We have put together 14 must visit New York landmarks to get your juices flowing for your New York adventure.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty has towered over the Hudson River since 1886, when it was shipped over from France as a mark of friendship between the two nations. It has been the undisputed symbol of New York City ever since, and each year millions of visitors descend on Liberty Island in order to get a closer look or climb the narrow stairs up to the viewing gallery, located within the crown of the statue.
Liberty Island is accessible only by ferry, with regular Statue Cruises running from both Liberty State Park in New Jersey and Battery Park in Manhattan. Ferry tours also include a stop at the historic Ellis Island, which served as the country’s primary immigration inspection station up until the mid-1950s.
Please note, however, that visitors wishing to access the Statue of Liberty pedestal or crown observation deck must book their tickets prior to arrival. The pedestal offers great views of the river and statue itself, whilst the view from the crown allows you to take in the NYC skyline in all its glory.
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the stand-out landmark on the New York skyline, towering some 1,400 feet over the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It was opened in 1931 and famously featured in the groundbreaking 1933 movie King Kong. This iconic structure was officially the world’s tallest building for close to four decades and offers unparalleled views of the city from its top deck on the 102nd floor.
NYC’s highest open air observatory can be found on the 86th floor, exposing you to breath-taking panoramic views of the entire city, including Central Park and The Hudson River.
Top tip: Take advantage of the late opening hours (2am) and head up to the top deck after dark for a spectacular view of the city lights. There’s even a saxophonist on hand to set the mood on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Central Park is a sprawling green oasis spread across over 800 acres in the heart of Manhattan, its trees, pathways and lakes creating a spellbinding contrast to the ‘concrete jungle’ surroundings.
From dusk ‘til dawn, the park is abuzz with residents and visitors enjoying picnics, walks, jogs and sports on its vast green areas. There are plenty of attractions to be found here as well, including the Central Park Zoo, the majestic Belvedere Castle and the Conservatory Garden, to name but a few. The hustle and bustle of Manhattan seems like a distant memory once you step into this green haven, which has proved a peaceful retreat for New Yorkers since the mid-1800s.
The eye-catching Chrysler Building shoots into the Midtown Manhattan air from its base on 42nd Street, where it has stood proudly for over 80 years. Although it’s primarily home to private businesses and doesn’t feature an observation deck, it still remains one of the city’s best-loved buildings.
It measures over 1,000 feet in height and was the tallest structure in the world when it first opened in 1930, only to give way to the Empire State Building the following year. It does, however, still hold the title of world’s tallest brick building; a key component of its unique architectural design.
The Flatiron Building is a true NYC classic and easily one of the most photographed structures in the city, which is no mean feat. Located on 175 Fifth Avenue, it is renowned for its distinct triangular, clothes iron-like design which is unlike any other building in the city. Designed by a Chicago-born architect by the name of Daniel Burnham, the Flatiron was completed in 1902 – long before the likes of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings rose to prominence.
This famous landmark is considered one of the classic symbols of New York and was duly awarded the status as a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Unsurprisingly, it has featured regularly in TV shows and movies throughout the years and is a must visit for anyone wishing to capture the quintessential ‘New York feel’ on camera.
Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal (or Grand Central Station as it’s commonly known) welcomed its first rail passengers way back in 1871 and is today one of the city’s best-loved historical buildings. It’s home to a number of retail stores, restaurants and the Grand Central Market where you can pick up everything from freshly-baked pastries to seafood, fruit and confectionery.
In order to fully appreciate the building’s fascinating history, however, it’s best to join one of the frequent audio guide tours. You’ll learn about its remarkable architecture and design, as well as visit some of its 44 platforms – no other station in the world can match that number! The tour also features plenty of stories about the trains, people and events that helped shape one of the most spectacular buildings in the country.
New York Public Library
Within a stone’s throw of Grand Central Terminal lies another treasured New York landmark; theNew York Public Library. Although dozens of branches can be found throughout the city, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building is the clear standout in terms of design and stature. It boasts close to 53 million books and items, making it the fourth largest library on the planet.
The main reading hall is a particular highlight, having once been the largest of its kind anywhere in the world – featuring wide open floor spaces and intricate ceiling designs. The building itself was completed in 1911 and its history can be explored in detail through one of the two daily guided tours.
Visitors can also gain a snapshot of the library’s enormous collection by checking out the ever-changing exhibition galleries. Alternatively, stroll through the building at your own leisure and soak up the unique atmosphere of one of the world’s greatest libraries.
Despite the name suggesting otherwise, theRockefeller Center actually consists of nearly 20 separate buildings spanning over 20 acres between 48th and 51st street.
When construction first started back in the 1930s it represented one of the greatest building projects in history, with roughly 40,000 people working to create what is today one of the city’s most popular entertainment districts. During the winter months a huge outdoor ice rink appears under the bright lights, whilst a wealth of shops, restaurants and bars populate the stylish buildings.
Top attractions include a trip to the observation deck on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Plaza, whilst the month of December sees the arrival of the enormous Rockefeller Christmas tree.
Elsewhere, the spectacular Radio City Music Hall hosts a range of extravagant live shows throughout the year, including The Rockettes’ dance performances and the legendary Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
You can also take a chance to tour the NBC studios when they re-open in Mid-2015, enabling you to check out the set of the Late Night Show and Saturday Night Live.
