Let me guess, you’ve been to New York City and want to experience some of the more unusual things to do in NYC right now?
If so then this post is 110% for you since I”m about to share all of my local picks for the all-time best and most unique things to do in NYC
Yup, this insanely long list right here features all of the cool things to do in NYC that will get you away from the guidebook so that you can actually experience the city like a real New Yorker.
So, step away from the generic AF travel guides and take a peek at this 30+ year local’s guide to all the most non-touristy things to do in NYC.
Because yes, I really have lived in New York City for over thirty years and want to share all my snazziest tips with you.
As a result, you most deffo not find the Empire State Building on this list. Instead, expect to uncover a whole host of hidden gems in NYC that you didn’t even know existed.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Where to Stay in NYC
Not sure where to stay when traveling to NYC? If so then check out my picks for the all-time best hotels in NYC.
Because regardless of your budget, there is a perfect place to stay in NYC for you! This way, you can quickly and easily explore all of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
- Pod 39 (budget) – If you’re on a budget, then Pod 39 is epic because you get the privacy of a hotel room with the affordability of a pod “room”. Plus, this place is well-located in Murray Hill and has contemporary rooms that include queen-sized beds, TVs, night tables, etc. You also get to enjoy a stay inside a historic home from 1918.
- The Duffy Times Square by Kasa (midrange)– This lovely mid-range hotel sits in Hell’s Kitchen and has stylish suites that feature Belgian linens, iPod docks, flatscreen TVs, and WiFi. Rooms also offer views of a beautiful central courtyard that add to the overall ambiance of this place.
- Lotte New York Palace (Luxury)– Ready to live the next-level luxe life? If so then book a room at the best hotel in the city. Not only does Lotte New York Palace sit inside an antique 19th-century mansion, but it’s right across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It also has swank rooms with WiFi, flatscreen TVs, designer toiletries, and more. Guests will also love access to the on-site spa, a French bakery, and a modern bar.
Unusual Things to do in NYC – Manhattan
1. Climb to the Top of the World at the Edge
One of the most unique things to do in NYC is to get a bird’s eye view of the city’s famous skyline from one its tallest observation decks.
And while all of these spaces offer unique views of the city (so, if you’re not strapped for cash or time, you might want to try them all), the Edge is extra special and well worth your time if you’re feeling daring.
Open since 2020, this is the new kid on the block and is a welcome addition to this list of non-touristy things to do in NYC.
After all, the platform for the Edge protrudes out into mid-air and is engineered to give you the sense of floating in the sky.
And if you’re feeling extra brave, you can muster up the courage to complete the City Climb. You’ll scale the outside of the tower before leaning over the streets 1,200 feet below – making this one of the more intense unusual things to do in NYC on this list.
Pro Tip: Check the weather prior to your visit since cloudy skies = crappy views. You can also check out the Vessel while you’re here.
Address: 30 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (the last elevator goes up 50-minutes before closing)
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to 34th street and Hudson Yards station and walk to the Vessel from there.
Price: Tickets are $36 for adults, $31 for kids (between 6 and 12), and $34 for seniors (62+). FYI, you also have the option of getting upgraded tickets that include champagne (starting at $53 per person) and champagne/personal photo book (starting at $71 per person). Avoid the insane line and get your tickets now!
2. Open your mind at Mmuseumm
Mmuseumm (pronounced Museum) is an unusual pick for a museum since it is a place that urges you to focus on the mundane.
Now, that might feel lame when you’re looking to enjoy some of the most unique things to do in NYC.
But, this museum is all about exploring the little things that we interact with but never really think about.
Other items on display here have truly unique historical value.
However, do be aware that artifacts presented here change frequently. However, recent exhibits have included receipts from the final meals of those on Death Row, ISIS currency, and the used tissues of world leaders.
Although bizarre, each object tells a story and will make you think – making this just one of many hidden gems in NYC.
Address: 4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013
Hours: Open to the public Friday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm, with visits at other times available by appointment only (Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to stop by any time between Monday and Thursday).
