dip that has been slathered atop a slice of NY pizza.
Translation? Slices are huge and super filling so definitely share one. They’re so good though and outposts can be found all over the city, including right near Chelsea Market and the Highline.
79. Big Gay Ice Cream – Stop for a photo op on the colorful bench outside before devouring the icre creamy goodness inside this iconic ice cream store with more than a little unique flavors of soft serve.
Personally I’d opt for the classic, “salty pimp” or a vanilla soft serve cone that is lightly salted and coated with a chocolate shell. Oh yeah, and there’s also exquisite dulce de leche inside the ice cream too.
80. 9/11 Museum and Memorial – Pay your respects to all those who lost their lives on that fateful day at the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. Is it gut-wrenching and will it leave you in tears? Probably.
But, the museum and memorial are both exceptionally well-done and do a great job of recreating the events of that tragic day. Trust me, it’s a must when planning your NYC bucket list.
81. Ellis Island – This is a really fab museum and I think everyone should see it. After all, it is the place where more than 12 million immigrants came into the United States between 1892 and 1924. You can even research your own ancestry here and learn all about the immigrant experience through their wealth of fantastic exhibits.
82. Seaglass Carousel – Whirl and twirl your way back into your childhood with a ride on this unique carousel in Battery Park. Tickets are just $5 apiece and I mean, really? How many times do you get to ride a translucent fish while listening to nautical-themed music in NYC? Yeah, exactly. It’s a total one-of-a-kind experience and your kids will love you for it.
83. The Strand – Visit the most famous used bookstore in all of NYC. Actually, no, scratch that. It’s the most famous bookstore in NYC period. They also have super cool souvenirs and are known for stocking over eighteen miles worth of books at any given time. You can also head to the third floor and see some of the awesome rare books there.
84. Take a photo with the Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl Statue – Hey, sometimes you gotta do the thing and be a total tourist when in NYC’s iconic financial district. They’re pretty close to one another though (near Wall Street) and you can avoid long queues by going SUPER early in the AM.
85 Sleep No More – Tucked away inside the McKittrick Hotel, this immersive theatrical experience is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. No really. It’s a super modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth since it has you basically straight-up interacting with all the cast members as the story unfolds. So yeah, DO NOT MISS THIS.
86. The Occulus – Take in all the wonder and beauty of the stunning modern architecture that abounds at this modern transportation hub near One World Trade Center. And yes, you should take tons of photos from the viewing platform since we all love to, you know, do it for the ‘gram.
87. Eat on Stone Street – Enjoy the old world, cobblestone charm of this immortal NYC street. Yeah, it’s got an alluring, European flare to it since it was the first street (in NYC) paved with stone in 1658.
Stop by Adrienne’s Pizzabar for some of the best pizza in downtown or hit up the Cauldron for a magical mixology-making class (robes and wands included) that will make all my fellow Harry Potter lovers swoon with delight.
88. Have a Sammie at Katz’s Deli – When you think of a classic NY deli, you probably think of Katz’s. So, do it right and get their iconic pastrami sandwich. Yes, they are huge, and yes, the line will be out the door.
89. Eat at Wohop in Chinatown – It’s a total hole-in-the-wall on Mott Street but they have some of the best Chinese food in the city. It’s also hella cheap and has been around since 1938. So yeah, they obviously know what they’re doing.
And while everything is good, the dumplings, duck lo mein, and egg foo young are particularly delicious.
90. Have a Scoop at the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory – It’s small but the ice cream is delicious and comes in crazy AF flavors like lychee, Durien, and black sesame. Get the black sesame though and I promise you will have no regrets. Because yeah, NYC is NOT the place for diets…ever. Especially at a place where they’ve been scooping it out for over 40 years. #truestory
91. Have a Drink at “Please Don’t Tell” (PDT) – Yeah, it’s basically this super-secret, prohibition-era speakeasy that you can only access through a telephone booth in the back of a local hot dog joint. But, if you have the secret code and can dial it correctly, then you’ll be able to enjoy all the alcoholy goodness that awaits you within.
92. Enjoy a Pillow Fight in Union Square – Believe it or not, NYC actively celebrates International Pillow Fight Day (April 7th) in Union Square, So, embrace your inner child and live the dream for a hot minute with a couple hundred of your new best friends.
