New York City skyline

What is New York Known For? 31 Things NY is Famous For

Mention “New York” and most people automatically think of New York City, also known as “The Big Apple”. Yet there’s so much more to New York than its famed metropolis.

The state is heralded for the roaring majesty of Niagara Falls, the serene and expansive wilderness of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, and the crystal-clear waters of the Finger Lakes, a haven for wine-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. New York is also home to The Hamptons- a summertime vacation spot that’s known for being very popular with the rich and famous.

When it comes to food, New York reveals a tapestry of tastes from farm-fresh produce in the Hudson Valley to the storied Buffalo wings from Buffalo. Of course you also have to try the famous New York City classics, including $1 pizza slices, hot dogs and bagels.

I first moved to New York in 2018 and soon fell in love the place. The food scene is amazing here, with so many different cuisines and options ranging from food trucks to high-end eateries. You could spend years exploring Manhattan’s restaurants and still never get to try them all.

Then there are the iconic landmarks – Times Square, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge – everywhere you turn you’re surrounded by some of the most iconic structures in the world.

From the high peaks to the bustling city streets, New York offers a myriad of experiences, embodying both the pioneering spirit and the diverse cultural heritage that define America.

Curious to know what New York is known for? Let’s take a look.

Famous Things From New York

Food: Bagels with lox and cream cheese, pizza Slices, New York-style hot dogs, buffalo wings
Signature Drink: Cosmopolitan Cocktail, Manhattan Cocktail, Martini Cocktail
Landmarks: Central Park, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street, Niagara Falls
Places: Catskill Mountains, Finger Lakes, New York City, The Hamptons
Sports Teams: New York Yankees, New York Giants
Famous People: Lady Gaga, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise

Things New York is Famous For

Home to The Most Populous City in the U.S.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyscrapers

New York State proudly embraces New York City, the most populous city in the United States, as its pulsating heart. Home to over 8 million people, this global metropolis is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and traditions, reflective of its diverse population.

Each of the city’s five distinct boroughs contributes to its dynamic ethos, offering a rich tapestry of experience from the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan to the vibrant streets of Brooklyn. NYC’s unparalleled cultural, financial, and historical significance not only defines the American urban experience but also solidifies its standing as a central hub of global significance.

Pizza Slices

Dollar pizza slice

New York City is synonymous with its iconic pizza slices, a staple of the city’s culinary landscape revered across the globe. Characterized by its thin, pliable crust, rich tomato sauce, and perfectly melted mozzarella, the New York-style slice is designed for the on-the-go lifestyle, famously folded in half to eat.

This culinary delight traces its roots to the early 20th century, reflecting the city’s rich Italian heritage. Pizzerias dotting the city from bustling Manhattan streets to quaint Brooklyn neighborhoods continue to honor this tradition, serving up slices that draw both locals and tourists alike, eager to savor a piece of New York’s flavorful heritage.

Buffalo Wings

Buffalo chicken wings

Buffalo, New York, gave the world the spicy, tangy gift of Buffalo wings, a culinary classic renowned far beyond state lines.

Born from a simple act of culinary innovation at the Anchor Bar in 1964, these deep-fried chicken wings, coated in a signature cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter, have become a bar-food staple and a fixture at social gatherings nationwide. They’re traditionally served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing to balance the heat. The humble Buffalo wing has spurred festivals and eating competitions, cementing its place in the canon of American comfort food.

Bagels with Lox

Bagel with lox and cream cheese

New York City is celebrated for its bagels with lox and cream cheese, a quintessential New York breakfast and culinary icon that mirrors the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

This beloved dish, featuring a hand-rolled, boiled-then-baked bagel, silky cream cheese, and thinly sliced cured salmon, is a testament to the city’s substantial Jewish immigrant heritage.

The New York bagel, distinct for its crispy exterior and chewy interior, thanks to the local water’s unique qualities, perfectly complements the smoky, rich flavors of lox. This classic combination has become a hallmark of New York’s culinary scene, embodying the city’s history and diversity in every bite.