Price: $8.00 suggested donation.
How to Get There: Take either the 4/5/6 line or the J/Z train to Canal Street Station.
3. Walk the High Line
When an old New York railroad was slated for demolition, the local community had other ideas and they weren’t afraid to speak up.
Instead, the train track found a new lease on life as an elevated park that stretches 1.5 miles along the former railway line – from the Javits Center and Hudson Yards all the way to the Whitney Museum near Chelsea.
Therefore, walking the High Line is one of the number one unusual things to do in NYC for outdoorsy types. Plus, it’s completely free and easily one of the best free things to do in NYC.
So, be sure to pay a visit to the High Line once you’ve had your fill of Central Park. It’s brimming over with plant life and offers killer views of the city – in addition to amazing outdoor art displays that regularly change.
You can also walk the High Line at any time of year with an entirely different perspective.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stop by Chelsea Market and Artichoke Basille along the way since both are right nearby and are great places to eat.
Address: Since the Highline spans 1.5 miles, check here for an entry point near you.
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 am to 8:00 pm
How to get there: Check here for transportation information since it will depend on where you start your visit to one of the most unique things to do in NYC.
4. Watch basketball at the Cage
You may well have picked up on the not-so-little-known fact that New Yorkers are nuts about basketball.
Of course, if you’re a diehard fan then you’ll definitely want to grab some tickets to a Knicks gamer at Madison Square Garden.
However, if you’re more of a casual fan, get yourself down to the West Fourth Street Courts – more commonly known as the Cage – and catch a game for free.
This community basketball court is the stomping ground of the West Fourth Street League, founded by the limousine driver Kenny Graham.
In fact, countless NBA pros launched their careers on this very court. Therefore, scouts are regularly spotted loitering around looking for fresh talent which makes for an electrifying atmosphere at one of the best hidden gems in NYC.
Address: 6th Ave &, 6 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10014, United States
Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the D/F train to Washington Square/West 4th station and walk from there.
5. Brush up on your skills at Spyscape Spy Museum
Were you always optimistic that one day you’d get that sly tap on your shoulder during college?
Then check out the Spyscape Spy Museum in Manhattan. This museum and immersive space give you the golden opportunity to test out your spy skills and see whether you have what it takes to be the next 007.
Although the exhibition is worthy of a wander, it’s the activity zone that you’ll want to focus your energy on.
This is where you can get to grips with cryptography, codebreaking, cyberhacking, surveillance, and special ops agility training.
You know, all the useful stuff that you should have learned in school!
Address: 928 8th Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Thursday 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Friday 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, and Sunday 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. FYI, the last admission is also 90 minutes before closing.
Price: General admission is $39 for adults and $32 for everyone else. But, Spyscape also offers a bunch of different, special experiences that are a bit on the pricey side when it comes to hidden gems in NYC.
How to Get There: Take the W Line and get off at 57th Street Station.
6. Glamp at Governors Island
Did you know that it’s possible to glamp right in the heart of NYC? At least it is if you hop on a quick ferry from Lower Manhattan across to Governors Island to one of the best glamping spots in New York.
See, Collective Governors Island consists of stylish bell tents alongside luxury cabins with deluxe bathtubs. After all, we’re talking glamping here, not your standard camping.
And when you’re not ogling views of the Statue of Liberty and lounging on your private patio, the glamping resort offers yoga, cocktail workshops, massages, and more.
So, if you’re looking for a unique place to stay while ticking off all the most unique things to do in NYC, this is your place.
Address: Governors Island, NY
Hours: Open seasonally throughout the summer.
Price: Starts at $339.00 per night.
How to Get There: Take the NYC Ferry shuttle from Pier 11 on weekends and holidays from Weekends from May 23 through September 5.
7. Ride the slides at Governors Island
Not only can you glamp on Governors Island but you can also unleash your inner child by riding the giant slides!