93. Have Brunch at Russ & Daughters – Since they’ve been around for well over a hundred years, this is THE place to go in NYC for some bruncherific Jewish fare.
And while they do have locations all over the city, I like the one at the Jewish Museum on the UES. You know, the whole kill two birds with one stone thing. And if you actually like fish, order their Bagel Sandwich, which is a bagel, lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion, and capers.
94. Grab a Slice at Prince St. Pizza – There are a ton of great pizza places in NYC (duh) but this place has the best Sicilian pizza around (aka thick square slices).
95. Channel your Inner Slumber Party Maven and have Some Edible Cookie Dough at DO – Yeah, this place near Washington Square Park totally blew up a few years ago and is now known for serving raw, but totally edible since it’s egg-free, gourmet cookie dough to the masses. So, after you’re finished Instagramming it up, inhale a cup of dunkadoo for me (sugar cookie, vanilla icing, graham crackers, and sprinkle dust). Sweet but incredibly delicious.
96. Get in the Holiday Season at Rolf’s – This German restaurant is known for its insane Christmas decorations. No really, I’ve never seen as many vibrant Christmas baubles in one place. So, come for a German beer or two (you can skip the food), and be sure to visit at an off time since the bar area gets packed on the weekends once the holiday season rolls around.
97. Brunch like a Boss at Jack’s Wife Freda – Although there are a couple of different locations, I usually hit up the one in SOHO since the location is awesome and the food is divine. Yeah, it’s just a lovely, understated cafe that serves excellent Mediterranean-American-inspired fare all day long. Try the green shakshuka and the rosewater waffles if you stop by for brunch. And yes, per usual, there will be a line out the door.
98. Washington Square Park – Located in Greenwich Village, look down Fifth Avenue and admire stellar views of the Empire State Building right between the columns of the Stanford White Arch. Take in all the lively college kids and performers that surround you and marvel at the stunning Greek-Revival townhouses that sit along the park’s perimeter. Afterward, build your own cupcake at Molly’s Cupcakes – seriously one of the best desserts in NYC.
99. Indulge Yourself at Economy Candy – Openned since 1937, this store is packed with a decadent array of nuts, dried fruits, and candies of every variety. So, go nuts (pun intended) and enjoy the floor-to-ceiling candy displays here. Because Willy Wonka, eat your heart out!
100. Do San Gennaro right in Little Italy – Every September (for about 11 days) the very Italian feast of San Gennaro comes to Little Italy to celebrate the life of this immortal saint. It’s loud, it’s crazy, it’s colorful, it’s packed with people, and it’s a whole lot of fun. So, enjoy a raucous night out as you eat all the pizza, cannoli, zeppole, and gelato imaginable. Think of it as an epic street fair that totally takes over the Little Italy neighborhood.
101. Channel Your Inner Godfather at the Museum of the American Gangster – Look, I’m gonna make you an NYC bucket list offer you can’t refuse…kidding! I just had to throw that lame Godfather reference in there though since this IS the Museum of the American Gangster.
Yeah, it’s one of the lesser-known museums in NYC that sits inside a former speakeasy and has various photos/artifacts that relate to organized crime in America (think bullets from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre people).
Personally, I think it’s a bit expensive at $20 per person for a two-room museum. But, they do have nice guided tours that give you a solid history of organized crime in the good old US of A.
102. Stop by Alimama Tea – A cute little cafe in Chinatown that serves wonderfully colorful doughnuts, in addition to a nice selection of delicious coffees and teas. Try their chewy taro mochi munchkins or their boba-stuffed cream puffs for the ultimate food-gasm in your mouth. Sooo good.
103. Soak in Some History at Trinity Church – After visiting the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, hit up Trinity Church. It was built in 1846 and was actually the tallest building in New York City at that time (oh how things have changed). Step inside to admire the beautiful stained glass windows here before visiting the grave of Alexander Hamilton in the on-site cemetery.
104. Battery Park – Watch the sunset with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground at this small, 12-acre park on the Southernmost tip of Manhattan. You can also check out Castle Clinton, take a spin on the Seaglass Carousel, and visit the free Museum of the American Indian while you’re here. You can also board the Staten Island Ferry from here if you feel so inclined.
