New York for First Timer’s: 10 Iconic Spots You Won’t Want to Miss

New York for First Timers

New York for First Timer’s

New York City is a city that is so iconic, you really don’t have to introduce it.  It is affectionately called “The Big Apple”, is the largest city in the USA, and is one of the world’s financial and cultural centers.  The city is so popular that many people forget that it sits in a state of the same name; when someone refers to the state, people immediately think about the city first.

I am genuinely shocked when I meet people that have never been to New York City, and yet do not have it on their bucket list.  There are a billion interesting and funs things to see and do in New York City, and this post obviously isn’t going to list them all.  This post focuses on the most iconic tourist and cultural defining spots that have come to define New York, and the United States as a whole.

While growing up I was spoiled enough to be able to take weekend trips to New York City, and I still enjoy going back today.  I am sure this post misses a few spots that some of you may deem essential, and for that I apologize, but it is only intended to give a taste and help inspire you to take your next trip to be there!

Top Things to do in New York City for First Timer's - New York Itinerary

10 most iconic spots in New York City

1. Times Square

New York for First Timers
Time Square in New York City
Times Square in New York City! Top 10 things to do and see in New York City. #avenlylane #avenlylanetravel #NYC
Time Square at night

A New York for first timers guide would never be complete without a trip to Times Square.  Officially Times Square is just a busy intersection surrounded by high rises and adorned with flashy advertisements, but this busy intersection still attracts millions of visitors.

It is a great place to buy your tickets to a Broadway show, see some of New York’s famous street performers, or watch the ball drop on New Year’s.  You aren’t going to want to spend a ton of time here as it really is a busy intersection, but you can’t miss going there at least once.

2. Central ParkCentral Park in New York City

City planners got this one right!  The juxtaposition of a beautiful green park in the middle of booming skyscrapers cannot be beat.  Central park is big enough that you really can “escape the city”, even while being in the middle of it. The park offers all the outdoorsy adventures you can imagine; rowboats on the lake are my favorite.

3. Empire State Building / Top of the Rock

Empire State Building

Previously this was the tallest building in the world.  While it isn’t today, it is still incredibly tall, offers amazing city views from its observation deck, and has a name that pays homage to the Empire State, New York.

If you are looking for a great place to have views of the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock is your place! The Top of The Rock observation deck is in the midst of the Rockefeller Center, or a complex of 19 commercial buildings in the heart of the city.

Buy your tickets in advance here: NYC: Empire State Building General & Skip-the-Line Tickets

4. Wall Street

Do you want to see the location where billions of dollars are traded each day?  Even though most Wall Street trading is now done by computers, the trading floor is still open and tours are available.  The iconic Charging Bull statue and site of the Occupy Wall Street protesters are just outside.

5. 9/11 Memorial – One World Trade Center

911 Memorial in New York City

This somber location is a perfect memorial to all that was lost on September 11, 2001.  I still remember the exact day the terrorists struck. I was at school in Baltimore when unexpectedly our teacher stopped teaching; we had no clue what was going on.  The news soon filled us in, and very soon thereafter the school was closed and we were all sent home.  It was a scary and sad day I will never forget.

6. Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty now stands as an icon to American freedom.  This statue previously welcomed immigrants to the United States where they were then processed at Ellis Island. If you are actually going to go out and tour either one of these landmarks, beware because they get crowded with long lines.

Skip the lines and buy your tickets in advance here >> Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island: Ticket Options with Ferry

7. Broadway

Officially Broadway is a street going through the central district of the city, Manhattan, but the Broadway Theater district is a part of the city with 40 professional theaters.  Broadway theaters are supposed to be the best of the best as far as theater goes, is the pinnacle of success for these performers.  I remember absolutely loving my first Broadway show, The Lion King.  Make sure to catch your favorite!

8. Brooklyn Bridge & Manhattan Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge. Top 10 things to do in New York City! New York City is a city that is so iconic, you really don’t have to introduce it. It is affectionately called “The Big Apple”, is the largest city in the USA, and is one of the world’s financial and cultural centers.
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This massive bridge is another symbol of New York.  It connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and is impossible to miss as you bop around the city.

