The 59 Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in NYC

25 min read
The blue Statue of Liberty and tall buildings and water in the background
Enjoy the best non-touristy things to do in NYC with this guide!

New York City is a mega-metropolitan that every traveler must check out at least once in their lifetime. Not only does it have historical significance, but it has endless activities, delicacies, and attractions you can enjoy.

While many tourists flock to famous North American attractions like Times Square and the Empire State Building, there are many other lesser-known venues you should visit whenever you’re in the city.

The best way to explore the Big Apple is by checking out the hidden gems. So, here are the best non-touristy things to do in NYC within the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

  • 59 New York City things to do

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59 Non-Touristy Things to Do in New York City

  1. Check out the eclectic Morgan Library and Museum
  2. Live out your cottage-core fantasies at Elizabeth Street Garden
  3. Create your own magical cocktails at The Cauldron
  4. Experience a hot tub boat tour with Sea the City
  5. Indulge in pastrami from Katz’s Delicatessen, Manhattan’s oldest deli
  6. Experience modern contemporary art at its finest at Mmuseumm
  7. Pamper yourself at AIRE Ancient Baths
  8. Take a circus aerial class at Aerial Arts NYC in Manhattan
  9. Have a romantic night out at the Temple Court on 10
  10. Travel to 1850s Ireland at McSorley’s, Manhattan’s oldest pub
  11. Learn the art of espionage at Spyscape
  12. Experience an audio-visual installation at Artechouse
  13. Bask in the beautiful Manhattan skyline with the Roosevelt Island Tramway
  14. Go for a nightcap inside a bank vault at Trinity Place Restaurant
  15. See how a medieval monastery looks like at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park
  16. Find the hidden bar behind a little bodega in Seaport
  17. Get spooked with the ghosts of New York walking tour
  18. Try the chopped cheese from Hajji’s in Harlem
  19. Hunt for the best pizza in the city
  20. Feast on halal street food with the Halal Guys food truck
  21. Kayak and sail on the East River
  22. Unwind under cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  23. Shop for unique souvenirs at the Brooklyn Flea Market
  24. Discover pinball heaven at the Sunshine Laundromat
  25. Catch the sunset at Westlight at The William Vale
  26. Have a feast at DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn
  27. Take your bike out on the Brooklyn Bridge
  28. Explore the cheese tunnels at the Crown Finish Caves
  29. Dance the night away at the House of Yes in Brooklyn
  30. Feel the thrill at Beat The Bomb escape room
  31. Stroll through Brooklyn Heights on the Squibb Park Bridge
  32. Enjoy a fun day out at Luna Park on Coney Island
  33. Try pizza ice cream from Max and Mina’s in Flushing
  34. Have a summer surf sesh at Rockaway Beach in Queens
  35. Make your own candles at Wick and Pour
  36. Travel back through time at the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport
  37. Buy fresh, authentic pasta from Cassinelli Pasta
  38. Have bottomless brunch at The Shady Lady in Queens
  39. Check out the Panorama of New York at the Queens Museum
  40. Treat yourself with vintage desserts at Holtermann’s Bakery
  41. Boogie in your skates at RollerJam USA
  42. Have a fresh pint at the Flagship Brewing Company
  43. Reach a state of zen at the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
  44. Catch a show at the historic St. George Theater on Staten Island
  45. Taste grandma’s cooking at Enoteca Maria on Staten Island
  46. Visit the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx
  47. Try Puerto Rican moonshine at Port Morris Distillery
  48. Go to the other Little Italy in the Bronx
  49. Snack on molé with a side of activism at La Morada in the Bronx
  50. Explore the East Village
  51. Shop for books at Strand Bookstore
  52. Find the Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Terminal
  53. Ride the Staten Island Ferry
  54. Hang out at Battery Park City
  55. Eat sweet treats at the city’s best bakeries
  56. Cheer for NYC’s sports teams
  57. Wander along the High Line
  58. Dare to go into the New York Catacombs
  59. Go on a Brooklyn street art tour

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New York City Things to Do Map

A map of New York City. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

Check out the eclectic Morgan Library and Museum

As a visitor of the city, you can never run out of museums to explore. Yet, instead of going to the Metropolitan Museum or the Guggenheim, why not check out the lesser-known museums that are just as interesting?

