Finding the best excursions in New York can be tricky, but with a little help from us, you can be having fun on the water with new friends in no time.
Whether you are in NYC for a short trip or a long stay and want to see the city as well as some exciting tourist attractions and thrilling excursions, then this comprehensive guide to the best New York excursions is exactly what you need.
New York City is more than a place to visit and a place to get stuff done; it’s also a fantastic place for an adventure. From downtown Manhattan to the Bronx, from Brooklyn to Queens, from Staten Island to Roosevelt Island, there are plenty of great sites to see and things do that in New York City.
New York is one of the world’s most visited cities, attracting over 50 million tourists each year. And so it’s hardly surprising that every autumn it hosts some of the world’s finest and most famous art exhibitions, including glamorous parties and formal meet-and-greets to go with them.
There are so many attractions in New York that it is impossible to get bored. But it is also worth discovering other interesting cities and places around the Big Apple. We propose the best excursions.
If you are interested in discovering the most emblematic places and the history of the city on a walking tour, you can book a free tour with a guide with the best vacation excursions.
There are many different things to do but it can be hard to figure out which excursions are worth doing. I have been to New York multiple times and have gone on numerous excursions. This has led me to creating a list of some of my favorite excursions.
List of The Best Excursions in New York
The following list of excursions nyc is in no way complete and obviously very subjective. It’s what we like. We’ve included transportation options, costs, and an average time needed to take the excursion. Enjoy!
The capital of the United States, Washington DC is one of the most famous excursions in New York. Washington DC has many attractions related to the government of the country. The White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol, and countless memorials dedicated to national heroes and victims of various wars.
You can get to Washington easily by public transportation from New York. We recommend staying in Washington for one night because the trip takes about 4 hours. If you have to go and come back on the same day, you will spend more time on the bus than enjoying the attractions of the city.
The most practical option to visit Washington in one day is to hire an excursion. It includes a guide who will tell you a lot of curiosities about the city.
- Visit the Lincoln Memorial, a iconic national monument dedicated to the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln
- Take a tour of the White House, the official residence of the President of the United States.
- Visit the Smithsonian Museums, a collection of 19 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park.
- Visit the Washington Monument, an iconic obelisk dedicated to the first president of the United States, George Washington.
- Visit the National Mall, an open-area national park in downtown D.C.
Philadelphia, the cradle of American independence. In 1776 the United States became independent from Great Britain. And it was in Philadelphia where the declaration of independence was read and the constitution that is still in force in the country was approved.
The city perfectly combines its historical attractions with others much more modern. For example, you cannot miss a stop at the famous Rocky Stairs, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It is very easy to go from New York to Philadelphia by bus, it hardly takes a couple of hours. If you prefer to have the explanations of a guide, you can book an excursion. In this case, you will have the opportunity to learn about the curious way of life of the Amish community. They live in a traditional way, isolated from modern comforts and technologies such as electricity.
If you can’t decide between Washington and New York, you can book an excursion to both cities in one day.
- Visit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed.
- See the Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence.
- Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the largest art museums in the United States.
- Take a walk through Rittenhouse Square, a popular park in the heart of the city.
- Visit Reading Terminal Market, a historic market featuring local food vendors and merchants.
Boston is another city with a lot of history close to New York. Before the country’s independence was declared in Philadelphia, there were a lot of popular riots in Boston. Visiting Boston is one of the most interesting excursions in New York for history lovers. It has always been a city related to progress. Even today it is home to one of the most famous universities in the world: Harvard.
Going from New York to Boston by public transport is very easy. It takes about 4 hours, so it is best to stay overnight in Boston to enjoy the city without rushing. If you only have one day excursions from NYC, we recommend booking an excursion that includes transportation and a guide.
- Walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path through downtown Boston that passes 16 historically significant sites.
- Visit the USS Constitution Museum, located on the grounds of the Charlestown Navy Yard.
- Visit the Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States.
- Visit the Public Garden, a beautiful park featuring a pond, a lagoon, and a variety of plant life.
- Take a ride on the Boston Duck Tour, a tour of the city that takes place on land and in the water.
Tour of contrasts
You don’t have to leave New York to spend a day seeing a lot of different places! New York is so big that visiting the different neighborhoods is like getting to know different cities in one. This is a minibus tour of Harlem, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.
You can see iconic landmarks like Yankee Stadium, the famous Big Pun graffiti, or the Williamsburg Jewish Quarter, for example. Without a doubt, this tour is one of the most interesting excursions in New York to get to know the city in full.
You can book the contrasts tour for any day of the week, it includes pickup from 4 hotels in Manhattan, transportation around the city, and a guide.
