Non touristy things to do in NYC (from a local)

New York City is a remarkable tourist attraction, with millions of tourists annually. All the tourist spots could get crowded all year long. New non-tourist experiences could be fun and help shed the feeling of being a visitor. 

The Big Apple, as we locals love to call it, can be a populous place, especially for tourists. Aside from its breathtaking views, it is a city that people visit for its party atmosphere. Therefore, it never sleeps. If you are not a tourist and may be seeing a friend or relative to catch up and simply bond, below are some New York non-touristy things to do that may enhance your experience in the city, even as a local.

Unique things to do in NYC

Ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway

It is a form of aerial transport that allows you to check out NYC from a bird’s eye point of view. The Roosevelt Tram connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan, so you can board it from both ends and see the tiny Island. It is a great way to check out a less touristy part of the city.

Experience Tiny Wonders in the Mmuseumm

The Mmuseumm is a natural modern history museum that uses the Cabinet of Curiosities model. Moreover, it focuses on the exhibition of small things that showcase the contemporary world accessible through a peephole 24/7.

Ride the Seaglass Carousel

The carousel is considered one of New York’s most unique things to do. It consists of a 2.500 square feet pavilion lit up with LED lights. Moreover, it provides an engaging sea-like experience with over 12 species of sea life to see!

Fun non-touristy things to do in NYC

Explore the High Line

The high line is a former rail trail remodeled as an elevated greenway park. It offers stunning views and naturalized art installations on top of its attractive gardens that attract people, especially locals.

Sunrise at the Empire State Building

The building offers a Saturday morning sunrise for a limited period for a select number of people. Although the experience may be limited to time, seeing the dawn from on top of NYC is something few people get to see in their lifetime.

The Comedy Cellar

An NYC adventure would not be complete without a visit to the Comedy Cellar. It is a favorite among locals and highly popular as famous comedians pop in from time to time. Mainly, the shows start in the evening and continue into the night.

Non-touristy things to do in NYC citywide

Free entertainment in NYC parks

Check out the city’s park calendars if you are on a budget but still want memorable experiences. They often showcase extraordinary talent during concerts and comedy shows. However, they lean more into it during warmer times with programs such as Summerstage and Free Summer Concerts, making it one of the best things to do in New York City in June.

Take a local artistic class

Taking cooking, improv, hat work, and aerial arts classes are considered among the most enjoyable non touristy things in N.Y. Besides, it allows you to permanently preserve an exciting memory personally.

Explore the city on a bicycle

Bike riding can be enjoyable, especially when exploring the new depths of New York. The city has numerous scenic bike trails, such as the Bronx Greenway, the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and La Tourette Park.

Non-touristy things to do in Manhattan

Explore Roosevelt Island

Manhattan offers some of the best non touristy things to do in NYC, and Roosevelt Island is one of them. You can hop onto one of the free red buses that make trips around the IslandIsland and enjoy a cool breeze in one of the tranquil parks.

Visit the Met Cloisters

It can be found north of the ever-busy Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met Cloisters is a medieval-based museum that offers a calming place away from the bustling big city with lush green surroundings.

Watch a free comedy improv show

The People’s Improv Theater is a comedy and training center that hosts nightly performances. It is free, but you can grab a drink from its bar before heading to the show.

Non-touristy things to do in Brooklyn

Hunt for vintage goodies at Brooklyn Flea

Brooklyn Flea is a weekend market in Dumbo where you can shop for your vintage aesthetic, such as clothes, antiques, and furniture. Their products are handmade, which is the perfect way to promote local Brooklyn artists.

Explore the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

This garden is one of the most serene places in Brooklyn. It has a little oasis, and you can catch seasonal spring blooms and a winter light display, making it an incredible non touristy thing to do in NYC in December. Also, you could attend their Annual Chile Pepper Festival with live music, spicy sampling, and even spicy chocolate!

Visit NYC’s reliquary

Some may find it weird and intriguing at the same time. Along with rotating exhibitions, you could see quirky artifacts such as L-train paint fragments, a decaying birthday cake, and vintage signs.

Non-touristy things to do in Queens

Visit the Museum of the Moving Image:

Movie and tech enthusiasts will appreciate this museum dedicated to the art and history of filmmaking. Explore interactive exhibits, watch classic films, and try creating your own stop-motion animation.

Explore Socrates Sculpture Park

You could stroll through this waterfront park and admire the intriguing contemporary sculptures. The Park also hosts outdoor art exhibitions and performances featuring large-scale multimedia and sculptural installations.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Also, you could escape the crowds and enjoy the appealing green spaces of Flushing Meadows Park. Experience the iconic Unisphere and go paddling on a boat on Meadow Lake.

Non-touristy things to do in the Bronx

Relax and chill at the Wave Hill

The Hill is one of the Bronx’s most beautiful and undisturbed places. It allows you to escape the urban jungle and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of this public garden and cultural center.

Visit Pelham Bay Park

It is among New York City’s top tourist attractions 7 and the largest Park in the city. Here you could hike the local trails, explore the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum and sunbathe at Orchard Beach, among other things.

Explore The Bronx Zoo

While it may attract visitors, the Bronx Zoo offers an immersive experience. Marvel at the vast array of wildlife and ride on the Wild Asia Monorail while learning about conservation efforts.

Non-touristy things to do in Staten Island

Enjoy global cuisines made by grandmas only

We all know how grandmothers are universally the best cooks. This is your chance to experience culturally organic dishes made with grandma’s love, from Italian to Japanese food.

Visit Richmond Town

Richmond Town is a historically alive village and museum complex with buildings dating back to the 17th century. It also has real-life actors in the restored buildings that bring life to otherwise literal history.

Hop on the Staten Island ferry

The ferry offers a free ride to and from Manhattan with great views of the Manhattan skyline. Besides, it is also an opportunity to have a close view of the Statue of Liberty, and you can take a drink of choice on board to enrich your experience.

Guides and tips to finding non-touristy things to do in NYC

If you want a New Yorker experience of the Big Apple, you could find some New York non touristy things to do instead of the usual. Having a guide or a friend who is local could work even better for you. If you have no such privilege, there are numerous newsletters you could subscribe to that are written by the locals. Some of them include The Skint, Secret NYC, Bucketlisters NYC, and Nonsense NYC, all of which provide things to do for locals as well as repeat visitors.

FAQs about non touristy things to do in NYC

How not to be a tourist in NYC?

If you are a repeat visitor, you might not consider yourself a tourist and might have made a few local friends. A great tip to not appear as a tourist is to avoid crowded tourist spots such as the Times Square.

What is 1 attraction in New York?

The Statue of Liberty is the top tourist attraction in NYC. Others include Times Square, Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What special attractions are in New York City?

Apart from the famous ones such as the Statue of Liberty, there are also others like Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the American Museum of Natural History.

What is an alternative to NYC?

Some of NYC’s rivals are USA’s capital, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Boston. All of these are rich in art, culture, and history, which makes them almost as attractive as New York.

There are numerous activities and especially non touristy things to do in NYC. From entertainment to shopping to food, as a local or repeat tourist, you are spoilt for choices. It will all come down to your budget and preferences.