Last Updated October 9, 2021
Let me guess, you’ve been to NYC before and want some, dare I say, unusual things to do in NYC?
Yeah, I get it.
I mean, King Kong scaled the Empire State Building so clearly this New York City attraction is no surprise to anyone.
Plus, it’s kind of overrated, but that’s another story altogether.
So, if you’ve been to New York City countless times, or if you’re visiting for the first time and want to avoid some of the more generic, New York City points of interest, then this list of unique things to do in New York City is for you!
Because I was born and raised in New York City, have lived there for well over 20 years,and know exactly where to go and what to do as we swan dive into this list epic list of unusual things to do in New York City.
Because guess what?
We’re about to get off the New York City tourist trail and look at some of the best non-touristy things to do in NYC (AKA some of my all-time favorite, cool things to do in NYC).
Things might even get a little weird, like it sometimes does at some of the best hostels in New York City, as we experience some of the more alternative things to do in New York City, but I promise, it will all be worth it in the end. And while I may sound a bit cryptic here, I promise that no human sacrifices of any kind will be required, scout’s honor.
So grab a huge ass bowl of popcorn and relax since we’re about to dive head first into some of the best-hidden gems in New York City.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Not sure where to stay in NYC? Then check out 414 Hotel (Rooms at this chic, Hell’s Kitchen hotel start at $159 per night and include fridges, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. There’s even a working fireplace in the lobby!), The James New York (Chic, modern rooms at this Soho hotel start at $177 per night and feature high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, plush linens made from natural materials, and more), The Bowery Hotel, (Rooms at this 5-star, Nolita hotel start at $300 per night and are cozy, but stylish, with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and more). and Pod 39 (Located in Murray Hill, this pod hotel sits inside a residential home from 1918. Rooms here start at $120 per night and are cozy and outfitted with queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with individual TVs and bedside shelves).***
If you’re booking a trip right now then I IMPLORE you to get travel insurance – even if it’s not from me.
After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especially since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Unusual Things to do in NYC: Manhattan
We’re gonna start this wicked awesome post off right by exploring some of the most unusual things to do in Manhattan, the most famous of New York’s five boroughs.
Because even though Manhattan is home to some of New York City’s most iconic attractions (think Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, etc), there are a wealth of super quirky, totally unusual things to do here.
Places you’d only really know about if you’ve lived in New York City for twenty plus years, like me.
Luckily for you though, I’m about to share all of my insider secrets about some of the most unusual things to do in New York City, at least if you’re planning on exploring Manhattan.
1. The MET Cloisters
Let me guess:
You think I’ve joined some religious cult where they speak in tongues and do ritualistic animal sacrifices?
Nah, I’m saving that for another post…kidding!
Perched atop a hill, in Fort Tryon Park, lies the Cloisters, a criminally underrated branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (purchase a ticket to the MET, you can use that ticket to visit the Cloisters as well) that is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in all of New York City.
Built-in 1917 by John D. Rockefeller Jr (#ballerlife).:
This peaceful, ragtag, aggregation of architectural masterpieces was originally built to house an overflow of medieval artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Cloisters has become a treasure of New York City in its own right and is well worth a visit for those looking to experience New York City like a local.
Within these hallowed walls:
There lie frescoes, tapestries and paintings aplenty; all of which surround a romantic courtyard that is interconnected by grand archways that are topped off with Moorish inspired, terra-cotta roofs.
The crowning jewel of the entire facility is The Hunt of the Unicorn, a 16th-century tapestry that is awe-inspiring in it’s timeless, effervescent beauty.
And I mean:
If you don’t like unicorns, I don’t we can be friends…even on Facebook (kidding…sort of).
***FYI: Friendly reminder that while the MET (aka one of the coolest museums in NYC) USED to be pay what you wish, that is no longer the case. Only residents of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania can pay what they wish, with the presentation of a valid form of ID. For everyone else, admission is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for students, and free for members, patrons, and children under 12. And since the lines to get into the MET are now insanely line, do try and pre-book your skip-the-line ticket to the MET here***
Address: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY
Admission Fee: $25 but fof full details, see my little FYI above.
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 5:15 pm
How to Get There: Not gonna lie, this place is a TOTAL pain in the ass to get to. You’ll have to take the A Train ALL the way Uptown (like in the Bronx Uptown) and get off at Dyckman Street Subway Station. But trust me, this is one of my favorite places on this list of unusual things to do in NYC, so the schlep (NY speak for journey) is well worth it.
2. The Escape Game
Just in case you’re not in the know, escape rooms are all the rage now. They’re basically this super cool, indoor experience where you have 60-minutes to follow the clues, solve some puzzles, and basically do everything you can to, well, escape the room.
And while I’m done a lot of escape rooms in my time, The Escape Game is EASILY the best and one of the most unusual things to do in NYC – especially if you’re looking for the best indoor activities in NYC for a rainy day.
I mean, not only is The Escape Game well-located in mid-town Manhattan (right near Grand Central and Bryant Park), but they have a ton of challenging, fun, and super interactive experiences for you to choose from, including themed games like Gold Rush, Playground, The Heist, Prison Break, and Special Ops: Mysterious Market.
Now, I personally did Special Ops and absolutely LOVED it since you get taken into this quiet market where you must uncover well-hidden clues and solve a series of challenging puzzles to unlock the door, escape the room, and, save the day.
And while most escape rooms only consist of one room, THIS experience featured SURPRISE, two rooms. Therefore, after we solved the first challenge, we were taken into an “elevator” where we were played a video and taken into a second room where we had to defuse a nuclear missile and save the world.
Yeah, it was difficult but still solvable and an all-around great experience since the game was extremely well-executed with a series of amazing props that included a fantastic mix of high-tech and more traditional puzzles.
So, if you’re looking for fantastic hidden gems in NYC then give the Escape Game a try. I pinkie promise you will 100% NOT regret it.
Address: 295 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (E. 41st Street)
Price: $41.99 per person.
Hours: Games are 60-minutes long and are held 7 or 8 times a day between 8:50 am and 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6, the 7 train, or the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central Terminal and walk from there.
3. Visit The Evolution Store
Quirky to the extreme:
The Evolution Store is tucked away inside of New York City’s ever-trendy, SOHO, art district.
Take some time to look past all of the posh AF, galleries du jour here, and you’ll discover this distinctive, wood-paneled shop, which is brimming over with natural curiosities like framed butterflies, animal skulls, seashells, fossils, medical models, and more.
All of the staff here are beyond helpful and are only too happy to answer any questions that you have about any of the high-quality items for sale here.
Because every beyond bizarre item sold here is of the highest quality and acquired from the same high-caliber businesses that supply some of the city’s biggest museums.
Everything here really s totally legit.
Don’t leave before taking a quick peek at the shop’s super-rad, giant sloth skeleton. Cuz all my fellow science nerds out there really will think this specimen is rad to the extreme.
Address: 687 Broadway, New York, New York, 10012
Admission Fee: FREE!
Hours: Open Sunday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, or 6 train to Bleeker Street and walk to the store from there.
4. Dream House
Located in the beyond chic neighborhood of Tribeca:
Dream House was first created in 1993 by composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela.
It sits hidden away on Church Street, behind a sleek, black door with a slightly ominous-looking sign that simply says “The Dream House”.
When you climb the stairs to the third floor of this building, you’ll uncover one of the most unusual things to do in New York City.
It’s a fully immersive, total sensory experience where visitors are inundated with neon pink lights and an ever-changing sound waves that you never knew existed.
Do your best to remain completely still as an endless array of new and exciting sounds washes over you in a crazy, neon pink world that you never knew existed.
***PSST…Before you step inside, you must take your shoes off, leave your bags behind, and remove your jacket. Silence is also requested once you’re inside the art exhibition itself.***
Address: 275 Church Street, New York, New York, 10013
Admission Fee: $10.00
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 2:00 pm to 12:00 am.
How to Get There: Take the 1 train to Franklin Street and walk to Dream House from here. There is a restaurant on the ground floor but the exhibition will be on the third floor. And if you’re lost, just follow the nifty little paper sign
5. The Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum is an amazing place that recreates the harsh living conditions that immigrants faced in 1863 while living in the tenements at 97 Orchard Street.
Take one of the many different themed tours through this museum:
And you’ll quickly see that conditions were cramped, access to plumbing and clean water was limited, and that disease spread throughout the area like wildfire.
But the truly beautiful thing about the Tenement Museum is that it doesn’t just display the past, it allows you to become a part of the story by thrusting you into the exact hardships that residents faced.
As a result:
You fully appreciate the plethora of difficulties that immigrants of the past faced; a concept that is unfathomably important since these are the very, ordinary people who shaped the social and moral fabric of society today.
To visit for yourself, simply head to their website and pre-book one of their 90-minute tours (well in advance) since this museum is uber-popular and as a result, tours do sell out rather quickly.
You are also not allowed to walk through the museum by yourself and MUST see the building as part of an organized tour.
A tiny detail that is SUPER annoying for a perpetually independent human like me.
The good news is that you have a TON of different tour options to choose from that cover topics like under one roof, shop life, sweatshop workers, hard times, outside the home, then and now, building on the lower east side, and Irish outsiders (They also offer a cool-looking, foods of the Lower East Side tour for $45).
Address: Located at 97 and 103 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan
Admission Fee: Between $27 and $29 per person.
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 6:30 pm.
How to Get There: You can either take the F or the J to Delancey Street Station.
6. Boroughs of the Dead – Macabre New York City Walking Tours
You know you’re onto something good when locals make up about 80 – 85% of your clientele.
And Boroughs of the Dead is epically good.
Led by expert storytellers who thoroughly research the dark and unusual history of New York City, this tour company instills fear in patrons by creating a chilling reality that is undoubtedly scarier than fiction.
But what really makes this walking tour unique, besides the fact that it is the only ghost tour company in New York City, is the dedication of these professional tour guides to creating a one of a kind experiences that you will never forget;
Trust me, you’ll never look at New York City the same way again.
Depending on the season:
Boroughs of the Dead offers an exciting assortment of tours in each of the boroughs, each with a different meeting point and ending location.
Tour options include the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, Weird Tales of the West Village, and The Forgotten Dark Histories of Lower Manhattan.
So strap on those big girl pants and prepare for some thrills lifetime time.
BREAKING NEWS: They now offer a brand new, Frights and Phantoms of Flushing Tour for any and all of my Queens lovin’ homies out there who are looking for some weird things to do in NYC.
***I also highly recommend this Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, since I have a weird obsession with the macabre and all things Investigation Discovery. What I LOVE about this tour is that it’s an awesome ghost/history combo tour that shares a ton of ghost stories with you (about things like the Hanging Tree, the Murder House that 22 spirits still haunt, and the fire at the brown building) while still giving you an extensive history of Greenwich Village and the many aspects of this neighborhood that make it truly unique.***
Hours: Tours are concudted every evening, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm.
Admission: Tickets are $25 per person, with meeting locations dependent upon the location of the tour you choose.
7. Morgan Library and Museum
Whenever anyone mentions “library” and “New York” in the same sentence, typically they’re thinking of the New York Public Library.
Just down the street from this iconic, literary institution, there is a library that I personally think is even better than the New York Public Library, plus the crowds are much smaller,
And that place is the Morgan Library and Museum.
Just picture the insanely wonderful library in Beauty and the Beast and you have some idea of just how magical this library really is.
How can you not love a place that publicly displays a Guttenberg Bible and an original composition from Mozart?
Just throw in some stunning, historic architecture, a full, historically accurate recreation of Mr. Morgan’s personal library (fully decked out with plush, red velvet decor), and you have one spectacular New York City attraction.
Admission to the Morgan Library and Museum can be a bit pricey at $20 a person, but you can always try and visit on a Friday evening, between 7 pm and 9 pm, when admission is FREE.
Plus, you’ll get to see a free, live jazz performance too!
WOOT WOOT! Raise the roof… or your pinkie as you gingerly sip a cup of tea in the drawing-room.
Whatever fits your personal style.
I love this library SOO much that I’ve visited multiple times. And not only is this place literally right down the street from Bryant Park AND the New York Public Library, but the former private library of the one and only Pierpont Morgan is also home to a variety of rotating exhibits that make this place EVEN more fun to visit. I mean, I visited just three months ago and they ALREADY have a super cool, new exhibit on display. And if you’re hungry after your visit, then stop by Lady M Cake Boutique along Bryant Park since they have the best green tea, crepe cake ever. I hoovered mine and I don’t even like green tea! So yeah, that’s saying something right there!
Address: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY
Admission Fee: Tickets are $22 for adults, $14 for seniors (65 and over), $13 for students with a current, student ID, and to members and children 12 and under.
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm (except open late, until 9 pm on Fridays), Saturdays from 10 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm.
How to Get There: Honestly, just take any subway line to Times Square since you can easily walk to the Morgan Public Library from there.
8. Merchant’s House Museum
Hidden away along the border of Noho and the East Village is one of the most unusual things to do in NYC – the Merchant’s House Museum.
It was first built in1832 as a private home for the wealthy Treadwell family and features a stunning, Federal-style brick facade that truly makes it a sight to behold.
After marveling at the awesome exterior, be sure to ring the doorbell and wait to be ushered inside. Once you cross the threshold, grab an informational binder and embark on a self-guided tour through the series of Greek-revival-style rooms that showcase upwards of 3,000 historic artifacts that date all the way back to the time when the Treadwells lived here.
Trust me, you’ll feel like you’re truly stepping back in time as you enjoy a series of fully restored, historically accurate rooms that are spread out across three floors and that offer you a unique glimpse into the life of the rich in the early 19th century.
Whatever you do though, don’t leave without visiting the stunning backyard. It feels like a lovely little hidden garden of sorts and is not to be missed as you experience one fo the many hidden gems of NYC.
Pro Tip: If you can, stop by for either Halloween or Christmas and do one of their festive, holiday-themed tours of the house. Regular, docent-;led, 75-minute tours of the home are also offered at 12:00 pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Address: 29 East 4th Street, New York, NY, 10003
Hours: From October through February the house is open Thursday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, last admission at 4:30 pm. From March through September, the house is open Thursday from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Friday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, with last admission at 4:30 pm.
Price: $20 per person for a formal tour and $15 per person to visit the house.
How to Get There: Take the N/R train to 8th Street station, the 6 train to Astor Place station, or the B/D/F/M to Broadway/Lafayette station and walk to the museum from there.
9. The Seaglass Carousel
Feel like being a kid again but don’t want to schlep all the way to Coney Island?
Then why not catch a ride on the sea glass carousel an enchanting place that stands out against the rest of Battery Park.
For just $5:
Hop aboard an internally, LED illuminated fish, that swirls and twirls its way around the Nautilus-shaped building, and into your heart, while creating a sense of wonder and awe within visitors of all ages.
But why fish?
Apparently, park designers wanted to add something light, bright, and fun to the drab park interior. So they went with a lovely, nautical theme since this park was actually home to the first aquarium in New York City (Boom! Use that nugget of knowledge to win Who Wants to be a Millionaire).
Feeling a little blue because the ride is over?
Never fear because this carousel is located in the one and only Battery Park.
While you’re here, you can also marvel at good old Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, visit the one and only Ellis Island, walk over to Wall Street, or explore the nearby Irish Hunger Memorial (a truly moving monument that is one of the most special things to do in New York City).
And if you’re feeling REALLY cultural:
You can even visit the insanely cool, criminally underrated, National Museum of the American Indian, which is only a 4-minute walk from the carousel.
Not only is this Smithsonian Museum totally FREE to enter, but it sits inside the historic, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and is home to a multitude of permanent and temporary exhibitions that help educate visitors about the diversity and history of all of the Native people of the Americas.
Some seriously cool stuff if I do say so myself, and I do!
