Top 7 Things to Do in Manhattan Island

Before getting on the ferry to Whitehall Terminal, you can find many wonderful sites to explore and things to do on Manhattan Island. I always love wandering through the financial district and dreaming of having enough money to be an easily recognized investor.

Then again, maybe I will stay an engineer because I can explore places on my own that I could not go to if I were easily recognizable.

One World Observatory

One World Observatory view from window

Time required: 1 hour

I love starting a day exploring Manhattan Island at One World Observatory. This building is the tallest one in the Western Hemisphere, and you will want to see the views from the 102nd-floor observation deck. This building, including its spire, is 1,706 feet tall, and it stands where terrorists knocked down part of the World Trade Center.

Refrain from hustling to get to the top. Instead, study the photos of nearby monuments and memorials arranged along the Horizontal Grid as you enter the building. One of the reasons that I love visiting One World Observatory is the elevator ride to the top. All four elevator walls are covered by LED screens showing photos of New York City’s history as you ascend to the observation deck. Then, you will enter the See Forever Theater, where you will see even more photos from the Big Apple’s past.

Finally, you will want to go down two flights of stairs to reach the observation deck. Consider renting the iPad program to help you understand what you are looking at far below you. The city’s best views are usually obtained by standing on the Skyway Portal. Many people visit this location at sunset to watch the city transform from day to night.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Time required: 3 hour

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most visited art museums in the world. Therefore, I always go in with a game plan of exploring the American Wing first before I backtrack to explore the galleries closer to the entrance as this helps me avoid running into large crowds.

  • The museum has many famous works of art, but there are some that you will not want to miss. These include:
    Temple of Dendur- This temple that was a gift from the Egyptian government is the only temple on public display in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Self Portrait with a Straw Hat – This work by Van Gogh was painted when the artist was impoverished and using himself as a model.
  • Washington Crossing the Delaware – Emanuel Leutze painted this significant work of Commander George Washington crossing the Delaware River on December 25, 1776.
  • The Death of Socrates – Jacques Louis David used Plato’s written record to create this painting of Socrates’ death.
  • Rembrandt Self Portrait- There are only 40 Rembrandt self-portraits worldwide, so take advantage of the chance to see this famous artwork.

Metropolitan Museum Of Art Entrance

If you want to escape the crowds visiting this museum daily, head to the museum’s two secret floors. The first is at the back of the Chinese room, so head beyond all the famous Chinese artworks. The second is in the American Room. Just keep going up the stairs all the way.

Central Park

Time required: 1.5 hour

Central Park was created in 1859. It is the most visited park in the world, even though there are five larger parks in New York City. You can find an incredible number of things to do in the park, including:

  • Sailing model sailboats in Conservatory Water near the Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen sculptors
  • Ice-skating at Wollman Rink seasonally
  • Viewing the Imagine Mosiac at Strawberry Field
  • Smelling the plants at Conservatory Garden
  • Running on the track surrounding Jacqueline Onassis Central Park Reservoir
  • Seeing Row Bridge
  • Listening to performers at Bethesda Fountain
  • Watching Shakespeare performed live seasonally
  • Hearing the animals playing at the Central Park Zoo

Empire State Building

Time required: 1 hour

You will love seeing the Art Deco details of the Empire State Building, which workers initially constructed in 1931. In addition to the Art Deco details on the outside of this building, I always love seeing the ones in the three-story lobby. When we have visitors in town, I always take them to see the Dear to Dream exhibition on the building’s 80th floor, showcasing its construction. Then, we head to the museum on the second floor to learn even more before going out on the highest outdoor observation deck in the city.

While they are often wowed by the details they learn, they are even more impressed by the lighting show. The tower is lit up at night in specific colors to celebrate or honor something that is going on in New York City. Since you can see the Empire State Building from the Manhattan Island ferry, consider riding the ferry back after dark to get a great view of the building’s lights. Touring the building before taking the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan is always a fun experience.

Battery Park

Battery Park Inner View

Time required: 1.5 hour

If you want to reconnect with nature, head to Battery Park. You will love sitting on the benches and watching the action in New York Harbor. Sometimes, you can even get lucky enough to see the Staten Island Ferry to Whitehall going by. You will also love touring the perennial garden and the urban farm.

My nieces love coming to Battery Park to play on the playscape. This special park area is built to flood and recover without massive intervention. It includes five different ecosystems and is a fantastic place to explore nature.

My favorite thing to do in Battery Park is to ride the SeaGlass Carousel. Riders sit on 30 monumental fish moving up and down and swirling around. The carousel is inspired by the New York Aquarium, which opened in the park in 1896. The carousel, which has no central pole, contains 18 curved glass walls and 70 spiral glass windows.

Statue of Liberty

View from Bottom of Statue of Liberty

Time required: 1.5 hour

My heart always seems to skip a beat when I see the Statue of Liberty. This gift to the people of the United States from the people of France was erected in 1886. One thing that most people do not know about the Statue of Liberty is that it can be easily viewed by taking the Staten Island Ferry. Still, a separate ferry allows visitors to leave Battery Park to see the statue and Ellis Island. While the ferry heading to Staten Island from Manhattan Island does not get as close, the views are better.

Museum of Illusions New York

Time required: 2 hour

The Museum of Illusions New York contains a series of perception-changing rooms that I find mind-boggling. This museum constantly challenges me to figure out how they show these illusions because as an engineer, I am supposed to know how things work and am very used to paying attention to details.


My favorite part of visiting this museum is seeing the different optical illusions, but there are also large-scale installations that will boggle your sense of reality. Since the displays are constantly changing, I love coming to this museum whenever I am in Manhattan.

There are an incredible number of things to do in Manhattan. Therefore, you should include time to explore this borough before or after catching the ferry.

And if you need more, I leave you here this video from Hungry Passport:

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