NYC: COOL ACTIVITIES YOU CAN’T DO ANYWHERE ELSE

New York City is a major destination in large part because of its iconic sites; The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, The Empire State Building  and many more. These are the sites most visitors are familiar with. But there are other sites and activities that may not be as well known but are no less spectacular, poignant or just plain fun.  From secret gardens to renovated speakeasies to the ultimate street fair, check out some favorite New York City activities here…direct from the travel blogging community.

VIEW MANHATTAN FROM THE SKY

New York City view

Manhattan view from the helicopter

To experience the ultimate view of the city that never sleeps, there is no better way than to take a helicopter ride over Manhattan. The highlight of your trip will be the bird’s eye view of Manhattan’s iconic skyline and its famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Central Park and, of course, the Statue of Liberty. While it’s definitely not a cheap way to see the city, you can’t beat the views! It’s an unforgettable experience so, whatever you do, don’t forget your camera! Learn more about this exhilarating adventure here.

Cindy Collins’ blog is Free Two Roam.

ATTEND AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE APOLLO IN HARLEM

Visit this legendary theatre where some of the music greats performed; Jimmy Hendrix, The Isley Brothers, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklyn, Ray Charles and many others.

The Apollo Theater in New York City

Amateur Night at The Apollo

On Amateur Night at The Apollo you can cheer budding performers on their way up to stardom- or you can boo a bad performer off the stage.  After the show the stage briefly opens up to a dance venue.  This experience is billed as “The most fun you can have in this town for under $30.” A night you won’t soon forget!

SAMPLE CELEBRITY CHEF MARCUS SAMUELSON’S CULINARY DELIGHTS IN HARLEM

While you’re in Harlem, have dinner at award winning chef, Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster Restaurant. Red Rooster serves comfort food celebrating the roots of American cuisine and the diverse culinary traditions of Harlem.  The food is so good you will want to stop strangers in the street and induce them to taste it.

JAZZ IT UP AT HARLEM’S GINNY’S SUPPER CLUB

After dinner in magical Harlem, end the night at Ginny’s Supper Club,  “the place to be in Harlem.” This is one of Harlem’s best kept secrets; a renovated Harlem speakeasy from the 20s featuring the legendary music of Harlem.

For more Harlem delights see my post,  “Why No Trip to NYC is Complete Without a Visit to Harlem.”

GO ON THE PERFECT NEW YORK CITY WALKING AND FOOD TOUR

The best way to experience a city is walking its streets.  The second best way is to sample its cuisine. Do both…at the same time…with a “multi-ethnic eating tour” at New York City’s Big Onion Tours.  Learn about the city’s immigrants through their food. Tip: Come hungry! Want to know more?  Check out this tasty tour of the Big Onion here.

On Big Onion tours of New York City

Lower Manhattan sights

DISCOVER WHAT REALLY LIES BENEATH NEW YORK CITY’S #7 TRAIN

The area around New York City’s #7 train is Jackson Heights, the most ethnically diverse place on earth. Learn what makes this neighborhood so exciting, vibrant and fun.  For a hint, check out this post.

EXPLORE THE CITY’S HISTORY AT THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

This wonderful museum thrives under the radar and in the shadow of its big brother, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York City has its own museum

A wonderful museum detailing the city’s history

The exhibits showcase the history of the city with imaginative multi-media exhibits from the founding of Manhattan by the Dutch to the chaos of 9/11.   The Museum of the City of New York is across the street from the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. Visit both for a great day in New York’s uptown area.

Talek Nantes’ blog is Travels with Talek.

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CROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE

I had visited Manhattan many times before I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. It is an easy bridge to cross as the pedestrian walkway is over the traffic. It is a free and easy way to get stunning views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Fantastic views of New York City

Fantastic views of New York City from the bridge

EXPLORE BROOKLYN

Speaking of Brooklyn, it is only a bridge away from Manhattan, but a hipper, calmer world away. There you can visit the famous, but dated, Coney Island or the very current DUMBO area right over the bridge.  Want to know more about Brooklyn, check out this post.

There is also the fabulous Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. 

SEE THE U.S. OPEN

At the U.S. Open in New York City

At the U.S. Open

Some of the best tennis in the world happens just east of the city in Queens. If you buy a day pass early in the tournament, which happens at the end of August every year, you can see the biggest names in tennis play from short distances for not too much money.

VISIT NYC DURING THE HOLIDAYS

From the decorated windows of Fifth Avenue to the famous Rockettes show and huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, nothing says Christmas better than NYC.

I know it is the holidays when I am ice skating in Central Park and eating roasted chestnuts from a street vendor.

EXPLORE  THE AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND

The African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan is near the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Here you will learn the history of the African slaves that built much of lower Manhattan. Many were buried in unmarked graves. There is a very touching monument to them that you should be sure to visit. Near there is the Immigrant Museum, so that you can learn about all the cultures that contributed to the melting pot the city is now.

Jamie Italiane-DeCubellis’ blog is Daily Adventures of Me.

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NEW YORK TRANSIT MUSEUM

This museum is located inside a decommissioned subway station in Brooklyn. It provides an awesome look at the history of the transit system in NYC. I really enjoyed reading about how the transit system responded to emergencies in the past (Hurricane Sandy, 9/11, etc.). I also loved walking through all the vintage subway cars on display at the museum. The New York Transit Museum is definitely worth visiting  on your next trip to NYC.

MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE

The Museum of the Moving Image is located in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. It provides an excellent look at the moving image in a variety of ways. They have everything from classic movie props, screenings, sketches, advertisements, lighting systems, production equipment and arcade games. There are lots of interactive exhibits you can try and the exhibitions are always changing throughout the year.

Museum of the Moving Image in New York City

Even the restaurant is a work of art in the museum

I recommend going on Friday when the museum is FREE from 4pm-8pm.

SMORGASBURG

Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in the United States. The big event is every Saturday from April-October in Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and every Sunday in Prospect Park. There are hundreds of vendors set up offering delicious food, tasty sweets, hearty beers, unique crafts and much more. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon with friends and do some people watching.

Nathaniel Perlow’s blog is Nate Meets World.

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PARTY QUIETLY

One of the best experiences we had in NYC was attending a silent disco. What’s a silent disco? It’s when hundreds of people put on wireless headphones and dance to different styles of music through their headphones. People of all ages, races and music preferences dance and sing to each other at one of these events. It’s crazy!

Part quietly in New York City

Party quietly at a silent disco

The headphones glow in three colors; red, blue and green and YOU get to choose which style of music you want to hear. We have been to events where there are 3 live DJ’s on a stage battling for your attention and monthly dancing tours that take you through the NYC subway system. Each event is unique and you will miss out on the best time of your life if you don’t go to one of these events when you are visiting! To learn more about this cool and unusual experience,  check out QuietEvents.com

Gina’s and Zeke’s blog is Jet Set and Forget

What is YOUR favorite New York City activity? We’d love to know.

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3 Comments

  1. Such a great list! We are leaving the NYC area soon and reading this list makes us not want to leave! We have never been to Ginny’s Supper Club so now we have a bucket list item for NYC to tackle before we head out of the states.

    1. Thanks. If you are leaving New York City it must be for something wonderful. Good luck. You can always come back.

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