We have probably all been there at some point. We find out that we are going to a city that is high on our travel wishlist. Unfortunately, it’s for work or an event rather than for vacation. Even worse, we find out that most of our time is going to be spent in a nondescript hotel conference room that could be anywhere in the world. Sounds kind of depressing doesn’t it? Luckily, it doesn’t have to be!
New York City has a slew of great group and team-building activities that can be done outdoors or at some of the city’s biggest attractions. Our team of in-house travel experts has gathered up a long list of ideas that you can do whether you are visiting New York as a small group or a large one!
Dig into the Big Apple with Let’s Roam.
As one of America’s oldest and most dynamic cities, the Big Apple takes many lifetimes to really get to know properly. Let us help you speed up the learning process and become a New York expert! At Let’s Roam, we’ve created a library of great resources for exploring NYC including travel guides, must-see lists, and a ton of fun-filled scavenger hunts. Find out all the ways you can make your trip to the Big Apple extra special by clicking the link below!
Awesome NYC Group Activities
Below you’ll find a list of some of the best group activities in NYC. From searching for ghosts in Greenwich Village to learning how to cook from the masters themselves, there truly is an N-Y-C of group activities to do here!
Important Things to Know
Before we get into all of the fun group activities that you can do in NYC, there are a few things that you should know about the Big Apple. First, New York City is actually comprised of five different boroughs including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
Money Saving Tip: Many parts of New Jersey are also lumped into the New York metro area including Jersey City, Hoboken, and West New York. Many people commute back and forth from these areas every morning to work in the city, and there’s frequent public transport linking the eastern section of New Jersey to New York City. Accommodation tends to be quite a bit cheaper in these areas than what you would find in Manhattan or Brooklyn and the quality is usually better so if you are traveling on a budget, this could be a good option for you.
Money Saving Tip #2: Many New York City museums offer pay-as-you-wish pricing for residents of New York City. This means that anyone who has a valid ID from any of the five boroughs is able to access the museum for free. If you’re exploring New York with a mixed group of residents and visitors from outside of the city, this is something that you should keep in mind.
1. Go on a NYC Scavenger Hunt.
Like most cities, New York City is full of well-known attractions and hidden gems. Our wide range of app-based scavenger hunts can help you take a deeper look at not only Manhattan but also some of the most charming neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Head over to Let’s Roam for a full list of all the great hunts on offer. These are perfect for team-building events, family reunions, and date nights as they can be customized just for you1
2. Be a real-life Ghost Buster on a ghost hunt.
New York is known as being the city that never sleeps—and neither do its ghosts! Our Greenwich Ghost Hunt will lead you through one of the spookiest areas of the city. During the hunt, you’ll visit the “One If By Land, Two If By Sea” restaurant, the Cherry Lane Theater, and the Jefferson Market Library. These spots are said to be haunted by Vice President Aaron Burr and his ill-fated daughter Theodosia who was lost at sea, as well as theater patrons who aren’t willing to let the afterlife stop them from seeing a good show!
3. Let your hair down during a bar crawl.
New York is famous for its nightlife. While you can easily just meet at your favorite Midtown cocktail bar for some after-work Martinis, why not get the good times flowing with an NYC bar crawl? This app-based bar crawl is a far cry from the drunken college rampages that you see throughout the country. Instead, it’s designed to get people out of their comfort zones and promote engagement and teamwork.
The Let’s Roam NYC bar crawl will take you to some of the best bars in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. At each stop, players will be tasked with an array of fun tasks and trivia questions in an effort to win the ultimate bar crawl championship.
4. Catch a Broadway show.
From Andrew Lloyd Webber classics to edgy new plays, Broadway is the place to go in NYC for the performing arts. Some of the theaters offer group discounts, especially if you’re booking during the low season when they are struggling to fill seats. While this may not work for shows like Hamilton, it can certainly help you snag seats for some of the up-and-coming shows or ones that have been running for a long time.
Money Saving Tip: If you’re traveling with a small group, you can always try your luck at the TKTS ticket stand in Times Square. Here, you can often get discounted orchestra seats for some of New York’s longest-running shows.
5. Schedule a tour at the Tenement Museum.
The Lower East Side has long been a melting pot of different cultures as immigrants from across Europe and Asia settled here. Tucked into a quiet street, the Tenement Museum is dedicated to the people who lived, loved, and worked in the LES. The museum faithfully recreates apartments of the families that lived in some of NYC’s oldest tenement (aka apartment) buildings and lets you learn more about the residents through artifacts, audio recordings, and more.
The museum is only accessible by guided tour which makes this one of the most private group activities on this list. Group reservations can be made from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. It’s recommended that you make your booking at least two weeks in advance.
