Befitting a city of its global stature, it can be said that New York’s major landmarks aren’t just iconic local attractions—they’re world-famous destinations in their own rights. Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve been here more times than you can remember, you’ll find in New York City an assortment of legendary buildings, beloved museums, and historical sites that’s pretty difficult to top.
New York City is home to several landmark structures, perhaps none of them more notable than the Empire State Building. It’s been featured in more movies and TV shows than we can count, but even so the view from its observation decks has to be seen to be believed. The Rockefeller Center looms similarly large, though, and its rich history as a prestigious entertainment studio make it an absolute must-see attraction, too.
Even in the midst of all these museums and skyscrapers, there are plenty of New York City landmarks that cater to those visitors interested in the great outdoors. Crown jewel of the city’s public parks system, Central Park is a place where you can rent a bike, go for a stroll, lace up some ice skates, visit the Central Park Zoo, or just unroll a blanket, lay back, and indulge in some peoplewatching. The unmistakable Brooklyn Bridge is another terrific spot to stretch your legs while sightseeing. And no trip to New York City, it can be argued, is complete without taking the ferry to the one and only Statue of Liberty.
Here are some of New York’s most iconic landmarks, and a little background information on each one.
Located in One World Trade Center, New York’s tallest building, One World Observatory is an enclosed viewing platform providing spectacular, 360-degree views from a 102nd floor vantage point. It also features informative exhibits, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
Rockefeller Center has been an iconic New York City destination for nearly a century. 30 Rockefeller Plaza is the centerpiece building of this midtown Manhattan landmark, but other Rockefeller Center highlights include Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Radio City Music Hall, and The Rink.
A crown jewel of the Rockefeller Center complex, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most famous live entertainment venues in the world. Renowned for its Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall has hosted the Grammys, Emmys, the NFL Draft, and more.
Best known as home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden is one of the most famous arenas in the world. A New York City institution, it hosts hundreds of live events each year.
This historic Catholic cathedral is a major landmark of Midtown Manhattan, having stood on 5th Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets, since 1878. The architect James Renwick Jr. designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and it’s considered a masterwork of the Gothic Revival style.
An iconic element of the New York City skyline since 1883, Brooklyn Bridge is a major historic landmark for locals and visitors alike. It remains today a vital transportation link between Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as a prominent cultural attraction.
The Empire State Building is among the most famous buildings in the world. Completed in 1931, at nearly 1,500 feet it stood as the tallest building on the planet for about 40 years. Today it remains an architectural wonder of the world, welcoming millions of visitors each year to its two observation decks.
The largest natural history museum in the world, the American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and is home today to over 35 million unique artifacts. Particular favorite features here include an elaborate dinosaur hall and lifelike Alaskan brown bear exhibit.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to a stunning permanent collection comprised of everything from musical instruments to jewelry to priceless works of art. Highlights include its 26,000-item Ancient Egyptian collection and paintings by artists like Caravaggio, Goya, Rembrandt, and so many more icons.
Designed by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim Museum is not only a stellar museum but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses masterpieces by influential modern artists like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, and Paul Cézanne—to name but a few.
The Statue of Liberty is arguably the most famous landmark in the United States. This 300-foot tribute to freedom has stood watch over New York City for over 130 years, welcoming immigrants, refugees, and visitors alike to American shores. It’s an essential stop for tourists to New York.