8 Unusual Spots to Explore in NYC

unusual places new york

My post about my trip to New York City in 2012 was the among first ones to be published on this website... many years have passed, NYC has changed, I have changed - it is time for a new post! :)

Unusual Things To Do In New York

If you've been to New York City before, you've probably seen Times Square, done the Empire State and even cooed your approval of the massive Zodiac sky painted on the ceiling of Grand Central Station. In which case, why not explore the some of the unusual spots to explore in NYC? Let's take a look at just eight of them.

#1. The Met Cloisters

Part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Cloisters – also simply called The Cloisters – is the only museum in the United States which is dedicated to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. Public transport to the Cloisters can be iffy, but you can pick the JFK limo service from Bergenlimo to make sure that you not only get into the city from the airport, but around and about too.

unusual places to visit in new york city

And in the supreme comfort that only a limo can offer, while you and your party pop into the museum to marvel at the wonderful, old-world architecture and feel, just for a moment, that you have travelled back in time.

#2. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

A showcase of the finest achievements of US advances in maritime engineering, spacecraft and aeronautics, this museum is a wonderful to see the best of US technical know-how – and you can even hire the Space Shuttle pavilion and have cocktails and chat in the shade of the NASA orbiter that kicked off the whole space program, the Enterprise. Find it at Pier 86 in Hell's Kitchen.

#3. Harlem Food Tours

Tourists, unfortunately deterred by outdated and discriminatory ideas about Harlem often steer shy of Harlem and this is a tremendous shame as the area is vibrant, multicultural and welcoming – and has really great food!

new york unusual places to visit

Enjoy the best of Black American cooking and see a part of the city that is usually ignored.

#4. Boroughs of the Dead Walking Tours

Find out about macabre, haunted New York on these immaculately researched and written tours which reveal dark and mostly forgotten stories that lie behind some of the most innocent-looking facades in New York. Great for historians, but fun for all, and a wonderfully spooky idea for a bachelorette party or stag event. Also for recommended historians: Scorsese's Gangs of New York, a must-watch.

#5. Walk the High Line

Rise above the streets of New York by visiting this repurposed viaduct stretch of railway track. The city, rather than knock down the elevated structure, chose to remake it into a green and friendly space. It is now the heart and hub of the community, frequently hosting art installations and providing a breath of green calm in the heart of bustling New York. It is, however, nearly always packed with tourists, and if this isn't your idea of fun, why not try the now mostly ignored Elevated Acre, the OG high-rise natural spot, dating back to the 70s, and one that is now practically unknown by the tourists who flock to the High Line.

#6. Roosevelt Island

As well as being home to the rather macabre remains of a pox hospital – a sad reminder of the days before vaccines when viruses meant lengthy periods of isolated illness during which your choices were to get better by yourself: or not, this island is home to a cat colony.

new york unusual places to visit

The island is smack in the middle of the city, running down a length of the East River, but offers a peaceful haven where you can get away from it all for a short time – and try to make friends with the many feral cats who have found sanctuary here.

#7. Morgan Library and Museum

Collected books and artefacts comprised the personal collection of Pierpont Morgan, father to J.P. Morgan, and became so significant that a decade or so after his father's death, the banking magnate donated it to the country, thereby ensuring that the collection would receive the care and attention it needed as well as fulfilling his father's aim to have the collection become available to scholars and the wider public. The museum and research library now contain a coffee-shop, gift-shop, performance space and holds many more items, thanks to generous gifts and a judicious purchasing scheme.

#8. St Patrick's Catacombs

While not quite as old as the better-known Paris and Rome catacombs, the New York Catacombs, found under Old St Patrick's Cathedral, are a very respectable 200 years old and are well worth a visit for those with an interest in history, or simply with a taste for the spooky. Forgotten about for several decades, the 1815 catacombs have been cleaned up (but not too much) and teamed with the magnificent restoration to the church buildings above, this is a lovely, unusual destination while you are in New York.

Wrap Up: Unusual Things To Do In New York

So there you have it, eight unusual spots that we recommend exploring in NYC. We have also written posts about San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, too if you're interested. Oh, and here is a video about some additional quirky / hidden / secret things you can do in New York City - enjoy :)

What about you, have you found any unusual or hidden places to explore in New York City? If you have, feel free to share below :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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