American Museum of Natural History
No matter which wing you wander through or where your curiosities lie (dinosaurs, gems or something else entirely), it’s hard to explore the American Museum of Natural History without being awestruck. You’ll immediately spot the rotunda’s hulking Barosaurus skeleton replica, but delving further into the museum’s collection, you’ll find actual specimens, such as Deinonychus, in the fourth-floor fossil halls. When you tire of dinos, head to the human-origins and culture halls to learn more about our evolutionary history, or gawk at the famed 94-foot-long blue-whale model in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Lastly, don’t miss the Rose Center for Earth & Space, where you can discover the universe via 3-D and light shows in the IMAX auditorium and the Hayden Planetarium.
Map out your next trip to Central Park in New York with our handy rundown of the park’s must-see attractions. Whether you’re looking for free things to do, a serene picnicking spot, an off-the-beaten-path area or a historical monument, we’ve got you covered. You’ll also find the lowdown on tourist attractions—the Central Park Zoo, boat rides on the Lake, the Bow Bridge, Belvedere Castle—that are perfect for out-of-town friends and family.
Empire State Building
While no longer the tallest building in America–or New York for that matter–the 1,454 foot tall Art Deco skyscraper looms as large as ever in the city’s iconic skyline. Built in 1931 over the course of just 11 months, the Empire State Building was a feat of American engineering, that remains one of the most visited attractions in New York for its spectacular 360-degree views. With so many clamouring for the chance to take the 25-minute elevator ride to the open air observation deck on the 86th floor ($32, seniors $29, children $26), it’s best to arrive early, between opening at 8am and noon. If that’s not a high enough altitude for you then opt for a trip on the manually operated elevator–be sure to quiz your conductor on facts about the building–to the 102nd floor indoor observation deck ($52, seniors $49, children $46) for views of the entire Central Park and sites up to 80 miles away. If you’re looking to have your own romantic Sleepless in Seattle moment, or just want to stand below the spectacular lights at night, and not worry about the long lines then splurge for the VIP express option ($65).
The High Line
In a city famously known as a concrete jungle with crowded streets, astronomical property rates and few green spaces, the High Line is a key example of New York’s willingness to transform, adapt and innovate. When it first opened to the public in 2009 the 1.45 mile long park, which was created entirely on an abandoned elevated train track, beautified the otherwise industrial West Side neighborhoods (Meatpacking, Chelsea, Hudson Yards) it snakes over. Today millions clamour for the dazzling views of the Hudson River, downtown New York’s skyline and, for some voyeurs, the guest rooms at the Standard Hotel. Artists, who were already flocking to Chelsea’s gallery scene, have found an appreciative audience with massive murals, abstract sculptures and a few performance pieces cropping up around and within view of the park. Recently one of the city’s most distinguished cultural institutions The Whitney Museum of American Art recently moved within view of The High Line.
The spot is most popular during the warm months. While the flowers and plants–a selection that is mostly indigenous to the region–are in bloom, the wood lounge chairs are coveted. Something about the smell of fresh greenery makes treats from artisanal vendors selling ice cream and original sodas taste all the more refreshing. During certain evenings the Amateur Astronomer Association leads free star gazing nights and lively cultural happenings like latin dance nights. The best part, however, has to be the people watching: Grab a seat on the stairs over looking busy Tenth Avenue and see locals and visitors from all walks of life milling their way about the city.