If you want something different than the tourist hotspots, this list’s for you. We’re looking at relatively lesser-known, but not necessarily obscure, attractions on the island of Manhattan. Here are our top picks of hidden gems in New York City that you should most definitely explore!
1. The Berlin Wall
Berlin in New York? After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, large pieces of the structure were subsequently shipped all around the world. Even New York residents may not realize that their city is home to several pieces of the infamous wall that are on public display! One is at the United Nations headquarters on the east side, while another is in Kowski Plaza in Battery Park. One piece was located inside the lobby of 520 Madison, but is reported to be in the process of being relocated. Checking out one of these now historical artifacts is a great way to get a glimpse of a turbulent time in modern history.
2. Old City Hall Subway Station
Most places on our list of hidden gems in New York City are pretty easy to access for the average traveler, but this is an exception. We couldn’t exclude the Old City Hall Subway Station though because it’s just so iconic. This station was closed more than half a century ago and retains all of its former glory. Unfortunately though, it is only officially accessible by guided tours offered by the New York Transit Museum, and you have to be a museum member in order to take part. While some visitors might bend the rules to get in, you’re better off buying and accessing the guided tour.
3. Grand Central Terminal’s Whispering Gallery
The beautiful and historic Grand Central Terminal is a tourist must-see for obvious reasons. Most people only step in for a quick photo op and then move on, but some of Grand Central’s secrets are worth exploring further! You won’t find any arrows pointing towards it, but outside of the oyster bar and restaurant is an arch with an unexpected feature. If you stand in the corner and whisper into the stone, someone standing at the diagonal corner can hear you with perfect clarity!
4. The Morgan Library & Museum
Bibliophiles listen up! If you’re an avid reader or just culture-curious, you’ve probably already paid a visit to the beautiful main branch of the New York Public Library. But this lesser-known space is possibly even more stunning. The Morgan Library is actually only a couple of blocks away in Midtown and makes for the perfect spot to reenact your favorite library scene from Beauty and the Beast. I’ve never seen so many books in my life! It was created in 1906 as JP Morgan’s private collection, but has since become a public attraction. And as an added bonus, visiting The Morgan Library is actually free for a few hours on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
5. Sleep No More
Sure you’ve seen some Broadway shows, maybe you even nabbed tickets to Hamilton! But if you’re looking for some theatrical entertainment that’s a bit more off the beaten path, Sleep No More might be the perfect option. This interactive experience takes place in the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, actually a warehouse performance space. Guests don masks and are invited to explore the enormous area while performers move through the rooms telling a story inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The actors rarely speak and the audience is asked to remain silent throughout the three-hour event. Sleep No More is definitely unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before!
6. The Back Room
When it comes to bars, there are countless hidden gems in New York, and which one is the hottest right now is ever-changing. So how do you guarantee a fun, unique and draggable experience for your night out on the town? There are numerous speakeasies and secret bars scattered throughout the city, you just have to know which dark alley to venture down. If you want to experience a piece of New York history, check out The Back Room which has been operating as a speakeasy since the days of prohibition. It was also featured as Val’s bar on Broad City!