A Culture Lover's Guide to New York City

The Best Cultural Spots in New York City

New York City is the epicenter of culture. Where else in the world can you find dozens of museums, famous restaurants, historical sites, theatres, and music all within a walkable area for you to explore? Visiting New York is a cultural experience for many reasons, and each visitor might have their own agenda. But below we recommend these cultural places and destinations in the Big Apple as they are some of the best the city has to offer.

Museums

New York City has museums, galleries, and cultural centers for art lovers, history enthusiasts, and culture vultures. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim, NYC has museums that cater to just about anyone. Visitors can spend days or even weeks in New York and still not see all of the museums, so it might be best to focus on the places and topics that interest you the most, whether that be art, history, ethnic cultures, science and technology, or something else. Some of the most notable and popular museums include the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the New York Transit Museum, and the Jewish Museum. This is of course not a complete list as travelers to this great city will soon discover. And another great aspect to having so many museums is that they are open year-round and make a great escape from bad weather if you're visiting New York during the colder months.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This world-class museum has one of the most in depth collections of art, spanning more than 5,000 years and representing cultures from around the globe. This is one of the largest museums in the world and it features a wide variety of topics. Everything from fashion to photography, and ancient times is represented. For the best price and the least crowds, visit the museum early on a weekday.
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10028
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Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Ellis Island, which is now part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, was the primary entry point for immigrants coming to the United States from 1892 to 1954. The island consists of a park area and several buildings. The main building, which was the immigration port of entry, is now a museum which showcases the history of immigration into New York. Visitors can browse through the museum and see a variety of exhibits about the immigration experience and the history immigrants in New York and the U.S. The island can be reached as part of the ferry service that takes visitors to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island that departs from Battery Park.
New York City, New York
Weeksville Heritage Center
During the 19th century, Weeksville was one of the country's first free black communities. The community had its own schools, churches, and community associations. The Heritage Center offers tours and activities that serve to educate the public on the history and significance of this community.
1673 Bergen Street, Ocean Hill, NYC, New York, 11233
Ward-Nasse Gallery
This gallery highlights, visual, spoken, and performing artists.
178 Prince Street, NYC, New York, 10012
The Skyscraper Museum
This museum focuses on the architecture and engineering of tall buildings. The exhibits educate visitors on the history, construction, and design of some of the city's most unique skyscrapers. There are also family programs and educational resources available.
39 Battery Pl, New York, NY, 10280
The Morgan Library & Museum
This institution began as the private library of J. Pierpont Morgan and it was donated to the city. It includes drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Picasso. There are three Gutenberg Bibles, and a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley, as well as manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck, and Wilde. There's also sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY, 10016
The Frick Collection
Located in the early 1900s mansion of Henry Clay Frick, this museum houses artwork by Monet, Rembrandt, Bellini, El Greco, and many more. There's also a covered garden with tropical plants and pond.
1 East 70th Street, NYC, New York, 10021
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Tenement Museum
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum located in a historic tenement house. Tours are available and visitors will learn about the personal stories of the individuals who once resided here. There are also neighborhood walk tours that teach about the Lower East Side community and how it was evolved through the years.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY , New York, NY, 10002
Staten Island Museum
This museum has a new facility in Snug Harbor that offers a number of art and natural history exhibits. This is the oldest museum on Staten Island, dating back to 1881 when it was begun by 14 environmentalists.
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY, 10301
Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
MoMATH offers kids the opportunity to visualize math and engineering in a fun and playful way. There's a laser "wall", a Math Square, a Jumbotron, and more. Whether your kids love math or need a gentle nudge, this museum will bring it all to life.
11 E 26th St, New York, NY, 10010
Historic Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town is an authentic town and farm museum on Staten Island. It's a living history museum that's part of La Tourette Park and it brings everyday life from the 19th century into today. Many of the buildings are historical structures and the staff make up the community of a 19th century small town, each representing a different trade.
441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
This interesting museum located in the Museum Mile on the Upper East Side is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum showcases design aesthetic, creativity, contemporary design, and showcases other interesting related works of art and design.
2 East 91st Street, NYC, New York, 10128
Alice Austen House
Located in what was once the home of Alice Austen (1866 to 1952) this museum features about 8,000 photographs taken by this renowned photographer. The museum teaches visitors about her life's work and shows examples of her different styles of photography.
2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY, 10305
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How much does it cost to visit the museums in New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $12 to $1,099. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $119. A few of the best options are below.

