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Let me guess, you’ve been to NYC before and want some, dare I say, unusual things to do in New York City?

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 is the post for you.

We’re gonna get off the New York City tourist trail and look at some of the best non-touristy things to do in NYC (AKA my favorite hidden NYC attractions).

Truthfully:

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 off the beaten path things to do in NYC.

 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).***

1. The Cloisters

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In bloom. 🌸

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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.

Today:

The Cloisters has become a treasure of New York City in its own right and is well worth a visit for those looking for more alternative things to do in New York City.

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.

However:

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).

2. Brooklyn Flea

Are you a hipster in training, looking for a place to call your own?

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.

But really:

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 for a truly unique, New York City shopping experience.

3. Chinatown in Flushing Queens

Flushing, Queens has some of the best Chinese food in all of NYC.
Flushing, Queens has some of the best Chinese food in all of NYC.

Look:

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.

Personally:

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).

4. The Tenement Museum

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By far one of the BEST ways to take a peek at New York City’s past is by a visit to the Tenement Museum @thetenementmuseum in the Lower East Side. The museum owns two structures, both on Orchard Street, and provides a number of detailed tours of the living areas and stories behind the people who resided in these tenements. You can hear the story of the Irish outsider who struggled against poverty amid horrific living conditions, or the Jewish refugee who shared a roof with a Puerto Rican migrant family and a pair of garment workers from China, or perhaps you prefer the neighborhood walking tour that explores the diverse cuisines of the Lower East Side. There are many powerful stories that are retold here each day. The lives of immigrants that make up this city IS the story of New York, and the Tenement Museum is an immersive and worthwhile experience that you will not soon forget. #relicsny

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One of the best museums in New York City!

A museum that mimics the living conditions of immigrant tenements at 97 Orchard Street, in 1863.

Here:

Conditions were cramped, access to plumbing and clean water were mediocre at best, and disease spread like wildfire.

Glam huh?

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.

And if you’re lucky:

You might even begin to appreciate the rights and privileges that many citizens of today take for granted.

5. Underwest Donuts

Why Underwest Donuts isn’t packed to the gills, I’ll never know. Because this place definitely has one of the best desserts in NYC. 

Maybe it’s because this donut shop isn’t fancy and is actually found, believe it or not, in a carwash, right by the Intrepid.

That’s why:

If you judge this place by its unassuming exterior, then you’ll miss out on the absolute, donut divinity that is found within.

But the best part?

Not only is this donut shop cheap, but it’s quiet! Legit, I went on a Saturday morning and there was no line. I just walked right up to the counter, ordered my donuts, and devoured them whole (I tried to be dainty but it was too good) as I watched the cars roll through the carwash.

And don’t even get me started on how tasty these little carb bombs were (and are).

I tried the lavender vanilla donut and it was light, moist, sweet, and cake-like, without not even a hint of grease. Seriously one of the best donuts that I have ever had.

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.

For Manhattan:

Tour options include the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, Weird Tales of the West Village, and The Forgotten Dark Histories of Lower Manhattan (tour usually run for two hours and tickets are $25).

So strap on those big girl pants and prepare for some thrills lifetime time.

7. Morgan Library and Museum

The ethereal beauty of the Morgan Public Library. Definitely one of the more unusual things to do in New York City.
The ethereal beauty of the Morgan Public Library. Definitely one of the more unusual things to do in New York City,

Whenever anyone mentions “library” and “New York” in the same sentence, typically they’re thinking of the New York Public Library.

However:

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.

I mean:

How can you not love a place that publicly displays a Guttenberg Bible and an original Mozart composition? Throw in some stunning, historic architecture and you have one spectacular New York City attraction.

Now yes, 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.

 8. 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.

Therefore:

While you’re here, you can 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 well worth a visit).

9. Visit the Old City Hall Station

Strictly speaking:

This activity isn’t 100% legal so if anyone asks, you didn’t hear 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.

Anyway:

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 it’s way back Uptown.

Therefore:

Take advantage of the situation and see this historic station for free, even if the legality of this technique is somewhat questionable.

Besides:

Being a total badass lawbreaker will add a little spice to your life.

10. Grab the Cutest Latte Ever at Sweet Moment

Head to Sweet Moment and you'll find the cutest latte in all of NYC!
Head to Sweet Moment and you’ll find the cutest latte in all of NYC!

Cutest and one of the best coffee shops in NYC!

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.

