17 Top New York City Landmarks (+ Tour on Foot)

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Is it possible to see all the top New York City landmarks on Foot? Absolutely, and these guides show you how!

When sightseeing in New York City for the top landmarks, there is a lot to see, and we’ve grouped the best attractions that are easiest to see on a tour by foot.

From shows to nightlife to new and exciting restaurants, New York has something for everyone, whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or with friends.

One of the advantages of being on foot is exploring the diverse array of New York City landmarks, from the bohemian streets of Greenwich Village to the glamorous lights of Broadway.

Here are the best attractions in the USA for families visiting New York City.

The Top New York Attractions in Midtown Manhattan

Radio City Music Hall

radio city music hall exterior
Radio City Music Hall

At night, you can’t miss the flashy Radio City lighted signs. It is equally impressive by the day. Radio City Hall is huge and one of the most iconic theaters in the theater district.

The concert hall is large and holds upwards of 6,000 people. The seats are very closely packed. If you’re planning an evening out, you’ll love the Radio City venue. It’s unique and special.

The Rockettes Christmas show after all these years is still a city favorite. It is a “wonderful feel good” Christmas moment for your family with Traditional Christmas songs, wonderful dancing by the Rockettes, and the now wonderfully diverse troop of quality Broadway dancers.

Get discounts for a Big Bus Tour NYC here.

Rockefeller Center

rockefeller center
Rockefeller Center: Prometheus

The Prometheus Statue is one of the most famous sculptures in the world. The bronze sculpture is hand-gilded in 24k gold leaf and bears the sculptor’s signature (P. Manship). The plaza is surrounded by flags from around the globe and is a gathering place for tourists and locals.

You know you are truly in NYC when you are here. The vibe, the noise, the skating rink, NBC Studios. It’s all here along with a lot of people. During summer the plaza is open for roller skating. When visiting in December, the plaza turns into an ice rink.

Rockefeller Center is an iconic spot right in the center of Manhattan. You could spend hours here, just people watching or shopping or eating.

New York 728*90

The Top of the Rock

top of the rock
Top of the Rock: Skyline View

Go to the Top of the Rock for the views! There are plenty of photo spots and depending on your ticket, you can marvel from high during the day. And the sights are incredibly beautiful with the city lights in the evening.

There are three floors to view, which is nice for seeing New York City landmarks like Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. The decor inside of the building is also gorgeous. The earlier you can go the better if you want to avoid the crowd.

The partial glass floor has cut-away views 100 stories below. Compared to all the other observation decks, the Top of the Rock offers the best view of the Empire State Building. Make sure to visit when the skies are clear!

NYC Trivia Quiz

Test your knowledge!

Which iconic New York City landmark is known as “The Crossroads of the World?

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

st patricks cathedral exterior
St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Exterior
st patricks cathedral interior
St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Interior

It is the official seat of the Archbishop of New York! Even Pope Francis visited this church. Inside, it boasts a seating capacity of 2,400, numerous altars and beautiful stained-glass windows, and a giant organ with 7,855 pipes.

The cathedral is clad in marble and is a beautiful example of architecture. Not only is it one of the most beautiful New York City landmarks, the entrance is free and open to the public. It is located right across from the Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue.

Times Square

As you wander through the streets of Manhattan, you’ll encounter a myriad of New York City landmarks, each with its own unique charm and significance.

Times Square is one of those world-renowned icons that a trip to NYC would seem incomplete without it! In Times Square, you find bright lights, street entertainment, fictional characters, street vendors, and more!

The Big Apple never sleeps. You can see all the fanfare along 7th Ave, where the lights and actions are. However, if you don’t like being in crowds or congested traffic, you should skip this spot.

kid with cartoon characters in times square
Times Square: Cartoon Characters

Times Square was bustling with activity as costumed cartoon characters mingled with tourists and locals alike. Mickey Mouse waved enthusiastically to passing children while Elmo danced playfully on the sidewalk.

SpongeBob SquarePants posed for pictures with delighted fans, giving out high fives and hugs. Just beyond, Pikachu was breakdancing, much to the amusement of the growing crowd around him. Winnie the Pooh ambled along, offering passerbys friendly hugs.

The colorful cast of characters brought an air of whimsy and delight to the busy Manhattan crossroads. Times Square was truly a playground for both kids and adults on this day, thanks to the presence of these beloved cartoon icons.

While the costumed cartoon characters may seem friendly as they offer to pose for photos, keep in mind that they expect to be paid for their time. Be prepared for them to request tips after taking pictures together.