Historic Sites

New York City is full of history. From the Revolutionary War to Prohibition, New York has had its share of historical events. And as a visitor to this great city, you can explore the various museums and historical sites that tell these stories. From the days of the original settlers of New Amsterdam all the way up to modern times, New York is like a living history museum itself. With a mix of older and newer buildings in the skyline and along the waterfront, every location tells a story. For example, the New York Stock Exchange building as well as several major train stations are not just functional, they are also examples of historical architecture that are worth visiting. And don't forget about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, where much of the amazing history of the people of New York began. Below are even more historical sites in New York City.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is a historic Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral which is also a prominent landmark of New York City. Located on the east side of Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets in Midtown Manhattan, it sits directly across the street from Rockefeller Center, and is a popular place for visitors and locals alike. The building is one of the finest symbols of the Roman Catholic Church in New York City and the entire United States. Built in the 1800's, it is constructed of marble and features a large rose window flanked by two large spires.
625 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10035
New York Public Library Main Branch
New York Public Library Main Branch
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is the flagship building in the New York Public Library system and a prominent historic landmark in Midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue. Opened in 1911, it offers four stories of books and reading areas open to the public. The building itself is a work of art and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.
476 5th Avenue, NYC, New York, 10018
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The famous New York Stock Exchange is located on Wall Street, and it is, by far, the world's largest stock exchange.
Wall Street, NYC, New York, 10005
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
In the heart of Central Park sits the Bethesda Fountain and the Terrace which overlooks it along with the lake. This scenic spot has appeared in multiple films and TV shows over the decades, and it's a very popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
Central Park, NYC, New York
Railroad Museum of Long Island
With a variety of historic train cars and engines on display, this museum is part railroad and part history, and all fun. It's great for adults and kids alike. Visitors can tour the historic rail cars, browse the museum informational exhibits, ride the "miniature" train which is large enough for kids and adults to sit inside, and view various toy and model railroads, too.
416 Griffing Ave., Riverhead, New York
New York City has plenty more to offer, so see also our other articles: Religious Sites, Cathedrals, and Synagogues in New York City and The Best Art Museums in New York City.
New York Times Building
This building was the home to the New York Times from 1889 to 1903. This is the oldest remaining building along "Newspaper Row" and it is currently owned by Pace University.
NYC, New York, 10000
Long Island Live Steamers
This is a cross between a railroad museum and an amusement park. Here you'll find a number of scale model railroads and trains that are large enough sit in to take a ride, but not as large as a real train. It's lots of fun for both adults and children. The park is run as a non-profit and organized by model railroad enthusiasts. They are only open to the public on select days of the year, usually spring to autumn, on the 2nd and last Sunday of every month (but other days are available, too). Check their website for opening days and times.
Southaven County Park Gerard Road Entrance, Brookhaven, NY, 11719
Irish Hunger Memorial
This memorial and park is dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine, also known as "The Great Hunger", during which more than one million people starved to death.
NYC, New York, 10282
Hamilton Grange National Memorial
The Hamilton Grange National Memorial is the home and burial site of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The mansion showcases the restored historical rooms of the house, along with an interactive exhibit showcasing the history and life of Hamilton.
160 Convent Avenue, NYC, New York, 10031
Gay Liberation Monument
The Gay Liberation Monument, created by American artist George Segal, is located in Christopher Park along Christopher Street in the West Village.
Christopher Street, 204 West 4th Street, NYC, New York, 10014
African Burial Ground National Monument
African Burial Ground is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York City.
NYC, New York
Interested in more travel advice for New York City? Check out Things to Do In New York City on a Rainy Day and An Art Lover's Guide to New York City.
How much does it cost to visit the historic sites of New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $23 to $79. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $41. A few of the best options are below.

