New York is not short on big ticket tourist attractions and there’s certainly more than enough to warrant a second, third or fourth visit. But what if you’ve already covered off all the obvious places? (Looking at you Top of The Rock, Brooklyn Bridge, 5th Avenue and all the filming locations from Sex & The City!) This list of cool things to do in New York is for anyone who is looking for something a bit different to discover in NYC, particularly if it’s not your first visit.
PS We spent 2 months as honorary New Yorkers earlier this year. Found out what we thought about living in the Big Apple here.
New in NYC for 2019/20
The Vessel at Hudson Yards – Are you even on Instagram if you haven’t spotted photos of the stunning, scalable sculpture known as The Vessel at Hudson Yards? Featuring 154 flights of stairs that, erm, go nowhere, climbing The Vessel is a fun, free thing to do in New York if you enjoy photographing interesting angles and new perspectives of NYC.
The High Line – New York’s elevated, urban park on a disused freight line was recently extended to take you directly into Hudson Yards, so you can take a stroll from Chelsea to The Vessel enjoying the sculptures, street art and views of Manhattan along the way.
Time Out Market New York – The newest food hall filling bellies in NYC is the Time Out Market at Empire Stores in DUMBO. Featuring a selection of New York’s best eats – from pancakes by Clinton St. Baking Company to Juliana’s pizzas (by New York pizza legend Patsy Grimaldi) – come to the Time Out Market for the food but make sure you stay for the views. The market’s rooftop terrace overlooks both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and is especially pretty at sunset.
TWA Hotel – Take a trip back to the Golden Age of travel with a stay at TWA Hotel – the hip, new hotel at JFK Airport. The 60’s era TWA Terminal, an architectural marvel of curves and light, has been transformed into a boutique hotel that the Jetsons would be proud of.
The cavernous hotel lobby comes complete with clicking departures board and ‘pilot’ staffing the information desk, while brand new wings host the 60s style hotel rooms. There’s a pool and bar with runway views on the rooftop and a cocktail lounge in ‘Connie’, an aircraft that sits on the tarmac just outside the large lobby windows. Minutes from the Air Train, TWA is the only on-airport hotel at JFK and they offer rooms by the day, so it’s a great way to end a trip to NYC if you have a late flight.
Seaport District & Pier 17 – You might think you’ve explored every corner of Manhattan but have you made it to the Seaport District? Tucked away in Lower Manhattan, a short walk from Wall Street, is this historic, waterfront area where old warehouses have been converted into funky eateries and fashion boutiques from the likes of SJP (yes, SATC’s Carrie) and Italian luxury concept store 10 Corso Como. The adjacent piers offer unobstructed views of the Brooklyn Bridge and you’ll find pop up events, bars and markets hosted throughout the year.
Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway – If you fancy escaping the New York traffic why not take a ride on the country’s only aerial commuter tramway. The short tram ride to Roosevelt Island takes only a couple of minutes and the cost of a metro ticket but you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the city. With plenty of parks and a public pool, this is a great place to come in the summer when the city gets a bit stinky!
DeKalp Market Hall – A lot of first-timers visiting New York make it to the Chelsea Market but you’ll find far more locals (and a lot better food in my opinion) at the DeKalp Market Hall in Brooklyn. Bagels, burgers, falafel, cake pops and cookies are on the menu from over 40 vendors in this basement food hall. You can also try a meat-filled sandwich from NYC institution Katz Deli, whose iconic East Village deli featured in that scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Levain Cookies – Please get yourself a giant, gooey, chewy cookie from Levain Bakery while in NYC. If you haven’t already tried what are considered the best cookies in the city (and I have to agree) do yourself a favour and add this Upper West Side bakery to your itinerary.
Cookie DŌ – A close rival to the Levain cookies for best sweet treat in NYC is Cookie DŌ, who offer a range of mouth-watering flavours of edible, gourmet cookie dough. They have a pink, neon-lit store near Washington Square Park and you can find them at the Time Out Market in DUMBO too.
Aussie brunch – When you’re done with the quintessential New York brunches (is it just me or do many of them feature booze?!) I heartily recommend you check out some of the city’s awesome Aussie cafes and coffee shops. I’ve popped a full list of the best ones here for you.
Tours and Activities
If you’d like some expert guidance around New York here are a couple of tours that offer a new perspective on the city.
Sarah Funky – Uncover New York secrets with local travel lover and YouTuber Sarah Funky. I discovered Sarah on Instagram and love her passion and knowledge on all things NYC – from dive bars to hidden parks. She offers a range of tours with different themes including foodie feast and holidays.
Get Your Guide – You can also instantly book a huge range of local tours with Get Your Guide. (I use this website a lot on my travels and *disclaimer* I am also an affiliate for them.) Here are a few suggestions I think you might like:
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