New York City is a gateway to hundreds of hidden places, abandoned subway tunnels, decommissioned hospitals, secret gardens, and other unforgettable experiences off the beaten track. You can walk a area of Tudor houses right in the heart of the city, visit a museum-style shop with natural history inspired goods gathered from all over the world, see vast public gardens, and even visit pieces of the actual Berlin Wall. Check out unusual and hidden places the city has to offer by exploring some of the best things to do off the beaten track in New York.


    Elevated Acre

    Visit a secret garden high above the streets

    Elevated Acre is a hidden New York garden situated a full storey above street level and offering a boardwalk, gorgeous views of the city, and a serene escape. To reach it, you'll need to take the escalator or climb the stairs in a building. This hidden gem has been around since the 1970s and is a quiet and serene escape from the noise, hustle, and bustle of the big city. In this gorgeous park, you'll find a 7-tiered amphitheatre and a large tended lawn. You can walk around the edges and catch views of the East River and Brooklyn. In the warmer months, a seasonal beer garden is held here. It's located right city centre along Water Street.

    Location: 55 Water St, New York, NY 10041, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 212-747-9120


    Whispering Gallery

    Hear a whisper above the din of the crowds

    The Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal is a mysterious natural phenomenon that allows you to hear the quietest whisper even above the noise of crowds. Just press your ear up against the tile work to hear a whispered song, message, or communication even at the most crowded times. It's located city centre within Grand Central Terminal and occurs because of the perfect arches comprising the gallery. The gorgeous Guastavino tile work is also an attraction here, a patented method and material that contributes to the acoustic phenomenon. The gallery isn't rare, and similar galleries can be found all over the world, but it's still a really fun way to spend an afternoon.

    Location: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, USA

    Open: 24/7


    photo by Aiwok (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Smallpox Memorial Hospital

    See a cat colony in a historic former hospital

    Smallpox Memorial Hospital offers a visit to a historic abandoned building where people were housed during a deadly outbreak of smallpox in the late Victorian era and early 20th century. It was designed by famous architect James Renwick Jr., and it opened in 1856. In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It's located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in Manhattan's East River and served as a triage for smallpox patients and as a training hospital. Today, it's famed as the home of a massive cat colony. It has also been featured in media presentations such as the book "City of Bones," the video game Grand Theft Auto, and the 2002 film "Spider-Man."

    Location: E Rd, New York, NY 10044, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 9 am to 7 pm (closed on Tuesdays)


    The Graffiti Tunnel

    See a subway tunnel filled with legal street art

    The Graffiti Tunnel is a hidden gem of New York City that allows you to explore some of the most stunning work by local up-and-coming street artists in their element. This tunnel was once dark and filthy, but it was revitalised by artists who received authorisation fromthe city. Today, it's an Instagram-worthy site for photographers and visitors. The site is also unknown to many in the city, passed over by many visitors but known as a landmark to the residents of the Washington Heights area. It's located in the old 191st subway tunnel in the heart of the area.

    Location: 191st St Station Entrance Tunnel & Lift, New York, NY 10040, USA


    Piece of the Berlin Wall

    Get up close to a reminder of a seminal moment in history

    Three pieces of the Berlin Wall reside throughout New York City and allow visitors a chance to capture one of the most important and seminal moments in world history. These pieces of the Wall are located at Kowsky Plaza in Battery Park, at United Nations Park, and at the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in Times Square. As you explore the city, you can get up close and personal to these structures, which are representative of a time of great strife, when the Western world was starkly divided between democracy and communism. They also speak of a time of great hope, when communism fell and the future looked bright. Best of all, they're free to view.

    photo by Gaurav1146 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Old City Hall Station

    See the very first subway station in New York

    Old City Hall Station offers visitors the chance to see the first-ever station of the iconic New York subway system with its stunning architecture and important history. The museum can be accessed today as part of a tour from the New York Transit Museum. The station's opening in 1904 was a major event in New York, and it served for nearly 40 years before being abandoned due to changes in the way the subway worked. Today, modern subway trains are too long to fit into the station, but the city centre 6 train does loop through it as it wraps around after its final stop. Old City Hall Station is right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge at City Hall.


    The Evolution Store

    Find gifts and souvenirs inspired by natural history

    The Evolution Store is a unique museum-style shop that offers collectibles, gifts, and furnishings that are all influenced by science and natural history. The store is dedicated to the idea that the items with which you surround yourself should be every bit as unique as your own personality. Not only does it focus on natural history, but the store also takes special orders and is willing to travel the globe looking for that perfect special gift, souvenir, or piece of art. This unique shop is located right on Broadway in city centre.

    Location: 687 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 212-343-1114


    photo by Ryan Somma (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Pomander Walk

    Walk through a suburban area city centre

    Pomander Walk is a truly hidden gem that was inspired by a popular play and offers a stunningly suburban-looking byway formed of historic Tudor homes dating to the 1920s. The Walk requires finding a gateway that looks like it leads to a service alley but instead opens up to a set of 28 homes designed as miniature versions of luxurious city centre mansions. The unique architecture of these homes features wood, brick, and stucco wrapped around steel frames, and interesting hues of blue, green, and red paints are alternated to distinguish the homes. Today, these buildings in the heart of the Upper West Side stand almost exactly as they were when originally constructed. Tours are available from the Historic District Council.


    Wave Hill

    Catch stunning views of the Hudson and New Jersey

    Wave Hill Public Garden & Cultural Centre offers horticultural gardens along the slopes overlooking the Hudson River, along with spectacular views of the New Jersey Palisades. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many notable people lived on Wave Hill, including George Walbridge Perkins, Arturo Toscanini, and members of the UN British Delegation. Today, it consists of 10 different garden areas and hosts visual arts exhibits, concert series, and other cultural events. It's a New York City designated landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and is located in the Hudson Hill section of the Bronx.

    Location: 4900 Independence Ave, The Bronx, NY 10471, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 4.30 pm (closed Monday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 718-549-3200


    Ford Foundation Atrium

    Relax by a serene reflecting pool

    The Ford Foundation Atrium offers striking architecture and a vast section of green space that blends into Tudor City Park and stretches 160 feet into the sky. You can take a staircase that connects 3 different sections of tiered garden terraces and leads to a square pool edged with concrete as a central focal point. The atrium was completed in 1967 and today offers a quiet green space escape for anyone who wants some meditative time in peace. It's located city centre on 42nd Street, just a few blocks from Grand Central Terminal.

    Location: 320 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 6 pm (closed Saturday–Sunday)

    Phone: +1 212-573-5000


    photo by Kenlarry (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

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    COVID-19 Travel Alert

    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.