Food & Cuisine

New York City is famous for its food scene, and for a very good reason. From ethnic cuisines for almost every country in the world to classic American dishes, the city offers a wide variety of dining and restaurant options. From fine dining to casual eateries, New York has restaurants to satisfy any craving. Many of the historical immigrant populations of New York brought their own cuisine with them, from Italian to Irish to Chinese to the Middle Eastern nations. And this means that you, as a visitor, get to experience all of it. New York pizza is famous for a reason because it's so delicious, but travelers should also try other Italian dishes as well as visit the restaurants of Chinatown and the other local neighborhoods.

Aside from ethnic food, New York is the epicenter for gourmet chefs to make a name for themselves. As such, here you can find plenty of amazing restaurants started by very skilled chefs both young and old alike. Take a food tour to experience as much as you can, or just make a reservation at all of the famous and not-so-famous places - you won't be disappointed!
Tavern on the Green
This famous restaurant in Central Park serves American cuisine to locals and visitors. It has had multiple owners over the last few decades, but has continued to draw a crowd because of its terrific setting in the park and its delicious food and friendly service. Many visitors to New York enjoy a meal here while exploring the various sites and activities in Central Park.
67th Street & Central Park West, NYC, New York, 10023
How much does dining out in New York City cost?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $54 to $121. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $87. A few of the best options are below.

Religious Sites

Trinity Church Wall Street
At one time this church was the tallest building in New York. With 23 bells in the tower, it can be heard throughout midtown Manhattan. The historical building is worth a visit to see the gorgeous architecture along with the story of how it has been modified over the centuries.
75 Broadway, New York, New York, 10006
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
This beautiful cathedral hosts concerts and tours in addition to regular church services for locals and visitors alike. With construction beginning in the late 1800's and not completed until after World War II, this cathedral took quite awhile to finish, but it was well worth the effort given the gorgeous interior.
1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, New York, 10025
How much does it cost to visit the religious sites of New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $24 to $28. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $25. A few of the best options are below.

Music & Concerts

New York City is one of the best places to be a music lover. From world-renowned concert halls to small clubs, the city is full of musical experiences that appeal to every musical taste. Many musicians and bands come to the big city of New York to get their career started, while other smash-hit Broadway musicals have been around for decades and continue to draw huge crowds. So, no matter which type of music you enjoy, or the size of the venue you visit, you're sure to hear something spectacular during your time in New York.
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall
The "Showplace of the Nation", this historic theatre is not just home to the Rockettes dance company, but also hosts a number of concerts, performances, stage shows, comedy acts, and other events that keep New Yorkers and visitors entertained year-round. Dating back to 1932, and significantly remodeled in 1999, this was once the world's largest auditorium. Now it's a terrific venue to take in a show any time of the year.
1260 6th Ave, New York City, New York, 10020
Metropolitan Opera House
Metropolitan Opera House
The Metropolitan Opera House (also known as The Met), located on Broadway at Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Opened in 1966 with approximately 3,800 seats, this is the largest repertory opera house in the world. It is home to the Metropolitan Opera Company but also hosts the American Ballet Theatre in the summer.
30 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC, New York
Williamsburg
This hipster neighborhood attracts the artsy and creative types. The are many coffee shops, live music venues, and a lively nightlife scene. For shopping, check out the many boutiques along Bedford Avenue. The neighborhood is accessible by the L train as well as the East River Ferry.
Brooklyn
Orpheum Theatre
One of the most famous off-Broadway theatres, the Orpheum hosts a number of great shows, most recently of which is the smash-hit Stomp. The theatre was originally constructed in 1904, and over the decades has hosted plenty of popular productions such as Anything Goes and Little Shop of Horrors.
126 2nd Avenue, NYC, New York, 10003
New Amsterdam Theatre
Built in 1903, the New Amsterdam Theatre has been host to a variety of popular shows for more than 100 years. In fact, the iconic architecture and decor often plays second fiddle to the big names that have entertained audiences here such as the Lion King, Mary Poppins, and recently Aladdin. As the theater is owned by Disney, visitors can expect more popular family-friendly musicals in the future.
214 West 42nd Street, NYC, New York, 10036
George Gershwin Theatre
Home to iconic shows such as Wicked, Oklahoma!, 1776, and Show Boat, the George Gershwin Theatre has been around since 1928 and operated under a few different names before honoring the famous composer George Gershwin in 1983.
222 West 51st Street, New York City, New York
David H. Koch Theater
This theater for ballet, modern, and other forms of dance is part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It has been the home of the New York City Ballet since its opening in 1964, and in the past has been the home of the New York City Opera. It's a terrific venue for dance and concerts alike, so make sure you try to catch a show here if you're visiting.
20 West 62nd Street, NYC, New York
How much do music and concert tickets cost in New York City?

