Top 20 Things To Do in New York City Off the Beaten Path

New York City, also known as the Big Apple, attracts millions of visitors each year. You may plan to visit some of the iconic spots in the city, with stops planned at the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, but have you considered these spots? Here are 20 things to do in New York City off the beaten path.

20. The Museum of the Moving Image

Located in Queens, this museum is a tribute to all things in the cinema, television and digital media world. The museum has a rich collection of exhibits and installations, plus a full calendar of screenings for kids and adults, with over 400 movies shown each year. There are also over 1,400 artifacts representing the moving image throughout the years. This year they’ll add a Jim Henson exhibit.

19. Top of the Rock

Rockefeller Center is a tourist destination for its ice skating rink and the Tour at NBC Studios, but have you ever been to the top of the Rock? You’ll find the views breathtaking and maybe even better than those at the Empire State Building. Once down on the ground floor, try taking the Rockefeller Center Tour, where you’ll be taught about some of the best works of art that can found there, plus the sculptures and garden spaces.


18. The Morgan Library

The Morgan Library is the former home of Pierpont Morgan, who amassed a huge personal library with his wealth from the financial markets. His son, the famed J.P. Morgan, decided to share the museum with the public, and made it into an institution in 1924. The impressive library is home to rare manuscripts and books, with a rotating calendar of exhibits, which included Charles Dickens’ works, Warhol paintings, and more.


17. Socrates Sculpture Park

Long Island City, Queens is home to the Socrates Sculpture Park. The park is full of installations of contemporary art free to view everyday. Each year, May through September, the park showcases exhibits of up-and-coming artists, plus a billboard that changes every year. This neat little space was once an abandoned landfill, and now is a vibrant space full of art, yoga, and other family calendar events.

16. Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts

New York City has plenty to explore, but a scavenger hunt is a way to liven up your visit. If you’re traveling with at least three people, you may find that you want to participate in a Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunt through New York City. There are tours centered around the Met Museum, Grand Central Terminal, in SoHo and more.

15. Lower East Side Tenement Museum

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is located in a Manhattan building that once housed an estimated 7,000 people in the 1860’s to the 1930’s. Restored with exhibits recreating how the building’s tenants once lived, the Italianate museum is a tribute to NYC’s immigrants and their contribution to the city’s heritage.


14. Modern Pinball NYC

If you’re bored on a rainy or cold day, maybe stop in at Modern Pinball NYC. Featuring a collection of pinball games from the 1970’s to today, the arcade has over 30 games, and lets you play by hour, instead of using tickets, cards or tokens.

13. The Paley Center for Media

The NYC branch of the Paley Center is another must for media fans depending on the calendar. The facility regularly has panels with people from your favorite shows, and is also a huge archive of video clips. Just keep an eye on the center’s calendar, and you’ll see something you might be interested in.

12. Madison Square Park

This quiet little park is home to the first Shake Shack location, and is also close to the Flatiron. Public art, public readings, a playground and beautiful gardens are a few of the things that await you here.


11. SNL the Exhibition

Fan of Saturday Night Live? This exhibit is a tribute to the classic television show. You’ll see how the show gets put together in a week, then you can see items including costumes, props and even Wayne’s World’s couch.

10. Pizza Kitchen Tours

New York City is known for its pizza and what better way to explore a slice of the Big Apple than with a pizza tour? You can find pizza tours in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, and will get to see the kitchens behind some of the best pizza in the city.

9. The Slipper Room

Want to see burlesque or magic shows? What about comedy? The Slipper Room is one of NYC’s renowned venues to see a little bit of everything. Formed in 1999, it’s a tribute to vaudeville, burlesque and other classic entertainment that has been brought into the 21st century. You’ll also find comedian Seth Hertzog’s show SWEET here, and you never know what famous name will pop up there.

8. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater

Founded by Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, Upright Citizens Brigade, or the UCB, is the training ground to NYC’s newest comic performers. The calendar features a rotation of great showing off improv and comedic skills of some of the city’s best. On Sunday nights at the Chelsea location, you can attend ASSSSCAT, an improv showcase featuring special guests include names from SNL, The Daily Show, Comedy Central and more. There’s also a theater in the East Village with another robost schedule.

7. The Scandinavia House – The Nordic Center in America

Tired of the other museums in NYC? Try the Scandinavia House which is located on Park Avenue. The museum is about the culture of the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, with exhibits, film screenings, concerts, and other cultural performances. You can also sample some fine Scandinavian cuisine.

6. The World Famous Jekyll & Hyde Club

If you have to go a themed restaurant in NYC, make it a fun one, like the Jekyll & Hyde Club. Open 365 days a year, the club is a “haunted” restaurant and bar with live entertainment with characters like vampires and werewolves. There’s also over 62 menu items so picky eaters can be pleased. This club made an appearance on Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


5. New York City Transit Museum

Get to know the MTA is this comprehensive museum of the city’s public transportation history. The museum features a look at the buses, subways and trolleys that have made this city run for years. With a $7 admission for adults, it’s a cheap and fun way to spend a few hours.

4. The Brooklyn Flea

You may know flea markets, but you’ve never seen the Brooklyn Flea. From April to November, you’ll see local artisans, antiques, and a fine collection of homemade gourmet food on display. HGTV’s Flea Market Flip has filmed several shows here.

3. Brooklyn Superhero Company

Brooklyn Superhero Company is home to everything a superhero or superhero fan needs. The store is run to support 826NYC, a nonprofit for kids who write, and sells a variety of superhero merchandise. You can buy capes and even test their flight ability on a special machine.


2. The Cloisters

There’s museums, and then there’s the Cloisters. The Cloisters is part of the MET and is a museum and garden in Fort Tryon Park. You’ll find 5,000 pieces of European medieval art including the famous unicorn tapestries. The gardens are a great peaceful place away from the rush of the city.

The Forest Park Carousel

This carousel dates back to 1903, and features 52 amazing hand-carved animals. It’s known as “jewel of Woodhaven Park,” and reopened in 2012, after being closed in 2009. It’s now an official landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.