Historical and Cultural Spots Of New York
Looking for places of interest on your New York trip?
Explore some of the top cultural attractions in Manhattan and beyond
Okay, so you’ve seen all the skyscrapers, you’ve ticked off the Broadway shows and you’ve tried all the hot places to eat in New York but now you want to learn a bit more about this great city? It’s easy to overlook the historical and cultural attractions on a city break anywhere in the world but especially in such a fast moving and exciting place such as the Big Apple when you might be tempted to give them a miss in favour of other things to do in New York.
If time allows…and I’ve already shared how much I tried to cram in on a short break, but there are some unmissable, fascinating places you should try and see during your trip to New York. These landmark attractions are sure to offer an insight and deeper understanding of New York’s personality, the many stories and colourful characters along the way who have contributed to the city’s heritage and history.
Top Cultural Things to See and Do
Museum of the City of New York
One of the best ways to learn about a place is to head for one of the key museums in the city. New York has plenty but if you only have time for one, check out the Museum of the City of New York. The ongoing exhibit, ‘New York at its Core‘ is an informative way of delving into the New York back story. Time spent here will give you the chance to explore the rich collection of objects and images as well as fun interactive experiences that charts 400 years of history. It’s open daily from 10am-6pm.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you’re an art lover, there’s only one place that you should be and that’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known as ‘The Met’). This grand building is America’s largest art museum and arguably one of the finest collections in the world which spans 5000 years of art history. Once inside, join in a guided tour to get the most of your visit. Tours are optional and run approx. every 15 minutes from the Great Hall. These are free and included in the admission ticket price.
You can buy tickets online or simply purchase them on arrival at the museum entrance.
The Met 5th Avenue Open 7 Days
Sunday – Thursday 10am-5.30pm
Friday and Saturday 10am-9pm
The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Possibly the most instantly recognisable and iconic symbol of the USA, the Statue of Liberty is also one of the most popular attractions in New York. Lady Liberty stands proud over New York Harbour representing freedom, not only for Americans but to millions of people around the world. Within the monument itself is a fascinating exhibit charting the statue’s history and if you’re in tip-top physical condition, you can climb the 354 steps up into the crown. Tickets for these areas are in high demand so try to book in advance, especially during peak times. Construction of the new museum on Liberty Island is in full swing and is expected to open this spring (2019).
Ellis Island (also reached by ferry), is worth visiting too. This was the gateway for immigrants arriving on America’s east coast and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration tells the story of who came here and why so many people flocked to the USA. Don’t miss the interactive area where visitors can access Port of New York passenger records from the ships that docked here.
Take a cruise tour with tickets included from Statue Cruises.
Alternatively, jump on the free Staten Island ferry that will sail past the Statue of Liberty giving you the chance to admire it and take some decent pics. The ferry leaves from Battery Park.
Tip: Be aware of the unofficial street vendors operating in the area in and around the park.
Want to combine history with the hottest musical in town? For fans of Hamilton the musical (Or Hamil-nerds, like me!) the graveyard of Trinity Church is where Alexander Hamilton is buried. His son Philip, wife Eliza and sister in law Angelica were also laid to rest here.
There’s actually a Hamilton Walking Tour which is perfect for fans of the show but also offers a decent history lesson along the way.
Speaking of history lessons, yours truly got one here…I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t know that this was where George Washington’s inauguration took place. This building marks the spot where he was sworn in as the first president of the United State of America. and there’s a statue of the man himself at the hall’s entrance, forever making his presence felt. This place is close to Wall Street and also not far from Trinity Church so if you’re down in this part of town anyway, drop by and see it…it’s free!
There’s so much to see and do in New York to whet your appetite for the city’s history and culture but it can end up costing a few bucks. If you plan to visit lots of the attractions that carry admission fees, it might be worth considering buying a New York Pass. See how it works and if it’s going to be beneficial to you before committing but you could save yourself some money in the long run.
I hope you manage to pack in as many sites and attractions in New York as you can but remember, it’s not a race…and if you don’t see everything on your to-do list, there’s your excuse to go back again. Not that anyone needs an excuse for a trip to the Big Apple.
I’m missing her already ( *drops another few coins into the piggy bank and applies for a new credit card*)
Happy travels y’all!
I love travel. I’ve been fascinated by other countries and cultures since my first foreign trip in 1985 and I’ve had serious wanderlust ever since.I also love to write about where I’ve been and tripsology lets me indulge that passion. I’m thrilled to be a regular contributor and editor. When I’m not writing I also run my own PR and publicity company.