10 Cool and unusual things to do in New York City

New York City is known to surprise new visitors and add memories to the frequent ones From the the George Washington sculpture, to the hum neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, Times Square. Here are unusual things to do in New York City.

New York City, also known as the “Big Apple,” is a bustling metropolis that is home to iconic landmarks, diverse cultures, and a vibrant energy that is unlike any other city in the world. With its towering skyscrapers, bustling streets, and endless opportunities for exploration, it’s no wonder that millions of tourists flock to New York each year. While popular attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building are must-sees, there are many other unconventional activities that can make your trip to New York even more memorable.

So, what sets New York apart from other cities around the world?

  1. Diverse Food Scene: With a melting pot of cultures, New York offers a vast array of culinary delights from street food to fine dining.
  2. Iconic Landmarks: From the bright lights of Times Square to the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge, New York is home to some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks.
  3. Vibrant Art and Culture: With world-renowned museums, galleries, and street art, New York is a hub for creativity and expression.
  4. Bustling Nightlife: The city that never sleeps, New York offers endless options for entertainment, from Broadway shows to trendy bars and clubs.

Now, let’s explore some of the unconventional activities that can make your trip to New York even more exciting.

  1. Explore Hidden Rooftop Bars: From swanky lounges to rustic bars, New York City has a plethora of hidden rooftop spots that offer stunning views of the city skyline.
  2. Attend a Silent Disco: Put on some headphones and dance the night away at a silent disco, a unique experience that is becoming increasingly popular in the city.
  3. Take a Graffiti Tour: Discover the vibrant street art scene in New York by joining a guided graffiti tour in neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburg.
  4. Visit an Abandoned Subway Station: Get a glimpse into the past by exploring the abandoned City Hall subway station, which offers a peek into the city’s transit history.
  5. Go on a Ghost Tour: Learn about the dark and eerie history of New York by taking a ghost tour of haunted places like the Merchant’s House Museum and the Morris-Jumel Mansion.
  6. Attend a Broadway Show: Immerse yourself in the world of theater by catching a Broadway show, a must-do for any visitor to New York.
  7. Visit a Speakeasy Bar: Step back in time by visiting one of New York’s hidden speakeasy bars, which offer a unique and intimate drinking experience.
  8. Take a Helicopter Tour: Get a bird’s eye view of the city by taking a helicopter tour, which offers stunning views of landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.
  9. Go on a Food Tour of Queens: Take a break from the typical Manhattan food scene and explore the diverse culinary offerings in the borough of Queens.
  10. Attend a Secret Concert: Experience a one-of-a-kind music event by attending a secret concert, often held in unique and unexpected locations throughout the city.

With these unconventional activities, your trip to New York will be full of unexpected adventures and unique experiences. So, don’t be afraid to step off the beaten path and discover all that this vibrant city has to offer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Experience a different side of New York by exploring hidden rooftop bars and attending a silent disco.
  • Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant art and culture scene by taking a graffiti tour and attending a secret concert.
  • Step off the beaten path and discover the city’s unique charm through activities like visiting abandoned subway stations and attending a speakeasy bar.

What Makes New York Unique?

As one of the most iconic and bustling cities in the world, New York offers a plethora of exciting activities for both locals and tourists alike. However, beyond the typical tourist attractions, there are many unique experiences that can only be found in the Big Apple. In this section, we will delve into the elements that make New York one-of-a-kind. From its diverse food scene to its iconic landmarks, vibrant art and culture, and bustling nightlife, there is something for everyone in this city that never sleeps.

1. Diverse Food Scene

Experience a diverse food scene with a wide range of cuisine options, including Italian, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican.

Explore renowned food markets such as Chelsea Market and Essex Market.

Indulge in the famous New York-style pizza and bagels.

Discover hidden gems in neighborhoods like Flushing, Queens.

Sample fusion food at innovative restaurants that blend various cultural influences.

Savor the culinary delights of New York’s diverse food scene, from classic dishes to cutting-edge culinary fusions, ensuring a gastronomic adventure for every palate.

2. Iconic Landmarks

Iconic landmarks in New York, such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Empire State Building, and Times Square, attract millions of visitors annually. These well-known landmarks not only define the city’s skyline but also embody its rich history and cultural significance.