So yes:

You will definitely find a seat and no, you won’t have to sit on anyone’s lap.

But:

Let’s be real. You’re not here for the coffee but for the most adorable tea art that I’ve ever seen!

Yup:

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.

My Verdict?

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 this 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.***

11. Read under the stars at Albertine

Read under the stars at one of the most beautiful bookstores in all of NYC, Albertine.
Read under the stars at one of the most beautiful bookstores in all of NYC, Albertine.

You’re probably wondering what Albertine is 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.

12. Meow Parlour Cat Cafe

Stop and make new friends at Meow Parlour Cat Cafe.
Stop and make new friends at Meow Parlour Cat Cafe.

So unless you’re living under a rock in an alternate universe, then you know that cat cafes are totally a “thing” right now.

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.

Plus:

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.

After that:

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 $10.

13. Grab a Birthday Cake Croissant from Union Fare Bakery

Be forewarned:

That while yes, Union Fare does indeed have a small bakery area, with a few chairs, this restaurant is really more of a sit-down eatery with an urban chic vibe that all the cool kids’ love (if you come here for brunch in NYC, get the Benedict board. Soo good).

But we’re here for the birthday cake croissants damn it, not the ambiance!

To find this aforementioned piece of food heaven, turn right, as you enter the restaurant, and you will see a counter emerge before you that has a glorious assortment decadent pastries.

Go here now!

For the bargain basement price of $4 (credit cards only) you can buy a decadently, delicious croissant that comes in amazing flavors like birthday cake, fruity pebbles, matcha, red velvet cake, and so much more (feel free to ooh and ahh).

Honestly:

Just one bite of this flaky, buttery pastry and a magical cream filling starts oozing out, making you wonder, “Should I have another?”

And yes. The answer is always yes.

14. Spyscape Spy Museum

Spyscape is a fun and interactive museum that you should definitely check out during your next visit to NYC.
Spyscape is a fun and interactive museum that you should definitely check out during your next visit to NYC.

Suit up and show up ladies because you’re about to live out all of your secret agent fantasies!

And no, 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).

FYI:

When purchasing your ticket, feel free to skip the 007 exhibit and head straight to the main attraction,  which includes 2-3 hours of super fun, spy-related activities like code breaking, surveilence, personality assements, deception detection, special ops agility, and more!

Once inside:

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:

And 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.

That’s why:

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 spy master.

FYI, 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 New York City and something that everyone will enjoy, even if you’re not a museum person.

So:

Stop by, test your spy skills, gain some new ones, and leave with the experience of a lifetime, as cliche as that sounds.

15. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

The beautiful courtyard surrounding Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
The beautiful courtyard surrounding Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Nestled in between the iconic Guggenheim and MET museums:

This less-well known, 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, which are $16 online, and $18 at the door (Admission is free for anyone 18 and under and $10 for seniors/people with disabilities).

And students?

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).

No joke:

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.

PS:

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..

Trust me:

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).

Added bonus?

Cooper Hewitt is within walking distance of Russ and Daughters (in the Jewish Museum), which is one of the best brunch spots in all of NYC.

Therefore:

This is an amazing place to sit and grab a bite either before or after your visit!

16. Time Out Market

If you’re in search of foodie nirvana, then Time Out Market should ABSOLUTELY be your first stop when visiting 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!

Now:

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.

Yup:

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 8am and 11pm, Monday through Thursday, and until 12am Friday through Sunday.

However:

If you choose to visit BEFORE 8am, 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 11am.

So go forth, wear elastic pants, and enjoy the foodie goodness.

17. The Vessel

The Vessel in Hudson Yards is a fantastic new place to visit in NYC.
The Vessel in Hudson Yards is a fantastic new place to visit in NYC.

Have you seen that new, kind of wonky looking, beehive like structure that has become the chic new centerpiece of  Hudson Yards?

You know:

That behemoth edifice that you stop and stare at because you can’t decide if it’s ugly ugly or ugly pretty?

Well:

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.

Now:

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.

However:

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.

I promise:

It’s a great angle to photograph from and hardly anyone is there.

Plus:

If you go around 4pm, you’ll encounter pure, lighting perfection.

18. Snark Park

Yup, Snark Park really is this crazy cool!
Yup, Snark Park really is this crazy cool!

For those of you who are short on time but who are still looking for unusual things to do in New York City, then venture on over to Snark Park.

