New York – Top 20 Tourist Attractions

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New York is more than just the most densely populated city in all of the United States, it stands proudly as one of the most powerful and influential cities in the world. Situated on the banks of one of the largest natural harbors on the planet, it plays a vital role in international diplomacy, media, art, finance, commerce, fashion, technology, education, research, and of course entertainment.

This vibrant and busy city has often been described as being the true cultural capital of the world. An estimated 800 languages are spoken in New York, largely as a result of the city being a melting pot of nationalities. The linguistic diversity also leads to a huge diversity in cultures, each of which offer their own unique contribution to what makes this such an amazing destination for visitors from around the world.

Five boroughs make up this urban giant, including Staten Island, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Once individual cities in their own right, they were all consolidated under one local governing rule in 1898.

The roots of this megalopolis can be traced to the early 1600s, when it was founded as one of the first trading posts in the newly discovered Americas. The colonists, who hailed from the Dutch Republic, named their thriving new market ‘New Amsterdam’. It wasn’t until 1664, when the area was taken under the control of the English, that it was named New York.

With famous landmarks that include Times Square, Central Park and the Broadway district, there aren’t many places in the world that are as well known as New York.

1. Central Park

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Central Park
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Central Park

As one of the most recognizable and famous man-made parks in the world, Central Park is also one of the most frequently visited public green spaces in the United States. Situated directly in the middle of the hustle and bustle that is Manhattan, this natural retreat proves to be a safe haven for New Yorkers, guests to the city, and also to an impressive selection of migratory birds and other wildlife.

When it first opened in 1857, the park was original 778 acres of landscaped beauty. Just one year later, two notable landscape designers won a bid to expand and improve on the outdoor public space. Today Central Park is 840 acres, and boasts numerous fountains, bridges, arches, and sculptures; each with its own unique tale to tell.

The land where Central Park is located cost more than $5 million to purchase, and despite what many think, it was not originally an open empty space. The area was home to more than 1,600 residents who were all essentially living below the poverty line. The rule of eminent domain saw them evicted, and saw the communities demolished in order to make room for the new park.

Central Park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle and simply stroll the picturesque grounds, ride a bike, play basketball, take a row boat onto the lake or jog the six miles of paved drive.

With a reputation for being a haven for criminals, in 2011 the New York City Police Department successfully established a precinct right in the park in order to stamp out crime. The park is now considered a safe place to visit during the day (in fact you’ll find it a buzz of activity), but tourists are recommended to use common sense if visiting the park at night.

In 1962, Central Park was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

If you want to do something romantic, go to the lake a rent a row boat. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours enjoying the nature and get a different perspective of Central Park. Available April-October from 10am – 5.30pm. $12/hour


2. Brooklyn

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Brooklyn
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Brooklyn

The Brooklyn borough is home to over 2.5 million people. With 35% Caucasian, 35% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 10% combined and other races, Brooklyn is home to a diverse population. First settled by the Dutch, it has promoted equality in all people since the 1620s.

The Brooklyn Museum of art houses one of the best collections of Egyptian art collections in the world. Visitors can also experience Prospect Park which boasts 585 acres of meadows, picnic areas, outdoor concert venues, a boathouse, and lake. Brooklyn Heights Promenade spots incredible views of the Manhattan Skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.

Holding the distinction of being one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, the Brooklyn Bridge spans 1,595.5ft (486m). New York’s East River is bordered by Brooklyn and Manhattan, this towering overpass has provided safe passage for millions of people since its completion in 1883.

The original design was done by a German immigrant by the name of John Augustus Roebling, who had already achieved a level of notoriety as having designed several other suspension bridges around the country. Upon Roebling’s premature death after an accident, his son was placed in charge of overseeing the completion of this important structure.

Construction cost around $15 million, and took more than 14 years to complete. With soaring granite towers and tense steel cables, this iconic neo- gothic styled New York feature is more than 125 years old.

Opening day in May of 1883 saw thousands of excited locals streaming onto the bridge for the ceremony. Thousands of people and almost 2,000 vehicles crossed over on the first day alone. Just under a week later, rumors about the stability of the structure spread, which unfortunately led to several fatalities during a rush to get back on solid ground. Fortunately, P.T. Barnum (founder of Barnum & Bailey Circus) found a great way to draw attention to his famous circus, and prove the stability of the bridge. In 1884 he led a parade of elephants from his show right across.

