There are a million and one things to keep you occupied in the Big Apple. And then there are some things that you really just have to do. We’ve put together a top-10 list of the sights and sounds that are absolutely essential. 

1) Go up the Empire State Building

Let’s start at the top. This was the world’s tallest building for an incredible 43 years. The Observation Deck on the 86th floor has spectacular 360-degree views. But head for the Top Deck on the 102nd floor and you’ll be able to see 80 miles away on a clear day. Lines can get as long as the building is high (well, nearly), so visit early, or after 10pm. 

Empire State Building skyline

350 5th Avenue.

2) Walk above the skyline

One World Observatory isn’t just a viewing platform. It’s also a journey through the NYC skyline’s history. Visit the Sky Portal while you’re here to experience what it’s like to walk above the streets. You can book a table in the dining room, or grab a light bite at the One Café. 

One World Trade Center New York

285 Fulton Street.

3) Stroll through Central Park 

It’s big, it’s beautiful and it’s buzzing. Central Park spans 843 acres and has everything from a wildlife sanctuary to beautiful man-made lakes and manicured meadows. Look out for statues of Shakespeare and Alice in Wonderland, as well as the oldest public monument in North America, The Obelisk.

Lake at Central Park New York

4) Hang out at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a vibrant hub for tourists and locals alike. If you want to get another bird’s eye view of NYC, take the elevator to the observation decks on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors. But if you just want to chill and people watch, stay at ground level for some great shopping and good food. If you’re here in the winter months there’s ice skating too. 

Rockefeller Center New York

45 Rockefeller Plaza.

5) Get back to nature

New York’s Natural History Museum will make a big impression on the little ones, and on any grown up too. It’s the largest natural history museum in the world, with 45 permanent exhibition halls. You’ll be able to feast your eyes on over 32 million specimens, including everything from dinosaurs to minerals, and from meteorites to human artifacts. 

Animal display at the Natural History Museum New York

Central Park West and 79th Street.

6) Get to know the local history

The Museum of the City of New York focuses on this unique city. The collection is home to all sorts of artifacts from the Big Apple, including handwritten manuscripts by playwright Eugene O’Neill, a suit worn to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball, and works by artist Marcel Duchamp. It tells the story of this hugely diverse and inspiring city, with some truly unique displays. 

1220 5th Avenue.

7) Visit Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty looks completely regal from a distance, but she’s even more inspiring close up. Start the day early and take a boat ride over to Liberty Island. You can climb the 354 steps to Liberty’s crown and look out over Manhattan. Make sure you book in advance, as the crown tickets sell out quickly. Take the ferry from Battery Park.

Statue of Liberty with New York skyline

8) Stand at the heart of Broadway

Times Square has traditionally been the center of the Theater District in New York. People used to come here and just hang out, which made it the ideal site for billboards. Eventually it became a requirement for every building to sport a billboard, which makes Times Square such a feast for the eyes today. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops amidst all the flashing lights too.

Times Square in New York

9) Explore 5th Avenue

Fifth Avenue is one of the world’s most expensive streets, featuring some of the world’s most prestigious stores – you’ll find them between 49th and 59th Street. The Avenue starts just north of Washington Square and stretches up to 143rd Street in Harlem. Look out for the palatial homes alongside Central Park, as well as grand churches. East of the Park is Museum Mile, between 82nd and 104th Street.

Fifth Avenue street sign

10) Get to the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (or 'the Met' for short) is the largest art museum in the US, and one of the ten largest in the world. Exhibits stretch over 5,000 years, celebrating human creativity from around the world. You’ll need more than a day if you’re going to look at everything, so if time is limited grab a gallery guide and pick out your absolute must-sees. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Avenue.