Located on the second floor of the mall at Hudson Yards:

Tickets here cost just $18 and take you through a one room, all white, mono-chromatic wonderland where you can experience the world through the eyes of the color blind creator.

As you stroll through this whimsical, all white world:

Let your inner creativity shine through all the slightly trippy photos that you’ll take here,

I mean:

There are so many optical illusions here that Snark Park really is a photographer’s playground.

So:

Get creative, snap away, and do it all for the glory of the gram!

However:

If you do get tired of voguing it out, you can always chillax in a separate room that has a black light and some ultra-cushy bean bag chairs a la the psychidelic 60’s.

The best part though?

Snark Park is always evolving and changing. Therefore, you’ll never experience the same thing twice.

That’s why:

This exhibit really is a monochromatic must-see!

19. Serra By Birrreria Rooftop Bar

The floral beauty fo Serra rooftop bar in Lower Manhattan.
The floral beauty fo Serra rooftop bar in Lower Manhattan.

Sitting practically right across the street from the Flatiron building is Serra, a not-so-secret rooftop bar that is owned and operated by Mario Batali (If you have no idea what I’m babbling on about, he’s a big deal Italian chef).

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..

That’s why:

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.

No really.

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

Therefore:

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.

PS:

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.

20. Felix Roasting Company

Felix Roasting Company reminds me of a quaint little cafe in Vienna, not that I've ever been to Vienna but you know what I mean.
Felix Roasting Company reminds me of a quaint little cafe in Vienna, not that I’ve ever been to Vienna but you know what I mean.

Pinch me because I’ve just found pastel heaven!

And yes, it’s everything I could’ve hoped for, and more, since the coffee is divine (Give me a caffeinated IV drip, stat!).

Plus:

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.

No joke:

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?

I mean:

Felix Roasting Company is SO aesthetically pleasing that any photo you take here is bound to give your followers severe insta-envy.

That’s why:

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.

Seriously!

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..

So:

Go with an open mind, give some of their craziest lattes a try, and who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised.

But:

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.

No really!

I went on a Saturday and easily found a table. And who knows how long that’s gonna last.

So sit back and enjoy the meticulous attention to detail that goes into every aspect of this amazing place.

And yes:

You can use that line of reasoning as a way to justify spending $12 on a specialty coffee.

Hey, whatever works.

21. McSorley’s Old Ale House

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If your interests include day drinking, history, drinking, and using history to justify your drinking then add McSorly’s Old Ale House to your list of unusual things to do in New York City!

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.

Somehow:

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.

Look closely:

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.

Sadly:

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.

So:

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).

22. 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 you experience, try to pick a cast member that you can follow around so that you remain at the heart of the action.

Now:

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.

Plus:

You’ll actually have more things to discuss with your gal pals after the performance if you go it alone.

Warning:

Immersive = highly interactive. So yes, the actors will come up to you and interact with you as if you were part of the cast.

Therefore:

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.

However:

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.

Now:

Buying tickets to this performance is not as simple as it seems. But, no worries since I’ve got you covered.

See:

The first available tickets for an 8 pm performance are at 7 pm.

From there:

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).

However:

A 7:45pm ticket is just as good as one a 7pm ticket since the show doesn’t start until 8pm.

But:

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 Illustionist’s Table.

Yup:

So much to do and so little time.

23. 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 oldtimey swank and swagger.

Or:

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.

However:

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.

Sure:

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.

Also:

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.

So whether you’re in Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx, Manhattan, or Queens, there are always new and unusual things to do in New York City.

And now, with this local’s guide to all the unusual things to do in New York City, you too can discover the city the way many New Yorker’s do. 

So if you’re ready to leave New York City’s top attractions behind and want to try some of the best non-touristy things to do in NYC instead, then pin this now and read it again later!

Want to visit New York City like a local but have no idea where to go or what to see in New York City? Then check out this NYC guide, written by a local New Yorker, which will help you get off the beaten path and plan a unique trip to New York City with 23 unusual things to do in New York city that everyone will love! #NewYorkCity #NYCtravel #ExploreNYC #VisitNYC #NYCtrip
Want to visit New York City like a local but have no idea where to go or what to see in New York City? Then check out this NYC guide, written by a local New Yorker, which will help you get off the beaten path and plan a unique trip to New York City with 23 unusual things to do in New York city that everyone will love! #NewYorkCity #NYCtravel #ExploreNYC #VisitNYC #NYCtrip
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