Central Park, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Met—all these are tourist attractions that are iconic to America’s New York. Due to their popularity, you can expect large crowds of fellow tourists if ever you do decide to visit them. That means you’ll have less space to move around and less time to ponder the actual attractions. Who wants to compete with so many people just to get a slice of New York City, North America?
Thankfully, NYC is laden with hidden treasures. There are several places you can go to learn about New York from a different vantage point. That’ll help you come away with a tourist experience that’s less conventional.
These 5 attractions may not be as flashy or have as much fanfare as the usual go-to spots, but they are no less interesting or reflective of New Yorker culture. If you add these stops to your itinerary, you’ll be in for some interesting day excursions around the Big Apple. Consider staying at a Grand Central Terminal hotel so that you can be near all of these!
Rockefeller Center’s Rooftop Gardens
The Rockefeller Center, in Midtown Manhattan, is known for its wealth of art deco buildings, its busy underground concourse, and its picturesque ice skating rink. But there’s one set of attractions here that people often overlook—or rather, don’t care to “look up.” That’s the rooftop gardens of Rockefeller Center, some of which are accessible to the public via the official Rockefeller Center tour. Here, you’ll get some enviable views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Fifth Avenue, and they’ll be perfect for a snapshot or two. The sequestered greenery, plus features like a reflective pool, provides a welcome respite from the crowds and the noise of New York City.
Grand Central Terminal’s Whispering Gallery
Want to know where in the middle of Grand Central Terminal you can have a whispering duet with your designated travel buddy? Located in the lower concourse of the station is an acoustic anomaly called the “Whispering Gallery.” You and your friend can stand in front of pillars that are thirty feet apart and speak into the Whispering Gallery’s corners. Thanks to the slow, upwards dissipation of the sound, you will be able to hear each other clearly. It’s a delight to see tourists and New Yorkers alike visit the Whispering Gallery and try to talk to each other from afar!
Ruins of the Roosevelt Island Hospital
For those who are fascinated by abandoned, forlorn spaces, the ruins of the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital will be a feast for the eyes. Built-in the 1850s, it was used as the de facto quarantine facility for smallpox for New York’s burgeoning population. You’ll be able to get a view of the ruins from your ride on the Roosevelt Island Tram. You’ll see what remains of the hospital’s gothic granite architecture and what’s been lost thanks to nature taking its course.
The Evolution Store
Would you like to examine fossils, animal skeletons, and preserved specimens in a store instead of inside one of NYC’s popular museums? The Evolution Store in Manhattan’s art district of SoHo will afford you just that. This eerie but nonetheless eye-catching establishment is open every day from 11:00AM to 8:00PM. Don’t shy away from asking about particular bones, relics, or specimens, because Evolution’s shopkeepers have a reputation for being friendly and accommodating.
Mmuseumm, in Cortlandt Alley, is actually a freight elevator that’s used as a makeshift exhibit space. Adhering to a philosophy called “object journalism,” it showcases the opposite of what you’d encounter in a conventional museum. Instead of special objects that inspire awe, the objects in Mmuseumm are often those that are overlooked and otherwise unremarkable. Examples of past collections are tissues used by world leaders, homemade gas masks, and fake American fast food paraphernalia from Iran. Mmuseumm is due to open again in Spring 2020, so be sure to keep an eye out for its newest offerings.
The next time someone tells you that travelling to New York is passé, tell them about this list of uncanny attractions. Which ones are you most excited to visit?