While it’s tempting to visit the popular tourist spots that grace every traveler’s bucket list – and you should definitely do that if it’s your first time here – remember there’s a whole other side to the Big Apple waiting to be discovered. And probably that’s why they say that if you are bored here, it’s your fault because there are so many things to do here, no matter your budget, your age, and your preferences – there’s always something new. Maybe that’s why New York City is a place that people visit more than once – so it’s good to give a refresh to the bucket list. In this blog post, I will unveil a collection of non-touristy places and activities in the Big Apple!
Everyone loves to cross the Brooklyn Bridge but remember that Manhattan is connected to the rest of the world through 21 bridges (and 15 tunnels) an Brooklyn Bridge is not the only iconic one. Since we are talking about places off the beaten path, make sure to check Williamsburg Bridge! There is a bike path and a pedestrian path, and the bridge is pretty cool – have I mentioned it’s pink? The Williamsburg Bridge is approximately 2,227 meters (7,308 feet) long and consists of two main suspension spans, each measuring 335 meters (1,100 feet), supported by four large towers.
Hudson River Park
Central Park is, undoubtedly, a city oasis – and such an iconic place, I mean, can you imagine in how many tv series and movies the place was featured? But Central Park is not the only park in NYC; there’s something missing: there’s not waterfront, lol. If you are looking for a different park to explore, make sure to put Hudson River Park on your list! This park runs four miles along Manhattan’s west side, with a lot of recreational and educational activities. My advice is to rent a bike – especially when the weather is nice – and pedal along the park.
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.
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, you can check here. Queens Museum opens from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Suggested admission is $ 8 (but you can pay what you want).
If the idea is entertainment, you should know that New York City goes beyond Broadway musicals. And on the Upper West Side is one of the city’s most important institutions: the Lincoln Center, which is no less than home to twelve artistic companies, including the Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York Philharmonic. The schedule is intense – check ou the calendar of events. And remember: many performances are cheaper than a Broadway show, for example. Also, it is worth walking by the complex building to appreciate the architecture and take photos; it is beautiful!
Another great idea when it comes to entertainment is a magic performance! There are some great options around New York City and trust me: you don’t need to believe it; just enjoy it. These guys are fantastic:
I know observatories are amazing, but you can also get great views with a different vibe from rooftop bars. Plus, it’s a thing that locals do. There are many rooftops around the city – dozens of them! I think it is the kind of experience that is worth including in your travel itinerary because it is something unique and also because of the beautiful and exclusive views of these places.
I love Classic Harbor Line cruises – they use luxury and beautiful motor yachts – and with a lot of stability. Being a relatively small yacht, it is a more intimate and less crowded cruise than tourist cruises, featuring tables by the windows, so you’ll have a privileged view no matter where you sit. In addition to the closed area, with glass windows, there is also an open deck. I recommend the sunset cruises and the jazz cruises. You can book here.
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I absolutely love Stone Street – it has a European vibe because of the cobblestones and the architecture of the buildings – it is full of bars and pubs, and during the summer, people often sit at the tables on the street for a drink or beer. Some say it was the first paved street in NYC—a charming place full of locals!
Located in Brooklyn, Red Hook is a neighborhood that’s usually not listed on the tourist guides and can be a perfect “getaway” for locals or, why not, tourists. To the southwest of Carroll Gardens, beyond the BQE, the formerly rough-and-tumble industrial locale of Red Hook remains a secluded neighborhood, thanks to the lack of subway stops, which makes it perfect for a day out exploring. If you never heard about Red Hook, it is where Ikea is located – but the famous furniture shopping is not the only interesting place there. The quiet streets with cobblestones make you feel in a small country town. The area has restaurants and factories perfect for a tasting day. Because of the lack of nearby subway stations, the most convenient and fast way to get to Red Hook is Water Taxi or NYC Ferry. Also, the views of Manhattan are fantastic! I would recommend this place for a summer day, but you can also explore Red Hook during wintertime.
I feel that this is a secret spot in the city – I know, technically, it is not a secret, but I feel that not all New Yorkers take advantage of this beautiful place. This is probably the only place in NYC where you can have a picnic looking at Lady Liberty. Yep, that’s right. You can spend a whole day at Governors Island, having a blast!
- Do you like these tips? Check my interactive map of New York City with more than 200 of my best tips compiled. My map/guide is inside the Rexby platform, which was created to be a space for travel content creators to offer their content compiled in one place.
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!