Millions of people visit New York City daily. When you’re in the heart of this renowned tourist destination, what should you do if you’ve already seen all the main attractions? The answer: escape the crowds of tourists, and head toward the city’s hidden gems. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or solo, you’re in for an unforgettable time. As for accommodations, stay at one of many New York City vacation rentals situated close to these incredible secret spots.
1. Greenacre Park
If you ever find yourself tired of Manhattan’s noise and crowds, take a walk through Greenacre Park located on East 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Summer or spring is the best time to visit the park, as you get to enjoy this incredibly green oasis in the city with a 20-foot waterfall in the middle at its prettiest, but if you find yourself here in winter, stop by Bluestone Lane coffee shop to get a cup of hot cocoa that’s sure to make your walk even better.
2. High Bridge
The first bridge that comes to mind when talking about NYC is Brooklyn Bridge that hosts thousands of people every day, but what about High Bridge? This is the oldest bridge in the city and a must-see for everyone who enjoys long walks or bike rides combined with spectacular views. The bridge connects Manhattan to The Bronx, rising 140 feet over the Harlem River, so when you’re on the bridge, it seems like the entire city is at your feet.
3. Renwick Smallpox Hospital
Situated on Roosevelt Island, this hospital was built in 1856 and served as a quarantine institution for smallpox patients for a large part of its history. This abandoned hospital was designed in Gothic style, so it looks more like a castle than a hospital. This stronghold of mystery is not far away from the city, and the tram can get you to the Island quickly. Surrounded by a spooky atmosphere, it’s one of the most unusual locations in NYC, but breathtaking views of the Hospital and its surroundings are worth the trip, even if it sends some shivers down your spine.
During Prohibition, people still found a way to enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of good beer. The bars turned into speakeasies and were taken underground and thoroughly hidden from the authorities. Nowadays, you can still find an old-fashioned speakeasy in NYC if you know where to look. For instance, the Raines Law Room at the William features a semi-secret entrance with a door bell. This bar serves Prohibition-era drinks, so drop by for an old-fashioned cocktail, or book a private room for a stylish party with friends.
5. Greenwood Cemetery
Do you think that cemeteries are a place for sorrow and tears? Greenwood Cemetery can prove you wrong. Built in 1838 in Brooklyn, not far from the main city arteries, it stands out from other cemeteries due to its sculptures and architecture. The crypts are built in Gothic style with lacy, sophisticated elements. The extravagant marble statues and huge brownstone mausoleums are a must-see. The grounds also feature 478 acres of high hills, green valleys, lovely ponds and hidden paths.
6. 5 Pointz
Do you enjoy modern art? Then you should definitely stop by 5 Pointz, which you can probably recognize from movies and music videos. The Neptune Meter Factory, built in 1892, became a graffiti mecca. A building in Long Island City in Queens was transformed from a boring brick construction into an open-sky museum. Artists from all parts of the world contributed by decorating the walls of the factory with graffiti. You can see different themes, including equality, war, racism, love, nature, on the walls, which was the goal of the founders of this place — to show people that real graffiti is not a crime but an art.
7. Alice in Wonderland, Central Park
Central Park is on the list of every tourist, and you can never get tired of it, but there is one hidden place known mostly by locals — a sculpture of Alice and other creatures from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the iconic book known and loved by both kids and adults. Pack a picnic basket at you vacation rental and bring it with you for you and your children to enjoy in the company of the quirky Madhatter with his famous cylinder, the funny March Hare, the mysterious and smart Cheshire cat, and the small but courageous Dormouse.
8. Love Quotes
While you’re still in Central Park, take a closer look at the hundreds of benches located there. People who visit the park often gaze at the natural wonders but rarely notice the writing on the benches. Most of the benches have love quotes or simply special words that people wanted to say to their loved ones engraved on them, for instance, “And she will one day say yes” — what a romantic way to propose! Sad, funny, romantic, inspiring –- these quotes symbolize the soul of New Yorkers, their tenderness and sensitivity. Walk slowly and look carefully to see the real heart of NYC.
9. 1st Street Garden
Located on 48 East 1st Street, this small garden is a true symbol of freedom of speech, self-expression, and the power of community. The grounds where the park stands now used to be an empty space which locals turned into a park, but the city decided to tear it down a few years back. The community united and stood up for their creation, and now the park is open to the public. It hosts numerous performances and events every month, raising questions of preservation, sustainability, ecology, equality, and all the other topics that are so pressing nowadays. It is open 24/7, so you can stop by anytime.
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