New York City is a fascinating metropolis where you could spend a hundred years exploring and never run out of things to see. Packing in all the sights and everything you want to experience can be daunting, which is why planning well is your best option. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or a local wanting to explore outside your neighborhood, there are a few things you simply do not want to miss when visiting the city. From roaming around Central Park, taking in a show, and eating the best pizza, to cruising around the Statue of Liberty, there is such an amazing sense of history and culture, that you will be impressed by it all. New York City is home to hundreds of museums, thousands of delicious eateries, attractions, theaters, and so much more. So how do you fit it all in to make the most of your time in the city? Let’s take a bite out of the Big Apple and explore the best sights to explore when visiting New York City.

Statue of Liberty New York City sunset

Cruising past Lady Liberty

One of the most inspiring and interesting places to visit while in New York City is the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There are several options offered by City Cruises depending upon how you would like to explore Lady Liberty. The Statue of Liberty is spectacular and just as large as you can imagine, but you really don’t want to miss the chance to see Ellis Island to learn about the immigrant experience, and get a glimpse at the history of the people who helped build New York City. You’ll be awed when hearing about the Registry Room where 6,000 immigrants per day got their first taste of America. From its opening in 1892 to its closing in 1954, the Registry Room received over 12,000,000 immigrants who quickly became Americans. You can get a glimpse of iconic New York City as you’ve never seen it before with a budget-friendly 90-minute comprehensive experience of NYC’s must-see sights including Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport Battery Park, One World Trade Center, Hudson Yards and more from a unique perspective aboard a City Cruises Downtown Sightseeing Cruise with live narration, light snacks and beverages, and scenic views in a relaxing and comfortable setting with convenient downtown pick-up locations to pack it all in.

For a more immersive experience, a Fully Guided Statue of Liberty Tour with Ellis Island is a surefire way to see a curated selection of beautifully designed sightseeing and cultural walking tours by Walks, with line-skipping tickets and storytelling at the heart of every unique experience. Hop aboard a morning ferry, ensuring you avoid the swelling afternoon crowds, and sail away from Manhattan to greet the Statue of Liberty. Here, your expert guide will set the stage and invoke your imagination with historical facts that will fuel your understanding of just how important this monument truly is. Take in beautiful views of the famed New York skyline, before wandering through the Statue of Liberty Museum and standing just mere feet from her original torch! After the Statue of Liberty tour, board the short ferry ride to Ellis Island, a mammoth site in the history of the United States. Your guide will set the tone and provide recommendations to get the most from your visit. Knowing how touching Ellis Island can be, we give everyone time to wander the site at their own pace while enjoying the official audio guide. You can search the passenger records for family names, pause for a quick bite, and hear history come alive with your licensed New York City tour guide with a small group of 25 people.  

See the other side of Ellis Island with The Hard Hat Tour, a 90-minute guided tour of the unrestored Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital Complex that allows you priority entry into the Screening Facility Queue, saving you time at the departure point. Make sure you book ahead as this tour sells out quickly. Round-trip ferry service to Liberty Island and Ellis Island (Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration) is provided, and audio tours are included for both as well as access to the grounds of both Liberty and Ellis Islands. It’s important to note that you must be able to climb stairs on this tour and closed-toe shoes are required for your safety and comfort. Ferries depart approximately every 60-70 minutes for your convenience. This New Jersey Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour departs from Liberty State Park located within the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal so give yourself ample time to include boarding and clearing the Screening Facility. 

Central park New York city green space

I Love New York 

Everyone visiting New York wants to see Central Park, where New Yorkers and visitors go to get a breath of fresh air – with its lush meadows, lakes, gardens, and a beautiful reservoir. This park is known for its charming eateries, outdoor theater, ice skating rink, and endless attractions, and it’s so massive that you could spend hours exploring. There are beautiful fountains, secret gardens, and performances by the New York Philharmonic if you time it right. There are 100 pop culture moments mostly concentrated in the southern half of the park to walk through. There are theatrical performances in the park and the best part is it’s free! If birdwatching is your thing, there are hundreds of species to witness and capture photographs. Most tourists tend to enter from the southern end, so begin your exploration in Harlem and you can learn about the park’s lesser-known landscapes and history for a little quieter time. Another great idea for visiting the park is a picnic! Grab some food and drinks before you go, and a blanket, and you can literally find some beautiful green space to enjoy anywhere in the park. To fully understand the size and scope, seeing the park from an aerial view like the Met’s Roof Garden or Edge at Hudson Yards – which is the highest observation deck in the Western Hemisphere is a really cool experience, but it’s not free. Its picturesque beauty is a sight to behold and a must-do when in NYC. 

