You may think you’ve taken in all the quirky and eclectic activities that the city has to offer, particularly if you live here. But you may be surprised by some of the unique offerings on this list of things to do in New York City. From unknown, tucked away lounges, to vintage markets, to unusual (and hangover-inducing) bar experiences, there’s something for everyone. Pick your favorite and get started!
Start your day at this farmer’s market in Union Square. Run by GrowNYC, this market specializes in local produce and other foods. GrowNYC is a non-profit working hard to further the betterment of the city through programs like a community garden, and youth education on recycling and other locally solution-oriented topics. You’ll be helping a good cause, and getting the best that NYC has to offer.
Chocolatiers Rick and Michael Mast started Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn in 2007. Artfully crafted with innovative techniques and painstaking attention to detail, this chocolate is worth the trip. Even better, they offer tours of the facility every hour of every day. Chocolate is definitely worthy of the list of things to do in New York City.
You can’t visit New York without taking in some theater. Rather than the typical pricey Broadway fare, take in an experimental show like those offered by Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea. This interactive performance of MacBeth requires attendees to wear masks while interacting with the cast and walking around the venue.
Join the 4000 people who walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on a daily basis. While you’re in the area, take a stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park and let the rugrats take a cruise on the vintage glass-enclosed carousel. They’ll be mesmerized.
Take a trip to Long Island City for some craft brewery hopping. What could be better than a day filled with delicious, hand-crafted beer? Check out Rockaway, Big Alice, and Transmitter. The best part is you won’t even have to designate a driver for the rounds, you can walk between the three facilities.
The Frick Collection
Seasoned New Yorkers (and veteran tourists!) have seen it all when it comes to art and culture – the Met, the Smithsonian, and all the usual places. If you are craving art-savvy sights off the beaten path, check out the Frick Collection. Henry Clay Frick was a New York-based financier, industrialist, and art lover. His collection is on display throughout six galleries in his former home on the Upper East Side, and boasts unique pieces like those of 18th century French painter Francois Boucher. When you get bored of the big art players, put this intimate museum on your list of things to do in New York City.
No, not the famous flying Disney elephant. DUMBO = Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Stroll the quaint cobbled streets of this charming Brooklyn neighborhood and marvel at the bridge’s impressive architecture from a different perspective. While you’re down there, enjoy pizza at the ever-popular Juliana’s, or for a fantastic view of the river (and more upscale pricing) at The River Café, a highly-rated DUMBO icon known for its proclivity to being used as a proposal venue. Now that’s big-city romance.
For those with a truly eclectic, curious streak, the Troll Museum on the Lower East Side might be just what the doll doctor ordered. Proprietress Reverend Jenny, who is all too happy to show off her voluminous gathering of colorful creatures, curates this bizarre, obscure collection of thousands of the odd little toys. Flawless works of art they’re not – due to a steam pipe explosion in 2010 many bear scars or missing parts. However, as Rev Jen is certain to point out, just as with people the flaws add to their character.
This is where things get a little weird (right now you’re thinking that the Troll Museum had already plunged this list over the edge into weirdness – just hold tight), but if you’re truly adventurous, and really want to experience the full impact of the oddest of things to do in New York City, you can handle it. Mehanata is a Bulgarian bar and home to the infamous Siberian Discotheque, housed in the basement of the Lower East Side, in a somewhat unsavory building.
Yet this raucous lounge remains a cult favorite of seasoned New Yorkers. Why? It’s really quite inexplicable but it might have something to do with the Ice Cage in the lower level. You and your friends pay $20 a pop to go into a glass room lined with shelves of vodka. You then have two minutes to down six shots out of jiggers that are made of…yes, ice. Oh, one more thing. You have to wear an authentic Soviet military uniform while doing so. Why? Sorry, gotta go through with it to find out.
From the mundane to the mind-boggling, the Big Apple has something for everyone, plus everything in between. One thing you can be sure of – when you’re done ticking all the interesting activities off this list, you shouldn’t have any trouble sleeping, even if it’s on a hotel bed!