So, forget about the tallest skyscraper in the city and the largest park in the Big Apple. Instead, check out Slide Hill.
After all, it’s a magical place that is home to the longest slide in NYC and one of the best hidden gems in NYC too.
See, the OG slide rises to 57 feet, with twists and turns guaranteeing a thrill no matter how many times you’ve been on it.
But, there are also three other (shorter) slides to tackle, including the family slide that lets you whizz down with your buddy, if this one is a bit too intense for you.
It’s free to ride the slides but you might have to brace yourself for long lines at peak times
Address: Governors Island, NY
Hours: Open seasonally throughout the summer.
How to Get There: Take the NYC Ferry shuttle from Pier 11 on weekends and holidays from Weekends from May 23 through September 5.
8. Take a Ride on the SeaGlass Carousel
While you’re waiting for the Liberty Island Ferry, take a twirl on New York’s prettiest and most unique carousel.
In place of the traditional ponies, the SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park invites you to hop aboard a giant fiberglass fish.
Ethereal music plays, psychedelic lights flicker, and the building itself is shaped like a seashell.
See, this is one of the most unique things to do in NYC that was created as a nod to Battery Park’s past as the site of the city’s very first aquarium.
Besides, it’s right next to the Upper Bay and the ferry terminal. Plus, each ride costs just $5 and this is a super fun activity for adults and kids alike.
Address: Water St &, State St, New York, NY
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 1 to South Ferry Station or the 4/5 to Bowling Green Station.
9. Tour the Catacombs at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Little Italy
Paris and Rome aren’t the only cities to have their own catacombs! In fact, hidden beneath St. Patrick’s Basilica, you’ll find NYC’s very own secret catacombs.
Bishops and prominent New Yorkers are buried in this underground warren, including John Connolly, the first resident Bishop of New York.
The most atmospheric way to experience one of the most unique things to do in NYC is by booking a Catacombs by Candlelight tour.
This tour is the only way to explore this subterranean lair of tunnels and labyrinthine passageways.
Plus, this way you’ll get to learn all the fascinating details from a professional guide.
You’ll also love getting VIP access to otherwise off-limits areas, including two walled cemeteries, when you book this fascinating and fun tour.
Pro Tip: Please be aware that this is NOT the St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue but another one entirely.
Address: 263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States
Hours: Available Friday through Monday from 10:30 am to 4:15 pm. But, times can vary by day.
Price: Around $37.00 per person.
How to Get There: Take the D/F/M to Broadway/Lafayette station and walk from there.
10. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Museum of Ice Cream
Interactive and Instagrammable, there’s no better place for gelato fans than the Museum of Ice Cream.
Of course, the sole motivation for visiting a museum dedicated to ice cream is to sample the goods. Rest assured, there are plenty of opportunities for that – five of them in fact.
However, the main draw of this kooky museum is the giant sprinkle pool and amazing tunnel slide. So, feel free to slide, splash, and play until your heart’s content!
Plus, this multi-sensory institute is packed with tons of hands-on activities including riding the pink Museum of Ice Cream subway and exploring the whimsical shop.
So, even if you visit NYC during the brink of winter, there’s no excuse not to get your ice cream fix as you enjoy one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
Pro Tip: This is one of the hidden gems in NYC that is really geared towards Instagram mavens or families with kids. So, plan your NYC itinerary accordingly. You can also get the best shots if you go first thing in the morning (right when they open so there are no people inside).
Address: 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Open Thursday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $39 for adults and free for children 2 and under.
How to Get There: Take the R/W Train to Prince Street Station or the B/B/F/M train to Lafayette Street
11. Enjoy the views from Little Island
If you liked the sound of the High Line then here’s another quirky outdoor spot to check out in NYC.
See, Little Island is a cool public park that floats above the Hudson River on a disused pier.
Yeah, Pier 54 was partially damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy and was recently reenvisioned as this beautiful green space.