Madison Square Garden
Nestled in the heart of Midtown Manhattan,Madison Square Garden is New York’s oldest sporting venue and one of the most famous indoor arenas in the world.
It’s home to both the NHL hockey team, the New York Rangers and NBA basketball franchise, the New York Knicks. Incredibly, it takes little more than two hours to transform the Garden from a hockey arena into a basketball venue, and vice versa. The famous arena also plays host to a range of other sporting events throughout the year, including high profile boxing matches and concerts.
The Garden opened in 1968 and has since hosted some of the biggest names in music. It was here that John Lennon played his final concert before his death in 1980, whilst pop singer Taylor Swift completed the fastest sell-out in the venue’s history back in 2009 – with all the tickets snapped up in just under 60 seconds.
Keep an eye out for upcoming events ahead of your visit to NYC or, if you prefer, head behind the scenes on one of the daily tours of the world’s most famous arena.
On the Hudson River waterfront, between W 14th Street and Gansevort Street, lies the Manhattan neighbourhood commonly known as the Meatpacking District. Open air meat markets were commonplace here during the 20th Century, but nowadays it’s one of the trendiest areas in town thanks to its selection of exclusive clubs and bars.
Look hard enough, however, and you’ll still find plenty of throwbacks to the neighbourhood’s market days – not least at the much loved Chelsea Market. Regarded as one of the finest indoor food halls in the world, this fabulous trading hub attracts in excess of six million visitors annually.
The bustling market is a hive of activity from dusk ‘till dawn, with vendors selling everything from fresh herbs and vegetables to spicy tacos, pasta, kitchen supplies and coffees. It’s a great place for a spot of lunch or dinner with just about every type of cuisine on offer, from fresh lobster to meaty burgers, noodles and sushi.
No visit to NYC is complete without spending some time in Times Square; the city’s larger than life entertainment district – nicknamed ‘The Crossroads of the World’. This is where a crowd of over one million people gather for the annual New Year’s celebrations, whilst tens of thousands congregate for prominent sporting events and election results – all of which are broadcast on the giant screens plastered on the side of the surrounding buildings.
Times Square was a less than desirable area during the 70s and 80s, but following a city-backed clean-up in the 90s it was once again restored to its former glory. Today it’s one of the most visited parts of NYC, renowned for its enormous illuminated advertising boards and vibrant atmosphere.
There’s more to it than flashing neon lights, however, with a host of attractions on hand to keep you entertained. Take in a show at one of the comedy clubs, catch a performance at one of the countless live music venues or spend the evening at a show in the Broadway Theater District. You’ll also find wall-to-wall nightclubs, bars, restaurants and mega stores; don’t forget to stop by ‘Music Row’ on 48th street for all your musical instrument needs.
Washington Square Park
Central Park may be New York City’s most famous green space, but in truth there are no less than 1,900 public parks located throughout its five boroughs. Washington Square Park ranks as one of the most popular; a sprawling ten acre park set in the heart of Manhattan’s trendy Greenwich Village.
Surrounded by the New York University campus, the park attracts large numbers of walkers, runners, chess players and picnickers on a daily basis – with the marble Washington Arch (inspired by the Arch de Triomphe in Paris) providing the centrepiece.
The park is also a popular destination for ghost tours, having once been a burial place for unidentified or unknown individuals during the 19th Century – prompting many a ghostly sighting through the decades!
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge stretches across the East River, connecting Lower Manhattan with the borough of Brooklyn. Its unique design has made it one of the city’s most photographed landmarks and it remains one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US.
Over 140,000 people pass over the bridge on a daily basis, either by car or on the walking and cycling paths elevated directly above the road. Its 14-year construction was officially completed in 1883, prompting the structure to be dubbed ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. It was also the longest suspension bridge on the planet up until 1903, when it was surpassed by the nearby Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge played a key role in connecting the cities of New York and Brooklyn, with the latter eventually merging with NYC in 1898.
Top tip: If you decide to cross the bridge by foot, keep a watchful eye on the sky above, as the bridge is known to be a nesting site for over a dozen Peregrine falcons.
Queens Botanical Garden
The Queens Botanical Garden has been a haven of peace and tranquility for Queens’ residents since 1939, when it was created as part of the New York World Fair celebrations. It has remained a hugely popular destination ever since, with rose, herb, cherry and perennial gardens just a handful of the features covering its 39 acres.
Visitors can also enjoy the Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden and the much loved Fragrance Walk – a winding pathway featuring an abundance of wonderfully fragrant bulbs and perennials.
Open from April to October, the park charges visitors a small admission fee with the exception of certain times on Wednesdays and Sundays, when you may enter free of charge.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Gantry Plaza State Park stretches along the East River waterfront in Queens and boasts unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.
The park is a relatively new addition to the Long Island City waterfront, having officially opened in 1998 before being further expanded roughly ten years later. The former docklands are now a popular destination for residents and visitors, thanks in part to the breath-taking views of the NYC skyline. The promenade is popular with runners and cyclists, whilst the park is also home to the famous Pepsi-Cola sign – a 60 foot high neon-light sign first erected in 1936.
So whether you’re looking for prime photo opportunities, or simply a relaxing afternoon in the company of the gentle East River breeze, Gantry Park won’t disappoint.