8 Best Tourist Attractions in NYC (and the Absolute Best Times to Visit Them)

Are you visiting New York City and you want to know where to go? Do you already live here and you want to get the most out of the city everyone's so jazzed up about?

We have lots of tips for both situations. First of all, we're not into spending $30 to access the observatories of One World Trade or the Empire State Building. 

If you want to do that, more power to you; but there are plenty of much less expensive ways to catch breathtaking city sights.

We also don't think you should purchase access to Ellis Island via ferry when the Staten Island Ferry will bring you right up to to Ellis Island for free.

Mostly, we want you to experience the vibrant beauty and energy of the city we're all in love with. Yes, we're in love with it. You are too. That's why you're here. 

If you play this right, you'll be more in love with it than you even know how to handle. Read on to find out which tourist attractions in NYC are worth your time, and when to visit them.

1. Brooklyn Bridge

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You should visit the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. We're also pretty sure you should visit the Brooklyn Bridge during a season that isn't summer. It's way crowded in summer.

You should also walk across the bridge. Staring at the bridge from below does not produce the same effect as standing in the middle of the bridge and looking at Brooklyn on one side, Manhattan on the other side, and the East River sparkling in between.


You can almost feel like you're flying in this moment, standing the middle of the bridge. Make sure you check out the love locks in the middle of the bridge. They're really sweet.

Make sure you also tour Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's got some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline in the whole city.

2. Staten Island Ferry

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Go to the Staten Island Ferry on a weekend afternoon. If you try and go at rush hour, the boat will be crowded by people trying to get places.

We know everyone wants to see the Statue of Liberty, and we completely endorse that decision. We just think it's a better idea to get ten feet away from the Statue of Liberty on a free boat ride than it is to pay $25 for a ferry tour.

Plus, they've got $3 and $4 beers on the Staten Island Ferry, and completely lovely views. If you want to gaze at the skyline from the middle of the river with the added bonus of five miles of views of all the bridges and Ellis Island, the Staten Island Ferry is totally the move.

3. Deno's Wonder Wheel

mattpugs The Wonder Wheel #wonderwheel #denoswonderwheel #coneyisland #brooklyn #brooklynny #newyorkcity #nyc #nycicons #ig_nycity #nyclandmarks #nycphotographer #longexposure #nycnight #colors #ferriswheel #matthewpugliese #matthewpugliesephotography

There are a ton of signs beside Deno's Wonder Wheel that say "tallest Ferris wheel in the world." We hate to pop Deno's bubble, but it hasn't been the tallest Ferris wheel in the world in decades.

Still, it's an institution. It was built in 1920, and from the top of the wheel you can see out into the ocean and much of Brooklyn stretching below you. It's pretty stunning, and also kind of scary, but that just adds to the thrill.


You'll definitely feel on top of the world at the apex of Deno's Wonder Wheel. We'd definitely recommend going during the colder months because it'll be so much less crowded. Make sure you have a beer in Ruby's, because that's an institution too.

4. The MoMA (11 West 53rd Street)

andrea0spina One of the most beautiful works ever 🌙✨ #VanGogh #VincentVanGogh #MoMA #TheMoMA #TheStarryNight

The Museum of Modern Art is often referred to as the most influential museum of modern art in the world, so obviously you should visit it whether you live in NYC or you're visiting.

The MoMA's got plenty of stellar, thought-and-emotion provoking, rotating exhibits. They also have some of the most famous paintings in the world as permanent fixtures.

For instance, they've got The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso.

They've also got a mural-sized Water Lilies by Claude Monet that'll blow you away.

Wondering when to come to the MoMA? Easy. Admission to the MoMA is free on Friday evenings between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. thanks to UNIQLO. #Victory.


5. Roosevelt Island (591 Main Street)

scottjel My morning commute to Roosevelt Island on the tram over the East River 🚠🗽

Okay, yeah, you should totally go to Roosevelt Island, but more than anything we think you should ride the Roosevelt Island Tram.

You want to talk about incredible views of the skyline? You want to talk about feeling like you're flying? Yeah, we can talk all about that, but we're going to direct you to the Roosevelt Island Tram.


You need a MetroCard to get on the tram, so make sure you're topped up on that before you get there. Then sit back and enjoy the panoramic views of NYC from the sky.

Also, make sure you check out Roosevelt Island's lighthouse. It's pretty beautiful. We would recommend riding the tram at sunset because that's stunning, but during the afternoon works just as well.

6. The Lake at Central Park (Mid-Park from 71st to 78th Streets)

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Visiting Central Park is essential, but visitors wander in at a random entrance and find themselves far from its most picturesque sights far too often.

So directing yourself toward the Lake is key. It's 20 acres, and the second largest body of water in Central Park. If you're visiting in the winter, you can ice skate. If you're planning on visiting in the summer, then you can plan on boating.

Row boating on the Lake is open from April through October, and you can rent boats at the Loeb Boathouse every day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It costs $12 for the first hour, and $3 for every 15 minutes afterward.

If we had to choose a time to come to Central Park's Lake, it would definitely be summer. Boating out into the middle of the Lake is just about as placidly pleasant as placidly pleasant gets.

7. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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If nature is your thing, you'll be absolutely blown away by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 

Its 52 acres are actually the sum of more than twelve separate gardens. At the Steinhardt Conservatory they've got the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, three climate-themed pavilions, a glass aquatic plant house, and an art gallery.


Make sure you visit the Discovery Garden too, as it offers the chance to learn all about gardening and protecting tree habitats.

The garden's goal is to connect people to the world of plants and inspire a sense of delight, curiosity, and responsibility for the environment. If we had to choose a time to go, it'd have to be at the end of April when the Cherry Blossom trees are in radiant bloom.

8. Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd - the Bronx)

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Love animals? Then the Bronx Zoo will blow you away. It and NYC's other amazing zoos are run by New York's Wildlife Conservation Society, who are on a mission to safe the wild life and places across the globe.

We're completely behind that mission, and supporting the Bronx Zoo supports them. Plus, the Bronx Zoo is awesome. It's got camel rides, penguin feedings, sea lion feedings, a wild Asia monorail, a butterfly garden, a Congo gorilla forest, and a bug carousel.

With 6,000 animals from 650 different species across the globe, the Bronx Zoo is one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world. It is 265 acres of parklands and habitats created to mirror animals' natural homes.

The best day to come to the Bronx Zoo is on Wednesdays as zoo admission is free all day.

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[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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