Ask any New Yorker and he or she will tell you that the city can be overwhelming for anyone, especially newcomers. It is near impossible to keep track of the latest and hippest place to be or the bands coming to town over the weekend. Whether you are an art lover, a foodie or just looking to explore the city more, here is a list of six less touristy activities you should include in your NYC must-do bucket list to get the most out of your experience while staying away from big crowds and long queues.
Visit the Tenement Museum
An experienced Statue of Liberty cruise says the best way to familiarize yourself with New York City is by starting with its history by visiting places like the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, Brooklyn Bridge and the Tenement Museum. Before its expansion to become the Metropolitan hub it is, Manhattan experienced an influx of European immigrants and factories. The Tenement Museum hosts literal historical walking tours of landmarks along the Lower East Side, as well as replicas of tenement apartments, bringing some of NYC’s rich history into the 21st century.
If you are an art lover, Chelsea is the neighborhood you should be visiting, especially during weekdays when you will find numerous gallery receptions open and, best of all, free to the public. Dozens of transformed industrial spaces and warehouses give way to some of the world’s best galleries in a radius of just 10 to 15 blocks. For the complete gallery hopping experience, make a stop at the Jonathan Levine Gallery for art inspired by early comics and graffiti, and the Gladstone Gallery for conceptual and minimal art.
Go on a Bagel Tour!
While pizza is considered to be New York City’s unofficial staple food, the Big Apple is also famous as being the host of some of the finest bagels in America. The huge array of food options available to you might seem overwhelming when you take into account the hundreds of street vendors dotting every corner, but you are better off having a plan, and starting your bagel tour route in Murray Hill as you work your way towards Stuytown. Give Ess-a-Bagel on Third Avenue in Stuytown a try for breakfast – and you will have enough carbs to work off.
Become a Star at Open Mic Mondays
First of all, this activity is not for the faint hearted because Open Mic Mondays at Nuyorican Café are equivalent to what the Apollo Theater represents to comedians. However, it’s not as daunting, but the show is a frequent stop-over for many intellectuals and artists. Whether you settle on spoken word or a song in any genre, the feeling of standing in front of total strangers is a lifetime experience you should certainly not miss – especially on a world stage!
View the NYC Skyline
NYC’s skyline is famous for offering breathtaking views, and one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of it is by watching the sunset from the city’s different boroughs. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier, in lower Manhattan, is the perfect spot; while Queens gives you a very different angle of midtown. One of the best spots in Queens for sundown viewing is at the Pepsi Cola billboard located in Long Island City.
Attend a Light Show
The annual New York City’s Festival of Lights highlights a dazzling show that features fluorescent lights bouncing off Brooklyn’s downtown oldest buildings. However, the crowds and cold can be discouraging, but once you bundle up with your family, it is a show worth the hassle!