Top Things to Do in New York

America’s largest city (with a population of around 8.5 million) and by many measures the country’s cultural capital, New York presents endless things to do. While this list includes more than 30 must-see sights, it’s a mere starting point.

1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art—or, commonly, the Met—is one of the world’s great museums, alongside the Louvre, the British Museum, and a handful of others. It would be easy to devote an entire week’s visit to the museum alone, and realistically you probably won’t get far beyond a few exhibitions and galleries at one shot. The Costume Institute’s temporary shows are always popular, while others will (like the museum itself) focus on a range of regions and periods—at any one time there may be temporary exhibitions on an Italian Renaissance painter, miniatures from Mughal India, and Polynesian carvings. The Temple of Dendur, a roughly 43' x 21' x 16' temple that dates to around 15 B.C.E. and was given by the government of Egypt to the United States in 1967, is one of the museum’s most photographed (and Instagrammed) works. The 34 period rooms, including a 12th-century cloister, English parlor and a Shaker “retiring” room, are among the museum’s other highlights. On summer evenings, site-specific installations make the rooftop terrace is a favorite place for drinks. The general admission of $25 for adults, $12 for students, and $17 for seniors is a suggested one for New York residents, as well as students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Whatever you pay also includes same-day entry to The Met Cloisters.
11 West 53rd Street
MoMA is closed for renovations through October 21, 2019.

The Museum of Modern Art, one of the city’s—and the country’s—premier institutions for modern and contemporary art, first opened its doors in 1939. Its permanent collection of almost 200,000 works includes masterpieces by many of the 20th century’s leading artists: Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol...the list truly could go on and on. In the permanent collection, van Gogh’s Starry Night and three panels of Monet’s series of paintings of water lilies are among the most famous works. The museum’s first director, Alfred Barr, was praised for taking the innovative step of expanding the role of the art museum to include genres beyond painting and sculpture, and to this day the institution dedicates exhibitions (and resources) to design, architecture, photography, and other creative fields. The museum also has a space in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, called MoMA PS 1, which focuses principally on younger, emerging artists and hosts Warm Up, a summer live music series.
99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, USA
For most of its history, the Whitney Museum, originally founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931, was located on New York’s Upper East Side, in the building that now houses the Met Breuer. In 2015, it reopened in a new, larger space designed by Renzo Piano in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The institution’s permanent collection is especially strong in works by leading artists from the first half of the 20th century, and as you might expect from its official name, American artists are particularly well represented—Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, and many others. Visiting exhibitions tend to focus on living artists who are still producing new pieces; the museum’s Whitney Biennial (now taking place in odd-numbered years) is arguably the preeminent showcase in the United States for young contemporary artists. In addition to the galleries, the building has a number of outdoor terraces dotted with sculptures and offering views of Lower Manhattan and the Hudson River.
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA
The Guggenheim Museum is a work of art in itself. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building’s iconic curved facade stands out on the orderly row of edifices lining its stretch of Fifth Avenue. Completed near the end of Wright’s career (it opened in 1959), it is often considered the architect’s masterpiece. Inside, galleries are connected by a long spiral ramp that ascends toward a skylight atop the rotunda. Only a small amount of the space is dedicated to the Guggenheim’s permanent collection; usually, most of the museum is given over to a temporary exhibition. Compared to other New York institutions focused on modern and contemporary art, the Guggenheim often tends to be more international in its focus, shining light on art and artists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, though by no means exclusively.
1 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021, USA
The phrase “jewel box” may be overused when referring to exquisite galleries and museums, but there’s no better way to describe the Frick Collection, at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue. The early-20th-century neoclassical mansion facing Central Park, designed by Carrère and Hastings (who were also responsible for the main branch of the New York Public Library), was the residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick before being converted to a museum after his death. Most of the works on display were acquired by Frick and his wife during their lifetimes, and are predominantly paintings by European old masters—Boucher, Holbein, Fragonard, Reynolds, Van Dyck, and others. The museum is arranged, however, much as it would have been during the Fricks’ day, with antique furniture sitting in the rooms where the paintings are hung.
