11 NYC Hidden Gems Most New Yorkers Don’t Know About

New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden

New York Chinese Scholar's Gardenvia snugharbor.org

Forget pricey plane tickets; all you need is a MetroCard to take a trip to the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, a sanctuary of quiet reflection in Staten Island. Inspired by the lyrical landscape of ancient China—specifically the outdoor aesthetics of the Ming Dynasty—this serene spot features picturesque pavilions, rock formations, waterfalls, koi ponds, and bamboo-edged paths. Check out these must-see places around America you’ll want to take your kids.

Old City Hall station

New York, USA - May 30, 2015: City Hall Subway Station in Manhattan. Landmark station built in 1904 to inaugurate the NYC Subway system.Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Sure, locals complain about the subway, but this extensive rapid transit system is actually quite amazing. Need proof? See for yourself. First, a quick history lesson: In 1904, the inaugural subway ride left from City Hall station. Although its tenure as a stop ended in 1945, the Transit Museum continues to operate exclusive guided tours of the underground landmark. Note: Spots are limited to members.


Torishinvia torishinny.com

Midtown West is home to the only Michelin-starred yakitori restaurant in America. Helmed by chef-owner Shu Ikeda, Torishin brings an authentic taste of Tokyo to the Big Apple with flavorful skewers of charcoal-grilled meats and veggies. While it might not be on the masses’ radar, it’s a go-to of gourmands like Anthony Bourdain. Do yourself a favor and order the chef’s omakase course. Hungry for more? Plan your next trip to one of these foodie festivals worth traveling to in 2018.

The Met Cloisters

via metmuseum.org

No doubt you’re familiar with The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, but what about The Met Cloisters? Tucked within Fort Tryon Park, this hidden gem—dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe—is as idyllic as it is interesting. The four-acre property impresses with its manicured gardens and an exquisite collection of sculptures, manuscripts, stained-glass, paintings, and tapestries from the 12th to 15th century. Looking for something a bit more modern? This New York City street art is sure to make you smile.

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Stanley’s Pharmacy

Stanley's Pharmacyvia stanleyspharmacy.com

There may be a Duane Reade on every corner, but there’s only one Stanley’s Pharmacy. Inside the bright-orange storefront on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side is a health haven, where you can sip on a curative cocktail from the Drinks + Drugs menu (clever, right?) and browse holistic remedies while you wait for the pharmacist to fill your prescription.

Gallow Green

Gallow Greenvia mckittrickhotel.com

For many city-dwellers, escaping the concrete jungle means heading to Central Park. What if we told you there’s a lush slice of paradise in Chelsea? Each spring, Gallow Green—a sort of secret garden on the roof of The McKittrick Hotel—opens its doors, to the delight of savvy brunch-goers, who flock here on the weekends to savor seasonal fare and sip craft cocktails.

The Wooly

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22, 2015: Woolworth Building in New York City, USA. It was the tallest building in the world from 1913-1930.Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

The Woolworth Building, a towering Gothic skyscraper in the Financial District, is as glamorous today as was when it was first built in 1913. One major difference? It’s no longer accessible to the public, although that doesn’t mean you’re relegated to gawking from afar. Hidden in the basement of the mysterious landmark is a Prohibition-era speakeasy, The Wooly, which can be rented out for private events. Read up on these phrases you probably had no idea were coined in New York City.

Renwick Smallpox Hospital

Ruins from the Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York City.ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Endlessly eerie, Renwick Smallpox Hospital on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island (accessible from Manhattan via tramway or subway) is widely regarded as New York City’s most chilling attraction. This now-closed infirmary, which treated approximately 7,000 patients during its 19-year-run, has sat abandoned since the 1950s, yet its ivy-covered ruins and ghostly lore still draw visitors decades later. For a truly frightful experience, explore this spooky site after the sun goes down. Like scary stuff? These are the most haunted hotels in America.

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Maha Rose

Maha Rosecourtesy Maha Rose

Living in NYC can get stressful. Heck, there are times when it feels like total pandemonium. That’s just part of the reason we’re so grateful to have found Maha Rose, a holistic wellness center on an industrial block in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Healing sessions run the gamut from acupuncture and breathwork to reiki and tarot readings. This sacred space also hosts spiritual workshops, special events, and upstate retreats. And you can stock up on positive-energy-promoting crystals, incense, and books at the ground-floor shop.

Kings Theatre

Kings Theatrevia kingstheatre.com

When the Loew’s Kings Theatre opened to the public in 1929, it was one of the most opulent film and live performance venues in the nation. Sadly, economic downturn took its toll and the curtains closed in 1977. As they say, “the show must go on,” and it has, thanks to a $95-million project that restored this Flatbush institution, now called the Kings Theatre, to its former glory—ornate plasterwork, gold-leaf ornament, crystal chandeliers, and plush seats. Take a peek at the world’s most underrated travel destinations.

Greenacre Park

Greenacre Parkvia tclf.org

Midtown is more than just skyscrapers and office buildings. Case in point: Greenacre Park. Located on 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, this 60-foot-wide by 12-foot-deep shaded oasis offers a refuge from the chaos and, come summer, the scorching sun. Plus, the 25-foot waterfall is by far the most soothing scenery you’ll find within walking distance of your cubicle. These are the practically secret national parks you’ll want to visit this spring.

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