👣 Ready to explore Radio City Hall, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Times Square on foot? Follow along here on Google maps.

New York Public Library

woman standing at new york public library
New York Public Library

The library is stunning and the interior is impressive. With over 3 million books under the building, this building has a rich history. The books stored underground were categorized by height to maximize space.

It is the second largest library, after the Library of Congress, in the United States. The lions standing on either side of the entrance are named Patience and Fortitude.

The interior is classically beautiful. You’ll find statues, artwork, and marble architecture throughout which makes for a beautiful backdrop in photos.

Scheduled tours are free. It’s a great way to see an incredible archive of knowledge.

It is the second largest library, after the Library of Congress, in the United States. The lions standing on either side of the entrance are named Patience and Fortitude.

The interior is classically beautiful. You’ll find statues, artwork, and marble architecture throughout which makes for a beautiful backdrop in photos.

Scheduled tours are free. It’s a great way to see an incredible archive of knowledge.

Bryant Park

bryant park fountain
Fountain at Bryant Park

Located next to the New York Public Library is the sprawling park with over 9 acres of green spaces. It is a nice spot to relax in the middle of a bustling city.

The park hosts summer movie nights and there is a charming carousel, Le Carrousel Magique that the kids will enjoy (tickets are $4 each). Locate the fountain for a beautiful backdrop in your vacation photos!

Bryant Park also hosts the annual New York Fashion Week. The allure of New York City landmarks is not limited to their visual appeal; they also serve as gathering places for celebrations, protests, and community events.

Grand Central Terminal

grand central bridge
Grand Central Terminal Viaduct

Also known as Grand Central Station, this terminal is the main hub for New York commuters. One of its most notable features is the imposing arched windows and the four-sided clock in the center concourse.

If you visit at the end of the year, don’t miss the annual Christmas market! You’ll find baked goods, produce, and delis in the food concourse.

Kids will enjoy the whispering gallery which is located where the main concourse leads to the dining concourse. Stand in one corner and speak softly, the person in the opposite diagonal corner can hear you.

woman with aerial view
Empire State Building – 86th Floor

The Empire State Building

When you see New York City landmarks like the Empire State Building, you might immediately think of “An Affair to Remember” or “King Kong”.

Not only has the structure made an impression in cinema it has become a wonder of the world because of the massive effort needed to successfully construct it.

Today, it is the number one tourist attraction in the United States.

Observatory decks are on the 80th, 86th, and 102nd floors. The general admission gives access to the 80th and 86th floors. Access to the 102nd floor is higher in cost but the views are spectacular!

From the observatory you can see New York City landmarks, such as the Chrysler Building, which have become synonymous with the city’s skyline.

Our recommendation is to get a ticket that allows entrance twice in one day so that you can see views during the day and at night.


macy's parade
Macy’s Parade

Hailed as the flagship store of the retail chain, Macy’s is the most famous department store in America.

People travel from near and far to attend the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which showcases performances, artistic floats, and helium-filled balloon characters.

It is a spectacular show, and the event also makes finding a hotel in New York difficult during the holiday season.

Many of the New York City landmarks, such as Central Park and Times Square, have become world-famous symbols, synonymous with the city itself. 👣 Ready to explore New York Public Library, Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal, Empire State Building and Macy’s on foot? Follow along here on Google maps.

The Top New York Attractions in Lower Manhattan

Statue of Liberty

statue of liberty
Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, one of the most iconic New York City landmarks, represents the city’s history as a gateway for immigrants and a beacon of hope.

There are a few different ways to see the Statue of Liberty. You can enjoy an aerial view through magnification atop a tall structure like the Empire State Building, see it from a shorter distance for free by ferry, or see it up close by paid ferry.

To see it for free, you want to stop at the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Battery Park. The Ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. On weekdays, the service runs every 15 to 20 minutes, and on weekends it runs about every 30 minutes.

To see the Statue of Liberty, stand on the left side of the boat when leaving the station. The trip takes about 25 minutes, and you must deboard and enter the terminal to reboard again. On the return trip, stand on the other side of the boat to see the statue or just enjoy the ride across the Hudson River.

Statue City Cruises is the only ferry service that takes visitors to the island where the Statue of Liberty stands and to Ellis Island.

Circleline Sightseeing Cruise is another water service where you’ll get a great view of many famous NYC landmarks from a unique vantage point on the river.

charging bull
Charging Bull – New York Financial District

Charging Bull

The story of this 7,100-pound bronze sculpture is incredible! It’s hard to believe that not all New York City landmarks were meant to be. The statue was not commissioned by city officials, yet it has since become an icon of New York’s Wall Street.