105. Attend the Tribeca Film Festival – Routinely held in select NYC theaters in April, the Tribeca Festival is THE event of the year for cinephiles since you get to see world premieres of an eclectic array of films, talks, music, games, art, immersive programming, and so much more.
106. Enjoy the Sweeping Views from One World Observatory – Yeah, I know. NYC has about 10,000 different scenic overlooks for you to enjoy – many of which are very NOT cheap. But, this one is pretty cool since it sits on the 100 and 102nd floors of one of the tallest buildings in the Western Hemisphere. As usual, book your tickets well in advance and enjoy the novelty of being able to see all five boroughs from this very spot on a clear day.
107. Stop by Stuffed Ice Cream – Located right near NYC’s Ukrainian Village, hit up Stuffed Ice Cream for an ice cream sandwich unlike any other. Yeah, it’s called a ‘cruff” or a vibrant ice cream sandwich made out of glazed donuts and, DUH, ice cream.
I tried the Thai Kwon Dough (Thai tea and Vietnamese coffee with almonds and condensed milk) and it was pretty epic. Although, their vibrant ice cream “bouquet” with either 7 or 21 scoops of ice cream is pretty damn instagrammable too.
108. Hit Up Soft Swerve Ice Cream – All the Instagram mavens stop by this joint since it’s known for its vibrant purple, soft-serve ube ice cream with Fruity Pebbles on top.
However, this place is way more than just a glorified photo op since the ube, black sesame, and matcha soft serve is really good (I actually don’t like matcha but my friend seemed to like it). For the ultimate experience, try their “Broadway” which is ube yam purple soft serve, Fruitty Pebbles on top, and a ring of Cereal Marshmallow.
109. Visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage – This is an awesome riverside museum with exhibits that educate visitors about all aspects of modern Jewish identity. Highlights include the Garden of Stones (a solemn garden that commemorates Holocaust victims) and three themed floors that are entitled: Jewish Life a Century Ago, Jewish Renewal, and The War Against the Jews.
110. National Museum of the American Indian – It’s FREE, is a Smithsonian affiliate, sits inside the old customs house, and features a ton of awesome exhibits on Native American art, culture, and beliefs. There are even live dance and musical performances held here that are well worth your time.
111. Visit Milk and Cream – Stop by this incredibly fun and funky cereal bar for some cereal-infused ice cream that everyone will love. Try their Cookie Crisp Carnival (Cookie Crisp cereal, cookie dough, and oreo), for the ultimate NYC bucket list experience.
NYC Bucket List Activities in Brooklyn
112. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge – Wear comfy shoes, watch out for bikers, and walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn while enjoying epic views of the Manhattan skyline. Also try and go super early in the AM to avoid crowds.
113. Transit Museum – Located inside an old subway station from 1936, this awesome museum will take you inside the history of NYC’s transportation system as you explore more than 20 vintage subway cars and elevated train cars that date all the way back to 1907. A fun and interactive experience that is perfect for the whole family.
114. Enjoy Brooklyn Bridge Park – Once an industrial wasteland, this stunning park on the East River gives visitors a great place to relax and take in impressive views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. Go for a spin on Jane’s Carousel (it’s from 1922) while you’re here and stop by…
115. Ample Hills Creamery – Yup, these guys (and girls) serve up some of the best ice cream that Brooklyn has to offer. Try their ooey gooey butter cake (vanilla ice cream with St. Louis-style butter cake) for the ultimate ice cream experience. However, they do have a ton of other awesome, totally unique flavors if butter cake ain’t your jam.
116. Prospect Park – Openned in 1867, this is basically like the Central Park of Brooklyn. And that makes sense since this place a whopping 585 acres and was designed by the same architects who created Central Park. So, be sure to add this to your NYC bucket list and enjoy this marvelous green space.
FYI, there’s even a zoo, an ice rink in the winter, boats for hire on the lake, free concerts at the bandstand, and a Saturday Farmer’s Market (year-round) at the Grand Army Plaza entrance.
117. The Brooklyn Museum – This is arguably the single best museum in all of Brooklyn since it houses more than 1.5 million artifacts that include everything from ancient Egyptian sarcophagi to19th-century period rooms to contemporary art exhibits. They also have free live music events in the evening on the first Satruday of every month. So, if you can, definitely check that out.
