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Top NYC Tourist Attractions for Architecture and Design tourists

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New York City is a muse for many travelers and speaks to two types of tourists in particular: the Archi-Tourist wanting to learn about the city’s historical buildings and architectural character, and The Design Tourist interested in the arts and cultural scene, including the city’s many museums and galleries.

Whether you are a first-time tourist or a repeat visitor, it’s impossible to hit all of the highlights of New York City in a single trip. There is so much to experience in the Big Apple, which makes it challenging to prioritize where to go and what to do. For discounts on the New York CityPass, which is an efficient way to hit the city highlights, I use the New York City pass promo code to purchase my pass for discount admissions to the participating attractions. The New York CityPass speaks to both tourist types. 

Archi-Tourist

New York City is a top destination for architecture tourists, with skyscrapers, historic buildings and sculptural structures on view via walking tours and river tours. 

Lower Manhattan skyscrapers
Lower Manhattan skyscrapers

Interesting sights include The Woolworth Building, with its neo-Gothic architecture, which stands as one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours tell the story of the building’s construction and history.   

One World Trade Center an other skyscrapers in New York City, USA.
One World Trade Center an other skyscrapers in New York City, USA.

One World Observatory is another architectural marvel offering a birds-eye view of Manhatten. 

 

The New York CityPass includes 40 percent off admission to the Empire State Building, a must-see for the architectural enthusiast. For an additional skyline view of the cityscape, you can choose to visit the Top of the Rock Observatory at Rockefeller Center.  

The Statute of Liberty. Photo Credit: The Design Tourist

The Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises also offers a waterfront vantage point to admire the city’s architectural attributes.  Those interested in an up close view of NYC’s world-famous landmark, the Statute of Liberty, can take a  ferry ride to Ellis Island to walk around the base of the Statute and tour the museum. 

Little Island, New York City. Photo Credit: The Design Tourist

Some of my favorite architectural oddities include Little Island, along a string of piers on Manhattan’s west side. Little Island is a public park that juts out into the Hudson River and sits on concrete pillars that look like tulips. The park is a redevelopment project of Pier 54 by The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation (DVFFF). On any given day, it’s filled with people exercising, socializing and enjoying the outdoor ambiance. 

The Vessel. Photo Credit: The Design Tourist

The Vessel in Hudson Yards is a must-see with its spiral staircase, comprised of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, approximately 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings.  Heatherwick Studio designed the interactive sculpture as a landmark and viewing platform of the city at different heights, angles and vantage points. Check before you go because the upper levels are often closed to visitors.  Interesting side note: Heatherwick Studio also helped design Little Island, so you will send some of the famed architect Thomas Heatherwick’s signature design elements. 

 

Design Tourists

Museums top the list of many travelers interested in the city’s arts, culture and design scene, including the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, an option with the New York CityPass. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the spiral cylinder structure and serves as both an architectural and cultural attraction.

Low angle shot of a beautiful round glass roof in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Low angle shot of a beautiful round glass roof in Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

For contemporary art lovers, a visit to the New Museum,  offers works exclusively by contemporary artists.

The Takeaway:

If you want to maximize your time in New York City, a New York CityPASS is an option. The mobile tickets are valid for nine days from the date of first use and includes admission to The Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History, plus choose admission to three more attractions of your choice out of these six attractions: Top of the Rock™ Observation Deck, Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

What to Know Before You Go:

If you plan to dine out, reservations are necessary at the most desirable New York City restaurants. I recommend Quality Meats with its ambiance and artisanal menu. The restaurant is a sensory and social experience.

  For an aperitif with rooftop ambiance, I suggest Eataley Flaritron with its garden terrace. 

Travel Writer Karen LeBlanc, aka The Design Tourist at Eataley Flaritron, New York

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Neighborhoods:

For a detailed map of New York City, check out The New York Times’s neighborhood map created with input from local residents.

 

New York City Christmas Lights. Photo Credit: The Design Tourist

If you go during the holiday season, the streets are full of eye candy, from lighted holiday scapes and window displays in department stores and designer shops to fantastical Christmas trees in hotel lobbies and the main attraction, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Photo Credit: The Design Tourist

 

 

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist (www.TheDesignTourist.com) that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: https://thedesigntourist.com/the-magazine/ Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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