New York City Self-guided activities

Our most recommended New York City Self-guided activities

NYC: Empire State Building Tickets & Skip-the-Line

1. NYC: Empire State Building Tickets & Skip-the-Line

Choose between a General Admission ticket to the 86th floor outdoor observation deck or a Combination Ticket with access to the newly renovated 102nd floor, showcasing floor to ceiling windows. You can also upgrade your experience with an Express Ticket. The New Empire State Building Experience not only gives you access to the legendary New York City landmark, allowing you to soar 1,054 foot (320 meters) high and enjoy magnificent 360-degree open-air views of New York City and beyond. You'll also see Grand Staircase with a two-story architectural model of the building and newly renovated interactive galleries that take you on an incredible journey from the building’s construction to its current place in pop culture. Explore the site in the 1920s, Construction, Opening Day, Modern Marvel, Otis Elevators, World’s Most Famous Building, King Kong, and Celebrity exhibits. The 80th Floor also features a range of exciting art exhibits. Be sure to see the building's iconic Art Deco Fifth Avenue lobby. The Empire State Building's 86th Floor Observation Deck is the highest 360-degree open-air observatory in New York, outfitted with heaters to keep the cold at bay. The Empire State Building is more than a spectacular view - it is the most Instagrammed landmark in the USA. Your entrance also includes a downloadable multimedia experience, available in 9 languages. This app also includes videos, image galleries, quizzes, and maps showing nearby points of interest. Be sure to see the building's iconic Art Deco Fifth Avenue lobby as you exit this remarkable building.

New York City: Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island with Ferry

2. New York City: Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island with Ferry

Hop on board the ferry and enjoy a self-guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from New Jersey. Visit Liberty Island, explore the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and learn fascinating facts as you go. Begin your experience by departing from Liberty State Park, located in Jersey City, NJ, and easily accessible by car. Once you arrive at the meeting point, bypass the ticket line with your pre-purchased ticket. Board the ferry and see the impressive views of Lady Liberty and the NYC skyline. Take note of the ferry's return times to plan your day. Your ticket gives you access to explore two attractions: Ellis Island and Liberty Island (with the Statue of Liberty). On arrival to Ellis Island, pick up your multilingual audio guide at the Immigration Museum. Then, explore what was America’s busiest immigration station for over 62 years. Walk in the footsteps of millions of people from all around the globe who passed through here looking for a new beginning and a new life for their families in America. With access to the American Family Immigration History Center's records, you can search all ship manifests that came through Ellis Island. Use this unique experience to research your family history. Once you're ready to discover Liberty Island, drop off your audio guide and return to the ferry. Upon arrival on Liberty Island, pick up your multilingual audio guide to start exploring the history of the Statue of Liberty. Children also have the opportunity to enjoy a special narration of this self-guided tour. When you are finished, return to the ferry and make your way back to your original departure point.

NYC: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Admission

3. NYC: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Admission

Visitors to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum can experience a legendary aircraft carrier, the first space shuttle, the world’s fastest jets, and a Cold War-era submarine. Discover a museum that employs history and technology to inspire and advance innovation by developing the next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is dedicated to the exhibition and interpretation of history, science, and service from its home on board the aircraft carrier Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark. The former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid was launched in 1943 and fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. The ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. It was decommissioned in 1974, and today is berthed on the Hudson River. You get the chance to visit 4 decks of this great ship: • Hangar Deck: A great place to start your visit and our main indoor exhibit space, the hangar deck takes you through both the hardware and humanity of Intrepid • Flight Deck: Get an up-close look at more than two dozen authentically restored aircraft, look inside the Restoration Tent, and take a walk through history on Intrepid's island and bridges. - Gallery Deck: Located between the flight deck and hangar deck, the gallery deck features the combat information center (CIC), squadron ready room, and marine berthing • Third Deck: Learn about shipboard life in Intrepid's restored galley, enlisted mess, and crew berthing The Space Shuttle Pavilion showcases Enterprise, the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle program. Dynamic exhibit zones feature original artifacts, photographs, audio, and films that immerse visitors in the science and history of Enterprise and the space shuttle era.