The Morgan Library and Museum houses the private collection of J Pierpont Morgan and other collectibles. You can expect to find Charles Dickens’ manuscript of A Christmas Carol, Mozart’s handwritten scores, and more.

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A tranquil garden with sculptures and a big red brick building at the back
Elizabeth Street Garden is located in Little Italy, Manhattan

Live out your cottage-core fantasies at Elizabeth Street Garden

Looking for something a little more idyllic than Central Park? Then the Elizabeth Street Garden is a must-visit for you.

This public garden is nestled in Little Italy in Manhattan, and it provides a lovely green space to the locals and those looking for a quiet area not too far from the bustling city.

You can enjoy a picnic or two surrounded by sculptures, or participate in one of their community events.

Create your own magical cocktails at The Cauldron

Located in the Financial District of Manhattan, The Cauldron is a magic-themed bar where you can create your own “potions”.

What separates The Cauldron from any other cocktail-making class is its immersive nature, where you will craft your own potions in a cauldron guided by potion masters who are highly skilled in mixology.

Even if you don’t want to create your own tinctures, you can head straight to the bar and explore their magical menu.

Buildings on the shore with a river in front of them under a blue sky
Enjoy the NYC skyline from the Hudson on a hot tub boat tour!

Experience a hot tub boat tour with Sea the City

Perhaps one of the most unusual things to do in NYC, this tour allows you to discover the city inside a hot tub! Sea The City is essentially a Jet Ski tour where you can cruise along the Hudson River in an hour.

If you’re looking for something more interesting, Sea The City also has a Hot Tub Boat Tour package where you can chill in a hot tub on a boat while traveling down the Hudson.

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Katz's Delicatessen is one of the best non-touristy things to do in NYC
Katz’s Delicatessen serves authentic Jewish sandwiches

Indulge in pastrami from Katz’s Delicatessen, Manhattan’s oldest deli

New York City is filled with delis and bodegas, but nothing quite compares to the caliber of Katz’s Delicatessen.

Located between the Bowery district and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Katz’s Delicatessen has served authentic Jewish sandwiches since 1888, making it the oldest deli in the city.

The deli is popular for its cuts of meat, no-frills yet delicious food, and an atmosphere that still stays true to its heritage.

Experience modern contemporary art at its finest at Mmuseumm

Another of the NYC non-touristy things to do is going to one of the most unique museums in the world! Found in Lower Manhattan, Mmuseumm doesn’t look like your typical Smithsonian. The entire museum is located inside a freight elevator shaft.

You can find “contemporary artifacts” like plastic bottles, dollar bills, board games, and more in this six-by-six space. There are five ways to experience the museum, and one of them is through the peephole that’s open 24/7.

Pamper yourself at AIRE Ancient Baths

You don’t need to go all the way to Greece to experience the ancient baths; you can go to TriBeCa to bathe in the AIRE Ancient Baths.

Offering a rustic ambiance with their exposed bricks, AIRE Ancient Baths has various services, like aromatherapy massage, salt exfoliation, steam rooms, wine baths, and other relaxing experiences.

Whichever service you choose, you’ll always end up in one of their ancient thermal baths.

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Chelsea district with street lamps, a tree, a bridge, roads and skyscrapers
Buildings in Chelsea, NYC

Take a circus aerial class at Aerial Arts NYC in Manhattan

Ever wondered how circus stars train for their magical and breathtaking shows? Then you should check out the Aerial Arts in Chelsea.

Here, you can witness acrobats and other circus professionals in their natural habitat: dangling and somersaulting through the air high above the ground.

If you want to get in on the action, you can sign up for one of their beginner classes, or independently train with an expert.

