Finding great things to do in New York is never difficult, yet finding great things to do away from the bustle of tourist crowds is what usually proves to be the challenge. But it need not be the case! Just a hop, skip and jump away from the well-worn path are a few unusual attractions which are as interesting, enlightening, and amazing as any you’ll find listed on guide books. So take a few hours off your touring schedule, indulge in our favourite hidden New York pleasures…and get a real taste of the Big Apple.
Walk the High Mile
If you want a relaxing walk in a park, ditch the crowd of Central and head to the High Line instead.
New York’s High Line is quite possibly the city’s most unconventional ‘park’, and the ideal place to retreat to if escaping the bustle below is on your wish-list. The mile-long luscious walkway, built on top of an elevated disused railway track between Midtown and the Meatpacking district, is one of the least-known attractions in town, but its popularity is on the rise, so head here before this gets over-run too. Brimming with benches, joggers and casual strollers, the High Line’s landscaping has made particular use of wild plants and flowers, to make it seem as if Mother Nature has reclaimed its land. Come see the city from a different perspective, enjoy great views of the Hudson, and sneak a peek into apartment and hotel windows (one in particular is said to be besieged by flashers!). Simply gorgeous and relaxing, a walk down this mile is an ideal way to lose an afternoon in New York.
Insider’s tip: if you organize to end your walk on the entrance at 30th street, you’ll be right above The Lot, which may basically be an empty parking lot, BUT in summer it’s chock full of food trucks and beer gardens, and is another great way to stretch out your afternoon away from the touristy crowds!
Sail away, sail away, sail away….
While most tourists will settle for a Staten Island Ferry ride for superlative city views, consider getting a little closer to the water, and take a two-hour sail aboard a traditional 19th century schooner. The guys at Sail New York run several trips a day come rain, hail or snow; all of which, must be said, are exceedingly romantic. Grab a blanket, a glass of champagne, and that delicious fish burger you bought at the Chelsea Markets on your way here, and you could enjoy a brilliantly different afternoon in New York. The spectacle gifted by a sunset sail past Lady Liberty is just sensational.
Kayaking the Hudson
If you’re feeling particularly active you could either sit and wait for it to pass or, alternatively, you could head to the Downtown Boathouse ,and grab a kayak! This brilliant council initiative is one of the least known to visitors, and one of New Yorker’s most beloved. It’s run by volunteers, and kayaks have been donated by the council which means you get to walk up, grab one and kayak away without paying a cent.
Get a pizza inta ya!
Watch enough American-made Mafia movies and you’ll realize that when it comes to pizzas, Italo-Americans are almost more fanatical than their across-the-Atlantic ancestors. They like their crust thin, their buffalo mozzarella flowy and their tomatoes juicy. For an educative and enlightening way to spend a few hours in New York, ditch the museum visit, and come learn how to make pizza instead.
Mark Bello’s pizzas have been rated among the best in the city, and you can certainly get a taste of his most crowd-pleasing creations…as long as you make it yourself. Join Mark’s pizza making classes at Pizza a Casa School and you’ll be kneading, spreading and sprinkling to your heart’s content. But this isn’t just a way to get your hands dirty and start a flour fight with your partner; with these classes you’ll learn some invaluable tips about pizza making, which you’ll be able to duplicate at home easily. The only downside we find to this, is that once you master the perfect pizza at home…you’ll never want to eat any other!
Kayak, Charlie via Flickr
Pizza a Casa