NYC: Beyond King Tut Immersive Experience Flexible Ticket

4. NYC: Beyond King Tut Immersive Experience Flexible Ticket

Be transported into the past with a flexible date entrance ticket to Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience in Manhattan. National Geographic uses dramatic and immersive projections to take you back through 3000 years of history to the world of Tutankhamun in an exciting new way. Start the experience with a journey through nine distinct visual galleries to learn about the king’s life, descend into his tomb, and even enter his burial chamber. Discover the true story and real artifacts of one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. First, journey to modern-day Egypt and see wonders of the ancient world like the Temple at Karnak and the Great Sphinx. Experience ancient history come to life and gaze at the Egyptian sun as it rises above the Pyramids of Giza, filling the sky with vivid color. Then, travel back to the 18th dynasty when King Tut ruled and gods like Ra and Anubis were worshiped by all. Descend into King Tut's tomb, 100 years after its historical discovery, and join in his quest for immortality. The final room greets you with larger-than-life projections of King Tut’s treasures with the most cutting-edge clarity available, showcasing the exquisite detail and artistry of these ancient items. You can purchase the "Enter the Tomb" VR experience at the box office (subject to availability).

NYC: St. Patrick's Cathedral Official Self-Guided Audio Tour

5. NYC: St. Patrick's Cathedral Official Self-Guided Audio Tour

Explore St Patrick's Cathedral, the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the United States. Taking up an entire city block, the cathedral first opened in 1879 and is considered one of New York City’s finest buildings.  Present your pass at the Cathedral gift shop to gain expedited entry and your multi-lingual audio guide. You can also download the tour onto your own personal device and use your own personal headphones. Once you are inside the cathedral, the experience is self-guided. You can listen to the audio tour and explore the Cathedral at your own pace. The audio tour is narrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan and is approximately 1 hour long. It is recommended to allow up to 1.5 hours as you may wish to pause the audio tour at times to enjoy features like the Lady Chapel, the towering twin spires, and the 9000 lbs bronze doors which can be opened by a single person. You can also explore the main altar, the stained glass windows and the Pieta sculpture which is 3 times the size of Michelangelo's. The Cathedral has 21 altars and 19 bells, each named after a different saint. Babe Ruth, Andy Warhol and Robert F. Kennedy all had memorial masses here.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular & St. Patrick's Cathedral

6. Radio City Christmas Spectacular & St. Patrick's Cathedral

Enjoy singing, dancing, and humor with Nativity scenes. The Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes is an annual musical holiday stage show presented at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The 90-minute show features Santa Clause, more than 140 performers, and an original musical score.  The NYC Rockettes' performance of "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" and "The Living Nativity" has been in every edition of the annual show up to the present day. The Rockettes will dance to Here Comes Santa Claus, Dress like Rag Dolls, and much more.  This package includes a self-guided audio tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic cathedral in the United States. Enjoy the fully decorated cathedral during the holiday season. You can listen to the audio tour and explore the Cathedral at your own pace. The audio tour is narrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan and is approximately 1 hour long. St Patrick's Cathedral audio tour is available in English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French.

Grand Central Terminal: Self-Guided Walking Tour

7. Grand Central Terminal: Self-Guided Walking Tour

Get to know Grand Central Terminal on this self-guided walking tour that takes you through the whole terminal, points out the most significant spots, and reveals the little-known history behind it all. Enjoy the flexibility of a tour taken via an app that functions as your personal guide, narrator, and map. Arrive outside the terminal to start your tour. From here, you can admire the elegant entryway and learn about the statues that stand guard at its entrance. Enter the station via Vanderbilt Hall, a beautiful space named after the station’s founders. Learn the facts on the unbelievably rich Vanderbilt family and a multimillion-dollar drama of rivalry between the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Continue to the Main Concourse, which you’ve likely seen in plenty of films and TV shows. This concourse is even more impressive in person, full of marble, crystal, and gold. Next, visit the terminal’s famous clock and learn why it might just be worth $20 million. Learn how Grand Central practically invented time as we know it while crossing the vast concourse. Turn your eyes skyward next, toward the sky ceiling. Learn the special meaning behind each constellation painted here. Plus, learn about the time NASA damaged the Main Concourse with a rocket. Afterwards, unpack the hidden symbolism within the extravagant chandeliers and find out how the station’s employees get from place to place without having to cross the busy concourse. Then, visit the often-overlooked Station Master’s Office and hear about how part of Grand Central was almost torn down by developers once. Finally, finish off your tour by heading to the lower levels to visit the strange and wonderful Whispering Gallery and the lavish Oyster Bar where New York’s Roaring ’20s have been beautifully preserved.