You can also opt for the VIP contrast tour to be picked up at any hotel in Manhattan, make an extra stop at the Gantry Plaza State Park skyline viewpoint, and be in a smaller group.
Finally, if you plan to do this tour on a Sunday, you can combine it with attending a gospel mass, a unique experience to live in Harlem.
- Visit the Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy, located on Liberty Island.
- Take a walk through Central Park, a large urban park in the heart of Manhattan.
- Visit Times Square, a bustling commercial and entertainment hub in Midtown Manhattan.
- Take a stroll through the High Line, an elevated park built on an old railroad track.
- Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, located at the site of the World Trade Center.
Niagara Falls excursions from New York
Niagara Falls, one of the best excursions in New York for nature lovers. Among so many cities, do you want to surround yourself with nature? A few hours from New York you will find the largest group of waterfalls in North America. The famous Niagara Falls are truly impressive!
You can get there on your own by public transport, by plane or by renting a car.
But if you have little time, the smartest option is to hire a bus tour with a guide. There are many hours of travel, but you will not have to make transfers and you will be able to rest during the trip.
There is also the possibility of spending two days enjoying the place and making the most of the long journey. If you prefer more comfort, you can take a day trip to the falls by plane.
- Visit Niagara Falls, one of the most famous and spectacular waterfalls in the world, located on the border of New York and Canada.
- Take a boat tour of the falls on the Maid of the Mist.
- Visit Cave of the Winds, a natural cave behind the falls.
- Visit the Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States.
- Take a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of the falls
East Coast of Canada
If Niagara Falls knows you little, you can discover more places in Canada. The closest city is Toronto. Its skyscrapers and the famous CN tower will impress you. Ottawa is the Canadian capital, so it is a city full of institutional buildings such as Parliament.
And we come to our favorites: Montreal and Quebec. The historic center of Quebec will take you to any charming town in France, it is beautiful! Montreal is not far behind, it has a mixture of historical monuments and modern areas with a very good atmosphere.
It is possible to do this tour by bus on your own depending on the days you have free. You can also hire an excursion that includes transportation, accommodation and a guide. It lasts for a week, during which you will also have time to visit Boston.
- Visit Toronto, the largest city in Canada and home to many cultural attractions such as the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum.
- Visit Montreal, known for its vibrant culture, delicious food, and historic architecture.
- Visit Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved Old Town and the famous Château Frontenac hotel.
- Visit Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia and a popular destination for its historic sites, scenic coastal views and oceanfront walkway.
- Visit PEI, Prince Edward Island, it is Canada’s smallest province, known for its beautiful beaches, charming fishing villages, and the Anne of Green Gables heritage site.
The Hamptons, between beaches and mansions
Crossing Long Island you will reach The Hamptons, a beach area that has fallen in love with the wealthiest New Yorkers. For example, Paris Hilton or Beyoncé have mansions there. It’s only a two-hour drive from downtown New York, but there’s not a trace of the bustle of the city left. It is an area with beaches, boutiques, and luxurious restaurants perfect for relaxing.
If you want to discover The Hamptons in one day, we recommend hiring an excursion with a guide. If you want to treat yourself, you can rent a car and book a hotel to spend a few days in an idyllic setting. Going to The Hamptons is one of the most luxurious excursions in New York.
- Visit the beaches, such as East Hampton Main Beach, Coopers Beach and Georgica Beach, known for their clear water and soft sand.
- Take a tour of the mansions, such as The Elms, a French Renaissance-style mansion, and The Grey Gardens, a famous East Hampton mansion.
- Visit the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, dedicated to the lives and work of American artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
- Visit the LongHouse Reserve, a 16-acre garden and sculpture park.
- Take a drive on the scenic Montauk Highway, known for its picturesque views of the ocean and countryside.
Go shopping at an outlet
If you like shopping, spending the day at the outlet is one of the top excursions. In New York, you will find hundreds of stores of international brands of clothing and accessories with great discounts. It is best to go shopping in the state of New Jersey, as it has lower taxes than New York. The most famous outlets in the area are Woodbury Commons and Jersey Gardens.
If you spend a few days in New York and don’t want to spend a whole day shopping, there are some alternatives without leaving the Big Apple. For example, Century 21 department stores have very good deals.
- Visit Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, one of the largest outlet centers in the world, located in Central Valley, NY. It features more than 200 stores.
- Visit The Mills at Jersey Gardens, a large outlet mall in Elizabeth, NJ that features more than 200 stores.
- Visit The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, an outlet mall located in Bergen County, NJ that features more than 100 stores.
Going to Coney Island is one of the best excursions in New York for families. It is an entertainment area at the southern tip of Brooklyn. There you will find Luna Park, a park with dozens of attractions for the whole family. You can also stroll along the beach and eat a famous Nathan’s hot dog.