Address: Water St &, State St, New York, NY
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
Admission Fee: Tickets are $5 for children and adults of ALL ages!
How to Get There: You can either take the 1 line to South Ferry Station OR take the 4/5 to Bowling Green Station.
10. Visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
I’m gonna get a little personal here.
While I myself am not super into military history and the idea of learning about American military and maritime history by exploring a collection of ships at New York City’s Pier 86, this place still means a lot to me.
My dad and I aren’t super close since we basically have NOTHING in common, besides shared DNA.
One of the really fond memories that I do have of him is when he took a day off from work and took me to visit the Intrepid Air and Space Museum when I was five.
It was a pretty amazing experience since that memory is still very vivid and remains with me to this day.
If you’re looking for one of the more unusual museums to visit in NYC, then consider grabbing some tickets to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum.
Not only does this museum showcase a rich collection of military artifacts from within their permanent collection, but they also have a fantastic assortment of rotating, special exhibits that cover a wide range of topics like naval history, space exploration, technology and more.
If you’re looking to embrace your inner history nerd and spend a day learning about American naval military history, aboard an actual, aircraft carrier that was once used by the navy, then the Intrepid Sea and Space Museum is the place to go!
And if you’re feeling a bit peckish afterward:
Do me a solid and walk down the street (about 15-minutes towards Midtown) to Schmackary’s Bakery! They sell the most AMAZING Carrot Cake and Choconut Chip cookies there, (even though I personally think LeVain’s are better)!
Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY
Admission: Tickets are $29 for adults, $18 for children between 5 and 12, and $23.25 for seniors over 65.
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
How to Get There: From mid-town, you can take the M42 bus to the 12 Av/W 42 St stop.
11. Visit the Old City Hall Station
This is one of those special things to do in New York that isn’t 100% legal so if anyone asks, you didn’t hear about this from me.
But as you may have heard:
The former City Hall station is insanely gorgeous and why they ever replaced it with the nasty one they have now, I’ll never know.
The obvious question remains, how can you see this marvelous, architectural wonder for yourself?
Well, do as the other poor locals do and skip the expensive tickets sold through the Transit Museum. Instead, hop on the subway, duck down, and ride the train past the final station at City Hall.
Why does this work?
The train actually turns around and passes the old City Hall station (last stop before the Brooklyn Bridge) just before making its way back Uptown.
Take advantage of the situation and see this historic station for free, even if the legality of this technique is somewhat questionable.
Being a total badass lawbreaker will add a little spice to your life.
12. Grab the Cutest Latte Ever from Sweet Moment in Chinatown
Looking for the cutest latte in all of NYC?
If you are then Sweet Moment is the place for you. It’s also one of the best coffee shops in NYC and one of the places you must eat in NYC. So clearly there are many reasons that you should visit this amazing place.
Not only is there a highly Instagramable, neon sign flashing the words, “Sweet Moment” as you walk inside this cafe, but this Chinatown coffee, tea, and dessert mecca (think Bingsoo, waffles, cake, ice cream, etc.) is well decorated and spacious too.
You will definitely find a seat and no, you won’t have to sit on anyone’s lap.
If you’re hungry, you can always stop and enjoy some of New York City’s finest ethnic cuisines.
Let’s be real. You’re not here at Sweet Moment for the coffee or the food. You’re here for the most adorable tea art that I’ve ever seen!
This uber adorable, “cream art” beverage is served as a cold brew, coffee or black tea and comes in funky flavors like chocolate, matcha, taro, and red velvet; all of which are served with milk and a healthy dollop of whipped cream.
The drinks are yummy but super sweet. So the real draw here is that you can take a picture of a latte that looks like the cutest little bear that you ever did see.
But you Know What they Say?
I did it all for the gram! Oh God, I’m turning into one of those basic, social media-obsessed, self-involved Millennials! Ahh, make it stop!
***Psst, one more piece of foodie advice. Avoid Little Italy and visit Arthur Avenue instead. Not only is the food better but the prices are MUCH cheaper since Arthur Avenue is in the Bronx.***
Address: 106 Mott St, New York, NY
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
Price: For one of their BEARY (sorry, I had to) cool, tea art lattes, you’ll spend about $5. You can also choose between choco, matcha, red velvet, taro, and thai flavors.
How to Get There: Take either the 4 or 6 train to Canal Street Station.
13. Visit The Crumbling Small Pox Hospital Ruins on Roosevelt Island
Unless you’re of a certain generation:
You probably will never have any idea of just how horrific smallpox really was.
I’ve heard horror stories from my parents and that’s more than enough for me to realize that is was really bad.
And that’s putting it mildly.
Thankfully though, the disease was fully eradicated in 1979 and has since become a distant memory.
A memory that you can revisit along the southern tip of Roosevelt Island.
Because it’s here that you’ll find the ruins of Renwick Hospital.
It’s a Gothic Revival style smallpox hospital that was built in 1856 by James Renwick Jr.
Initially constructed here, to keep infected patients away from the general population:
The hospital remained in active use until 1875 and, on average, treated about 7,000 patients per year.
Later, because of the increased number of island inhabitants:
The building was converted into a nurses’ dormitory that eventually fell into disrepair and became nothing more than a long-standing of New York City’s darker past.
Fast forward a couple of hundred years though:
And you will now find nothing more than the ruins of the Renwick Hospital here, long since abandoned and having fallen into disrepair.
At least until 1975:
When the Landmarks Preservation Commission took interest in the site, declared it an official landmark, and did some super fun things like reinforcing the walls so the structure didn’t fall down completely.
Which is why:
If you visit this site today you’ll find the haunting remains of the hospital’s outer walls and foundation sitting behind a fence, making this one of the most unusual things to do in New York City for anyone who is interested in doing a bit of dark tourism.
Address: Roosevelt Island, New York, New York, 10044
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day.
How to Get There: Take the F to Roosevelt Island. Then walk south along West Road to E Road, and the hospital will be on your right. Conversely, you can also take the tram from Manhattan or the ferry from Astoria, Long Island City, or Wall Street.
14. Read under the stars at Albertine
Read under the stars at one of the most beautiful bookstores in all of NYC, Albertine. One of my favorite unusual things to do in New York City that is also one of the best things to do on the Upper East Side.
You’re probably wondering what is Albertine anyway, am I right?
Well, believe it or not, Albertine is a French American bookstore, on 5th Avenue, that is literally right across the street from the MET.
Pretty cool right?
And no, you don’t have to speak French or buy a book to enjoy this magical place because I swear, this bookstore is unlike any other store that you’ve ever been to.
Why you may wonder?
Well, first of all, you have to pass through a metal detector just to get into the store, which has an impressive, white marble atrium with gorgeous statues and exquisite column work.
It feels more like a royal residence than a bookstore.
But once you’re inside, it gets even better.
Walk upstairs, gaze up at the ceiling, and become mesmerized by a kaleidoscope of stars and constellations that dot the vibrant blue ceiling; a scene that is beautifully reminiscent of Van Gogh’s immortal painting, Starry Night.
***Since you’re here enjoying one of the many unique things to do in New York City, you might as well visit the MET, Central Park, Belvedere Castle, and the immortal Alica and Wonderland Statue since they are ALL basically right across the street. Yup, you’re welcome.***
Address: 972 5th Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, from 11 am to 7 pm and on Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm.
How to Get There: Take either the 4 0r 6 train uptown and get off at 77th Street Station.
15. Stop by Please Don’t Tell, A Secret Speakeasy in New York City
Travel back to nester-year at this secret, prohibition era, St. Mark’s Place speakeasy.
So hidden in fact:
That the only way you can gain access to this dark and mysterious bar is through a nondescript, vintage phone booth at Crif Dogs (a late-night fried hot dog joint).
And once you do find the aforementioned phone booth:
You’ll need to dial a super-secret telephone number just to get inside.
After you’re in, you’ll enjoy the most glamorous parts of the roaring twenties and early thirties in this low key, relaxed feeling bar.
A bar that comes complete with chic leathered booths and quirky beyond belief animal heads affixed to the walls.
The real highlight of any trip to this fantastic, New York City bar is a taste of one of their premier cocktails, which are all served to you by the former, Pegu mixologist, Jim Meehan.
I’m not gonna spill the beans on their uber-delightful drinks menu since part of the fun of this place is discovering their awesome selection of drinks upon arrival.
And if you need something to soak up all that alcohol goodness:
Then feel free to treat yo’ self to any of the delicious hot dogs served at Crif’s next door.
***Before you stop by, be sure to make a reservation, by phone, since this bar can get extremely busy and wait times can regularly exceed an hour without booking a table in advance***
Address: 113 St Mark’s Place, New York, New York, 10009
Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am and Friday/Saturday from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am.
Price: NOT CHEAP.
How to Get There: Take either the 4 o6 6 train to Astor Place and walk to the bar from there.
16. Visit the Harry Potter New York Store
One of the more recent additions to this list of the most unusual things to do in NYC, the Harry Potter New York store just opened on June 3rd (2021) and is a behemoth, 2-story retail outlet that is located right near the flatiron building in lower Manhattan.
So, if you’re a Harry Potter fan of even the smallest measure, be sure to stop by and peruse through their amazing collection of Harry Potter-related merchandise, including everything from wands to pens to notebooks to t-shirts and full-on Harry Potter-inspired robes.
There are also some uber-cute photo ops on the first floor, including a spot where can snap a selfie with Hagrid’s giant shoes and a place where you can take a photo with an iconic, vintage, red phone booth from London.
Afterward, head downstairs and explore the cavernous basement, which is filled with even more Harry Potter-related awesomeness, like an adorable tunnel of books where you can try and snap a wicked awesome selfie. There’s also a unique, virtual reality experience for you to try if you have a little extra cash to burn.
Finally, before you leave, be sure to visit the on-site cafe and order a giant mug of butterbeer for me. It’s delicious and tastes just like the most glorious, cream soda that you ever did taste.
Because trust me, this really is one of the best hidden gems in NYC for the entire family.
Address: 935 Broadway, New York, NY 10010
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and on Sundays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Price: Free unless your buy something.
How to Get There: Take the N/R train to 23rd street station and walk to the store from here.
17. Meow Parlour Cat Cafe
Stop and make new friends at Meow Parlour Cat Cafe.
Unless you’re living under a rock in an alternate universe, then you know that cat cafes are totally a “thing” right now and one of the new, super cool things to do in New York City.
So in my desperately vain attempt to be a mildly cool “social media influencer”:
I joined in on all the cat cafe fun and visited Meow Parlour Cat Cafe. Even though, full disclosure, I’m more of a dog person than a cat person anyway. But shh, don’t tell the cats that.
However, in spite of my trepidations:
I had a pretty good time since I got to chillax and pet a ton of cute kitties. And added bonus, none of them tried to kill me with their razor-sharp claws of doom, so I consider that a win too.
All the kitties here are up for adoption so this cafe really does help stray cats find good homes (Insert coos of approval here).
But How Does it Work?
Just go online and make a reservation for a 30-minute time slot.
When You Arrive:
Just check in at the front desk, sign a waiver, take your shoes/coat off, go over the rules, and sanitize your hands.
Welcome to kitty paradise. Sit back, relax, order some food, pet some cats, and live the dream for about a half-hour. Just keep track of the time because they won’t remind you when your half an hour is up. And if you go over your time limit, you’ll be charged another $7.25.
They also have a ton of different, super cool packages for you to choose from like Yoga and Kitties (For $22 you get 30 minutes with the kitties, a 45-minute, beginner yoga class, and a 15-minute cool-down sesh), Drag Bingo (For $25, guests 16 and older can enjoy free pizza and 2 hours with the cats while playing up to 6 rousing games of drag bingo), and a Snack Time with Cats Package (For $35 you get 1.5 hours with the cats, 1 baked good, 4 macarons (or an ice cream sandwich), and one beverage).
Address: 46 Hester St, New York, NY
Hours: Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 12 pm to 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.
Price: For one adult, 30-minute, cat petting sesh, you’ll pay $7.25 for an adult or $18 for a child (under 16) and their chaperone,
How to Get There: You could either take the F to East Broadway Station or take the Q to Grand Street Station.
18. Embrace the Macabre with a Tour of NYC’s Very Own Catacombs
Am I right?
Well, believe it or not, NYC actually has its very own set of catacombs too!
Totally crazy but totally true!
And guess what?
They’re actually hidden beneath NYC’s one and only, St.Patrick’s Cathedral.
I know, my mind was totally blown too. So:
If you think that you might want to visit this hidden gem of NYC for yourself, then all you need to do is book a 90-minute, Catacombs by Candelight Tour, and prepare for the experience of a lifetime.
Maybe not a lifetime since I can dream up some pretty outrageous things, but whatever, this tour still sounds pretty cool.
Because along the way:
You’ll get to explore super-secret, totally mysterious parts of St. Patrick’s Cathedral that no one else EVER gets to see.
And believe it or not:
This set of catacombs in actually the only one in NYC that is open to daily visitors.
This experience really is the very definition of unique since you can’t actually do this type of tour anywhere else in the city!
And while I haven’t done this tour myself:
You better believe that the next time I’m up in NYC, I’ll be taking part in this wickedly weird, totally unusual thing to do in NYC.
How could I not? Because seriously, who doesn’t want to explore a labyrinth of off-limit vaults, walled cemeteries, long-forgotten choir lofts, and decrepit tombs that belonged to Civil War-era generals, political candidates, and maybe even a renegade or two?
Don’t answer that. LOL. You’re probably infinitely more normal than I can ever hope to be.
I do know that I’m not alone in my weirdness since um, hello, American Horror Story is a very real THING.
Address: 32 Prince Street (It’s in the middle of the block in between Mulberry and Mott Street. Just look for the Catacombs by candlelight tent in the courtyard of the Old St. Patrick’s School).
Hours: Tours are 90-minutes long start every day at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm
Price: $35 per person and not recommended for children under 18 years old.
How to Get There: You could take the 6 to Bleeker Street Station, the Q to Prince Street Station, or the D to the Broadway and Lafayette Station.
19. Spyscape Spy Museum
Suit up and show up ladies because you’re about to live out all of your secret agent fantasies!
I’m not referring to Daniel Craig. Sorry, but I’m not that kind of baller yet.
I’m actually talking about becoming the incognito leader of an international spy ring!
Because let’s be real:
We all know that one girl who can literally find just about anything on social media:
Or better yet:
You ARE that girl. Well, if this sounds like you then why not step up your spy game with a trip to Spyscape?
It’s the perfect place to learn about the unique history of spies throughout the world.
During your visit:
You’ll discover what it takes to become a spy and better appreciate the special set of skills that spies need to do their job, talents that include everything from cryptography to cyberhacking.
But time out! How much does it cost to become a spy for the day?
Well, apparently $40, at least at the Spyscape facility.
And while you won’t leave special ops certified:
$40 is a small price to pay to further your cyber snooping skills (exes everywhere beware).
When purchasing your ticket, feel free to skip the 007 exhibits and head straight to the main attraction, which includes 2-3 hours of super fun, spy-related activities like code-breaking, surveillance, personality assessments, deception detection, special ops agility, and more!
Get ready for a preliminary briefing, where you’ll receive a personalized wristband that is your ticket to spy fame and glory.
Just scan your wristband before you answer any questions or participate in any challenges to help Spyscape keep track of your personal data.
And in case you were wondering:
All the tasks here are totally legit since this museum uses an authentic profiling system that was first developed by the former head of British Intelligence.
All of the activities you complete here will help determine which type of spy you should be, with 10 possible outcomes that include anything from analyst to spymaster.
I got handler, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
But, I know how I feel about my trip to Spyscape.
It’s truly, one of the most unique things to do in NYC and something that everyone will enjoy, even if you’re not a museum person.
