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The Top 10 Underrated Things to Do in NYC

The Top 10 Underrated Things to Do in NYC

New York City is, without a sliver of doubt, the greatest city in the world.

Every year, millions of tourists come from all over the world to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Times Square, and Central Park, among many other tourist attractions.

And while these are nice sights to see, you will not experience the real New York City by seeing just those typical tourist sites.

If you’re like me, and you like to dive deep into the culture and daily life of the places you visit, this post is a must read. Take it from a real New Yorker!

Here are the top 10 most underrated things to do in NYC! *This post contains affiliate links.

The Top 10 Most Underrated Things to Do in NYC:

really wishing I had an I ❤ NY shirt rn

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Washington Square Park

This is the unofficial center of NYU, so naturally, Washington Square Park is teeming with students, artists, and other interesting people. You’ll see a variety of people, but around these parts, most will be very good-looking and well-dressed.

In the summer, enjoy the sun and people watch. In the winter, Washington Square Park makes for a nice, relaxing stroll, but make sure to bundle up!

RELATED READING: New York City Bucket List: 100 Things to Do Before You Die

My favorite sunday brunch #dimsum #flushing #queens 👍☺️🍲

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They say that Chinatown lies just under Soho and the LES, but they’re wrong. The real Chinatown is actually in Flushing, Queens.

With over 60,000 native Chinese, and hundreds of thousands of 1st and 2nd generation Chinese, Flushing is the real deal. Not only are there Chinese people here, but also you’ll find many Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese people, along with their respective cultural influences.

If you’re craving Chinese food, Flushing is the place to be!

Major 70s vibes at #BuffaloExchange #Tucson (Eastside). Find similar styles at your local Buffalo Exchange. #FallFashion

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Consignment/thrift store shopping

Everyone wants to go shopping on Fifth Avenue when they visit New York City. But if you’d rather save time, money, and escape from the heavy crowds, I suggest you go thrifting instead.

Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, Crossroads, and What Goes Around Comes Around are some of NYC’s great thrift shop options.

You’ll find everything you want in the thrift shops: streetwear, high fashion, sporty, summer clothes, winter wear, and whatever other apparel you might want. Thank me later!

RELATED READING: New York City Bucket List: 100 Things to Do Before You Die


When tourists come to NYC, they tend to head right to SoHo – if they even dare venture out of Midtown. Skip the tourist traps and come see authentic Lower Manhattan in the Lower East Side.

The LES is one of the few parts that’s still unfiltered in NYC and is home to some of the best foodie restaurants, delicious bakeries, and awesome, low-key music venues. Check it out!

If you still want more, you can find great deals on LES hotels here, and you can consider booking this Lower East Side Food and Culture Tour!

RELATED READING: A Guide to Exploring the Lower East Side

The High Line

This might not be the best idea during the winter, but during any other time of year, it is a must do.

The High Line is an elevated platform that used to be train tracks. Today, the High Line has been refurbished into a mile-and-a-half long park, filled with greenery and awesome views of Chelsea.

This will be an experience you won’t forget!

Find awesome hotel deals located near the High Line here!

Friday's flowers @unsqgreenmarket. 💐🌷🌺🌼 #USQBlooms #Greenmarket

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Union Square

Union Square is like the cousin of Washington Square Park. But the rebellious cousin, of course.

This area is filled with people doing their own thing; they don’t care if you watch, and they don’t care who you are. This is the New York City that I know and love. There are street performers everywhere, a farmer’s market on the weekends, and nice views all around.

Find awesome hotel deals located near Union Square here!

Tenement Museum

Everyone knows about the city’s most popular museums, but few venture past them.

New York City was built by and for immigrants, so a visit to the Tenement Museum is only fitting. This museum takes a peek into the lives of around 7,000 immigrants who used to call the building home in the mid-19th century.

See how immigrants made this city what it is today: the greatest city in the world.