Have a romantic night out at the Temple Court on 10

For a night out of pasta and champagne, head to this Beekman St. restaurant. Temple Court on 10 is the perfect dining spot for a romantic night out in NYC, thanks to its elegant menu and floral decor.

Vines of lavender snake the walls and ceiling, complete with fairy lights to really amp up the dreamy ambiance. Finish your night out with a cocktail in the adjacent The Bar Room.

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A green signboard displaying McSorley’s Old Ale House atop pub windows
McSorley’s maintains a decor that stays true to its Irish heritage

Travel to 1850s Ireland at McSorley’s, Manhattan’s oldest pub

Keeping with the same theme as Katz’s, McSorley’s Old Ale House is a pub that was opened sometime in the 1850s, making it the borough’s oldest Irish bar.

Located between NoHo and the Ukrainian Village in Manhattan, the bar maintains a decor that stays true to its Irish heritage, and they mainly serve light and dark beer on tap.

If you ever want to experience Irish heritage and pub culture, McSorley’s is the place to go.

Learn the art of espionage at Spyscape

Visiting museums is one of the most fun things to do in NYC, but the Spyscape takes museum-hopping up a notch. Spyscape is an espionage museum, but instead of showcasing memorabilia, it educates visitors about the art of espionage through themed rooms.

These rooms cover the topics of surveillance, encryption, and more. To make the museum more interesting, you can also participate in immersive experiences that test your spy skills.

Book your experience and tickets for Spyscape NYC.

Experience an audio-visual installation at Artechouse

Among NYC’s many art installations, Artechouse offers something a little bit different. Located in the Chelsea Market, Artechouse combines art, science, and technology to bring you an experience you won’t find in a museum.

You can explore geometric properties, fractal dimensions, and other unique audio-visual experiences. On top of that, Artechouse is a great place to snap a few pics for the ‘Gram, or to take your significant other for an out-of-this-world date night.

Book your Artechouse Entrance Tickets.

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Aerial view of cables and a bridge, water surrounding islands and buildings
See the beautiful Manhattan skyline from the Roosevelt Island Tramway

Bask in the beautiful Manhattan skyline with the Roosevelt Island Tramway

If you’ve ever wondered what an aerial view of the Upper East Side looks like, then your next stop should be the Roosevelt Island Tramway. From the tram, you can see the beautiful Manhattan skyline and the quaint but historic Roosevelt Island.

The tram runs from 6 AM to 3:30 AM every day, making it an ideal spot to catch the golden hour. Do note that you can only access the tram with an MTA MetroCard.

Go for a nightcap inside a bank vault at Trinity Place Restaurant

This hidden bar in the Financial District of Manhattan wasn’t just decorated to look like a bank vault. Trinity Place is located inside an actual vault dating back to the early 1900s.

The vault was restored in 2006, and the bar was commissioned to open by the New York Realty Bank. Not only does the bar have a vast collection of classic cocktails, but it also serves an eclectic menu from pasta to paté.

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The top of a pointy romanesque-style building from behind lush green trees
The Cloisters is a copy of a medieval European monastery

See how a medieval monastery looks like at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park

Manhattan is mainly known for its skyscrapers and beautiful brownstone, so this particular site might seem a little out of place amidst the concrete jungle. It doesn’t take away the beauty of The Cloisters, though, a replica of a medieval European monastery.

Most of the building was built from European ruins collected by George Grey Barnard. The surrounding landscape was designed to highlight the Romanesque style of The Cloisters, with Gothic walls and structures.

Find the hidden bar behind a little bodega in Seaport

The best thing about New York City is that it's filled with secret spots not many tourists are aware of. This hidden bar, aptly named The Little Shop, is located behind a bodega in the Seaport district just below Lower East Manhattan.

You can get to this speakeasy through a sliding door at the back of the bodega. The bar serves various cocktails with a touch of exotic ingredients, like tamarind, lavender, and chili. If you're looking for things to do in NYC that aren't touristy, grabbing a drink at The Little Shop has to be on your list!