2 E 91st St, New York, NY 10128, USA
While this New York institution has been around in one form or another since the end of the 19th century, it has a long and complicated history. It originally began as part of Cooper Union, a college in downtown Manhattan, but was later transferred to the Smithsonian. In 1970 it moved into its current home, a mansion originally constructed by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. After being closed for three years beginning in 2011 for renovations, the museum reopened in 2014. Its name makes its focus clear: design, in a variety of forms—textiles, household and industrial products, jewelry, architecture, and more. Temporary exhibitions may spotlight individual creators, trends in design (like, for example, the vogue for all things Japanese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), or particular objects. Since its reopening, the museum has put an emphasis on interactivity, with additions like computer-screen tables and a room where you can design your own digital wallpapers that are projected onto the walls. Admission is free for Smithsonian members, so bring your card if you are one.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, USA
These days, wandering the Lower East Side (the area between the Bowery and the East River, with Houston Street marking its northern border and Canal Street its southern one), it can feel impossible to recall that this neighborhood was once among the city’s most overcrowded, teeming with immigrants. Its streets were filled with Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, and other Europeans newly arrived in the United States, including a significant Jewish population. Today, boutiques and bars cater to gentrifiers, much of the population is Puerto Rican or Dominican, and the few traces of that earlier era are hard to find—the facades of Yiddish theaters and synagogues that have long since closed. The Tenement Museum on Orchard Street is dedicated to assuring that period of the city’s past is not lost forever. On each floor of the restored tenement building, the lives of some of its former occupants are brought to life, from the German saloon owners on the first floor to the Jewish immigrants who occupied the top one. Docents in character and costume help to make the stories of those immigrants personal. The museum also organizes walking tours of the Lower East Side and offers talks on the district’s history.
180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, USA
The morning of September 11, 2001—when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and two others, also hijacked, crashed into the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania—is one of those moments for which everyone who was conscious that day will always remember where they were. The memorial at the World Trade Center sites, however, assures that the events will not be forgotten even by those too young to have been aware of what was happening as well as future generations. Two square holes in the ground trace the footprints of the original towers, with waterfalls cascading into two pools below street level. The names of the nearly 3,000 people who died on that day, as well as the six who died in a 1993 truck bombing also at the World Trade Center, are inscribed on bronze panels along the edges of the twin memorials. The museum at the site brings to life the stories of those who were killed on 9/11—workers at the World Trade Center, rescuers, and others—through artifacts and interactive exhibits. There are also artworks that respond to and reflect on the events.
New York, NY, USA
Manhattan can, famously, feel like endless rows of apartment blocks and office towers for most of its length. At least above 14th Street, a regular grid of streets and avenues, bisected only by Broadway, has transformed the city into a dream for real estate developers. The green spaces interrupting the pattern—Union Square, Gramercy Park, Madison Square Park—are few and far between, with one enormous exception: Central Park. Running from 59th Street to 110th Street, and between Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) and Fifth Avenue, it is one of the world’s largest urban parks, measuring some 843 acres. It is the masterpiece of the 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted working in collaboration with Calvert Vaux. Inside its borders are stately allées and naturalistic scenes, ice-skating rinks (in the winter), an enormous reservoir, and a faux castle. The park is hugely popular, and so to call it an escape from the bustle of the city is often not accurate, especially on mild summer days and the first warm ones in the spring when thousands of residents head to its playing fields, bike and run along the road that loops the park, and enjoy picnics on the Sheep Meadow or one of its other lawns.
210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
For much of its history, the western edges of Manhattan neighborhoods like the West Village and Chelsea consisted of small manufacturing buildings and warehouses that served the piers on the Hudson River. Over time, those factories were replaced with residential developments, and shipping largely moved out to Brooklyn and New Jersey. What remained, however, was an abandoned light-rail line, located above street level. After 10 years of lobbying the city, state, and federal governments, the first section of the High Line park opened in 2009. It now extends for 1.45 miles, from Gansevoort Street in the south to 34th Street at its other end. An innovative design by James Corner Field Operations uses native species to preserve some of the feeling the old rail line had when it was overgrown with weeds. It has quickly become one of New York’s most popular attractions, both with residents and visitors who stroll the length of it, as well as a model for other cities attempting to find new uses for old infrastructure.