Theater

New York City, like other major cities around the world, has a plethora of theaters. And as you already know, the name Broadway has become synonymous with theater and shows not just in New York, but around the world. The theaters and playhouses on and around Broadway have turned out some of the most popular and spectacular shows in history. Naturally, as a visitor, you should experience this epicenter for drama and comedy. In New York, theaters range from small, intimate venues to huge, state-of-the-art venues. Prices also range from very expensive to low-cost and even free, so there's something for everyone.
Majestic Theatre
This historic Broadway theatre on 44th Street is one of the largest in New York with over 1,600 seats. It has been home to The Phantom of the Opera since it debuted in 1988, the current longest running production in the history of Broadway theatre shows. The theatre itself dates back to 1927, and was one of the first theatres to feature one large balcony instead of two smaller balconies.
245 West 44th Street, NYC, New York, 10036
Delacorte Theater
This outdoor theatre in Central Park is home to the Shakespeare in the Park shows which are free. Opening in 1962, this theatre has been home to a large number of free shows which are loved by adults and children alike. While sometimes the shows are based on Shakespeare's works, other times the theatre hosts musicals and other classic plays.
Central Park, NYC, New York
How much do theater tickets cost in New York City?

Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $40 to $184. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $87. A few of the best options are below.

Art & Art History

New York City's art scene is world famous, and you can find art in unexpected places in addition to the popular and well-established art galleries and museums. Whether it's in a museum or on a city block, New York City's art scene is diverse, dynamic, and always growing. Artists flock here from all over the world to find their muse, and the well-renowned art museums of NYC house a massive and diverse collection of works from the U.S. and around the world. Make sure you visit the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, the Frick Collection, and more. New York has so many art museums that you'll have a hard time visiting all of them!
The Vessel
The Vessel
The Vessel at Hudson Yards in Manhattan was completed in 2019 as part art installation and part observation tower. The elaborate honeycomb-like structure rises 16 stories and offers views from the top of the surrounding area, along with some amazing views from within the structure itself. With 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings for visitors to climb, there's an interesting view and photographic angle from every platform. Even though it's only been around for a few years, it has quickly become one of the most interesting and visited sites in New York. Tickets are free the first hour of opening, and then an admission fee is charged for the rest of the day.
20 Hudson Yards, New York, New York, 10017
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
This world-class museum opened in 1959 and is recognized not just for its impressive collection of modern art, but also for its architectural design, created by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright. The inverted ziggernaut breaks the mold from the typical clean square museum style of the time. This price is steep ($25 for adults), so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to fully enjoy the experience.
1071 5th Ave, Upper East Side, New York, NY, 10128
Whitney Museum of American Art
This impressive museum relocated in 2015 to the Meatpacking District in Lower Manhattan. It sits at the edge of High Line and has more than 63,000 square feet of space that includes both indoor and outdoor settings. The collection has about 15,000 pieces that represent works from more than 2,000 artists including Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O'Keeffe.
99 Gansevoort St., Meatpacking District, New York, NY, 10014
The Rubin Museum of Art
This art museum houses the personal collection of Donald and Shelley Rubin, which includes Himalayan art and artifacts. There are also large temporary exhibits.
150 W 17th St, New York, NY, 10011
The Noguchi Museum
This museum was opened by Isamu Noguchi in Queens in 1985. The museum is designed as a meditative oasis and includes 12 galleries and a garden with sculptures done by Noguchi. There are also architectural models, and stage and furniture designs on display.
9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY, 11106
The Museum of Arts and Design
