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10 Can’t-Miss Attractions in NYC

While you make your itinerary for a trip to New York, consider these 10 fun things to do around town. Many incorporate groundbreaking technology, like NatGeo’s ENCOUNTER, VR World, or The Trolls Experience. Others offer one-of-a-kind ways to see the city, like skyscrapers or an aircraft carrier. And some of our favorites, like Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s, get a little strange and a whole lot of fun. Here are ten attractions to put on your list, all of them fun for the whole family.  

    bait ball 3d encounter national geographic
  1. National Geographic ENCOUNTER: Ocean Odyssey

    National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is an underwater wonderland in the heart of Times Square. At this one-of-a-kind destination, you and your family will walk through chambers full of ocean life, with dazzling images of seals, whales, and a seemingly infinite variety of fish. The images transport you to the natural habits of the most fascinating marine species. You’ll even get to see an underwater 3D feeding frenzy. You’ll also hear the stories of National Geographic photographers and explorers, play games, and learn about the sustainability of world oceans. 226 W 44th St., 646-308-1337, natgeoencounter.com Learn more
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    Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
    Credit: Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum
  3. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

    The Intrepid is not only a museum but also a decommissioned aircraft carrier, floating right off the coast of Midtown Manhattan. Housed inside is The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a family-friendly attraction for anyone interested in space exploration, transportation, and engineering. The aircraft carrier contains the Enterprise space shuttle, guided-missile submarine, the world’s fastest military jet, and more! See exciting exhibitions about the Intrepid’s service during the Vietnam War and the interactive Exploreum, simulating life in the air and underwater. Pier 86 at W 46 St. and 12 Ave., 877-957-SHIP, intrepidmuseum.org Learn more
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    spyscape
    Credit: SPYSCAPE
  5. SPYSCAPE

    Ever wanted to be a secret agent? Your dreams will come true at SPYSCAPE, the museum where you’ll learn about spies and become one yourself! At this Hell’s Kitchen attraction, you’ll be given an individualized wristband with your ticket, which tracks your progress throughout a series of espionage challenges. At the end of this learning/spying adventure, you’ll learn if you’re more of a Cryptologist, a Hacker, or one of eight other Spy Profiles. This immersive experience combines real-world spy tasks like lying to a polygraph and decrypting a secret code, but you’ll also learn the history of intelligence-gathering along the way. Their book shop sells over 1,000 titles, from spy thrillers to nonfiction accounts of intelligence agents throughout history. 928 8th Avenue, 212-549-1941, spyscape.com Learn more
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    9-11 tribute museum
    Credit: 9/11 Tribute Museum
  7. 9/11 Memorial & Museum

    The 9/11 Memorial & Museum occupies the space of the former World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. These tributes exist to commemorate the 2,977 lives we lost on September 11, 2001, as well as the six lost after the terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. Inside the museum are recovered artifacts like fire helmets and personal effects, alongside photographic and video footage taken in the season surrounding 9/11. The Museum seeks to explore the lasting effects of these devastating attacks in the years since 2001. Current exhibitions include Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11 and Skywalkers: A Portrait of the Mohawk Ironworker of the World Trade Center. Near the Museum is the Memorial: the largest manmade waterfalls in North America at the sites of the former Twin Towers. 180 Greenwich St., 212-312-8800, 911memorial.org Learn more
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    madame tussauds
    Credit: Madame Tussauds New York
  9. Madame Tussauds

    Madame Tussauds New York is the city’s prime destination for seeing celebrities, movie characters, and world leaders up close. This staple of Times Square attractions is full of lifelike wax figures and might make you do a double-take, as if Princess Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, or Conor McGregor (two of the newest figures) were actually in the room with you. Take selfies with Jimmy Fallon, Lady Gaga, and Donald Trump, plus engage in immersive experiences while you’re there. Madame Tussauds is currently offering Mission: Undead 7D experience for any zombie-hunters, as well as the Marvel Super Hero 4D Experience. 234 W 42nd St., [email protected], madametussauds.com Learn more
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    ripleys believe it or not
    Credit: Pulkit Sinha/Flickr
  11. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

    Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Times Square is a museum of wondrous and strange exhibits. Travel inside a black hole, see the world’s largest gallery of shrunken heads, and play a frenzied game of Smash Dash. Better yet, engage in the brand-new escape-room adventure Ripley’s Relic by solving a series of clues in an underground cave. Ripley’s Odditorium is fun for every family and open seven days a week. 234 W 42nd St., 212-398-3133, ripleysnewyork.com Learn more
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    vr world nyc
    Credit: VR World NYC
  13. VR World

    Explore new dimensions at the largest and most innovative virtual reality center in the country: VR World. VR World has over 50 VR experiences, featuring top-of-the-line technology and a wide range of games, entertainment, and educational programming. State-of-the-art interactive films sit alongside painting games and car-racing adventures for kids. Their Koreatown location also features a bar with cocktails, wine, beer, and soda. 4 E 34th St., 5347-915-5802, vrworldnyc.com Learn more
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  15. Trolls Experience

    Your kids will become trolls at the delightful DreamWorks Trolls The Experience in Midtown Manhattan. This attraction takes your favorite characters and imagery from the animated film Trolls and turns it into a world your child can play in. They’ll wear a wig of the trolls’ signature tall hair, make their own scrapbook, and dance in a wind tunnel filled with confetti. The experience culminates with a dance party accompanied by 3D projections of the trolls characters. There is also a gift shop and cafe with goodies from City Bakery. 218 W. 57th St., 855-316-8306, trollstheexperience.com
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    Empire State Building from TOR
    Credit:Todd Quackenbush/Unsplash
  17. The Empire State Building Experience

    One of the most famous buildings in the world, The Empire State Building is an 102-story Art Deco masterpiece in Midtown Manhattan. The 1,250-foot structure was completed in 1931 and ranked as the world’s tallest building for the next 40 years. As film fans well know, its observation deck is one of the most romantic places in the city. The new Empire State Building Experience, starting in the lobby, includes museum-quality content about this iconic skyscraper. On the 80th floor, view the Dare to Dream exhibit about the building’s architecture and engineering. 20 W 34th St., 212-736-3100, esbnyc.com Learn more
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  19. Waterfront at Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO

    Recent buildup in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn might make it seem like the area was always as visitor-friendly as it is today. But Waterfront tells a much different story. This exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society in DUMBO explores the history of this fascinating edge of the East River, taking visitors to a virtual projection of the prehistoric waterfront that fast-forwards through 20,000 years of changes to Brooklyn’s precious coastline. Kids will love the historical dress-up area and “History in Motion,” an interactive feature where they can step inside ten historical paintings and photos. 55 Water St., 718-222-4111, brooklynhistory.org
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