New York, NY, USA
The Statue of Liberty may be the most iconic sight that comes to mind when one thinks of the history of immigrants in New York, but not far from it in the harbor is another important landmark—Ellis Island. Until the Supreme Court ruled in 1875 that authority to regulate immigration belonged to the federal government alone, various states had implemented their own policies. After the federal government took over the processing of immigrants from New York State in 1890, some 12 million immigrants would pass through Ellis Island until it closed in 1954 (for 30 years, however, beginning in 1924, it was used only as a temporary detention center for immigrants who had issues with their paperwork). By one estimate, some 40 percent of Americans have at least one ancestor who entered the United States through Ellis Island. The historic site is today operated by the National Park Service, and ferries depart to the island from Battery Park (as well as from Liberty State Park in New Jersey). Visits include the Main Arrivals Hall with its displays recounting the immigration experience; temporary exhibitions are located on the second and third floors of the building. Statue Cruises is the only operator authorized to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island—their cruises include stops at both, though entry to the statue and the immigration museum require separate tickets purchased on each island.
New York, NY 10004, USA
One of New York’s most iconic landmarks is also one of America’s: the Statue of Liberty, standing in the middle of New York Harbor as it has since 1885. The statue was famously a gift from France, built to a design by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and with structural engineering overseen by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was one of the first large-scale curtain wall structures—that is, one where weight is supported by an internal frame and not by the exterior walls. As one of New York’s most visited sights, some tickets sell out far in advance. There are two different levels of tickets: pedestal and crown. Tickets to the pedestal and especially those to the crown are often gone months in advance, so plan accordingly.
Governors Island, New York, NY 11231, USA
Located in the middle of New York harbor, less than half a mile from Manhattan (and even closer to Brooklyn), 172-acre Governors Island feels like a world unto itself, far from the bustling city. It has played a key role in the defense of New York at various points and two fortifications here, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, reflect that history. From 1966 to 1996, the island was a Coast Guard station; since it closed, the city, state, and federal governments have discussed various plans for the island’s development. In the meantime, it is open to the public for six months each year, from May 1 to October 31, when it is possible to wander among the Coast Guard barracks, visit the commander’s house, and bike around the mostly car-free island. Ferries depart from both Manhattan and Brooklyn starting at 10 a.m. and running until 6:15 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. During many weekends in the summer, art fairs, food festivals, and other events help draw visitors to the island, but even if you go on a day without anything special scheduled, a journey here provides a refreshingly different perspective on New York.
21 Dey St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Located in Lower Manhattan, across from the World Trade Center site, the Century 21 flagship store is a must-shop for bargain hunters. (There are also locations in downtown Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side, at Broadway and 66th Street.) Spanning seven floors, with a total of 220,000 square feet of retail space, the flagship is filled with everything from true designer items—often dramatically discounted from the original price—to bargain packages of underwear and socks. It is by its nature hit-or-miss. The store sells the previous year’s fashions, surplus and irregular items, and designs that simply didn’t move. One day you may come across an overlooked gem; on another visit you’ll find only things that are simply a little too out there, explaining how they ended up at Century 21. The experience can be overwhelming, and many serious shoppers have different and often contradictory strategies—from visiting only twice a year to checking out the merchandise there at least three times a week. Perhaps the best approach is to go in with an attitude that even if you don’t find any hidden treasures, you can at least enjoy a true New York moment of bumping elbows in the search for a bargain.
550 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA
If Fifth Avenue in Midtown is New York’s primary higher-end retail strip, with Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman as its anchors, the SoHo section of Broadway (between Houston and Canal) is its less glamorous sister, crowded with young shoppers pretty much every day of the year. Established chain brands have largely taken over, with Uniqlo, Banana Republic, and CB2 among those represented. In addition to them, there’s a downtown branch of Bloomingdale’s that tries to follow a more fashion-forward path than the Upper East Side mother ship. Also tucked between the familiar brands are a few bargain holdouts from the days when the neighborhood attracted students on budgets, selling T-shirts and jeans in no-frills, fluorescent-lit spaces. The shopping continues in both directions off of Broadway: Nolita, to the east, has more small, unique boutiques; head west, into SoHo, and you’ll find more-upscale brands than those represented on Broadway.