RELATED READING: New York City Bucket List: 100 Things to Do Before You Die

You're mad cute New York City 😻. #newyorkstories

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Greenwich Village

The center of the New York Bohemian lifestyle offers something the rest of the city doesn’t: a sense of freedom and control.

With awesome restaurants, amazing scenery, and modern/vintage shopping, Greenwich Village has everything you’d like to experience in NYC.

Find great deals on Greenwich Village hotels here!

See ya Pier 5. You were awesome! On to Prospect Park! #smorg2015 #smorgasburg

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As a food lover, I had to include this Williamsburg, Brooklyn staple: Smorgasburg.

On the weekends, dozens of the city’s best foodie stands line up on the East River to sell delicious food, frothy beer, and a great time. While you’re eating here, enjoy some of the best views in Manhattan!

RELATED READING: New York City Bucket List: 100 Things to Do Before You Die

A little Fortitude is just what you need on this wintry day. ❄️

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New York Public Library

The USA’s largest public library system was founded in 1895, and since then, has offered some of the best reading in the world, iconic documents from different eras, and amazing architecture. Let your intellectual side roam free at the New York Public Library!

Top 10 Underrated Things to Do in NYC

So there you have it! Those are the top 10 most underrated things to do in NYC!

Take it from your New Yorker friend; follow this list and you’ll be sure to have an authentic (and awesome) experience in New York City!

RELATED READING: New York City Bucket List: 100 Things to Do Before You Die


The Top 10 Most Underrated Things to Do in New York City

Over to you! What are your favorite things to do in NYC? Have you done any of these activities before? What else would you recommend to someone visiting NYC?

*This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through the links on our website, we will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We never recommend any products/services that we don’t absolutely love. These commissions help keep Travel Alphas up and running, and we thank you for your support!

Mauricio Campos

Mauricio is the co-founder of Travel Alphas. Craft beers, drip coffee, xiao long bao, and tacos al pastor are among his guilty pleasures. Copenhagen, Paris, Mexico City, and Big Sur are a few of his most-loved destinations.

  • Becky Padmore

    Great list guys just shows you how much there is to do in New York! Great city!

    October 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      There is SO MUCH to do in NYC! This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the amazing things to do, but these 10 are definitely some of our favorites! Thanks for stopping by.

      October 5, 2015 at 10:17 pm Reply
  • emi

    this makes me so happy. i love the more unknown side of new york and i fell so in love with it when i finally started to do these kind of things instead of just times square etc! :) this list added some good new spots to check out next time. xo

    October 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      It’s the only way to experience the City! Glad this list could help you find some new things to do! :)

      October 5, 2015 at 10:19 pm Reply
  • eden

    Great list! Greenwich is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in NYC! I also love the public library, the rooms are so pretty there and it looks beautiful during Christmas. Now you’re making me want to visit NYC again :)

    October 5, 2015 at 5:18 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Thanks, Eden! You should visit again! NYC always deserves another visit. And another, and another… :)

      October 5, 2015 at 10:20 pm Reply
  • Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine

    This is a great list! I’m lucky to have very good friends that live in NYC who can really show me around. But nobody has told me about Flushing yet! I am in LOVE with dumplings. They seem to be the new “it” food, don’t they? Ha! I will have to actually visit Queens next time I am in the city. Luckily I am just a train ride away. :)

    October 6, 2015 at 8:13 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      You should definitely visit Flushing then! Haha, they really are getting popular, aren’t they?!

      October 6, 2015 at 8:48 am Reply
  • Claire Waggoner

    I read “Flushing” and the theme song from “The Nanny” immediately popped into my head (Fran Drescher is still one of my faves). I totally agree with your inclusion of Washington Park, by the way. That’s one of my favorite places to hang out with I’m in NYC! It’s such a good spot to go and people watch.

    October 6, 2015 at 8:52 am Reply
  • Mikéla

    Ahhhhh these all look like so much fun! Would love to go to NYC!