Prior to 1867, Brooklyn Bridge was originally referred to as both the ‘East River Bridge’ and the ‘New York and Brooklyn Bridge’. It wasn’t until 1915 that the city formally gave it the name that it proudly carries today. In 1971, it was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and also a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Open for both vehicles and pedestrians, crossing this stunning landmark offers some of the best views of New York city.

If you’re going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, we recommend you to take the subway to High St. Station (on the Brooklyn side) and then walk back to Manhattan, this way, you’ll be able to have a panoramic view of Manhattan while walking across it.

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3. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Situated in Upper New York Bay, for decades Ellis Island served as the gateway to the United States for an estimated 12 million immigrants from around the world.

The island was originally significantly smaller, and was once the home of Fort Gibson (a strategic military post). Through land reclamation, which is the process of creating land from a body of water, the island was expanded from 3.3 acres to the 27.5 acres that is today.

Immigrants who arrived at the processing center spent hours in line, waiting to be asked the 29 questions that would determine their fate in the new world. The questions related to their occupation, family members, and of course the amount of money that they had on them, as it was important to the government that new immigrants had the means to support themselves. Sick individuals were transported to the on-site hospital, while those who were approved entry and were in good health were sent on their way to start their new lives. The Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital is closed for visitation, and is actually undergoing extensive restoration and renovation efforts.

An estimated one third of Americans today can trace their ancestry through this important immigration entry point. In 1965 Ellis Island was made a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. It is also home to a vast museum of immigration, which tells poignant tales of hardship and hope.

The Statue of Liberty towers over the harbor, and stands not only as a symbol of freedom for immigrants entering the country, but also as the very symbol of the United States. Measuring from the ground up to the very top of Lady Liberty’s torch is 305ft, 1inch (92m).

This stunning neoclassical sculpture looms over Liberty Island, and was put in place in 1886 after being accepted as a gesture of goodwill from France to the United States. The statue stands as an icon of the very freedom that people came to the country seeking. In her hand, Lady Liberty bears a tablet that has the date July 4, 1776 inscribed upon it; this is the date of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence.

Both attractions are accessible by ferry service. It is important to note that extreme weather conditions may prevent access, for safety reasons.

4. Times Square and Broadway Times Square

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Times Square and Broadway Times Square
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Times Square and Broadway Times Square

As one of the most recognizable destinations in New York City, Times Square is the brightly lit center of the Broadway Theatre district, a large commercial and retail zone, and also has a well-earned reputation for being one of the bustiest pedestrian intersections in the world. Research has concluded that this lively area is actually the most frequently visited tourist attraction across the globe, with an estimated 39 million guests walking its streets and taking in the sights every year.

The intersection was originally known as Longacre Square, but was renamed in 1904 when the New York Times newspaper relocated to the Times Building. This site, now referred to as ‘One Times Square’, plays a prominent role in movies, soap operas and theatre as well.

The history of this iconic landmark is rather interesting, particularly when you consider that in the late 18th and early 19th century, the majority of the area was an estate comprised of countryside that was used for horse breeding programs and farming. The estate belonged to John Morin Scott, who served under George Washington. As the land changed hands over the years, parcels of it were sold to those with real estate ventures in mind, including hotel builders.

In 1872, it had progressed to being the very center of the carriage industry in New York. Without a name, city authorities took it upon themselves to name it Longacre Square, in recognition of Long Acre in London; which was the center of the London carriage trade.

As New York City grew through the decades, it fast became a hub of culture, with music halls and theatres. Today there are museums, including Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and numerous eateries and retail outlets. Other notable spots include The Hard Rock Café, M&M’s World, and the Disney Store.

While some areas have maximum lighting limits, Times Square actually has zoning requirements that enforce minimum lighting limits in order to continue ensuring that this iconic area stands brightly apart from others in the city.

A good way to see Times Square from above is going to the View Lounge in the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, a revolving restaurant on the 48th floor. Another great viewpoint of Times Square is from the Lounge Bar located on the 8th floor of the Marriott Marquis (no admission fee is required to enter the Lounge bar).