A New York State of Mind 

Sitting at just above 1,400 feet above Manhattan, is the Empire State Building, one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers. Open daily between 8 am and 2 am, the 86th and 102-floor observatories offer two of the highest vantage points in the city. With over 4 million visitors annually, it’s something you must see before you leave. Due to its immense popularity, crowds flock here, and lines can be long so make sure you plan accordingly and purchase tickets empire state buildingahead of time to get the best experience. The elevator ride to the top is quick- less than one minute! From there you can roam around on your own to explore. On a clear day, the visibility is up to 80 miles, and you can spot several of NYC’s famous landmarks such as the Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Center, One World Trade Center, Central Park, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. A cool thing about this spot is you can see five different states too. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Delaware. To avoid crowds, go right when it opens or around 3 in the afternoon, or even better, really late at night. Make sure to snap a picture with King Kong and who knows you may even see a proposal while there! 

Another key spot to visit in NYC is The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met as it is affectionately known. It’s home to over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. Since its opening in 1870, the Met has always strived to show art come alive in the Museum’s galleries and throughout its exhibitions and events, revealing unexpected cultural connections across time. The Museum lives in two sites in the city- The Met Fifth Avenue, and the Met Cloisters for millions of people to experience the wonder. 

Take a Bite of the Big Apple  

Let’s talk food. Something we all have in common is that we need to eat, and eating in NYC is a game-changer. Skip the obvious tourist traps and stay away from the chain restaurants that you can visit just about anywhere. Treat yourself to some of the best gastronomic experiences you will ever have and try pizzathe pizza, because let’s face it there is no better place to get pizza in the country than NYC! Some of the best slices you will ever eat can be found at Lucali in Brooklyn and there is a huge following to corroborate this. Okay, bagels – most people will say the water in New York is the reason why they are so darn good here and maybe that’s true but regardless, you must eat a bagel while in NYC. Try Murray’s Bagels or Ess-A-Bagel for their handmade dense and chewy delights. You will never feel the same about a basic bagel again! Try Chinatown for amazing Asian cuisine, Little Italy for a vast array of excellent homemade Italian creations, as well as fine dining with some of the best chefs in the world like Blue Hill, Craft, or Marea (which is really fancy) to feast upon some of the most amazing meals in the city. There are so many to explore and just about every street has something to tempt you from hotdogs, pretzels, and scrumptious desserts to everything in between. One thing is for sure. You will not go hungry in New York. 

People cheering on the Bateaux with Fall foliage and New York City skyline in background.

Sightseeing in New York City with City Cruises 

One of the most relaxing and majestic ways to experience the NYC skyline is from the water. Hop on a scenic NYC Sightseeing Cruise & Big Bus Classic Tour that offers a comprehensive experience of NYC’s must-see sights including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Battery Park, Hudson Yards, and more! Explore three levels of mind-bending multi-sensory immersive experiences set atop the tallest commercial skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. Next up on the tour is the Big Bus Classic Tour for an overview of Manhattan, which is the perfect choice because it gives you access to the Downtown and Uptown Hop-On, Hop-Off Loops, allowing you to explore all the highlights that Manhattan has to offer. Head downtown where you will see Times Square, the Empire State Building, and the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. On the Uptown Loop, you see parts of Penn Station and Central Park, before heading north for views of Central Park and Museum Mile. Hop on and off at your leisure to create your own customized journey around the city. The convenience and live commentary will give you the perfect blend to see the city with over 25 stops at key points. 

 A world-class city deserves a world-class harbor cruise that offers unparalleled service, delicious dining, and lively entertainment. Come aboard for a European-style, glass-enclosed New York Premier Plus Dinner Cruise and be treated to a delectable a la carte menu, and jaw-dropping, panoramic views of New York City’s skyline. You will see all the iconic landmarks as you marvel at Manhattan from the Hudson and East Rivers while sipping tasty cocktails and enjoying the sweet sounds of our superb vocalist and acoustic band. This is a one-of-a-kind exhilarating experience and the most relaxing and enjoyable way to avoid crowds and soak in all that the city has to offer. We also offer brunch, lunch, and other dinner options to provide you with an amazing dining experience.  

Take a Sights & Sips Cruise to experience the best views of Manhattan from City Cruises. This cocktail cruise departs from Chelsea Piers and the Seaport. Savor the late afternoons with the perfect pairing of refreshing drinks and tasty bites, with a live DJ and stunning panoramic views of the city skyline while having a great time. 

nyc family

Book Your New York Sightseeing Adventure with City Cruises

New York isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. In short, it’s virtually impossible to see everything you’d like to in one visit. Take some time to explore the iconic landmarks, cruise around the East and Hudson Rivers on a relaxing dining cruise, ramble around Central Park, and taste all the goodies your heart desires in the city that never sleeps. Chances are you will be back, and you will leave knowing why people say, “I love New York!”