Destination Guides

A Visitor’s Guide to New York City’s Must-See Places

Take in New York’s memorable vistas, scintillating history, and architectural wonder on this tour of the city and its nearby celebrated structures

A few blocks from Rockefeller Center, where Christie’s International Real Estate will host its 2018 Luxury Specialist Conference on September 24-25, Manhattan’s most celebrated buildings guard intriguing secrets. Beloved of locals and visitors alike, these seven iconic locations have earned their place in the history books.

1. Rainbow Room
On the 65th floor of the storied Rockefeller Center, the Rainbow Room has unbeatable views of the Manhattan skyline from its floor-to-ceiling rectangular windows, and has hosted many a starry soirée since it first opened its doors in 1934.

Related: Uncover the History of Rockefeller Center

Major renovations were undertaken from 2009-2014 to preserve the ceiling dome, revolving dance floor, and dramatic staircase, which are all now protected under the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The room owes its unusual name to an organ installed when it first opened, which reflected light around the room in a kaleidoscope of colors. Today the effect is re-created with the use of custom-made crystal curtains.

The Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center in New York City offers some of the most exhilarating views of Manhattan.2. The Met Cloisters
Located in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park—which served as a battleground in the Revolutionary War—The Met Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, might be one of the most historically intriguing and also palliative places in the whole of Manhattan. 

Related: Enjoy the Art of Food at New York City’s Most Famous Museum

Dedicated to Medieval and Gothic art, the five cloisters were imported from France and reconstructed here between 1935 and 1938. The site’s beautiful courtyard gardens alone are worth the 45-minute drive from Midtown, but to gaze upon the collection of beguiling wool and silk tapestries, which depict a hunt for the mythical unicorn, is one of the finer ways to spend an afternoon in the city.

The Met Cloisters in Upper Manhattan, owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, brings Medieval European architecture into New York City. It houses more than 2,000 historic artworks and architectural elements.3. The Beekman
One of the first skyscrapers to be constructed on Manhattan Island, 5 Beekman Street, or Temple Court as it was previously known, was completed in the same year as the Brooklyn Bridge in New York’s Financial District. Today, its 19th-century sandstone façade belies a stunning interior overhaul by Swedish interior designer Martin Brudnizki. “The Beekman is such a unique building with exquisite original detailing that we knew we had to retain much of this to tell the story properly. With this in mind we restored the nine-storey atrium, including the original Victorian wrought iron balustrades and railings and the pyramidal skylight,” says Brudnizki, “The space now feels refreshed but is still deeply rooted in history and full of intrigue.” Two restaurants and a basement speakeasy bar have turned it into a place to see and be seen.

Resurrected after years of abandonment, the bar at The Beekman hotel in Lower Manhattan is now a fashionable place for New York City residents to meet.4. Grand Central Terminal
Built over a period of 10 years, from 1903-1913, Grand Central Terminal is certainly one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The largest construction in New York City at the time, the train station covers 48 acres (19.4 ha) and, when first built, featured 4,000 exposed lightbulbs—a demonstration of a feat of electrical engineering and the status of the building’s original owners, the Vanderbilt family.

Grand Central Terminal, on Manhattan's 42nd Street, is a world-renowned feat of engineering and architectural splendor, and is designated a US National Historic Landmark. Photograph: Getty.The building and its decorative elements have been restored several times over the years, the celestial ceiling mural and famed Oyster Bar still holding court more than 100 years after they were installed.

Related: Get a Taste for the World’s Best-Dressed Restaurants

The main concourse at Grand Central Terminal leads to 44 platforms—more than any other railway station in the world. Its much-loved Oyster Bar opened along with the terminal itself in 1913. Photograph: Getty.5. Katz’s Delicatessen
Serving up salt beef sandwiches and pickles since 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen is as at home on this Manhattan icons list as it is in the hearts of New Yorkers, who flock here in their hundreds daily. Located on East Houston Street, the deli has had many owners, but its signage and decor have remained the same since the beginning.

Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston Street in New York’s Lower East Side has been in business since 1888, and has appeared in movies including <i>When Harry Met Sally</i>. Photograph: Katz’s Delicatessen.Inside, the faces of famous customers line the walls, from the time of the Lower East Side’s Yiddish theatre boom to today, and a collection of neon signs and wartime slogans—”Senda salami to your boy in the army”—hang from the ceiling.

Visitors to New York City flock to Katz’s Deli to enjoy one of its famous pastrami sandwiches, often described as the best in Manhattan. Photograph: Katz’s Delicatessen.6. The High Line
Built on a disused freight line by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line is part public park, part art walk, and part culinary destination, spanning 1.45 miles (2.33km) from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. As well as the elevated walkway flanked on either side by Piet Oudolf’s stunning wild gardens, there are intermittent viewing platforms and spaces that showcase performances and art installations.

Related: Meet Charles Renfro, the Architect Behind the High Line

The route snakes through a section of Chelsea Market that once housed the National Biscuit Company—now home to the High Line’s food hall—along bridges and spurs and even through a small forest in the Meatpacking District. It’s one of the city’s modern marvels, offering a beautiful break in the frenetic cityscape.

The High Line in Manhattan’s Chelsea district opened in 2009 on the site of a disused elevated railway track, and offers a verdant place to relax above the busyness of the city streets. Photograph: Alamy.7. Darlington, New York Metro Mansion
Just 40 minutes from Manhattan, Darlington Mansion offers a rare opportunity to own one of New York’s most iconic buildings, often referred to by architectural enthusiasts as the American Versailles.

Palatial Darlington—on the market with Special Properties Real Estate Services, LLC, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in the region—was originally completed in 1907 for businessman and socialite George Crocker, and is within 25 miles of New York City. Extensive renovations completed in 2015 brought the Jacobean-style estate up to date for 21st-century living.This 58-room, three-story mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey is listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, and is the location of the welcome reception for affiliates visiting New York for the Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Specialist Conference 2018.

Related: Take a Tour of Darlington, the American Versailles

Modeled on an English castle, the estate sits within 12 acres (4.85 ha) of grounds. Notable highlights include a library with a 15-foot (4.6-m) ceiling mural by James Wall Finn, a wine cellar, luxury spa, and an elegant formal dining space among its many remarkable attributes.

The grand dining room at Darlington.On the market
Here’s a selection of properties on the market with Christie’s International Real Estate in New York City.