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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/126654539@N08/23916077264" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Freedom Tower | © Phil Dolby / Flickr</a>
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16 Reasons Why You Should Visit New York City at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Picture of Cailey Rizzo
Updated: 13 June 2017
New York is a bucket list city. For those who thrive on high energy, it’s impossible to exhaust the city’s possibilities. There is so much to do and, for those who are visiting, there is never enough time to see it all. Whether you’re in town for a day trip or for an extended stay, these are the 16 reasons a visit to New York City will change your life.

Great place in American history

In the late 18th century, New York City was the capital of the newly formed United States of America. By the 19th century, it became the center of business and immigration. In fact, it’s estimated that about 40% of all Americans have ancestors who, at one point, passed through New York City. Visit Ellis Island to understand the great migrations that forever changed the United States.

Statue of Liberty | © Celso FLORES / Flickr
Statue of Liberty | Celso FLORES/Flickr

Global draw

Immigration hasn’t slowed down since people started arriving in the 1800s. Today it’s estimated that 36% of the city’s residents were born abroad and then moved to New York. People from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa continue to pour into the city, adding their identities to New York’s ever-globalized pulse.

New York City | © Jeff Turner / Flickr
New York City | Jeff Turner/Flickr

Center of the fashion world

There’s no fashion show quite like the streets of Manhattan. Grab a spot on a bench in Midtown and prepare to see New Yorkers sporting what the rest of the world will wear next season. Plus, there’s tons of amazing shopping in the city, so pick up chic New York fashions to bring home, too.

Endless art to see

From the classics to struggling artists working out of tiny Bushwick studios, the art scene in New York City is unparalleled. The museums (like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, etc.) preserve the best art from around the world while the tiny galleries in the Lower East Side and Chelsea are helping to bring brand-new talent to the forefront. You could spend weeks exploring New York’s art scene and still not hit every space.

Metropolitan Museum of Art | © Steven Pisano / Flickr
Metropolitan Museum of Art | Steven Pisano/Flickr

The skyscrapers

Few things are as equally awe-inspiring and humbling as walking down the street with skyscrapers towering over either side. New York’s got some of the most important skyscrapers, too—from the Empire State Building all the way down to the newly finished Freedom Tower, these gigantic beauties have to be seen in person.

Food from every part of the world

Where else on the planet is there authentic Chinese, Laotian, Thai, Italian, Colombian, Mexican, French, Vietnamese, Indian, and Caribbean food? New York City is called a melting pot for a reason.

Chinatown | © Phil Roeder / Flickr
Chinatown | Phil Roeder/Flickr

Unparalleled music scene

Musicians love New York. Whether they’re playing a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden or taking up residence somewhere smaller like Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right, there is no shortage of venues to check out the city’s coolest live acts.

Arctic Monkeys at Webster Hall | © Vladimir / Flickr
Arctic Monkeys at Webster Hall | Vladimir/Flickr

Experimental food

The best New York chefs are like their city: always innovating. Whether they’re combining old school recipes with brand new flavors or creating a new dessert that people will line up for hours to try (hello, cronut), the food scene in New York is always churning out brand new inventions that the rest of the world will be craving in a few years.

All day, all night availability

Dumplings at 2 a.m.? Photocopies at 4 a.m.? A hot dog early in the morning? New York’s got it covered. It’s called “the city that never sleeps” for a reason. No matter the hour, everything is available somewhere in New York.

Late nights in New York City | © Heath Cajandig / Flickr
Late nights in New York City | Heath Cajandig/Flickr

Times Square

Even though most locals abhor Times Square, nobody will ever forget their first time walking through the hectic plaza. The unbridled energy, out-of-control costumed characters, and incessant flashing of bright lights make for an out-of-body experience—also for the inevitable feeling of being a sardine in a tin can.

Times Square | © MsSaraKelly / Flickr
Times Square | MsSaraKelly/Flickr

Celebrities abound

Keep your eyes peeled in the right neighborhood, and chances are, you’ll run into someone famous. Woody Allen loves the Upper East Side while Sarah Jessica Parker has moved down to Brooklyn Heights. Look up if any movies or TV shows are shooting around the city and make a cameo on set.

Legacy of movies and TV shows shot here

At least one movie you’ve watched over and over again was shot in New York City. Whether that’s Sex and the City, Elf, or The Godfather, walk the streets to retrace the steps of your favorite actors and actresses.

Financial District | © Jeff Gunn / Flickr
Financial District | Financial District/Flickr

Some of the most interesting people on the planet

New Yorkers are all about the side hustle. They will inevitably talk about their job, but they’ll also talk about what they actually love doing on the side. Whether it’s reviewing theater shows or playing in a band with their friends, every New Yorker has a secret passion they’re always working towards.

Central Park

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city streets in New York’s masterpiece, Central Park. The gigantic park smack dab in the middle of Manhattan is one of the most photogenic places in the entire city and provides a bit of calm for stressed out New Yorkers. Spend some time wandering through to discover a favorite spot—everybody likes someplace different.

Central Park | © Scott Charters / Flickr
Central Park | Scott Charters/Flickr

Unmatched energy

Although many different cities claim to be “the New York of their country” nowhere else can truly compare. NYC has a unique vibe, accented by the honk of taxicabs and drumming in the subways. It’s an infectious rhythm that makes tourists want to get out and spend every second exploring.

New York | © Dave Doe / Flickr
New York | Dave Doe/Flickr

Always something new

No matter how many times you come to New York, there will always be something new. Even New York natives run around trying to find the best new restaurants and coolest new neighborhoods popping up. Think you know New York City like a local? Come back, and wander upon something you never even knew existed.

South of The Rock | © John St John / Flickr
South of The Rock | John St John/Flickr