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
Between 15th and 16th streets on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, the Chelsea Market is a food court with New York attitude. Its restaurants and shops sell Australian meat pies, banh mi, and lobster rolls. These are no fast-food chains—this is a place to find cheese from upstate or that spice you can’t find at your supermarket. There is now a Posman Books and an Anthropologie outpost, but most of the places here stay true to the market’s culinary roots with Sarabeth’s, Ronnybrook Dairy, and Berlin Currywurst as good places to pick up food to eat on the spot or to take home. If you are looking for a hard-to-find kitchen gadget, the Bowery Kitchens store is almost sure to have it. The market is also ideally located if you want to purchase picnic supplies before ascending to the High Line if the weather is good.
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
If you are a fan of the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar bookstore, then you’ll be in heaven at the Strand, on Broadway at 12th Street. The store boasts that it has 2.5 million books, or 18 miles of them. While we aren’t sure how they measured books in miles, if you are looking for something to read, you are sure to find it here on one of the emporium’s two levels. Most of the goods here are used, though the Strand also has new copies of all the latest popular releases. There is also a separate rare-book room for serious collectors in the building next door (ask at the information desk for directions). The Strand also hosts regular signings and readings.
New York, NY 10012, USA
Washington Square Park is only a fraction of the size of Central Park, but it is as almost as much of an icon of New York as its much larger counterpart uptown. It’s likely because it sits in the heart of Greenwich Village, and has thus served as a backdrop for many events in the city’s history. In the late 19th century, it was one of New York’s most fashionable addresses (that period was captured by Henry James in his 1880 novella Washington Square, later the basis for The Heiress, a play that was also adapted into a movie). The arch along its northern side dates to 1892 and was designed by Stanford White to replace an earlier one, in wood and plaster, erected in 1889 to mark the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. When Greenwich Village became the haunt of artists and writers, the park was a green space for the city’s counterculture; folk singers and street performers are still a common sight, and the park is also frequently used for political protests and rallies. On sunny days, especially during the academic year, the park is filled with NYU students, neighborhood residents, and tourists taking in the scene.
476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018, USA
The main branch of the New York Public Library is one of the country’s grandest Beaux Arts buildings, a temple to learning on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets. At the end of the 19th century, John Bigelow, who oversaw the Tilden Trust, decided that as New York was becoming a global financial capital, it required a grand public library. When the Astor and Lenox libraries faced financial difficulties, he convinced them to merge and, with the Tilden Trust, underwrite the library that now stands next to Bryant Park. The firm of Carrère and Hastings was entrusted with the design, and construction began in 1902 on the building that would be the largest marble structure built up to that time in the United States. The elegant main reading room with its soaring carved-wood ceilings is the highlight of its interiors. The library hosts temporary exhibitions related to literary and cultural topics that draw on its extensive collection of books and other printed materials. The two beloved lions in Tennessee marble—Patience and Fortitude—have stood at the entrance to the library since it opened in 1911 and were created by sculptor Edward Clark Potter.
200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA
Located on the Upper West Side, at 79th Street and Central Park West, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s largest museums. It has 45 different halls, occupies more than 2 million square feet, and has some 33 million different specimens—only a fraction are on display at any time. It includes an abundance of dioramas and reconstructed skeletons, and “cultural halls” that extend natural history into anthropology. The museum makes a valiant effort to constantly keep its exhibits relevant by adopting new interactive technologies and displays as it battles the preconceptions of many that natural-history museums are old-fashioned institutions. In 2000, it also added the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which has proven popular with young aspiring astronauts and astronomers. If you are headed to New York with kids and they haven’t already watched Night at the Museum, you may want to rent it before your trip (even if most of the interior scenes were actually shot on a set in Vancouver).
45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, USA
Rockefeller Center was one of the great construction projects of the Great Depression, a complex of 14 buildings between Fifth and Sixth avenues and 48th and 51st streets built over the 1930s. It’s also one of America’s grandest examples of Art Deco design, from the Indiana-limestone-clad buildings themselves to its interior murals and allegorical figures in panels above the entries to the various buildings. (Daniel Okrent recounts the fascinating history of the complex in detail in his acclaimed Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center.) For many travelers to New York, the center is a favorite destination even if they aren’t students of architecture or urban planning. It’s the home of Radio City Music Hall, where the Rockettes perform; its 70th-floor observation deck offers sweeping views of the city; and every morning tourists gather outside the windows of the NBC studios during the broadcast of The Today Show.

