With so many things to do and see in New York City, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the choices of day tours and attractions. NYC is home to some of the most crowded boroughs, some of the tallest skyscrapers in the USA and some of the most spectacular attractions you will ever see. And while it comes as no surprise why NYC is called the Big Apple, it’s still nice for a big city to have small moments of brilliance. It’s true that everyone should see the Statue of Liberty, the Guggenheim and Central Park at least once, it’s okay to skip some of the headlines and see a few sights off the beaten path. From stunning works of art to secret gardens, create a day tour that reveals the city hidden beneath the surface.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect place for a picnic or a quirky art exhibit, check out our list of the best off the beaten-path places in New York:
Home to foul-smelling fruits, Durian’s gives new meaning to needing a breath of fresh air.
Located at the corner of Grand Street and Bowery, you might need to wait across the street while your bestie chows down.
The Met Breur
Located on Madison Ave, this must-see museum has something for everyone. From interesting exhibit tours to tasty bites in the Flora Bar, this off the beaten path spot is sure to please.
Bartow Pell Mansion
Located in the Bronx, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is only a few miles from Manhattan. It’s gorgeous Greek Revival rooms are one of the best off the beaten path secrets this 19th-century museum, which is conveniently located in Pelham.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Also known as Sailor’s Snug Harbor, this Staten Island cultural and botanical center is one of New York’s most unusual attractions. From horticulture to performing arts, you’ll be happy you made this stop on one of your day tours of New York.
City Reliquary Museum
This non-profit museum is also on the list of unusual attractions to see in NYC. Although it’s technically located in Brooklyn, the City Reliquary Museum was originally a window display in David Herman’s apartment, which gained attention as city dwellers quickly spread the word about the interesting visual display. With only a push of a button, you enter a visual and auditory eutopia that won’t soon be forgotten.
Coined the tallest building in the world for 17 years, the Woolworth Building is worth seeing. The lobby architecture and history, making it one landmark you don’t want to miss.
New York Historical Society
The New York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City. Deemed one of America’s most prominent cultural institutions, this historical monument is dedicated to bringing awareness to many of the issues that surround our ancestors.
Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park a public park and outdoor museum that’s located one block from the Noguchi Museum in Astoria. In addition to its eclectic exhibit space, the park offers educational programs and a unique artist residency program.
Botanical Garden in Brooklyn
If you’re ready to go off-the-beaten-path, this breathtaking 52-acre urban garden can’t be missed on your next trip to NYC! Founded over a century ago, this bountiful botanical garden creates a green space loved by both locals and tourists alike.
Museum of Moving Images
If you are a movie buff, head over the Museum of Moving Images, which is located in Queens. Home to over 400 classic and contemporary films, you can view restored prints from the some of the world’s leading archives.
Evolution Nature Store
If natural history is your thing, you need to check out the Evolution Nature Store at 687 Broadway. Skulls and skeletons hand from the ceiling while tribal art fills glass cases, all for your viewing pleasure.
Take a walk down Church Street in Tribeca and keep your eyes peeled for a sign that reads The Dream House. Not your typical dream home, once inside you’ll understand why. Created by La Monte Young in 1933, you’ll experience a variety of sounds and lights that demand attention.
Technology never looked so cool than at Gulliver’s Gate. As large as a full city block, this interactive world of miniature exhibits include all of New York City’s major landmarks.
If you are feeling hungry, head to Goldbar, where you can indulge your taste buds while gazing at the walls lined with golden skulls, which make for the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram shoot.
The Baby Grand
If you are a closet Karaoke lover, you’ll adore this tiny spot. With only a four-meter stage, The Baby Grand is the perfect place to croon the night away after exploring the city.
Immerse yourself in culture and beautiful music at the Juilliard School. Walk the same halls hat many of your favorite composers did and learn why this institution is known worldwide. Learn what it takes to be accepted at this prestigious music school while watching budding musicians in action.
Although it’s not really a tour, the Brooklyn Brainery is still a cool place you need to check out. Here, you can learn how do just about every creative activity you can imagine. If you’re more of a leader, why not stop by and help others learn the basics of your favorite hobby?
Louis Armstrong House
If you’re ready to see where Louis Armstrong used to write letters, entertain friends and make reel-to-reel tapes, head to Corona. Afterwards stroll the same hallway Louis did with his neighbors, which includes Dizzy Gillespie. This is the perfect trip is sure your favorite history buff and jazz lover!
Museum of Interesting Things
Sure, all museums are home to interesting things, but this museum kicks things up a notch. Located on Prince Street, The Museum of Interesting Things is home to all types of unique gadgets, which includes toys, art, photography and household goods.
Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt
Not your typical tour, but definitely worth the trip! Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt is a great place to visit art exhibits and sip a delicious cocktail, especially in the summer. Children are allowed to visit the exhibits as well.
National Lighthouse Museum
If you’re looking a little less glitz and glamour, check out the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island. Originally known as The Quarantine, the present-day site of this museum, which previously served as a holding area for immigrants who had fallen ill with smallpox and typhoid.
