There’s so much to do in New York City that it can be hard to decide what to do on any given day. From exploring the city’s neighborhoods and diverse cultures to discovering its history and hidden spots, there’s always something new to explore in the Big Apple. Here are 20 underrated things to do in New York City:
by David Stone
1. Take a walk or bike ride through Central Park.
Too many visitors miss all or part of this, maybe only dipping their toes in the lower end of the park. The most adventurous sometimes get no farther than the 79th Street entrance near the Met. But the park goes on for another 40 blocks.
In the expansive northern park, you find the gentle pathways through The Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle and the Delacorte Theatre.
You’ll miss almost all of it on a carriage ride.
2. Visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side to learn about immigrant life in New York City.
Most visitors to the Tenement Museum go to the restored building on 97 Orchard Street, which gives an overview of what immigrant life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But there are also two other sites run by the museum. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 103 Orchard Street is a preserved building from 1863 that tells the story of a single family’s experience as immigrants in New York. The Storefront for Art and Architecture at 97 Kenmare Street is a small museum located in a former commercial building that has been turned into an art gallery. It displays rotating exhibitions on architecture, design and urbanism.
3. Check out the Brooklyn Bridge with a walk across for amazing views along the waterfront.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City for good reason: the views from the bridge are amazing.
But most visitors don’t venture beyond the bridge. If you walk east from the bridge, you’ll find a beautiful waterfront promenade with great views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
4. Wander around Greenwich Village and SoHo, two of the city’s most charming neighborhoods.
Greenwich Village and SoHo are two of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City. They’re both charming and full of history.
In Greenwich Village, you’ll find narrow streets, historic brownstones, trendy restaurants and shops, and the famous Washington Square Park. In SoHo, you’ll find trendy boutiques, art galleries, and some of the best restaurants in the city.
5. Take a stroll through Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan.
Bryant Park is a great place to relax and people-watch in the middle of Manhattan. The park is located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets, and it’s always filled with people enjoying the sunny weather or reading a book on one of the many benches.
6. Ride the Staten Island Ferry for some great views of the New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty.
The Staten Island Ferry is a free ferry ride that offers amazing views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Lower Manhattan. The ferry runs between the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan and the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.
Bring along a guidebook. There’s plenty to see in the city’s smallest borough, and most of it’s accessible by using the nearby railroad.
7. Explore the neighborhoods of Harlem and the Bronx.
Harlem and the Bronx are two of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City. Harlem is known for its African-American culture, while the Bronx is known for its Latino culture.
Both neighborhoods are worth exploring if you want to get a feel for the city’s diverse cultures.
8. Explore Lower Manhattan, one of the most historic and interesting neighborhoods in the city.
Lower Manhattan is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York City. It’s home to some of the city’s most historic and interesting buildings, including the Financial District, Wall Street, the World Trade Center Site and Battery Park.
It’s also a great neighborhood for shopping and eating out, and there are always lots of events happening there.
Get lost in Chinatown.
One of the best ways to explore Chinatown is to just wander around and get lost. The neighborhood is home to some of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, as well as souvenir shops, art galleries, and other interesting businesses.
The streets wind and turn, reflecting development before cars demanded easy transit. It’s easy to get lost – and advisable.
Central Park Zoo.
The Central Park zoo is a great place to take the kids for a day of fun. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including polar bears, red pandas and penguins. It’s also home to the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which is a section of the zoo specifically designed for a hands-on kids’ experience.
There’s no shortage of things to do in New York City – these are just a few that many visitors miss. They’re not flashy, but they’re all New York.
And most will not cost you a dime.
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