The center also hosts temporary large-scale art installations, like Jeff Koons’s enormous dancer and flower puppy in recent years, and the lighting of its Christmas tree marks the unofficial start of the holiday season. Another bucket-list experience here is taking a turn on the small sunken ice rink under the golden statue of Prometheus. Just across Fifth Avenue from Rockefeller Center is another New York landmark, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, looking better than ever after a multiyear renovation that included a thorough cleaning of the Gothic building’s facade.
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is an engineering wonder and an architectural one as well, a masterpiece of design that has inspired acclaimed poets (Hart Crane, Marianne Moore), writers (Jack Kerouac), and painters (Joseph Stella). While Walt Whitman was left in awe by the bridge, his famous poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” was actually written during its construction. The bridge connected what were then two different cities—the five boroughs of New York would not be united into one city until 15 years later, in 1898. A stroll across the 6,016-foot-long bridge is a quintessential New York experience, taking you from near City Hall on the Manhattan side to Brooklyn Heights, a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and elegant, 19th-century town houses that have been lovingly preserved and restored. Come fall, the bridge promenade will be pedestrian-only so you won’t need to worry about cyclists ringing their bells furiously at you, thanks to a new dedicated bike lane on the Manhattan-bound side.
Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Of the various abbreviations for different neighborhoods in New York, DUMBO wins the prize for cutest: It stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It is a little off the beaten path, though you may find yourself here if you have strolled over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, or were just touring Brooklyn Heights and kept walking north. Its streets offer some iconic images, with the piers of the Manhattan Bridge looming at the end of streets lined with 19th-century warehouses. It is also home to St. Ann’s Warehouse (45 Water St.), one of the city’s most innovative theater venues, and a number of restaurants and bars. If you are exploring with kids in tow, you may want to stop at Jane’s Carousel, a restored 1922 merry-go-round in a pavilion designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Afterward, stop at Jacques Torres Chocolate (66 Water St.) for a cup of his signature hot chocolate.
254 Hicks St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
One of New York’s loveliest historic districts, Brooklyn Heights sits along the East River to the south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Its streets are lined with beautifully preserved and restored 19th-century town houses while a promenade along its western edge offers views of the skyline of downtown Manhattan—especially stunning when the sun is setting over New York’s harbor. Simply wandering its streets, you’ll feel transported back in time, but there are some buildings of special interest you may want to seek out. The celebrated 19th-century preacher Henry Ward Beecher (brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe) presided at Plymouth Church (57 Orange St.). Truman Capote finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s and wrote In Cold Blood during the 10 years he lived at 70 Willow Street, and novelist Thomas Wolfe lived at 5 Montague Terrace from 1933 to 1935. Grace Church (254 Hicks St.) and St. Ann & the Holy Trinity (157 Montague St.) are outstanding examples of 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture. After you are done exploring, Atlantic Avenue, which marks the southern edge of the neighborhood, and Montague Street have a number of restaurants to choose from if you are ready for a meal.
1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, USA
First, Brooklyn’s Coney Island is not, in fact, an island, having been attached to the rest of the borough by landfill since the 1920s. What the area is best known for, however, is its heyday from around the 1880s through World War II when it began as a posh seaside resort area and gradually became a beloved beach destination, thanks to a number of amusement parks. The appeals of Coney Island declined after the war (historians attribute this to the proliferation of both air-conditioning, which made escaping to the shore less important, and the automobile, which made it easier to reach nicer sandy stretches on Long Island). In recent decades it has increased in popularity again. Brooklyn residents, and visitors to New York, have embraced anew the retro charms of the boardwalk and the rides that are still operating, like the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel. The towering Parachute Jump has been abandoned, but it still stands as an impossible-to-miss landmark. Brighton Beach sits next to Coney Island and is a largely Russian neighborhood where restaurants are happy to serve any diners who appreciate copious amounts of vodka and Russian specialties.
36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, USA
Between 1920 and 1933, some of the most successful films of the early 20th century were shot at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, including The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino; several Marx Brothers movies; and the first Sherlock Holmes film with sound, The Return of Sherlock Holmes. The concentration of the movie industry in Hollywood, however, led to the decline of the facility. It would later be used mostly for the production of U.S. Army training films. A portion of the old complex has been home to the Museum of the Moving Image since 1988 (from 2008 to 2011 it was closed for a renovation and expansion). The museum keeps alive the legacy of the Astoria Studios with exhibits that reveal the secrets behind the magic of the movies, from the science that makes motion pictures and television possible to the latest developments in makeup, special effects, and computer-generated imagery. More than 400 films are shown in the museum’s theater and its smaller screening room each year, including Hollywood classics, foreign films, and new releases.
