NYC Guide

7 underrated attractions in New York City

I’m sure that the first thing that comes to most of people’s mind when they think about New York City is either Times Square, Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Or perhaps the Broadway shows or even the bagels and pizza slices. Yes, there are a lot of famous attractions and landmarks to check in New York City – but there are tons of things to do off the beaten path. Today, I’m gonna list some of them!

1. Panorama

It is the jewel in the crown of the Queens Museum collection and a locus of memory for visitors from all over the globe – and if you love New York City, this place is like a gift; it’s fascinating! Conceived as a celebration of the city’s municipal infrastructure by urban mastermind and World’s Fair President Robert Moses for the 1964 Fair, the Panorama was built by a team of more than 100 people working for the great architectural model makers Raymond Lester & Associates over three years. In planning the model, Lester referred to aerial photographs, Sanborn fire insurance maps, and a range of other City materials as the Panorama had to be accurate, with the initial contract demanding less than one percent margin of error between reality and the “world’s largest scale model.” Comprising an area of 9,335 square feet and built to a scale of 1:1200 where one inch equals 100 feet, the Panorama is a metropolis in miniature. Each of the city’s 895,000 buildings was constructed prior to 1992, and every street, park, and some 100 bridges are represented and assembled onto 273 individual sections comprising the 320 square miles of New York City.

  • As previously mentioned, Panorama is the highlight of the museum, but there is also other exhibits. Queens Museum opens from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Suggested admission is $ 8 (but you can pay what you want).
  • You should definitely take the subway to Flushing – it’s just one stop away. Flushing is the kind of place that I see as a New York City secret. It is a Queens neighborhood that provides an incredible cultural immersion. To give you some context, the Chinese-immigrant population of Flushing surpassed Chinatown in Manhattan years ago. Expect great restaurants, coffee shops and stores. Check my Flushing guide.

2. RiseNY

I know, I know. Some people may find it odd to recommend an attraction in Times Square as something underrated or non-obvious. Listen, I don’t love Times Square – but I do think RiseNY is a place everyone – including New Yorkers – should visit.

I could describe RiseNY as a museum plus an immersive experience. The place is all dedicated to New York City – so there’s no space for haters, lol. Jokes aside, RiseNY is like a love letter to the city, a place where you can learn more about its history and its impact on the world – so hence the museum part. Then, in the end, you will fly over the five boroughs on a soaring ride.  Seriously, even if you don’t care about history or fun displays, I would say it is worth checking RiseNY just because of this experience. The soaring ride lifts you 30 feet into the air to fly while suspended inside a 180-degree, 40-foot projection dome featuring 8K aerial footage that creates the sensation of flight over the five boroughs and iconic NYC’s locations in four seasons. But there’s more: expect famous NYC’s songs and real effects – did I mention the – good – smells? Yep.


3. Museum of Broadway

“You gotta be kidding me!”- you must be thinking, since I will recommend another underrated attraction in the middle of Times Square, lol. But I really believe this museum deserves your attention – especially if you are interested in theater and arts.

The Museum of Broadway is a one-of-a-kind Museum is an immersive and interactive theatrical experience devoted to musicals, plays, and the people who create them. Featuring the work of dozens of designers, artists, and theatre historians, this one-of-a-kind Museum takes visitors on  a journey along the timeline of Broadway, from its birth to present day, where the past, present, and future of Broadway come together like never before. Expect espectacular costumes, props, renderings, rare photos, videos, and more. Overall, the Museum highlights more than 500 individual productions from the 1700s through the present.

The Museum also celebrates the behind-the-scenes of this dazzling American art form with “The Making of a Broadway Show” exhibit, which honors the community of brilliantly talented professionals – both onstage and off – who bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night – my favorite part!

4. Morgan Library

New York City has so many museums and cultural institutions – and Morgan Library is such a gem. This renowned cultural institution houses a vast collection of rare books, manuscripts, drawings, prints, and other works of art. It was founded by American financier J. P. Morgan in 1906 as a private library to house his extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art. Originally situated in Morgan’s private residence, the library was expanded over the years to accommodate the growing collection. The library room was designed by architect Charles McKim, and it a stunning example of Italian Renaissance-inspired architecture and opulent design.

5. Wave Hill

This is a public garden and also a cultural center. Located in The Bronx, about 50 minutes away from Midtown, this place has an amazing view of the Hudson River and its mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes. It is very beautiful, charming, and quiet – and without doubt, the highlight is the Pergola Overlook. The place is so special that many people celebrate weddings there. Wave Hill is located in Riverdale, a very residential and super charming area in The Bronx.

6. The Museum of the City of New York

Courtesy of

The Museum of the City of New York is a museum dedicated to exploring and celebrating the past, present, and future of New York City. I guess NYC lovers will certainly enjoy this place! Some of the highlights are the Permanent Exhibits “New York at Its Core”, that chronicles the city’s 400-year history, from a Dutch settlement to a modern metropolis; and the “Activist New York” that explores the city’s history of social activism and reform movements. The museum also  hosts temporary exhibitions on various aspects of the city’s culture, history, and future.

The suggested price for tickets is $20 – but you pay as you wish.

Did you know? The Museum of the City of New York acts as the exterior of the Constance Billard School for Girls and St. Jude’s School for Boys on the Gossip Girl reboot.

7. Apollo Theater

Since opening its doors in 1914 and introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, Apollo Theather has played a major role in the emergence of jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, and soul — all quintessentially American music genres. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo stage. Today, Apollo is a respected not-for-profit, which presents concerts, performing arts, education, and community outreach programs.

Amateur Night is one of New York’s most popular live entertainment experiences, attracting performers and audiences the world over. The classic competition is known for its notoriously “tough” audience, gleefully deciding who will “be good or be gone” to win the grand prize.  Click here and check out the calendar.

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