    October 6, 2015 at 9:18 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      You haven’t been yet?! YOU NEED TO GO!! You will fall in love with the city and never ever want to leave!

      October 6, 2015 at 4:49 pm Reply
  • Naomi in Wonderland

    This is a fantastic list! I’ve done quite a few of these things and I can only agree! There’s just and endless list of things to do in NYC, you never get bored haha

    October 7, 2015 at 4:19 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Exactly! And that’s just one of the many reasons to love NYC! :)

      October 7, 2015 at 9:00 am Reply
  • Rashaad

    Maybe my favorite NYC place is Union Square. There is usually something fun going on there – I actually played the didgeridoo in the wee hours of the morning one day there.

    October 11, 2015 at 8:46 am Reply
  • Julie

    Aw, makes me miss my US home! The summer before we left for the UK, I was a serious regular at Smorgasburg – I think I went every weekend for 10 weeks straight. No joke. I would kill for one of the donuts they have there (I think, called Dough?). So good. Love it.

    October 12, 2015 at 1:23 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Smorgasburg is the best! I haven’t tried the doughnut place yet – I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for stopping by.

      October 12, 2015 at 9:32 am Reply
  • Alix

    Great list! I love spending time in NYC and this post makes me want to head back and discover so much more of it. The High Line was definitely one of my highlights from NYC.

    Alix |

    October 19, 2015 at 4:01 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Thanks for stopping by! There’s always more to discover in NYC…

      October 19, 2015 at 5:41 pm Reply
  • Phil

    Your New York blogs are possibly the most insightful blogs I have read on the internet so thank you.

    I’ll be there next week and putting together a pizza tour. Do you recommend any amazing pizza shops that are a must to get a slice at?


    December 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Thanks, man. That means a lot. Make sure to check out Price St. Pizza, Motorino, Artichoke Pizza, Best Pizza, and Roberta’s Pizza. Have a great trip!

      December 3, 2015 at 10:46 am Reply
  • Roxanne Lucero

    Excellent list! I’ve been to NYC twice, for me it is the sort of city that you could visit endless times and still find new things to see and do. We’re planning our next trip to NYC this December and I’ll definitely include some of the places you listed. We went to a lot of famous tourist attractions and landmarks the last time my family and I visited NYC and I remember using a website that lists free events in New York which is great because we didn’t have much of a budget. I think might be useful to people also visiting New York city who are looking for free events in New York.

    August 26, 2016 at 8:08 am Reply
  • stephanie

    Great article! new York has been on my list for ages, but I have not been there yet.
    The LES looks great, heard a lot of good things about the high line!

    December 6, 2016 at 6:11 am Reply
  • K Willson

    Thank you! Our family loves off the beaten track ideas. Hopefully, we’ll get to travel there this summer. With love from Arkansas!

    December 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      We hope you can go to NYC this summer too! It’s such a great destination for family travel. I plan to do a mother-daughter trip in March! Enjoy!

      – Maddy

      December 10, 2016 at 12:46 am Reply
  • Audrey Rieben

    This list is great; thank you! A few things I already love + a couple that I knew that I want to visit, and now a few more discoveries added to the list for my next trip!

    February 22, 2017 at 8:58 pm Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Yay! We’re happy to hear that. Enjoy your trip! :)

      February 23, 2017 at 9:54 am Reply
  • Swayam Tiwari

    Mammoth post, wow. I wonder why are there so many Chinatowns across the world? We have one in Kolkata, there is another one in Manila and like you said, there is one more Chinatown in New York. Is it because of their historic concentration?

    April 12, 2017 at 3:01 am Reply
    • Maddy & Mauricio

      Thanks! Well, we’d assume it’s because when immigrants move to any new country, they tend to gravitate toward others with cultures and backgrounds similar to their own. So it makes sense that Chinese immigrants gathered in one area, and then those areas started being called “Chinatown.” Don’t you think?

      April 13, 2017 at 2:50 pm Reply

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