15 Lesser Known New York City Attractions

After various trips and spending over a year in total in New York City, I’ve gotten to know the city pretty well. Of course I did all the main attractions, like the Empire State Building and visiting the Statue of Liberty, but here are 15 lesser known New York City attractions I discovered!

1. Brooklyn Brewery

Yes, I am from the country where Heineken is made, but beer of the Brooklyn Brewery – men, so good! I don’t know too much about beer, but I know when it tastes good, and this certainly does (especially their summer ale!)! Go visit this unique place where you can try all their different and seasonal brews and tour the brewery itself! Starting off 26 years ago to provide beers for the neighborhood, the Brooklyn Brewery now offers their brews across 25 US states and 20 countries! (However, still no summer ale available in the Netherlands. Who is going to ship me some??!) The brewery is located in between the trendy, vibrant and creative neighborhoods Williamsburg and Greenpoints, which are worth a visit in themselves. Really great to stroll around. So cross that bridge, grab a beer (or 2, or 3) and have a great Brooklyn day!

lesser known new york city attractions

2. The Highline

Probably the most famous among the lesser-known, is the Highline. It’s a public park, built on top of an old rail line, elevated above the streets on the West side of Manhatten. There’s usually a lot of art to enjoy and there are free guided walking tours on Tuesday and Saturday. Without a tour its also just very nice to stroll around! Along the way you’ll encounter various places for food and drinks.

Lesser known new york city attractions

3. The Marriott Marquis Hotel

Located in the very center of Time Square, this beautiful hotel is not only an amazing place to stay (yes I did, for a conference, didn’t have to pay myself..), but it’s also a great ‘attraction’. They offer a couple of amazing things you can (and should) check out even when not staying there, such as their restaurants with stunning views! Read can read more about the Marriott Marquis New York hotel here!

Visit Marriott Marquis

4. Yankee Stadium

Although not super popular in many other countries, baseball is HUGE in the USA. The New York Yankees are probably the best known team among internationals, so why not visit their stadium when in New York? Get tickets for a game and enjoy what it’s all about! A true American experience, and very different from many European sport events.

lesser known new york city attractions

5. City Island

City Island is perfect for a day trip off the beaten path. Officially it’s part of the Bronx, but with a very small town feel and very untouristy. It’s a very maritime setting, with lots of little docks and harbors and many amazing seafood restaurants! There are also some unique art galleries and antique stores on the island to enjoy, or just wander around town. Great if you want to enjoy a completely different side of New York City!

6. Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3 is a restaurant where you can get the most expensive desert in the world, according to Guinness World Records. It’s the so called ‘Golden Opulence Sunday’, which costs a $1000,-. However, for those on a slightly smaller budget, they offer the famous ‘Frrrozen Hot Chocolate’. That’s right, hot chocolate, but frozen. Really delicious! Many famous people such as Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol and Bill Clinton have enjoyed it here before! The restaurant is very nice and cozy and next to these great dessert, they offer a variety of other great foods and drinks! Make sure to make a reservation in time, otherwise it most likely be impossible to get a table!

Lesser Known New York City Attractions

7. UN Headquaters

The United Nations Headquarters is the place where the greatest and most famous world leaders have taken incredibly important decisions for the world. Amazing art can be found across the building and terrains, and there are always photographic and multimedia exhibitions in the public areas on topics related to the UN, such as human rights, the fight against poverty, equality, climate change, etc. Best however, is to take part in the one hour guided tour. You’ll tour the building, receive lots of information about the UN and visit among other rooms, the Security Council Chamber (arguably the most important room in the world). Make sure to book in time, as spots often fill up quickly. In the ‘basement’, you can find the UN shop, and the UN Stamps & Post Office. As the UN Headquaters is, to serve its purpose, international territory (and so technically seen you’re leaving New York City when entering the grounds), they have their own stamps and postal service, which provides the opportunity to send pretty unique postcards home!

lesser known new york city attractions

8. Jersey Gardens Outlet Mall

Okay, fair enough, this is not in NYC, but in New Jersey. It’s however only a 30 minute ride by shuttle bus from Port Authority (behind Penn Station) in NYC. The Jersey Gardens is a two-floor outlet mall, with 230 stores, including Adidas, Levi’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Calvin Klein, Forever 21, Guess, H&M, Nike & Tommy Hilfiger. It’s an outlet, so although clothes are (at least for Europeans) already considered to be pretty cheap in the US, it’s even cheaper here! Not to be missed by true shopaholics!

