10 Unusual Things To Do in NYC

Discover an alternative travel program

Can you possibly find a city as rich in events as New York? No way. There is a gallery on every corner, there are all kinds of shows happening day-and-night, no weekend is passing without a parade or a festival — the endless entertainment scene does not give one a chance to seat at home with movie and popcorn. However, if you are not that into traditional activities, like Broadway or baseball, you might be looking for some special experience. And here is the list that gives you a few guidelines through the hidden curiosities of the Big Apple. Take a walk among beautiful tombstones or literally learn to fly. Sounds like fun? Whether you like to hang out with friends, or you prefer exploring the town alone, we hope you’ll pick one of the following to go after adventurous time.


#1. Take a look on the Roosevelt Island via the aerial tram

Get up early in the morning, put on your walking shoes and take the best camera you have: the tour on the Roosevelt Island is definitely worth it! The starting point of your trip is on the Upper East Side: that’s where you take the tramway from (you can use the Metrocard to do that). And that's where the most amazing part begins: the panoramic view of Manhattan skyline opens to your eyes during a 5 minute ride. In order to get the most beautiful pictures in your collection, it’s highly recommended to be there on sunrise or sunset. The island itself represents a peaceful residential and commercial area, that has been significantly developed during recent years. It looks a little bit strange, as there is no traffic, as the town is car-free. Great architectural heritage makes it reasonable to spend here a couple of hours, exploring the most important sites and some weird things, like pneumatic trash system. You can get back to Midtown Manhattan the same way or use the subway (it’s one of the deepest below the sea stations in the city).

 59th St at Second Ave

#2. Explore the city through a scavenger hunt

Either you come to New York for the first time, or you have recently joined its happy residents numbers, this way of exploring the city spots is much more thrilling than a common tour. There are dozens of companies like Watson Adventures Scavenger Hunts offering different kinds of indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts: you can choose, whether you’d like it to be set in a museum, in a theater, in some other public space or just on the streets of the city. Most of the games are based on historical information and movie stories, so you better get some background, however, it’s not a crucial thing. The most important to complete the detective mission is being patient, creative, and observant. Clues can be textual, visual, even theatrical ones, it depends on the event. It’s an exciting feeling to discover the city secrets, hidden from the everyday touristic paths; besides, you can make good friends among other hunters.

#3. Visit Sleep No More performance

A thrilling audience-involving performance, based on Shakespeare’s slaughterous “Macbeth” tragedy, has been the NYC hit for over 4 years. Most of the experienced city visitors and residents mark this one as a must-see of the local events. What’s so special about it? Imagine yourself wandering in the decorations of the Hitchcock movie, involved in some kind of mysterious non-verbal action. Rooms (about 100 of them!) and corridors of McKittrick Hotel, which is the former warehouse, are poorly lightened and present quite a noir atmosphere, yet absolutely appropriate for the show. The performance itself consists of several different visionary genres, and the audience is watching it wearing masks. As much as the critics of New York have devoured loads of experimental theater pieces, Sleep No More tends to be one of their favorite during past few years. This sensational thing was an idea of Punchdrunk theatre company — a British team, who created not only the drama, but the whole space. Unpredictable, sensual and intricately detailed action engages your mind for two hours, making you a part of an unforgettable story.

Event has already passed

#4. Take a taxidermy class at Morbid Anatomy Museum

Funded with a Kickstarter campaign Joanna Ebenstein’s Initiantive, Morbid Anatomy Museum offers a remarkable variety of anatomic collections, including some oddities, like ethnographic waxworks and hypnagogic exhibitions. You can explore them 6 days a week, or if deeply interested in natural sciences, you’re welcome to join different kinds of group activities, special tours and workshops. One of them is the taxidermy class, which has been regularly held here for the past few years. It’s a truly unusual and a little bit creepy experience (no kidding!), which grew to a great popularity among the visitors. For a few hundreds of dollars one can learn special techniques of prepping, stuffing and mounting, all under the careful professional guidance. The organizers claim that they once had a waiting list of 600 people signed up for the event. One exciting thing for dabble taxidermists — they have a range of animals featured in preparations: there are pigeons, chipmunks or mammals (usually just their heads) available. Once you got few spare hundreds and hours, and you don’t feel sick of the look of disemboweled animal bodies, go to Brooklyn for a memorable handiwork process.

