Best attractions in New York for the first-time traveler

New York, a city that needs no introduction. One of the most stunning and happening cities in the world offers a plethora of options to be explored. Be it historical monuments, soaring skyscrapers, iconic buildings, art & culture, shopping or the nightlife scenes, New York has something for everyone. New York is very well connected with most of the towns and cities. You can click here and find Bus from Philadelphia to New York.

In fact, for the first-time traveler, it can be confusing and overwhelming to decide which places to visit and which to skip. During our recent and first trip to New York, we explored some of the most iconic places in the city. Here’s a list of attractions that should be a part of your checklist while visiting New York for the first time.

Manhattan New york
Skyscrapers in New York

Best Places to visit in New York for first-time travelers

Central Park

Right in the middle of the concrete jungle and soaring skyscrapers, is a beautiful urban park, The central park. One of the most visited and filmed locations in the USA. Central Park is located in Manhattan between the Upper west side and the upper east side. A must visit place if you are traveling with kids or looking for a break from the hustle-bustle of the city.  Apart from lush green meadows and tall trees, Central Park has many attractions to keep you occupied for the entire day. Some of the main spots are Central Park Zoo, the mall, the ramble and lake, bow bridge, Sheep meadow, Belvedere Castle and The Metropolitan Museum of art. We loved Central Park, it was one of my favorite places in New York, although we could explore only half of it in half day. Read more about the best places to visit in Central Park Here.

Entry cost: No ticket for entry, but you need to buy tickets for attractions inside the park-like Central Zoo, Museum, etc.

Visiting Hours: 6 AM -1 AM

Central Park,New York
Pond at Central Park New York
Central Park , New York
Beautiful Fountain at Central Park
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Central Park Zoo, New York

Brooklyn Bridge

Another iconic landmark in New York, Brooklyn bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Constructed between 1869 to 1883, Brooklyn Bridge is the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge and one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States. Apart from historical importance, walking across the Bridge offers great vistas of the city’s high-rise skyline by the side of the East River. You can click great photos while walking from one end of the bridge to another. One can walk across the bridge either from Manhattan to Brooklyn or the other way.

Tip: If you are looking to capture some great pictures without much crowd, try to visit the bridge early morning during the Sunrise. Or capture some great night shots of the glittery city during Sunset.

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Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
view from Brooklyn Bridge.png
View from Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

Financial District, Lower Manhattan

New York is the leading financial center of the world. Financial district located in Lower Manhattan houses the wall street, offices and headquarters of many popular financial institutions including the world’s largest stock exchange, iconic New York stock exchange and Federal Reserve bank of New York. Walking across the unique skyscrapers of the city is an amazing experience and something you shouldn’t miss out on. The best part is that this area has a perfect blend of modern and historic buildings to mesmerize you. Right from popular icons like the Raging bull, National Museum of the American Indian, one world-building to Saint Patrick Cathedral. There are also many restaurants and bars in the area where one can enjoy the evenings.

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New York Stock exchange
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Museum, Downtown Manhattan

Empire state building observatory

The place that needs no introduction, Empire state building is one of the most popular landmarks in the world. The observatories located at 86th and 102nd floor of the building provides a breathtaking 360-degree vista of the city. However, the 102nd-floor observatory is currently closed for renovations until Fall 2019. Apart from the observation deck, Empire state building also has an interactive Museum that exhibits different phases of building construction, along with movies in which this location has been filmed. The kingkong at one of the corners offers a great photo opportunity.

Ticket cost: $20. Available at the Observatory ticket office (2nd floor) or 86th-floor kiosk.

Express Pass: Cost: $33.

Visiting Hours: All days from 8 AM to 2 AM.

View from Empire state building
view from Empire state building

One World Observatory & 9/11 Memorial & Museum

One world is the tallest building in the United States and the western hemisphere, built in place of the former World trade center (the twin towers) which was destroyed in a terrorist attack on 11 September 2011. The observatory located on the 100-102 floor offers a 360-degree view of the city.

One world complex also has 2 memorial sites and the 9/11 museum in the memory of all those who lost their lives in the attack. Visit the museum was a heart wrenching and emotional experience. It tells the story of what happened on 9/11, including the events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the story of Flight 93. It also exhibits the belongings of those who were diseased during the attack.

