Manhattan may be the smallest in area of New York City’s five boroughs, but it makes up for this with an outsized reputation as a global trendsetter. The twinkling lights of Broadway, the rolling meadows of Central Park, the imposing skyscrapers of the Financial District—all of these compete for attention in a town where attention is priced at a premium. Though many out-of-town visitors make a beeline for musicals such as Wicked or historic landmarks such as the Chrysler Building, adventurous souls will have no trouble finding other things to do in Manhattan.
One of New York’s most famous museums, The Museum of Modern Art houses masterpieces including Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night, Claude Monet's Water Lilies, and Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans. Step outside the galleries to stroll through an outdoor sculpture garden, where installations cluster around reflecting pools.
Other museums explore the history of a world before humans. Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has since become home to more than 36 million specimens that include microscopic organisms, dinosaur bones, and a 16-ton meteorite. The Rose Center for Earth and Space, a four-story planetarium sphere, explores the life cycles of celestial bodies through space shows such as Journey to the Stars.
It’s impossible to ignore Manhattan’s influence on America’s theater and performance industry. Among the borough’s most famous venues, the David H. Koch Theater is home to the New York City Ballet. One of the world’s foremost dance companies, the Ballet stages contemporary works as well as classics such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. You can also catch discussions, staged readings, and book signings at the Drama Book Shop, which features an in-house performance space. The shop’s many shelves hold hard-to-find literary resources such as translations of Greek classics and magazines detailing the business side of theater.
For a taste of Manhattan’s different neighborhoods, join an excursion with New York Food Tours. Their entertaining guides lead themed culinary tours that may focus on fusion desserts in Lower Manhattan, Southeast Asian cuisine in Chinatown, or the myriad ethnic cuisines of the East and West Village.
Though Central Park is Manhattan’s largest and most iconic green space, The High Line might be its most unique. The elevated park runs 30 feet above street level, and its stone paths, sculptures, and lush flora cover the rails of a former freight line.
If you venture into Chinatown’s vibrant nightlife, you may stumble upon Apotheke, a Prohibition-themed cocktail bar housed in a space that, according to legend, was once an opium den. Guests at the bar watch as mixologists blend tinctures, potions, and liquors to make their drinks—a process that can take up to 25 minutes, but one that’s always worth the wait.