Hidden Gems Around NYC
Just about everyone knows New York City for Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. But The Big Apple has so much more to offer for people looking to escape the crowds. The following are places off the beaten path for tourists or locals who want to see a new side of the city.
New York’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world, with more than 470 stations and about 5 million daily riders on weekdays. The system is also constantly expanding and experiencing upgrades. Visitors can get a taste of the old subway system with a tour of the now- closed City Hall subway station.
The Old City Hall stop dates back to the 1940s when Fiorello H. La Guardia, for whom the nearby airport is named, was mayor. Many of the city’s old movers and shakers used this stop until slow ridership led to its eventual closure in 1945. Today people can tour the stop through the New York Transit Museum. Plan this trip well in advance, as tours often fill up quickly and
visitors are required to pass a background check.
When tourists first flocked to New York in the late 1800s, their first stop was Niagara Falls and their second stop was Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. This 500-acre cemetery is the final resting place for many baseball stars and New York notables. Some big names include artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, musician Leonard Bernstein and politician William “Boss” Tweed.
At its most popular time, carriages would pass through for family outings or views of the cemetery architecture. Today it is a place where people visit for a break from the busy city life. The cemetery is free, but visitors can pay $15 for a historical trolley tour.
Grand Central Station is a beautiful New York destination to visit in general. It has high vaulted ceilings, ornate chandeliers and intricate details sculpted into the walls. It also has several places to shop and dine nearby. But what most people don’t know is the station has a secret “whispering gallery.”
Located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, the whispering spot is made possible through the architecture in the archway. People standing on either side of the arch can talk into the wall
and hear each other as clear as day. Don’t be surprised to catch a marriage proposal at this location.
Eataly is a huge Italian marketplace with some of the best Italian cuisine downtown. It’s not exactly the most obscure attraction but it's a neat little atmosphere with some incredible food and is home to authentic Italian groceries and dining. Eataly is still fairly new to the city, having opened in NY back in 2010, but has locations all over the world.
South Street Seaport, the historic seaport on the East River, is one of the coolest fish markets downtown on the east side of Manhattan. The area thrives with architecture, shopping, views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city, and of course, features an upbeat fish market.
Located on the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park City is Pier A Harbor House, a beautiful restaurant right on the water. It makes for a great afternoon with tasty seafood and some neat surrounding parks to walk off the buttery lobster lunch.
An iconic American food restaurant, Tavern on the Green in Central Park, has attracted prominent people throughout the decades. This dining hot spot has even been mentioned in popular movies like Ghostbusters. Tavern on the Green was recently reopened in 2014 under new ownership.
Many people are familiar with Randall’s Island, which hosts big music festivals such as the Governor’s Ball and Panorama. But the nearby Roosevelt Island has a piece of New York history rarely seen by visitors.
The Renwick Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island was once the principal treatment center for a disease that hit the city hard in the 1700s. The building is now abandoned, but it is still worth a visit for history lovers and photographers interested in the eerie atmosphere. Expect to see 19th-century Gothic architecture hidden under moss vines. There is an ongoing project to refurbish the ruins, so it is fenced off from entry.
Accessing Roosevelt Island is a unique trip in itself. At the same price of a one-way subway fare, people can take the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram for a new view of the Manhattan skyline. The tram passes by the Queensboro Bridge at 3,100 feet, it holds up to 110 people and makes about 100 trips throughout the day. The tram takes the same MetroCard as the subway system.
After the fall of the famous Berlin Wall in 1989, pieces of it were shipped out to various locations around the world. One section is notably on display inside the Newseum in Washington D.C. Another large piece is in the heart of New York City outside 520 Madison Avenue.
This five-panel section is located around the corner from the Museum of Modern Art and it is one of the largest sections still intact. While the side that faced East Germany is blank, the other side features work by German artists Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny. The wall is on display in an open plaza and it is available to the public year-round.
The Dream House is an art space few New Yorkers know about located in the heart of Tribeca. This installation is supported by the Mela Foundation and the combination of light, scents and sounds transport visitors from the stresses of city life. The space is a third-floor apartment, and it’s often identified by its neon-purple rooms. For a small donation, people can enjoy the room for as long as they want.
No place does the color “millennial pink” quite like Pietro Nolita. This 1950s-style Italian eatery has pink tables and chairs, rose-colored pots for the plants and pink plates. Their menu is centered on being environmentally friendly, as well as healthy. Dinner options include a fusilli al limone and ricotta meatballs with tomato sauce. This place is a popular Instagram brunch spot, and they offer a tasty dolcezza drink which is a mix of white peach and Prosecco.