9. United Nations

The United Nations is a government cooperative of 193 nations attempting to establish world peace.  The world headquarters are located in New York City.  It really is an honor for New York to be able to host such an important organization. Attractions in New York City

10. Your Favorite Interest

Whatever you favorite interest is, I guarantee it is present in New York.  This post didn’t even touch on the hundreds of world famous museums, sporting events, parks, and parades.

What would you add to your New York City Itinerary?

If you enjoyed this post don’t forget to share it with your friends! Thank you so much for reading.

Top 10 things to do in New York City! New York Itinerary

Read more: Where to stay in New York City

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Hey there! I'm Claire, the founder of & While spending 4 years completely bedridden and miserable from an unexpected illness I decided to begin writing about my past travel adventures and now the rest is history. Thank you so much for visiting the website. I hope you enjoy it!


  1. I know many people that say they don’t want to go to NY at all. Reasons range from crime, stench, etc. Well, my oldest daughter and I got the opportunity to go with Crayola years ago, and we have wanted to go back as a family since. It was a wonderful experience. A beautiful city. And everyone that we met, well they were honestly friendlier then some of the people here in the South!! We stayed in Times Square, and it really is the city that never sleeps. It was amazing. We got to ride through horse and carriage in Central Park, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I didn’t smell anything rank while we were there, AND to top it off, I never felt safer anywhere else, like we did in Times Square! There are cops everywhere around to keep you safe. We didn’t really get the chance to do much of anything else that was touristy, which is the reason we hope to go back one day!

    • Boo! Haha. We are Orioles fans over here ;) (I grew up in Baltimore) But Yankee’s stadium is awesome and I always love a good baseball game!

  2. I was in New York as a child – coming into it and leaving it by ship. I will never forget seeing the statue of liberty. My eldest spent her 40th birthday there – right before Hurricane Sandy hit and she was “stuck” there for another 5 days! She kayaked in the Harbor and went to the HUGE library and Grand Central station, as well as seeing a Broadway play and the iconic places you mentioned!

  3. I’ve only been to NYC twice, and it was incredible. The second time was New Year’s Eve 2000. We were on a rooftop of a building that my friend’s parents owned half a block from Time’s Square. It was the perfect way to celebrate there, without being in the chaos below.

  4. I lived in NYC for six years, so I’ve been to all of your top ten, they are indeed incredible! I lived in Midtown West so would jog regularly in Central Park, it is gorgeous. My other favorite parts of the city were just walking the streets and all of the wonderful restaurants and museums, the Guggenheim is a favorite. Definitely a city worth visiting (and living in too)!

  5. My husband lived in NYC for 6 months before we met and I know it’s a dream of his to get us all there. Gorgeous photos!

  6. I have…9/11 memorial is a yes/no. I went to the old museum before the official memorial opened, so that is one thing I do need to make time to see…but I am a New Yorker, so I can do it easily!

    • Thank you so much Ashkay! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. We live in Vegas but I would love to visit Miami! My husband is from around there so he has been a lot but I need to get there! Too bad you missed NYC, maybe next time! It is a cool city for sure! Thank you so much for reading!

  7. Just visited NY this summer and I’m so frazzled! The hotel we stayed was in Time Square, I thought it was scary at first but I felt safer than in any other cities I’ve went. The high light was the walk in Central
    Park heading to Met museum and Guggenheim.I’ve experienced taking the subway and taxi. One person at the subway was kind a snob when we asked for direction but the other lady really took time to talk and give directions. I surely would like to visit again!

  8. I’m so happy to see my old Williamsburg Bridge. Those streets were I spent 17 years of my life. Every summer it was a wonderful site and landmark were you could walk across to the other end and end up in Delancey Street, Manhattan. Many of you probably know this area as the Gunsmoke section of Brooklyn. I miss those years.


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