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10 Most Popular New York City Tourist Attractions and Landmarks

These are the most famous and common things for visitors to see and do in NYC


Trying to decide what to do when you visit NYC? Start with this list of New York City's most popular attractions to get started planning your trip to the Big Apple. Popularity naturally brings crowds, but these attractions are all popular for a reason -- they're pretty great.

More: Best Free NYC Attractions | My Favorite Things To See & Do in NYC | Best Things for Families to Do in NYC

1. American Museum of Natural History

Skeleton in American Museum of Natural History
Robert Llewellyn/Photodisc/Getty Images

Since opening to the public in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has evolved and grown. In addition to the Rose Center planetarium and permanent exhibits, the museum hosts a revolving series of temporary exhibits, so there is always something new to see. Don't miss our Tips for Visiting AMNH to make the most of your visit.

2. Central Park

Central Park's Turtle Pond

Central Park has offered a welcome escape from the concrete jungle of New York City for over 150 years. Take a walk, a boat ride or enjoy a picnic in Central Park and discover for yourself why Central Park is so popular.

3. Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Great Hall at Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum offers visitors a fascinating look into the immigrant experience. Interactive exhibits, walking tours and movies reveal the hardships and challenges faced by immigrants passing through Ellis Island. Visitors today will enjoy learning about the history, as well as enjoying the voyage to get there by ferry through the harbor.

4. Empire State Building

Empire State Building 86th Floor Viewing Area
Photo by Heather Cross, licensed to About.com

Tired of staring up at New York City skyscrapers? Check out the view of New York City from atop the Empire State Building. A classic New York City attraction, it offers visitors wonderful views of New York City and the surrounding area. Our advice: cut your waiting time by purchasing your tickets in advance.

5. Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Main Concourse Clock
Dan Cross
Renovations since its opening in 1913 have turned Grand Central into more than just a hub for transportation -- there are shops, dining and more available to visitors. Grand Central is both an essential transit hub and a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture. For visitors looking for guidance, there are free tours available.

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tiffany Glass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Over 2 million works of art from around the world and throughout history are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An iconic art museum, the Met is well worth a visit and offers such a vast and diverse collection that there's sure to be something that appeals to you.

7. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

MoMA Entrance
Timothy Hursley
Founded in 1929 as the first museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art, the MoMA is host to an impressive collection of modern artistic efforts. From painting and sculpture to film and architecture, the Museum of Modern Art's diverse collection has something for everyone, including kids.

8. Rockefeller Center

Atlas Statue at Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a great destination for visitors any time of year. Located in midtown Manhattan, Rock Center is probably most famous for its Christmas tree and ice skating rink, but it also offers visitors the wonderful Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and it's home to Radio City Music Hall, as well as numerous shopping and dining destinations.

9. Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a free ferry from lower Manhattan to Staten Island, used by commuters and tourists wanting a view of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

10. Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States in honor of the friendship established during the French Revolution. It has become an American symbol of freedom and welcome to the immigrants who come to the USA looking for a better life. Visitors who plan in advance can even visit the crown of the Statue of Liberty.

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