118. Admire the Bushwick Collective – The Bushwick Collective is THE place to go to see the most innovative street art in all of NYC. So, just beeline it on over to Wyckoff Ave and let the vibrant art here do the rest. Because yes, it’s literally EVERYWHERE. There’s also an Artichoke Basille pizzeria here if you feel so inclined.
119. Ride the Cyclone and Take a Stroll Along the Boardwalk at Coney Island – This is NYC’s most famous amusement park and is a must-sse for anyone creating a New York bucket list. So, ride the Wonder Wheel (ferris wheel from 1920), hop on the Cyclone (roller coaster from 1927), relax at the beach, and take a walk along the scenic boardwalk.
It’s also about an hour from Manhattan by subway so definitely make a day trip here before visiting the New York Aquarium, seeing a minor league baseball game at MCU Park, and having a slice at Totonno’s Pizzeria – an old-school pizzeria that has been in business since 1924 and that serves some of the best pizza I’ve ever had…period.
120. Channel Your Inner Mermaid at the Mermaid Parade – Rock your favorite Ariel-inspired garb at Coney Island’s one-of-a-kind Mermaid Parade. It usually happens in June (between the 20th and 22nd) and is actually the largest parade in the USA! Plus, if you’re in the area for July 4th, you can always check out Nathan’s always famous hot dog eating contest, which is actually a pretty big deal here in NYC.
121. Grab a slice at Lucali – Located in Carroll Gardens, this is THE place to go for a slice (or ten) of Margherita pizza. Trust me, these slices are the perfect combination of deicious sauce, fresh mozzarella, and thin/crispy crust – with a dollop of fresh basil on top.
122. Go Thrift Shopping in Williamsburg – There are a ton of awesome discount shopping spots in NYC and Brooklyn. But, Williamsburg is THE place to be for budget-conscious fashionistas since it’s home to Monk Vintage, Buffalo Exchange (FYI there are stores in Manhattan too), Mother of Junk, and more.
123. Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Is it as big as its cousin in the Bronx? No. But, it does hold a fantastic Cherry Blossom Festival every year, is home to a stunning Japanese Garden with a Shinto Shrine and has a great Discovery Garden for kids to explore. FYI, they also offer “pay what you wish admission” Tuesday through Friday, between December and February.
124. Stuff Your Face at Smorgasburg – Known for being the largest weekly, open-air food market in America, Smorgasburg is a must for any foodies out there since it’s part NYC flea market, part food fest that is held on the weekends throughout April and October.
They also now have locations in Williamsburg, Prospect Park, and WTC where you can expect to find 60+ food vendors selling decadent delights like Reina pepiada arepas, german dumpling sandwiches, and pizza cupcakes.
125. Order a pie at Juliana’s in DUMBO – Everyone will swear that you need to go to Grimaldi’s for pizza when you’re in DUMBO. But, don’t believe a word they say since I think that Juliana’s is better and a whole lot less crowded (it’s less pricey too). It’s also right down the street from Grimaldi’s and has a killer classic white pizza that my friend and I loved. If you want, you can even do take out and have a picnic in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park.
126. Take that Immortal Manhattan Bridge Photo in DUMBO – Come on, you know which one I’m talking about. It’s the shot where the Manhattan Bridge is framed by two red brick buildings at the intersection of Washington and Wall Street.
So, go early to avoid the crowds and spend plenty of time exploring the surrounding area since there are a ton of cool, hipster-chic shops here.
Pro Tip: Stand at the intersection of Water Street and Washington Street in Dumbo to frame the Manhattan Bridge with two red-brick warehouses. If you can, line the shot up so that the Empire State Building is off in the distance and sits right in between the legs of the bridge
127. Stop by Green-Wood Cemetery – Climb to the top of Battle Hill and take in stellar views of the Manhattan skyline in this historic Brooklyn cemetery. You can also say hi to the resident green-monk parakeets, do a two-hour trolley tour of the cemetery at 1:00 pm on Wednesdays, and admire the graves of some of the area’s most famous residents.
128. Look for Hidden Gems at Brooklyn Flea – As the name suggests, this is an awesome weekend flea market (with locations throughout the city) that is known for selling an assortment of antiques, collectibles, crafts, and gourmet food items that everyone will love, even if you’re not all that into fle markets.