 424-A 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

#5. Buy something at Obscura Antiques & Oddities

Once being the most artistic part of Manhattan (they say, recent gentrification has changed that, moving creative community west and south of town), East Village still hides many curiosities, and well, some oddities. Some of them you can take home with you. To fish for unusual things one can explore regular flea markets, or just find 207 Avenue A — that’s where famous Obscura Antiques & Oddities is located. The owners of the store have gathered an impressive collection of antique items of all kinds. In spite of changing the location recently, the spot keeps its special mystery for many years. You never know what unbelievable things you find there, and this is a true fun. This would be a nice way to surprise your friend with an authentic souvenir. And if you’re a collector, you should definitely pay a visit to the place: real treasures may wait for you on these counters, from vintage jewelry to some rare books. Good hunting!

 207 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

#6. Visit Coney Island Circus Sideshow

The kind of entertainment that can be rated as moderately weird, yet more like nostalgic and amusing. In the heart of the circus culture, International Center of Sideshow Arts, takes place the 10-in-1 performance, Coney Island Circus Sideshow, featuring a dozen of “unusual” show makers. You probably saw that in movies: sword swallowers, fire eaters, illusionists and other members of the “born different” crowd engage you in a rather extravagant action at some shabby theatre. But once you watch it in reality, you understand that these freaks are truly professionals and fun. If you want to escape for a couple of hours, this would be a great opportunity to do that for the reasonable money. One more advantage of this activity — great views of the Coney Island seashore. Enjoy!

Event has already passed

#7. Sign up for a class at the New York Trapeze School

If you are suddenly up for some extraordinary experience, like flying for instance, there is one crazy idea for you. New York Trapeze School, which is located in the Lower West Side, close to the Hudson River, offers flying classes for a reasonable price. Would you like to swing and hover in the air with an amazing view on the skyline? You can try it once, and if you turn out not to be the fan of throwing yourself from the edge of 23 feet high, you finish with it right away. At least you'll get some memorable moments! But if you really enjoy the process, feel free to sign up for a course and do it regularly. The experts will help with developing your skills and courage. Be prepared with the dress-code: wear something with sleeves and with your legs and feet covered — the safety net can be real rough for amateurs.

#8. Shop vintage at a flea market 0+

New York is nothing without its shopping scene, which is endless and diversified in every way. And there is no better city to fish for vintage, with the thrift shops and consignment stores flourishing on every corner. However, we recommend you to explore the more exciting way of getting something old and precious — we’re talking about flea markets, of course. Besides, if you never tried this weekend activity, you can’t be considered a true New Yorker. Every borough has its outdoor and indoor spots that go for sales the whole year round, however, some flea markets pop-up occasionally, some are seasonal, some are just for the holidays. Use our special guide of the most renowned markets in the city. Of course, there are far more places where you can bump into a cool tweed jacket or chic granny’s jewelry, just trust your instincts.

#9. Take a cemetery tour

This offer may sound creepy to an unprepared city guest, however, it’s kind of a popular activity among those who want to get more authentic NYC experience. While planning another trip to Brooklyn, think about exploring its central part, which hosts one of the most picturesque spots in the city — Green-Wood Park. Originally a cemetery, it’s a Historic National Landmark established in 1838 on the Revolutionary War site. It soon became known worldwide for its wonderful scenery and architecture. This one used to be a prestigious site to be buried, and many famous citizens found their final resting places here. The property of Green-Wood is carefully preserved. And there’s a lot to be cared about: 478 acres of land with glacial ponds, hills and valleys, paths and trees, and a great collection of monuments, of course. Regular trolley and walking tours are available during the year. If you feel interested, there are two more cemeteries recommended for a tour: the Marble Cemetery and the Trinity Cemetery.

 500 Fifth Ave at 25th St, Sunset Park, Brooklyn

#10. Eat at Ninja Sushi&Dining

It’s always nice to dine at some places you trust and get used to, especially when it comes to oriental food. Though if you are down for a thrill, not only gastronomic, but also a visual one, Ninja Dining is the right spot to visit. It’s sensational in all senses: exquisite dark windowless interior makes you feel like a castle guest, ninja-dressed waiters amaze you with unexpected emergencies and tricks, just like in Japanese movies, and of course, the menu is irreproachably yummy. Once you come here, you stay captive in this dungeon on your own free will. Just be careful not to spill your Sencha when a handsome “assassin” starts brandishing his nun-chucks in front of your table.

 25 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

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