6. Treat your group to some of the best pudding on the planet.
Although the Midtown East cafe Magnolia has become famous for its banana cream pudding, many other places in the city offer a far superior product. Luckily, one of these places is just a short walk away from the Tenement Museum which means you can easily combine these two activities together for an extra special treat!
Sugar Sweet Sunshine is the cream of the crop so to speak when it comes to all things pudding related. This tiny cafe has just two tables, but they’re renowned amongst New Yorkers who simply can’t get enough of their oh-so-delicious banana cream pudding and melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes. You can order online for a group event or simply show up and let everyone pick and choose from all the delicious options.
7. Go to the Bronx Zoo.
You can say this is where New York really shows its wild side! Located north of Manhattan in The Bronx, the Bronx Zoo is the biggest zoo in New York City. This sprawling zoological park features more than 10,000 animals including gorillas, red pandas, tigers, elephants, giraffes, sea lions, lions, sloths, and bears. It’s possible to purchase group tickets for the zoo or you can even host catered events amongst the jungle animals.
8. Ride a sightseeing bus.
If it’s your first time visiting New York City, one of the best ways to explore is via one of the iconic sightseeing buses. These buses take visitors up and down most of the major avenues in Manhattan, giving tourists a chance to see the biggest attractions easily. It also gives you an interesting perspective of the city streets as you zoom by on a double-decker bus. This is a particularly great option if you are visiting with people who have low mobility or you happen to visit NYC when the weather is far from pleasant.
City Sightseeing offers Downtown and Uptown routes as well as package deals that also give you access to some of New York’s top attractions. It could be a good idea to narrow down the places that you want to see before buying tickets to see if the package options can help you save some money. NYC is an expensive city to visit so every little bit of savings helps!
9. Have some fun in Chelsea Piers.
Chelsea Piers is where New Yorkers come to play all year round! This massive sports and entertainment complex is located right along the Hudson River and offers a plethora of different activities. There is a golf driving range, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, and much more where you can arrange fun team-building activities. The complex also hosts a wide array of team-building and corporate events ranging from happy hours to holiday parties so you can finish off the day with a catered dinner or some relaxing drinks.
10. Fly away in Hudson River Park
One of the most unique of these is definitely trapeze school. Located on Pier 40, Trapeze School New York gives visitors the chance to fly high above the Hudson River while testing out their aerial skills. Classes are held throughout the day and are open to people of all skill levels, even people who have never tried the trapeze before. It’s a unique experience and not one that you can find in many other cities.
11. Go kayaking on the Hudson River.
While the Hudson River may not be as idyllic as some of America’s other rivers, its location right on the western edge of Manhattan makes it a convenient spot to embark on some aquatic adventures! All along the edge of the river in Hudson River Park, you can find boathouses where they rent out kayaks, sailboats, and stand-up paddle boats. The Downtown Boathouse in Tribeca even offers kayaking programs that provide free access to New York Harbor.
12. Take a walk on the High Line.
When the High Line Park first opened in the mid-2000s, it was the talk of the town. The park was created using a repurposed railway line that used to carry people and goods throughout the Meat Packing District and Chelsea. However, as trains declined, the elevated railway line was left to rot. It was eventually slated for demolition until a group of local residents decide to try to transform it into a public space.
Today, the High Line Park stretches just under one and a half miles starting on Gansevoort St in the Meatpacking District and finishing on 34th Street near Penn Station. It’s lined with gardens, art exhibits, food stalls, and seating areas where old and new friends can meet. Despite being open for more than 15 years, the park is still an extremely popular attraction for both locals and residents alike. It is also a great way to travel from one place to another in western Manhattan!
13. Discover the hidden gems of Central Park
Besides being the green lung of Manhattan, Central Park holds a special place in many people’s hearts. From the rugged rock outcrops peaking through the green grass to the sweeping views of the skyline rising high above the trees, Central Park has unique attractions and hidden gems around every corner.
There is a six-mile road that encircles the park that is perfect for biking or running and you will see many New Yorkers squeezing in some exercise throughout the day. Another popular activity is to bring a picnic and relax for a while as you watch the world go by.
If you want to turn your visit to Central Park into a fantastic team-building event, make sure to try our “Central Park Adventure Scavenger Hunt.” During this hunt, you will visit the many sculptures and cultural attractions scattered throughout the park including the Bethesda Fountain, the Alice in Wonderland Statue, and the Hans Christian Anderson Statue.
14. Get high in Midtown.
Midtown Manhattan has one of the highest concentrations of old-school skyscrapers in the world. It’s also home to many of New York’s most iconic buildings. The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center are all here, creating one of the most magnificent skylines in the world. Many of these legendary buildings boast observation decks where you can get great views of Manhattan, New Jersey, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Some of the most visited observation decks include the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, the Edge Observation Deck at Hudson Yards, and SUMMIT One Vanderbilt. While visiting the top of Rockefeller Center and The Empire State Building gives you the opportunity to see inside these amazing art deco buildings, you don’t get to have them in your actual photo.