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When they say that the neon lights on Broadway are bright, they’re not kidding. This vibrant and well-lit district is known as the very heart of American theatre. The street is actually more than 13 miles long and has the honor of being the oldest thoroughfare running from north to south in New York City.

The most famous stretch of this road is the area where it intersects with Seventh Avenue, near Times Square. This theater district is home to more than 40 theatres, all of which run professional performances that range from much-beloved classics to original and inspired plays and musicals.

Said to be on a par with London’s famed West End Theatre, the theatres in operation on Broadway are largely considered to be representative of the most elevated level of commercial theatre success in the world.

While some shows run limited productions, there are many that run almost continually, year-round. Some of the most popular shows include The Lion King, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, and so many more.

Tickets often sell out fast for the most popular performances, so it is important to consider purchasing your tickets prior to your arrival in New York. Be sure to purchase tickets from official sellers to ensure you’re they’re legitimate.

5. SoHo

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Soho
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Soho

Located in the Lower Manhattan area of New York City, SoHo is well- known for being home to artists, loft-style living, art galleries, and a wide range of trendy boutiques. With upscale stores also recently moving into the neighborhood, the area is now also a real haven for shoppers in search of something unique or great deals on designer items.

This vibrant urban environment is comprised of 26 blocks, and an estimated 500 buildings. The buildings feature cast iron elements, which give it a decidedly trendy and industrial feel. The side streets are paved with Belgian stones, which is just one of the distinctive features that make this neighborhood so charming.

The name SoHo is actually the result of a naming convention that was coined by notable urban planner, Chester Rapkin. It is in reference to the area being “SOuth of HOuston Street.”

A glance into the history of the land reveals that what is now a bustling and thriving community was once the first free settlement of former slaves. Through the decades, the region was slowly sold off in parcels and developed into paved streets, where people began to build their homes. In the 19th century, those homes were beginning to be replaced with commercial establishments, vast hotels, and theatres. The area soon grew into a lively shopping and theatre district, much like it is today. However, the Second World War resulted in a mass exodus from the district, and by the 1950s it was largely filled with empty warehouses and small sweatshop factories.

It wasn’t until artistic vision in the 1960s, that this little corner of New York city began to transform itself once again. Influential individuals and celebrities started to call SoHo home, and a number of famous galleries bolster the reputation of this artistically infused trendy community.

6. Empire State Building

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Empire State Building
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Empire State Building

The 103-story skyscraper that is the Empire State Building stands as one of the most iconic structures in all of New York City. From the ground to the very top of the antenna spire, the building is a whopping 1,454ft (443m) tall.

The name of this man-made wonder is taken from the nickname for New York, which is the Empire State. While its place in the records of tallest global buildings has shifted through the years, today it holds the honor of being the fourth tallest freestanding structure in North America.

Side Note: The only taller structures North America are the ‘One World Trade Center’ in New York which stands at 1792ft/546m, the ‘Willis Tower’ in Chicago which stands at 1730ft/527m, and the ‘John Hancock Center’ in Chicago which is 1500ft/457m tall.

The art deco style American icon has very humble beginnings. The site upon which it proudly stands was once an idyllic farm with a stream running through the property. Through the years, the area was gradually transformed into one that included the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Ground was broken in 1930, with construction of this behemoth taking just 410 days. An estimated 3,400 workers poured their energy into the completion of the building, which was actually a part of a New York contest to see who could build the world’s tallest building. Both the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street had already broken ground when work on the Empire State Building was started, but it soon surpassed their tenuously held records.

Today the building is home to more than 1,000 businesses, and its sheer size allows it to have its very own zip code. Both the observatory on the 86th and the 102nd floor offer panoramic views of the surrounding city, and is said to be an experience that is unmatched by many others.

What many don’t know is that the distinctive spire atop the building was originally intended to be a mooring mast for dirigibles (airships like Blimps and Zeppelins), with the 103rd floor a landing platform. The intense updrafts that are a result of the sheer size of the structure soon established that mooring these aircraft was a dangerous and impractical consideration.

To avoid queues you can also visit the Empire State at night, it is open until 2am daily.