Stop by, test your spy skills, gain some new ones, and leave with the experience of a lifetime, as cliche as that sounds.
Address: 928 8th Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Monday through Friday, 10 am to 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm.
Admission Fee: General admission is $39 for adults and $32 for children. But, Spyscape also offers a bunch of different, special experiences that include Missions and Martinis (food and one drink included), 007 Spyscape (a special James Bond exhibit), and a special Spooks and Shadows party for Halloween!
How to Get There: Take the W Line and get off at 57th Street Station.
20. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Nestled in between the iconic Guggenheim and MET museums:
This design museum sits along New York City’s Upper East Side and invites visitors to explore innovative design concepts that enhance people’s lives while making the world a more beautiful place (aww).
Before you enter though:
Be sure to snag a photo of the museum’s exquisite courtyard, which sits along Fifth Avenue and overlooks the natural beauty of Central Park.
After your impromptu photoshoot:
Head inside and purchase some tickets for one of the more unique things to do in New York City; tickets cost $16 online, and $18 at the door (Admission is free for anyone 18 and under and $10 for seniors/people with disabilities).
LISTEN UP! Be sure to bring your ID since tickets are just $7 online and $9 at the door.
Once your ticket situation is squared away:
Head inside and enjoy a variety of fun and interactive exhibits that the whole family will love (even that disgruntled teen of yours who hates EVERYTHING).
This place is unlike any museum you’ve ever been to!
Think furry walls, chairs that vibrate to mimic everyday activities, and a scratch and sniff wall that looks like something straight out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
But, like with most museums:
Certain immersive experiences here are temporary and will continually rotate in and out of the museum.
So, to better plan your trip:
Definitely check out their website and get the 411 on what’s happening at Cooper Hewitt.
While I don’t actually recommend buying anything, unless you have money to burn, definitely stroll through the super fun gift shop, which is basically like IKEA on steroids.
It’s worth perusing through the merchandise, especially if you’re looking for design inspo (they literally have everything here, from kitchenware to home textiles to stationery).
Cooper Hewitt is within walking distance of Russ and Daughters (in the Jewish Museum), which is home to one of the best brunch spots in all of NYC.
This is an amazing place to sit and grab a bite either before or after your visit!
Address: 2 E 91st St, New York, NY
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 6 pm, with extended hours until 9 pm on Saturdays.
Admission Fee: Tickets are $16 for adults, $10 for visitors with disabilities, $10 for seniors over 62, $7 for students, and free for children under 18.
How to Get There: Take either the 4 or 5 to the 86th street station.
21. The Vessel
Have you seen that new, kind of wonky-looking, beehive-like structure that has become the chic new centerpiece of Hudson Yards?
That behemoth edifice that you stop and stare at because you can’t decide if it’s ugly ugly or ugly pretty?
if you’re nodding your head with a vague notion of what I’m talking about then you’ll know that I’m referring to The Vessel.
With a name like “The Vessel”, you might think that this immersive art piece is some sort of futuristic, alien spaceship that is an Avant gar commentary on the impending planetary doom that is associated with Global Warming.
Yeah, if you thought that, I honestly have no idea if you’re right since I have zero idea what The Vessel means.
All I know is that it’s an ultra-funky, spiral staircase that you can climb if you want to enjoy stunning, panoramic views of NYC’s newly revitalized, Hudson Yards.
Be sure to wear your best walking shoes before tackling The Vessel since this climb is just under 2,000 steps.
Yeah, I’m getting out of breath just thinking about it.
But the best part?
This creative, new, immersive art installation is totally free and open to all!
But the catch (before you start your celebratory dance)?
Yeah, you have to pre-book tickets online at least 2 weeks in advance.
Womp womp womp.
However, if you feel like walking on the wild side, you can also try for some same-day tickets when you get there.
However, not surprisingly, there are no guarantees.
But, what I can guarantee is that for the BEST shot of the Vessel (with the fewest gawking onlookers) go to the left and rear of the structure.
It’s a great angle to photograph from and hardly anyone is there.
If you go around 4 pm, you’ll encounter pure, lighting perfection.
Address: The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards.
Hours: Open every day from 9 am to 10 pm.
Admission Fee: FREE (my favorite price)
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to the 34th Street/Hudson Yards station.
22. Lexington Candy Shop
If you find yourself feeling a bit nostalgic for decades gone by:
Then swing by Lexington Candy Shop on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 83rd street.
Because it’s here that you’ll discover an incredible vintage vibe, and some beyond delicious, reasonably priced food that will leave you thinking, “Please sir, I want some more.”
Which makes sense since this iconic, neighborhood eatery was first opened in 1925 and is currently the oldest, family-owned luncheonette in all of New York City.
And while the clientele here may have changed a bit:
The decor and menu sure haven’t since this informal restaurant still uses the restaurant’s original coffee urns and makes traditional, New York-style egg creams with a 1940 Hamilton mixer (They still have tuna melts on the menu too! For anyone who is actually old enough to know what that is).
Step inside this thin slice of pure Americana and marvel at all the celebrity pictures that adorn the white walls.
Also be sure to grab a seat atop a vinyl, green bar stool, and enjoy the classic feels of this 950s era diner.
And while everything here is good:
The breakfast is top-notch, with their chocolate chip pancakes being one of my fave breakfast items in all of New York City.
This place actually serves breakfast all day. So if you’re a distinctly anti-morning person like me, then you won’t have to worry about racing out of the house at the crack of dawn just to procure some of the decadent, breakfasty goodness within.
Address: 1226 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: Their Chocolate Chip pancakes cost $13.50 while their signature Greek Omelet costs $15.95.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, or 6 train to 86th street station and walk to the candy shop from there.
23. Take a Cupcake Tour through Greenwich Village!
Life is uncertain and you should 100% eat dessert first.
That’s what my mom told me and I am for SURE sticking with her sage advice. Which is why this epic cupcake tour is perfect for someone like me.
Not only does it reinforce the IMPORTANT life lessons that my mom taught me (LOL), but it’s also a dream activity for a dessert-addicted, sugar-loving, individual such as myself.
Because let’s be honest:
Where else in the world are you encouraged to not only eat dessert but to eat MULTIPLE desserts within a two-hour time frame?
It’s like this cupcake tour is some super awesome, alternate universe where you’re encouraged to “sample” as many desserts as humanly possible.
And I for one am totally down with any and all unusual things to do in NYC that make it socially acceptable for me to eat like 12 desserts at one time.
The desserts you get on this tour are just “small samples” that obviously only have like one calorie in them.
Or at least:
That’s the lie I tell myself so that I can justify eating like a pig (SPOILER ALERT: You stop at like 6 different locations and will most definitely not leave this tour hungry. But if you do get full, not to worry because you can always just take some of the cupcakes home with you, minus the gelato since that food really isn’t a save for later type food).
Gear up for 2-hours of foodie fun as you savor the gastronomic goodness of Greenwich Village, and enjoy desserts from iconic, NYC foodie hotspots like Molly’s Cupcakes, Baked by Melissa (bite-size cupcakes that come in quirky flavors), Amorino (I know they serve gelato and not cupcakes but whatever, just go with it), Milk & Cookies (they make delicious cookies), and more.
And while all of these desserts meccas are good…
My personal fave will forever and always be Molly’s Cupcakes! I’ve been here multiple times and absolutely ADORE building my own cupcake here (it also doesn’t hurt that this store sits right along the beautiful, Washington Square Park).
Last time I was here:
I ordered a vanilla cupcake, with brown butter frosting, and DUH, rainbow sprinkles.
Yeah, I STILL dream about that cupcake since it was that amazing.
If you’re not a fan of vanilla, it’s all good because when you build your own cupcake here, you can choose between chocolate, vanilla, carrot cake, red velvet, and banana-flavored cupcakes that can be topped with a dollop of either vanilla, chocolate, cream cheese, french buttercream, or brown butter frosting.
So yes my friend:
The choice is yours, so you better choose wisely.
Address: The meeting point for this tour is at the Southwest corner of Union Square, at the intersection of East 14th Street and Union Square West.
Hours: Tours start at 3 pm, last two hours, and run every day, except Monday and Tuesday.
Price: $25 per person (Trust me, this is a VERY reasonable price for a food tour in NYC)
How to Get There: You can take the 4 or 6 train and get off at Union Square/14th Street Station or take the Q train and get off at 14th Street Station.
24. Sleep No More
This off the beaten path theater experience is a unique retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that helped kick-start the immersive theater trend back in 2011.
Located at the McKittrick Hotel on west 27th street, right next door to the Chelsea art galleries, you’ll receive a white mask as you walk in (so if you wear glasses, make sure to wear contacts) since this is the only thing that sets you apart from the actors and crew.
As the show starts:
It becomes a choose-your-own-adventure performance of sorts since the action takes place simultaneously, all throughout the hotel.
Basically, like a museum that comes to life.
And to get the most out of your experience, try to pick a cast member that you can follow around so that you remain at the heart of the action.
If you’re attending this show with a group or a partner, do not be “that” person who holds hands and becomes glued to whoever they’re with.
Yeah, this type of behavior actually kinda ruins the show for the other guests and actors.
So, don’t be a Debbie Downer.
Instead, embrace your individuality and separate from your group as you enjoy one of the many, totally weird things to do in NYC.
You’ll actually have more things to discuss with your gal pals after the performance if you go it alone.
Immersive = highly interactive. So yes, the actors will come up to you and interact with you as if you were part of the cast.
Fully expect to receive whispers in the ear and kisses on the hand. But don’t freak out since the actors are trained to gauge people’s level of comfort first.
If this id the type of thing that TOTALLY freaks you out, then just stay in the middle and avoid being at the front of the group.
Buying tickets to this performance is not as simple as it seems. But, no worries since I’ve got you covered.
The first available tickets for an 8 pm performance are at 7 pm.
Tickets can then be purchased in 15-minute increments (7:15 pm, 7:30 pm, etc…) until the show starts (You can pre-book your tickets online and choose different time slots).
A 7:45 pm ticket is just as good as one a 7 pm ticket since the show doesn’t start until 8 pm.
Procuring an earlier ticket does mean that you’ll have extra time to hang out at either the Manderlay Bar, Gallow Green (the hotel’s rooftop bar), or the uber-cool, pop-up restaurant, the Illusionist’s Table.
So much to do and so little time to complete this epic list of unusual things to do in NYC!
Address: 530 W 27th St, New York, NY
Hours: The show starts at 8 pm, but tickets can be purchased at different, 15-minute increments that begin at 7 pm. Performances can last up to 3 hours and end at 11 pm.
Price: Tickets are $159.50 per person or $220 for a priority access seat with a guaranteed table reservation.
How to Get There: You can either take the 7 train to the Hudson Yards station or take the C train to the 23rd street station.
25. Serra By Birrreria Rooftop Bar
And that makes sense when you realize that this enchanting bar is also fifteen stories above every NYer’s favorite Italian restaurant/grocery, Eataly, which is ALSO run by Mario Batali.
And since you have to go through Eataly to get to Serra anyway, might as well stop for a snack and try the Burrata.
Go on, I dare you not to swoon on the spot.
When you’re finally ready to tear yourself away from that cheesy goodness, take the elevator onwards and upwards to a veritable paradise of Instagram perfection.
Yes, my friends, this bar is THAT beautiful (and insanely popular, so make a reservation).
But, it gets better. See, while Serra literally means rooftop in Italian, the second part of this bar’s name actually changes with the seasons, as does the decor.
Throughout the winter, this bar is known as Serra Alpina, a chic, Alpine-themed, rooftop bar that resembles a cozy little Swiss chateau, nestled in the Alps.
And if winter’s not your scene?
Then stop by during the spring, when this bar blossoms into Serra Fiorita, a “flowering greenhouse” of exquisite botanical bliss that will not disappoint.
It basically looks like a florist blew up all over the place, but in the most charming way possible.
And while the food is good, it’s not great.
I mean, I ordered the farro salad with parmesan for $15 and it was alright, but it didn’t exactly BLOW my mind
I’d skip the food and order an Aperol Spritz instead. This way, you can spend your time taking it all in and perfecting those picture-perfect Instagram poses of yours.
Try to make an early reservation, like right when they open at 11:30 am so that you can enjoy quick service and beautiful photos without hordes of wannabe Instagram influencers doing duck face poses in the background.
Address: 200 5th Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am to 11 pm.
How to Get There: Take the W train to 23rd Street Station.
26. The Campbell
Did you know that Grand Central Terminal has a secret bar?
Well, you do now!
Named after John W. Campbell, a financier during the Jazz Age, The Campbell is actually a secret bar that oozes old-timey swank and swagger.
A veritable, roaring twenties time capsule that is bedazzled with original art deco decor that includes hand-painted ceilings, a grand stone fireplace, and other Florentine-inspired designs à la Great Gatsby.
To find this divine den of debauchery:
Look for a plaque on Grand Central terminal, along Vanderbilt Avenue, under the portico at 43rd street, and enter through the Campbell Terrace.
If you’re coming from the main concourse, just walk up the iconic marble staircase, exit Grand Central through the doors, and the Campbell Terrace will be on your left.
Before you swing by though (I know, lame swing dance pun):
Make reservations to avoid a lengthy wait. Also, don’t just roll on up in a baseball cap, flip flops, and shorts.
The Campbell has a relaxed dress code, but the overall atmosphere is still pretty glam.
So dress up, but don’t go all MET gala on me
Now, as far as the bar fare, The Campbell offers a variety of fancy finger foods like mini lobster rolls, tuna tartare tacos, and meatball parmesan sliders.
And while the service at the bar is great, as is the extensive drink menu (it features signature cocktails, wines, and craft beer), it can get a bit loud so having a conversation can be a bit of a challenge.
Expect to spend more than usual at this secret bar since you are being transported back to the 20s, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
Address: 15 Vanderbilt Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open every day from 12 pm to 2 am.
How to Get There: You can take either the 4, 5, or 6 lines, the Times Square Shuttle, or the 7 line to Grand Central and 42nd Street Station.
27. Felix Roasting Company
Pinch me because I’ve just found pastel heaven!
And yes, it’s everything I could’ve hoped for, and more since the coffee here is divine (Give me a caffeinated IV drip, stat!).
This posh pink paradise is conveniently located on Park Avenue South and gives a whole new meaning to the term latte art since the decor alone makes this cafe worth a visit.
The interiors here are so extravagant that you kind of feel like you’re in some quaint little cafe in Vienna, or on the set of a Wes Anderson movie.
Whichever scenario sounds more appealing to you.
But seriously, what’s not to love? Between the spacious interior, high ceilings, and vintage vibes of the pastel-hued, pink and green wallpaper, this place makes me want to move in.
Do you think they’d mind? Okay probably, but can you blame me?
Felix Roasting Company is SO aesthetically pleasing that any photo you take here is bound to give your followers severe insta-envy.
I give this posh AF Manhattan coffee shop two enthusiastic pinkies up.
Yeah, I’m fancy like that.
Okay, I may not be THAT fancy but this place is. I mean, they have MILK on tap and serve specialty coffees that are bougier than I ever thought possible.
When you order their smoked s’mores latte, they actually smoke the coffee and torch the marshmallow right in front of you.
Which is not surprising since Felix Roasting Company is all about unique coffee flavors, no matter how outrageous the combination sounds.
Go with an open mind, give some of their craziest lattes a try, and who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Make like an espresso and be bold about it because you need to get here ASAP before all the Instagram mavens descend upon this place like a plague of locusts.
I went on a Saturday and easily found a table. And who knows how long that’s gonna last, especially since I’ve published this list of special things to do in New York City.
So sit back and enjoy the meticulous attention to detail that goes into every aspect of this amazing place.
You can use that line of reasoning as a way to justify spending $12 on a specialty coffee.
Hey, whatever works.