It only covers around a hectare in total but it’s bubbling over with plants, flowers, scenic viewpoints, and picnic spots that are just waiting to be enjoyed as part of one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
Therefore, Little Island is another of the unique things to do in NYC that has a real community ethos. A mix of cultural and educational events also take place here aimed at locals, tourists, and kids.
Address: Pier 55 at Hudson River Park Hudson River Greenway, NY 10014, United States
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the A/C/E train to 14th Street/8th Avenue station and walk from there.
12. See the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters (a MET Museum)
So, you probably already know all about the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But, what you might not know about are the Cloisters.
This attraction is an extension of the main facility and exhibits medieval tapestries, paintings, and architecture.
The star attraction is the Unicorn Tapestries – a celebration of nature, mythology, and love.
Beyond the artworks, you can roam the beautiful terraces and gardens that feel a million miles away from the busy streets of Manhattan.
Plus, your ticket to the MET already includes a guided tour of the Cloisters. So, don’t miss out on one of the most unique things to do in NYC for history lovers.
13. Ride the Tram to Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island is a slither of an island that sits right in the middle of the East River.
There’s not a ton to see on the isle although the parks and monuments are pleasant for a stroll. Plus, you get awesome views of the Manhattan skyline from here.
However, the best thing about visiting Roosevelt Island is getting to ride the Roosevelt Island Tramway.
This tram departs from 59th St and 2nd Ave and flies high over the streets offering some of the best city views.
And all you need to do is swipe your MetroCard: cheap, easy, and one of the most utterly unusual things to do in NYC!
Pro Tip: Try to avoid the tram at rush hour since its packed with locals commuting to Manhattan.
Address: E 59th St & 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 am to 2:00 am and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 am to 3:30 am.
Price: Swipe of your Metrocard.
How to Get There: Take the N/R/W train to 59th street and Lexington station and walk to the tram from there.
14. Get Your Drink on at the Frying Pan
Get yourself down to Pier 66 and you can grab a beer or a bite at this former Coast Guard Lightship.
Yeah, this craft was built in 1929 and was in service for 30 years guiding vessels into the harbor.
Then, after being retired from active duty, the Lightship was given a new lease of life as a bar in Chelsea.
Just be aware that the Frying Pan is only open seasonally from May until October and is a lesser-known spot for lunch, dinner, or drinks.
Food at the boat focuses on comforting burgers, tasty shellfish, and sweet treats. Although truth be told, it’s not that great.
So, skip the grub at one of the most unusual things to do in NYC and just grab a drink instead.
Because visiting the Frying Pan after a packed day of sightseeing is easily one of the best unique things to do in NYC at night.
Pro Tip: This place is popular and will be LOUD. So, don’t visit if you’re looking to enjoy a quiet chat with friends…or anyone really.
Address: 207 12th Ave, New York, NY 10001, United States
Hours: Open daily from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm from May through October,
Price: Most drinks are between $7.00 and $10.00 each.
How to Get There: Take the C/E train to 23rd Street station and walk from there.
15. Explore the Morgan Library and Museum
Of course, you’ll know all about the world-famous New York Public Library. But, this one is even more spectacular than its big brother.
See, the Morgan Library and Museum sits right around the corner from Grand Central Terminal and started out as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural benefactor Pierpont Morgan.
Illuminated tomes, historical manuscripts, and early printed works, as well as sketches and prints, are stacked from floor to ceiling in this ornate hall and library that looks like something straight out of Beauty and the Beast.
Meanwhile, the reading room is appointed with a huge ornate fireplace and plush velvet couches.
Save money on one of the most unique things to do in NYC by visiting on Fridays between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm when admission is waived!
Address: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm (except open late, until 9 pm on Fridays), Saturdays from 10 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm.
Price: Tickets are $22 for adults, $14 for seniors (65 and over), $13 for students with a current, student ID, and free to members and children 12 and under.
How to Get There: Take any train to Times Square and walk from there.
16. “Escape” from an Escape Room
Escape the hustle and bustle – literally – at an Escape Room of your choice.