3. Vibrant Art and Culture

Vibrant art and culture in New York offer a myriad of unique experiences:

  1. Visit renowned art museums like MoMA and the Met.
  2. Explore street art in neighborhoods like Bushwick and Williamsburg.
  3. Attend cultural events at iconic venues such as Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
  4. Experience diverse performances, from Broadway shows to underground theaters.

4. Bustling Nightlife

New York’s lively and energetic nightlife is a major draw for both locals and tourists, providing a wide variety of entertainment options.

Unconventional Activities in New York

New York City is known for its iconic landmarks and bustling streets, but there is so much more to discover beyond the typical tourist attractions. In this section, we will uncover the unconventional and offbeat activities that will make your trip to New York truly unique. From hidden rooftop bars to abandoned subway stations, each sub-section will reveal a different side of the city that most visitors never get to experience. So let’s dive in and discover the unusual things to do in New York!

1. Explore Hidden Rooftop Bars

  • Do some research online to uncover hidden rooftop bars in New York, like 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar and Westlight, and indulge in breathtaking views of the skyline.
  • Check for any entry requirements, such as reservations or dress codes, before heading to your chosen rooftop bars.
  • Plan your visit during off-peak hours to avoid large crowds and experience a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Consider visiting multiple rooftop bars in different neighborhoods to experience a diverse range of ambiance and views.

2. Attend a Silent Disco

  1. Find a Silent Disco Event: Search for upcoming silent disco events in New York through event listing websites or social media platforms.
  2. Gather Your Friends: Invite friends to join you for a unique experience at the silent disco.
  3. Prepare Your Outfit: Dress comfortably and consider wearing neon or glow-in-the-dark accessories to enhance the visual appeal of the silent disco.
  4. Immerse in the Experience: Upon arrival, grab a pair of wireless headphones and tune into the DJ’s music channel to enjoy a synchronized silent dance party.
  5. Share the Fun: Capture memorable moments and share them on social media to spread the joy of attending a silent disco in New York.

Embrace the vibrant energy of New York’s nightlife by participating in a silent disco where you can attend a unique and fun event with your friends, creating unforgettable memories in the heart of the city that never sleeps!

3. Take a Graffiti Tour

  1. Research: Look for reputable graffiti tour companies offering guided tours.
  2. Schedule: Book a convenient time slot for your graffiti tour.
  3. Attend: Arrive on time and be prepared to explore the vibrant street art scene.
  4. Engage: Interact with your tour guide to gain insights into the history and cultural significance of the graffiti.
  5. Capture: Don’t forget to bring a camera to document the captivating artwork and express your creativity during your graffiti tour.

4. Visit an Abandoned Subway Station

  1. Research: Look for information about the history and significance of the abandoned subway station.

  2. Guided Tour: Join a guided tour to ensure safety and learn about the station’s past.

  3. Photography: Capture the unique architecture and atmosphere of the abandoned station.

  4. Legal Considerations: Ensure that visiting the abandoned subway station is permitted and safe.

5. Go on a Ghost Tour

  1. Research: Look for reputable ghost tour companies in New York that offer well-reviewed and informative experiences.
  2. Booking: Reserve your spot in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability.
  3. Prepare: Wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, and consider bringing a camera to capture any spooky encounters.
  4. Participate: Engage with the guide and fellow tour-takers, and be open to hearing intriguing ghost stories and legends.
  5. Respect: Follow any rules or guidelines set by the tour company and be mindful of the historical and cultural significance of the places visited.

When going on a ghost tour in New York, be prepared for a thrilling and eerie experience as you explore the city’s haunted past and encounter spine-chilling tales of the supernatural.

6. Attend a Broadway Show

  1. Choose a Broadway show based on your interests and preferences, considering genres like drama, musical, or comedy.
  2. Book tickets in advance through official websites or authorized sellers to secure the best seats and avoid scams.
  3. Arrive early to immerse yourself in the ambiance, explore the theater, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the cast.
  4. Be respectful during the performance by silencing your phone and refraining from talking to fully enjoy the show.
  5. Applaud and show appreciation for the performers at the end of the show.

Attending a Broadway show is not just a leisure activity, but also a cultural experience that captures the essence of New York’s vibrant arts scene.