New York-Style Hot Dogs

New York hot dog stand

New York-style hot dogs are a renowned street food staple synonymous with the bustling urban life of New York City. These savory delights consist of an all-beef frankfurter nestled in a soft bun, typically topped with a slightly spicy brown mustard and a tangy onion sauce or sauerkraut.

Vendors, known as “dirty water dogs” for their method of simmering franks in hot water, can be found on countless city corners, offering a quick, flavorful bite for busy New Yorkers on the move. This humble yet iconic dish encapsulates the straightforward, no-nonsense attitude of the city it represents.

Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf Salad, a timeless symbol of New York City’s culinary innovation, originated in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1896. Crafted by maître d’hôtel Oscar Tschirky, this elegant salad initially featured just apples, celery, and mayonnaise.

Over time, it evolved, incorporating walnuts for an added crunch, creating a refreshing blend of textures and flavors. Representing the sophistication and creativity of New York’s gastronomic landscape, the Waldorf Salad has become a globally recognized dish, embodying the city’s ability to meld simple ingredients into something uniquely exquisite and enduring in its appeal.

Martini Cocktail

The Martini, a quintessential cocktail, is deeply rooted in New York’s vibrant bar scene. While its precise origins are debated, many attribute its birth to the late 19th century in New York City.

Embodied by a simple yet elegant mix of gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive or a lemon twist, the Martini has come to symbolize sophistication and the timeless allure of New York nightlife. Its enduring popularity celebrates the city’s status as a trendsetter in the world of cocktails.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Cosmo cocktail

The Cosmopolitan cocktail, known for its crisp and tart flavor, is often associated with New York’s stylish bar scene of the 1980s.

This vibrant pink concoction of vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime became synonymous with the city’s chic and cosmopolitan image, bolstered by pop culture references like “Sex and the City.” It epitomizes New York’s flair for blending sophistication with trendy indulgence, securing its place as a modern classic in the cocktail world.

Manhattan Cocktail

The Manhattan cocktail, a timeless classic, claims its origin from New York City in the late 19th century.

This sophisticated drink, a blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, garnished with a cherry, is thought to have been invented at the Manhattan Club in NYC. It encapsulates the elegance and bustling energy of its namesake city.

Renowned globally, the Manhattan remains a symbol of New York’s rich cocktail heritage, offering a taste of the city’s storied past and vibrant present.

Catskill Mountains

Catskill Mountains, New York

The Catskill Mountains – a natural haven just a few hours from the urban sprawl of NYC – offer a picturesque landscape of verdant forests, serene lakes, and rolling hills.

Historically a retreat for artists, the range is steeped in legend and beauty, famously inspiring the Hudson River School of painting. The Catskills are a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts and a cornerstone in American conservation efforts.

With activities such as hiking, skiing, and fishing, the region remains an enduring destination for those seeking tranquility or adventure amidst its captivating vistas.


Vineyard at Woeffler Estate, Long Island

New York’s wineries are nestled in regions like the Finger Lakes, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley, known for their fertile soils and favorable climates. This diverse terroir supports a variety of grapes, enabling the production of distinctive wines ranging from crisp Rieslings to full-bodied Cabernets.

Winemaking in New York, dating back centuries, has blossomed into a dynamic industry, with over 400 wineries drawing oenophiles globally. The state’s wine trails not only offer tastings and tours but also showcase New York’s scenic beauty and burgeoning culinary scene, making it a premier viticultural destination.

Yellow Taxis

Yellow Taxi in New York City

New York’s yellow taxis, iconic symbols of the city’s hustle and relentless pace, have been navigating the streets for over a century. These bright cabs, easily spotted in the urban sprawl, offer reliable transportation across boroughs.

Originating in the early 20th century to distinguish official cabs from unregulated ones, they’ve become synonymous with New York City life. Despite competition from ride-sharing apps, yellow taxis remain an enduring image of the city’s vibrant, ever-moving character.

