There’s no place like New York City – we know it better than anybody. But sometimes you need a quick change of scenery without actually leaving the city.
In a place as eclectic and diverse as NYC, you’re bound to run into numerous bars and restaurants that are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, but what about the ones that are like a place you’ve never been before?
Out of the hundreds of themed bars and restaurants in the Big Apple, we’ve narrowed down the best and most exciting ones that completely transport you to another city, another time, and even another ecosystem!
Here are 10 spots to visit that will transport you out of NYC:
1. Become a master potions maker at The Cauldron
The Cauldron is a wizarding world treat for Harry Potter fans of all ages. When you arrive, you’ll be given a robe and magic wand that’ll give you the power to interact with your space like the true wizard you are! Your designated wand will allow you to summon drinks from the tree stump or unicorns, stir liquids, and illuminate cocktails. Though popularly known for its immersive “potions”-making class, this magical hub also offers afternoon tea, weekend brunch, and karaoke nights.
2. A Tulum Beach Club in your backyard? Head to Gitano
Can’t book a flight to Mexico? Book a ferry to Governors Island instead for a taste of Tulum at Gitano. This seasonal treat is still new but on its way to being a summer staple. A quick 5-Minute Boat Ride From Downtown NYC can take you straight to the Modern-Mexican Restaurant, Mezcal Bar & Water Front Lounge that features a Gitano Island Members Lounge and Lotus Pond equipped with cabanas and the works that are sure to give you the perfect vacation illusion you’re looking for!
3. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year every day at Rolfs
Rolfs is a wonderland for those who wish Christmas was every day (minus the gifts). There are over 200,000 lights strung throughout the entire restaurant. Many of the ornaments are vintage antiques. Rolf’s brings the best of German food and classic holiday cocktails like spiced egg-nog, mulled wine, or hot apple cider. The space decked out with hundreds of thousands of Christmas Lights, ornaments, and icicles, all strung and lined throughout the restaurant. In addition to these, there are hundreds of porcelain dolls and wreaths, artificial fir trees, garlands, ribbons, and other festive bits and pieces.
4. Dine in a cave at La Caverna
This Mexican eatery in the Lower East Side has a one-of-a-kind interior. The walls are designed to give the illusion that you’re in a cave in Mexico.
5. Prepare for the new season of Bridgerton at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
If you’re a fan of period pieces like Bridgerton and Downton Abbey, add this restaurant to your must-go list. Lillie’s was inspired by the legacy of Lillie Langtry, a controversial figure who challenged Victorian society’s attitudes toward women. The establishment combines an authentic ostentatious decor with a down-to-earth, mellow ambiance that represents one of the last great Victorian “gin palaces” that once flourished in the industrial cities of Northern Ireland and England.
6. Take a trip to another planet at Jupiter Disco
Inspired equally by the iconic nightlife spaces of New York City and the art and aesthetic of science fiction that both of its owners love, Jupiter Disco is a unique experience featuring some of the best DJs in the city. You can bask in its tech-noir vibes and fantastic sound and discover some of the wildest cocktails in the city — all while participating in one of the most vibrant and diverse nightlife communities in the world.
7. Dig your toes into the sand at Surf Bar
No, seriously, there is sand on the floor. There are numerous tiki and surf-themed bars in NYC, but none are as committed to the theme as Brooklyn’s Surf Bar. Aside from the decor, including beach shacks in the outdoor area, surfboards covering the ceiling, and plants all over, Surf Bar ties the escape together with menu items like fish tacos served on a wood surfboard platter.
8. Live your Cowgirl fantasies out at this West Village staple
As a bar and restaurant founded in 1989 by a single mom and former Texan, Cowgirl has helped shape the NYC community of the West Village by welcoming people from all walks of life with Texas-friendly service, food, and killer margaritas. The owners and staff are proud to be a part of uniting true wild-west spirit with NYC’s independent, creative energy.
9. Dine under the sea at Lamia Fish Market.
As an ode to her coastal Mediterranean roots, Restaurateur Lamia Funti created Lamia’s Fish Market, a seafood-centric eatery dishing out a menu of fresh offerings in a playful yet refined space that immerses diners in the indulgent depths below. Lamia is achieving her long-time dream by creating this new restaurant in a seductive setting, designed with women in mind.
10. Live on the wild side at Trailer Park Lounge
Somewhere between a truck stop and trailer park is this millennial staple. Since 2002, Trailer Park Lounge has entertained visitors with its interior, including a piece of a trailer inside. This parody bar is hard to explain without seeing it for yourself, but the eclectic design will surely transport you to a place you’d see on the side of the road in a movie.