It’s hard to think of New York City without your mind going straight to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, but New York City has much more to offer the 100,000 or so people who pass through Times Square each day. We highly recommend seeing the postcard card sights of NY, but make sure to plan a little extra time to see what many leave without experiencing.
1. Greenwich Village
Hop on the blue line and head downtown to the West 4th Street stop. Jump off the Subway and take in all the sounds, sights and smells around you. This isn't the NY you typically see with bright lights and marquis. Here you’ll be able to have a safe experience and soak up some good food, live music and culture. Stop by The Village Underground for live music that'll take you to any era and have you on your toes with your favorite R&B, Motown, Spanish, Reggae, Pop or Rock hits. These are not only some of the best voices and players you've ever heard on stage, their live performance is contagious. You'll ask yourself how this has been one of NY’s best-kept secrets.
2. Comedy Clubs
NYC is known for it’s wise-crackin’ heritage and young comedians flood comedy clubs for practice or to get their lucky break. NY’s local comedy clubs not only feature some of the funniest rising stars, but also some of biggest names in comedy. For sidesplitting laughs at a reasonable price, skip the highly advertised Times Square comedy hot spots and head to clubs like The Comedy Cellar where the locals go to when they need a pick-me-up or a night of entertainment.
3. Bryant Park
You'll undoubtedly pass Bryant Park at some point on your way to Times Square or between landmarks, but make sure not to pass it by without spending a bit of time exploring. Join a game of Bocce Ball with the locals and don’t worry if you don’t know how to play. Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are extraordinarily friendly and these guys love to teach their sport to a newcomer. You’ll find yourself playing with some of the nation’s Bocce Ball pros and they won’t even let on that they’re letting you win. To take a break from your new sport, grab a park bench and listen to some live jazz tunes. In the winter, enjoy the ice skating rink and market with unique crafts, cheese, chocolate, and art. In the summer, grab a seat on the grass and watch a movie in the park.
4. Washington Square Park
All parks are not created equally. Central Park is known for it’s enormous size and many beautiful photo opportunities, Bryant Park is conveniently located and a nice spot for a mid-day break from the hustle and bustle, but Washington Square Park is a truly unique experience. We recommend visiting this park mid-day when you’ll find performers of all kinds working on their skills or just allowing others to share in their artistry. Some of these acts are highly skilled, while others may venture out to perform for the first time in front of this built-in audience. On a hot day, this is the perfect place to run through the fountain or just enjoy the mist from it.
5. Street Fairs
When you get done window-shopping on 5th Avenue, stroll through one or many of NYC’s street fairs. You can often find one around Union Square or SOHO, or you can look them up online and they’re usually pretty easy to find. These fairs can range from what looks like a sidewalk garage sale to highly artistic and unique jewelry, bags, woodworks, accessories and apparel. You can also grab some tasty food and drinks as you browse the booths.
6. Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building has long been the credited best place to view Manhattan’s surreal building-scape, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t get a good view of the Empire State Building while standing in the Empire State Building. Try Top of the Rock where the lines are significantly shorter, the ticket is much less expensive and the view is just as good (if not better). From the Top of the Rock you can see the Empire State Building as well as the rest of Manhattan. Lovers of the Chrysler Building may not be completely satisfied from here, though, as their view will be slightly obstructed by the MetLife building.
7. West New York
Similar to the issue of not being able to see the Empire State Building while standing inside of it, it’s very difficult to get a beautiful view of the NYC skyline while in the middle of it. Take a short ferry ride over to Weehawken / West New York and then turn around and face Manhattan to see it in all its glory. If you go at night, just be sure to time things right so you don’t miss the last ferry back to Manhattan.