The Hamptons

Sandy Beach in The Hamptons, New York

The Hamptons, located on the eastern end of Long Island, New York, epitomize luxury and sophistication. Renowned for their pristine beaches, opulent homes, and high-end boutiques, the Hamptons serve as a summer haven for the affluent and famous.

This cluster of seaside communities boasts some of the most coveted real estate in the country, alongside exclusive clubs and eateries. Despite its lavish lifestyle, the area still offers quaint villages and scenic beauty, making it a compelling mix of exclusivity and charm.

New York Giants

The New York Giants, one of the NFL’s oldest teams, have a storied legacy marked by fierce competitiveness and remarkable achievements, including four Super Bowl victories.

Established in 1925, they have become an integral part of New York’s rich sporting culture, showcasing resilience and excellence on the field. Playing their home games in MetLife Stadium, shared with the New York Jets, the Giants have cultivated a dedicated fanbase, eager to witness their pursuit of future triumphs and enduring success.

New York Yankees

Yankee Stadium at dusk

The New York Yankees, an emblem of American baseball, hold an illustrious position with 27 World Series titles, the most in MLB history. Founded in 1903, their iconic navy blue and white pinstripes are recognized globally.

Home games are played in the Bronx at the historic Yankee Stadium, a site of numerous memorable baseball moments. Legends like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Derek Jeter have worn the Yankee uniform, contributing to its lore. The Yankees not only symbolize excellence in baseball but also serve as a cultural beacon in New York and beyond, with a vast, loyal fanbase.

Empire State Building

View of NYC and the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, a marvel of art deco architecture soaring into the New York skyline, stands as a testament to human ingenuity and the American spirit of progress.

Completed in 1931, it was the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years. Located in Midtown Manhattan, it offers breathtaking views from its observation decks, attracting millions of visitors annually.

Beyond its status as a tourist attraction, the building is an integral part of New York City’s identity, featured in numerous films and literature, symbolizing ambition and the pursuit of dreams in the bustling metropolis.

Times Square

Times Square in New York City

Times Square, often called “The Crossroads of the World,” is a bustling hub in the heart of New York City, famous for its bright, flashing billboards and constant foot traffic.

This iconic intersection, especially vibrant at night, is a symbol of urban energy, drawing tourists and locals alike with its theatres, shops, and restaurants. Times Square is also renowned for its New Year’s Eve ball drop, a global celebration that epitomizes the excitement and dynamism of the city.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty with Manhattan in the background

The Statue of Liberty, a towering symbol of freedom and democracy, stands proudly on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Gifted to the United States by France in 1886, this colossal neoclassical sculpture has welcomed millions of immigrants and visitors to American shores.

Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and featuring a steel framework by Gustave Eiffel, the statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. The Statue of Liberty is not just a New York icon but a global beacon of hope, embodying the values and aspirations of a nation built on liberty and opportunity.

Central Park

Row boats on the lake in Central Park in New York City

Central Park, an urban oasis nestled in the heart of New York City, spans 843 acres of verdant landscapes and tranquil waterways. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 19th century, this iconic park offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life, featuring meadows, forests, lakes, and historic bridges.

Central Park serves as a communal space for recreation, cultural events, and social gatherings, drawing millions of visitors each year. Its significance goes beyond greenery; it’s a testament to the vision of creating a shared space that enhances urban living and fosters community connections.

Brooklyn Bridge

Yellow taxi driving across the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, an architectural marvel, stretches over the East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn since 1883. This iconic suspension bridge was designed by John Roebling and was the world’s first steel-wire bridge.

A testament to innovation and resilience, the Brooklyn Bridge has become an enduring symbol of New York City, offering pedestrians and commuters alike stunning skyline views. Its stone towers and graceful cables embody the blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal, marking it as a historical and cultural landmark.

Finance Capital of the World

Skyscrapers in the Financial District, NYC

New York City, often hailed as the financial capital of the world, is a powerhouse of economic activity. Home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, the city commands a significant influence on global finance, banking, and markets.