A stone arch with trees, buildings, and a road surrounding it at night
Hear spooky stories in Greenwich Village on a ghost tour

Get spooked with the ghosts of New York walking tour

Being part of a tour group can get boring sometimes, but that definitely won't be the case on a ghost tour! As one of the most unique things to do in NYC, a New York ghost tour will take you to some of the most haunted sites in the city.

You can choose from a range of operators, with public and private ghost tour options available. Places to head to to hear spooky stories include Greenwich Village and the East Village. You can even go on a haunted pub crawl!

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A bustling street in Harlem with people, traffic lights and various shop buildings
Head to Harlem to check out Hajji’s

Try the chopped cheese from Hajji’s in Harlem

New York City delis are famous for their Reubens and sandwiches made with fresh, high-quality meats.

Hajji’s (also known as Blue Sky Deli and Harlem Taste) chopped cheese is slightly different from the rest; it is a sandwich made with ground beef, onions, tomato, and lettuce, topped with melted cheese and condiments.

Often called NYC’s take on a Philly cheesesteak, Hajji’s chopped cheese rose to fame due to its affordability and status as comfort food.

Hunt for the best pizza in the city

Another non-tourist thing to do in NYC is to hunt for the best pizza in the city. To ensure you see some of the pizzerias known only to locals, consider going on a pizza tour. Two popular options are a pizza tour of Brooklyn and a Greenwich Village pizza walk.

Your local guide will take you to a handful of off-the-beaten-path pizza joints to try some of the best food you've ever had. You're guaranteed to find a new favorite place to grab pizza in NYC too!

Feast on halal street food with the Halal Guys food truck

For those looking for a halal option when visiting New York City, one of the best places to get it is from the Halal Guys food trucks. They are known for their gyros, kebabs, shawarmas, and other Middle Eastern delicacies that are 100% halal.

Deemed as the pioneer of halal food in New York, the Halal Guys now have several food trucks operating across the city, but make sure to visit the OG outlet on West 53rd St.

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Powerplant with tall chimneys, trees, white boats and skyscrapers from across water
Admire the magnificent city skyline from the East River

Kayak and sail on the East River

You don’t have to go all the way to Coney Island or Rockaway Beach to have some summer fun.

You can rent a kayak and take it down the East River to see the city skyline. Most tours offer a 20-minute kayak ride that allows you to cruise the length of the river.

Aside from kayaking, companies also provide canoe and sailing lessons, like ONE°15 Brooklyn Sailing School.

Rows of cherry blossom trees on either side of a green lawn, with a person in between
Enjoy a stroll underneath beautiful cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Unwind under cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Considering how dense New York City is, it’s always a treat every time you come across an outdoor space or activity.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is located in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, adjacent to the Prospect Park Zoo. It features stunning landscapes inspired by lands far away like Japan and Europe.

If you visit in the spring, you can enjoy a stroll underneath the beautiful cherry blossoms. The park also has activities and performances for people of all ages.

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A flea market with stalls and people shopping
You can find some one-of-a-kind souvenirs at the Brooklyn Flea Market

Shop for unique souvenirs at the Brooklyn Flea Market

Visiting flea markets is one of the best non-tourist things to do in NYC, as you can immerse yourself in the local scene and support the local businesses.

Check out the Brooklyn flea market happening every weekend, where vendors selling jewelry, snacks, and other local goods gather.

Forget the “I Love NY” mug or magnet; at this flea market, you can find unique souvenirs to bring back home that you won’t find in your typical souvenir shop.

Discover pinball heaven at the Sunshine Laundromat

Some of the best places in NYC are pretty underground, and only those who seek these places will be able to find them. Sunshine Laundromat is a hidden arcade that houses many vintage pinball and arcade machines.

The arcade is hidden behind a laundromat, so you can easily miss it if you’re not paying attention. Sunshine Laundromat also offers various beers on taps, like Golden House Lager, Pinner Throwback IPA, and more.

Catch the sunset at Westlight at The William Vale

Rooftop venues are a-plenty in New York City, but this one provides one of the best views, especially during sunset. Westlight is a restaurant and bar located on the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn.

