Come summer in New York City and the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Museum Mile, Times Square and the Theatre District overflow with tourists. But this summer, avoid the touristy destinations and discover Big Apple’s local sights, sounds and tastes with this under-the-radar guide.
We spoke to New York City locals to discover non-touristy spots to compile a guide that will show you the city in a never-before-seen way:
Move over traditional museums. Visit SPYSCAPE — a contemporary spy museum, an immersive experience, and a journey of personal discovery. Visitors will discover the kind of spy they would be by participating in real spy challenges and using an authentic profiling system. Challenges will test your lie-detection abilities, surveillance skills, alertness and agility in special ops laser tunnels.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during normal hours is so mainstream. Ditch the crowds and visit the garden after hours (6-8:30 pm) every Tuesday in July and August by purchasing a ‘garden after hours’ ticket. Wander through the garden’s picturesque summer blooms or unwind with delicious cocktails or a meal at the garden’s café at sunset.
Skip sightseeing tours for a more local experience on foot. For food lovers, there are multiple food walking tours such as the Greenwich Village, Little Italy, China Town and Mulberry Street Food Tours. For something more offbeat, go for the Ghosts of New York Walking Tour and Street Art Tour of Bushwick. There’s also a Manhattan Off-The-Beaten-Path Walking Tour.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Every Friday, from 7-10 pm is ‘pay what you want’ at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Whitney, which itself is a work of art, hosts about 15,000 pieces of 20th- and 21st-century American art. This summer, see Grant Wood’s iconic painting — American Gothic and Zoe Leonard’s Survey, an impressive collection of vintage postcards.
Central Park & neighbourhood NYC parks
This summer, dog owners and lovers can have their dogs off the leash in Central Park from 6-9 am daily. Also in Central Park, enjoy free summer concerts and free ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ performances. Moreover, different parks all over NYC screen free summer movies, and there are free yoga classes in Bryant Park every Tuesday morning and Thursday evening.
Smorgasburg is the largest outdoor food marketplace in America, drawing tens of thousands of people each weekend (from April to October). Be the first to discover innovative foods such as deep-fried cookie dough, pork shawarma tacos, raclette sandwiches, spaghetti doughnuts and churro ice cream sandwiches. Smorgasburg is in Williamsburg on Saturdays and in Prospect Park on Sundays.
Hidden subway station
The hidden City Hall Station is exquisitely designed with glorious tiled arcs, brass fittings, and spectacular skylights. There are two ways to see this hidden subway station — take the 6 Train downtown and stay on the train past the final stop. Alternatively, take a public tour of the station that is offered by the New York Transit Museum.
Aerial tram to Roosevelt Island
Spend an afternoon discovering NYC from a unique vantage point. The Roosevelt Island Tramway, which runs every 7-15 minutes, offers a bird’s-eye view of Queens and Manhattan. Very few people are aware of this tram, which is the only aerial commuter tram in America. It connects the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island.
Rooftop Cinema Club movies
Think iconic movies on rooftops with the panoramic views of NYC’s skyline. The movies screened are cult classics and brand new releases such as Black Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Back To The Future and Dirty Dancing. Moreover, celebrate an occasion by submitting a request to the organisers to do something special for your loved one!
The Met Cloisters
Visit The Cloisters, a castle-like museum located in Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park for its magnificent architecture, marvellous views and stunning pieces of art. It is the lesser-known branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and comprises five medieval cloisters imported from France and sprawling gardens. Be transported to medieval Europe with the serene ambience and 2,000 pieces of unique artwork.