The entrance to Luna Park with access to its attractions costs $ 69 when you buy it at the ticket office. We recommend you buy it online to save. It can be reached by the Q line from Times Square and other stops in the heart of Manhattan. It takes about 45 minutes and you have to get off at the Ocean Parkway stop.
- Visit the Coney Island Boardwalk, a historic boardwalk known for its amusement parks, such as Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.
- Visit the Coney Island Beach and Park, a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing and taking in ocean views
- Visit the New York Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums in the country, featuring a variety of marine life including sea lions, sharks, and penguins.
- Visit the Coney Island Museum, dedicated to the history and culture of Coney Island.
- Take a ride on the Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster that has been in operation since 1927.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, one of the classic excursions in New York. One of the icons of New York is the Statue of Liberty. Since 1886 it stands imposing as a symbol of universal freedom.
During the 20th century, it was in charge of receiving the thousands of immigrants who arrived by boat after a long journey from Europe in search of the American dream. That’s why on nearby Ellis Island there is a museum dedicated to Immigration. Don’t leave New York without seeing Lady Liberty up close, it is one of the best excursions in New York.
To get to Liberty Island and Ellis Island you must book a combined ticket on the official website. There is also the option of accessing the pedestal of the statue, where there is a small exhibition or going up to the crown. In the latter case, it is advisable to book weeks in advance because there are few tickets available.
If there are no tickets left or you prefer to go with a guide, you can book this tour. Includes the boat, access to the statue’s pedestal, a visit to Ellis Island, and a guide throughout the tour.
- Visit the Statue of Liberty, an iconic symbol of freedom and democracy, located on Liberty Island.
- Take a tour of the statue’s crown, offering a breathtaking view of the city.
- Visit Ellis Island, a historic immigration station where millions of people passed through on their way to starting a new life in America.
- Visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which tells the story of the people who came through the station.
- Take a ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island and enjoy the scenic views of Manhattan, New York Harbor and the New York City skyline.
Tour of the locations of movies and series
New York is a paradise for movie and series lovers. Surely, without ever having been in the city, you already know a few corners thanks to television. Friends in New York, The Sopranos, Gossip Girl, King Kong, and Spiderman are some of the most famous series and movies recorded in the Big Apple. You can see some of the most emblematic locations live on a guided tour.
- Visit the Central Park, which features in many movies and series such as “When Harry Met Sally”, “Home Alone 2” and “Friends”.
- Visit the Friends Apartment building located in the West Village where the exterior shots of the show were filmed.
- Visit the New York Public Library, which was used as a filming location for movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Spider-Man”.
- Visit the Brooklyn Bridge, which has been featured in many movies and TV shows such as “The Avengers”, “I Am Legend” and “Girls”.
- Visit the Met Cloisters, which was used as a filming location for the movie “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
Christmas tour of Dyker Heights, a unique experience. To end our list of the best excursions in New York, we do not forget about an amazing neighborhood. If you are lucky enough to visit the city during the month of December or the first days of January you will find spectacular Christmas decorations and a magical atmosphere. In Dyker Heights they take it very seriously and put together authentic Christmas works of art. They put up lights, inflatable dolls, Christmas carols, and whatever it takes to be the coolest neighbors in the neighborhood! Some spend thousands of dollars decorating their home.
To see this show, book a tour that includes transportation there and a guide. It is one of the most curious excursions in New York!
- Visit the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, a famous annual event where houses in the neighborhood are decorated with extravagant Christmas lights and displays.
- Visit the Dyker Beach Golf Course, an 18-hole public golf course.
- Visit the Dyker Heights Park, a park featuring playgrounds, athletic fields, and a track.
- Visit the Dyker Heights Historical Society, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the neighborhood.
- Visit the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a famous suspension bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.
The best excursions in New York depends on your age and interests.
Quote: If you’re around 20, you’d better visit the bars and clubs of New York. At 25, the best place for you is Times Square and the Empire State Building. Once you reach 30, go visit The Guggenheim Museum, Madison Square Garden, Central Park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. By 40, pay a visit to Wall Street; at 50 go to Fifth Avenue as it’s a perfect time to buy expensive gifts; at 55 go to Lincoln Center; at 60 visits South Street Seaport; after 65 return to Central Park or ride the Staten Island Ferry.
The Final Word
New York City is a destination that offers a wide variety of attractions and excursions for visitors of all ages and interests. From the iconic landmarks of Manhattan to the natural beauty of Niagara Falls, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The above-listed excursions are just a sampling of the many options available for those looking to explore the city and its surroundings. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just taking in the sights, New York has plenty to offer.
There are too many excursions to complement your visit to the city. Just find your own way!