There is more to New York City than the Statue of Liberty. Don’t get us wrong. We love this iconic Statue that was a gift from the French to the US during the American Revolution. We understand its symbolism and appreciate what it represents. What we’re trying to say here is that if you’re planning a trip to New York City soon, there is plenty more that you could get up while in the Big Apple.
Just like any other big city in the world, New York is home to people from all walks of life. All these people bring their different cultures, traditions, art, music, and so much more as they try to make lives for themselves in this concrete jungle. While doing so, they, of course, leave a little bit of themselves all over this big city and this is where we come in.
It is exciting to visit a city that has so much to offer, like New York. There is art, music, a fusion of different cuisines, iconic buildings, all wrapped up for all of us to enjoy. But the thing is, you need to know about it before you can think about adding it onto your itinerary. That’s why we decided to help you out a bit. We did some thorough digging and found some amazing spots hidden in the city that we know, you’ll want to add onto your itinerary when you visit New York. Scroll down below and find out more about these exciting gems.
20 Freedom Tunnel
We start our list off with certainly one of the coolest places to visit in New York City. The Freedom Tunnel was originally called the Amtrak Tunnel but the name changed after Chris “Freedom” Pape, a graffiti artist used some of the walls to create a lot of artwork. It is also positioned where there were shantytowns for the homeless. An interesting aspect about the graffiti artists who used this tunnel is that they would mostly place their artwork under the spots in the tunnel where there are shafts of natural lighting, giving their work “spotlighting”, just like one would get in a high-end art gallery. It is one of the few places in New York where the graffiti artists could work on the walls, without fear of getting arrested.
19 Trinity Place Bank Vault Bar
If you’re tired of having lunch at the same old places and want to switch things up a bit, we think that maybe Trinity Place Bank Vault Bar may just be the place for you. This restaurant is set up in an old bank vault and certainly provides for a different ambiance when eating out. Atlas Obscura describes it in more detail, “Restored from its dusty condition in 2006, the vault is now home to a swish bar befitting its distinguished surroundings. At each end of the bar, the original 5-inch steel walls have been left exposed so cocktail sipping visitors can have a sense of how secure the old vault was”. This intriguing bar is located in lower Manhattan and we’re pretty sure you will be making a stop by here on your next visit to New York.
18 Times Square Hum
Okay, so this item on the list is definitely a fun one to add onto your New York City itinerary. If you’re visiting New York, you’ll most likely head out to Times Square because a trip to this big city is simply incomplete without doing so. While you’re mesmerized by the big city lights, make sure to pass by the pedestrian island that mysteriously gives a humming sound. Artist, Mas Neuhaus installed his art titled “Times Square” and decades later, we can still hear it. The most interesting thing is that many people pass it daily and don’t even know. Just Chasing Rabbits explains that “the installation is not marked in any way. It exists simply for people to stumble upon its very existence”.
17 Rockefeller Center's Rooftop Gardens
Everyone knows how big cities are often referred to as “concrete jungles” because no matter which corner you find yourself in, you are most likely surrounded by concrete from all the tall buildings that exist. It is, therefore, a delight to find out about the Rooftop Gardens that exists at Rockefeller Center. We know about Central Park, which also has beautiful gardens, but now the Rockefeller Center brings us a rooftop garden. This will definitely give you amazing views of the city so be sure to set some extra time out to enjoy the views when visiting this lovely spot.
16 Evolution Nature Store
This one on the list is for all the history fanatics so before we go any further – you’re welcomed. The Evolution Nature Store is filled with a number of natural history objects. It is located in the popular and much-loved SoHo art district and definitely does not disappoint visitors. Atlas Obscura highlights some of the amazing items one can discover there. “Tucked into every corner and crevice of the wood-paneled store are unique natural history collectibles. Framed butterflies and insects line the walls, fossils, and seashells in jars crowd wide tables, tribal art fills glass cases…”This is definitely a spot not to miss as you will be simply lost in all the splendor that you’ll find there.