Looking for somewhere to get your laugh on? The Secret Loft in Brooklyn offers cheap drinks, free pizza and cute pugs you can play with. Accommodating only 150 people, you’re privy to the best comedy spot in town!
Created by Tom Rosenthal, the Alamo has been standing since 1967. Make a beeline to Astor Place where you can test your strength and try to make it spin! Just be sure to bring your camera to capture the moment!
Museum of Sex
After you’ve toured MOMA, why not head over the Museum of Sex? Opened in 2002, you must be over 18 to enter. Once inside, you’ll learn about everything from robotic sex to how condoms are made. And it’s okay because we wanted to visit it too!
Just one block from City Hall, Beekman Street is home to some of New York’s most iconic architecture. The Victorian-style buildings are full of breathtaking atriums that will make your Instagram shine!
The Graffiti Wall of Fame
NYC is the best place to discover urban art in the most unexpected places. And ever since Keith Haring first splashed this wall with color in 1982, it’s been a go-to destination for tourist and locals alike. The Graffiti Wall in Bowery takes urban art to another level!
Fort Tyron Park
Your day tour of the city’s beaten path should include this beautiful chapel reminiscent the English countryside. One of the city’s hidden gems, Fort Tyron Park features a reassembled chapel. It’s a world of gardens, wildlife, thick stone walls and gorgeous stained glass. Once you arrive, you won’t believe you’re still in New York City.
Alice Austen House
When you think of New York, Staten Island probably doesn’t come to mind. Yes, it’s a little quieter, but it has so many interesting sites to see. Rich in culture, The Alice Austen House is home to one of history’s first professional female photographers. When you head to Staten Island, not only can you visit this famous site, but you also have views of Lady Liberty, New York Harbor and Coney Island. Just don’t forget to grab a pizza of pizza for the ferry ride back!
Roosevelt Island SmallPox Hospital
Don’t worry. You won’t need a vaccination after visiting this monument on Roosevelt Island. Previously known as Blackwell’s Island, you can visit the hospital where more than 7,000 patients were treated for this deadly plague from 1856 to 1875.
If teeth and bones make you shriek in delight, we have a surprise for you. Obscura is a charming store, which is home to an amazing variety of medical antiques,taxidermied pets and prosthetic limbs. Magic lanterns and collections of pinned insects are also sure to make you squirm and squeal.
The Back Room (Lower East Side)
The Back Room is one of only two speakeasies in New York City that operated during Prohibition and is still in existence today. It is a timeless example of the underbelly of New York past. The original 1920’s speakeasy, known simply as “The Back of Ratner’s,” played host to many theater and movie actors of the “Roaring Twenties,” as well as famous gangsters of the era.
Hidden Museum @ ChinaTown
Located inside a converted freight elevator in Cortland Alley in Chinatown, this modern natural history museum is home to an eclectic collection of exhibits including the chronology of Corn Flakes, toothpaste exhibits from the globe and Cambodian menu photo rejects. Be sure to plan accordingly since this cultural hotspot is only open Thursday through Sunday. Admission is on a pay-as-you-wish basis, but the suggested donation is $5.
Le French Diner in East Village
The locale that everyone dreams of living near, this tiny restaurant has it all: a chalkboard menu, a kitchen that makes you feel better about your pint-sized apartment and tables so small that you can only invite three of your closest friends. If the atmosphere doesn’t woe you, trying the beef bourguignon should do the trick.
The Secret Room at Bell Book and Candle in Greenwich Village
Finding this gem is worth the miles you’ll rack up on your Nikes. Located in Greenwich Village, you’ll be taken from the 5,000-square foot restaurant to a hidden area just behind a fake wall, where you can dine surrounded by traditional New York City brick and wallpaper of scantily-clad dames.
MilkMade in Carroll Gardens
Made-to-order ice cream has become so ubiquitous that most companies need to kick things up a notch if their want to impress ice cream connoisseurs. That’s why we’re happy to report that Milkmade is home to some of the dreamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste. If Hokey Pokey (salted honey ice cream with real manuka honey)and New York Stylin’ ( (signature cheesecake ice cream with a graham crust) sound too delicious to ignore, this tiny “tasting room” in Brooklyn is open daily, beginning in April. Sure, it’s off the beaten path, but how far would you go for ice cream?
Take an Airplane Tour
From New York Harbor to the Brooklyn Bridge, New York is like no other. Every attraction has its own story, which makes this city rich in culture and diversity. And what’s the best way to see everything New York has to offer? By air, of course! An airplane tour takes you to new heights over with a bird’s-eye view of the Big Apple. From Lady Liberty to the amazing Manhattan skyline, you’ll see the city with unparalleled views, which you can only get with an airplane tour! Our comfortable state-art-airplanes are unsurpassed in safety and comfort, giving you a chance to kick back and see the Big Apple is style.
If you’re ready to get on the beaten path, book an airplane tour and see New York from an exciting new perspective.