Unique NYC Ideas to Try
On days like these I adore New York City – these fall afternoons when walking through Greenwich Village feels like I’ve stumbled onto the movie set of every idyllic New York-based film I’ve watched growing up. I am sitting in Washington Square Park on the edge of that centre fountain that seems to double as the town’s watering hole where red-faced locals and tourists alike all soak their feet. In front of me hovers the intricately carved arch that looks as though it has been plucked off the Champ de Elysee in Paris and dropped into Manhattan.
The park seems to be the perfect slice of life, representing people from all walks; I watch languidly as kids splash in the fountain, furrowed brow chess players challenge each other in matches, hipster NYU students play guitar on the fields, tourists fiddle with their selfie sticks and iPads and locals casually thumb the pages of whatever book they’re reading. Three girls run through the centre of the fountain, soaking themselves completely to the idle applause of the New Yorkers and tourists, artists and businessmen, students and retirees milling around. In a city where people brush past each other without so much as a second glance, there is something almost magical about all of us being bonded at this moment by that simple, infectious high of a sunny afternoon and the promise of summer ahead.
As a travel writer and blogger, I am only too eager to look towards my next destination and trip on the horizon. Each time I come back from an assignment abroad, returning to New York (and as a result reality) feels like I’m falling from cloud nine, yet on this particular afternoon I’m not dreaming of my next trip but am simply content with old New York and all the promise the city holds. Having lived in the Big Apple for almost four years, there are still things I dream of doing or hope to see! Below I share some unique NYC ideas for any season, beyond the typical tourist attractions.
The High Line
Everyone knows to visit Central Park but few tourists are aware of the High Line, which extends along the west side of Manhattan and borders the Hudson River.
The High Line is a railroad track converted into a park with great views, photo opportunities, nature and food stands.
The Red Hook Ball Fields
On the corner of Clinton and Bay St. in Brooklyn are the Red Hook Ball fields where the Latin community convenes in the summer for informal football matches and family BBQs. What makes the Red Hook Ball fields an NYC bucket list item is the authentic, Latin food that is sold by vendors at the games. Freshly made tacos, generation-old recipes of tamales – families and local vendors convene for an afternoon of authentic, traditional cuisine bonded by nothing more than a love of food and sport.
A Trip to Fire Island
Every summer, Fire Island seems to allude me as I hear more and more about this destination and always wait too long to book a trip. Fire Island is a small island off the south shore of Long Island and is reached by ferry. Home to beaches, charming villages and (evidently) a car-free zone where you can bike around easily, Fire Island is a local getaway that seems to offer a dramatically different world than that of the hot & sticky New York City summer.
The Cloisters is a museum located in Washington Heights in uptown Manhattan. Not many know about The Cloisters (some New Yorkers aren’t even savvy to it) but it’s filled with artifacts from Medieval Europe and looks like a Medieval monastery tucked away in Fort Tyron Park.
Queens Night Market
Newly announced is the Queens Night Market, where every Saturday more than 100 vendors come together and sell art, food and merchandise from around the world. The market is a celebration of the rich, multicultural fabric that makes up Queens and is a glimpse into the many ethnicities (Greek, Colombian, Nepalese, Indian and more) that call this borough of New York home. One of the greatest things about New York City is the ability to discover new cultures and cuisines with the simple swipe of a subway pass or turn of a corner and the Queens Night Market (which I plan to check out this weekend!) seems a great way to eat your way around the world in one place.
Bike to Randall’s Island
I recently bought a bike and made this trip from Astoria (in Queens) to Randall’s island and loved it! It was wonderful to bike across the river and explore Randall’s Island, which is lovely and green and home to mini golf, shooting ranges and other family sports.
Stone Street Historic District
Considered one of the oldest areas in Manhattan, Stone Street is deep in the Financial District and was originally known as “Brewers Street.” The historical district is pedestrian only (a major bonus in a city that is brimming with fast-paced cars and honking cabs) and home to wonderful eateries and little pubs. One such pub is Fraunces Tavern that is in the oldest building in Manhattan and where George Washington himself bid farewell to his troops back in 1783.
Whale Watching in Cape May
Although not in New York City, only four hours away in Cape May, New Jersey, you can go whale watching in the Atlantic Ocean and spot dolphins, humpback whales and other marine life. Since moving to New York, whale watching has been a bucket list item that for one reason or another I have not gotten around to doing. I am happy to say, I have purchased whale watching tickets (which also offers binocular rentals for $5) to go and see my favourite animals in the wild.
Sleep No More
Sleep No More is an interactive theatre production put on by the talented folks at PunchDrunk. Taking place at an abandoned New York hotel-turned theatre set, Sleep No More is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and is bound to be one of the most interesting experiences you’ll have at a play. Without spoiling too much, when you enter Sleep No More you’ll be taken to the Manderley Bar that feels like something taken straight out of the 30s. Slow jazz plays, champagne flows and the room is smokey, offering an ambiance that is equal parts eerie and sexy. When it’s time to enter the “hotel,” you’ll be handed a Venetian-style mask meant to distinguish between the players and the guests. The production acts almost as a “choose your own adventure” play where you can follow actors around the hotel; ultimately giving you a different experience from someone else.