From NYC: LEGOLAND® New York Entrance Ticket with Transport

8. From NYC: LEGOLAND® New York Entrance Ticket with Transport

Explore seven lands, all built around LEGO bricks, on a fun-filled family day at LEGOLAND® New York Resort in Goshen. Travel to the park and back with ease, from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. Ride, climb, splash, and build through seven themed lands, transform into a mini-figure on the LEGO Factory Adventure Ride, and master the art of Spinjitsu on NINJAGO: The Ride. Save the kingdom on the Dragon Coaster, get your official LEGOLAND® driver's license in LEGO City, and explore cities built out of millions of blocks in Miniland.

New York City: Central Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

9. New York City: Central Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

Discover the sights and history of Central Park on a self-guided walking tour via an app on your phone. Enjoy some moments of peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Begin your audio and GPS tour and make your first stop at the famous Central Park Zoo, home to everything from monkeys to pythons to penguins. You’ll also get a chance to see the whimsical Delacourte Clock. Then, continue on to the statue of Balto, and find out why a dog from Alaska has a statue in New York. After that, it’s on to the beautiful tree-lined Mall and Literary Walk. Hear the stories — and the controversies — behind all of the statues of famous literary and historical figures that line the walk. Arrive at the Naumburg Bandshell, where famous speakers, from Martin Luther King to Fidel Castro, have given speeches over the years. Then, step onto Bethesda Terrace, a wonder of Italianate architecture offering stupendous views of the park. It’s also been the filming site for plenty of major hits through the years, from Home Alone 2 to The Avengers. After, follow the route to the Hans Christian Andersen monument honoring the author of children’s classics like “The Little Mermaid.” The tour through the fantastical side of the park continues at the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, burnished to a shine from years of kids clambering all over it. Art lovers will adore the next stop: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From there, pay a visit to the Jacky Kennedy Reservoir at the park’s heart. Stroll around this picturesque pool and learn to identify iconic buildings in New York’s skyline. Then, stop by the Great Lawn, which has featured superstars like Elton John and Bon Jovi and continues to be a major gathering place for folks looking to enjoy a little natural serenity. Later, see an actual castle and a Shakespearean garden before moving on to the Strawberry Fields memorial commemorating music legend John Lennon. And you can’t come to Central Park without visiting the famous Carousel, so you’ll stop there and hear about its history. Finally, exit the park at Columbus Circle, a major hub of the city not too far from where your tour began. The tour concludes here.

9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop: Hands-on BOSE Audio Tour

10. 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop: Hands-on BOSE Audio Tour

Head to Manhattan's historical Meatpacking District to experience the real Ground Zero. On this 90-minute visit to the 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop, view rare images featured on international news and listen to the incredible audio stories behind the images that took place during the 9-month dig for the missing victims. See the moving images of 9/11 and listen to a detailed audio narration to learn about those who lost their lives by Gary Marlon Suson, the official photographer at Ground Zero. Mr. Suson was the only photographer in the world allowed full, round-the-clock access to every single area at the World Trade Center, including the dangerous subway tunnels below Ground Zero. Get your own BOSE audio system and headset featuring 100 special stories of 9/11. Kids have raved about the audio tour and parents are amazed at how it holds their child’s interest. Survivors and family members have donated dozens of intimate items, and their stories will truly open your eyes to the aftermath of that single day. Pick up and hold artifacts that represent the 9-month recovery efforts in Lower Manhattan as well as rare pieces of window glass and steel from the World Trade Center- no other museum in NYC allows you to hold rare artifacts. Receive an audio wand that tells a different piece of the story behind the massive recovery efforts at Ground Zero. View a 12-minute large-screen video before tuning into the audio headset for a self-guided tour. Additionally, benefit from an on-site guide who will be there to answer your questions.

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Frequently asked questions about New York City

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What are the best day trips and excursions from New York City?

The best day trips and excursions from New York City are:

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What people are saying about New York City

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 77 reviews

Fantastic, tick the box, experience. No queues whatsoever which was totally unexpected and a joy. Friendly guides and we had as much time as we wanted. Thought we would be moved on in the museum bit at the start so don’t rush as it’s interesting! Loved the interactive part with the life sized workers so be great or have more things like that.

The experience from security to getting off the boat after the tour/cruise was very seamless. The boat was NOT overcrowded, which was a blessing, no long lines getting back at the end of the cruise as well.

A must do when in New York!! I am sure the new viewing platforms in New York are just as good! But when in New York the Iconic Empire State building has to be a most!

All round great experience, I will highly recommend it to people I know who wish to go to NYC

It was such an amazing trip I will love to always come back A great experience