Best Kept Travel Secrets: Get to Know New York City, New York

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Want to talk busy? Just bring up New York City. The Big Apple is one of the busiest cities in the world. Known for business, entertainment, adventure, food, and a cornucopia of other offerings, New York City is a world class tourist destination.

This doesn't bode well for those on a budget or those who avoid long waiting lines. Many of New York City's top attractions are costly and will take a long time to see.

To save time and money, you're going to want to explore some of the attractions a little off the beaten path, and don't worry, they are still fascinating.

A stroll down Alphabet City reveals tribute to art, social activists, poets, music and personalities of all kinds.

City Hall Station

Subway tunnels run throughout New York City, and when visiting you will undoubtedly find yourself in one. While the subways make frequent stops at many stations, one station you can only grab a glimpse of as you pass by is City Hall Station.

Originally opened in 1904, City Hall Station was once a spectacular sight to behold. Adorned with chandeliers, the station exuded elegance for all travelers. Unfortunately the station did not age as well as many had hoped.

That's a good thing for tourists looking for a less-traveled attraction. Though you must be a member of the New York City Transit Museum, the organization does host guided tours of City Hall Station where visitors can take in the sights and sounds of the underground landmark.

Dream House

Created by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela – the former a composer and the latter an artist – The Dream House is not so much a house as it is an experience. The pair worked together for many years to develop a unique, inspiring attraction that combines sound waves and light. Mood and ambiance is constantly manipulated and claims to place tourists in a dream or trance-like state.

While others may opt for a classical museum or art experience, beat the lines and head to The Dream House for one of the more marvelous and stimulating attractions in all of New York. Admission is just $10.

Battery Park, known by the nickname The Battery, spans 25 acres and is found on the southern portion of Manhattan Island. Its name is derived from artillery batteries formerly positioned there to protect the city. While The Battery is fun to explore, a can't-miss attraction within is the SeaGlass Carousel.

The SeaGlass Carousel opened in 2015 and is a marvel of art. Resting on the grave of the first New York Aquarium, in this glass nautilus shell you will find 30 fiberglass fish, all designed by George Tyspin, a brilliant designer who has worked on opera houses, theaters, and Broadway productions. Tyspin used his design expertise to construct this unique carousel without any poles to obstruct view as you ride along.


The modern world is strange, and Mmuseumm wants to help you understand its weirdness. Originally occupying the space of a former freight elevator, Mmuseumm is a self-described testament to how weird modernity is and exposes this through Object Journalism. The museum features a collection of eccentric oddities through which a collection of artists exposes our strangeness.

Mmuseumm operates in distinct seasons, each featuring a different theme. It closes when the weather turns sour in the winter, and it opens back up in the spring. If you are a fan of pop culture, individuality, and occasionally enjoy laughing at how strange we are, this attraction is a must. The low cost of entry compared to other museums is quite attractive, too.

Roosevelt Hospital Ruins

Smallpox is one of the most infamous diseases in human history. It had a terrible impact on millions and ravaged populations worldwide. Prior to the smallpox vaccine in 1796, it was hard to avoid, and it took many years for the vaccine to be deployed at levels necessary to protect large populations. Cities had to do something, and New York City was no exception.

Renwick Smallpox Hospital was the city's solution to keep the disease from spreading. Found on Roosevelt Island, the Roosevelt Hospital Ruins are a haunting reminder of smallpox. It opened in 1856 and closed within the next century. In 1976 it became a New York City Landmark.

Alphabet City

Avenues A through D in New York City are named Alphabet City. At first glance there may be nothing to this district other than an interesting name. Then you start to dig. You learn some pretty fascinating things.

First you find out the name originates from Alphabet City being composed of Avenues A, B, C, and D. They're the only single letter named avenues in the area.

Then you learn about its rich cultural and artistic history. It has been a melting pot for German, Hispanic, African American, Puerto Rican, Polish, and Jewish populations and has always been one of the denser areas in NYC. The clashing of cultures created consistent conflict but also consistent art.

A stroll down Alphabet City reveals tributes to art, social activists, poets, music, and personalities of all kinds. Next time you're in NYC and want an education in culture, make sure this district is on the list.

Obscura Oddities and Antiques

Fans of oddities, obscurities and antiques rejoice! Obscura Oddities and Antiques, located in Manhattan's East Village, offers sights to behold. The antique store, which is an active seller of goods, hardly does any advertising yet is well-known for offering some of the strangest, most unique collections in the world.

It emphasizes medical antiques from the Victorian era and will satisfy the needs of any obscure fan. Pop into this shop and walk away with a souvenir like no other.

Katz Delicatessen

Don't read this if you're hungry because Katz's Delicatessen will make you drool. This is where you'll find the best corned beef and pastrami in New York City. The meat takes roughly 30 days to cure, and, thus, offers a tenderness and flavor not found elsewhere.

Best Kept Secrets

Grab a travel credit card and visit New York City because you are going to have a long list of activities to do. They won't be the traditional fanfare, either. They will be activities that help you avoid tourist traffic and allow you to explore some of NYC's best kept secrets. Just make sure you don't get too eager and try to cram it all in one day.