Address: 450 Park Avenue South
Hours: Open every day from 7 am to 6 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 6 train to the 33rd street station.
28. McSorley’s Old Ale House
If your interests include day drinking, history, drinking, and using history to justify your drinking then add McSorley’s Old Ale House to your list of unusual things to do in NYC!
Located on the Lower East Side:
This iconic watering hole first opened in 1854 and is known today as America’s oldest and continuously operated bar.
This lexicon of liquor managed to remain open throughout the days of Prohibition, when this little gin joint operated as a totally illegal, but super awesome, Speakeasy.
Talk about creative thinking.
Today, history hangs on every wall since the interior has remained virtually untouched, since 1910, as a veritable shrine to the original founder, John McSorley.
And you’ll find an assortment of fascinating objects, like an invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as a seemingly quirky, former gas chandelier that is adorned with wishbones.
These wishbones were left behind by soldiers who fought in World War I, and never made it back since any returning soldiers visited McSorley’s to pick their lucky talismans up.
But on a lighter note:
McSorley’s has also served a variety of famous clientele like Abraham Lincoln and John Lennon.
Heck, even Elvis Presley was here and gave an impromptu performance when he got hammered, like a champ.
Drink up and get ready to travel back in time since every corner of this standing room only bar is rich in tales and ales (see what I did there).
Address: 15 E 7th St, New York, NY
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 1 am and on Sundays from 1 pm to 1 am.
How to Get There: You can either take the R train to 8th Street Station or the 6 train to Astor Place Station.
29. Elevated Acre
If you’re planning a trip to New York City, then you’re probably already mentally prepared for the frenetic hustle and bustle that you’ll experience during your time there.
After a few days of trudging through the neverending sea of tourists that continually inundate Times Square, you might find yourself losing what little remains of your sanity.
Yup, I’ve been there.
That’s why I’m sharing this little secret with you!
One word, Elevated Acre. Okay, that was two but whatever. Minor detail.
Because tucked away in Lower Manhattan’s ever-busy Financial District, is a lush, green, garden of solitude that is virtually unknown to all but the savviest of locals.
And while stumbling upon this quaint little oasis of greenery may feel like a mirage:
I assure you, it most definitely is not since this park was actually completed in the 70s (Saturday Night Fever anyone?) and is about an acre in size, hence the name.
Walk along the park’s enchanting network of hardwood paths and you’ll discover a beautiful lawn that is surrounded by a fantastic, seven-tiered amphitheater.
And as if that wasn’t enough:
This place also has an amazing, summer beer garden that offers visitors delightful views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge; views that you can actually enjoy amidst the relative quiet, peace, and solitude of this enchanting place,
Now, to find this thin slice of sanity for yourself:
Just hop on the escalator at 55 Water St.
This is easier said than done since the entrance is a bit discreet and set back from the sidewalk.
But whatever you do:
Don’t stress about finding this place since the whole point of this park is to make it difficult to find so that you can have this space all to yourself.
Take a deep, calming breaths, Namaste it up, and find the escalator that will transport you to NYC’s very own version of Narnia.
Address: 55 Water St, New York, NY 10041
Hours: Open daily from7 am to 10 pm.
How to Get There: Take the N, R, or W lines to Whitehall Street Station, the 1 train to South Ferry Station, or the 2/3 train to Wall Street Station.
No, that wasn’t a typo.
MMuseumm (pronounced just plain ol’ museum) is actually the name of a totally unique, NYC experience that sits inside an unassuming freight elevator, which features an array of overlooked everyday objects from around the world.
Yeah, it’s a bit odd and definitely one of the more unusual things to do in NYC.
The idea behind MMuseumm is to offer visitors the opportunity to engage with and more closely study otherwise dismissed, totally ignored objects.
What? Does this all sound a bit to ordinary for you?
Well… not quite since some of the featured items include a hot water coil from Lithuania, a plastic glove from Paradise Valley, Montana, and even a shoe that was once thrown at George W. Bush during his visit to the Minister’s Palace in Baghdad.
Walk inside and you’ll find a museum that tells a story about the modern world using, as MMuseumm likes to refer to it, Object Journalism.
It’s a super cool experience that sadly, has extremely limited hours, so plan accordingly.
And while there is no set entrance fee, a $5 recommended donation is suggested if you’re interested in visiting.
Before you go though:
Please be aware of the fact that MMuseumm sits inside a very small space that tends to get REALLY hot in the summer.
So yeah, you’ve been warned!
Address: 4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013
Hours: Open to the public Friday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm, with visits at other times available by appointment only (Just send an email to [email protected] if you’d like to stop by any time between Monday and Thursday).
How to Get There: Take either the 4/5/6 line or the J/Z train to Canal Street Station.
31. Take the Tram to Roosevelt Island
If you want the best views of Manhattan, you just have to suck it up and leave Manhattan.
Well, sort off.
See, Roosevelt Island is this little sliver of land that sits smack dab in the middle of the East River, right beneath the Queensboro Bridge.
And while this island does have a lot to discover, like the Blackwell house and the North Point Lighthouse, just catching the tram here is worth the trip in and of itself!
Because yes, the views from the tram really are THAT epic.
But, I know what you’re thinking. I mean, it’s New York, and I’m about to send you to an island in the middle of the East River and you’re probably, justifiably, wondering, “How much will that cost me?”
Well, good news!
This unique, NYC experience will cost you no more than the swipe of a MetroCard (and another to come back).
To put it simply, the trip costs $2.75 each way.
So, if you wanna board this tram of awesome for yourself:
Just head to 59th St and 2nd Ave.
Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Or, try to get as close to the window as possible for a wicked awesome view of the Manhattan skyline!
Since some locals actually live on Roosevelt Island (I know, crazy but true) and use the tram to commute to work, I’d suggest avoiding the tram during rush hour. Also, if you really wanna look like a super-savvy local, try letting go of the handrails and riding the tram like a total boss. But only if you’re confident in your balancing capabilities because as always, safety first!
Address: 59th St and 2nd Ave, Tramway Plaza, New York, New York 10022
Hours: The tram runs every 15 minutes, between 6:00 am and 2:30 am.
How to Get There: Take either the 4,5 or 6 train to the 59th Street and Lexington Avenue station and walk from there.
32. Stop by the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
Raise your hand if you love sugar almost as much as you love life itself?
(This girl’s hand shoots straight up in record time)
Because if so:
Then you’ll love the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM on NYC”s Upper East Side.
And yes, you really did just read that correctly.
Because not gonna lie, all of my gastronomic dreams instantly came true the minute I realized that a cupcake dispensing ATM actually existed in the world.
These delectable little desserts are actually pretty dang delicious since they’re always fluffy, moist, flavorful, and emerge with the perfect ratio of icing to cake.
They also come in a fantastic assortment of flavors like salted caramel, red velvet, carrot, cinnamon sugar, lemon coconut, and more!
The lemon coconut is definitely my favie fave.
What are you waiting for? Stop by one of the most creative ATMs EVER and pick your du jour dessert today since unusual things to do in NYC really don’t get much sweeter than this.
That wicked awful pun was 100% intentional.
Every time I mention this place to a total, cupcake ATM virgin, their eyes well up with wonder, they become giddy beyond belief, and start doing a little happy dance as their inner child totally takes over.
Which makes all the sense in the world since this ATM is straight-up Willy Wonka level magical.
***For any of my dietarily restricted friends, Sprinkles has vegan and gluten-free options available too. And for a full list of NYC’s other, super Instagrammable desserts, check out this post right now!***
Address: 780 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065
Hours: Open Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the N, R, or W train to 59th street and Lexington Avenue station and walk to the cupcake ATM from there,
Price: One regular cupcake is $4.95.
33. Neue Galerie
One of the most recent additions to New York’s infamous Museum Mile is Neue Galerie, a fantastic little art museum that showcases the works of various German and Austrian artists from the 20th century.
During your visit:
You’ll see that this impressive collection is separated into two sections, one on the second floor, that is dedicated to works done by Austrian artists, and one on the third floor that is home to pieces created by German artists.
Be sure to get your cute little butt here ASAP so that you can enjoy the museum’s temporary, Gustav Klimt exhibit.
Well, there are just a handful of artists, *cough* I mean legends of the art world that you just HAVE to see if the opportunity arises.
And this is one fo those times.
Especially since the current, Neue Galerie Klimt exhibit features one of his most infamous works, a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (AKA the Woman in Gold).
No really, this painting is MYTHICAL.
See, this piece was commissioned by Adele’s husband, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer – a Jewish banker and sugar producer.
It was then unceremoniously stolen by Nazi soldiers in 1941, only to be finally returned to the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family in 2006 and later sold for a record-breaking $135 million dollars!
Yikes! That’s a whole lot of Benjamins.
But yeah, this piece really is an important work of art and history that is a total must-see while you’re in NYC.
And added bonus?
This museum also sits inside the historic, totally exquisite, William Starr Miller House, which is located on the corner of 86th street and 5th avenue.
Yup, just a little extra incentive for you to get here ASAP!
Address: 1048 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10028
Hours: The museum is open Thursday through Monday from 11 am – 6 pm and closed on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Admission: Tickets are $25 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $12 for students and educators! So don’t forget to bring those IDs if you wanna save some hard-earned dollars!
How to Get There: Take the 4,5, or 6 train to the 86th Street station.
34. The Comedy Cellar
If you only go to one comedy show while you’re in NYC, then let it be a performance at The Comedy Cellar, which regularly hosts some, if not all, of New York City’s top comedians.
No really, this is not a DRILL!
Think top, Hollywood comedians like Dave Chappelle, Jim Norton, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Robin Williams, just to name a few.
Be forewarned though:
If you want to visit, you will probably need to make a reservation well in advance. Although some patrons, way braver than myself, have said that it isn’t too difficult to snag a seat at the door.
If you’d like to guarantee that you get in, then definitely make that reservation!
You will be in a crowded basement… in the Village. Which means that you will probably be sharing a table with a multitude of strangers.
But trust me:
It’s all worth it since the comics here are next level, meaning that you’ll probably leave here in stitches and with one hell fo an ab workout.
There is also a 2 beer minimum and 3 beer maximum once you enter the club. And this is NYC, so yeah, these beers ain’t cheap.
I’ve heard that as long as you’re a nice, respectful, and generally decent human being, then your server will be a little more chill about the 3 beer maximum. Or at least, that’s what I’ve been told.
And if you’re really into hobnobbing it up with some major celebs:
Then visit The Olive Tree, a restaurant that sits atop the Comedy Cellar, right after the show since you can typically find all of the comics hanging thereafter the performance (You can also beeline it down the street to Mamoun’s Falafel instead, for some fo the BEST falafel in the entire city).
Address: 117 Macdougal St #1267, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 3 am.
Admission: Tickets are $17 a piece, plus the cost of your 2 beer minimum.
How to Get There: Just take either the A, C, E train or the B, D, F train to the West 4th Street station.
35. Attend a World-Class Concert (For Free!)
New York is a city known for its plethora of world-class artists.
Between Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Radio City Music Hall, you’re bound to run into at least one world-class performer during your visit.
Not to mention the fact that:
New York’s very own philharmonic, MET Opera, and New York City Ballet are all regarded as some of the most prestigious, fine art institutions in the world.
You betcha! Which generally means that it will cost a small fortune to get a ticket.
What if I told you that you can catch some of these world-class performances for just $30? Or maybe even for free?
Yup! It’s true!
See, most of these world-class performances take place in one of the three buildings at Lincoln Center.
And what many don’t realize people is that tucked away behind all of these iconic buildings is none other than the Juilliard School, one of the world’s premier conservatories for aspiring musicians, dancers, and actors.
Chances are pretty high that many of the members of the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, and the MET Opera, will come directly from this famous school.
Skip the expensive tickets and attend a performance at Julliard instead.
Their website has a GIANT calendar with hundreds of performances for you to choose from, all of which cost $30 or less!
Some of them are even free.
If experiencing a world-class concert is at the top of your to-do list while in NYC, but you just don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a single ticket, then head to Julliard instead!
Address: 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023
Hours: Check Julliard’s performance calendar to see a full list of upcoming performances!
How to Get There: Take either the 1 or 2 train and get off at the 66th Street, Lincoln Center stop.
36. Visit The Beekman Hotel
If you’re a lover of exquisite architecture:
The run, don’t walk, to the newly refurbished Beekman Hotel.
Because a visit to this snazzy AF hotel really is one of the more unusual things to do in New York City.
This antique building sits amidst NYC’s busy financial district and offers visitors a glimpse into New York City’s grand past, complete with an atrium and bar area that lboth ook like something straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.
If you’re picturing plump sofas, fringed table lamps, and green leather-topped bar stools, then yes, that’s exactly what the decor here looks like.
All this vintage-style swag has been a relatively new development since this beautifully restored, formerly abandoned building was only recently reopened in 2016.
Before that though:
This elegant, nine-story high, Victorian-style, late 19th-century building was an office.
A beautiful structure that was first built in 1881, making it one of New York City’s very first skyscrapers, with its full height atrium, stunning skylight, intricate, wrought iron balustrades, and an enchanting glass ceiling.
And although the building sat abandoned for nearly fifteen years:
It has since been brought back to life by British architect Martin Brudnizki, who completely renovated the entire space, creating a place where Instagram mavens of the world can come, sit, and take copious amounts of photos for their ever-growing, Instagram fandom.
If you have cash to burn and want to spend the night in one of their uber-plush, 287 rooms, feel free because this facility does not disappoint.
You can just sit, sip on a drink, and soak up the hotel’s old-world atmosphere at the sexy, on-site, dimly lit, Alley Cat Theatre Bar.
***If you’re looking for some slightly more affordable places to stay in NYC, then check out my post about 8 of the most affordable hotels in NYC right now!****
Address: 5 Beekman Street, New York, New York, 10038
Hours: The hotel’s front desk is open 24-hours a day.
How to Get There: Take the 4 o 5 to Fulton Street and walk to the hotel from here.
Price: Ultra-swank rooms here start at a hefty, $275 per night.
37. Unwind at the Russian and Turkish Baths
I really wouldn’t recommend a trip to the spa as one of the many unique things to do in New York City, especially in a notoriously expensive city like NYC.
The Russian and Turkish baths in New York have been in business for more than 125 years, serving locals and celebrities (think big names Robert De Niro and Frank Sinatra) alike.
If you’re looking for a little detox sesh, then the Russian and Turkish Baths will provide you with a wonderfully exotic experience.
More than just a trip to the spa, the Russian and Turkish Baths (also referred to as a ‘Schvitz’) are one of the oldest remaining bathhouses in New York.
They are also owned by two Russian immigrants named Boris and David.
Therefore, taking a trip here means that you’ll get to experience one of the most authentic Russian/Turkish style baths outside of Russia and Turkey, since this facility offers a variety of different, totally authentic treatments, like a traditional Russian Platza leaf massage, where you’ll get whacked with branches that are doused in olive oil.
What, want something a bit more conventional?
Then try one of the spa’s many pools or saunas, which are a little less intense and slightly more low-key.
The baths are also co-ed so be prepared.
They do have reserved times for women only on Wednesdays, between 10 am and 2 pm, if a total sauna sausage fest isn’t really your thing.
Address: 268 E 10th Street, New York, NY 10009
Hours: Open Monday through Tuesday and Thursday through Friday from 12 pm to 10 pm, Wednesday from 10 am to 10 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 10 pm, and Sunday from 8 am to 10 pm,
Admission: Tickets are $48 per person, with some services requiring an additional fee.
How to Get There: You can either take the L train to 1st Avenue station or the 4/5 train to Astor Place station.
38. Visit the Explorer’s Club Headquarters
If Indiana Jones were a real, live, person:
I feel like he would be beyond obsessed with this place and would have become a premier member.
Because I mean seriously.