15 Dream House
Located down Church Street in Tribeca, you will find yourself an experience like no other. Dream House is where sound and light merge and gives us all a little something special. It was created by artist Marian Zazeela and composer La Monte Young back in 1993 and gives visitors a unique fusion of sound and light, which are constantly fluctuating. Atlas Obscura highlights that “Together, the sound and light can be experienced as a new form or new media: the sound light environment…Unless you are completely still, be prepared to encounter a new collection of pitches with every move you make, as you encounter the various resonating sound fields created by Young”.
14 Tom's Restaurant - The Iconic Seinfeld Diner
This one on the list is for the TV fanatics out there. Seinfeld is an American sitcom that was much-loved and it ran from 1989 to 1998. If you’re a true fan, you’ll know that it was created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David and it scooped up many awards while it was on television. Many TV shows have a “commonplace” where many of the actors often meet up. For Seinfeld, it was definitely Tom’s Restaurant. You’ll be glad to know that Tom’s Restaurant is firstly real and is also located at 2880 Broadway in New York City. Now, get out there and live out some of your favorite scenes from the show.
13 City Hall Station
If there’s one place on earth that has an abundance of beautiful, eclectic and interesting spots, it is definitely New York City. The impressive design is probably the first thing you will notice as you set foot in the City Hall station. The curving of the walls and the beautiful ceilings are all works of architecture, Guastavino. This amazing piece of art remained abandoned for decades, until the late ‘80s when the city’s transit museum opened it up to the public for tours where they can enjoy some of the beauty that once was part of an everyday subway ride for many people.
12 Unicorn Tapestries
If you’re a true art and mystery fanatic, then this one on the list will make your New York City trip unforgettable. The Unicorn Tapestries that are found in Cloisters are considered by many in the art realm to be some of the greatest artworks out there. There are a total of 7 tapestries, which depict men hunting down a unicorn through a forest. They eventually catch the unicorn, which is then later resurrected. If you’re wondering what all this means, well, no one actually does. Artsy explains that “its origins and symbolism still baffles scholars. They have been examined, interpreted, and discussed for more than a century, resulting in no definitive conclusion”. While no one can definitely explain what these mean, it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are simply amazing artworks to be admired.
11 Bowling Alley Under Henry C. Frick Collection Museum
At number 11 on the list, we have a little gem which is located under the Henry C. Frick Collection Museum – a bowling alley. From the images, one can definitely conclude that it is certainly one of the most elegant bowling alleys out there. We don’t know about you but we certainly haven’t gone bowling in any place like this. The alley also features a walnut billiard table, that can be also used for playing pool. Perhaps the saddest part about this item on the list is that it is not open for us all to go enjoy some downtime. This space is not open to the public as they would like to preserve a little piece of this history. We get it but we’re certainly not happy about it. We added this one on the list as a reminder that there are many hidden places in New York and unfortunately, we can't get to all of them.
10 The Elevated Acre
We’re halfway through the list and hope that you’re enjoying learning about some of these places that we’ve uncovered. We earlier mentioned the rooftop garden on Rockefeller Center and it seems that it is not the only spot in New York that offers people amazing views alongside a park. 55Water explains that it is “located three stories above the street. It is a full acre park between two towers with a spectacular open view of the City and the East River”. After you’ve had a long day of sightseeing and dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city and want to just chill and take all the beauty of New York in, you can get to the Elevated Acre and watch sunsets that are sure to be breathtaking.
9 Pier 54: Where The Titanic Was Due To Arrive
Titanic is a movie that many of us will remember as being a love story that was met with an inevitable tragic end. This James Cameron hit was also one of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s “roles of a lifetime”. As fans, we know that the Titanic didn’t reach its destination because of that iceberg situation. Pier 54 was the arrival destination that never happened. It turns out that this was not the only tragedy to be linked to Pier 54. Atlas Obscura highlights that “the same pier also played a pivotal role in another ill-fated ship disaster”. To get to the pier and ponder about what could have been, know that it’s located close to 11th Avenue and West 13th Street.