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7. Rockefeller Center

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Rockefeller Center
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Rockefeller Center

A complex comprised of 19 buildings that span 22 acres of prime New York City real estate, the Rockefeller Center is one of New York’s must-see iconic destinations. Named after the family that built it, this Midtown Manhattan center was an undertaking solely of the Rockefellers.

With the costs of leasing the property, demolishing existing structures, and breaking ground on new buildings, the total estimated cost to build the center was $250 million. This was to be the largest private construction project ever undertaken by one individual.

Construction began in 1930, and the 14 Art Deco buildings soon began to take shape. The complex was completed in 1939. Relatively speaking, this impressive collection of structures is a new addition to the face of New York City, but that doesn’t at all detract from the impact it has on this international destination.

The centerpiece of the complex is the GE Building (known as the RCA Building until 1988) which stands at 850ft (259m) tall, making it the 10th tallest building in New York city. The “Top of the Rock” viewing platform offers excellent panoramic views of all of Manhattan, and a unique view of both the Empire State Building and Central Park.

Other points of interest in the complex include Radio City Music Hall and of course the series of underground pedestrian-only passages that are filled with restaurants and high end stores.

No wintertime trip to Rockefeller Plaza would be complete of course without enjoying a session ice-skating on the beautiful skating rink right beneath the beautifully lit Christmas tree.

A trip to the Top of the Rock is well worth the effort. Many tourists choose to visit the Rockefeller viewing platform over the Empire State Building because it offers unique panoramic views, and it particularly well known for it’s unbeatable view of Central Park. Wait times to go up this skyscraper are typically less than that of the Empire State Building as well.

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8. Fifth Avenue

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Fifth Avenue
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Fifth Avenue

More than just one of the major streets in Manhattan, Fifth Avenue is globally renowned for the number of prestigious shops and unique boutiques that call it home.

This shopping district is often considered to be one of the most expensive streets to shop on, and one look at some of the retailers will give you an insight as to why.

Before you head on out to shop and drop a few credit cards, you should know that not only is this road filled with a superior collection of stores and purchasing opportunities, but it’s also home to a number of lush green parks, historical landmarks, and incredible museums. The Empire State Building and the New York Public Library are also to be found on Fifth Avenue.

The New York Library

And of course, the penthouse apartments on Fifth Avenue are famous for being amongst the most luxurious and expensive in the entire city.

Many of the world’s top names in luxury goods can be found on Fifth Avenue, including Cartier, Armani, Gucci, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston, Bvlgari, Ferragamo, and so many more. Several distinguished department stores can also be found, including Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and one of the most photographed buildings in New York City, the Apple Store.

9. Financial District and 9/11 Memorial & Museum Financial District

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Financial District
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Financial District

Manhattan’s Financial District is made up of buildings that house the headquarters and local offices of many of the major players in the financial industry; including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York Stock Exchange, located on Wall Street. The district was also home to the World Trade Centers, which are currently being replaced by the ‘One World Trade Center’ building (due to be opened sometime in 2014).

In addition to being the location of some of the top financial institutes, there are several places that hold historical importance. Consider the Federal Hall National Memorial, which is actually on the site of what was the first United States Capital, and the place where George Washington was inaugurated. It can be found at the corner of Nassau Street and Wall Street.

More than just a place for business transactions, the Financial District is a thriving neighborhood that has seen the conversion of numerous office buildings into high-rise condos and apartments. With the inclusion of residential space came plenty of restaurants, bars, and lots of opportunity for shopping.

There are also a number of attractions that are of interest to tourist, including the New York City Police Museum, South Street Seaport Historic District, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

9/11 Memorial & Museum

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: 9/11 Memorial
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: 9/11 Memorial

In commemoration of the nearly 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, the 9/11 memorial and museum was built in the NYC financial district.

Construction started in 2006 and was completed and opened to public one day after the 10th year anniversary (September 12th, 2011). Situated in the former location of the twin towers, two giant pools
measuring about 1 acre (4000 meters squared) in size were built. Each pool is sunken into the ground with waterfalls cascading into them.

The names of the 2977 victims killed in New York city, Arlington, Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as the 6 victims killed in 1993 World Trade Center bombing are inscribed into 76 bronze panels at the memorial.