Who doesn’t want to be part of a badass Explorers Club like this?
And although they have occupied several different buildings since their 1904 inception, their current location on East 70th street is pretty rad indeed.
Their beyond gorgeous headquarters sits inside a 1910 Jacobean revival mansion (not that I really know what that means but I guess that’s what Google is for ) that features heavy AF doors and exquisite turn-of-the-century stained glass windows, as well as a giant polar bear, fondly named Percy, who will greet you on the second floor.
It should come as no surprise that the group has occupied this location since 1965, as they continue to encourage the scientific exploration of this crazy little world of ours.
Just like the seven, founding, polar explorers did way back in 1904.
If you do decide to check out one of the most unusual things to do in NYC, then expect to discover cases upon cases filled with exploration-related treasures, including a giant globe that was previously used by Thor Heyerdahl to plan his iconic, Kon-Tiki expedition (you’ll see this as you make your way to the second floor).
Other on-site highlights are a stop at the library, a trip to the Clark room (Where all events are held and where you’ll see a sled from a 1909 North Pole expedition), a sneak peek at the research archives (which hold over 13,000 books, maps, films, and other artifacts), and visit to the top floor Gallery.
Because it is here that you’ll encounter more taxidermied animals than you ever knew existed (Picture narwhal tusks, wooly mammoth tusks, and even a famous “yeti scalp”. I know, too crazy for words).
A now, slightly antiquated vestige of field science that once used for education and research purposes, when the art of photography was still in its infancy.
National Geographic, eat your heart out.
Because everyone at this club is the real deal, as are all of the relics displayed here, which serve as a beautiful reminder of our not so distant past.
Address: 46 E 70th Street, New York, New York, 10021
Hours: The club is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, with docent-led tours conducted on Mondays during the public lecture.
How to Get There: Take the 6 train to 68th street station and walk to the Explorer’s Club from there.
39. Try Some of the Prettiest Toast in NYC at Davelle
If you should ever find yourself aimlessly wandering through the charming streets of the Lower East Side, then be sure to stop by this tiny, hole in the wall, Japanese cafe.
Not only are the staff SUPER nice, but the curry is absolutely delicious. However, Davelle really makes it on this list of the most unusual things to do in NYC because they serve up some of the most insanely beautiful toast that I ever did see.
So, if you’re a diehard Instagram maven who is looking for druel-worthy, Japanese-style toast, then Davelle is the eatery of your dreams.
After all, It’s modeled after a traditional Japanese tea and coffee shop – known as a kissaten – and is known for serving up unique, specialty toasts that are equal parts delicious and stunning.
Therefore, stop by any time between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm daily and try innovative toasts (all of which are served on photogenic AF pieces of “newspaper”) like Ogura (red beans), honey lemon (pictured above but don’t eat the lemons), berry and cream cheese, ham and egg, cheese curry, Mentai Mayo (spicy cod roe), and black sesame and cream cheese (pictured above).
Pro Tip: This place is SMALL AF and one of the more popular hidden gems in NYC. So, if you want to get a seat, be sure to get here early. Like, right when they open. Otherwise, grab your order to go and eat in a local park.
Address: 102 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm and Saturday/Sunday from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm.
Price: Speciality toasts are between $10 and $12 each.
How to Get There: Take the F/J/ train to Delancey/Essex Street station or the D train to Grand Street station and walk to the restaurant from there.
40. Stop by Tannen’s Magic Shop
Do you love magic almost as much as you love breathing?
If so then say hello to your new best friend, Tannen’s Magic Shop.
Because this fine purveyor of all things magical has been around since 1925 and is overflowing with a never-ending supply of invisible paint, multiplying billiard balls, and so much more.
Don’t expect to find any over the top, glitz and glam style decor from this shop’s unassuming interior.
You’ll discover a dimly lit barrage of vintage, brown, built-in, bookcases and glass display cases that showcase anything and everything you’d expect from a bonified magic emporium.
A truly historic magic retailer that has sold, literal, tricks of the trade, to no less than Adrien Brody and David Blain.
And if you should happen upon a fascinating trick that calls you:
Please don’t be shy and ask one of their beyond friendly staff members for assistance.
Because everyone here is a total magical professional who would be only too happy to model a trick for you.
And for a not-so-small, nominal fee:
The almost sorcerer-like pros here can teach you fun things like the F1 Nitro trick, a trick where a playing card is made to vanish from its deck and reappear in a nearby wallet ($140) or the ParaPad trick ($95), which consists of a pocket-sized notebook that helps a magician read the minds of curious onlookers.
If you’re looking for one of those almost otherworldly, unusual things to do in NYC, then look no further than Tennen’s Magic Shop.
***If you’re really into magic and have a bit of extra disposable income, then you can always sign up for one of their week-long, magic boot camps (held in Philadelphia for $1295) or enjoy a more reasonably priced lecture ($35)/workshop ($100) from professional magicians like Dani Daortiz.***
Address: 45 West 34th Street, Suite 608, New York, New York, 10001
How to Get There: Take the 1, 2, or 3 train to Penn Station and 34th Street and walk to the shop from there.
Price: This place is free to visit but most items here cost between $25 and $100.
41. Visit a Tropical Rainforest inside the Ford Foundation Building
When you picture some of NYC’s most immortal green spaces, I bet Central Park is one of the first places that comes to mind.
Dare to venture beyond the somewhat plain, industrial feeling exterior of the NYC’s Ford Foundation building, and you’ll discover a lush oasis of greenery that is just waiting to be discovered by an intrepid traveler such as yourself.
Built-in 1967 by Kevin Roche and John Binkeloo:
The glass and steel atrium of this twelve-story office building is filled with more than 39 different species of shrubs, vines, and trees.
Creating a botanical wonderland of sloping garden terraces that is the perfect place for a bit of quiet, contemplation.
Take a well-deserved step away from the chaos of the city and stand in awe of an almost magical garden that stretches all the way to the roof on two sides.
You can also admire the garden’s quaint reflection pool and enjoy a beautiful fountain, which provides guests with a unique, reverberation effect.
And added bonus?
There are even a wealth of audio descriptions along the garden’s footpaths that help describe exactly what you’re looking at.
Real, NYC rainfall is actually collected from the roof and used to create moisture-rich, atmospheric conditions that help support the growth of all this amazing plant life.
This New York City hidden gem really is THAT,next-level awesome.
***Although there are two different entrances to the building, I recommend using the 43rd Street entrance since it will provide you with same-level access to the reception desk, Welcome Lounge, and Ford Foundation Gallery.***
Address: 320 East 43rd Street, New York, New York, 10017
Hours: The facility is only open to the public when the gallery has an exhibition running, which is typically Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, 6, 7, or S train to Grand Central Terminal and walk three and a half blocks, along East 43rd street, to the Ford Foundation Building.
42. Have a Drink at the Trinity Place Bank Vault Bar
Looking for a truly unique dining experience in New York City?
If so, then venture on over to NYC’s infamous financial district and stop by Trinity Place, a bar and restaurant that actually sits inside a wicked awesome, vintage bank vault.
The vault in and of itself is a bit unusual since it features two, 35-ton doors on either end, that date all the way back to 1904.
First commissioned by New York Realty Bank:
The vault turned out to be so heavy that the creator, Mosler Safe Company, actually had to sail the entire structure down the Hudson River from Upstate New York.
Time travel a little over one hundred years into the future and you’ll find that this nifty, ultra-historic vault has been fully restored to its former glory, a la 2006.
The round, five-inch thick, circular doors of this super cool security device now sit at either end of a posh AF restaurant and bar, where you can sip on dignified cocktails like
a Cucumber Cosmo and an Espresso Martini.
Both of which are super delish I might add.
if your tummy is feeling more than a little grumbly, then dig into anything featured on their delicious brunch menu, including thick-cut Brioche French Toast and goat cheese and spinach omelet that is the stuff that foodie dreams are made of.
***Looking for some more unusual things to do in NYC, including some super neat, ultra-quirky places to eat? Then check this amazing list of my 10 favorite themed restaurants in NYC.***
Address: 115 Broadway, New York, New York, 10006
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Also, open on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm and from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm (closes at 10:00 pm on Sundays).
How to Get There: Take the 4 or 5 train to Wall Street station and walk to the bar from there.
Price: Dinner entrees will cost you around $25.00 while a cocktail at the bar will cost you $14.00.
43. Peruse Through Some of the Murder Mysteries You’ll Find Inside the Mysterious Bookshop
Bibliophiles of the world, rejoice!
Because NYC is chocker box full of truly bizarre, specialty bookshops of every variety.
And the Mysterious Bookshop is no exception.
Opened in 1979 by Otto Penzler:
This quirky, Tribeca bookshop quite literally has a mystery around every corner.
This shop is the world’s oldest and biggest bookstore, selling exclusively mystery, crime, and espionage-related novels.
Even though you won’t find any over-the-top decor that features rogue corpses dangling off a bookshelf or two, you will find an office door or two that is roped off with some ominous, yellow, police caution tape that reads, “Crime Scene, Do Not Cross”.
You’ll also see every inch of the almost 20-foot tall bookshelves here packed with books about death and destruction, with a section devoted to Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, James Patterson, and now-defunct detective magazines like Black Mask.
If you’re looking for even more bookish bliss, then saunter on down to the store’s low ceilinged basement, where you’ll discover an assortment of standard, as well anthologies and first edition, of mysterious books of every variety.
Address: 58 Warren Street, New York, New York
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take either the 1, 2, 3 or A/C Train to Chambers Street and walk to the bookshop from there.
Price: Most books here cost between $10 and $15.
44. Have a Drink at GoldBar, A Swank AF Night Club Beddazled in Gold Skulls
Have an unhealthy obsession with all things Investigation Discovery as you attempt to satisfy your never-ending lust for the macabre?
If so then this is the bar of your Hannibal Lecter-style dreams.
Because NoLita’s famed GoldBar is bedazzled with no less than thousands of gold-encrusted skulls.
Add in a fair few, super-luxe, 12’, vaulted ceilings that are encrusted with gold leaf and you have a 2,500 square foot club/bar space that all the cool kids crave.
And did I mention?
This vibrant, posh AF bar also showcases some opulent beyond belief, crystal chandeliers that help make this one of the most luxurious after-hour spots in all of NYC.
Truth be told, the glitz and glam is about all this place has going for it since the music is loud, the crowd pretentious, the staff less than helpful, and the drinks mediocre at best (and expensive too).
If you’re absolutely dying to visit this place for yourself, then do try to get here right when they open at 11:00 pm to avoid all the late-night debauchery that will ensue.
That being said though:
Do take everything I say with a huge grain of salt since I am old AF, love my granny panties, relate to the Golden Girls on a personal level, and like to be home by 10:00 pm at the latest.
Which is why:
I seriously doubt that I am their target demographic.
I have heard good things about their Ginger Mint Aphrodisiac, which features Grey Goose infused with horny goat weed, diner syrup, fresh lemon juice, and Perrier.
Address: 389 Broome St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.
How to Get There: Take the 4 or 6 train to Spring Street station or the J or Z train to Bowery station and walk to the club from there.
Price: Most cocktails here are $15.00, including the one mentioned above.
45. The Ghostbusters Firehouse
Shocking to exactly no one is the fact that New York City has been the backdrop for many a famous movie and television show.
If you should ever find yourself walking down Moore Street in lower Manhattan, then you might want to swing on by the firehouse that was featured in the iconic, 1984 movie, Ghostbusters.
The one with Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd, where they fight ghosts and an enormous marshmallow man who threatens to take over the city.
Okay, well if you have no idea what I’m talking about then you MUST watch this film because it is a total, 1980s classic.
And one of the most prominent places featured in this cinematic masterpiece is THIS very firehouse.
Yes my friends!
It is a real, working firehouse that sits inside this 1903, Beaux-Arts building and that is home to Hook & Ladder Company 8.
In the movie though:
This is the place where Peter, Ray, and Egon set up their lucrative ghost-busting business because well “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!”.
You definitely won’t be able to see the immortal Ghostbuster logo displayed prominently outside the building.
You will see it proudly emblazoned on the sidewalk just outside the building, which is how you’ll know that you’ve made it to THE Ghostbusters firehouse.
Even though the building did undergo some major renovations between 2016 and 2018, resulting in a new red garage door with some snazzy panes of glass in it, the firehouse still looks very much like it did way back in the 80s.
If the firefighters here have time, and you’re feeling brave enough to ask, then they just might be able to give you a tour of the firehouse and let you marvel at some of the melted clocks and phones that they’ve salvaged from the many fires they’ve put out (Salvador Dali eat your heart out).
That being said though:
This is a working firehouse and you will need to be respectful of that fact while you’re here since, well, they kind of sort of really do need to put out real-life fires.
Address: 14 North Moore Street New York, New York, 10013
Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day. However, this is a working firehouse. So, if you want to step inside you will need permission.
How to Get There: You can either take the 1/2 train to Franklin Street station or the A/C/E to Canal Street station and walk to the firehouse from there.
Unusual Things to do in New York City: Brooklyn
For the love of God and all that is holy:
Get out of the overpriced, overcrowded New York City borough of Manhattan and check out the ultra-trendy, super-hip area of Brooklyn instead.
Because this New York county?
Well, it’s home to upwards of two million people and is known for having some of the most famous attractions in New York City, including DUMBO, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Bushwick Collective, Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Museum, The Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, etc.
Dare to venture off the well-beaten path and you’ll discover some of the most unusual things to do in NYC here too.
42. Sunshine Laundromat
From the outside:
Sunshine Laundromat looks like a good, totally run-of-the-mill place to do that now behemoth load of laundry that you’ve been ignoring for the past month.
Step inside and you’ll see a wealth of classic pinball machines the are intermingled with a variety of different washing machines that seem to hum to life every time they enter the “spin cycle”.
Even more bewildering though are a strange array of washing machines that you see nestled near the back of the store.
Because upon closer inspection:
You’ll actually find a secret door into a whimsical world of more than 23 classic pinball machines.
A 1000, square-foot room that owner Peter Rose has converted into a pinball venue that serves beer, making this the only laundromat in New York City that can actually legally serve alcohol.
Add in a fortune-telling chimp (because life clearly isn’t worth living without one of those):
And you truly have one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
Truth be told though:
I absolutely forbid you to leave this fine establishment without first enjoying a game of pinball on their “Big Bang Bar” machine since it was probably the most fun I’ve ever experienced playing pinball.
***FYI, no liquor is served here, only beer.***
Address: 860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn New York
Hours: The Laundromat is open daily from 7:00 am to 2: am but the pinball backroom doesn’t open up until 2:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the G to Greenpoint Avenue station and walk to the Laundromat from there.
Price: A single pinball game here is a mere $0.75.
46. New York Transit Museum
Looking for some unusual things to do in NYC?
Then stop by the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn!
Owned and operated by the MTA:
This museum sits inside the once abandoned, Court Street station, which was decommissioned all the way back in 1936.
The former hub of transportation hub now houses an eclectic collection of vintage trains and buses that all help tell the unique story behind the development of the public transportation system in NYC.
To visit some of the oldest artifacts in the museum:
Head to the “On the Street: Trolleys and Buses” exhibition, which explains the evolution of fuel technology in buses and displays a variety of subway cars that date back to 1916, with some wooden elevated cars dating all the back to 1903.
To really understand the evolution of public transit in NYC, explore the museum’s vast selection of informative exhibitions, including “Grand by Design” (a celebration of Grand Central Terminal), “The Dr. George T.F Rahilly Trolley and Bus Study Center” (home to scale models of antique trolleys and work cars), “No Spitting on the Platform” (a collection of vintage transportation signs), “Moving the Millions” (discusses the evolution of the NYC subway), and “Steel, Stone & Backbone: Building New York’s Subways” (examines the historic tools used to build NYC’s subways).