The Westlight offers a 360-degree view of the city, directly overlooking the Hudson River on one side. It serves a variety of cuisines, along with delicious cocktails to accompany your sunset viewing.

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A crane surrounded by huge buildings and a church in a city
DeKalb Market Hall is located in Downtown Brooklyn

Have a feast at DeKalb Market Hall in Brooklyn

The food scene in Brooklyn is massive, let alone in the entire city. As a little bit of a shortcut, you can check out DeKalb Market Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.

It’s one of the largest food halls in the area, featuring food stalls with various cuisines. Some of the vendors you can find in Dekalb Market are Katz’s Delicatessen, Arepa Lady, Creamline, and Pulkie’s.

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An expansive suspension bridge over the river and skyscrapers in the background
Nothing beats a bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge

Take your bike out on the Brooklyn Bridge

One of the best ways to discover a new city is to explore it on your own. Nothing beats taking a bike ride or a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge when you're visiting NYC.

Guided bike tours will take you to see sights like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Wall Street, Battery Park, and Hudson River Park. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can do it on your own without the guidance of a tour.

Explore the cheese tunnels at the Crown Finish Caves

Good quality cheese is often attributed to Italy, France, and the Netherlands, but New York City has its own gourmet cheese as well. The Crown Finish Caves is an underground cheese aging facility located in a below-ground tunnel in Brooklyn.

The tunnel used to be a brewery dating back to the 1840s, but the cooler temperature also makes it perfect to age cheese. Crown Finish Caves ages an assortment of cheddar, Taleggio, goat cheese, and more.

Dance the night away at the House of Yes in Brooklyn

New York City is no stranger to weirdly-themed parties that only a few have access to. The House of Yes offers the same experience without the exclusivity of some NYC clubs.

At the House of Yes, you don’t only drink and dance but also watch performances by trapeze artists and aerialists. The parties always have extravagant themes, like Carnaval, House of Vogue, Dirty Circus, Full Moon, Amateur Burlesque, and Golden Era.

Be blasted with bright-colored paint bombs at Beat The Bomb

Feel the thrill at Beat The Bomb escape room

Beat The Bomb is not your average escape room, and it’s perfect for thrill-seekers visiting the city. Located in Brooklyn, Beat The Bomb is the world’s first paint blast escape room.

Here, groups play arcade games, like Hack Attack, Laser Maze, Echo Chamber, and Floor Grid, to defuse a bomb in under an hour. Failure to do so within the set timeframe, and you will be blasted by paint bombs in fun neon colors.

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A promenade with benches in front, trees, a river and a cityscape in the back
Squibb Park Bridge connects Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Heights

Stroll through Brooklyn Heights on the Squibb Park Bridge

The Brooklyn Squibb Park Bridge is a hidden gem that not even many locals have heard of. Just like its namesake, the park comprises a footbridge connecting Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Heights.

It’s delightful in the summer, with its lush greeneries acting as a canopy to protect you from the heat. Whatever season you find yourself in the city, visit the Squibb Park Bridge for a skyline unlike any other.

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A roller coaster in an amusement park with a parking lot
Luna Park has both thrill and family-friendly rides

Enjoy a fun day out at Luna Park on Coney Island

The boroughs of Manhattan and Queens are more well-known for their food, art scene, and historical sites. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, make your way to the tip of Brooklyn to visit the Luna Theme Park on Coney Island.

Opened in 2010, Luna Park is relatively new, but it sits at a site once home to other famous parks, like Astroland and Dreamland. Luna Park has both thrill and family-friendly rides for everyone to enjoy.

Try pizza ice cream from Max and Mina’s in Flushing

Out of all the creameries in New York City, Max and Mina’s is probably the most creative one yet. When you visit Max and Mina’s, go beyond your usual vanilla or chocolate scoop to try one of their specialties.

Since its opening in 1997, this Queens' ice cream joint features many exciting, but sometimes odd flavors. You can find unique flavors here like Corn on the Cob, Merlot, and even Pizza.

