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11 Best Unique Things to Do in NYC

New York City is brimming with renowned landmarks like the Empire State Building, Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. However, the city offers much more than famous tourist attractions — it boasts various lesser-known spots sure to elevate your travel experience. We’ve rounded up the best unique things to do in NYC that are non-touristy and will guide you through the Big Apple for a fresh perspective. 

1. Visit Sunset Park

Location: 7th Avenue &, 43rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Skip your visit to the Empire State Building and head to Sunset Park in South Brooklyn. Here, you can bask in the beauty of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. You can even see New Jersey on clear, sunny days. It offers postcard-worthy views anywhere you look. It’s less famous, a total unique thing to do and see in New York. Better than Battery Park and Central Park, making it an ideal place to enjoy an afternoon picnic without worrying about crowds. And as its name suggests check out Sunset Park if you’re looking to take cute sunset pics with your bae or with the girls. 

2. Sing Your Heart Out in Marie’s Crisis Cafe

Location: 59 Grove St, New York 10014

One of the best unique things to do in NYC is experience a night at a piano bar. Marie’s Crisis Cafe — a five-minute walk from the Fat Cat Bar — is known for its intimate yet lively atmosphere, featuring a sing-along piano where guests can participate. Songs include Broadway hits, show music and classic American tunes. If you want to join in a fun, communal experience, you won’t want to miss out on spending one night in a piano bar.

3. Eat at Smorgasburg

Locations: The Oculus,  Marsha P. Johnson State Park, Brooklyn and Breeze Hill

This food bazaar just kicked off and happens only during summer in the city every year. Fridays through Sundays, in select locations, you can try out foods from almost 100 local vendors like Bao Tea House, BiBi Bakery, Healthy as a Motha and Patok by Rach. This 2024, WTC, Williamsburg and Prospect Park locations will operate in early April. For the best experience, arrive hungry so you can enjoy a bit of everything. Remember to bring cash because not all vendors accept cashless payments.

4. Visit The Met Cloisters

Location: 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York 10040

If you’re looking for a non-touristy and unique thing to do in New York City, try visiting this one of a kind place. Located atop a hill in Manhattan, The Met Cloisters is where you can admire medieval architecture and art, including the famous Unicorn Tapestries and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin. The beautiful gardens also overlooks the Hudson River. This place has so many things to see, so ensure you add it to your weekday afternoon itinerary.

5. Take Photos at the Brooklyn Bridge Park

Location: 334 Furman St. Brooklyn, New York 11201

The trendy neighborhood of DUMBO — which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass — is famous for a reason. The streets are full of aesthetic cafes, art galleries, high-end restaurants and warehouse buildings that perfectly complement the bridge. While it offers picturesque views, the area is usually busy. If you want to skip the crowd and channel your inner local, you’ll enjoy visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park for photos of Manhattan’s skyline. If you’re traveling with kids, you can also ride at the famous Jane’s Carousel — a nearby 48-horse carousel. We love having this unique experience when visiting New York.

6. Walk on the Streets of Bushwick

Location: 427 Troutman St, Brooklyn, New York 11237

If you love urban art, wander around Bushwick streets to admire murals made by The Bushwick Collective and local artists. You’ll find beautiful graffiti, political statements and painted advertisements. It’s a thought-provoking, open-air art gallery that will excite you to learn more about the culture in the area. Find the best views along Morgan Avenue, Siegel Street and East Moore Street. The best time to visit is on weekdays when it’s relatively quieter. Ensure you come by on a warm-weather morning or afternoon for a more pleasant experience.

7. Indulge in a Weekend Brunch at Brunch Harlem

Location: 271 West 119th Street, New York 10026

A trip to The Big Apple isn’t complete without a hearty brunch at Brunch Harlem. It’s the only uptown restaurant that offers brunch all day. Indulging in their classic catfish and pancakes is one of the best and unique things to do in NYC, especially on a weekend. They also have a wide selection of cocktails, including the staple mimosa, red sangria and margarita. Modern diners usually start brunch between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to accommodate breakfast and lunch preferences. However, you can savor your favorite dishes and beverages from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Sunday to Thursday at Brunch Harlem. On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. and extends until 11 p.m.

8. Ride a Bike from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Red Hook Park

Location: 334 Furman St., Brooklyn, New York 11201

One of the most unique things to do in NYC is to cycle around the city while admiring the views. Skip using the subway system and admire the picturesque sunset above the East River when you ride from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Red Hook. From the park, follow signs to Valentino Pier and take a moment to appreciate the view of the Statue of Liberty. Take photos before cycling along the cobbled streets of Red Hook. Biking is a fun way to soak up the city’s sights while staying active. It also allows you to tone your hamstrings and build killer quads.

9. Visit Brighton Beach

Location: 1120 Brighton Beach Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11235

Brighton Beach is a quaint town that lies east of Coney Island, Brooklyn. It’s also famous for its robust, Eastern European culture and peaceful beach atmosphere. Visit this place and check out local supermarkets like NetCost and Gold Label. And try out Eastern European and Russian culinary staples, like Uzbeki Lamb Samsa, Georgian Chicken Tabaka and Russian Blintzes. This is a food adventure not to be missed a definite unique thing to do in NYC.

10.Go Glamping at Collective Retreats on Governors Island

Location: 825 Gresham Rd, New York 10004

One of the best unique things to do in NYC is to take the time to relax amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. While many tourists bask in the grand cityscape of NYC, others may enjoy a serene glamping experience on Governors Island. Visit Collective Retreats to get your much-needed break from city life while indulging in recreational activities. Enjoy morning yoga, biking around the island, sunsets with live music and lawn games at night. Your stay includes complimentary breakfast and evening s’mores to enjoy with fellow “glampers”.

11. Visit the Museum of Ice Cream

Location: 558 Broadway, New York 10012

Traveling with children? One unique thing to do in NYC is visit the Museum of Ice Cream. Kids and youths at heart will enjoy the unlimited treats and history of ice cream. The museum provides an interactive experience wherein you can plunge into a river of sprinkles, discover the floating dessert spread and wander around the chocolate room. Instead of visiting crowded museums, add this location to enjoy a day of fun and excitement.

These best unique things to do in NYC will give you an unforgettable travel experience. Immerse yourself in the diverse neighborhoods, lesser-known spots and flavors of the city to truly experience the city like a local. For those looking to explore NYC at night, here’s where to go and what to do for a night-out in NYC!