The distinct culture, deep-rooted history and magnetic energy of Brooklyn make it one of the most beloved and revered destinations in America. Celebrated around the world for its big-city excitement and unique brand of authenticity, this buzzing New York City borough--the city’s most populous--constantly attracts visitors from around the globe, and you’ll find amazing hotels in Brooklyn to fit your travel needs.

 

Things to See in Brooklyn

You should have no problem finding things to do in Brooklyn, an iconic destination that has inspired many of the world’s most famous citizens. As soon as you cross the East River on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll immediately know you’ve arrived in one of the world’s great cultural epicenters. This National Historic Landmark connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, and has been heralded in film, television and literature for generations. Visit the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park for great Manhattan skyline views, public art installations, athletic fields and playgrounds for children and adults alike, and even a restored 1920s-era merry-go-round called “Jane’s Carousel.” For local history, see the four-story Brooklyn Historical Society building, where you can peruse archives of photography, newspapers and a large library of research from borough’s past. Other museums and family-friendly places to put on your must-see list include Prospect Park Zoo, New York Transit Museum, Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and the Coney Island Cyclone historic wooden roller coaster.

Ride an East River Ferry to get off your feet for awhile and see the city from the water. Or, head to Brighton Beach for a day in the sun and the chance to walk along the picturesque boardwalk. Nearby, Russian restaurants and bakeries serve up delicacies you’ll savor to the last bite. More delicious eats can be found on Smith Street, a hotspot for foodies and grumbling stomachs across the city.

Coney Island is another beach destination you won’t want to miss; it’s the widest beach in the area and boasts amusement rides and entertainment that will bring smiles to the young and the young at heart. Hear the soaring chorus of voices at the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle. Stroll the rolling hills of Green-Wood Cemetery, where you’ll find monuments and tombstones of a surprising number of famous figures.

For a full day of outdoor and cultural activity, head to Prospect Park where the Zoo, Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens all offer great ways to spend a few hours. The Brooklyn Museum is the second largest in New York and features artifacts that stretch from ancient Egyptians to modern day, while the Transit Museum, housed in a 1930’s subway station, has interesting displays all its own.

Brooklyn is also a hotspot for new residents of New York City. The neighborhood of Williamsburg has attracted an impressive array of new restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, and varying in cultural diversity. There are also many bars, lounges and performance venues where you can make unique discoveries to make your visit unforgettable.

Visit Brooklyn -- they have a great bridge

Find the Best Hotels in Brooklyn

Your choices for Brooklyn Hotels range from rooms between culturally rich and trending neighborhoods to business-friendly establishments that put you close to downtown Manhattan, and many of the area’s central locations for business and government. You can expect around-the-clock amenities and services at many Brooklyn hotels, including 24-hour restaurants and room service, as well as all-day business center access.

Where to Stay in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Heights, the area’s oldest neighborhood, and downtown Brooklyn are usually preferred locations for business travelers looking to stay near Manhattan. Diverse neighborhoods like Fort Greene offer amazing architecture, reputable cafes, arts, entertainment and cultural experiences that put New York City’s reputation as a cultural melting pot on display.

The neighborhoods of Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights both offer boutiques and cafes, while Cobble Hill is worth walking through for the houses and neighborhood buzz alone. Williamsburg is the city’s creative hub, home to some of the best restaurants and most talented live entertainment. The nightlife here needs no introduction and party-goers won’t have to look far to find a cold drink and a bumping bass line.

