New York City is full of infinite activities to do and eye-catching sights to see. While the Empire State Building and Fifth Avenue are always fun, there is something magical about seeing the lesser-known side of the city. Whether you are a regular visitor ready to change things up or a first-timer who wants a unique experience, this list of seven lesser-known things to do in New York City will come in handy. The best part? They are all free!
1. Spend an afternoon at Washington Square Park
Everyone has heard of Central Park, but few are aware of its southern counterpart, Washington Square Park. This small park is ideal those looking to spend a sunny afternoon the way the locals do. You can picnic on the grassy patches or sit beside the dancing fountain. This park is full of character and most of your company will be NYU students and local street artists. You never know what you are going to see in Washington Square Park. From Irish dancing to acro-yoga, there is always something exciting going on.
2. Stroll along the Highline
Manhattan’s most unique park, the Highline, stretches along the Hudson River. But it is so much more than a park. The Highline was once an abandoned, above-ground railway. The train tracks are still there, but they are covered in plants and surrounded by benches and a walkway. Along the Highline you will also find food vendors, merchandise booths, and countless photo opportunities.
3. Window shop in Chelsea Market
At the southern end of the Highline, on 14th street, you will find Chelsea Market. From the outside it looks like an old factory, and technically that’s exactly what it is, but it has become so much more. Chelsea Market is full of exciting things to see and do. At one end of the massive, indoor, urban market you can taste-test the best brownies in town at Fat Witch. On the other end you can peruse the bookstore and check out the Arts & Flea Market, which is full of hand-crafted goods.
4. Get on T.V.
People are filming in New York City practically every day. Whether it is an obscure YouTube channel or a national primetime television show, there are opportunities to appear on camera everywhere you turn. Take to Twitter to find out what big shows are filming and try to get a spot as an extra, or walk around town (Washington Square Park and Union Square are your best bets) to see what local filming is happening.
5. Watch the sunset at Battery Park
One of the most gorgeous sunset views in town is the view from Battery Park. It is at the southern tip of Manhattan and there are no buildings blocking your view, so you can watch the uninterrupted sunset over the Hudson River. I recommend packing a picnic and making a date of it.
6. Enjoy a sunny day at Brooklyn Bridge Park
After crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (a must for those visiting New York), head to Brooklyn Bridge Park. You will get incredible views of the Manhattan skyline. Even without the views, this would be a cool park. The architect clearly had fun and everywhere you turn there are new surprises to be found. If you walk far enough south you will end up at Smorgasburg, a food festival that comes to the park every Saturday.
7. Volunteer on an urban farm
Urban farming is quickly becoming synonymous with New York City. Volunteering on an urban farm is a great way to learn about the movement to make organic and locally grown produce available in the concrete jungle. Plus, it is a fun and unique way to spend a day. Join the Hellgate Farm email lists for updates about volunteer days so you can try your hand at urban farming in Astoria.
An affordable way to see New York City
Whether you pick one of these things to do in addition to the traditional tourist activities in the Big Apple or design a whole trip around lesser-known activities, your trip in New York City is bound to be unforgettable.
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