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A sandy beach with white square huts on a sunny day
Rockaway Beach is considered the largest urban beach in the US

Have a summer surf sesh at Rockaway Beach in Queens

Most people don't usually associate New York City with surfing, and maybe that's because you can't really find a good surfing spot around.

Rockaway Beach, however, is the only legal surfing beach in NYC, and it's also considered the largest urban beach in the United States.

After a long day of surfing, head on to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club for some grubs and classic summer cocktails.

Make your own candles at Wick and Pour

There’s nothing better than personalizing your own souvenir, and you can do precisely that at Wick and Pour in Queens. You can create your own scent and learn the process of candle-making from start to finish.

Wick and Pour offers classes for solo travelers and big groups. You can either keep this personalized souvenir for yourself or create bespoke candles for your loved ones back home.

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An international airport terminal, a white train and a tall control tower
TWA Flight Center is found at the famous JFK Airport in New York

Travel back through time at the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport

Airports aren’t usually a go-to attraction for tourists, but the TWA Flight Center is not your average terminal. The Trans World Airline terminal was built in the 1960s, but it closed down after TWA was sold to American Airlines.

In 2019, the TWA Flight Center reopened, and what you see now is a chic boutique hotel with views of the airport runway and authentic 1960s elegant vibes. Think of red velvet chairs, exaggerated arches, and vintage trinkets.

Buy fresh, authentic pasta from Cassinelli Pasta

New York City might be known for its pizza, but thanks to the large concentration of Italian-Americans in the city, you can also experience authentic pasta and other Italian dishes. Cassinelli Pasta is Queens’ oldest pastificio, or pasta factory, founded in 1912.

Cassinelli makes fresh pasta from gnocchi and penne to spaghetti and ravioli and more using their original recipe. You can choose either ready-to-make pasta or sheets of dough to use for your own ravioli recipe.

Have bottomless brunch at The Shady Lady in Queens

Brunch is such a great way to unwind and spend time with your loved ones, and there’s no place more perfect for doing this than in the brunch scene in Queens.

The Shady Lady in Astoria is known for its delicious brunch as it has a wide selection of Mediterranian-inspired food and classic brunch dishes.

To top it all off, they also serve bottomless mimosas, a staple element of the brunch culture today.

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Snowy city street with parked cars, street lamps, bare trees and buildings
Visit Queens to learn more about NYC at the Queens Museum

Check out the Panorama of New York at the Queens Museum

New York City might be a massive metropolis, but this panorama lets you overlook the city in its entirety. As the highlight of the Queens Museum, the Panorama of New York is a room-sized model covering all five boroughs of the city.

Although it was made in the 1960s, there are initiatives to keep the scale model up to date. For instance, the Adopt-a-Building program lets visitors “purchase” a building in exchange for a donation.

Treat yourself with vintage desserts at Holtermann’s Bakery

The journey to this Staten Island bakery might be long and winding. If you don’t have a car, you need to take a ferry to the island and then a one-hour bus ride. Yet, all the baked goods from Holtermann’s are worth the journey.

Other than the usual bread and cakes, Holtermann’s offers desserts from the yesteryears. Pullman bread and Charlotte Russe are some of the vintage desserts you can try.

Boogie in your skates at RollerJam USA

The ice rink in Central Park is iconic, but it tends to be swarmed with tourists. For a similar experience that’s just as fun, head over to RollerJam USA in Charleston, Staten Island.

RollerJam is an indoor roller skating rink for people of all ages, complete with DJ nights and arcades. In fact, it was voted the no. 1 party place in all of NYC.

Have a fresh pint at the Flagship Brewing Company

Staten Island might be called “New York’s forgotten borough,” but the beers from this brewery are far from forgettable. Flagship Brewing Company offers an array of locally-brewed beer, ranging from IPA, seltzer, pale ale to stout.

One of the most popular beers here is the Ezekiel, an 8% double IPA with citrus and mosaic hops. The brewery always schedules new flavors of beer to keep their menu interesting.