That being said though:
The real highlight of any visit here is a walk through some of the antique buses and trains that can be found in the museum’s delightful, vintage fleet, featuring a wealth of buses and trains that date all the way back to the 1940s.
“All aboard” as you take a charming walk through yesteryear at this quirky, NYC museum.
***Just in case you don’t want to schlepp all the way to Brooklyn, you can visit an annex of the museum in Grand Central terminal, just left of the Station Master’s Office.***
Address: 99 Schermerhorn St Brooklyn, New York, 11201
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturday/Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: If you’re coming here from Manhattan, take the 4 or 5 train to Borough Hall station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: Tickets are $10 per person for adults.
47. Visit the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store
Are you an ultra-savvy, super-hero in training who is desperately searching for an eclectic variety of equipment to satisfy all of your crime-fighting needs?
If you’re emphatically nodding your head yes right now:
Then The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store is the retail outlet of your dreams.
Because this quirky AF shop really does sell a multitude of different items that are designed to meet any and all of your superhero needs.
From canned cyclones to super-chic capes to Mylar force fields, this place really does have it all.
If you wanna be bad because, you know, it feels so good, then fear not my less than savory friend!
Because this store also stocks mind-readers, particle guns, and bottled black holes that are sure to meet all of your budding, super villain needs.
And if you’re feeling really adventurous:
Then sneak behind the store’s very own, false bookcase to find a full-on student writing center where kids can g after school to get their creative writing swerve on.
A place that was first established by the store’s co-founder, Dave Eggers, and that is funded by all of the proceeds from this beyond delightful shop.
But wait, because this place gets even better.
See, this store is also run by a slew of devoted volunteers, who even keep copies of students’ “published works” in the store’s “manuals” section.
What are you waiting for? Stop by today and check out one of the more unusual things to do in NYC.
A place that you can actually feel good about visiting since you’ll be helping others and become a real-life superhero in the process.
You’re straight-up awesome like that.
***FYI, this franchise also run The Pirate Supply Shop in San Francisco and The Hoxton Monster Supply Shop in London.***
Address: 372 5th Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11215
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the D, N, or R train to 9th Street station or the F/G train to 4th Avenue station and walk to the store from there.
Price: FREE…unless you want to buy something.
48. Brooklyn Flea
Are you a hipster in training who is looking a place to call your own?
If you are then Brooklyn Flea is the mecca you’ve been waiting for!
Founded in a long-ago time before Pinterest, AKA 2008, this flea market features hundreds of vendors selling an assortment of furniture, vintage clothing, antiques, jewelry and well, artisanal anything, (think ramen burgers, crafts, and upcycled clothing) to meet any and all of your wannabe Brooklynite needs.
It’s so awesome that travel + Leisure, Country Living, Budget Travel, and Fodor’s all ranked this flea market as one of the best markets in the entire United States, and probably the only thing in Brooklyn that you can afford!
Joking. I added the last part since I’m bitter and poor.
From the first weekend in April, through October, Brooklyn Flea hosts a series of outdoor markets that are in Industrial City on Saturdays and in DUMBO on Sundays.
So be sure to stop by to experience one of the truly unique things to do in New York City.
Address: 80 Pearl Street in Dumbo (But there are also locations in Williamsburg and Industry City)
Hours: This seasonal, outdoor flea market is open on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.
How to Get There: You could either take the A to the Brooklyn Bridge/High Street Station or take the F to the York Street Station.
49. Time Out Market
If you’re in search of foodie nirvana, then Time Out Market should ABSOLUTELY be your first stop when checking out some of these unusual things to do in NYC.
Located in the ultra-popular neighborhood of Dumbo, Brooklyn:
The ever slick, Time Out media company, has brought together some of the best restaurants from NYC’s foodie scene to create a place where food lovers across the globe can rejoice in gastronomic harmony.
But believe it or not:
The first Time Out Market was actually started in Lisbon, Portugal. And because that food hall was so popular, Time Out has now established two more franchises in Miami and now (hooray) New York City.
And while all three locations include a multitude of food vendors that reflect the diversity of each city’s local food scene, they are all created around the simple principle that, “If it’s great, it goes in the magazine; if it’s unmissable, it goes into the market.” (Time Out Market)
And with twenty-four of New York’s finest eateries to choose from:
Visitors will not be disappointed by delectable delights from gastronomic giants like Ice & Vice, Cookie Dö, Bklyn Wild, Jacob’s Pickles, Clinton St. Baking Company, and more!
If you’re sitting here thinking “Gee, all this food sounds great, but where are all the drinks?”, never fear because Time Out’s got your back.
Time Out has actually managed to replicate New York City’s bumpin’ bar scene by creating THREE different outposts of NYC’s finest bars.
Can I get a whoop whoop? No? Right…Awkward. Anyway:
If you’re infinitely cooler than me, just mosey on up to the 5th-floor terrace, where you can enjoy beautiful views of NYC’s grossly polluted waterways. (Yeah, I went there. You can also find additional, outdoor seating along Old Dock Street).
But enough about the ambiance, let’s talk logistics.
Time Out Market is open daily between 8 am and 11 pm, Monday through Thursday, and until 12 am Friday through Sunday.
If you choose to visit BEFORE 8 am, in a vain attempt to avoid sharing the space with mobs of hungry NYer’s, then the only stalls that will be open are Clintons St. Baking Company, Breads Bakery, and Loco Coco since all the other restaurants don’t open until 11 am.
So go forth, wear elastic pants, and enjoy the foodie goodness.
Address: 55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (There is another location in Midtown. but I still prefer the one in DUMBO though)
Hours: Open every day from 8 am to 10 pm.
How to Get There: You could take the C train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge Station, the F train to York Street Subway Station, or the A train to the High Street/Brooklyn Bridge Station.
50. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Much less well known than its famous cousin in the Bronx:
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides visitors who are looking for one of the more unusual things to do in NYC with a much-needed respite from the chaos of the city.
Because this delightful, oasis of botanical bliss is home to thousands of different plant species, including a vast collection of Bonsai plants that can be well over 300 years old!
This distinct array of plants makes infinitely more sense when you realize that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also home to one of the largest Japanese-style gardens in the country.
An exquisitely beautiful area that includes Cherry Blossom trees, an idyllic red gate, and even a lovely lake-see area.
And after exploring this scenic area:
Be sure to take a peaceful walk through some of the institution’s wealth of other charming gardens, like the Shakespeare Garden (consisting of plant species mentioned throughout Shakespeare’s plays), Rose Garden (It showcases over a thousand different flowers, as well as waterlilies that grace the top of the garden’s lovely terrace pools), Daffodil Hill, The Desert Pavilion (home to an exotic collection of plants that are indigenous to the deserts of the world), and more.
If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind experience, then a trip to see the Titan Arum is a total must.
Because while this rare species of flower may not bloom often when it does, it kind of smells like rotting flesh.
Yeah, probably not what you expected from a visit to the botanical garden.
Luckily for you though (unless you’re descended from flies and actually enjoy this type of smell), this species blooms very infrequently. Like once every ten years or so infrequent.
Which is why:
For better or worse, you probably won’t have to deal with this beyond pungent, totally stinkerific smell any time soon.
We call that living the dream people since I for one will take a hard pass on the sweet scent of rotting humans during my next trip to Brooklyn.
Address: 900 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11238
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (March through October). The gardens close at 4:30 pm instead of 6:00 pm in November and are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm in December and February.
How to Get There: Take the 2 or 3 train to Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum station and walk to the garden from there.
Price: Tickets are $18 per person with free Friday mornings from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm (March through November). Last admissions are also thirty minutes before the garden closes.
51. The Robotic Church
Truth be told:
I’m not usually a big fan of churches.
Somehow, they all just kind of seem to blend together and generally look the same to me.
Unless of course:
They’re something truly extra special, like Gaudi’s famed, La Sagrada Familia.
And although the former Norwegian Seaman’s Church in Red Hook Brooklyn isn’t exactly La Sagrada Familia level awesome, it is definitely an uber-quirky, one-of-a-kind place.
Because this church?
Well, thanks to the technical art collective, Amorphic Robot Works, it is home to hundreds of hand-made, futuristic robots.
Robots that can range anywhere between one foot and fifteen feet in size.
A beautiful, artistic movement that was first started by Chico MacMurtrie, who added an assortment of 35 kinetic robots to the church in the 1980s.
Since then though:
This amalgamation of human-like robots has steadily grown.
Which is why:
The church now serves as the collative’s main studio, where you can see these fantastical pieces of art all along the walls, floors, and ceilings of this historic building.
And for a truly extra special experience:
Stop by for a musical performance.
Because believe it or not:
Each of these wonderful robots is controlled by computers and is designed to create a distinct sound.
Sounds, then when all played together, create the most wonderfully weird symphony that you ever did see.
Swing on by today and enjoy one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
Especially since the sounds emanating from this beyond eclectic musical performance truly are unlike anything you ever did see, or hear.
Address: 11 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11231
Hours: Sign up for their email list on their website and you’ll get information about upcoming shows.
How to Get There: From Manhattan, you can take either the 2/3 or the 4/5 to Borough Hall station. From here, hop on the B61 bus, get off at the Van Brunt Street/Verona Street stop, and walk to the church from here.
52. Get a Rainbow Bagel from The Bagel Store
Believe it or not:
There was a time, a much simpler time, when not every food on the planet was totally rainbow-ified.
An era, way back in 2014, when food items were left in their natural state of being, and everyone was totally, a-ok with that.
That all changed when Brooklyn’s, The Bagel Store burst onto NYC’s foodie scene with their now immortal, rainbow bagel.
Yes, my friends:
Children wailed (not really), Facebook videos that featured delectable rainbow bagels went viral, and lines stretched out all the way to Coney Island.
The lines were never really THAT long. Thankfully.
And although rainbow bagel mania has died down a bit:
You can still get in on all this rainbow bagel fervor at The Bagel Store, which makes an ultra-perfect pit stop before heading to the famed, Bushwick Collective.
Definitely one of the more unusual things to do in NYC:
This fine purveyor of all things bagel-related does indeed carry more traditional bagel flavors like everything, onion, sesame, and cinnamon raisin.
But real talk:
Where’s the fun in being ordinary?
No my friend.
You’re here to embrace the Instagram maven within and be the totally extraordinary diva (or divo) that you are by purchasing a super snazzy rainbow bagel.
An almost otherworldly, carb bomb of delight that has been generously smeared with a sizable amount of homemade, Rainbow-fetti cream cheese
And just in case you were at all curious:
Rainbow-fetti cream cheese = cake batter cream cheese with rainbow sprinkles.
Yup, so good, so good (Sweet Caroline anyone?)!
However, lest you not be a fan of cake better cream cheese, then you also try any one of their other, totally outrageous cream cheese creations too, like Nutella, Oreo Cookie and Cream, Unicorn, Cannoli, etc.
As well as a selection of slightly more traditional, savory flavors too.
But wait, it gets better!
Because this menu is also packed with an assortment of other super vibrant, Uber-colorful bagels like the Captain America Bagel, the Spiderman Bagel, the Unicorn Bagel, the Cotton Candy Bagel, and the Galaxy Bagel, just to name a few!
Regardless of what your current Instagram color obsession is, The Bagel Store has got a perfectly vibrant bagel for you.
Address: 754 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 2 or 3 train to Berger Street station and walk to the bagel shop from there.
Price: A rainbow bagel with cake batter cream cheese will cost you $4.95.
Unusual Things to do in New York City: Queens
Who rocks the house? Queens rocks the house!
Because in my humble opinion, it is probably the single most underrated borough in all of New York City.
Because let’s be honest for about 2.5 seconds:
Manhattan is well, Manhattan, and largely the playground of tourists and uber-rich millionaires.
Well, it’s long since become the new Manhattan. And trust me, soaring rent prices definitely reflect that.
It looks out at Manhattan from the East River and is home to REAL New Yorkers.
Which is why:
Everywhere you turn you’ll find incredibly affordable, super chic, under-the-radar venues that make this the swanky new place that all the hipster millennials and trendy jet setters are flocking to.
During your next trip to New York City, you MUST visit this New York City borough and experience some of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
I’ve lived in New York City for well over twenty years and I still can’t get enough of Queens.
53. Chinatown in Flushing Queens
There are about a billion different Chinatowns across the globe. So what sets Flushing’s Chinatown apart from the rest?
Well, one word, food, glorious food! Picture me twirling and frolicking at the very thought.
And that makes sense when you learn that the Chinese-immigrant population of Flushing, Queens, surpassed that of Manhattan’s Chinatown many years ago.
Sprinkle in a local population that is nearly two-thirds Asian and foreign-born and you get a neighborhood that is a perfect storm of Asian foodie awesomeness.
So whether you’re in the market for authentic Asian cuisine, an ancient herbal remedy, or an ultra-rare, Japanese comic book, Flushing has it all.
But I’m forever and always about the food.
So if you’re anything like me, then head over to the New World Mall food court, where you can create your own buffet of awesomeness, at a great price.
My top picks for restaurant greatness are Hunan House, Spicy and Tasty (for Mapo Tofu), Jade Asian (for dim sum), and New Imperial Palace (Dungeness crab with sticky rice).
Joe’s Shanghai is another great little spot for Chinese food in the area. A place that is prominently featured in the city’s Michelin Guide and that is known for their delicious, soup dumplings.
***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Since you’re in Flushing anyway, you HAVE to stop by Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao. And no, this is not a request, it is a demand. Trust me, they serve these totally unique and super delicious NUTELLA SOUP DUMPLINGS that really are unlike anything that you’ve ever had in your life! I know it sounds weird but trust me, they are DIVINE! Like GET IN MY BELLY NOW LEVEL GOOD!***
Address: 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY
Hours: Open every day from 8 am to 11 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 line to the Flushing Street Station.
54. Visit the Museum of the Moving Image
Did you know:
That before the film industry moved to Hollywood in the 1930s it was actually based in little old, Queens, New York?
Yup, totally unbelievable but totally true.
Movies like The Return of Sherlock Holmes (or, the first Sherlock Homes to have sound) were actually shot inside the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens.
Originally built in the 1920s:
This historic building is now a national historic district and was the former filming location of Goodfellas, Carlito’s Way, and Sesame Street.
As of ye olde 1988, the building was transformed into a fascinating museum that is dedicated to the art, history, and unique technology behind film.
If you should happen to be in Astoria, Queens, then why not stop by the Museum of the Moving Image and pay tribute to the area’s rich, cinematic history?
Not only is it the only museum in the country that is centered around the history of the moving image, but it is also home to a collection of more than 130,000 super quirky, Uber-fun, film-related artifacts.
Like a fantastic, permanent exhibition that is dedicated to Jim Henson, who was the famous creator behind all of the Muppets characters.
Because let’s be real:
If it includes Muppets then it just has to be awesome and one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
***The museum offers FREE admission to guests on Friday evenings between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. And since you’re in Astoria anyway, definitely try some of the delicious, totally authentic Greek food that you’ll find the area’s many Greek restaurants, shops, and bakeries. And spoiler alert, Ovelia is one of my absolute FAVE restaurants in the entire neighborhood.***
Address: 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the E, M, or R train to Steinway Street station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: Tickets cost between $9 and $15 per person.
55. Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Home to Citifield (AKA where the Mets baseball team plays) and the city’s annual, US Open tennis championship:
Flushing Meadows Corona Patk is not there purely for the enjoyment of sports enthusiasts.
This sprawling, 900-acre park is packed full of unique things to see including the Queen’s Museum, the New York Hall of Science (one of the first science museums in the country), the Queens Zoo, and more.
Because believe it or not:
This expansive green space was actually explicitly built for the 1939 World’s Fair and has a wealth of “futuristic” buildings to show for it since, well, that was the overall theme of the fair.
