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9 Underrated Attractions and Experiences in NYC

Explore under-the-radar sights and happenings across the city that never sleeps.

U.S. News & World Report

9 Underrated Attractions and Experiences in NYC

Manhattan from the top
Credit

(Getty Images)

Skip tourist-heavy institutions for crowd-free local hot spots and seasonal packages.

With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the time to start planning your getaway to the Big Apple. With its award-winning Broadway shows, lavish parades and decorative storefront displays, no metropolis gets into the holiday spirit quite like the city that never sleeps. But if you've already explored iconic, must-see landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square, trade battling heavy crowds for off-the-beaten-path attractions and lesser-known gems. From secret walking tours to under-the-radar art collections, here's your guide to lesser-known sights and experiences across New York City.
NYC pedicab
Credit

(Courtesy of the Mark Hotel)

Plan a picnic in the park.

Experience the best of autumn in Central Park with the Mark Hotel's "Fall Foliage Package." The personalized tour takes guests on a scenic journey via pedicab, making a stop for a Jean-Georges picnic in the park with cinnamon-tossed, caramel-filled donuts and hot cider before dropping guests off at The Metropolitan Museum, where they can enjoy two cocktail vouchers to view the exhibition at the rooftop bar. The hotel also offers a number of seasonal and art-focused packages, including a New York art scene-inspired package that includes a private guided tour of your preferred museum, an "Artist's Afternoon Tea" and a personal chauffeur for six hours.
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Skip tourist-heavy institutions for crowd-free local hot spots and seasonal packages.

With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the time to start planning your getaway to the Big Apple. With its award-winning Broadway shows, lavish parades and decorative storefront displays, no metropolis gets into the holiday spirit quite like the city that never sleeps. But if you've already explored iconic, must-see landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square, trade battling heavy crowds for off-the-beaten-path attractions and lesser-known gems. From secret walking tours to under-the-radar art collections, here's your guide to lesser-known sights and experiences across New York City.

Plan a picnic in the park.

Experience the best of autumn in Central Park with the Mark Hotel's "Fall Foliage Package." The personalized tour takes guests on a scenic journey via pedicab, making a stop for a Jean-Georges picnic in the park with cinnamon-tossed, caramel-filled donuts and hot cider before dropping guests off at The Metropolitan Museum, where they can enjoy two cocktail vouchers to view the exhibition at the rooftop bar. The hotel also offers a number of seasonal and art-focused packages, including a New York art scene-inspired package that includes a private guided tour of your preferred museum, an "Artist's Afternoon Tea" and a personal chauffeur for six hours.

Take a scenic cruise.

For a unique vantage point of Manhattan's storied skyline, enjoy a leisurely cruise from Chelsea Piers. Bateaux New York provides a three-course dining experience on the water, with entrees such as jumbo lump crab cakes and miso-glazed cod, crafted cocktails and an extensive wine and beer list. This glass-enclosed boat offers spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and One World Trade Center and is accompanied by an acoustic trio. Specialty Spirit Cruises include a Gospel Lunch Cruise featuring a captivating performance by the New York City Gospel Choir and a Hot Latin Moonlight Cruise with the Latin dance company Piel Canela.

Fly high with a trapeze lesson.

Tourists can soar through the air with trapeze lessons through Trapeze School New York. The school is dedicated to making flying trapeze available to anyone by creating a safe and fun environment. And if you choose to stay at the AKA Central Park, a hotel residence, you can follow your trapeze lesson with another coordinated class, such as learning how to pair wine with top cut charcuterie and cheese with connoisseurs from Corkbuzz Wine Studio. Guests can also learn the steps of seasoning and curing pates and terrines, or obtain firsthand knowledge of Italian culture and food with a private chef experience.

Admire the Beekman Hotel's art collection.

Inspired by the iconic building's eccentric and illustrious past, the art collection at The Beekman pays homage to its prime geographic location at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Beekman's impressive art collection represents nearly 20 known and emerging artists. Their pieces lure guests with themes captivating contemporary artists today about the physical and emotional environment. Open to the public and curated by Katherine Gass, the collection includes over 60 original paintings, photographs, prints, works on paper and sculptures that are installed throughout the hotel's public spaces and guestrooms.

Partake in an interactive, multicourse dinner.

Kitchen Table at Clement, a new monthly series hosted by the Peninsula New York's Chef Remi van Peteghem, takes place at the restaurant's communal table overlooking Fifth Avenue. A select number of guests can enjoy an interactive multicourse dinner with Clement's innovative culinary team. Each dinner focuses on seasonal themes or regions, and guests can ask the chef questions and collect recipes. Menu highlights of the eight-course meals in the past have included ravioli with confit duck, a frisee salad with slow-cooked quail breast and more mouthwatering specialties.

Join an insider walking tour.

Ever want learn what it's really like to be a Broadway actor? With an Inside Broadway Tour, you can visit historic theaters and uncover actors' secrets. The tour takes nearly two hours and transports you to legendary Broadway locations to delve into the history of the Great White Way. More of a financial guru than a theatergoer? The Financial Crisis Tour, a walking tour led by former traders and bankers, offers unique insights into the events leading the 2008 recession and how the recovery is going. Participants can learn about one of the country's most devastating recessions from the people who have insider knowledge of the major players and events.

Attend wine seminars at the Chelsea Wine Vault.

Tucked inside the historic Chelsea Market, the Chelsea Wine Vault is the market's flagship wine store. With a well-trained staff of dedicated wine lovers, the Chelsea Wine Vault also puts emphasis on training. You can join staff members every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for fun, informal Weekend Wine School or attend a more structured weeknight class. The seminar topics range from Wine 101 to up-and-coming wine regions. And for select private event bookings, you can also reserve a private tour of Chelsea Wine Storage, Manhattan's only temperature-controlled wine storage facility. In these private, locked storage facilities, you can peruse top-tier wine bottles collected by New York's elite.

Enjoy a high-end afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel.

For a quiet oasis removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel's Palm Court. Thanks to a renovation in 2013, the Palm Court features lush garden elements such as swaying palm trees, potted plants and an oval trellised bar anchoring the room. You can leisurely sip a Grand Lapsang Souchong, one of the Plaza's finest and lightest teas. The tea is complemented perfectly by warm seasonal scones with Double Devonshire Cream, lemon curd and preserves. Other menu staples include caramel and chocolate sea salt macaroons, along with savory items such as roasted chicken salad and slow-roasted turkey with cranberry-mustard aioli.

Dine at Fish Bar at North River Landing.

With more than 8,000 restaurants across the city, dining establishments in the Big Apple must go above and beyond to stand out from the pack. That's what sparked the creation of Fish Bar, a 160-foot yacht featuring a restaurant and upscale seafood lounge at Pier 81 at the North River Landing complex that offers small bites, shareable plates and exotic cocktails. Past patrons rave about the black linguini with clams, shrimp, lobster and cockles. Another crowd-pleaser: the charred octopus with salsa verde, roasted red peppers and chickpeas. Aside from panoramic skyline views from the lounge, patrons on a budget can rest assured there's no additional fee to set sail.
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