Meanwhile, the Edge Observation Deck offers a sky deck, the outdoor City Climb and glass-paneled floor and SUMMIT One Vanderbilt near Grand Central Station has some of the best 360-degree views in the city. These two newer observation decks also have the added bonus of allowing you to have both the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center in your photos!
Visiting any of these observation decks is a great group activity, especially for people who are new to the city. It gives you a bird’s eye view of Manhattan which makes it really easy to get a pretty good idea of how the city is laid out. Many of the most popular observation decks often have lines that wrap around the block so it’s a good idea to book your tickets online to avoid the long wait.
15. Sing your heart out in the West Village.
While New York has more than its fair share of karaoke bars, nothing quite compares with a night spent at Marie’s Crisis. As New York as they come, this combination of a dive bar and piano bar is THE place to go if you want to belt out your favorite Broadway show tune.
Marie’s Crisis can get insanely busy late at night so try to come early in the evening if you are traveling with a group of people. This will give you a chance to grab a spot around the piano or over by the bar where you can hang out for the night. If you want to request a song, make sure that you tip the piano player well. You also may not want to request anything too mainstream (looking at you Andrew Lloyd Webber fans).
16. Learn about America’s past at Ellis Island.
Many Americans have at least one, or many, ancestors that passed through Ellis Island while they were emigrating to the United States from Europe. Built in 1892, this immigration center was the first place in America that many immigrants ever saw. Once they arrived, they would be quickly scanned for any major medical issues and then were free to venture off into the city to create a brand new life for themselves. Although it stopped handling most immigration procedures by the mid-1920s, the center didn’t officially close until 1954.
Visiting the National Museum of Immigration on Ellis Island gives an inspiring look into what life was like on board the many ships that crossed the Atlantic, bringing more than hopeful 12 million immigrants to the U.S. to start their new life. It also gives insight as to what happened once they arrived here.
Visiting the museum is a great experience for groups of people. As you walk through the Great Hall, baggage room, and restored dormitories, it’s easy to feel a sense of camaraderie, knowing that many of you have a shared history no matter where your family background originated.
17. And climb the Statue of Liberty.
Most tours to Ellis Island also include a stop at the Statue of Liberty, one of America’s most beloved monuments. The idea for building Lady Liberty was originally brought forward in 1865 just when Americans were finishing killing each other on Civil War battlefields and was designed to signify the close relationship between France and the United States. The statue was finally completed in 1886 which means that she was there to greet newly arrived immigrants as they made their way to Ellis Island.
Today, you can climb the 162 steps up to the Statue of Liberty’s Crown and get a close-up view of the torch that she holds high above New York Harbor. On the way up, you can also check out the spectacular amount of engineering that went into erecting the statue.
18. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
While New York has a slew of beautiful bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge is by far the most famous one. Stretching across the East River from Chinatown in Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, this iconic suspension bridge has been connecting the two parts of the city since 1883. Walking across this beautiful bridge is not only a popular tourist activity but also a bit of a rite of passage for recently-arrived New Yorkers.
A walk across the bridge is 1.3 miles each way, so you may want to decide early on if you want to walk across and back or spend some time on both sides of it. The bridge ends near the trendy neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) which offers great restaurants and cafes as well as a lovely park area.
Make sure you keep your wits about you and keep an eye out for bikers riding in the pedestrian lane. You should also allow plenty of time to look around and take photos of the Manhattan skyline looming behind you as you walk towards Brooklyn or rising up in front of you as you make your way to Manhattan.
19. Go to Governor’s Island.
Located within New York Harbor, Governor’s Island was previously used as a military installation starting during the American Revolutionary War. The site was finally decommissioned in 1996. This 172-acre island has become a major event venue in NYC with a long list of arts and cultural events held there throughout the year.
While you’re there, you can join a walking tour, rent bikes and zoom around the island, or visit a historic fort. There’s a frequent ferry that takes visitors back and forth between Brooklyn and Manhattan which makes this the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours.
20. Brush up on your history at the American Museum of Natural History.
Thanks to movies like The Night at the Museum, the American Museum of Natural History is one of New York’s most recognizable buildings. Housed in a magnificent late 19th-century building near Central Park, the museum boasts a spectacular collection of dinosaur skeletons, looming IMAX theaters, and a range of exhibits covering the Earth’s natural history.
There are free guided tours held throughout the day where you can learn more about the exhibits and the history of the building. The tours last around 75 minutes. Spots are limited so make sure to sign up for one on the first floor when you arrive.