Yeah, Escape Rooms have taken NYC by storm over the past decade and there are several options dotted around the city.
But from a personal perspective, you can’t beat the Manhattan-based Escape Game.
What to expect? You’ll be locked in a room and tasked to find your way out following a series of clues.
Plus, themes at the Escape Game include nifty things like prison break, art heist, and special ops.
And since you’ll need to work as a team, an escape room is one of the unique things to do in NYC for groups, couples, or families.
Address: 295 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (E. 41st Street)
Price: $41.99 per person.
Hours: Games are 60-minutes long and are held 7/8 times a day between 8:50 am and 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6/7 train, or the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central Terminal.
17. Embrace nostalgia at the Lexington Candy Shop
Step back into yesteryear at this old-fashioned soda counter in the heart of the Upper East Side.
In fact, Lexington Candy Shop first swung open its doors in 1925 and stakes its claim as the oldest family-owned luncheonette in the city.
Even today, luncheonettes are a staple of NYC that have been largely replaced by coffee shop chains.
Although the property went through a facelift in 1948, it still retains a lot of its earlier charm.
Its facade and interiors hark back to bygone days while the atmosphere is amiable and casual.
Stop off for a milkshake, sundae, coffee, omelet, or burger since prices are reasonable.
Pro Tip: Get the chocolate chip pancakes or greek omelet and one of their old-fashioned New York egg creams.
Address: 1226 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: Chocolate chip pancakes start at $13.50 while a Greek Omelet is $15.95.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, or 6 to 86th street station.
18. Hang out in a speakeasy
So what about unique things to do in NYC at night? Well, New York’s nightlife scene is legendary. But, you want to go beyond the tourist spots for the best experience.
And there are a couple of speakeasies you’ll want to (secretly) add to your agenda.
But, number one on your list of cool things to do in NYC has to be Please Don’t Tell.
This speakeasy is hidden away behind a vintage telephone booth at the hotdog joint, Crif Dogs. Just enter the secret code and this bar will reward you with an intimate and atmospheric 1930s vibe and top-quality cocktails.
For another option, check out the Back Room where cocktails are served in teacups and beer comes in a nondescript paper bag.
Yeah, this is actually one of the few surviving speakeasies from the Prohibition era – making it an easy pick for one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
19. Marvel at the abandoned City Hall Station
New York’s original subway car departed from City Hall station in 1904.
Accordingly, the building was masterfully designed by architects Heins & LaFarge with chandeliers, vaulted walls, and skylights providing a lavish backdrop.
Sadly though, trains no longer stop at City Hall and the station was deserted altogether back in 1945.
But, you can see the station as part of a guided tour. Spaces are limited and tours only run at certain times throughout the year.
So, if you’re interested in one of the most unique things to do in NYC you’ll need to sign up as a New York Transit Museum member before you’re allowed to get your mitts on a set of tickets.
But, if you have a thing for abandoned places, it’s totally worth the hassle!
20. Visit the Tenement Museum
Another of the quirkier museums and most unique things to do in NYC is the Tenement Museum.
The institute is located on the Lower East Side and highlights the stories of immigrants during the late 19th century.
You can only visit as part of a tour though. But, the great thing about these tours is that there’s a range of different options with each relating to a specific theme.
Some focus on the tougher elements of the experiences that the immigrants faced while others focus on the lives of women or the wider domestic arrangements.
You can also tour apartments from pre and during the Great Depression as part of your visit and see what life was really like for those living in tenements.
Address: Located at 97 and 103 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.
Price: Tickets are between $27 and $29 per person.
Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 6:30 pm.
How to Get There: You can either take the F/J train to Delancey Street Station.
21. Grab a breather at the Ford Foundation Building rainforest
One of the most surprising and unusual things to do in NYC is to visit a tropical rainforest.
Much more than a humble office, the Ford Foundation Building on East 43rd Street features 40+ species of verdant trees, vines, plants, and flowers.
Interspersed with calming water features, there’s no better place for a moment of zen and quiet contemplation.