A park are around the memorial contains almost 400 trees, including the “survivor tree” (planted in 1970 and rescued from the rubble after the attack).

Pictures of victims, recordings of survivors, including 911 calls, a bent fire engine and other ground zero artifacts are shown at the 9/11 Museum. Tickets will cost approximately $24 and there are discounts for Children, Students and Veterans.

10. MET (Museum of Metropolitan Art)

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Museum of Metropolitan Art
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Museum of Metropolitan Art

Affectionately referred to as the MET, the Museum of Metropolitan Art holds the distinction of being the largest art museum in the country. It also rates among the top ten in the world, with a permanent collection that boasts over two million pieces; cared for by seventeen different curatorial departments, each with its own staff.

Notable collections include those from Ancient Egypt, works of art from the European masters, as well as a thorough collection of modern and American art. There are also extensive collections of Asian, Islamic, Byzantine, and African art. The collection of musical instruments, estimated to be more than 5,000 pieces from across the globe, is also very unique. Some of the highlights include a breathtaking number of Asian instruments, each exquisitely carved from precious metals, and of course several Stradivarius violins.

In addition to the exhibitions that are on display permanently and rotated out periodically, the MET is often host to showcased collections year-round.

While many other museums have a set entrance fee, the MET allows visitors to pay the amount that they wish to pay, with a recommended amount of $25.

Be sure to visit the roof garden, where a café and bar can be found. Offering spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park, it’s the perfect way to top off what is sure to be an all-day exploration of the MET.

11. MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Museum of Modern Art
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Museum of Modern Art

MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) is a world-renowned art museum located in Midtown Manhattan. Often considered to be the most influential museum in the modern art world, the incredible collections on display offer an overview of works that include sculpture, paintings, photography, film, and other media forms.

First inspired by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and two of her friends, the museum started to take to life in 1929. The initial collection of just a few prints was expanded with a loan exhibition that included paintings by Seurat, Cezanne, and Van Gogh.

While Abby Rockefeller did belong to one of the wealthiest families in the world, her husband was vehemently opposed to modern art, and refused to provide financial backing for the venture. Over time, the collections were relocated as a result of funding issues. However, Rockefeller did finally relent to his wife’s project and donated the land and other financial gifts; which resulted in him becoming one of the greatest benefactors that MOMA has ever had.

With a large number of works that expands to more than 150,000 pieces and include items from Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Warhol, Pollock, Rousseau, Chagall, and so many more distinguished artists, MOMA is a popular destination for those have an appreciation of art, culture, and the true definition of modern art.

12. Chelsea

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Chelsea
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Chelsea

Located in Manhattan, Chelsea first got its start when a retired British Major named Thomas Clarke purchased 94 acres 25 years before the American Revolution. It was named in honor of a veteran’s hospital and old soldier’s home in his native England. Major Clarke built his mansion, London Terrace, on top of a hill which overlooked the Hudson river where it remains to this day.

Visitors here can see the landmark Chelsea Hotel, which was originally constructed as a private apartment co-op from 1883 to 1885. In 1905 it reopened as a hotel and over the years many notable people have stayed here, including names like Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg. The book 2001: A Space Odyssey was written by Arthur C. Clarke while he stayed at The Chelsea. The twelve story building offers guests balconies with intricate wrought iron designs in a building that has been added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

From 19th Street to 29th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, there are over 100 art galleries offering every type of art imaginable. Known not only for the amazing art galleries, Chelsea has incredible nightlife, shopping, and recreation. The Chelsea Piers offers figure skating to sailing and everything in between.

Chelsea Market

The Chelsea Market is located in West Manhattan and is home to one full indoor block of restaurants, culinary shops, and gourmet delights. The building was constructed in 1890 and was initially home to NABISCO, the parent company of 114 bakeries throughout the country.

The 800 foot long stretch was newly renovated in 1997 but still has the original factory and railroad shed, although the market was constructed leaving much of the original architecture and design in place. Shoppers can find gourmet foods, produce, wine, meats, cheeses and more. The market and upper level offices are home to The Food Network, Oxygen Media, and Major League Baseball Productions.