Wall Street, located in the heart of the Financial District, epitomizes the city’s clout in money matters, housing major investment banks and financial institutions. The concentration of wealth, coupled with the presence of the Federal Reserve Bank, underscores New York’s pivotal role in shaping not only the American but also the international economic landscape.

Broadway Shows

Billboards on Broadway in NYC at night

Broadway shows, synonymous with New York City, captivate audiences with their unparalleled theatrical excellence. Situated in the vibrant heart of Manhattan, the Broadway Theater District is a beacon for artists and theater-lovers alike.

These productions, ranging from timeless classics to contemporary hits, offer a diverse array of narratives that reflect the city’s rich cultural tapestry. The allure of live performances—spectacular sets, compelling music, and dynamic storytelling—draws millions to this iconic destination annually.

Broadway’s enduring popularity underscores its significant contribution to both New York’s cultural identity and its standing as a global epicenter for the performing arts.


9/11 memorial

New York City is indelibly marked by the events of September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks targeted the World Trade Center, causing the Twin Towers to tragically fall. This day is etched in global memory, symbolizing both loss and resilience.

The city responded with unity and strength, rebuilding the site into the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, a solemn tribute to nearly 3,000 lives lost. This poignant landmark serves as a reminder of New York’s enduring spirit and the universal values of freedom and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Wall Street

Wall Street, in New York City’s Financial District, is iconic as the bustling epicenter of financial markets. Home to the New York Stock Exchange and symbolic of the entire U.S. financial sector, it represents power and wealth.

Here, fortunes are made and lost daily, affecting global economies. Wall Street’s influence extends beyond finance, shaping economic policies and playing a critical role in the capital markets infrastructure. Its name, synonymous with high finance, continues to resonate worldwide.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, a breathtaking natural wonder straddling the border between the United States and Canada, captivates millions of visitors annually with its majestic beauty and sheer power. Comprising three distinct waterfalls—Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls—it boasts one of the highest flow rates globally, creating a stunning display of cascading water.

Beyond its scenic allure, Niagara Falls serves as a significant source of hydroelectric power, highlighting a harmonious balance between natural splendor and sustainable energy production. Its iconic status makes it a symbol of both countries’ natural heritage and a must-visit landmark for nature enthusiasts.

Famous People from New York

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga music video clip

Lady Gaga, an icon of pop culture and musical innovation, hails from New York City, embodying the eclectic and vibrant spirit that defines her hometown. Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in 1986, Gaga’s journey from the Upper West Side to global superstardom traces back to her roots in New York’s dynamic music scene.

Her versatile talents in singing, songwriting, and performance art were honed in the city’s rich cultural tapestry. Lady Gaga’s meteoric rise and distinctive style reflect the audacity and creativity inherent to New York, making her an emblem of its boundless energy and diversity.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington, an esteemed actor and filmmaker, was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1954. Washington’s New York roots grounded him in a diverse cultural landscape, undoubtedly shaping his dynamic acting career.

With a remarkable ability to convey complex emotions and characters, he has become one of Hollywood’s most respected figures. His accolades, including two Academy Awards, are a testament to his skill and dedication to his craft.

Denzel Washington’s journey from New York to global recognition exemplifies how one’s origins can influence and inspire a legacy of artistic excellence.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise, a stalwart of Hollywood fame, began his journey in Syracuse, New York, in 1962. Growing up in a bustling state known for its cultural diversity and vibrant arts scene likely provided a backdrop for Cruise’s expansive imagination and drive.

This New York native’s transition from a small-town boy to an international superstar is a narrative of ambition and resilience. His illustrious career, marked by iconic roles in blockbuster films, underscores the remarkable influence of his early life in New York, reinforcing the state’s reputation as a breeding ground for talent and determination.

A Final Word

New York is such a fantastic place with so much to see and do. Having lived here for several years now, I can tell you it’s definitely worth visiting if you haven’t made the trip already! If you’re planning a trip to NYC, be sure to check out my blog posts on Things to Do in New York at Christmas and Things to Do in New York in Summer!

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