An event that was so popular:
That the park again played host to the 1964 World’s Fair and still retains vestiges of the New York State Pavilion that was used during that exposition.
You know exactly what I’m referring to. It’s that flying saucer-shaped structure with three observation decks hovering above it that was featured in the original Men in Black film.
There’s also another famous park icon that you might want to visit while you’re here.
And that’s none other than the instantly recognizable, 12-story tall, stainless steel globe.
It’s definitely an immortal park landmark that is known as the Unisphere since it features three distinct metal loops that encircle the Earth.
Rings that each represent the paths taken around the globe by Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space), John Glenn (the first American to orbit the Earth), and Telstar (the first American satellite to orbit the Earth).
Because there’s still one last remnant from the 1964 World’s Fair that is well worth a look..
And it sits inside the Queen’s Museum since it is an amazing, miniature panorama of New York City.
It really is exquisite to behold since it is a stunningly accurate scale model of the city that also served as a beyond popular attraction during the 1964 World’s Fair.
It’s also infinitely less touristy (and pricey) than the model that you’ll find in Times Square.
It was actually fully refurbished in the 90s and now features every building that was constructed in the city prior to 1992.
Just a truly amazing part of the city that is not to be missed while you’re in Queens.
Address: Kennedy Circle, Queens, New York, 11368
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to 111th Street station and walk to the park from there.
Price: The park itself is free but visiting some of the park’s major attractions will cost money.
56. Visit the Ganesh Temple of Queens
The first thing you need to know about this enormous, intricately carved, Hindu temple in Flushing, Queens?
That they serve some of the most amazing dosas ever in their basement canteen.
And the second thing that you should know about the Ganesh Temple of Queens?
They do not allow photography and have a relatively strict dress code.
Your shoulders and legs must be covered at all times while inside the temple.
No tank tops or shorts of any kind.
You must also take off your shoes prior to stepping inside and cannot wear animal products of any kind.
So yeah, no fur or leather either.
If you do arrive a bit scantily clad that you can always rent a pair of baggy pants on-site.
Once you are dressed appropriately and are ready to enter, you’ll quickly see that this stunning temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha.
Everywhere you look you’ll find images of this God’s distinctive, elephant-shaped head carved out of imported Indian granite and draped in colorful garlands of flowers.
A vibrant, religious structure that was erected in the 1970s and that became the first traditional Hindu temple in the United States.
It serves as the official home to the Hindu Temple Society of North America and is now easily one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
Address: 45-57 Bowne Street, Queens, New York, 11355
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Main Street Station and catch the Q65 bus. Ride the bus for about four stops and get off at the 45th street, and Bowne Avenue since you can walk to the temple from there.
57. Enjoy Some Water Sports!
If you love the outdoors and being near the water:
Then Queens is the New York City borough for you.
Because even though everyone thinks of Coney Island when they consider some of New York City’s top beaches, Rockaway Beach and Long Beach are two amazing seaside spots where you can do a bit surfing.
And yes, you read that correctly.
I really did just mention going surfing in the Big Apple.
If you’re visiting during the summer, you can easily swing by either of these beaches and rent a surfboard from one of the many local shops here, like the cash-only, Rockaway Surf Club.
If surfing is a bit too adventurous for you, then you can always just head to the Long Island City Community Boat House instead and do some 100% free kayaking along the East River on a nice, sunny, weekend.
***PRO-TIP: For one of the best panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, stop by the rooftop bar at the Z NYC Hotel.***
58. Enjoy the Peace and Calm of the Noguchi Museum
Founded in the now, slightly distant year of 1975:
The Noguchi Museum is probably one of the most relaxing places in all of New York City.
This former, residential house was transformed into an exquisite art museum by the sculptor of the same name, Isamu Noguchi.
Noguchi first established the museum when he saw that the building across the street from his Queens area studio was for sale.
The immortal artist has prominently displayed his collection of modern, minimalistic sculptures, drawings, models, and designs all throughout the building.
As a result:
He has been able to create a wonderfully soothing space where visitors can enjoy the largest collection of Noguchi originals in the world.
Also worth visiting is The Isamu Noguchi Garden, which is a peaceful, natural space that showcases important acquisitions from other, internationally acclaimed artists.
Address: 9-01 33rd Road, Queens, New York, 11106
Hours: Open Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue Station. From there, take the Q103 bus to the stop at Vernon Boulevard and 33rd Road (about 19 stops) and walk to the museum from there.
Price: Tickets are $10 for adults.
59. Take in Some Modern Art at the Socrates Sculpture Park
Known the world over for it’s amazing, world-class museums:
New York City is brimming over with awe-inspiring art displays of every variety.
Many of these immortal institutions are inundated with hordes of wide-eyed, selfie stick-wielding tourists who can inadvertently rob you of what little peace of mind you actually have.
This is simply not the case with Socrates Sculpture Park, an outdoor museum and park that showcases a variety of different, totally unique, multi-media and modern art installations.
Originally a nasty AF landfill:
The space was transformed into a beautiful park/outdoor art gallery in 1985, by local sculptor, Mark di Suvero.
That’s why today:
This enchanting green space in Long Island City offers guests stellar views of the nearby, Manhattan skyline and is home to more than 20 different species of local plants.
Stop by and take some time to stroll through the regularly rotating series of outdoor art exhibits here.
And if you have the time (and its actually low tide):
Be sure to visit Socrates Sculpture Park Beach at Hallets Cove, where you can do some free kayaking, at the LIC Community Boathouse, during select weekends in July and August).
Address: 32-01 Vernon Boulevard / Long Island City, NY 11106
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to sunset.
How to Get There: Take the N/W train to Broadway station and walk eight blocks to the park.
60. Visit Fort Totten
Tucked away inside the Bayside area of Queens is Fort Totten Park.
Once the site of a Civil War-era fort that was erected in 1862:
The area has long since been transformed into a vast city park where visitors can explore some of the Civil War ruins that still remain (there are also remains from a former army base here too), as well as a small museum inside the visitor’s center.
At the center of the park:
There is also a beautiful, Neo-Gothic style building that is locally known as “The Castle” which was once used as an officer’s club for the former, on-site, army base.
This structure belongs to the Bayside Queens Historical Society and is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
And while there aren’t a ton of super unique things to do here:
This is still a great place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy some of the area’s marvelous views.
Just be aware that sections of the park are still actively used for fire, police, and army recruit training exercises and, as such, are off-limits to the public.
The large swaths of barbed wire and barricades will be a dead giveaway that this section of the park is to be avoided by any and all overly inquisitive visitors.
Address: Weaver Road Queens, New York, 11359
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 Train to Flushing Main Street station. From here, transfer to the Q15 bus and get off at the final stop.
61. Enjoy the Views from Atop the Brooklyn Grange Farms and Apiary
There are still some fully functioning farms right here in New York City.
I know, my mind was totally blown by that fact too.
And probably THE coolest one of them all is the Brooklyn Grange Farms and Apiary.
Because even though this farm might sound like it’s in Brooklyn:
It’s flagship location actually occupies a full acre of land atop the Standard Motor Products Building in Queens (And yes, they have two other locations as well, one that sits atop building number 3 in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard and one in Sunset Park Brooklyn).
Open since 2010:
Between the two locations, the farm has been able to produce a whopping 40,000 pounds of local produce each year.
They even have some of their very own, egg-laying hens at the Brooklyn Grange, with the Navy Yard location being home to thirty different beehives, all of which make up the single largest apiary in the city.
The real appeal of all this botanical bliss is the fact that these farms are actually situated on the rooftops of various NYC buildings, providing visitors with stunning, panoramic views of the city.
Swing by during their growing season and wander through their beautiful grounds.
You can soak some of the amazing views after purchasing fresh produce from their local farmstead.
***Ticketed, 45-minute tours of their Long Island City facility cost $18 per person and are available on Saturdays, during the summer, at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. They also must be booked in advance, online.***
Address: 37-18 Northern Blvd, Queens, New York, 11101
Hours: Open Saturdays, beginning June 13, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and continuing through October.
How to Get There: Take the R train to 36th Street station and walk to the farm from there.
Price: Tours are $18 per person but the farm is free to visit.
62. Loews Valencia Theatre
I’m not a huge fan of churches.
This place is something extra special.
Because stuck in between two altogether unremarkable stores in Jamaica, Queens is the ornate facade of a former movie theater, now turned church, that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Originally built in 1929 as the Valencia Movie House:
The 3,500 seat movie theater was eventually closed way back in 1977 and has since been converted into a local church.
Much of the Spanish and Mexican style architecture from the building’s movie showing past still remains.
Which is why:
If you take a tour of the facility, or visit as part of a Sunday service, you’ll find a resplendent red and gold interior with enchanting wooden railings, exquisite glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and a large organ in the lobby.
You’ll also see the theater’s archaic ticket booth sitting out front, as well as a variety of historic, aquatic-themed carvings that adorn the intricate facade of the building’s exterior.
And from within these carvings, you’ll be able to spot a fly AF mermaid in the center of it all, as well as some seashells and some minute swirls of blue that could pass for ocean waves.
Address: 165-11 Jamaica Avenue, Queens
Hours: You can attend a Sunday church service or arrange a private tour by appointment only.
How to Get There: Take the E train to Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue station and hop on the Q6 bus. Ride the bus for four stops, get off at Jamaica Avenue/165 street stop, and walk to the theater/church from here.
Price: You can arrange a free tour of the theater with Sister Forbes at 718-657-4210, ext. 20.
63. Swing by the Louis Armstrong House
Louis Armstrong had become the premier jazz musician in the entire world.
He and his wife Lucille could have lived anywhere in the world.
Somehow, they chose to settle down in a quiet, unassuming house in Corona, Queens.
The couple then lived in this modest little brick house until it was transformed into the Louis Armstrong House Museum, in 1976, after the couple passed away.
Visitors have been able to take tours of the Armstrong’s former home, where they can see exactly how the residence was furnished during the couple’s time here.
Throughout these informative, 40-minute tours of the building:
Guests can also listen to audio clips of Louis practicing his trumpet, enjoy an exhibit on Louis’s incredible life, and even spend some time in the peaceful, Japanese-inspired garden that sits near the back of the house.
Because in total:
This vast, in-house collection features 1,600 recordings, 86 scrapbooks, 5,000 photographs, 270 sets of band parts, 12 linear feet of papers, five trumpets, 14 mouthpieces, 120 awards/plaques, and so much more.
If you happen to be in Queens and want to learn more about the king of jazz himself, then this is the place for you.
No pictures please since photography is not allowed inside the building. You also must visit as part of a tour so definitely make advance reservations on their website.
Address: 34-56 107th St, Queens, New York, 11368
Hours: Open Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. FYI, the last tours of the day are conducted at 4:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to 103 St-Corona Plaza Station and then walk to the Louis Armstrong House from here.
Price: Tickets are $12 per person and include a 40-minute, guided tour of the house, as well as access to various exhibit areas and the back garden
64. Explore NYC’s Distant, Dutch History at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House
If you’re a diehard history nerd like me and think that spending a day museum hopping sounds like a wicked good time, then this is one of those unusual things to do in New York City that you will absolutely love.
Located right along the border between Brooklyn and Queens:
The Vander Ende-Onderdonk House is tucked away behind a slightly mundane seeming piece of road that connects Bushwick to Ridgewood.
Take a closer look and you’ll discover a true gem of a historic home.
A private residence that was originally built by a Dutch farmer, Paulus Vander, in 1709 and that is now known for being the oldest, Dutch colonial stone house in all of New York City.
The Onderdonk family eventually purchased the building and completed a major expansion, before the private residence was eventually converted into a museum, by the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Which is why it stands here today, providing visitors with an understanding of what life was really like for Dutch residents living in Colonial New York.
Walk through the building’s exposed beam interior and discover charming double Dutch doors, original wood floors, quaint brick chimneys, green shuttered windows, and a variety of exhibitions that display recently recovered artifacts from nearby, archaeological digs.
Because contrary to popular belief:
Time travel just may be possible when visiting the quiet corner of Queens.
Address: 1820 Flushing Ave, Queens, New York
Hours: Open Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the L train to Jefferson Street station and then walk five blocks north, along Flushing Avenue, to the historic home.
Price: There is a suggested donation of $3.
Unusual Things to do in New York City: The Bronx
The Bronx gets a really bad rep and is probably considered by many to be a total, cultural wasteland of poverty, crime, and general lawlessness.
If you dare to look past some of these overarching stereotypes, you’ll discover an intriguing borough that is filled with delicious food, fascinating museums, and charming green spaces.
Which is why:
The boogie-down Bronx will forever have a special place in my hear. That and some of my friends used to live in Woodlawn.
I was there ALL THE TIME, And you should be too since this is a criminally underrated (come on, that was a great pun) borough that is brimming over with its fair share of truly unusual things to do in NYC.
65. Ride the Bronx Zoo Bug Carousel
Praying Mantis’, Dung Beetles, Lady Bugs, and Grasshoppers…oh my!
Because you’ll find all these larger-than-life insects (and I mean that quite literally), and more, at the Bronx Zoo’s truly unique bug carousel.
Aptly located near the famed zoo’s butterfly exhibit:
This one-of-a-kind carousel features sixty-four different, hand-carved, vibrantly painted, wooden insects that you can hop aboard as you whirl and twirl your way through the ride.
Truly the first and only carousel of its kind:
The Bug Carousel is a fun and educational experience that has been worming (sorry but I just had to go for that pun) its way into children’s hearts since 2005.
And while you’re aboard:
Don’t forget to admire the lovely, painted murals that line the center of the ride and listen to the beautiful sounds of the insect world since the carousel’s music was created using the sounds of insect recording from the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Address: 2300 Southern Blvd, The Bronx, NY 10460, United States
Hours: The zoo and carousel are open daily from 10:00 am t0 4:30 pm with final admissions occurring 45 minutes before closing.
How to Get There: Take either a New Haven or Harlem line train to Fordham and board the Bx9 bus once you’re here. Ride the bus for four stops, get off at Southern Boulevard and East Fordham Road, and walk to the zoo from here.
Price: Included with a total experience ticket ($39.95), otherwise it costs $6 to ride the carousel.
66. Take a Scenic Stroll through Woodlawn Cemetery
Truth be told:
I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Investigation Discovery and all things macabre.
Even if you’re not totally obsessed with the un-living, you can still enjoy the vast beauty of this 400-acre expanse of green area, that is lined with a stunning array of intricately carved memorials and gravestones.
Because believe it or not:
Woodlawn Cemetery was founded way back in 1863 and is widely known as one of the most elegant cemeteries in New York City.
It is also the immortal home of more than 300,000 souls, some of which are entombed in one of the 1,300 mausoleums here, like the Art Nouveau-style tomb of Isidor and Ida Straus (victims of the Titanic disaster) and the Egyptian style tomb of the Woolworths.
Take a stroll through this DEADLY quiet place (Sorry for the lame puns but I just can’t help myself), and see if you can find the gravestones of some of the cemetery’s most famous residents.
Super fascinating souls like Joseph Pulitzer, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (She basically started the women’s rights movement and is one of the most famous woman suffragists of all time), Miles Davis, Ruth Brown Snyder (the first woman to be executed by electric chair), Oliver Belmont (Founder of the Belmont Horse Track who is buried inside a scale replica of Da Vinci’s Saint-Hubert Chapel), Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick), and the Annie Bliss Titanic Memorial (dedicated to all the victims of that famous nautical disaster).
***Sporadic tours of the cemetery are also offered so please check their website for more up-to-date information.***
Address: Webster Avenue & East 233rd, Bronx, New York, 10470
Hours: Open daily to visitors from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4 Train to Woodlawn station (the end of the line) and walk about half a block to the Jerome Avenue entrance. Otherwise, you could take the 2 or 5 train to 233rd Street station and walk three blocks to the cemetery from here.
