20 Best Kept Secrets of New York City

A trip to New York City often includes checking out all the interesting tourist locales, catching up with good food and wine at the recommended eateries and bars, admiring the city’s skyline, and reveling in its entertainment and nightlife.

For all of the famous locations across Gotham, the growing city can spring up quite a few surprises for both locals and travelers who love to tread off the beaten track. While few sites and locations are generally closed to the public, many others simply go unnoticed. For your next NYC trip itinerary, (or if you live in the City and you’re itching to go exploring), here are the 20 best kept secrets of New York City.

1. The High Line


The High Line

No longer a big secret, this unused elevated freight railway line, covered with grass and wild flowers, offers outstanding views of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea from a 30-foot height.

2. New York City Transit Museum



New York City Transit Museum

Featuring exhibits such as 19 restored historical MTA cars that were used for transit since the 1900s, this museum helps visitors trace the evolution of the system over the years. They may even be lucky enough to be a part of an occasional vintage train ride to the Bronx or Coney Island.

3. Beaches

Inviting beaches border New York City, but most visitors typically enjoy the beaches on Coney Island. Exploring further, travelers can get to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Rockaway Beach and the fun-filled Orchard Beach as well.  Each offers a unique experience.

4. Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal

Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal

Visitors can check out a special acoustic experience by whispering to each other across an unmarked archway, right in front of the Oyster Bar and Restaurant.

5. Rooftop Gardens at Rockefeller Center



Rooftop Gardens at Rockefeller

Designed by Ralph Hancock between 1933 and 1936, five roof gardens at the Rockefeller Center are away from public view. However, visitors can get a sneak peek into three of them from an observation deck.

6. Rooftop Sculptures Atop Metropolitan Museum of Art


Set amidst the backdrop of Midtown to the south and Central Park to the north, the Cantor Roof Garden over the Metropolitan Museum of Art features larger than life sculptures by a different artist, each summer.

7. Berlin Wall Sections at the Paley Park

Often casually overlooked by people frequenting 520 Madison Avenue are five sections of the Berlin Wall covered by the impressive work of German Artists.  The walls have stood at this park since 1990.

8. Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Spooky, yet appealing in its own way, tugboats of all sizes and shapes half-submerged in the waters draw visitors to this offbeat place.

9. Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church Slave Galleries


The slave gallery within the church serves as a shameful reminder of racism in the past. African-American worshippers were housed in two rooms where they could simply hear the services, without being noticed by others.

10. Underbelly of the Brooklyn Bridge

Underbelly of the Brooklyn Bridge

This space reportedly still houses a cold war bomb shelter replete with military provisions and the Brooklyn Anchorage, comprised of spacious rooms for literary, music, art and theatrical performances. Brooklyn Anchorage has been closed to the public since the 9/11 attacks.

11. Century 21


Century 21

A popular departmental store that offers shoppers a whopping discount on designer clothes is a delight for both locals and visitors.

12. Fishs Eddy


Unique dishware at bargain prices is what this store offers. An extensive range of dishes and discounted shipping rates make the deals quite tempting.

13. Peasant Wine Bar


Neatly tucked beneath the high-end Italian restaurant, Peasant on Elizabeth Street, this bar is a great place to catch up with good food and drinks, minus the high prices of its parent.

14. Hart Island

The Island is home to the largest public-funded cemetery in the world.

15. Pomander Walk

Hidden from common view, Upper West Side is lined with 27 buildings mimicking Tudor homes, with colorful windows, doors and even timber frames. Entry to this pedestrians-only street is restricted, unless you get an invitation!

16. Jamaica Bay Riding Academy


Housed in a 400-acre lush terrain with three miles of shoreline, the Academy boasts of being a serviced boarding facility, replete with riding trails, lessons, summer camps, as well as facilities to host private parties.

17. Roosevelt Island

roosevelt island nyc

Outdoor movies, tram rides and visits to the local art gallery, church and the Northpoint Lighthouse are the main attractions on this otherwise less-frequented Island.

18. Kings Park

kings park

The adventurous can plan a trip to the somewhat dangerous and spooky state park, with permission, of course. Home to an erstwhile psychiatric center, the place definitely has remnants from the past.

19. Open House New York


New York City allows the public to visit select locations that are otherwise off limits during the Open House program. Certainly a must if the visit can be timed well.

20. The HBO Summer Film Festival at Bryant Park


Film Festival at Bryant Park

A fully blanketed lawn allows avid movie buffs of all ages to watch free screeningings of movies at 5 pm every Monday. Drinks are not strictly prohibited, but it is important to behave!

How To Avoid the Crowds

Do hordes of tourists make you claustrophobic?  Find out where all the tourists go, and stay away!



How am I supposed to choose where to eat?!

With tens of thousands of places to eat in NYC, how can you ever decide which one to go to?  Check out how many options you have:

Restaurants and Bars in NYC

My head is spinning.  I need more guidance!

Glad you asked!  Here are 3 great resources to find what you need in the great city of New York:

Best New York City Travel Guides
Top 10 NY Apps for your mobile device
A Newcomers Guide to NYC