New York City is an amazing place, and identifying the top three attractions in New York is a challenging task. If you’ve never visited the Big Apple before, plan on taking a New York sightseeing or harbor cruise to get the lay of the land. Next, plan on a visit to the iconic Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan. Finally, visit a New York museum like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) just slightly to the north.

Take your time to enjoy the best attractions in New York because, whether you’re visiting for the first or fiftieth time, there are always new and exciting places to explore.

New York Sightseeing Cruise

The Circle Line cruise, in operation since 1945, is one of the best ways to kick off a New York City visit. Take a short cruise of just thirty minutes, like The Beast Speed Boat, or spend up to three hours on the Full Island Cruise.


The Beast is a perfect cruise option for families with older children and teens because it combines a thrill ride with a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty. Certain health requirements and height thresholds apply. A high-speed harbor ride can be refreshing on a warm day, so please note that The Beast is a warm weather seasonal choice. Plan to bring along a change of clothes, because it’s possible to enjoy an invigorating water spray.

Adult travelers enjoy the Full Island Cruise to circumnavigate the island of Manhattan. This cruise provides visitors with the best chance to take in the full majesty of New York and more than a hundred New York sights. If time is at a premium, consider the Semi-Circle Cruise that travels from west to east Midtown through the city harbor and offers amazing views from downtown, the State of Liberty, and East River bridges. The cruise takes about two hours. For families on a tight time budget, Circle Line offers the sixty minute Liberty Cruise for travelers who want to see New York City’s famous Statue.

Empire State Building

After viewing Manhattan Island from the water, plan a trip to the Empire State Building at 350 Fifth Avenue. Visit the observation decks gaze above and below. The experience is a bit like viewing a gigantic Google Map. The lofty deck on the 102nd floor is one of the most amazing vantage points in New York City since the Empire State Building stands more than 1,400 feet high. The 102nd floor observation deck reopened in 2005. On a clear sunny day, it’s possible to see a distance of about 80 miles. At night, the lights below and the stars above offer plenty of romance.

View from the Empire State Building












Ten to 20,000 people visit every day of the year. The Empire State Building is open from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. each day. Although ticketing is timed at the Empire State building, hour long waits for tickets can happen. When possible, purchase tickets to see the incredible Empire State Building online. Print the tickets at your convenience from a personal printer. Purchase Express tickets to avoid a line to purchase access to the 102nd floor observation deck. Although the 86th floor observatory of the Empire State Building is also fantastic, most visitors want to experience the highest heights on the 102nd floor.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

The Museum of Modern Art has fascinated visitors since it was founded in 1929. Dedicated to the enjoyment of contemporary art, MoMA’s extensive collection of modern art and artistic effort is impressive. Paintings, sculptures, architecture, and film are on view at the MoMA. There’s something at MoMA for everyone. Children and families love MoMA, and the acronym may prompt visitors to wonder why.

The museum’s staff have assembled a remarkable array of experiences that are designed to delight parents and children. Don’t miss the weekend morning programs for families and plan to stop at the second floor information desk for “Education and Family” Events. Family activity brochures, guides, and the program schedule are available at no cost. The art lab in the education building also offers interactive, hands-on activities for people of all ages.


Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Along with your favorite travel apps, snag the MoMA app to locate an artist or art of particular interest or plan to take the Modern Kids or MoMA Teen Audio tours. Kids aged four and up enjoy fun and completely free activities.

Planning a New York City trip and itinerary doesn’t need to be time-consuming or complicated. Purchase tickets for New York City sightseeing cruises, Empire State Building, and the Museum of Modern Art online. Remember, visitors aged 16 and under are admitted free to the MoMA.