A Chinese garden with a pond and bridge walk, surrounded by green lush foliage
The NY Chinese Scholar’s Garden is a must-see place on Staten Island

Reach a state of zen at the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden

If you ever find yourself in Staten Island, a must-see place is the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, part of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Forty Chinese artists built the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, and it has authentic Chinese cultural elements.

For instance, no nails were used in constructing the garden, following the Ming Dynasty’s techniques. The garden also has a koi pond, moon gates, and flowers that represent different values.

Catch a show at the historic St. George Theater on Staten Island

Broadway shows are a must-see when you visit the city, but for those looking for unique things to do in New York City, try to catch a show at the historic St. George Theater on Staten Island.

St. George Theater was opened in 1928, and today, not only does the theater host community events, but it also has been the chosen venue for many stars like Tony Bennett, Air Supply, and Sarah Brightman.

Taste grandma’s cooking at Enoteca Maria on Staten Island

No matter how good a restaurant is, nothing beats grandma's cooking. Fortunately for foodies in Queens, this restaurant is run entirely by a group of grandmothers.

The menu at Enoteca Maria changes daily to showcase the grandmothers' different star dishes. Enoteca Maria has featured dishes from all over the world, including Japan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Italy. For those searching for things to do in NYC not for tourists, having dinner at Enoteca Maria is a must.

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A massive baseball stadium with bleachers and a green field from above
Yankee Stadium can hold up to 50,000 people

Visit the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx

If you’re an avid baseball fan, the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is a must-visit. It is the home field for the New York Yankees, a legendary baseball team that has contributed many Major League Baseball accolades.

It’s also one of the most expensive stadiums in MLB, and has the ability to hold up to 50,000 fans.

Try Puerto Rican moonshine at Port Morris Distillery

Most distilleries often focus on creating wine, beer, whiskey, tequila, and other typical liquors. Port Morris Distillery is slightly different, however, as they let their Puerto Rican moonshine take center stage.

Port Morris is the only distillery that produces Puerto Rican moonshine, or pitorro, in the United States. Pitorro is made with sugar cane and flavored with apples, coconuts, honey, and ginger, all locally sourced within the state.

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People queuing up at a small food storefront with a green awning and displays
Discover a variety of restaurants, bakeries, and shops on Arthur Avenue, Bronx

Go to the other Little Italy in the Bronx

Mulberry Street in Manhattan is not the only neighborhood known for its Italian heritage. There is also a Little Italy in the Bronx, located on Arthur Avenue, to be precise.

You can find various restaurants, bakeries, and shops selling authentic Italian dishes and other goods here. For a more in-depth tour of the street, book a guided tour to learn the history and other fun facts about the Bronx’s Little Italy.

Snack on molé with a side of activism at La Morada in the Bronx

La Morada is a little Mexican food joint tucked below an apartment building on Williams Avenue.

Serving an array of Oaxacan dishes, La Morada is perhaps most famous for its rainbow molé, a thick sauce made with chiles, tomatillos, nuts, and spices.

La Morada is also big on giving back to the community, like offering free food to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brownstones as seen from the street with trees in front of them
The East Village is a trendy neighborhood with vintage stores and cocktail bars

Explore the East Village

The East Village is a Manhattan neighborhood known for its bars, pubs, and clubs. You can also find many independent shops and unique boutiques in the trendy area.

If you’re looking to do some shopping, be sure to visit No Relation Vintage. The thrift store covers two floors and has a vast selection of clothing items to discover.

For those wanting to grab a drink, Barcade is a fun place to check out. The bar has a range of retro and newer arcade games, plus an interesting cocktail list to order from.

Shop for books at Strand Bookstore

One of the top non-touristy things to do in NYC is spending some time looking at books at Strand Bookstore. The iconic bookstore’s main location is on Broadway at 12th Street, but there is also a location on Columbus Avenue.

At the store, you can explore the many floors of books, with fiction and non-fiction offerings available. You can also find new books and rare collectibles.

