If you’re headed to the Big Apple, it’s natural that you’ll want to do all the classic things, like visiting the Statue of Liberty, going up the Empire State Building and taking a stroll through Central Park. There are even a number of city passes available that will save you some money doing all that, but what do you do once you’ve seen all the big sights?
We’ve put together a list of the 5 most unusual things to do in New York City!
1) Head to the beach
If you need to cool off, head to Coney Island (it’s about a 45 minute subway ride from Manhattan) and make yourself at home on its golden sandy beach. There’s also an old-fashioned boardwalk filled with amusements and fairground rides: the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Coney Island is also the birthplace of the hot dog! You’ll find plenty of places to chow down on the boardwalk, although the most famous ‘dog has to be Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Delicious!
2) Visit Roosevelt Island
Although technically part of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is still relatively unknown by tourists. The best way to get to the island is by tram (which is technically a cable car), accessible at 60th Street and Second Avenue.
Before undergoing development for residential property, Roosevelt Island was home to the city’s prison and a large hospital. Today, it offers lovely riverside walks without the crowds and beautiful views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. At the southern tip of the island is the FDR Memorial Four Freedoms Park, opened in 2012 as a memorial for President Roosevelt and his belief in four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship God in one’s own way, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
3) Hidden subway ride
There’s something mysterious about the tunnels which run below the city, right? Well, you can learn more about New York’s subway system at the Brooklyn-based New York Transit Museum, which conducts regular tours of the underground network.
However, be warned: you have to be serious about seeing this incredible spectacle, as the tours are restricted to museum members, with tickets currently priced at $90. You’ll also require a government-issued ID and the signing of a release.
It’s worth it, though, as the tours take you to the beautifully preserved Old City Hall station, which opened in 1904 as part of the first subway system; it has chandeliers and tiled, vaulted ceilings that look nothing like the current, cramped subway stations.
4) Learn about New York’s oldest residents
Believe it or not, there are many tours which explore some of New York’s most beautiful churches and cemeteries, including Brooklyn’s sprawling Green-Wood Cemetery, where influential US figures “Boss” Tweet and Leonard Barnstein were buried. Over in Harlem, the elegant Trinity Cemetery & Mausoleum is the final resting place of John Jacob Astor IV (who famously died on the Titanic), Ed Koch, and Jerry Orbach. And the New York Marble Cemetery, a secret, half-acre spot hidden down an alleyway in the East Village, is only open to the public once a month – very mysterious!
5) Go on a prohibition tour
During the 20s and early 30s, prohibition took place in the United States, meaning it was illegal to sell alcohol. However, in New York, people went on selling and buying alcohol, albeit in secret. Concealed bars became a thing of the norm, providing people with a safe place to enjoy a gin and tonic on the sly!
Today, prohibition-style bars are extremely popular, with bars hidden in inconspicuous buildings, and even bars concealed behind revolving doors! Get a feel for how people lived during prohibition whilst enjoying a cocktail or three.