15 easy things to do in NYC

Looking to round out plans for your visit to New York City? Discover some easy and memorable things you can add to any itinerary.

What’s your idea of the perfect New York City experience? Mezzanine seats at the hottest show on Broadway? A hard-to-get table at an exclusive restaurant? If you’re planning a trip to NYC, you might already have your itinerary mapped out. But what if you find yourself with an unexpected window in your agenda?

Whether you’re a first-time or frequent visitor to the Big Apple, there’s no shortage of standout spots you can round out your trip with at the last minute. Many are free and require no reservations, making them easy to add without too much effort or expense. Read on for your guide to some of the city’s quintessential sights. 

Start your journey with Capital One Travel

Eligible Capital One cardholders can book the perfect getaway with Capital One Travel, an online booking experience that simplifies your travel planning. The site sorts and compares thousands of options to help you find Capital One Travel’s best prices for hotels, airfare and rental cars.1 Plus, eligible Capital One cardholders can earn enhanced rewards on hotels and rental cars when booking through Capital One Travel.

Plus, you can elevate your stay at a luxury New York City hotel from the Premier Collection with a $100 experience credit and other premium benefits on every booking.1

You can also check out these Capital One guides to Los Angeles and Chicago if your travels take you there.

15 easy things to do in NYC

Consider this list a starting point or supplement to your New York City itinerary. Many of these activities don’t need advance planning—and several are totally free.

1. Central Park

Central Park is right in the middle of Manhattan, hence its name. And it has more than 800 acres of green space, bodies of water, amazing views and a sense of peace amid the bustling city. There’s so much to do in the park: biking, jogging, boating, ice skating, dining, picnics, concerts and more.

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located on the edge of Manhattan’s Central Park, The Met is one of the largest and most wide-ranging art museums in the world—with collections from Ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman art, impressionist paintings, Islamic art exhibits and more. If you’re a New York state resident or student, it’s a pay-what-you-wish admission fee. The same goes for students in New Jersey and Connecticut.

3. Rockefeller Center

Swing by Rockefeller Center and check out Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. You can spend your morning at a live broadcast of NBC’s “Today” show—you could be on TV!—or marvel at the giant illuminated Christmas tree in the winter. You can also take a tour of the center’s buildings, streets and landmarks. Plus, you can get a breathtaking view of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock observation deck.

4. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Every year, more than 5 million people visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Archdiocese of New York. Located across from Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, it’s the largest Gothic Catholic cathedral in the U.S. and a spectacular work of architecture. All are welcome, and visitors can pop in for a look around or a self-guided audio tour. 

5. The Grand Bazaar NYC

Open every Sunday, the Grand Bazaar NYC describes itself as a market of “artisans, antiques and edibles.” Found on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it’s the largest curated weekly market in the city, featuring up to 200 local artists, designers, craft makers, vintage and antique dealers, and food merchants. The feel-good part: 100% of the bazaar’s profits are donated to four local public schools, benefiting more than 2,000 children.

6. A Major League Baseball™ game

You can’t get more New York than an MLB™ game. But getting tickets isn’t always easy. If you’re an eligible rewards-earning cardholder, you can book through Capital One Entertainment for cardholder-only access to certain premium seats.2 Sign in to Capital One Entertainment on the Capital One Mobile app or on your desktop or tablet to find your tickets to the action.

7. Bryant Park

Just south of Times Square in Manhattan, Bryant Park is 4 acres of lush green space and a year-round destination for locals and visitors alike. There are activities, outdoor dining options, monuments, a French-style carousel, concerts and free summer movie nights. The free ice rink is the main attraction in wintertime, as well as the annual holiday shops. 

8. The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

This is the main branch of the New York Public Library, right next to Bryant Park, and it’s flanked by the world-famous marble lions, Patience and Fortitude. You could walk right in and easily spend an hour or two taking it all in—including architectural wonders like the Map Division and the Rose Main Reading Room, which is almost as long as a football field. There are also free exhibitions and daily tours.

9. The High Line

Call it New York City’s park in the sky. Located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the High Line is a popular park built on an old, elevated rail line. Walk through the gardens and view artwork, catch a performance, enjoy delicious food or just sit for some people-watching. And do it all while taking in a one-of-a-kind view of Manhattan’s far west side.

10. Times Square

Stretching from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street, Times Square’s biggest attraction is the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop. But if you’re in town on the other 364 days of the year, Times Square is your easy firsthand view of midtown Manhattan. It’s a mix of interesting people, tourist traps and oversize neon signs and video screens. The billboards stay illuminated around the clock. 

11. Grand Central Terminal

Midtown Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal is the second-most-visited destination in New York City behind Times Square. This world-famous landmark is the home of the MTA Metro-North Railroad and a subway station serving multiple lines. But you don’t need to be traveling anywhere to wander through this architectural wonder or explore its many passages and fascinating history. It’s also a shopping and dining destination. 

12. Fifth Avenue

For more than a century, Midtown’s Fifth Avenue has been a major destination for fashionistas worldwide. It has everything from mass brands to upscale department stores to international retailers to high-end jewelry. Even if you don’t shop, the stores’ window displays are sights to behold. 

13. The Brooklyn Bridge

Connecting lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is more than 6,000 feet long and supports six lanes of vehicles. Fun fact: No trucks are allowed. It’s easily one of the most recognizable parts of the New York City skyline. The bridge features an elevated pedestrian walkway, and in September 2021 a protected bike lane was added to meet the rise of cycling in the city. Both the bridge and the walkway will give you a scenic view over the East River.

14. The Staten Island Ferry

The main purpose of the Staten Island Ferry is simple: to take Staten Islanders to and from lower Manhattan. But the ferry can also be a free 25-minute mini-cruise through New York Harbor to see amazing sights. Get great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline without even stepping off the ferry. It runs 24/7, so you can pick a time that fits your schedule best. 

15. Greenwich Village

Known to locals as “the Village,” downtown Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood has been a favorite of many musicians and poets. You could spend a little time and money in one of the Village’s comedy clubs, theaters, restaurants or bars. Or you could just stroll past the famed West 4th Street basketball courts and the 19th-century carriage houses on Downing Street. Don’t forget to spend some time people-watching at Washington Square Park.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere

New York City is one of the world’s most exciting cities, with so much to see and do. In fact, the choices can almost be overwhelming, so it’s good to have some go-to ideas for quick inspiration. Your only choice left is—what will you do first? 

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