129. Admire Brooklyn’s Famous Brownstones – A unique architectural feature of Brooklyn is it’s Brownstones – some of the best of which can be photographed in neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens, Park Slope (at Garfield Place between 5th and 7th), and Fort Greene.
130. Stand in Awre of the Tabernacle Choir – I know this is one of those NYC bucket list items that may sound kind of lame. But, I pinkie promise it’s actually pretty cool since this Mormon choir has upwards of 280 members, has been in existence for over 100 years, routinely performs in the Loew’s Metropolitan Theatre, and has won a grand total of six Grammies. Yup, I thought that was pretty impressive too.
NYC Bucket List Activities the Boogie Down Bronx
131. See a Baseball Game at Yankee Stadium – Umm..have you really been to NYC without seeing a Yankee game in person? And the correct answer to that question is, of course, a solid “no”.
So, grab some cheap tickets from Stubhub a few hours before the game (my friends and I used to wait last minute and get them for like $20 or less) and see the Bronx Bombers for yourself! Also, grab some garlic cheese fries since they are next-level delish.
132. Wave Hill Park – Tucked away in the always chic neighborhood of Riverdale (I mean that sincerely since it’s one of the nicest areas in the city), this enchanting, 28-acre park offers visitors stunning views of the nearby Hudson River and gives you a much-needed glimpse at some awesome, contemporary art.
Other park highlights include the Pergola (you’ll find the best views here), the Flower Garden, the herb and Dry Gardens, T.H. Everett Alpine House (you’ll find plants from mountainous regions), the Wild Garden, the Confier Slope, the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, and more.
133. Visit the Bronx Zoo – I used to come here every year as a kid and still love this magical place since it is easily one of the greatest zoos in the world. So, if you can, add this to your New York bucket list and stop by on a Wednesday when admission is pay what you wish!
Trust me, there’s a ton to see since the zoo covers 265 acres and is home to over 6,000 different animals. But some of my fave things to do here are riding the bug carousel, hopping aboard the wild Asia monorail, walking through the Congo Gorilla Forest, and visiting the rainforest at Jungle World.
134. The New York Botanical Gardens – Although there are a .ton of botanical gardens in NYC, none of them can compare to the one in the Bronx. Yeah, it’s pretty damn epic and easily one of the best parks in NYC.
So, stop by this 250-acre park and see the Azalea Garden, the Children’s Adventure Garden, the Lilac Collection, the Native Plant Garden, the Wetland Trail, the Ornamental Conifers, and more.
Also be sure to snag a photo or two of the immortal Enid A Haupt Conservatory since it’s a gorgeous, Victorian-era iron-and-glass greenhouse that is now currently an OFFICIAL NYC landmark. Yup, feel free to be duly impressed.
135. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage – Honestly, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I even knew this place even existed! But it sure does and is a cute little white cottage that was first built in 1812 in the Fordham area of the Bronx.
And although Edgar Allen Poe didn’t stay here that long (he moved here in 1847 and then left after the death of his wife), he was able to write immortal “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells”, before moving back to Baltimore.
Therefore, stop by and learn more about the famous author’s life while on an audio tour – during which you can see the bed that his wife died in and the rocking chair where Poe himself sat since the home looks exactly as it would have when Poe was in residence.
136. Eat Your Face Off on Arthur Avenue – Honestly? Little Italy is the worst. The food there is totally overrated and insanely expensive since most of the area is a glorified tourist trap. So, add this foodie hot spot to your NYC bucket list and go where all the super savvy locals go for cheap and delicious Italian food!
Some of my fave places to eat on Arthur Avenue include Enzo’s (try th red sauce and authentic parmigiana), Randazzo’s ( seafood market), Calandra’s Cheese Shop, Madonia Brothers Bakery, Casa Della Mozzarella, and Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodle (eat all the ravioli).
137. Take a Walk Through Van Cortlandt Park – This is a great place to go if you’ve been to New York 10,000 times and want to see something a little different. Because this is a hella huge, 1146 acre park where you can unwind and get back to nature.
If you’re into history, you can also visit the Van Cortlandt House Museum while you’re here. It’s a super cool, 18th century, Georgian-style house that is actually known for being the oldest house in the Bronx.
