Innovative Matter

Stuff that matters

While many cities claim to have something for everyone, New York truly does.

The city’s scores of museums make it a wonderland for art lovers, the bright lights of Broadway beckon theatergoers, and boutique shops, verdant parks, iconic landmarks, and gritty music venues round out a hint of all the delights you’ll find in New York.

With so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start, but our picks below promise to draw you back time and again.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The comprehensive collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes everything from Egyptian mummies to pop-art paintings, plus a roof garden with rotating site-specific installations.

If you’re a New York State resident or a student in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, you’ll qualify for the museum’s ‘pay what you want’ pricing — like it sounds, you can pay just a dollar or even a penny for your ticket. The museum attendants will ask for documentation, such as a state or student ID, to confirm your residency.

The Temple of Dendur room and reflecting pool are must-sees, but also don’t skip the Astor Chinese Garden court and koi pond on the second floor.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

Housed in a building designed by Renzo Piano, the Whitney Museum of American Art focuses on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Its permanent collection includes work by Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jackson Pollock. The temporary exhibits change about every six months and often feature living artists, such as the recent “The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing” exhibit from painter Jennifer Packer.

If you’d like to see the whole museum rather than just one exhibit, we recommend riding the elevator to the top floor and then taking the stairs as you work your way down through each floor. For a break, the Studio Bar on the eight floor offers coffee, drinks, and small bites, which you can enjoy with a view on the outdoor terrace.

The Bushwick Collective

For a dynamic visual experience that is also free, visit the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. This sprawling outdoor street gallery features an ever-changing collection of murals and graffiti on public streets. Start on Irving Ave — a few minutes from the Jefferson Street subway stop on the L line — and work your way north up Troutman Street and see where your eyes take you.

If you’re in need of a snack during the walk, stop by Pitanga on Starr Street, a Brazilian cafe that serves coffee, acai bowls and sandwiches, and delicious pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread).

The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art, more affectionately known as MoMa, in Midtown Manhattan is home to one of the most influential modern-art collections. Its sculpture garden is an urban oasis set alongside fountains and seasonal plantings, and its rotating galleries feature everything from paintings and sculptures to video art and interactive exhibits.

If you’re a fan of art films, the museum also hosts a series usually a few times a month called Modern Mondays, where they invite a specific filmmaker to showcase their short video works.

The Welling Court Mural Project

The Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens, is lesser known but offers street art that is no less spectacular. Winding around several residential blocks, it features bold works by both established and early-stage artists.

If you’re hungry for more artwork, take a short walk down Vernon Boulevard to the Socrates Sculpture park to see sculptures that are regularly rotated.

Chelsea Market

Located in the Meatpacking district, Chelsea Market is an indoor shopping experience that features dozens of food and retail vendors. Shop for unique jewelry, clothing, and decor from local designers at Artists & Fleas, and pick up Asian snacks and souvenirs at Pearl River Mart. Before you go, grab a grilled cheese at Saxelby Cheesemongers (we recommend the Sal E Pepe, made with ricotta and honey).

Smorgasburg

This open-air food market takes place on Fridays at the World Trade Center, on Sundays in Prospect Park, and on Saturdays in its original Williamsburg location beginning June 18. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors and sample different food trucks. The vendors may vary each week, but there’s always a variety of cuisines, desserts, and drinks. If you spot Oh K-Dog, grab one of their Korean hot dogs wrapped in cheese and dipped in potato chunks.

Rockefeller Center

In Midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is cherished for its skating rink and Christmas traditions. The former hosts over a quarter-million skaters annually, flanked by a collection of public art worth a visit year-round. The bronze statue Atlas dominates the sculpture collection, weighing in at 14,000 pounds and standing 15 feet tall atop a 9-foot-high pedestal. Decorating the plaza’s Channel Gardens are six fountainhead sculptures playfully spouting streams of water.

Currently, Rockefeller’s rink is fashioned for roller skating and open daily. To beat the summer crowds, reserve your timed tickets and skate rental online before arriving.

Walk or bike the Williamsburg bridge

If you want to work a bit of physical activity into your vacation, there’s no better place to do it than with 360 views of the city via the Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge has both walking paths and bike lanes, and takes about 40 minutes to walk across and about 15 to bike. Grab a Citibike at a nearby dock on either side of the bridge (you can pay for the ride on Lyft), and opt for a e-bike if you’d prefer a more leisurely cruise.

Central Park

New York City enjoys a variety of green spaces and Central Park is its crown jewel. Play frisbee on the Great Lawn, rent a rowboat, visit the zoo, ride the carousel, or marvel over the verdant waterfalls in the northern corner.

The Central Park Turtle Pond is a peaceful spot to watch turtles and ducks swimming and suntanning on the rocks, but if you’re willing to venture to the Northern end of the park, start by snapping some photos at the Glen Span Arch Bridge, which was built in 1865, and take the walking path from the arch along the Loch Stream until you reach the picturesque North Woods Loch waterfall.

Gantry Plaza State Park

Parks along the water are plentiful around New York, but a local favorite is Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens. It has multiple piers with seating and acres of greenery, including open areas for lounging and a sports field where locals play soccer and frisbee. We recommend going after sunset to enjoy a full view of Manhattan’s lit-up skyline, and don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the landmark Pepsi-Cola Sign.

Little Island

In the Meatpacking District, Little Island is one of New York’s newest outdoor attractions, a nearly 3-acre public pier park perched above the Hudson River that was unveiled in May 2021. It’s free to the public, but currently requires timed access tickets that you can reserve online. The floating island-like space also has a river-facing amphitheater with public programming and is planning to launch special events this summer, from music and dance to spoken word poetry performances.

The High Line

Built on a historic elevated rail line, the High Line is a linear park on Manhattan’s west side. Lush plants, shrubs, and flowers set the stage for art installations and public performances.

You can get up to the High Line in a few different places, but if you want to walk the full length, enter at the bottom of the park on Gansevoort Street and finish at Hudson Yards.

The New York Botanical Garden

To experience a National Historic Landmark with more than one million plants, head to the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. It’s a short walk to Arthur Avenue, the Bronx’s Little Italy where you can dine on classic Italian American favorites. For more flowers, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is another worthwhile spot.

Coney Island

Some New Yorkers visit the Hamptons and Fire Island in the summer, but others find refuge from heat and humidity at the Atlantic beaches within the city limits. Take the subway to Brooklyn’s Coney Island and stroll its boardwalk, ride the Cyclone roller coaster, and relax on the sand. Eating a hot dog at the original Nathan’s Famous — serving grilled franks on a lightly toasted bun since 1916 — is a must year-round.

If you’re looking for a sit-down dinner after the beach, walk east on Brighton Beach Avenue to fill up at Georgian House, a traditional Georgian restaurant. Their Khachapuri, a boat-shaped bread dish filled with cheese and topped with an egg, is savory and filling.

Rockaway Beach

Surfers flock to the reliable break at Rockaway Beach in Queens, reachable by subway or ferry. The New York Surf School gives group private lessons that include a wetsuit and board.

On the boardwalk, stop for lunch at Rippers, a casual burger shop with fries, cheeseburgers and hotdogs, and frozen sangrias that outperform their modest presentation.