Places to Visit in Manhattan: New York Destinations

Some of the magic of Manhattan is how closely packed some places of interest can be. A single stop can bring you to a wide range of dining, shopping, and entertainment. Hit up NYC destinations like the Seaport, Hudson Yards, and Columbus Circle for iconic explorations.

The Tin Building

house of the red pearl

Photo courtesy of Nicole Franzen.

Culinary legend Jean-Georges Vongerichten has launched his massive new food space in The Seaport downtown. The Tin Building brings bars, grocery markets, full-service new restaurants (many with open kitchens), and quick service counters into a stylish, sprawling historic structure. There are two stories to explore; don’t miss the House of the Red Pearl, with its speakeasy vibes and Chinese-inspired cuisine.

While you’re in the neighborhood, The Seaport has tons to offer. The South Street Seaport Museum tells the story of “Where New York Begins” through art, artifacts, and a fleet of historic vessels (Wednesdays through Sundays you can take a free tour of the 1908 Lightship Ambrose). Along the East River there are exceptional views of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg Bridges and the Brooklyn skyline. 

World Trade Center

view from one world


On the west side of Lower Manhattan are the many options around One World Trade Center. The enclosed One World Observatory has stunning views of the city, the rivers, and well beyond (above). Just below the observatory is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which features two core exhibitions and an outdoor plaza perfect for reflection. Across the way, a soaring, cathedral-like space defines the Oculus. The world-class collection of shops here includes major players like Apple and Banana Republic.

Grand Central & Midtown East

grand central oyster bar

When people think of the city, it’s often the tightly clustered streets of midtown that come to mind. Commuters still funnel through the magnificent Grand Central Terminal, the world’s most famous train station. The architecture alone is worthy of a visit; you’ll find shopping and dining here as well.On the lower level is the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. The menu still boasts the world-famous oyster pan roast, served here for over a century.

chrysler building from summit one night

Grand Central is steps away from the Chrysler Building, which remains one of the world’s finest examples of Art Deco architecture. For fabulous views of it, day or night, check out the immersive destination SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. Blending elements of art, technology, architecture, and thrill, SUMMIT takes the concept of an “observation deck” to entirely new heights through its three floors of multi-sensory experiences.

Just to the west of Grand Central you’ll find the New York Public Library’s flagship location, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. A splendid Beaux-Arts structure hosts rotating exhibits.

Hudson Yards

edge glass floor below observatory

Courtesy of Related-Oxford.

This state-of-the-art city within a city has revitalized the Hudson River side of midtown. A visit here brings you to a monumental sculpture, a hotel, a mall, an observation deck, an arts space, residences, and 14 acres of public space. (As the northern terminus of the High Line, you’ll also find a narrow slice of nature.) The Shops at Hudson Yards hold seven floors of fashion, beauty, tech, and art. The world’s highest outdoor observation deck, Edge, is here, towering 1,100 above street level. There are incredible views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. A portion of the deck floor is made of glass for extra thrill seeking. (City Climb, an open-air ascent along the outside of the building, is another option for testing your mettle.)

sky skate edge

Inside you can go on an ice-skating adventure as Sky Skate runs daily sessions, complete with live DJs on Thursday and Friday nights.

Manhattan West

rink manhattan west

Another newly born midtown development is nearby Manhattan West. Among the draws are a rink with public ice skating; retail opportunities like the NHL Shop and “America’s Best Men’s Store” Rothmans NYC; and all kinds of dining, including food hall Citizens New York. On the cultural front, the Midnight Theatre serves as a contemporary variety space, showing off talent from the worlds of magic, music, comedy, and Broadway.  

Columbus Circle

columbus circle

Central Park to the left and The Shops at Columbus Circle to the right. Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash.

The bustling traffic circle here has been around since 1857, when it was included in the design of Central Park, which is right across the street. The Shops at Columbus Circle are a collection of high-end stores and restaurants. Jazz at Lincoln Center is here, one of the premiere destinations for an original American art form. The Rose Theater hosts performances by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis—the world-renowned trumpeter and composer serves as the managing and artistic director. Dizzy’s Club has shows nightly in a space expressly designed for superior live jazz experiences. Lincoln Center itself, with its varied venues for opera, orchestra, and theatre, is just a little ways uptown. On the southeast side of the circle stands the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), honoring artists who work in ceramics, jewelry, fabric, and other craft-related media.

Times Square

times square neon flag

Diana Robinson/Flickr

Visit while the Broadway rush is on and you’ll know instantly why the Times Square crossroads are nicknamed “The Center of the Universe.” On any given day hundreds of thousands of people pass through, with a revamp making the plaza at Times Square—bounded by 42nd and 47th Streets on Seventh Avenue and Broadway—more pedestrian-friendly than ever. Snap pictures, take in the splashy supersigns, and people-watch for free. You’ll observe plenty of street performers—the Naked Cowboy among them—as well as salespeople peddling tickets to attractions and performances.

On Broadway at 47th Street you’ll find the flagship TKTS Discount Booth “under the red steps” (pictured above, second from right), in Father Duffy Square. You can buy same-day matinee and evening performances in addition to next-day matinees. The offerings include a wide array of Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals, plays, and dance productions, on sale every day for 20%-50% off. The steps provide a great vantage for soaking in the scene.

The neighborhood may be full of celebrities, but there’s only one place that guarantees star-spotting: Madame Tussauds New York. Experience famous moments with representations of the world’s most iconic musicians, A-list stars, sports legends, and world leaders. New to the attraction is the Glow Gala, an immersive celebration of NYC’s glamorous gala scene.

The newest attraction in the neighborhood is The Museum of Broadway. This interactive, experiential museum leads guests through a visual history of Broadway. Groundbreaking moments, from the 1700s through the present, are showcased through spectacular costumes, props, renderings, rare photos, and videos. Nearby newcomer RiseNY combines gallery exhibits with a first-ever soaring ride full of the sights, sounds, and smells of Big Apple icons.

About the Author

Ethan Wolff covers NYC as the editor of City Guide. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.

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