138. Creep Yourself Out at Woodlawn Cemetery – Sporadic tours of this enormous (more than 300,000 people are buried here) cemetery from 1863 are on offer. However, it’s probably best to hop on the 4 train, take it to Woodlawn, and see some of the famous people buried here for yourself.
You know, neat graves like the Art Nouveau-style tomb of Isidor and Ida Straus (Titanic victims), the Egyptian-style grave of the Woolworths, and the final resting place of historic greats like Joseph Pulitzer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Miles Davis, Oliver Belmont (Founder of the Belmont Horse Track who is buried inside a scale replica of Da Vinci’s Saint-Hubert Chapel), Herman Melville, and the Annie Bliss Titanic Memorial.
139. Cafe al Mercato – Inhale some of the best Sicilian slices (aka the large square ones) in the city from the back of Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Because this iconic vendor has been in business since 1940 and serves some of the best pizza in the city – making this an iconic NYC bucket list experience.
NYC Bucket List Activities Staten Island
140. Eat a Nice Home-Cooked Meal at Enoteca Maria – This delightful little concept restaurant serves a variety of dishes that are always “just like grandma made it” since, well, each night, two extra special grandmas are employed to create the home-cooked meal of your dreams.
Therefore, the menu here is always changing and can include traditional dishes from places like Italy, France, Bangladesh, Japan, and more!
141. New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden – Fun little factoid for you! This NYC bucket list item is just one of two Chinese-style outdoor gardens in the entire USA and was actually shipped here, in its entirety, from China.
That’s why, if you’re looking for a bit of solitude in the city that never sleeps, then give this place a try! Because it is absolutely overflowing with soothing rock formations, bamboo forests, lilac trees, waterfalls. koi ponds, Chinese pavilions, Chinese paintings, and beautiful calligraphy.
142. Alica Austen House – Stop by this white, 17th-century, Dutch-Colonial-style cottage and see where photographer Elizabeth Alice Austen lived! Also on display here are more than 8,000 different photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
143. Conference House – Go back in time and learn all about life in Colonial America at Conference House. Yeah, it was the historic locale for 3-hour failed peace talks between the Americans and British in 1776.
Today though, it’s a beautifully restored stone mansion from 1680 that is open to history lovers of every variety and that gives guests stunning panoramas of the nearby river.
144. Historic Richmond Town – Step back into yesteryear (circa 1958) and marvel at this historic, 100-acre park with 30 different homes, civic centers, and commercial areas that are just waiting to be explored. Yup, this is one of those cool, New York bucket list places that hasn’t been reconstructed in any way and is the site of NYC’s oldest, continually operating farm.
145. Haltermann’s Bakery – This 150-year old bakery still serves up beyond delicious treats like Pullman Bread and Charlotte Russe, a dessert from the 1900s that is a jam-filled mini sponge cake topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
146. Booze Museum – Step into this private home and learn all about the history of alcohol inside this alcohol lover’s paradise which is absolutely brimming over with alcohol-related paraphernalia from all around the globe. Fair warning, this is NOT the NYC bucket list activity for you if you’re not into booze.
NYC Bucket List Activities Queens
147. Visit Flushing Meadow’s Park – You know those UFO-shaped towers from Men in Black? And that iconic steel globe that is 12-stories tall? Well, you’ll find both of those relics from the1964 World’s Fair (and more) in Flushing’s iconic Flushing Meadows Park.
It’s just a great place to add to your NYC bucket list, so take a stroll through this gorgeous, 900-acre park. FYI, this park is also home to the annual US Open, in addition to Citifield (where the METS baseball team plays), The Queen’s Museums, The New York Hall of Science, and The Queen’s Zoo,
148. The Museum of the Moving Image – See where Hollywood really began at The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens! It’s basically the only museum in the world that details the history of the moving image with more than 130,000 objects in its collection – objects that include Jim Henson’s iconic muppets. You can also enjoy FREE admission between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm on Fridays.
149. Flushing’s Chinatown – Eat your face off at Chinatown in Flushing, Queens! It’s a place everyone should add to their NYC bucket list. So, beeline it on over to the New World Mall and check out Hunan House, Spicy and Tasty (get the Mapo Tofu),
Jade Asian (dim sum), and New Imperial Palace (Dungeness crab with sticky rice). FYI, Joe’s Shanghai is another fab place to go for soup dumplings in the area.
