New York off the beaten path

Travel August 28, 2018

Discovering New York off the beaten path is one of those experiences every traveller should have. Whether it’s your first or your fifteenth time to the city that never sleeps, there’s something special about seeing spots that don’t pop up in the typical top 10. Going on a stroll through Central Park, catching a Broadway show and saying hello to Lady Liberty are all well and good, but if you’ve “been there, done that”, try adding some of these alternative options to your list:


1. Swap Central Park for The High Line

New York City’s parks are a (literal) breath of fresh air in the concrete jungle. Opened in 2009, The High Line is still growing and currently stretches from 14th Street on the West Side up to 34th Street. It sits atop some old elevated railroad tracks, so the views are great, especially from the Urban Theatre, which overlooks 10th Avenue in all its gritty glory.


Summer over the @highlinenyc and @theshedny.

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2. Eat something weird and on-trend

Food trends in New York are out of control, so tracking down every new and crazy culinary creation is basically a game of whack-a-mole. Examples include ramen burgers, rainbow bagels, Capri Sun-style and ice pop cocktails, unicorn lattes, sushi burritos and grasshopper tacos because, well… New York. Work up an appetite by brainstorming Instagram hashtags.


Finger lickin’ good 👅🌈 #rainbowbagel #brooklyndays

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3. Get (immersive) theatre tickets

The theatre scene in New York is unparalleled, but it’s usually the glitzy musicals of Broadway that garner all the fame. For the past several years, however, immersive theatre has become all the rage. These meta-plays will suck you in, both metaphorically and literally! Audience participation is encouraged, so the shy should beware. Popular options include the unsettling Sleep No More, Accomplice (which will take you on a 3-hour walking tour around the city) and Drunk Shakespeare (yes, it involves doing Shakespeare drunk).


4. Check out a few off-the-beaten-track museums

When it comes to New York museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA and the American Museum of Natural History get a lot of love, but that’s not all the city has to offer! Manhattan is packed to the gills with incredible museums, some of which even the locals haven’t heard of. Try the Museum of the American Gangster in the East Village and The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side to take a peek into the seedier side of New York’s past.


On its thirtieth anniversary , the Tenement Museum is proud to reveal its new Mission and Vision statements, reflecting a new direction for the institution at a time when its historic subject matter is front page news. The new statements are indicative of the Museum’s goal to expand its scope far beyond its physical location in the Lower East Side, through a range of new initiatives that aim to reshape the narrative around immigration in the United States. Mission: The Tenement Museum tells the uniquely American stories of immigrants, migrants, and refugees in the ongoing creation of our nation Vision: A society that embraces and values the fundamental role of immigration in the evolving American identity These initiatives include podcasting, developing schools curriculum and taking the Museum’s storytelling ‘on the road’. Through these initiatives, the Museum will dramatically expand the reach and impact of its programming, so that its work’s function, as outlined in the Mission statement, achieve the world outlined in its Vision statement. Stay tuned for many exciting forthcoming updates from the Tenement Museum! #TMturns30 . . . . . . . . . . #nycthingstodo #TMturns30 #les #immigration #refugeeswelcome #instadaily #picoftheday #museums #newdevelopments #changingtheworld

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5. See New York’s other islands

There’s a lot to see besides Manhattan Island! Take the aerial tramway to Roosevelt Island (less than 250 metres wide!), chill in a hammock or catch a music festival on Governors Island or gorge on seafood on City Island in the Bronx. Just steer clear of these two – Rikers Island, home to New York City’s maximum-security prison, and North Brother Island, which houses the creepy ruins of an old smallpox hospital and probably where the ghost of “Typhoid Mary” still hangs out.  


6. Have a brunch that’s anything but basic

The idea of Sunday brunch in New York may sound as passé as is humanly possible, but if you haven’t done drag brunch, you haven’t lived. While you’re sipping on your mimosa and chowing down on eggs benedict, New York’s best drag queens provide the entertainment in the form of comedy, music and dancing. Lips in Midtown East and La Pulperia in Hell’s Kitchen are two top options – just make sure to book a table in advance!


7. Tour Bushwick’s best street art

Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood was once the definition of New York off the beaten path, but since it’s gentrification (or hipster-fication), it’s not as hidden of a gem as it once was. In between coffee shop hopping and vintage store browsing, make sure you stop by the neighbourhood’s incredible murals and striking street art. You can hop on a free guided tour via The Bushwick Collective or just take to the streets and start exploring!


8. Make your way to Red Hook

This out-of-the-way little Brooklyn neighbourhood is the perfect place to while away the day. Sample craft brews and cocktails at the area’s breweries and distilleries (there’s even a winery), and nosh on Latino fare from the Red Hook Food Vendors’ Marketplace. For great waterfront views, you can’t beat the Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier with the Statue of Liberty just across the water.


9. Take a ride on the Seaglass Carousel

For a psychedelic ride on glowing sea creatures, look no further than Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Built as an homage to the New York aquarium that once stood in Battery Park, the carousel is full of incandescent fish that are perfect for visiting at night.


Thanks @penneysoon for capturing golden hour at #SeaGlassCarousel

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10. Find the best city views

If you’ve done the New York tourist track before, then you’ve probably seen the city from the Empire State Building, but that’s far from the only way of getting a bird’s-eye view of New York. Manhattan is littered with hotel rooftop bars, but they tend to be pricey and packed. Head to Brooklyn or Queens where the rooftop bars come with a view of the glittering Manhattan skyline. Try Rooftop Reds (a rooftop winery that also offers events like sunset yoga and movie nights), Berry Park featuring German brews, Our Wicked Lady with stellar cocktails by sunset and Kimoto Rooftop Garden, serving up Asian fare.

Find an off-the-beaten-path English course in New York

By Leah Ganse

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