New York City is massive.
There’s Astoria, Crown Heights, Elmhurst, Bushwick, Greenpoint, Long Island City, Flushing, and 300 other neighborhoods in this city of 8 million people.
Yet when tourists think of New York, they always seem to think of one thing: Manhattan.
And although Manhattan is pretty, there are four other incredible boroughs, and each has its own individual identity. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island have endless opportunities for new and exciting things to discover.
I’ve just moved here, and I’ve been exploring some of what this huge place has to offer. While this list does not pretend to be at all comprehensive, it is a small glimpse into some of the many things to do outside of Manhattan.
Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn makes artisan bean-to-bar chocolate. Founded by Michael Mast and his older brother Rick, the two brothers make all sorts of different flavored chocolates.
Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, they give tours that let you take an exclusive look at how Mast Brothers have pioneered craft chocolate, so it’s basically like taking a tour of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory.
If the stress of the city has become too much to handle, the best cure could be a serene walk through the botanic gardens in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has over 10,000 types of plants spanning its 52-acre garden. Founded in 1910, the spread also has more than 200 cherry trees, a rose garden with some of its original plants, and a Japanese hill-and-pond garden.
It even has special events for the dreary winter months. One is called, “Light In Winter,” which celebrates the beauty of the garden and the connection to nature during the darkest months of the year.
Bonus: Starting November 1st and running through February 28, the garden is free to the public on weekdays.
Prospect Park is a lush 585-acre public park in Brooklyn.It’s well-known for the 90-acre Long Meadow, which is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of park in the country. The park is also home to Brooklyn’s only forest, the Lefferts historic house, a zoo, and a historic carousel.
In the winter, visitors can ice-skate, cross-country ski, and even go sledding in the Long Meadow.
Founded in 2008, Brooklyn Flea has been ranked as one of the best flea markets in the world.Every weekend from 10am until 5pm, hundreds of local and regional vendors sell antique furniture, vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, and plenty of other treasures.
From April through Thanksgiving the market is on the streets, but in November the market moves indoors.
The founders of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg have created a beer-hall-meets-cafeteria in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighbourhood.
Whatever you’re craving — whether it be a craft beer, Ramen burger, truffled egg pie from Pizza Moto, or just a place to watch the Sunday football game on a big screen — Berg’n offers it.
Plus, Berg’n is perfect for late night snacking since it’s open from “10 am ’til Late.”
MoMa PS1 is one of the largest art institutions in the US dedicated solely to contemporary art. The exhibition spaces devotes its resources to displaying some of the “most experimental art in the world.”
It once served as the first school in Long Island City and has preserved much of it’s original architecture, which means that the space has very unique classroom-sized galleries.
The four acre park is the largest outdoor space in New York City dedicated to exhibiting sculpture. It was once an abandoned landfill and illegal dump-site, and was converted into a outdoor sculpture laboratory by a coalition of young artists led by sculptor Mark di Suvero. It was meant to be an outdoor sculpture laboratory dedicated to up-and-coming artists.
In addition to being an exhibition space, the park offers an arts education program, artist residency program, and job training.
Take a tour of the renowned Silvercup Studios, the largest film and television production facility in New York City. Notable shows that have been filmed here include: 30 Rock, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and many more.
It is currently home to the shows White Collar and HBO’s Girls.
What was once a Czech and Slovak social club, is now one of New York’s best beer gardens. The beer hall in Astoria is known for its vast selection of authentic Czech Republic, Slovakian, and German beers.
The garden is closed in the winter, but the hall serves warm and hearty Czech cuisine throughout the cold winter months.
The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest metropolitan zoos in the world. It has over 6,000 animals from about 650 species. Some notable exhibits include the Congo Gorilla Forest, a guided monorail tour of Wild Asian animals, Tiger Mountain, and one-of-a-kind wildlife from Madagascar.
Bonus: Admission is free on Wednesday’s, but donations are always recommended.
Visit the former home of the famous American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The six-room cottage was home to Poe and his wife Virgina in 1844. Poe wrote the famous poems “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “Eureka” while living in this cottage.
The home is now operated as a historic house museum by the Bronx Country Historical Society, and is furnished with gothic items that actually belonged to Poe, including the bed that his beloved wife Virgina died in.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium. The New York Yankees Museum has a “Ball Wall” of hundreds of balls autographed by past and present Yankees. The tour also goes to Monument Park, The Dugout, and the Yankees Clubhouse.
In the parking lot of the stadium you’ll find the Fame City mural, which features Yankee legends Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Thurman Munson.
Arthur Avenue is a street in the Fordham section of the Bronx, and consider to be the best place to find Italian cuisine. It has often been called the real Little Italy of New York, and has authentic Italian bakeries, butcher shops, fish markets, and many specialty stores.
Some famous spots on Arthur Avenue to check out are Casa Della Mozzarella, Madonia Brothers Bakery, Cosenza’s Fish Market, and Peter’s Meat Market.
The “playground for graffiti artist and ghost hunters,” this 45-acre campus of abandoned buildings is situatedin the center of the Staten Island’s Greenbelt forest. The Farm Colony was once a collection of farmhouses that rehabilitated New York City’s again poor, but it was shut down in 1975 and left abandoned.
Because the structures of the Farm Colony are enveloped in trees and vines, they are only visible from November until May.
Built in 2004, Postcards is an outdoor sculpture in the St. George neighbourhood of Staten Island. It was built as a permanent memorial honouring the 274 Staten Island residents who were killed in the September 11 attacks and the 1993 Word Trade Center bombing.
The outdoor sculpture represents two large postcards, and each Staten Island victim is honored with a 9 X 11 inch granite plaque bearing their picture, name, birthday, and place of work at the time of the September 11 attacks.
The Chinese Scholar Garden is a part of Staten Island Botanical Garden, located in the Snug Harbour Cultural Center.It is a replica of a typical scholar’s garden from the Ming Dynasty and is the only authentic classic Scholar’s Garden in the US.
Take a free ride of the State Island Ferry. The 24-hour ferry provides postcard worthy views of New York City’s skyline, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
Have any favourite outer borough activities that we missed? Suggest them in the comments!
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