13. Meatpacking District

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Meatpacking District
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Meatpacking District

The Gansevoort Market Historic District, known as the Meatpacking District, lies from Jane Street up to West 15th Street, between Hudson and West Street. Gansevoort, a street inside the boundaries, was named after one of George Washington’s officers who was in charge of the fort located here years ago. During the 1840s, townhouses and row houses began popping up to house the diverse population that was moving in. The area was known for industry ranging from woodworking to breweries, although in the 1880s it was predominately used as a meatpacking district. It grew in size until there were over 250 slaughterhouses located here by the time WWII had ended. With the advent of better refrigeration and transportation for cooled and frozen foods, the district began to lose its prominence. As industry began to decline, crime began to rise. The Meatpacking District had a new reputation of drugs and crime.

This lasted until the early 1990s when the city began cracking down on crime. Visionaries soon started buying up the old buildings and factories, turning the area into a New York hotspot. Upscale properties were bought by the rich and famous and the cobblestone streets were again alive with nightclubs, five star restaurants, and upscale boutiques.

14. The High Line

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: The High Line
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: The High Line

The High Line is a unique public green space that stretches along 1.45 miles (2.3km) of what was a section of the elevated New York Central Railroad. This aerial green-way is the result of a national decrease in rail traffic. The line was all but abandoned in the 1990s and was soon taken over by an assortment of weeds, flowers, and trees.

Locals soon started to visit this little ‘reclaimed by nature’ park, and enjoy spending time amongst the hardy trees and shrubbery that transformed a once neglected railway line into a vibrant retreat. In 1999, despite being under threat of being demolished, a not-for-profit organization was formed in order to advocate for the preservation of the track, and to express the wish to recycle it into an elevated public park.

Using Paris’ similar Promenade Plantée as an example of how this would work, the group’s plans started to gain popularity. In 2004, the city of New York pledged a significant budget toward the development of the park.

Today the professionally landscaped green space has a wholly natural feel to it, inspired by the rugged landscape that sprung up on the abandoned tracks. More than 210 plant species call this little island of nature home, including sumac and coneflowers.

Carefully planted birch trees offer visitors some shade, while the built in benches offer a comfortable spot to just unwind. Sitting in the park, you will not only be able to have a break from the hustle and bustle of New York City, but you will also enjoy breathtaking views of the Hudson River, and the surrounding urban jungle.

One of the most unexpected impacts of this revitalized track is that it has encouraged the redevelopment of the neighborhoods that run parallel to the High Line. The local renaissance is ongoing, and is sure to result in a complete re-birth of this section of Manhattan.

15. Chinatown and Little Italy

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: The Chinatown and Little Italy
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: The Chinatown and Little Italy

Often the set for movie productions and television shows, both Chinatown and Little Italy are an integral part of the New York City landscape.


Manhattan’s Chinatown is noted for being the largest and oldest ethnic enclave of Chinese individuals, outside of Asia. Comprised of immigrants, as well as 3rd and 4th generation Chinese Americans, this area is home to an estimated 100,000 people.

The story of this little city within the city is thought to have begun when a gentleman by the name of Ah Ken immigrated to the United States, in the 1840s. A businessman back in his hometown, he opened a cigar shop that went on to become successful and give him financial stability. His success encouraged others to move into the area and start plying their own trades.

The area has a deep and rich history that includes plenty of discrimination, political strife, violence, and the eventual growth of the neighbourhood after immigration changes allowed increasing numbers of Asian immigrants into the country.

Today it is a haven for all who are seeking a taste of China right in the heart of New York City. Visit a fish market to take in the catch of the day, or perhaps look for some beautifully handcrafted jewelry in the jewelers’ district. There are also numerous street vendors, each selling replicated brands of some of the high-end goods that include purses, watches, perfumes, and electronics. There are also several warehouses that sell surplus goods to the public.

The restaurant business and tourism are two of the largest industries in the district. There are tour companies that will take guests on an exploration of some of the highlights of the area, including historical attractions and an opportunity to enjoy the vibrant restaurant scene that includes over 200 places to enjoy authentic Chinese fare.

Little Italy

Little Italy is located just north of Chinatown, and shares in some of the complex history that its neighbor has dealt with through the years. The neighborhood was once famously known for the large numbers of Italian immigrants that called it home.

