NYC is one of the top ten vacation destinations for most people. Of course, when you visit the Big Apple there’s much more to see than the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Here are some of these funky and alternative places you don’t usually hear about before you go to NYC, or at least 10 places I think are cool, interesting and surprising…
1. Drink at the Bushwick Country Club
The Bushwick Country Club is located in East Williamsburg. This is a bar like no other. They bring back some childhood nostalgia with their slushies machines but don’t be mistaken – what’s in there is Jim Beam and coke and homemade frozen sweet tea vodka. In the back yard, you can play mini-golf for free on a very special course with obstacles ranging from a windmill made of flattened cans to a rudimentary hobo mannequin. If you feel yourself getting into the hype and funky atmosphere, you can even become a club member which would ensure you of some special discounts.
2. Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum
All the way back in Queens, in Corona, there’s a house you ought to see. The Louis Armstrong House that is now a museum and a national historical landmark. It is the very first house Louis Armstrong ever owned, it was picked up as a surprise by his wife, Lucille for $3500. It has been fully renovated and opened in 2003. It is a 40-minute tour to be remembered, you will be able to see his living quarters and garden along with and exhibition in the basement featuring his letters and trumpets.
3. Relax on the Water Taxi Beach
The Water Taxi Beach is a temporary artificial beach settled on the wharf of the East River in Queens. It is free during summer but also available to host private parties and events. It is owned by New York Water Taxi, if you did not know, this is a water taxi company that takes you to different point on East River and Hudson River. This artificial beach is the place to be for summer parties or just a lazy afternoon in NYC.
4. Slum it at the Tenement Museum
For some more cool things to do in New York I would suggest heading down to Lower East Side to the country’s most renowned immigrant neighborhood. This museum is interesting and is worth the trip because it does not only tell you the immigrants’ history, it interprets it and uses it to illuminate the present. It stimulates a dialogue on current and previous social issues in order to promote humanitarian and democratic values. Okay it’s not the hippest place in town but it’s unlike any other museum you’ve seen before – there’s definitely a lot more to it than just exhibitions and storytelling.
5. Get inspired at the PS1 museum
Back to Queens! The PS1, the contemporary art center, is located where what used to be a public school. Now it is more like an art gallery featuring a magnificent forecourt hosting summer parties. But beware that this particular art gallery is not made of conservative art like any other midtown gallery. What is featured there is more like progressive installation-driven and alternative work. PS1 is known for its creative, innovative and hype artists originating from all corners of the globe.
6. See a concert in Central Park
Central Park is known as the lungs of NYC, it’s a romantic place to go on a horse carriage ride, read a book, hang out or go for a run (the list goes on). But during summer you should really try to catch one of the concerts hosted in Central Park. No matter what kind of music you like, Central Park concerts feature a wide range of different music style all summer long. These are free and open events that will show you a complete different side of Central Park you haven’t seen before.
7. Take a sniff of Christopher Brosius
The name of the company created by Christopher Brosius is CB: I hate perfume. This place will tell you more than you thought about perfume. We are not talking about the usual fancy fragrance everyone knows about but fine compositions that really have a story and truly evoke something instead of just smelling good. This is a place like no other, very surprising and different, a place where you can find your own unique scent.
8. Drink up at Marie’s Crisis
Now, we’re in West Village, at Marie’s Crises. This bar has been there since the 1850s as a prostitute’s den, then became boys bar, then a gay bar and for the past 35 years it has settled down as a piano joint where musical theater performers come sing solo. This jazzy venue is also known for its mirrors representing French and American Revolution scenes which add to the cool atmosphere.
9. Get arty in Dumbo
Dumbo stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, which is a district in Brooklyn. So this is not a specific venue but more like a quarter of NYC. This place is full of art galleries, a true vibrant community living under that bridge that will give most people a good change of scene. Dumbo, which used to be an industrial neighborhood, features spacious building and cobblestone streets. This attracted many artists giving the district an unconventional and unique atmosphere.
10. Spot the hipsters in Williamsburg
Williamsburg itself, like Dumbo, is a funky place to go to in NYC. When you think groovy neighborhood and unusual bars and venues you think Williamsburg. This entire neighborhood is a full of hidden gems you are not likely to read about in any tourist guide. The heart of the hipster culture, this trendy neighborhood is home of many artists and designers. If you don’t want to spend a classic vacation in NYC, Williamsburg will be the place to surprise you.
Written By Lisa Turner who loves travel and currently lives in Barcelona when she’s not looking for cool things to do in New York she runs the travel website Apartime.