The jungle scene is sited in the atrium and is designed so that office workers can see it from their desks.
The great news though is that the rainforest is also open to the public. So, you can pop your head in on weekdays and relax among the shrubs for free.
Pro Tip: This is one of the hidden gems in NYC that is located right near the UN. So, you can easily visit both on the same day.
Address: 320 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017, USA
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 7/S/4/5/6 to Grand Central and walk from there.
22. Stock up on books at The Strand
A book is one of the best souvenirs from a trip to NYC and the city is bursting with epic bookstores.
However, one of the best of them all is The Strand near Union Square.
So, pop into The Strand where you can browse every category of book under the sun.
After all, stock includes new releases as well as secondhand and rare tomes. Therefore, Every trip yields a completely different browsing experience.
Choices are limitless and you can choose to shop for yourself or treat someone back home.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check out the rad rare books on the third floor. You can also hit up their outpost on the Upper West Side if that’s more convenient.
Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with curbside pick available daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Price: Free…unless you buy something.
How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, or W trains to 14th Street-Union Square Station.
23. Sing karaoke at Koreatown
Another of the most unusual things to do in NYC at night is to visit the karaoke bars of Koreatown.
Koreatown NYC is located right in the heart of Manhattan at the base of the Empire State Building.
Besides hitting up the karaoke bars and belting out your favorite songs, Koreatown is also teeming with places to eat classic Korean BBQ.
Which is exactly what you need before a night of singing!
Unusual Things to do in NYC – Brooklyn
24. Play pinball at the Sunshine Laundromat
No, it’s not a place to freshen up your vacation clothes! Although, technically, you could.
The Sunshine Laundromat in Brooklyn is a laundromat, pinball arcade, and bar all rolled into one.
It’s super cheap to play on the pinball machines and the laundro-bar serves beers and ciders exclusively.
So, even if you’re not looking to do laundry, you can swing by the emporium and have a game and a brew as you enjoy one of the more unusual things to do in NYC.
Address: 860 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn New York
Hours: The Laundromat is open daily from 7:00 am to 2: am but the pinball backroom doesn’t open up until 2:00 pm.
Price: A single pinball game here is a mere $0.75.
How to Get There: Take the G to Greenpoint Avenue station and walk from there.
25. Travel back in time at the New York Transit Museum
Even if you don’t visit City Hall Station, the New York Transit Museum itself is one of the most unique things to do in NYC.
Located on Court Street in Brooklyn, the museum occupies a decommissioned subway station.
Plus, permanent displays here will take you through the history of New York’s public transportation system and show you how it was built and evolved over the years.
The collection also dives into the culture and etiquette of subway travel and decorum at street level.
The highlight of the museum though is the exhibition of retro carriages and buses that evoke the glory days of 20th-century travel.
Address: 99 Schermerhorn St Brooklyn, New York, 11201
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturday/Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children (2-17) and seniors (62+), and free on Wednesdays.
How to Get There: If you’re coming from Manhattan, take the 4/5 train to Borough Hall station and walk from there.
26. Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Unlike it’s famous relative in the Bornx, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is one of the most amazing hidden gems in NYC that is postively brimming over with botanical bliss.
So, avoid the crowds in the Bronx and come here instead to enjoy Bonsai trees that are 300+ years old, a full-on Japanese garden (also the largest in the USA), Cherry Blossom trees, and more.
Also, be sure to take a stroll through my personal fave, the Shakespeare Garden. It’s a really neat place that features all sorts of plants mentioned in the uber-famous writer’s plays.
Address: 900 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11238
Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (March through October). The gardens close at 4:30 pm instead of 6:00 pm in November and are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm in December and February.
Price: Tickets are $18 per person with free Friday mornings from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm (March through November). Last admissions are also thirty minutes before the garden closes.
How to Get There: Take the 2/3 train to Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum station.
27. Tour the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Looking for one of the most unique things to do in NYC in winter and for a bit of yuletide cheer?