67. Visit The Edgar Allen Poe Cottage
Did you know that Edgar Allen Poe actually lived in New York City?
Yeah me neither.
At least, not until I visited his historic cottage in…Da Bronx.
But believe it, people.
Because this quaint little country cottage sits in the Fordham area of the Bronx and was first built in 1812.
Poe himself didn’t move in until 1847, when he rented the house for a mere $100 per year and hoped that some of the area’s fresh, countryside air would actually help cure his wife, Virginia, of Tuberculosis.
Throughout his time here though:
The famous author was able to write iconic poems like “Annabel Lee” and “The Bells”, before moving back to Baltimore when Virginia eventually. succumbed to her disease.
And while this small white cottage did have a few other, not-so-famous tenants, the house was eventually purchased and transformed into a museum by the state of New York in 1913.
Even today, you can still take an audio tour of the facility and see the bed where Virginia passed away and the rocking chair where Poe sat and pondered the true meaning of life.
Because, as you would expect:
The interior of the home is designed to look exactly as it did when both Edgar Allen Poe and Virginia were in residence.
Address: 2640 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York, 10458
Hours: Open Thursday and Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the B or D train to Knightsbridge Station and walk to the cottage from there.
Price: Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children.
68. Take a Leisurely Walkthrough Van Cortlandt Park
Looking to escape the chaos of the city with a short jaunt into the simple beauty of nature?
If so then consider taking a scenic hike through the Bronx’s very own, Van Cortlandt Park.
Because believe it or not:
This massive green space is 1,1146 acres in size, making it the third-largest park in the city.
It is also home to more than twenty miles of hiking trails, including the picturesque Cass Gallagher Nature Trail, the John Kieran Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, and the Putnam Trail.
A diverse array of fantastically fun hikes that will take your through the park’s Forever Wild Preserve, Northeast/Northwest Forests, Croton Woods, Wetlands, and Meadows.
Feel free to grab a map (trust me, you’ll need it) and enjoy this amazing, expansive natural landscape while doing fun things like barbecuing in the Shandler Recreation Area, walking your dog in the Canine Court, visiting the Van Cortlandt House Museum (It is an 18th century, Georgian style house that is made of fieldstone and brick and is known for being the oldest house in the Bronx), and exploring the Van Cortlandt Nature Center.
The park is also home to four different playgrounds, as well as a variety of different sports fields where visitors can cycle, play basketball, and enjoy a friendly game of baseball.
Address: 3545 Jerome Ave, Bronx, New York, 10467
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 1 train to 242nd Street station and walk to the park from there.
69. Visit the Hall of Fame for Great Americans
Okay, another fun little factoid for you.
This little hall of fame in the Bronx?
it was actually the first “hall of fame” ever to be built in the United States.
And although it currently sits on the campus of the Bronx Community College:
It was originally designed by famed Gilded Age architect, Stanford White, in 1901 as part of NYU’s uptown campus.
Built atop the highest natural peak in NYC:
This semicircular, natural arch offers guests impressive, panoramic views of the Harlem River, the Cloisters, and Fort Tryon Park.
If you do visit this enchanting, open-air sculpture gallery, you can marvel at an impressive 630 foot, open-air Colonnade that is lined with 96 bronze, portrait busts of uber-famous Americans.
We’re talking total icons of the past like George Washington Carver (born into slavery, he became one of the most famous scientists of all time), Lillian D. Wald (a nurse and activist who created the concept of public health), Charlotte Saunders Cushman (a famous Shakesperean actress), Edgar Allen Poe (a notoriously dark author, editor, and poet who created the modern horror story and detective novel), George Peabody (a wealthy merchant who started off poor and was the first person to engage in large-scale philanthropy), etc.
But the best part?
You’ll be the only one there since this place is largely unknown to locals and tourists alike, making it one of my fave unusual things to do in NYC.
***FYI, you will need to have a valid picture ID to gain access to the college campus.***
Address: 2167 University Ave, Bronx, New York, 10453
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4 train to 183 Street station and walk to the hall of fame from there.
Price: The Open-Air sculpture gallery is free to enter, but tours can be arranged in advance and included a suggested donation of $5 per person.
70. Swing by the Thain Family Forest
Another underrated, Bronx, natural oasis:
Thain Family Forest is actually a fifty-acre plot of trees, within the New York Botanical Garden, that is home to the largest tract of old-growth forest in the city.
A natural habitat that dominated New York’s landscape prior to European settlement.
Much of New York’s beautiful old-growth forests have been replaced by a concrete jungle filled with skyscrapers and 30-story tall apartment buildings.
Which is why:
It’s sometimes kind of nice to head to the Bronx, explore this small forest, and see exactly what New York looked like prior to the start of the American Revolution.
Because as luck would have it:
One of the most important woodlands in the entire city has never been logged or altered in any way.
The excellent preservation of this indigenous forest is no mere, happy accident.
Nathaniel Lord Britton, a co-founder of the New York Botanical Garden, actually sought out an expansive area of natural woodland to include in this garden in 1895.
A series of education centers and greenhouses were set up around the forest, thereby preserving a rare piece of the state’s pre-Industrial ecology.
Stop by today and traverse the very same hunting paths that indigenous people used so many centuries ago.
***PSST, if you’re visiting New York City during the winter, then check out the amazing, Botanical Gardens Train Show. It’s been running for well over twenty-five years and usually takes place between November and January. It also showcases a vast selection of model trains that move along a half-mile-long track, in between twinkling lights, and through over 150, accurate, scaled-down versions of iconic NYC buildings. However, do book your tickets well in advance because this event is uber-popular and routinely sells out.***
Address: 2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx, New York
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday (and select holiday Mondays) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take a local, Harlem line train to the Botanical Gardens station and walk to the forest from there.
Price: An adult, all-garden pass to the Botanical Gardens costs $23 per person.
71. Eat REAL Italian Food Along the Bronx’s Famed Arthur Avenue
I know most tourists beeline it on over to Little Italy for what they think will be the best and most authentic Italian food of their lives, but you know what?
It’s a trick and the food here kind of sucks.
Because truth be told, most of the Italian food in Little Italy is expensive AF and totally overrated (besides Lombardi’s which is a pretty good place for pizza).
And besides, who actually wants to be like every other tourist in the city anyway?
I know I don’t. So:
Skip the long lines, high prices, and mediocre food of Little Italy and go to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx instead.
Not only is it safe, but it’s pretty easy to get there from Grand Central Terminal too.
Just take either a Hudson or Harlem line MetroNorth train to Fordham station (save money by purchasing a round trip ticket BEFORE you board the train) and walk a mere fifteen minutes to the gastronomic bliss that is Arthur Avenue.
You are now right where all the locals go for delicious, authentic Italian food that is reasonably priced.
But, if you’re not sure where to eat?
Try Enzo’s (2339 Arthur Avenue), a restaurant where the only thing bigger than the portions are the personalities of the warm and welcoming people who run this authentic Italian eatery (call to make a reservation).
Red sauce and authentic, Italian parmigiana are a religious experience here so definitely don’t leave without trying either of those menu items.
***Other fantastic eateries along Arthur Avenue include Randazzo’s ( seafood market), Calandra’s Cheese Shop (for duh, cheese), Madonia Brothers Bakery, Casa Della Mozzarella, and Borgatti’s Ravioli and Egg Noodle (get the ravioli). And if you’re looking for other New York City tourist traps to avoid or authentic New York City travel tips from a local, then check out either one of those posts right now!***
Unusual Things to do in New York City: Staten Island
Hello Staten Island!
A place that is probably the least well known of all of New York City’s five major boroughs and that is largely referred to as, “the forgotten borough”.
Not only is it the southernmost of all the boroughs, with a small population of just 476,000 residents, but it is also the only one of the five boroughs that is not connected to the New York City subway.
Residents and tourists alike will have to endure a twenty-five-minute ferry ride, aboard the Staten Island Ferry, before they even set foot in the borough.
Once you finally do arrive, you’ll be rewarded by finding some of the most unusual things to do in NYC here.
This is the original home of the Wu-Tang Clan so this place has at least has one thing going for it.
Yup, Wu-Tang for life.
72. Enjoy a Home Cooked Meal at Enoteca Maria
This beyond unusual restaurant has a nightly special.
And that is the beyond divine cooking of two extra-special grandmas.
Because Enoteca Maria isn’t staffed by celebrity chefs.
This restaurant employs two incredibly talented grandmas, one head chef and one sous chef, who have no problem making something that “tastes just like grandma’s” since well, all the chefs at this concept restaurant are nothing but grandmas.
And although this restaurant did start off employing only Italian grannies:
They have since expanded their program to include a fantastical array of foods that have been created by Nonna’s from all across the globe.
To date, the restaurant has showcased the specialty cuisine of grandma’s from places like France, Japan, Bangladesh, Syria, and more.
And while the restaurant does have a staple menu filled with traditional Italian fare, nightly grandma guest chefs are always here to create a secondary, ever-changing, menu that reflects some of the delicious dishes from their place of birth.
Talk about taking comfort food to the next level at this one of a kind, Staten Island restaurant.
Address: 27 Hyatt Street, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Hours: Open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 8:30 pm.
How to Get There: From the Ferry Terminal, walk across Bay Street to the steps of Borough Hall and onto Hyatt Street since the restaurant site right next door to St. George’s Theatre.
Price: Most dishes here are around $25 with their Lasagna Blanca (layered sheets of pasta with Parmesan, mozzarella, artichoke, mushrooms, and butternut squash in a béchamel sauce) being one of my faves for $26.
73. Enjoy a Brief Moment of Solitude at the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
One of just two classic, outdoor, Chinese-style gardens in the United States:
The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is a wonderfully tranquil place that is perfect for a bit of quiet, self-reflection.
Built for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center:
This recreation of a traditional, Ming Dynasty Garden was originally constructed by 40 Chinese artisans who used nothing but traditional building techniques to design this complex in Suzhou City, China.
Once the masterpiece was complete:
The entire garden was then shipped all the way to the good old US of A, where it sits today, thrilling guests with its enchanting rock formations, bamboo forests, beautiful lilac trees, rhododendrons, and soothing waterfalls.
Chinese-style pavilions and bridges also abound here and allow guests to traverse exquisite, koi-filled ponds.
If you happen to be in Staten Island, then take some time to enjoy the garden’s vast beauty, which is only accentuated by a dizzying array of Chinese paintings, mosaics, and calligraphy pieces.
Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Hours: Open October 1 through April 15 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. And open April 15 through September 30 Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
How to Get There: After getting off the Staten Island Ferry at the ferry terminal, board the S40 board and take it to Snug Harbor. From there, it’s a short walk to the garden.
Price: Tickets are $5 but you also get a combo pass that includes admission to the nearby, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art.
74. Marvel at Some Vintage Photography at the Alice Austen House
From the outside:
This charming, white cottage looks like just your run-of-the-mill,17th-Century, Dutch Colonial home.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Since well, this house really is totally charming AF.
Venture past the front door and you’ll uncover a treasure trove of more than 8,000 photographs.
Pictures that were all taken by the masterful, prolific, Staten Island-born, female photographer, Elizabeth Alice Austen.
Born to an elite family that lived inside this home in 1866:
Austen quickly developed a love of photography that stayed with her throughout her life. A passion that allowed her to capture the everyday lives of New York City locals in her photos.
That’s why today:
You can step inside the former Austen family home and marvel at collections of her work and fascinating exhibitions about her life.
The museum has even made an effort to recognize her romantic, fifty-three-year relationship with partner Gertrude Tate.
Which is why:
The house has been officially designated a site of national LBGTQ history in 2017, making this one of the truly unusual things to do in NYC.
Address: 2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, New York
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: From the Ferry Terminal, hop on the S51 bus, ride it for about 17 stops, get off at the Bay Street/Hylan Boulevard stop, and walk to the house from there.
Price: Admission is $5 per person.
75. Learn About the American Revolution at Conference House
Read my blog even a little bit:
And you know that this native New Yorker LOVES historic homes.
Which is why:
It should come as exactly no surprise to anyone that I adore the Conference House.
Especially since, well:
It was the site of three hour, failed peace talks between British and American forces in 1776, during the American Revolution.
Seriously, how cool is that? Plus:
When you step inside this beautiful, stone mansion from 1680 (It may be a mansion by 1680 standards but it sure looks and feels a whole lot like a house to me), you’ll find sweeping views of nearby Arthur Kill (think panoramic river views) as well as authentic, interior decor that makes this house look and feel much like it did way back when.
If you’re picturing hardwood floors, bare white walls, simple hardwood furniture, exposed beam ceilings, and a four-poster bed draped in red and white colonial-style fabric, then you have a pretty good idea of what this house looks like.
If you do decide to visit, expect to learn all about the extensive history of the house during a tour through the building’s parlor, dining room, bedrooms, and basement kitchen.
Because there might only be a single staff member on-site, you may arrive to find that the door is closed.
And that is totally normal.
Just wait around for anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes since a staff member is probably giving another visitor a tour of the house.
***The grounds of the house also provide guests with access to the beach where visitors would have historically landed, as well as a caretaker’s house (you can’t go inside though) and a small, colonial herb garden.***
Address: 7455 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, New York, 10307
Hours: You can visit as part of a guided tour any time Friday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
How to Get There: From the Ferry Terminal, take the S78 bus, ride the bus for about 107 stops since this site is all the way on the other side of the island, get off at the Hylan Boulevard/Craig Avenue stop and walk to the historic house from there.
Price: Admission is $4 per person.
76. Other Unusual Things to do in Staten Island
- Kreischer Mansion – An abandoned, ornate, gothic-style mansion that is said to be one of the most haunted places in New York. It is a place where the son of the original owner committed suicide and where, in 2005, a mafia boss paid a mansion caretaker to carry out a hit. Once the murder was complete, the body was then dismembered and burned in the basement furnace, leading to further, hauntingly bizarre incidences involving strange voices and lights mysteriously turning on and off.
- Fort Wadsworth – A now-abandoned military fort that was once the longest, continually occupied military base in the United States. Today though, the fort has been converted into a recreational area where visitors can explore the ruins of Fort Richmond and Fort Tompkins, as well as enjoy picnic areas, bird watching sites, and even some further afield campsites.
- Tugboat Graveyard – Hop in a kayak and head on over to Arthur Kill Waterway, where you’ll find a jumble of twenty-five, hallow tugboats that sit within Witte Marine, creating an eerie, watery, graveyard that pays tribute to the booming shipping industry of NYC’s past.
- Historic Richmond Town – Trapped in ye olde 1958, this 100 acre part of Staten Island consists of over 30 different historic homes, commercial buildings, and civic centers that have not been reconstructed in any way, including NYC’s oldest continuously operating farm and one of the oldest homes in the country.
- Haltermann’s Bakery – A 150-year old bakery that is known for serving nostalgic treats like Pullman Bread as well as the Charlotte Russe, a nostalgic treat from the 1900s that consists of a jam-filled mini sponge cake that is topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a single cherry.
- Swinburne Island – An abandoned, artificial island that was once used to quarantine immigrants who were thought to be too sick to enter the United States through Ellis Island. Today though, the uninhabited island is home to more than a hundred harbor seals and can be seen as part of an American Princess seal watching tour, which departs from Jacob Riis Landing in the Rockaways.
- Silver Lake Park – Thought of as the Central Park of Staten Island, Silver Lake Park is a former reservoir turned green space that is now home to a golf course, tennis courts, softball fields, and bike paths. The weird part though? The on-site golf course was actually built atop a Marine Cemetery that was created in 1849 to accommodate the dead from immigrant quarantines at New York Marine Hospital. Yup, creepery at its finest.