New York City for First-Time Visitors

Congratulations! For the very first time, you’re on your way to New York City. You’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re nervous and you’re excited—so many emotions!—but most importantly of all, you’re still not quite sure just what exactly to do first when you find yourself right there in the midst of all. Where do you even start?

Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’ve assembled this handy list of suggestions sure to make your first time in New York City a rousing success. Read on to discover an assortment of experiences that’ll make your initial New York adventure one to remember.

Begin Where So Many Before You Began Their Time in New York

Frankly, it’s difficult to fathom someone visiting New York City and NOT setting out to see the Statue of Liberty and its counterpart, Ellis Island—so trust us, you don’t want to be the one who misses out on these world-famous landmarks. You can ride a ferry that’ll take you to both attractions, with the ferry itself providing lovely views of New York Harbor that are well worth your time, too. At Ellis Island you’ll be able to explore the National Museum of Immigration, where you can learn all about the history of those who came to America in the 19th and 20th Centuries seeking better lives. And, of course, on Liberty Island you’ll get to see the Statue of Liberty as never before.

Get Your Bearings While Seeing a Bit of Everything

You’re new to New York City, and there’s a lot to take in. There are famous attractions here, can’t-miss landmarks there, new adventures practically everywhere. All of which is why you shouldn’t shy away from going on some sort of guided tour to kick off your New York City visit in style. You’ll be spoiled for options. Big Bus New York operates its classic Hop-On Hop-Off tour that hits most of Manhattan’s most famous spots, while THE RIDE offers a more modern take on the guided tour format. There are also numerous walking and biking tours available for you to choose from, each one corresponding to a different neighborhood or theme. Do whatever strikes your fancy!

Take a Cruise in the NYC

As a first-time visitor to New York City, it’s easy to get caught up in all the constant hustle and bustle, so you’ll be forgiven if you happen to forget that the incomparable borough of Manhattan actually consists of an island. Yes, for all the glitz and glamor of its streets and sidewalks, New York City is a place very much rooted to the water. Accordingly, a fantastic thing to consider doing while you’re in town is taking a sightseeing cruise. Popular local operators like Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and Hornblower City Cruises offer a variety of guided tours catering to a number of interests, themes, and budgets.

Museums Galore!

No matter what you compare it to, New York City’s museum scene is pretty hard to beat. If it’s your first time here, you may well not have the time to visit them all—and honestly, that’s basically an impossible task for anyone on any trip to New York—but you’re going to want to take the opportunity to hit up at least a couple of them. And you’ll have no shortage of choices as you plan your outing. Perhaps the most famous New York City museum is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so if you have time for just one stop on this trip, you can’t go wrong spending an afternoon at The Met. If art is well and truly your thing, you’ll want to try and check out the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, too. The whole family is bound to love the American Museum of Natural History and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and of course, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum makes for a powerful experience as well.

Make Central Park “Central” to Your Adventures

No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to Central Park, and that’s especially true if it’s your first time in town. This 850-acre green space, located in the heart of Manhattan, is the crown jewel of New York City’s public parks system. Originally designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park has delighted locals and visitors alike since its completion in 1876. Go for a walk, rent a bike, check out the Central Park Zoo, take a carriage ride, grab a bite to eat—you can do all this and more just within Central Park. If it’s wintertime, you can even go ice skating at historic Wollman Rink.

Spend Some Time in Times Square

How many New Year’s Eves have you spent watching the ball drop from high above the crowds of Times Square? That’s okay, you can stop counting now, we all get it: Times Square is a place you’d like to experience in person. Well, it’s your first time in New York City, so here’s your chance! Once you’ve taken it all in by having your fill of selfies snapped in the midst of its neon lights and one-of-a-kind street performers, you can turn your attention to deciding which of its many attractions you want to visit. Perennial favorites in the general vicinity of Times Square include Madame Tussauds, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, and so much more.

Channel That Empire State of Mind

New York is a city of skyscrapers, its skyline renowned the world over for its size, scale, and architectural diversity. Perhaps the most revered of its many structural wonders, though, would have to be the Empire State Building. It’s well worth a visit during your first time in New York City. Buy a ticket to one of its observation decks—it has two, located on its 86th and 102nd floors—and marvel at the majesty of this magical city. Just be certain to have your camera at the ready!

Leave a Comment