22-25 Jackson Avenue
This contemporary-art center dates back to 1971 and has been at its current location, a renovated Romanesque-revival public school in Long Island City, since 1976. In 2000, it merged with the Museum of Modern Art. The Queens facility offered room for MoMA to show larger site-specific works that were difficult to mount in the limited space of the museum’s original location on 53rd Street in Manhattan. Each year, PS1’s Young Architects competition solicits proposals for installations for the museum’s courtyard, with the winning design being built to serve as the backdrop for the Warm Up series of concerts which take place every Saturday during the summer. Other popular annual events include the Art Book Fair in October. While MoMA’s exhibits often focus on acclaimed figures of the 20th century, PS1 concentrates almost solely on young, emerging artists and those pushing the boundaries of art in unexpected directions.
9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY 11106, USA
The Noguchi Museum is one of New York’s most surprising museums, a serene, contemplative space in a once-industrial section of Queens. It’s a fitting tribute to one of 20th-century art’s most unusual figures. Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904, though he would spend most of his childhood in Japan. For much of his life he was regularly on the move, to Indiana, New York, and Europe; later, he maintained studios in both Japan and the United States. The result of his itinerant life was an aesthetic that reflected an array of influences, from Constantin Brancusi (who was a mentor of sorts) to Japanese craftsmen. His sculptures are characterized by their understated simplicity, air of mystery, and the elegant beauty of their materials. Noguchi established the museum in 1985, three years before he died, in a 1920s industrial building. The museum’s sculpture garden includes a number of his works, while other displays include sketches, photographs, and artifacts that shed light on the artist’s life.
2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10458, USA
With more than 250 acres of grounds, the New York Botanical Garden manages to fit a number of different landscapes and experiences into its garden walls. The garden was established in 1891, the inspiration of Nathaniel Lord Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, who returned from a trip to England determined that New York should have its own equivalent to London‘s Kew Gardens. They found backing among New York society and created one of the country’s leading research institutions that also happens to be an ideal place to commune with nature right in the city. The rose garden designed by Beatrix Farrand is a highlight, while an abundance of azaleas reaches their peak in May. In all there are some 20 different gardens, including one dedicated to native plants, a rock garden, and a wetlands trail. The conservatory, constructed in 1902, is the largest in the country and includes 11 different climatic zones. When the last of the fall foliage has fallen from the trees, the conservatory hosts the popular annual Holiday Train Show (from the end of November to mid-January).
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238, USA
When plans for the Brooklyn Museum’s building on Eastern Parkway were conceived in 1890, the borough was still its own city; it wasn’t until 1898 that the five boroughs would be united into the New York City we know today. Brooklyn’s leading figures were determined that the city should have its own great public institutions, and the late 19th century saw the planning of not only the museum but also the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—as well as the expansion of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. By the time the museum (designed by McKim, Mead, and White) opened, however, the city had changed, and much of Brooklyn’s cultural life would long sit in the shadow of Manhattan. Still, the Brooklyn Museum remains to this day a grand institution with some important collections, most notably of Egyptian art and American decorative art, not to mention an unusual niche: the Sackler Center for Feminist Art, whose most important work is Judy Chicago‘s Dinner Party (1979). The museum sits next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park, two other landmarks of the borough that you’ll want to explore if the weather cooperates when you head out to Grand Army Plaza.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, USA
At the corner of Delancey and Orchard, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum Shop is a hive of activity. You want New York-specific gifts? They’ve got ‘em. Maybe you’re in the market for a book of useful everyday Yiddish phrases, or a table lamp with a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge printed on its shade, or a jigsaw puzzle of the subway map, or a scholarly read about the Ash Can School art movement of the early 20th century. This bright, well-organized shop carries all things NYC at a variety of price points. You’ll find shelves and shelves of books, spinner racks of postcards, trays of jewelry and accessories made by local artists, stationery, toys, socks. The corner shop is also where the museum’s docent-led walking tours of the neighborhood convene, so if you’re moved by the neighborhood history and culture on display, you can buy a ticket and explore the surrounding blocks with an expert.
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