21. Unleash your inner artist (or art critic!).
Besides offering some of the world’s best history museums, New York City is also home to some of the world’s most renowned art museums including the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). All of these museums have incomparable collections that can hold their own against other international art museums like the Louvre, the National Gallery in London, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Uffizi in Florence.
Visiting any of these museums can give you a great perspective on art from all over the world. Many of these museums offer free guided tours or you can also book a private tour for you and your group. This is the perfect rainy or snowy day activity and one of the many fun things that you can do as a group in the Big Apple.
22. Join a walking tour.
Unlike most American cities, York is a city for walkers. If you have good shoes, time, and a lot of endurance, you can walk from the tip of Manhattan to the far northern stretches of the island with nothing standing in your way. This makes NYC an amazing place to do a walking tour.
There are many different guided tours offered throughout the city. Some cover general history and culture while others delve into niche topics like pizza, Broadway theaters, George Washington, dive bars, and more. Basically, you want it—you got it! Both types of tours give you great insight into what makes NYC so special.
If you’re feeling really energetic, you can even spend the day doing a food tour of Chinatown and then finish it off with a dive bar tour of Greenwich Village! The world is your oyster…. or… apple?
23. Have a seaside holiday at Coney Island.
Coney Island holds a special place in the American psyche. This beach destination and amusement park has become almost synonymous with the early 20th century when beach babes would put on their best swimming costumes and go for a swim in the chilly Atlantic waters.
Although Coney Island doesn’t hold quite the same sense of grandeur as it once did, it still offers a great escape from the busyness of the city, sweeping views of the ocean, and the chance to let your inner child out for a few hours. While you are there, you can go for a walk on the boardwalk, eat carnival-style food, ride on one of the amusement park rides, or go for a swim if you are feeling brave. This is a great way to experience the old-school New York of yesteryear and have a great time doing it!
24. Climb aboard the Intrepid.
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to climb aboard a historic 1943 aircraft carrier (or any aircraft carrier for that matter!). Docked in the Hudson River at the edge of Hell’s Kitchen in Midtown West, The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum is a must-visit for all history and military buffs. During your visit, you can check out airplanes, helicopters, submarines, and space shuttles while learning about the science and history behind them.
Besides their normal visiting hours, the museum offers special programs for groups and community organizations where you can get private tours and take part in experiential and object-based learning. They also host free events throughout the summer including outdoor movies and wine tasting and mixology lessons as well as overnight visits where you can sleep amongst the aircraft!
25. Go to a free outdoor event.
As they say, the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. While New Yorkers pay a sizable chunk of change in tax, they definitely get a lot for their money when it comes to free events! Every summer, you can find free cultural events happening in all corners of Manhattan.
Free movie nights, live performances of Shakespeare plays in Central Park, yoga and exercise classes, and concerts are a great way to spend a few hours on a warm summer evening. The key to enjoying your time at these free events is to get there early to snag a good spot, bring some snacks, and drinks, and relax for a while. If you’re planning on attending something with a large group, have a few of your team members try to go as early as possible even if that means spending half of the day hanging around to save your spot. Trust us, it’s definitely worth it!
26. Take a cooking class.
With more than 700 Michelin-starred restaurants, countless hole-in-the-wall joints, and some of the best pizza on the planet, New York is a city that takes its food seriously. What better place is there to take a cooking class?
From learning how to roll your own sushi to putting together the ultimate vegan meal, cooking classes are a great corporate team-building event as they give team members the chance to show off their cooking skills while learning a few tips and tricks on creating a delicious meal. Cooking classes are held throughout the city. You can attend them at culinary institutes, restaurants, or even bakeries depending on what types of culinary skills you want to learn.
Ready to roam?
We hope this list of fun group activities in NYC has left you inspired to grab your friends, family members, or coworkers and have some fun in the Big Apple. As you can see, corporate team-building activities don’t necessarily have to mean being stuck in a boring hotel conference room!
If you want to read about more great group activities in cities like Seattle, Miami, and Charlotte or even more team-building activities in New York, make sure you head over to the Let’s Roam Explorer blog. Here, you’ll find tons of great destination guides, must-see lists, and travel articles for locations all over the world.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re in Midtown and looking for a group activity, why not visit one of the many museums nearby, go up to the observation deck at Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building, or explore The Intrepid?
New York City is a great place to visit as a group. From amazing museums to fascinating walking tours, there are many great group activities on offer that are perfect for people of all ages.
Many of the top activities in New York City are used by groups of all sizes. This means you can go for a stroll through Times Square or Central Park, go to a museum or a Broadway show, and more!
NYC can be very expensive, but luckily, there are many cheap group activities! You can go to a free outdoor movie, walk through Central Park or the High Line, or go kayaking on the Hudson River.