9. Habana Outpost

Habana Outpost is a very nice restaurant in Brooklyn with a Mexican and Cuban cuisine. The food is really great, but the decor and setting are perhaps even better. It is New York’s first eco-eatery and solar powered restaurant. Your food is made in an old truck and there are solar panels on the roof. Next to that, it’s a community gathering space for families, artists, kids and just all kinds of Brooklynites. This gives you a nice insight in the more daily, community life, that you’ll not often get to experience as a tourist.

lesser known new york city attractions

10. Coney Island

It’s a pretty long subway ride from Manhatten, but a really nice getaway! Coney Island is best known for its beach and amusement park. The beach is great and offers great contrast with the hectic city in Manhatten. Just lay down and work on your tan! The amusement park is not centrally organized, but offers over 50 separate rides and attractions. There is, among others, an iconic Ferris Wheel and rollercoaster. It’s not super commercial, but a bit more artsy and alternative.

lesser known new york city attractions

11. Federal Reserves Bank

The Federal Reserves Bank of New York works with the Federal Serve System to implement monetary policy, supervise and regulate financial institution and help maintain the US’s payment system. To learn more about this role of the NY Fed and the Federal Reserve System, you can visit their museum or follow a tour. During the tour you’ll get to see official gold vault, with real gold bars! And both the museum and tour are for free!

Lesser known new york city attractions

12. St. Paul’s Chapel

St. Paul’s Chapel is located right across the street of where the Word Trade Center used to be, but survived the 9/11 attacks without even a broken window. In the aftermath of the attacks, it served as a place of rest and refugee for the first responders on scene. Volunteers helped them out, day and night, for over 8 months by serving food, providing new shoes, listening to their stories, etc. The traces of the first responders and volunteers, and the signs of support to them from across the world, are still visible today. It’s definitely worth visiting this chapel as an alternative to the 9/11 memorial. You can read more about St. Paul’s Chapel here.

lesser known new york city attractions

13. Grimaldi’s

Grimaldi’s is an institution when it comes down to pizza: for many years it has been voted to make the best pizza in NYC. With its authentic coal-fired ovens, freshly made dough, fresh mozzarella and fresh crushed San Marzano tomatoes, their pizza’s are just delicious! It’s original restaurant is located right under Brooklyn Bridge, which can be combined with a walk across the bridge and Brooklyn Bridge Park which gives you the most stunning skyline view of NYC! And don’t forget to make a reservation, unless you’re willing to wait, as the line can be huge!

14. City Hall

Constructed from 1803-1812, New York’s City Hall is one of the oldest continuously used city halls in the USA. It still houses the office of the Mayor of New York City and the chambers of the New York City Council. During the past years, the building was renovated and is now again open to the public to visit during a tour. The tours take about an hour and are free of charge. Your guide will explain you everything about the local government and the building, while you get to see many parts of this historic building.

lesser known new york city attractions

15. Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry depart from the very south tip of Mahatten to Staten Island. While on board the iconic orange ferry, you’ll get fairly close the Statue of Liberty. It’s a perfect and low budget alternative for any of the expensive boat tours to Liberty Island, as this one is for free! So you won’t actually get on the island of the statue, but close enough to get a perfect view and some good shots. Once you arrive at Staten Island, you can enjoy this part of NYC, or directly catch the next ferry back to Manhatten.

lesser known new york city attractions

Have you been to any of these lesser known New York City attractions? I would love to hear about your experience! Feel free to comment below!

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4 Responses to 15 Lesser Known New York City Attractions

  1. Sonia says:

    hey Hester, this is great! can you make a similar list for London? i’ll be moving there soon and dont wanna miss a thing :)

    • Flying Dutchgirl says:

      Hi Sonia thanks! Haha I’ll try! I was already working on a post on how to see all the main attractions of London in 1 day, but let me think about lesser known ones that I know! I already have a few in mind! BTW, super jealous that you’re moving to London. I would love to live there myself!

  2. Simone says:

    O cool! I’ve been to new York ages ago and desperately want to go back to see more (we had only one day at the time) so will bookmark these tips for the future. And how exciting you’re leaving for your big trip so soon! Will follow you from now on!

  3. April Yap says:

    I think Manhattan would really be an amazing getaway. I haven’t gone to Coney Island yet but I really love amusement parks, so I really want to go there with my family.