This museum features ceramics, furniture design, fiber art, and metalsmithing. It hosts a number of interesting shows from the contemporary art world, and its unique exhibits make it well worth a visit.
2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY, 10019
The Museum at FIT
The Fashion Institute of Technology has its own museum, which houses one of the largest collections of clothing, textiles, and accessories in the world. There are more than 50,000 costumes and fabric from time periods ranging from the 5th century to present day, with a portion of this collection on permanent display.
227 W 27th St, New York, NY, 10001
The Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is located in the 1908 Warburg Mansion and it runs a number of temporary exhibits that feature contemporary and modern art.
1109 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10128
The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
This museum was built in the style of a hillside Tibetan monastery. It maintains the largest private collection of Tibetan art in the country, and the complex offers a peaceful and beautiful setting where you can explore, sit bay the goldfish pond, or look out at the water. There are often Sunday programs and shows with music, dance, and art, that are perfect for families.
338 Lighthouse Ave, Staten Island, NY, 10306
The Cloisters
The Cloisters is located in a park by the Hudson Rivers and you can reach it by following a charming path that leads to a castle. This is where you'll find the Met's medieval art and architecture collections. Popular exhibits include the Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
99 Margaret Corbin Drive, New York, NY, 10040
The Brooklyn Museum
This low key museum doesn't see the crowds that are found at some of Manhattan's bigger name museums. It's collection is still impressive though with more than 1.5 million pieces that include Egyptian art, early American art, and much more. The museum is also the third largest in New York City when measured by size.
200 Eastern Pkwy , Brooklyn, NY, 11238
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
This multicultural art museum has more than 1000 pieces of work that highlight 20th and 21st century artists who were either based in the Bronx or of African, Asian or Latino ancestry.
1040 Grand Concourse, New York, NY, 10456
The Asia Society
The Asia Society headquarters houses a number of galleries with art exhibits ranging from ancient India to medieval Persia, to contemporary Japan. The works combine public and private collections to create a large and impressive gallery of Asian art and culture.
725 Park Ave, New York, NY, 10021
Studio Museum in Harlem
This museum opened in 1968 as the first African American fine arts museum in the country. It continues to feature contemporary African American artists that are locally and nationally recognized.
144 W 125th St, New York, NY, 10027
Queens Museum
The most impressive exhibit at this museum is The Panorama of the City of York, which is an almost 10,000 square foot scale model of the city and its five boroughs. The museum is housed on the grounds of two World's Fairs, and it continues to grow in size and popularity.
New York City Building, Meridian Rd, Queens, NY, 11368
Neue Galerie New York
This beautiful museum features late 19th and early 20th century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. This museum has the largest collection of work by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele outside of Vienna. You can also head to Cafe Sabarsky, which serves Austrian cuisine and Viennese pastries.
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10028
MoMA PS1
This international studio program is located in a Romanesque Revival building that once served as a public school. The building is filled with artwork and features work by international artists from around the globe.
22-25 Jackson Ave, Queens, NY, NY 11101
El Museo del Barrio
This museum is located in the Spanish Harlem and features work by Latino artists. The permanent collection includes 6,500 pieces that range from pre-Colombian artifacts to contemporary installations.
1230 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10029
American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum features craft-based work from self-taught artists. There are quilts, early American portrait paintings, as well as performances and discussions that are open to the public.
2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY, 10023
How much does it cost to see the artwork in New York City?

Where to Stay in New York City

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