7 Touristy New York Things That Are Actually Worth Doing
Don’t worry, Times Square isn’t one of them
Tourists may lack sidewalk spatial awareness, but there’s something to be said for the wide-eyed wonder they still have for NYC. Tap into that out-of-towner enthusiasm (minus the selfie stick) with seven touristy activities that are actually really cool.
Take the Staten Island Ferry
You still haven’t taken the ferry and you’ve lived here for how long? Think of it as a free ticket to gorgeous skyline views, or for something more active, turn the ride into a theatrical experience with the site-specific podcast Ferry Play.
Whitehall Terminal, 4 Whitehall St. (at South St.); 311 or siferry.com
Visit the New-York Historical Society
If most of your knowledge of NYC past comes from episodes of Mad Men, it’s time to step up your game. The uptown institution--the oldest museum in the city--gives a fascinating glimpse into bygone eras through art, photography and written archives. We’re geeking out over the current Summer of Hamilton exhibition.
170 Central Park W. (at 77th St.); 212-873-3400 or nyhistory.org
Feel Like a Mermaid at the Sea Glass Carousel
The city has more than a few beautiful carousels (see: Jane’s), but only one that’s part high-design marvel (LED lights give it that luminous undersea glow), part playground for your inner Ariel.
State St. and Water St.; 212-344-3491 or seaglasscarousel.nyc
Tell a Secret at Grand Central Terminal
OK, you already know it’s home to the most stunning ceiling in Manhattan. But before hopping on Metro-North, take a moment to test out the Whispering Gallery on the lower floor. The unique design of the arches means hushed voices--spoken toward the wall--will come in crystal-clear on the other side of the walkway.
89 E. 42nd St. (at Park Ave.); 212-340-2583 or grandcentralterminal.com
See Old-Timey Subway Cars at the Transit Museum
You might be thinking your interest in the MTA starts and ends with your daily commute, but the underground museum inside a former subway station is not to be missed. Make sure to check out the vintage train fleet, with cars dating back to 1907 (complete with kitschy old-school ads).
Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn; 718-694-1600 or nytransitmuseum.org
Get a Dose of Cuteness at the Bronx Zoo
Sometimes the Internet’s supply of kitten videos just isn’t enough. Head to one of the world’s largest zoos to see critters from across the globe, including baby squirrel monkeys and the world's teeniest penguin.
2300 Southern Blvd. (at Bronx Park South), Bronx; 718-220-5100 or bronxzoo.com
Go on a Walking Tour
No, not a Sex and the City-themed trip to Magnolia Bakery (though, honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad either). There are tons of educational treks around town that delve into everything from ghosts to Governors Island.