If so then check out Dyker Heights.
After all, it’s an understatement to say that this part of NYC.goes to town with its holiday decorations and lights.
That’s why, one of the most unusual things to do in NYC in December is to visit Dyker Heights in Brooklyn.
Because this iconic residential area is all about Christmas and when late November comes around the houses are decked to the roof with festive lights, trees, wreaths, nutcracker statues, and trinkets.
Home owners welcome tourists to visit, so don’t be shy and take a whole lot of photos.
You can visit independently or even join a tour.
Address: From 83rd St. to 86th St. between 11th Ave. and 13th Ave, in Dyker Heights Brooklyn.
Hours: Lights come on after sundown (best seen between 5 pm and 9 pm), daily, from late
November through early January (if you go after December 25th, it will be a lot less crowded).
Price: Free, unless you do the tour which is around $56 per person.
How to Get There: Take the D train from Rockefeller Center to 71st Street station and walk
28. Sip wine at Brooklyn’s only rooftop vineyard
No need to trek to Napa to taste the best wines in the US!
Because Rooftop Reds is a Brooklyn-based winery complete with a literal vineyard that grows on the terrace of this unique wine destination.
In fact, Brookyln’s first and only rooftop vineyard lets you sample their wines with a view of Manhattan, making it one of the most unusual things to do in NYC.
The boutique wine menu includes red, white, and rosè but beer and cider are available for non-wine drinkers.
Pair your chosen poison with light sliders or a wood-fired pizza since Il Porto Pizzas have a partnership and will deliver your order to the roof!
Live music acts perform at weekends so snap up a table (bookings are mandatory, FYI) and make a night of it.
Address: 63 Flushing Ave Building 275, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Friday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Price: Wines on tap starting at $13.00 per glass.
How to Get There: Take the A/F train to York Street station and walk from there.
Unusual Things to do in NYC – Queens
29. Visit the Socrates Sculpture Park
Queens often doesn’t feature highly on your typical NYC itinerary.
Yeah, Manhattan tends to hog the limelight so even paying a visit to this outlying borough constitutes one of many unique things to do in NYC.
But there are tons of things to see and do in Queens, starting with the Socrates Sculpture Park.
This outdoor gallery appeared on the scene in 1985, courtesy of Queens-based sculptor, Mark di Suvero.
It occupies a former landfill site and is nestled on the banks of the East River, with views of Manhattan.
Sculptures on display change frequently and it’s a peaceful spot to appreciate modern art. Naturally, it’s especially appealing during the summer season since there are plenty of beaches right nearby.
Address: 32-01 Vernon Boulevard / Long Island City, NY 11106
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to sunset.
How to Get There: Take the N/W train to Broadway station and walk eight blocks to the park.
30. Explore film at the Museum of the Moving Image
While you’re in Queens, here’s another one of the most unusual things to do in NYC to check out.
The Museum of the Moving Image explores the past, present, and future of film and digital culture.
Permanent exhibitions showcase the likes of the Kaufman Astoria Studio and the groundbreaking work of Jim Henson.
Temporary displays dive into other pivotal moments in film history or cast a spotlight on a specific director or medium. So, it’s definitely a good idea to consult what’s on before rolling on up.
In addition, the museum screens tons of movies, sallowing you to catch your favorite flick on the big screen.
Pro Tip: Stop by for FREE admission on Friday evenings between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm.
Address: 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: Tickets cost between $9 and $15 per person.
How to Get There: Take the E/M/R train to Steinway Street station.
31. Surf at Rockaway Beach
Surfing probably isn’t at the top of your agenda when planning a city break.
But, NYC is known for its awesome sandy beaches.
And some of the city’s best and most accessible beaches are located in Queens.
So, surfing at Rockaway Beach is one of the most unique things to do in NYC in summer or even winter since this epic beach benefits from year-round surf.
Although, if you don’t want to try it for yourself, you can always roll up and watch the locals hone their skills while you dig into some pizza and ice cream.