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A train station terminal with big windows, a green roof, and a US flag
You can discover a "whispering gallery" when at Grand Central

Grand Central Terminal is one of the most famous NYC landmarks. A fun New York City fact that many don’t know, however, is that the station has a secret whispering gallery.

In this section of the station, visitors can stand on either side of the gallery and whisper messages, which will be heard across the room. While at the station, also be sure to take pictures of the beautiful main terminal.

© nycruss via Depositphotos
An orange ferry on the water with the Statue of Liberty behind it
You can see the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

Ride the Staten Island Ferry

One of the best ways to see the Manhattan skyline is by riding on the Staten Island Ferry. You can board the ferry from Manhattan, and the ride to Staten Island takes 25-minutes.

During the journey, you can admire the skyline and famous landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty. Best of all, riding the ferry is free! Once on Staten Island, you can check out local shops, bars, and restaurants.

© nycruss via Depositphotos
An urban park with trees and a walking path, and a skyline in the background
Battery Park City is an urban park with lots of attractions

Hang out at Battery Park City

Another of the fun non-touristy things to do in NYC is spending some time at Battery Park City. The park is located along the Hudson River and is the ideal place to enjoy green space and river views.

At the park, you can walk or bike along the river walk and discover attractions, like the Battery Urban Farm. You’ll also come across the Gardens of the Battery, a 195,000-square-foot public space with beautiful plant and flower displays.

If traveling with kids, there’s also a playground and an under-the-sea-inspired carousel for them to use. Battery Park City is one of the best places to unwind in Manhattan, and a trip here must be on your New York City itinerary.

Eat sweet treats at the city’s best bakeries

If you have a sweet tooth, one of the New York non-touristy things to do is checking out some of the locals' favorite bakeries.

Popular spots with New Yorkers include Magnolia Bakery in the West Village, Angelina Bakery, and Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffe. Desserts on offer range from cupcakes and brownies to pastries and cheesecake."Veniero's

© littleny via Depositphotos
The entry to a stadium with banners and a "Madison Square Garden" sign
Watching the New York Knicks or Rangers play at Madison Square Garden is a must

Cheer for NYC’s sports teams

New Yorkers love their sports teams, and catching a game when you’re in the city is a must! If you’re looking for the best NYC nighttime activities, head to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Rangers NHL team or the New York Knicks NBA team.

You can also watch the New York Giants or New York Jets NFL teams play at MetLife Stadium. If you prefer baseball, catch the New York Yankees MLB team when playing at home at Yankee Stadium.

A path with green trees on either side and buildings in the background
Strolling along the High Line is an ideal way to relax

Wander along the High Line

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity, one of the cool non-touristy things to do in NYC is strolling along the High Line.

This elevated urban park is found along an old train line. It runs for 1.45 miles and features many flowers and plants.

You can choose to walk just part of the High Line or walk the entire trail in about two and a half hours.

Dare to go into the New York Catacombs

One of the off-the-beaten-path activities to try in NYC is going underground into the city’s catacombs. On a candlelit catacombs tour, you’ll get to explore the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.

You can then go underground to the catacombs, which house tombs. As you look around, your guide can offer more information on those buried there and the creation of the catacombs.

© Hackman via Depositphotos
A building with a street art mural on it, featuring women in their apartments
There are many spectacular art murals to see in Brooklyn

Go on a Brooklyn street art tour

Brooklyn is a trendy part of NYC that has some great street art murals to discover. On a Brooklyn street art walking tour, your guide will take you to the best murals in the area.

You can admire the art and take some interesting snaps for Instagram. You’ll also learn more about some of the street artists and the art scene in the borough.

Conclusion

These 59 best non touristy things to do in NYC are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully, they can get you started on your New York City adventure.

Keep in mind that the best places in the city are those favored by the locals and remain a secret. So, keep an ear out for local trends and hotspots because so many changes can happen in a New York minute!

This article was edited by Loredana Elena.

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Written by Febriana R

febrianaars WRITER KL-based Indonesian content creator. A self-proclaimed meme connoisseur, wannabe astrologer, cat lover & wanderer of the world.


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