Photo: Michelle.Hayes via Flickr
The Empire State Building. The Statue Of Liberty. The Brooklyn Bridge. All great monuments, incredible experiences, and on the “must-see” list of every tourist who has ever set foot in New York City.Another thing about all these places: interesting the first time around, but not the fifth or sixth. And the crowds are mind-numbingly large. It gets to the point where you have to tell your out-of-town friends, “Yeah, here’s a guidebook. Good luck.”
And yet, New York’s five boroughs are brimming with so much culture, history and delicious gastronomy, you could spend years exploring it all.
With that in mind, we put together a list of awesome hidden gems that will satisfy both the tourist and the local, with 13 spots that only the coolest New Yorker could tell you about.
Next time, skip the lines and check out these hot spots that will make you the envy of even your long-time New Yorker friends.
If you can fight the urge to get off the 6 train at the last stop (Brooklyn Bridge), you'll be treated to the abandoned but beautifully preserved old City Hall subway station, as the train loops around to go back uptown.
The station was first closed in 1945, and plans have been raised on a few occasions to turn the station into part of a transit museum. For now, the station remains out of reach unless by guided tour, as one of the many abandoned stops that can be partially explored.
Visit the English countryside, the Middle Ages and scope the Hudson River all at once at Fort Tyron Park. Designed by the same architect who helped put together Yosemite National Park, Fort Tyron is home to an incredible amount of colourful flora and exotic fauna, considering it's at 190th Street.
Also in Fort Tyron is the Cloisters Museum and Gardens, a reassembled chapel and series of monastic convents complete with immense stone halls, stained glass, hydrangeas and irises.
Equal parts history lesson and stunning East River vantage point, the piers along Red Hook are tough to get to but incredibly rewarding if you can make the trip.
Strolling down the cobblestone streets that were once the site of a Dutch shipping centre, visitors can explore the slow tide that's turning the industrial wasteland into a vibrant artistic community. Also, rare views of the Statue of Liberty, downtown Manhattan, and the sunset over New York Harbor abound. Ikea's nearby, too.
Skip the long lines at MoMA and the Met and check out 5Pointz, an outdoor art exhibition (read: free) in Queens, featuring some of the most incredible graffiti in the world. The 200,000 square foot factory building is covered wall-to-wall in beautiful urban illustrations. Prospective artists need a permit before painting, which ensures only the highest quality tags.
Unfortunately, there may be a time limit on how long this site remains standing.
Also known as 'The Best Bar In The World,' PDT (Please Don't Tell) is infamous for its attempts at secrecy -- check out its website -- including a hidden entrance through a hot dog shop's telephone booth, and its low-lit, funky ambiance.
The bar specialises in cocktails, including absinthe cocktails that only add to its image as a 'sexy speakeasy.'
TKTS Discount Booths give theatre lovers the opportunity to grab tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at up to 50 per cent off. Most people head to the Times Square office and wait in truly monstrous lines for day-of-performance tickets only.
Experienced New Yorkers and tourists in the know head to the South Street Seaport and even Metrotech in Brooklyn, where the lines are much shorter (at times, non-existent) and you can buy seats for matinee shows the next day. Cut down on your time in Times Square and still get discount Lion King tickets.
New York is all about bright lights and skyscrapers -- but just a ferry ride away is Staten Island, mostly known for its garbage and a subsequent hilariously controversial ice cream flavour.
But the borough is also home to a living history village. Historic Richmond sits on a hundred acres of gorgeous farmland, with dozens of original historic buildings that you can't find anywhere else. Special events like dinner with a candlelight tour of the grounds are sure to impress out-of-towners/dates.
Here, visitors can explore what 17th-century Staten Islander's life was like, before the landfill.
The little known hole-in-the-wall (of one of New York's most elegant hotels), Burger Joint is a no-frills spot with some of the best burgers and fries in town.
Despite its Midtown location, the Joint has surprisingly low prices, an unparalleled time-worn vibe and high scores from almost every reviewer in town.
This legendary landmark was once Brooklyn's only skyscraper, but nowadays it has to settle for being Brooklyn's second tallest building. Situated at the nexus of some of the borough's most important thoroughfares, the former bank can be seen for miles around and, if you manage access to its private roof, provides expansive views of the surrounding city.
Today, the building is mostly residential, but in the winter months it will be home to the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg market, a weekend event that probably deserves a slide in its own right for the incredible variety of delicious food stalls.
Consider this Brooklyn's version of Père Lachaise in Paris. If they can get over the feelings of insignificance and fear of death that may result from strolling past countless burial plots, visitors will see the calming beauty of this immaculately kept graveyard.
The cemetery is also a veritable who's who of dead people: famous gravestones include those of Samuel Morse, Boss Tweed, Henry Ward Beecher, and even Winston Churchill's grandmother. You can grab a map and celeb-spot your way through this National Historic landmark anytime, for free. There are also shows, readings, and concerts here year round.
UCB is like a cheap hipster's wet dream: it gives you the opportunity to see upcoming comedy acts before they hit the big time, and at great prices.
There are live shows every night, from stand-up to improv, with ASSSSCAT 3000 as the week's standout performance: Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz lead an improv group that also welcomes guests from SNL, 30 Rock, and The Colbert Report. Oh -- and it's free.
Little Seoul on 32nd Street is home to some incredible slices of Korean life, from spicy delicacies, exotic pastries and Korean-specific cell phone carriers.
Nearly lost among the towering skyscrapers of the Financial District, a visit to Fraunces Tavern can satisfy the palate of many types of tourists: it's a unique restaurant, brewery, tavern and historic monument (George Washington ended his Revolutionary War campaign here).
History pervades every part of the Tavern, which you can enjoy while sipping a centuries old Oyster Stout, touring the museum, or kicking back in the speakeasy.
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