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The hidden gems of NYC

Hidden gems of New York City

Where else in the world could you make friends with a wild cat whilst enjoying an Extra Virgin Olive Oil ice cream cone, after rifling through Macbeth's bedside drawer?  

As one of the most historically rich and culturally stimulating cities in the world, New York is built in layers, ranging from the legendary places you've always wanted to see to the underground secrets you can't believe you might have missed.

Tick off the things you didn't even know were on your bucket list and check out the hidden gems of New York City.


You've never seen a show like this

While the dazzling lights of Broadway offer a fabled theatrical experience, New York has a number of equally entertaining options, where you can branch away from centre-stage and experience the drama up-close.


Sleep No More 

In a contemporary twist, spectators are the ones who wear the masks at this promenade theatrical experience set in a warehouse block in Manhattan.

The plot is Macbeth and the execution is unique, and quiet: with no dialogue in the script, audience members are forbidden to speak and instead follow the actors from room to room and can snoop around the character's belongings in the interactive setting.

After the action, enjoy a drink at the art-deco style Manderley Bar, and try to resist saying Is this a cocktail which I see before me?


(le) poisson rouge 

For those looking for a little bit more than a typical night out, a trip to (le) poisson rouge promises entertainment in many forms. Part concert venue, part theatre, part gallery, this multimedia hub in Greenwich Village hosts indie bands and off-Broadway acts alike.

With both standing and seated options, as well as a bar in the adjoining gallery, guests have the opportunity to tap into the NYC art scene in a unique and relaxed way. 


The route less travelled

Though there's no doubt that Central Park and Staten Island are destinations that complete a classic journey to New York, for every famed landmark there's a lesser-known alternative that offers an equally memorable experience.


The High Line 

Once one of New York's busiest freight-train routes, this railway network quickly fell into disrepair after it was closed down in the 1980s. However, after monumental restoration efforts, the abandoned line is now a one of the city's most dynamic public parks.

Snaking through West Side Manhattan, visitors can catch a glimpse of the modern Meatpacking district on one stretch and balance on the skeleton of the old tracks on another. With art displays and gardens scattered along the almost 1.5 mile-long path, visitors can take a peaceful stroll whilst gaining a new perspective on the city.


Roosevelt Island 

This sliver of Manhattan sits in the East River and has a slightly macabre history: once home to a prison, the New York City Lunatic Asylum, and the Smallpox Hospital.

One of New York's most authentic cultural areas, visitors can travel over the river by cable car to experience some of the oldest standing buildings in the city, including Blackwell House, which demonstrates authentic 18th-century American architecture.

Take a stroll along the river for peaceful views of the city skyline or try to spot one of the local residents – a colony of feral cats lives in the abandoned hospital, cared for by a local charity.



Off the 'eaten' track

It's no secret that New York City is the place to seek out culinary delights, from casual snacking to fine dining. However, there are a few stand-out spots that give visitors an unparalleled taste of The Big Apple.


Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.

As the name suggests, this dessert laboratory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn hosts a whole range of strange and sweet delights.

From traditional sundaes, to sticky inventions (Cotton Candy Cone, anyone?), to flavours that will have you looking twice (Caramelised Onion…), you'll never think about ice cream in the same way again.


Black Ant 

In the East Village, 'Mexican food' means more than just your typical tacos. In the aim of giving traditional Mexican culinary staples a contemporary twist, this menu is both challenging and intriguing.

With grasshopper-crusted shrimp and grilled cactus as dinner options, and something called the Smoky Jalapeño Margarita on the cocktail list, you'll be walking out with a whole new definition for 'adventurous eating'.


Channel your inner outlaw

Infamous for its criminal dark side, New York City has been the stomping grounds for a laundry list of mobsters and racketeers. While we're quite happy that these days we don't have to worry about coming face-to-face with Al Capone, tracing his footsteps can give visitors a safe taste of the rebellious history of NYC.


Museum of the American Gangster 

New York is home to a selection of niche galleries and museums that give insight into specific chapters of the city's great history.

Manhattan's East Village hosts two rooms dedicated to the gangsters of the prohibition era, and includes memorabilia and original clippings documenting the criminal acts of famous gangsters.

The location was once an illegal nightclub, and visitors can now indulge in the traditional atmosphere and enjoy a (lawful) cocktail in the William Barnacle Tavern.


Please Don't Tell

In the spirit of secret spirits, check out one of New York's many speakeasies – hidden bars tucked in unexpected locations, which have concealed doors or require secret passcodes to enter.

PDT (Please Don't Tell) is one of them, accessible only through a phone booth in Crif Dogs – one of the top hot dog joints in the East Village.

It might seem that the secret is now out, but with a bit of research and some stealth planning, maybe you can unearth the next mystery watering hole…

Whether you choose to embrace the undercurrent of NYC, or just dip your toes in the unconventional opportunities, there's no question that this city has a treasure chest of hidden gems – and they're yours for the taking. 


Check out our New York Holidays »

Tagged in:

  • USA
  • Shopping
  • City and shopping breaks
  • New York
  • Off the beaten track
20 Jun 2016 | Virgin Holidays