New York City is the city that never sleeps and some might argue, the center of the universe. The vast five boroughs of NYC have so much to offer its visitors, that you could spend a lifetime exploring and still find new attractions around every corner. We have created this list of the 16 best things to do in New York City in 48 hours that will give you a great glimpse of what makes this city so popular.
New York City Travel Video
Walking Map of the best things to do in New York City:
Things to do in New York City in 48 Hours:
1. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
We were so lucky that we did not have to do a line, it was a rainy Sunday so we guess not many tourists wanted to go then, but for us it was perfect as we went straight to the ferry. The ride to the Statue of Liberty is about 10 minutes, and 20 coming back as the ferry stops in Ellis Island.
To go to the crown (top of the statue) you need to make reservations before hand. We recommend to do it at least one month in advance. The National Park Service does not charge for the entry fee, although to get to the island it is about $18 dollars per person and more if you want to go to the crown. From Liberty Island you get an amazing look of the NYC skyline.
Ellis Island is the place to learn about the immigrant experience of the people who helped build NYC into the diverse metropolis that it is today.
If Liberty Island is not your thing, you can walk towards the Staten Island Ferry, they offer free ferry and it will take you across the harbor where you can get a beautiful view of the statue of liberty and the city skyline. The ride takes about 25 minutes.
2. Battery Park
Walk around Battery park to get unique views of the city skyline and the harbor. It is the perfect place to enjoy of some music and street performers.
3. Wall Street
Who does not want to take a photo with this famous Charging Bull? Make sure to promote people wait in a line so you can get the perfect photo of just you and the bull. It is always crowded but if you ask nicely people would get out of the way when it is your turn to take a photo.
4. World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Personally, this memorial means a lot to me as I has 10 when the terror attack occurred and my mom was in the United States and could not come home to Ecuador for almost a week. At that time she was in Houston but to me NYC and Houston was right next door.
I still remember how we were all taken out of our classes to see the news in our elementary school library. It was not only a sad day for NYC, it was a sad day for the world. I recommend people to visit this memorial and museum to honor the lives that were taken away on that terrible day.
The recently opened Freedom Tower gives you a panoramic view of the city, and there is also a lot of information about the 9/11 terror attacks. On the elevator ride up, you can also see images of the historical development of NYC. At the bottom of the tower is a park commemorating the victims of the attacks along with an extensive museum. The museum houses moving exhibits about the significance of 9/11.
The memorial is open daily from 7:30 AM to 9PM. The museum is open daily from 9AM to 8 PM and until 9 PM on Friday and Saturday. Admission to the museum is $24 per adult, with ticket reservations available online. For an additional $20 there are guided tours.
5. The Oculus
The Oculus is a new transit hub at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan. The Oculus is a train station, plaza and shopping mall adjacent to the memorial site for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
6. Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite bridges in NYC and the most famous bridge, especially on Instagram. What makes this bridge so special? It was the first steel-wire suspension bridge built and it is also one of the oldest roadway bridges in America.
It takes about 30 minutes to walk across the bridge, depending on how long you stop to take photos, but I promise it is worth it. You get an amazing view of the city skyline and the harbor. It is best to go around sunrise on weekdays so there are fewer people in your photos. Make sure to go down to Brooklyn into the DUMBO neighborhood to get the iconic Instagram photo of the Brooklyn Bridge through the buildings.
➳ The best time for photos: The earlier you get there the better. Sunrise is the best time to take photos at the bridge if you want to avoid crowds. Try to beat rush hour.
7. Central Park
Central Park is the largest, 843 acres, and coolest green space in NYC. It has several ponds, green areas and amazing viewpoints of the city. My favorite spot in Central Park is Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon, as I am a big fan of The Beatles. Across of the memorial is the Dakota Building where Lennon live and was murdered. The park service offers free guided walks every weekend.
Do not forget to visit the Belvedere castle, the Pond, The Mall, Bethesda Terrace and the Gapstow Bridge.
New York City has top class museums such as the Natural History Museum, the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the MET and many others. If you like museums we recommend you walk the museum mile near Central Park, with eleven museums in just. It can take you weeks to see them all.
9. Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall is most famous for its Christmas Rockettes show, but this majestic work of Art Deco architecture has many amazing performances all year round. If you are not interested in seeing one of the shows, there are daily tours of the venue from 9:30 AM to 5PM for $28 per adult.
10. Broadway Show
Experience the best musicals of our time, on stage at Broadway. There are plenty of options of ever changing shows, no matter what peaks your interest. It is worth a visit TKTS booth in Times Square to get half prices tickets, unless you want to see Hamilton than good luck getting tickets.
11. Empire State Building
One of my favorite attractions in the city is the Empire State Building. You can get a 360° view of the city from the 86th floor. I will recommend to go at night so you get the full experience of NYC at night, when all its lights are on and realize the city never sleeps. They offer two different passes one to the windowed 86th floor which is $31 and one to the 86th and 102 floors for $54, the 102nd floor is closed through March 31, 2018.
12. Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller center is a must stop in NYC, even if you just want to see people ice skating or to see where they film The Today Show. The Top of the Rock is my favorite place to see the city skyline from above. I prefer the view from the Top of the Rock as you get to see the Empire State Building, Central Park and most of the most popular landmarks in New York City. The Top of the Rock also have a second glass free floor, so it is perfect for photos and videos of the skyline. Tickets are $34 per adult.
➳ Best time for photos: The best time to visit the Top of The Rock Viewpoint is either right when they open at 8 or at Sunset. If you early in the morning you will beat the crowds and will get better lighting and a better photo of the Empire State Building. It is also gorgeous to see the sun going down so sunset is also a great time to visit. It all depends on what you will prefer seeing.
13. High Line Park
The High Line Park used to be a train track and has been transformed into a beautiful 1.45 mile long elevated walking park. It has beautiful overlooks, artworks and gardens. I recommend to go during late Spring to earlier Summer for the best experience. There are also plenty of local bars and restaurants around the park, making it a great pre-dinner walk.
14. Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is the most iconic train station in the world. It is crazy to see how many people travel through this one building to get around NYC and beyond, no matter the time of day. It is the best place in the city to get a fast paced timelapse video.
15. Times Square
Times Square is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, but is a fun place to witness the lights and commotion that New York is known for. You feel so alive with so many lights and billboards surrounding you. We actually spent a whole night in Times Square and did not realize it was late at night until sun rise light up the sky!
The best time to visit Time Square is anytime! It is gorgeous during the day and at night. I love going at night more because it is lit up by bright screens and shining lights.
Vessel is a structure and landmark that was built as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in Manhattan. It opened on March 15, 2019. It is a new landmark in New York City with a high demand from tourists. It is meant for people to walk up the stairs to the top but if you have a disability or you are a senior you can take the elevator. It is free to enter but you need to make reservation beforehand online. Tickets are made available for two week time periods so plan accordingly. If you run out of luck and there is not more tickets available you can go every morning at 9:30 AM and hope to get a ticket. You can climb the 150-foot spiraling sculpture’s tangle of interlocking stairs as long as you come in pairs or groups. Tickets were previously free but now they cost $10.
Free Walking Tour of New York
Embark on our free New York City walking tour and explore the best of The Big Apple, including the famous Wall Street and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, among many other sights, with a knowledgeable guide. Do a reservation of the free walking tour here.
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