Readers who know I live in New York City often write to say, “I’m coming to New York. What should I do while I’m in town?”

I don’t have a lot of obscure recommendations to make — you’ve probably heard of all these suggestions — but for what it’s worth, here are some of my favorite places to visit.

If you’re thinking about planning a trip, research suggests that doing new and challenging things, like traveling, tend to boost happiness. It’s the atmosphere of growth! So it’s true that :

Your adventure will probably make you happier. @gretchenrubin (Click to Tweet!)

  1. No surprise, I have to list the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Natural History. They’re both spectacular; inexhaustible; breath-taking.
  2. The High Line is a recent addition to the attractions of New York City. It’s an elevated park built along an old railroad line — which means it’s an outdoor experience, so take that into consideration.
  3. Central Park is a gorgeous place to visit. My favorite place there — and maybe in the whole city — is Bethesda Fountain. I also love the Alice in Wonderland Statue by the pond for model boats, also Conservatory Garden.
  4. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum — unforgettable.
  5. Walk around Chinatown. So fun.
  6. Ditto the Meatpacking District. (See #2 and #8.)
  7. The Frick Collection is a small museum, very quiet and peaceful. No kids allowed however (which is part of why it’s so peaceful, I suppose).
  8. The Whitney Museum of American Art is in its new location downtown.
  9. My favorite independent bookstore is Crawford Doyle — a wonderful bookstore, just a few blocks from my apartment.
  10. In Brooklyn, it’s really fun to walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, to look at the water and the Manhattan skyline.
  11. It’s also fun to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
  12.  I’ve been to Ellis Island twice — so thought-provoking, all about the immigrant experience. I’ve never actually visited the Statue of Liberty, but you get a great view of it from Ellis Island.
  13. Not as historically educational, but also fun, is Ripley’s Believe or Not. Also, Ripley’s is located in Times Square, and…
  14. No visit to New York City is complete without a visit to Times Square.
  15. In the end, one of my favorite things to do in New York City is just to start in one place and walk for hours in one direction. In the space of just a few blocks, the eco-system of the neighborhoods change dramatically. It’s fun just to see what’s around you. And along the same lines…
  16. Visit a grocery store, a drug store, and a toy store. Especially if you’re from another country (but even if you’re just visiting from someplace else), it’s surprisingly fascinating to look at these everyday places.
  17. And even if you live in New York City yourself, try visiting these places — or find new places to visit. In Happier at Home, I write about why it’s a happiness-booster to be a tourist without leaving home.

What have I overlooked — what places would you add to this list?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Nirzar Pangarkar.