A somewhat closed-off community that essentially had its own culture, setting it apart from the surrounding city, it was once also considered to be one of the poorest areas in Manhattan.

Organized crime was once a part of Little Italy, and numerous movies have depicted grandiose schemes by those who called this enclave their home. Today however, it is much more a metropolitan area boasting authentic Italian restaurants and stores that offer unique and imported items that may

be challenging to find elsewhere. You may have to spend quite a bit of time in the neighborhood before you actually hear anyone speaking Italian!

Both Chinatown and Little Italy are worth a visit, not only to take in a bit of New York’s diverse history, but to also enjoy some of the amazing meals from restaurants that have helped put Little Italy on the map.

16. East and West Village

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: East and West Village
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: East and West Village

Both East and West Village are neighborhoods in Manhattan. They each have their own charms that help set them apart and establish the reasons that they are such desirable areas to live in.

East Village

The East Village started to develop its own identity in the 1960s, when its affordable rent became very attractive to musicians, artists, hippies and students alike. For more than a decade, it was home to a number of Beatniks (the name used to describe the people who embraced the ‘Beat Generation’ from the 1950s to mid-1960s), who gave the area its hip vibe.

Through the years, the East Village has developed into a community that is immensely diverse, offers artistic inspiration, and has a nightlife scene to rival any other in New York City. The East Village is also often referred to as being the birthplace of a number of artistic and musical movements, including punk rock, anti-folk, and even hip hop to an extent.

Countless big names of the music world have found their road to fame through the East Village, with performances at the theatres that dot the neighborhood; including the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, The Who, Pink Floyd, and so many more.

Today the trendy music movement lives on, and the art and culture scene is still a huge draw. Tompkins Square offers a look into the political and protest history of the area, as well as a bit of a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Visit some of the museums, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. 

West Village

The West Village is a part of what is known as Greenwich Village. In the early 1900s, it was referred to as “Little Bohemia” as a result of it being the epicenter of New York’s bohemian lifestyle. The elevated park known as the High Line runs parallel to this corner of the city, and adds a natural beauty that many other parts of New York simply don’t have.

In the area, the famous Hudson River Park offers a retreat from the chaos of the city, while the popular Magnolia Bakery can offer something tasty and distinctly New York.

The West Village is also home to a number of celebrities, who can often be spotted strolling the streets or buying their groceries from some of the open markets.

A visit to these two great neighborhoods will not only give you an insight into the rich and diverse culture of the city, but could just give you a chance to spot your favorite movie star.

17. Grand Central Station

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Grand Central Station
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Grand Central Station

As one of the New York City landmarks that has played a starring role in countless movies and television shows, Grand Central Terminal is also a very recognizable destination. This railroad terminal is used by a large number of commuters each and every day, and a total of over 750,000 people pass through the station daily (this number includes tourists).

It holds the distinction of being the largest facility of its time in the world, with 44 platforms that are spread across two underground levels. Covering a whopping 48 acres, a visit to this very busy station will definitely require a comfortable pair of shoes.

While it holds the official name of Grand Central Terminal, it is consistently mistakenly referred to as Grand Central Station, which is actually the name of the railway hub that once stood on the same site some years ago. The former station was demolished in 1903, but by 1914 the new one was completed and opened for business.

There are several restaurants inside of the terminal, including the famous Oyster Bar. You’ll also find Bakeries, Starbucks, a deli, as well as a gourmet and fresh market. A large Apple Store is also located on site, which is often something of a surprise to guests who stumble upon it.

The Main Concourse is home to the iconic four-faced clock that is arguably one of its most recognizable features. The ceiling is painted with an amazing fresco that is based upon the idea that it is a visualization as to how the sky would appear to God, from his vantage point beyond the celestial sphere.

You can take tours to get to know the terminal. Tickets can be purchased at the Main Concourse for $20. The tour lasts 75 minutes and departs each day at 12.30pm.

18. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: St. Patricks Cathedral
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: St. Patricks Cathedral

One of New York City’s most prominent landmarks, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church that is also the seat of the archbishop of the New York archdiocese. The elaborately designed neo-gothic-style cathedral is one of Fifth Avenue’s treasures, and a truly awe-inspiring sight to behold.