 

How to Get to Brooklyn

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three key airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.  JFK, at just 11 miles distance, is the closest airport to Brooklyn. It offers convenient service to Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Bushwick via Air Train, with less than an hour of travel time. LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is 16 miles away from central Brooklyn. Taxi or private transportation services are advised to and from LaGuardia, as there is no direct public transportation into Brooklyn. Newark Liberty is 21 miles from Brooklyn, with arrival times usually within an hour using the Air Train, then the Path train or NJ Transit to either Penn Station, the World Trade Center or Manhattan’s 33rd Street. Another option is the Airport Express Bus which goes to subway-connected Manhattan locations like Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

  This post is originally from IHG's Guide to Brooklyn   via leeayork

Published in United States

These days, more and more people are realizing that taking a bike tour is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends, and travel. If you've recently decided that you want to take a bike tour, now is the time to learn how you can make the event absolutely incredible. Use some or all of the information found in this quick reference guide to ensure that your bike tour will be absolutely amazing:

1. Get In Shape.

If you're serious about making your next bike tour a blast, make sure that you get in shape. Huffing and puffing your way through your bike travels can be embarrassing, and it will also prevent you from enjoying the scenery and the organic group conversations that tend to surface during such events. With all of this in mind, make sure that you are getting in all of the exercises necessary to ensure that your body can handle a long-distance ride.

Vietnamese man exercising in the street early one morning
Vietnamese man exercising in the street early one morning. One can only assume he was working those quads so eloquently to get ready for some intense hiking and mountain biking.

The best way to get in shape so you can enjoy your bike trip to the fullest is by doing a combination of cardio, weight-lifting, and stretching. You can typically complete each of these forms of exercise within the gym setting. You may even want to work with a personal trainer as you prepare for the bike travel event. Fitness experts will generally be able to devise a dynamic, customized exercise routine that enables you to build strength and increase cardiovascular endurance.

Bicycling Central Park in New York City
Bicycling around Central Park one day...

2. Find The Perfect Bike Rental Company.

In addition to getting in shape, make sure that you take time to find the perfect bike rental company. This strategy will empower you to ensure that you have the best bike equipment on the block. There are several attributes that you'll want to look for in a rental company. Some of them include:

  • positive online reviews
  • a great Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  • industry experience (preferably five years or longer)
  • perks and benefits (discounts, referral programs, etc.)

When you start looking for the ideal company, be sure to keep the professionals of Bike Rental Central Park in mind. These industry experts provide clients with equipment they can use for Central Park bike tours.

Bike tours are great, especially when in beautiful destinations like Hawaii
Bicycling in Hawaii

3. Book Your Flight And Hotel In Advance.

One final technique that can help you enjoy your bike trip to the fullest is booking your flight and hotel in advance. This strategy will empower you to attain competitive rates on your room and plane. Also consider the value of doing a group booking to attain even deeper discounts.

Don't Delay: Start Preparing For Your Bike Tour Today!

If you're ready to go on a bike tour, don't procrastinate. Instead, start preparing now to ensure that you can have an absolutely amazing time. Three preparation strategies that can help you make the most of your event include getting in shape, finding the right bike rental company, and booking your flight and hotel in advance. Implement these strategies now to ensure that your bike tour is incredible!

Published in Travel Inspiration

The winter months of December through February — and sometimes through March — are notorious for flight delays due to bad weather. People risk delays during the holidays because they have long periods of mandated time-off and want to spend it with their families. But no one wants to request time off in February only to spend half of the vacation managing flight delays and bad weather.

But while February isn’t the best travel month for every destination, airlines offer some pretty sweet deals on flights during the year’s shortest month. With some trips discounted as much as 79%, travelers should take airlines up on their offers. We analyzed a year’s worth of Hipmunk flight and hotel pricing data, and the following February destinations are worth the bargain.

New York, NY

Whether covered in snow or sunshine, New York is New York — a magical amusement park for both kids and adults. There will never be a shortage of indoor and outdoor winter activities. With flights and a three-night hotel stay averaging $962 in February, the Big Apple offers a steal. Take a horse carriage ride through Central Park as you admire the snow-covered terrain and monuments that make the city so enchanting. Ice skating is available through March at parks including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. If it gets too nippy, be entertained at a Broadway show as you stay warm.

