New York's Nine Most Underrated Attractions
There is so much to do in New York that you're bound to overlook something — but that's the beauty of it. Read on for our picks of the city's most overlooked things to do.
From the iconic (Central Park) to the obscure (the Elevator Historical Society Museum), New York offers travelers a dizzying array of options. Our picks for the city's most underrated sights aren't unknown, but they are underappreciated—especially by first-time visitors to the city.
1. The Staten Island Ferry
This one is a no-brainer. Who doesn't like a free cruise across New York's harbor? (Just make sure you get on a return ferry back to Manhattan.) Good for day or night, though not inclement weather. You can see Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty, and all of lower Manhattan spread out before you when you ride the Staten Island Ferry.
2. Pay-What-You-Will Museum Fare
Museum admission can really add up in New York, with many institutions charging more than $20 per adult; however, many of New York's most beloved museums show prices that are merely a suggested donation. Gain entrance to Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History for as much—or as little—as you'd like to pay.
3. The Cloisters
Located within Fort Tryon Park, itself perched on a cliff that overlooks the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, the Cloisters is assuredly one of the most beautiful places in New York. Located at the top of the island of Manhattan, the Cloisters is a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so fare at one museum pays for entry to the other, provided the visit is the same day. Built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1917, the Cloisters is a franken-museum, made up of pieces of disparate medieval European monasteries threatened by demolition. The result, however, is strikingly lovely and peaceful.
4. Brooklyn Museum
Housed within a beautiful Beaux-Arts building, the Brooklyn Museum is just down the road from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Prospect Park, and Grand Army Plaza. With recent blockbuster exhibits of Basquiat and Kehinde Wiley, this institution is a must-see.
5. Brooklyn Flea
There are few places in Brooklyn that better concentrate all the new stereotypes—good and bad—about the borough than the Brooklyn Flea. All artisanal everything is available here, from ramen burgers to borough-made crafts and upcycled clothing.
6. Midnight Movies at IFC
Grab a pie at Keste or John's, and then head to the IFC Center in the West Village for one of their eclectic and rotating late night shows. They show everything from cult classics like The Warriors to beloved nostalgia-trips like Jurassic Park, with a lot more in between.
7. Coney Island
Since the opening of Luna Park in 2010 (named after a historic amusement park), Coney Island has had a new lease on life. All the old gems are still there: Nathan's, the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, but now a lot more else besides. Plus, there's the beach.
8. Flushing's Chinatown
There are multiple Chinatowns throughout New York City, but Flushing's stands out for its particularly delicious, diverse, and cheap food. Deep within Queens, it's still a bustling intersection of people and culture and commerce. Check out the New World Mall food court to build your own buffet.
9. The Entire Bronx
Since Robert Moses sliced up the borough with his Cross Bronx Expressway in 1948, the Bronx has had a bad rap. But, home to the Yankees, the New York City Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, and several historic mansions, it's a place ripe for exploration. As usual, we've got you covered.
Molly McArdle is a native Washingtonian and a writer based in Brooklyn. You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram at @mollitudo.