Observatory visiting Hours: 9 am to 9 pm

Observatory entry cost: 35 $

Museum visiting hours: 7.30 am to 9 pm

Museum entrance cost starts from $26 onwards

9/11 memorial,New York
9/11 memorial, New York
One world trade center.jpg
One world trade center
9/11 Memorial Museum, NYC

Oculus mall or Westfield world trade center

Westfield Shopping center at the World trade center complex is the largest shopping mall in Manhattan. Opened in 2016, this mall has a striking design both from outside as well as inside. The opening in the ceiling allows sunlight to come in, along with a view of freedom tower. Oculus mall is also a transportation hub, it has trains to New Jersey and connects other parts of New York. The mall is home to many hi-end brands, some eateries. It’s a great place to hang out and click some amazing pictures.

Visiting Hours: 10 am to 9 pm

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Oculus Mall, One World Trade Center
Oculus Mall, NYC

The Times square

One of the happiest, lively and brightest places you can ever be. Times Square in Manhattan is full of colorful neon lights, skyscrapers with larger than life digital billboards, costumed characters, musicians and much more. Times square brims with positive vibes and infectious energy, especially during the night. Streets are lined up with different retail brands, cafes with outdoor sit-outs and hawkers selling souvenirs, etc. Walk up to the stairs to one time square, the building from which the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. While visiting New York, do take time out to visit Times Square for an unforgettable experience.

Times square, NYC.jpg
Times Square, New York 
Times Square, New York
Times Square, New York

The Vessel

An extraordinary piece of art that one must visit while in New York.  Imagined by Thomas Heatherwick, the Vessel is a newly opened attraction with spiral staircases meant to be climbed till the top. From this elaborate honeycomb structure which rises to 16 stories, one can enjoy the view of the city from different angles and directions. With 2500 individual steps with 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs, The Vessel is a modern architectural marvel. It is the main feature of the 5-acre (2.0 ha) Hudson Yards Public Square. There is a mall also right next to the vessel.

Please note there are a limited number of tickets available so book your tickets in advance.

Visiting hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sunday to Monday)

Entry cost:$10 (no entry ticket for kids up to 6 years)

The Vessel, New York
The vessel, New York
The Vessel, picture from the top


Statue of Liberty & Ellis island

Probably one of the most well-known landmarks in the world, the Statue of Liberty on Liberty island represents the symbol of freedom. The statue is visited by millions of people every year.

Elis Island is another historical site also known as the ‘Island of Hope and Tears’. Ellis Island was once America’s busiest immigration station that operated for over 62 years and saw millions of people from around the world.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island can be reached through Statue Ferry, tickets need to be booked in advance. A ferry can be taken from Battery Park or Liberty state park.

Visiting hours: The Ferry time from the mainland Varies as per seasons usually it’s from 8.30 am till 4 pm.

Entry cost: Cost varies as per the tour you chose

statue of Liberty.jpg
Statue of Liberty, New York
Ellis Island, New York

Brooklyn Bridge Park & Jane’s carousel

Brooklyn bridge park is a special waterfront park towards the Brooklyn side of the East River. From here, you can enjoy the perfect view of Manhattan skyline along with the 2 bridges. Perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, there are many restaurants along the river where you can enjoy your meal and drinks. Do checkout timeout market, it’s a kind of mall with a lot of eateries. If you are visiting with kids, don’t forget to visit Jane’s carousal. A beautifully carved wooden carousel with 48 horses, built-in 1922 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company, now restored in Brooklyn bridge park.

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Brooklyn bridge park 
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View from Brooklyn Bridge park 
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Jane’s Carousel, New York 
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Restaurants by the East River 

According to me, these are the places that one should not miss out while visiting New York for the First time. Have you been to New York? What are your favorite hangouts and attractions? Do share in the comment box!

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Best attractions to visit in Newyork for first time traveler

33 thoughts on “Best attractions in New York for the first-time traveler

  1. So many iconic places to explore in New York. I’m loving different and unique architectural designs of the Vessel, Oculus Mall and the Brooklyn Bridge the most.

  2. Goodness Madhu! You really crammed in the amazing attractions during your time in NYC! I have loved following along on insta, so it is fab to see how much fun you had exploring!

    All those massive buildings look cool, but I have to admit, I’d be happiest in central park. 😉

  3. I visited new york for 24 hrs on my way to north america! Chaotic but oh so lovely! Will save this for when i manage to revisit for longer!

  4. Fantastic guide you’ve put together! You’ve definitely included a lot of the main attractions in NYC here. I visited for 4 days a few years ago and found it so difficult to see everything I wanted to.

  5. I’ve been to New York previously but never heard of the Vessel…it looks so cool!! Definitely on my list for the next visit to NYC

  6. I followed almost exactly the same itinerary on my first trip to New York! Such a fun city 🙂

  7. After visiting NYC three times there are still plenty for me to explore! Thank you for the great guide!

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