150. Visit the Ganesh Temple – Add one of the most unusual things to do in New York City to your New York bucket list by visiting the Ganesh Temple in Queens! It’s an enormous, intricately carved, Hindu Temple, in Flushing that serves delicious dosas in their basement canteen.
Just remember to take off your shoes and have your shoulders and legs completely covered before entering. And no, photography is not allowed inside.
151. Visit Rockaway Beach – I know everyone thinks of Coney Island but Rockaway Beach is pretty rad too. You can go sunbathing, walk along the beach, or even try your hand at surfing.
FYI, Long Beach is also really nice too and you should definitely check out the rooftop bar at Z NYC Hotel for killer panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.
152. Enjoy the Calm, Tranquility of the Noguchi Museum – This is easily one of the most peaceful places in NYC and should absolutely be added to any NYC bucket list since it is the former home of sculptor Isamu Noguchi – a place that has been expertly transformed into a stunning art museum with a collection of modern art, minimalistic sculptures, drawings, and even a nice little Japanese Garden for you to explore.
153. Socrates Sculpture Park – Wanna get outside and see some super rad art that doesn’t include hordes of selfie stick-wielding tourists?
Then add the Socrates Sculpture Park to your New York bucket list! It used to be a landfill but was not so recently transformed into a stunning outdoor art gallery in 1985.
So, head to this amazing park in Long Island City and admire the sweeping views of NYC while you’re here (You can also do some free kayaking at the LIC Community Boathouse while you’re here).
154. Fort Totten – Head to Bayside Queens, take a stroll through Fort Totten Park and see the remnants of an old fort that was built in 1862 to defend the city during the Civil War.
And since you’re here anyway, might as well see the neo-gothic-style castle that sits at the center of the park. It’s fondly referred to locally as just “the castle” and was once the officer’s club for the military base that once stood here.
155. Brooklyn Grange Farms and Apiary – I know this place SOUNDS like it should be in Brooklyn, but their flagship location is actually in Queens. It’s also a working, rooftop farm that occupies a full acre of land on the Standard Motor Products Building in Queens. And believe it or not, you can actually take 45-minute tours of their Long Island City facility, which start at $18 per person.
However, you can always visit one of their two other locations if you don’t feel like schlepping to Queens. One is high atop building number 3 in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard and the other is in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
156. Louis Armstrong House – If you like jazz even a little bit, then you’ll love to add the Louis Armstrong House to your NYC bucket list! Because as the name would suggest, this unassuming brick building was once the home of Louis Armstrong (one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time) and his wife Lucille.
That’s why, if you should happen to find yourself in Corona, Queens, stop by this home-turned museum and take a 40-minute tour through the museum so that you can learn all about the life of one of the greatest trumpeters of all time.
157. Vander Ende-Onderdonk House – Learn all about New York’s Dutch history at this amazing museum! It was once the private residence of the Onderdonk family (among others) and is now a place where you can learn all about what life was really like for Dutch citizens living in colonial America.
158. Eat at White Bear – Queen’s is KNOWN for their beyond delicious Chinese food. So, add a trip to White Bear to your NYC bucket list and get the number 6, These pork and veggie wontons topped with chili oil are basically some of the best you’ll have in your entire life
159. Check out the Queens Museum – Step inside this awe-inspiring museum and see a 9,335 square foot model of NYC. it’s completely accurate and was originally created for the 1964 World’s Fair. Since then, the model has been updated and is now an exact, scaled-down version of what the city looked like in 1992 – making this place a classic addition to any New York City bucket list.
160. Hanmaum Zen Center of New York -Find a little peace and quiet at a temple in the middle of Queens that belongs to the biggest order of Buddhist monks in South Korea. It was first founded in 1989 in Flushing and is a great place to see stunning, Korean-style architecture.
Additional NYC Bucket List Resources You’ll Love
- Best Hiking Trails on Long Island
- Best Areas to Stay in NYC
- 25 Best Views in NYC
- The Ultimate Guide to Summer in New York City
- 19+ Fun Things to do in NYC at night!
- Best Waterfalls in New York
- 30+ Best Books about NYC
- 24 Best Warm Winter Vacations in the USA