Philadelphia, PA

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, Philly ranks third in the country for most landmarks, including the famous cracked Liberty Bell and the house of poet Edgar Allen Poe. But the city is also a modern metropolis with a striking skyline, impressive street art murals, and rich pop culture. Run up the long steps to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and recreate the famous opening of the cult classic film “Rocky.” Philly has one of the oldest outdoor markets in the U.S. — Italian Market — and also boasts Terminal Market, a great indoor destination. Both sell everything needed to make delicious meals. An average flight and three-night hotel stay in February averaged $819, a savings of up to $80 compared with spring months.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Much like San Francisco’s weather stays constant, so do flight and hotel prices, averaging more than a $1,000 most of the year for a flight and a three-night hotel stay. But in late spring, the average was $953, making it the ideal time to head west. SF offers a multitude of varied activities sure to entertain all personalities. Pier 39 alone offers shopping, restaurants, Aquarium of the Bay, and a two-story carousel. But the most endearing attraction is simply observing the quirky sea lions lounge by the pier. In 2015 Walkscore.com gave San Francisco a score of 83.9, making it the second most walkable city in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Walk or ride the cable cars to get around.

Dublin, Ireland

Flying to Europe from the U.S. in the summer will typically cost around $1,000 or more. But flights to certain European destinations are quite affordable in the coming months. Dublin is small and easy to walk around, ensuring travelers can see and do most of what the city has to offer in a single weekend. Admire the beautiful architecture of the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walk east for nine minutes to reach St. Stephen’s Green and appreciate the park’s original Victorian layout. Trinity College Dublin, one of Dublin’s most prestigious universities, is only a six minute walk north of the park. The college’s Long Room is eye candy for book nerds.

For the beer and whiskey enthusiasts visit to the Guinness Storehouse brewery or the Jameson whiskey distillery.

Sunset over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Paris, France

Visiting Paris in the springtime is recommended, but it’s so much more affordable in February and March, with some flights ranging between $500 and $600 dollars. Much like New York, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Must do outdoor activities include riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting at least one historical Parisian cemetery. Keep out of the elements at one of Paris’ many museums, the Louvre Museum being one of the most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Louvre Pyramid. For modern art lovers, visit the Pompidou Center or the Jeu de Paume.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 2nd.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Colors are changing and the temperature is dropping, which means it's time for a quick trip before the winter comes and the holiday season begins.

Best Western Plus Robert Treat Hotel

Want to visit New York City but not sure you want to be in the heart of the chaos? Then the Best Western Plus Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, just a few miles from NYC, is the place for you. This location is especially convenient for road-trippers and people with an RV, as they offer free on-site parking, and there is plenty of public transportation nearby to get you anywhere you want to go. The hotel also boasts the Zagat rated, AAA Three Diamond fine dining restaurant, Maize, as well as plenty of amenities like a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and free breakfast.

Soho Grand Hotel

The whiskey bar at the Soho Grand Hotel in NYC
The whiskey bar at the Soho Grand Hotel -- image via mmmeeks

Hotels in NYC don't get much more stylish than the Soho Grand Hotel on West Broadway, where hip and luxury merge in an exquisite example of what a hotel should be. Everything about this hotel from the art to the architecture has been custom designed to perfectly reflect Soho, one of NYC's most iconic neighborhoods. Rooms feature custom furniture and high-end appliances, including an iPad and iPod, both custom loaded with everything you need to make the most of your time in Soho. The hardest part about staying here is leaving the hotel.

The Marcel at Gramercy

Tucked away on the east side of Manhattan in the quiet residential neighborhood of Kips Bay, The Marcel At Gramercy is a quiet, luxurious retreat from the fast pace of life in New York City. Their 136 spacious rooms all come with the finest appliances, linens, and toiletries, and they include a refrigerator, safe, and iHOME docking station. The Marcel also features a delicious restaurant and expansive business center with high-speed Internet that allows you to maximize your time in the city.