8 Tannen's Magic Store
After the somber reality of the previous item on the list, we just thought that it’s time to lighten the mood up a bit. What better way to lighten up a mood than with magic? We love magic because it is fun, entertaining, and the tricks that are used by magicians simply baffles our minds. It is also great to entertain the kids with so if you’re heading out there with children, this can be a great stop for both you and them. Tannen’s Magic Store was founded by Louis Tannen all the way back in 1925 and is the oldest operating magic store in the city. This tells us that it will have all the tricks that will bring some much-needed humor and fun to your trip.
7 Different Speakeasies
Now, we certainly know that everyone needs a little break sometimes, especially when you’ve been out sightseeing in the massive city of New York. If you’re wondering, a “speakeasy” in New York refers to small bars that are now often hidden and almost impossible to know about or find as they normally are located behind nondescriptive doors. The best part about speakeasies in New York is that they are usually very intimate so you will be relaxing around a small crowd if you’re not into big, loud places. New York is filled with many incredible Speakeasies including Angel’s Share, which is in East Village and Attaboy, located in the Lower East Side. We also love how each of them has character and this is a great place to start if you would like to mix and mingle with some of the locals.
6 Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital
If you’re looking for a landmark that is outside of the norm, then perhaps the Roosevelt Island Smallpox will be just what you’re looking for. This historical landmark offers visitors the abandoned remnants of a former hospital and nursing school. Now, if you know a little about smallpox and its history, without delving too deep into it, you’ll know that it cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people before its vaccine was discovered in 1796. This hospital on Roosevelt Island is where patients were kept who had the disease. It is now open for tours so you too can visit there and have a little glimpse of a sad part of history.
5 Loew's Theater
We all know that the city of New York is often referred to as the “city that never sleeps”. Why? Well, because there is simply so much do here that unless you’re extremely tired and just can’t manage, sleeping is not recommended. We’ve already covered quite a number of hidden spots and interesting restaurants and shops that one can explore when you’re in New York. At number 5 on the list, we bring one of the reasons why many people from around the world, and the US, head to New York – theater. If you’re a lover of the dramatic arts, then you simply cannot leave New York before you head to a theater where you can enjoy some of the best shows in the world.
4 Whispering At Grand Central Terminal
Earlier on the list, we spoke about the interesting Times Square Hum that leaves many people perplexed. At number 4 on this list, we bring you another place that doesn’t necessarily “hum”, but can be a fun adventure if you’re in the mood to share something special with your friends. If you’re around Grand Central Terminal, then you’d better not miss out on this one. The whispering gallery offers friends the chance to share a moment by each standing on opposite corners of the large arch. One friend will then whisper into the corner while the other puts their ear right by the wall and hears all their friend has to share - even the softest of whispers can be heard. The curve of the domed ceiling is apparently the reason why this is possible.
Number 3 on our list is certainly interesting. There is a museum in New York that is dedicated to exploring the objects of modern humanity. It has modern objects from different corners of the world where you can get a glimpse of current events and objects that are used by people. The website explains that “Mmuseumm is a style of storytelling about the modern world. It is a contemporary natural history museum. It is a design museum about people. It is object journalism”. Now, this is certainly not for everyone but if this is your cup of tea, then be sure to add a stop here onto your itinerary.
2 Hidden Tropical Forest
The last thing you would expect to find in New York is a tropical forest. We’ve already covered how a number of buildings have gardens on their rooftops and that we can fathom. But a tropical forest in this concrete jungle? How? Where? Well, it’s located in a Midtown Manhattan office building in East 43rd Street and is an oasis like no other. The building is 12 stories high and features a tropical greenhouse. These beautiful lush trees are open for the public to view all year long so if you’re a little tired and want an escape that will connect you to nature in a small way, this is the perfect spot for you.
1 A Piece Of The Berlin Wall
Finally, number 1 on our list is an item that is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. Untapped Cities explains how a piece of the Berlin Wall found a spot in New York City. “In the early 1980s, artist Theirry Noir began painting the surfaces on the west side of the Berlin Wall, close to his apartment. In an effort to make the wall seem less menacing, other artists joined in, covering various sections of the wall with painted figures and graffiti. The 14-foot tall wall became a huge canvas, giving voice to artists from around the world”. This is, therefore, the perfect spot to head out to when you’re in New York as you will be able to get a piece of not only New York but the beautiful City of Berlin as well.