7. Visit a Speakeasy Bar

  1. Research hidden speakeasy bars in New York, such as Please Don’t Tell or Angel’s Share, to discover unique and secret gems.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the concept and history of speakeasy bars to fully prepare for the clandestine experience.
  3. Respect the house rules and entry requirements to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to the speakeasy bar.
  4. Indulge in the mysterious and intimate ambiance while savoring specially crafted cocktails at the speakeasy bar.

8. Take a Helicopter Tour

  1. Book a helicopter tour with a reputable company that offers a safe and scenic experience.
  2. Arrive early at the helipad for pre-flight preparations and safety instructions.
  3. Listen attentively to the pilot’s briefing and adhere to all safety guidelines during the tour.
  4. Enjoy the breathtaking aerial views of New York’s iconic landmarks and skyline.
  5. Capture memorable moments with your camera to cherish the experience.

A friend of mine had the opportunity to take a helicopter tour over New York City and was amazed by the stunning views of the city’s iconic landmarks and skyline. The unique perspective of the city’s architecture left a lasting impression and became one of the highlights of their trip.

9. Go on a Food Tour of Queens

  1. Start your food tour in Queens by visiting the diverse neighborhoods such as Flushing and Astoria.
  2. Explore the rich cultural diversity through food with options ranging from authentic Asian cuisine to traditional Greek dishes.
  3. Engage with locals and get insider tips on the best eateries and hidden gems.
  4. Sample a variety of dishes, from street food to fine dining, in order to experience the true flavors of Queens.
  5. Discover the history and traditions behind each culinary delight you encounter.

Queens is a melting pot of culinary delights, offering a feast for the senses with its diverse and authentic food scene. Take a food tour of Queens to fully immerse yourself in the flavors and cultures of this vibrant borough.

10. Attend a Secret Concert

  1. Search for underground event listings on social media or music websites to find secret concerts.
  2. Keep the location and time confidential to maintain the event’s exclusivity.
  3. Check for any necessary entry requirements such as passwords or ticket reservations.
  4. Arrive early to secure a good spot without drawing attention to the event.
  5. Respect the organizer’s request for discretion to uphold the clandestine nature of the concert.

In the 1920s, during the Prohibition era, secret concerts were a popular activity as speakeasies hosted hidden musical performances to entertain patrons while evading law enforcement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some unique things to do in New York City?

Some off the beaten path activities in NYC include visiting the abandoned City Hall subway station, exploring the hidden gems of Central Park, and taking a food tour in Queens. Other unique experiences recommended by travel bloggers include browsing vintage shops in Williamsburg, visiting the Governor’s Island for a peaceful getaway, and taking an open-door helicopter ride over the city for stunning views.

What are some cool bars and restaurants to check out in NYC?

Some cool places to grab a drink or a bite to eat include Island Oyster on Governor’s Island for seafood and cocktails, a speakeasy for some unique drinks, and Bluestockings Bookstore for a cup of tea and a good read. The Bowery Hotel and Pod 39 are also popular spots for drinks and food with a unique atmosphere.

What are some unusual attractions to see in New York City?

If you’re looking for something different, consider visiting the Victorian Dinosaur Museum, the heaviest ball of twine, or the historic Seneca Falls where the women’s suffrage movement began. You can also check out the famous “Times Square Hum” or the Survivor Tree at the 9/11 Memorial.

How can I plan a four-day itinerary in NYC?

For a unique and diverse experience, consider using the Table of Contents provided by travel bloggers to plan your trip. This can include visiting 22 unique things in NYC such as the Governor’s Island, Circle Line Harbor Lights Cruise, and taking a food tour. You can also check out Airbnb Experiences for more suggestions.

What is the impact of the Coronavirus on travel to NYC?

The recent activity surrounding the Coronavirus has led to the cancellation of events and conferences, including the four-day conference the traveler was originally planning to attend. However, it is important to remember to not give in to hysteria and still explore the city while taking necessary precautions.

Where can I find unique and affordable accommodations in NYC?

Consider staying at the Pod Hotel with its stainless steel bunk beds and individual TVs, or The James New York with its floor to ceiling windows and exquisite city views. The Arlo Midtown and Murray Hill are also well-located and offer comfortable queen size beds and plush linens. For a more unique experience, try glamping on Governor’s Island with Collective Retreats.