The site has been home to a number of churches over the centuries, but it wasn’t until 1858 that the first cornerstone of the new cathedral was laid. The Civil War put a decade hold on the construction, and it wasn’t ultimately completed until 1878.

The exceptionally large structure loomed over the streets and was one of the largest in the city at the time. With a seating capacity of 2,200 people, it engulfs an entire city block.

Beneath the high altar a crypt was built. It holds the entombed remains of the notable individuals who served the archdiocese, including eight archbishops and several bishops; two of which have been established as saints within the church.

Regularly Sunday Mass can be attended by those who wish to, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral is open for visits every day of the week. There is also a gift shop inside the church.

The incredibly detailed frescos decorating the light and bright interior are just a small fraction of what makes this one of New York’s must-see treasures.

19. Guggenheim Museum

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Guggenheim Museum
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Foundation began in 1937, and in 1939 it opened the first venue for displaying art in New York called The Museum of Non-Objective Painting. It was housed in an old showroom for cars, but as its popularity grew, another venue was needed. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was brought in and designed seven potential ideas for the new building, which wouldn’t see completion until after his death. The building is designed as an inverted cone shape with each level looking as if it’s balanced on the level below.

The original collection of non-objective art grew to include both surrealist and expressionist works. Over time, the Guggenheim Museum would slowly begin acquiring vast collections from private dealers. In an effort to get away from being seen as housing only twentieth-century art, the museum expanded its collection to include works by Cézanne and Modigliani. In 1963, The Guggenheim Foundation acquired important, well known works of art by Gauguin, Manet, Pissarro, van Gogh, and Picasso.

Museum highlights include Woman Ironing by Picasso, Nude by Amedeo Modigliani, and a variety of works by Vasily Kandinsky which are currently undergoing preservation and restoration. The Guggenheim has recently expanded to include photography and multi-media exhibits.

20. Harlem

Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Harlem
Icarus Travellers | Top 20 Destinations in New York: Harlem

Located in the northern part of Manhattan, Harlem is a large neighborhood that has an amazingly rich and diverse history that is of course not without a bit of political strife. While it has been largely thought to be an African American community since the 1920s, it has experienced several economics shifts that have had an impact on the population that calls it home.

Harlem is named after the Dutch city Haarlem, and was in fact a Dutch settlement in the 1600s. It wasn’t until 1905 that African American residents began to make this neighborhood their home. Considered to be a type of renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s, the area saw a boom in artistic influences due to an influx of African American writers and musicians, and also to the building of a number of theatre companies. The Apollo Theatre (253 W 125th St, New York) opened its doors in 1934 and remains today a lively home for musicians, comedians, and many other performers. The Harlem Boys Choir, a world-renowned touring choir, has called the community home since 1965.

Unfortunately Harlem was struck rather significantly by poverty and crime as a result of the Great Depression and World War Two. The late 20th century saw social and economic improvement gradually sweep across the area. More than 400 churches call Harlem home, which ensures that it is a deeply faith infused community.

Today Harlem is undergoing yet another transformation, but this time related to gourmet delights. New restaurants open up often, offering incredible selections unlike any you’ll find anywhere else in the city.

With many museums and other points of interest, it is well-worth a visit to this revitalized part of New York City.

Get Ready to Travel

If you are travelling to New York from abroad, make sure that in your personal bag you have well organized all your travelling documents like tickets, passports, VISA, any medical record and cash. If you are travelling with kids, then prepare an envelope for each kid with their personal documentation. Do not forget antiseptic, tissues, earplugs, gums and medicine. If you do not have the time to make your own benchmarking, there are many websites that do the research for you. Our favourite one is Top of Reviews: you can find the best products for any kind of trip. Is it a curry-on luggage, a check in luggage, a sleep mask, ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones, a travel pillow, an all-in-one universal adapter, a toiletry bag or anything that has to do with travelling; they simply have benchmarked all the necessary things you need for your next trip.

For more information on travelling, please read our “Low-Cost Flight Packing Tips” and “Enjoy Every Moment” articles.

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For commuting options, please use our Car Rental and Taxi Search Engine.

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New York – Top 20 Tourist Attractions

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