The Library Hotel

The Library Hotel in NYC
A tribute to the Dewey decimal system at the Library Hotel -- image via catherinecronin

Given the name of this boutique hotel, it should be no surprise that The Library Hotel on Madison Avenue features a literary theme. The ten guest floors each represent one of the ten categories of the Dewey decimal system, and the 60 rooms within are each custom furnished with books and artwork representing a particular topic within this category. And, yes, it is even possible to request a theme when making a reservation. One of the hotel's key features is the second floor Reading Room. Open 24 hours a day and offering complimentary snacks, this is a great place to relax with a good book, away from the hustle and bustle of NYC.

Manhattan NYC - An Affinia Hotel

When the phrase "modern Manhattan" comes to mind, look no further than Manhattan NYC - An Affinia Hotel, a perfect place to stay for those who want to be at the center of New York's greatest borough. Rooms here are sleek and stylish, each designed by the Rockwell Group, and come in a variety of sizes -- including terrace suites with unparalleled Manhattan skyline views that are perfect for hosting a small gathering.

Published in United States

When traveling I get a kick out of stopping in any random museums that I may come across. Some are educational, others are laughable, but most all are enjoyable for their own reasons. In fact the next time you pass by a museum, I encourage you to stop in and have a look around. Here are some of the museums I have visited over the last six or so months (however long since I returned to the USA from Mexico).

Have you been to any unique or amazing museums? Feel free to brag below ;)

 

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

  Logan, Ohio

The Pencil Sharpener Museum is definitely worth poking your head in, if you should be passing by -- and I do mean "poke your head in." With a total size of about 60 square feet, this is by far the smallest museum I have ever visited. However, it was not my "quickest museum trip" ever (that one is further down on the list).

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio

Paul Johnson started his collection when he retired in 1988 and eventually amassed over 3,300 different pencil sharpeners in all shapes and sizes. After he passed away in 2010, his widow generously agreed to donate the collection to the Logan visitor's center. Volunteers went out to her house, took numerous photos to record exactly how each pencil sharpener was arranged, and then used those photos after transporting to precisely re-assemble the pencil sharpeners just as Paul had intended.

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio

As you can see, many look like traditional pencil sharpeners but others are rather unique and much more impressive. Had I been thinking I would have taken better photos of the animal section of sharpeners -- many had pencil insertion points at rather questionable places ;)

  View more fun activities in Hocking Hills

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

  St Paul, Minnesota

Technically this collection is now merely one exhibit among many at the Science Museum Of Minnesota, although it still retains the same name. Like the pencil sharpener museum, this donated collection was originally the brainchild of one man, Bob McCoy, who also happened to pass away in 2010.

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

Spend a few minutes looking at some of the bizarre contraptions and methodology of late 18th and early 19th century will make you really happy to live in such a modern era. But when I started to see items like a breast enlargement machine from the 1950s, well then it began to sink in that "modern" medicine is only as advanced as the day. Just as now we often think how technology was lacking a few years or decades ago, so too we will soon think that about 2013.

Otherwise the rest of the museum is decidedly family oriented and rather run of the mill for a capital city.

What is the wildest museum you've ever been to?

 

Kansas Barbed Wire Museum

  Lacrosse, Kansas

After stopping to get gas at some random town in Kansas last summer I noticed a sign for the barbed wire museum and figured I would check it out. Turns out that barb wire is as un-spectacular as you might think. However I did learn two things: 1) there are more types of barbed wire than current years A.D. and 2) barb wire collecting is actually a valid hobby -- but only for residents of Kansas.

Kansas Barbed Wire Museum
Barb wire collecting is actually a valid hobby -- but only for residents of Kansas

I spent more time oogling the crazy pencil sharpeners in the first museum than I did passing through here. However if you have a fascination with ranches or the wild west, this place could be right up your alley.

 

Graceland

  Memphis, Tennessee

The Home of the King Of Rock 'n' Roll turns out to only be popular amongst senior citizens and kids under ten. Although entertaining, I was left with only one question: what will happen to this place in a decade, as the current baby-boomin' Elvis-lovin' generation passes on?

Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

Regardless, the whole experience shed lots of new light on just how awesome Presely was. But as far as museums are concerned, it is definitely can be a pricey one -- they offer different tours based on sights, length, and well, let's be honest, love of Elvis. If you really love him you'll buy the most expensive package ;)

After this trip I now truly appreciate the Paul Simon song Graceland....oh yeah, and Elvis too. Just watch out for those peanut butter and banana sandwiches -- which of course is a specialty in the Graceland cafe ;)

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium @ Times Square

  New York City, New York

Definitely more offbeat than obscure, this "museum" will leave you amazed, intrigued, confused, and most likely even a tiny bit grossed out. While the building exterior may not be as wild as some of the other Ripley's locations, inside it spans two massive floors and is a great way to kill an hour or two. If you have never toured a Ripley's museum before, well then you might as well start with what is arguably one of their best.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium at Times Square

  View more offbeat activities to do in NYC

 

While these are by no means the strangest museums in the world, they are some of my most recent explorations.

  What's the wildest, scariest, or most obscure museum that you've ever visited?

Published in United States

Many of the major cities across the United States play host to annual gay pride events, often a parade that encourages solidarity, fun, and comradery. Members of the LGBT community may travel far and wide to attend these events, so they want to make sure they will have the experience they are seeking when they go. Here are some of the top gay prides that are known for their memorability.

New York

New York City Gay Pride Parade 2011

There are dozens of gay pride festivals and parades that happen in New York during the summer months, so visitors really have their pick of which to attend. Of course, there is one in Manhattan that’s pegged to the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in 1969. It’s really the event that started it all. However, there also are celebrations in each of the other boroughs of New York, as well as smaller events in several city parks. Just check a list of events here to get a feel for all the options in New York.

San Francisco

San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 2008

Of course, the LGBT community is huge in this iconic city, so it stands to reason that it would boast the largest gay pride gathering in country. Starting where pioneer Harvey Milk addressed the crowd in the early 1970s, the parade routinely draws more than a million marchers. There really is a whole month of tangential events, and visitors can be part of one or many of them.

Atlanta

Altanta Gay Pride Parade 2007

This city really goes all out for the members of the LGBT community and includes not only a Gay Pride march attended primarily by men, but also an event for lesbian marchers and one for the trans community. Many of the city’s business owners show their support of the marchers with sponsorships, partnerships, and special events during the annual Gay Pride Festival. Plus, the Atlanta event has the bonus of being held at the end of summer instead of at the beginning as a lot of other cities do. This means the heat is more tolerable and visitors don’t have to miss another great city’s event in order to attend.

There are hundreds of gay pride events held throughout the country every year, even in cities one might not think would be a likely place to host a festival. For people who want to attend an event as part of their travel plans this summer, all that’s required is a perusal of this master list in order to find the right fit for them.

  flickr   //   kargaltsev   bastique   lamenta3

Published in United States

So you're passing through the fabled New York City but you only have 48 hours in the Big Apple. How can you make the most of this glorified layover? For starters, by booking a cheap NYC hotel and spending as little time in it as possible. New York City is expensive and there is a never-ending supply of new places to explore, things to experience, and of course food to eat. So save some money by not splurging on a hotel; you will want that extra cash elsewhere.

The city itself contains five boroughs and covers a whopping 305 square miles. Residents who have lived here for years can still consistently find new things to see, do, and eat. However, for guests on a quick trip, these are the sights, activities, and foods that you should not miss.

What to See and Do

A visit to Lower Manhattan is a must. Here you can see the Statue of Liberty, walk down Wall Street and past the New York Stock Exchange, even take a sobering glance at the World Trade Center Site.

This is Wall Street. Welcome to New York City baby. Nothing but wolves here!

