New York tourist attractions thrill visitors from around the world.

If you're in the Boston area, you can easily make a day trip or weekend getaway to New York City and see them yourself.

Travel from Boston to New York City is fast - around 3 hours if you take Amtrak or fly, and slightly longer if you hop on a bus or drive your own car. 

Choose a New York sightseeing experience & explore the city!

What are the best NYC attractions if you have only 1 day - or at most, 2 days - to explore the city? 

To find expert answers to this question, Boston Discovery Guide consulted with Melissa - a 4th generation New Yorker and granddaughter of one of the city's very first taxi drivers. 

A true New York insider, Melissa publishes the NYCInsider Guide where she shares all the hidden secrets and cool things to do in NYC.

Check out Melissa's top recommendations for what to see and do in New York below if you're planning a short visit.

Top Photo:  New York City's Manhattan skyline at sunset - Photo courtesy of Emiliano Bar/Unsplash

Boston Discovery Guide is a reader-supported publication.  When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost for you.  Learn more

A New Yorker's Recommendations for Things to Do & See in NYC

Restaurants on Hester Street in Little Italy in NYC
Restaurants on Hester Street in "Little Italy" in NYC

Boston Discovery Guide:  Melissa, what your top 3 must see/must do recommendations for someone who will have about a day and a half in the city?

Melissa:  For first time visitors, I suggest seeing our historical landmarks, including Top of the Rock and/or Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty Ferry and Ellis Island, and the Museum of Natural History. 

Either the value-packed New York City DAY Pass or flexible NYC Explorer Pass give you the best values for seeing the most sights in a short amount of time.

Definitely take in a Broadway show if there's time, and rather than blowing your budget on a nice dinner that you won't have time to linger over, grab a hot dog or prix-fixe meal in Times Square before or after the show.

Broadway shows and Times Square
Broadway shows and Times Square - Photo courtesy of James Ting/Unsplash

For return visitors, I suggest taking in a new-to-you Museum

Save yourself time by getting your tickets online before you go (most give you skip-the-line access) or take a guided tour.

Explore the neighborhoods, such as Greenwich or the West Village, Little Italy, Chinatown or SoHo.  Each has a different flair and culture.

Bistro in New York's Lower East Side neighborhood
Bistro in New York's Lower East Side neighborhood

Go deeper into Central Park, either with one of their free walking tours, or biking or blading.

Add an Off Broadway Show, nice dinner or night club and definitely check to see what cool monthly events are happening.

New York's Central Park in the fall
New York's Central Park in the fall - Photo credit:  Andrea Belussi/Unsplash

Boston Discovery Guide:  What's your favorite New York neighborhood - and why?

Melissa:  I live Downtown, defined as anything below 14th Street. I love the Village, SoHo and Meatpacking areas, all filled with culture, nightlife, character, the arts and shopping.

New York brownstones on a snowy March afternoon
New York brownstones on a snowy March afternoon

Boston Discovery Guide:  For a visitor to NY who loves shopping but has only 2 hours - what's the best place to go?

Melissa:  For designer shopping, Barney's, Bergdorf's and Bendel's are all near Central Park, the Plaza, and FAO Schwarz.

For discount shopping, which is always a hit or miss experience, Century 21 is near Ground Zero, Statue of Liberty and Wall Street. But there is nothing like one of our Sample Sales if you are in town when your favorite brand is there.

Susan:  Thank you, Melissa!  You've given us great ideas about New York tourist attractions - plus real "insider" ideas about interesting places to explore!

You can see more of Melissa's tips about visiting New York at NYC Insider Guide.

Plan Your Day or Weekend in New York City

Where to stay:

  • Casablanca Hotel - Cozy affordable boutique hotel next to Times Square
  • Lotte New York Palace -  Midtown, luxurious hotel created by combining the famous Villard mansion with a soaring 55-foot tower near St Patrick's Cathedral and the Museum of Modern Art
  • The Time New York - Fun minimalist-modern hotel with multi-media art and affordable rates in Midtown West close to Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Broadway
  • Hotel Beacon - Upper West Side, close to Museum of Natural History and Central
  • Residence Inn New York Downtown Manhattan - Lower Manhattan, close to World Trade Center and Battery Park

Many more hotel choices:

Getting there from Boston: 

Getting around:  If you're in New York just a short time, walk, or take cabs or a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft

Statue of Liberty - Photo credit: Gary/Fotolia
Statue of Liberty - Photo credit: Pierre Blanché/Unsplash/public domain

New York Tours - Best Ways to See the City

From Broadway shows to famous attractions to carriage rides around Central Park, here are some of the best ways to experience New York City.

Need a Boston Hotel or Apartment?

Use this handy map from to find the perfect place to stay.  Just enter your dates to find what's available, see the best rates, and make your reservations.