This city is full of so many incredible features, and most of them are very well-known: the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Museum of Natural History, etc.
But there are also some extraordinary must-visit locations that you wouldn’t believe are actually in the concrete jungle.
From secret parks to historical streets, there is so much to explore right here in NYC that will make you feel like you’re in another country (or another world) entirely.
This isn’t your average “places to visit” list—these 10 spots are actually completely different from anything else in the city, and will make you question if you are even still here!
If you didn’t know about The Cloisters before, you might not ever believe that a medieval castle was in the middle of New York City. But it is! The Cloisters is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art that is devoted to European art history. It was designed and constructed taking elements from many different medieval cloisters, which are covered pathways in a church or monastery that connect to form an open square in the center. Find out more here.
Where: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Hours: Open Seven Days a Week, March – October 10am – 5:15pm; November – February: 10am – 4:45 pm
Purchase tickets on their website here.
2. The Ramble, Central Park
Central Park has lots of little-known sections within its sprawling greenery, and one of those is called “The Ramble.” The Ramble is 38 acres of winding pathways throughout lush woodland between 73rd and 78th Streets. It’s known for its bird-watching opportunities, but our favorite parts are the little enclaves with wooden benches and overhangs, right on the edge of The Lake.
Where: 79th St. Transverse, Central Park
Hours: Open daily, 6am—1am
3. Greenacre Park, Midtown
This hidden little park in Midtown East is only 1/7 of an acre, but it definitely packs a punch. It holds a 25-foot waterfall that is not only a sight for sore eyes in the middle of Manhattan, and will also distract from the noise of the busy streets. It was built in 1971 by the Greenacre Foundation from a design by Hideo Sasaki.
Where: 217 E 51st St.
Hours: 8am-6pm daily
4. Island Oyster, Governors Island
When you’re sitting at the Island Oyster bar on Governors Island on a sunny day, feeling the sea breeze flow from the Hudson River, you will surely forget you are even in the city (except for that gorgeous view of the skyline, of course). You’ll feel like you’re on vacation on a tropical island—and you only had to take a $2 ferry from downtown Manhattan.
Where: 146 Carder Rd., Governors Island
Hours: Closed for the season, will reopen in May
5. Morgan Library, Murray Hill
The Morgan Library feels like a trip to a library from Harry Potter or old world Europe. The historical venue was built as a private library between 1902 and 1906 for financier Pierpont Morgan. He began collecting manuscripts and other historical materials as early as 1890, and now they line the walls of the museum. You can find some of the country’s rarest music manuscripts, early children’s books, Americana, early printed books and more there.
Where: 225 Madison Ave
Hours: Varies, see website for more info.
6. Van Cortlandt House, The Bronx
The Van Cortlandt House is the oldest surviving building in The Bronx, and was built by Frederick Van Cortlandt (1699 – 1749) in 1748. The Van Cortlandts were a prominent merchant family who owned a plantation on the property. Generations of the family lived there for 140 years, and in 1887 it was sold to the City of New York and made into public park land (Van Cortlandt Park itself it also the third largest park in NYC and has lots of unique hiking trails and vantage points!). Before it was a museum it had many random, unique uses like a temporary police precinct and a living space for ranch hands that cared for a herd of buffalo on the property.
Where: 6036 Broadway, Van Cortlandt Park
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm, Saturday-Sunday 11am-4pm
7. Stone Street, FiDi
Stone Street is one of the rare cobblestone streets in NYC, that gives more of an old school European feel to the starkly modern city buildings around it. According to Untapped Cities, the street was one of the first to be paved with cobblestones (in 1658) in the Nieuw Amsterdam colony, which is where it got its name. Today, no cars are allowed through and in the warm weather because of outdoor seating it’s one of the few NYC locations where drinking is actually allowed in the streets.
Where: From Whitehall St. to Broad St., between Marketfield St. and Bridge St.
Hours: Open 24 hours
8. Fort Tryon Park, Inwood
These massive stone arches looks straight out of another era…and that’s because they are! Built between 1901 and 1905, they are some of the last remains of the Tryon Hall mansion, built by wealthy Chicago industrialist Cornelius K. G. Billings. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. purchased the $2 million estate in 1917, only for it to burn down a few years later. Read more about the history from the Fort Tryon Park Trust.
Makes sense that #1 on our list is right next door!
Where: Riverside Dr. To Broadway (arches are near down toward the Billings Lawn, this website has good detailed directions)
Hours: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily
9. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens
If you’re looking to be surrounded by nature instead of the concrete jungle, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is the place for you. On over 9,155 serene acres you can hike, go bird-watching, explore turtle nesting and admire the wide variety of wildflowers, moths and butterflies.
Where: Cross Bay Blvd near Broad Channel, Queens
Hours: Open 24 hours
10. Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Heights
This lush oasis in the heart of Brooklyn will make you feel like you’ve been completely transported to another city. During the cherry blossom bloom in the spring, it will surely feel like a trip to Japan, but year-round it provides a natural haven for New Yorkers with varying blooms all over its very walkable grounds.
And don’t forget, they are offering free pay-as-you-wish through the winter!
Where: 455 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225
Hours: Varies, see herePurchase tickets on their website here.
featured image source: Facebook / Brooklyn Botanic Garden