Moving north to Midtown are Central Park and Times Square, both of which are very popular with tourists. (In other words, very crowded.) However, an obligatory short stop at both is a must for all first-timers to New York City. If visiting the park as a couple, consider taking a romantic horse-drawn carriage tour through Central Park.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditourium at Times Square, NYC

The city is also home to tons of theatres, art galleries, and museums. Just off Times Square is the Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditourium, which I believe vaguely falls into that last category. This "museum" (and I use that term loosely) is a great offbeat destination and an entertaining way to kill an hour. You cannot even begin to imagine what you will find inside—and I won't ruin it for you by spoiling it.

More offbeat sights and activities in NYC

The Beekman Tower in New York City, an example of some of NYC's unique and stylish architecture
The Beekman Tower

The city that never sleeps has an overwhelming amount of impressive and historic architecture. Set aside three hours and take a walking architecture tour of NYC, perfect for photographers, history buffs, and of course architecture enthusiasts. Or just wander around freely by yourself—you never know what you will find!

The Flatiron Building in New York City, one of NYC's most iconic buildings
The Flatiron Building

What To Eat

Pizza. New York style pizza is known around the entire world. It's time you investigate firsthand and find out why. Although the battle for the best pizza joint in the Big Apple is a war that will never be won, it is certainly a fun one to partake it by eating your way through town.

Nothing beats New York style pizza!

There is only so much pizza that you can eat in 48 hours though, so try to limit yourself to New York's best known pizza spots. Head out to Brooklyn for Lombardi's, famously known as America's first pizzeria (since 1905) and the birthplace of the New York style dish. Other notables include: Di Fara Pizza (also in Brooklyn, since 1965), Patsy's Pizzeria in East Harlem (since 1933), and Denino's out in Staten Island (since 1937).

  Have any additions to this list?

  flickr //   Thomas Hawk   dpbirds   Maciek Lulko   Thomas Hawk   Garrett Ziegler

Published in United States

SoHo (officially known as South of Houston Street) is one of the trendiest, most happening neighborhoods in all of Manhattan, New York City. The area has become a mecca of sorts for local artists and thankfully that spirit is pouring over into local businesses as well. SoHo is jam-packing full of unique boutique restaurants, tasty cafes and decadent bakeries, some of which have draw national attention. However in order to truly appreciate the food of SoHo, you have to take your time and visit only a couple restaurants a day, rather than trying to pack them in as fast as possible.

Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, NYC

Dominique Ansel Bakery

In recent years this bakery has earned more awards than I have fingers. From Time Out New York's "Best Bakery of 2012" to Zagat 2013's highest ranked bakery, people throughout the city cannot get enough of this bakery. In addition to all the pastries you would expect to find, this bakery also specializes in savory soups and sandwiches that are perfect for a quick lunch. The Dominique Ansel Bakery menu gradually changes over time but I've never had a bad thing there.

Ruby's Cafe

Ruby's has been a favorite of local Manhattanites for many years now, which unfortunately thanks to the small size of the cafe meant that dining here always required patiently waiting for a table. However as of a few months ago this is a thing of the past. Ruby's long-awaited expansion has finally opened! This cafe is the best place in town to experience melt-in-your-mouth Australian cuisine at its finest! My personal recommendation is the Bronte Burger with bacon, your soon to be best new friend.

Balthazar restaurant in SoHo, NYC

Balthazar

Balthazar is a phenomenal French bistro with a full menu from breakfast through midnight suppers. However what they are most known for is Sunday brunch. They even have a special menu for this special day of the week. Come on down and easy into your Sunday with one of their amazing Hangover Drinks and eggs any way you can imagine them. Or skip right to lunch and go with the smoked salmon, one of their most popular Sunday dishes.

Cafe Gitane

Cafe Gitane offers incredible food at prices that won't empty out your wallet, a quality that is rare to find among SoHo's most popular eateries. That is also the reason this place is perpetually packed -- but the food is so good and the prices so unbeatable that it is worth a short wait. The cuisine is primarily French with a touch of Moroccan flair. Although Gitane also serves breakfast, their lunch and dinner menu is what really keeps people returning. One taste of their Moroccan couscous and you will be hooked!

Georgetown Cupcake in SoHo, NYC

Georgetown Cupcake

Wherever you eat in SoHo, make sure to same room for a bit of desert. Georgetown Cupcake started in Washington, D.C. back in 2008 and quickly took the nation's capital by storm thanks to a TLC reality TV show. In 2012 they opened a location in SoHo to compete with Manhattan's preeminent pasty shop, Magnolia Bakery (made famous by Sex In The City). Now nearly three years later much of the city has come to prefer Georgetown over Magnolia but in order to decide for yourself, you have to experience the delectable delicacies firsthand.

What other places in SoHo would you recommend?

See More       NYC Off The Beaten Path   NYC HoliDaze Guides

Published in United States

New York City consistently ranks in the top ten of destinations for American travelers, and for good reason. With a population of over 16 million people and countless buildings and sights instantly recognizable around the world, NYC is always a "must-see" destination for both US citizens and foreign tourists alike. But few experience the real offbeat, quirky, obscure side of New York City off the beaten path.

Whether Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, or even Ground Zero, most visitors already have a long list of sights to see before they even arrive in the city. And while all those destinations are interesting for their own reasons, they are also rather predictable. There is so much more to NYC than just the stereotypical spots!

Seek out the obscure and off the beaten path things to do in New York City! Below are some of my favorite finds. Know of any others? Add it in the comments.


I am equally happy in a penthouse or a hostel...but luxury travel is necessary occasionally

Recently I returned to the Big Apple with a local and we decided to check out some of the odd, obscure and offbeat things to do in NYC. I was also able to experience the city itself from a whole new side: a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park.

  My Favorite Offbeat & Obscure NYC Sights:

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium

Definitely more offbeat than obscure, this destination will leave you amazed, intrigued, confused, and possibly even a tiny bit grossed out. While the building exterior may not be as wild as some of the other Ripley's locations, inside it spans two massive floors and is a great way to kill an hour or two. If you have never tour a Ripley's museum before, well then you might as well start with what is arguably one of their best. It's located at Times Square and is imposible to miss.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium at Times Square in New York City, one of the cool offbeat things to do in NYC
NYC building codes prevent this structure from being more extravagant

Night Court

Looking for a cheap date or a bit of one-of-a-kind entertainment? Go to night court!

Many know that crime in NYC has always been a problem, one that even to this day is not yet fully under control. (In fact the only modern metropolis to have effectively curtailed blue collar crimes thus far has been Tokyo). While America is infamous for its court cases and legal proceedings that can drag on for years or even decades, current laws mandate that those arrested be charged within 24 hours. Although increasing amounts of US citizens are unjustly being denied this basic right in the post-9/11 America, those suspected of petty crimes and misdemeanors are still afforded this right. In the Big Apple that equates to well over 1,000 people every day!

As such, the courts in NYC are forced to extend their hours just to cope with the sheer influx of new "suspects." Night court is like any other small courts session: there are judges and lawyers, defendants but no juries. However often there are also spectators from the general public getting their jollies in.


For once I was glad to be in the audience, instead of the one in front of the judge

Things kick off half hour after the traditional courts close, at 5:30pm, and run until 1am, with a brief recess for the night shift lunch break. But you won't see any high profile murder cases here, as most individuals are represented by public defenders (aka court-appointed attorneys).

Admission is free, just be prepared to have to clear security. Oh and be respectable inside the courtrooms -- no photos or loud talking. But that should go without saying.

Museum Of Sex

"Ehhh...you were good, but not great." That was my feeling, at least. However the missus absolutely loved this place. Conveniently referred to as MoSEX, it should go without saying that although this is not a kid-friendly destination, most open-minded adults will enjoy the exhibits. