New York is one of the most unique cities in the world. It’s melting pot approach to culture and architecture have made it a city of a thousand faces. It’s a place where you could spend months and months while seeing something completely different every day.
It’s unfortunate, then, that so many find themselves underwhelmed by this great and vibrant city… because they’re spending their time on the same old tired tourist traps.
Of all the world’s most famous cities, except perhaps for Paris, nowhere has ‘essential’ tourist traps that should be avoided at all costs.
My first, last and only trip to the Empire State Building was little more than an excruciatingly long line followed by a few minutes of (admittedly) nice views that can be bettered by numerous other vantage points in Manhattan (opt instead for the free and equally beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade). The ferry to Staten island does afford some nice views of the Statue of Liberty but if you want to take pictures expect to draw groans and eye-rolls from disgruntled commuters.
Cheap flights to New York are both affordable and available so next time you fly to the big apple, ditch the tourist traps and check out some of these quintessential Manhattan experiences that will make New York feel new again…
Grand Central station’s whispering gallery
It may be hard to believe in a place as bustling as Grand Central terminal but in front of its famous Oyster Bar is a pair of diagonal arches where the acoustics are such that two people can hear each-others’ whispers transmitted over the arches.
The unused and abandoned tunnels beneath New York have been the subject of widespread conjecture in Hollywood Movies from Ghostbusters 2 to Spider-Man, but the reality is actually almost as spectacular.
The old City Hall subway stop is a beautiful and hauntingly quiet place to visit than can only be accessed on guided tours. It was decommissioned in 1945 due to its inability to be modernised and the relatively low flow of traffic but the art deco adorned grotto is marvelous to behold.
The Atlantic Avenue tunnel is in fact the oldest subway tunnel in the world, opened in 1844 but eventually abandoned. The tunnel was rediscovered in 1980 and reopened as a tourist attraction. If you’re looking for an overlooked piece of New York history you could do far worse.
Central park has some spectacular views, but you’ll probably be too busy ducking and weaving among tourists to appreciate them. Prospect park was in fact designed by the same architects and boasts ample woods, a lake and a mile-long meadow.
New York is the birthplace of the superhero comic with both comics titans DC and Marvel holding offices there for decades until DC moved to California in 2015. Still, comics enthusiasts will find an Aladdin’s cave of comics, graphic novels, toys and collectibles that will make any geek’s eyes widen. You’ll also find friendly and helpful staff with encyclopedic knowledge.