In 1987, artist Arturo Di Modica created the Charging Bull as a way to give hope to the stock market crash victims. Without the city’s permission, he and forty or so friends snuck into the night with a crane and placed it outside of the New York Stock Exchange Building.

Needless to say, the city was not pleased and had the sculpture removed. People protested, and their cries were heard loudly, so the Charging Bull was returned to its current location as a temporary display. People line up behind the bull to take photos. The front of the bull looks more polished from all the human-hand contact.

Wall Street

entrance of new york stock exchange on wall street
New York Stock Exchange Entrance on Wall Street

Of all the New York City landmarks, none are as distinct as the location of New York’s financial district. It is home to the world’s largest stock exchange and New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. The area is most fascinating to visitors that appreciate the architecture of the gilded age.

This area marks the location of New York’s financial district and is home to the world’s largest stock exchange and New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. The area is most fascinating to visitors that appreciate the architecture of the gilded age.

Trinity Church

trinity church courtyard
Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum

The architecture and sets of bronze doors are quite impressive at Trinity Church. Its main building is a National Historic Landmark as well as a New York City designated landmark.

The church is a contributing property to the Wall Street Historic District and was once the tallest building in the United States until 1869.

The tower of Trinity Church currently contains 23 bells, the heaviest of which weighs 2,700 pounds. Trinity Church and the churchyard are open to the public daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM and can be visited for free.

The historic parish hosts weekly recitals and contemporary classical music concerts from September to May. This is a nice option when looking for a cultural experience.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

wall in 911 memorial
9/11 Memorial Hall

The beauty of New York City landmarks lies not only in their architectural splendor but also in the stories and memories they hold.

The site has been beautifully reconstructed in memory of those who lost their lives. The cast of lights in the evening is a beautiful tribute. The memorial is free to visit and open from 9 AM to 8 PM every day.

You can purchase tickets to walk through the museum and see remnants of the structures that once stood and hear accounts of those who survived. It is an emotional and moving exhibit that also tells the story of the heroism and unity of the city and its first responders.

Visiting the site brought tears to my eyes. I was overwhelmed with emotions. Although I didn’t personally know anyone who suffered loss, I grieved the the tremendous loss of innocent life and the horrific tragedy that befell our nation that day. Seeing the memorial made the events painfully real, and I couldn’t help but feel deep sadness for the victims and their loved ones as I reflected on the magnitude of what happened on 9/11. The memorial is a powerful tribute that honors the lives lost and ensures we never forget.

One World Observatory

one world observatory
One World Trade Center

Better known as the tallest building in the USA, the One World Trade Center was constructed after the September 11 attacks and its name changed from Freedom Tower to One World Trade Center.

There is a three-story observation deck on floors 100-102 of the tower, and it provides a great vantage point for viewing the city and river from above.


oculus building in new york
Oculus at the World Trade Center

New York City landmarks, such as the One World Observatory and Oculus, attest to the ingenuity of engineering. This modern and artistic building is a beautiful juxtaposition of the surrounding architecture.

It reminded me of a butterfly spreading its wings, however the architect envisioned it as a dove leaving a child’s hand.

The Oculus also serves as the entry point to twelve subway lines, retail stores, and commercial offices. In the lower level, you can find public seating spaces (with convenient AC/DC and USB outlets for recharging devices).

Exploring the vast array of New York City landmarks on foot is a must for any visitor, as these architectural marvels tell the story of the city’s evolution. 👣 Ready to explore the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, Charging Bull, Wall Street, Trinity Church, September 11 Memorial, and Oculus on foot? Follow along here on Google maps.

FAQs about New York City Landmarks

How many landmarks are in New York City?

The total number of protected sites includes 1,456 individual landmarks, 121 interior landmarks, and 11 scenic landmarks.

What are the landmarks in New York City that makes it special?

Central Park, National 911 Memorial and Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Final Thoughts on Top New York City Landmarks on Foot

downtown new york city

Harlem (upper Manhattan), Brooklyn, Queens, and SoHo are also great places to explore. The High Line is chill, and you won’t want to miss Central Park! From the towering Empire State Building to the majestic Statue of Liberty, New York City landmarks offer breathtaking views and endless photo opportunities.

The preservation and restoration of New York City landmarks play a vital role in honoring the city’s past and ensuring its cultural legacy for future generations.

And if you are looking for the best way to see top attractions by tour and want someone else to do the driving while you see all the top New York landmarks, try Big Bus Tours!

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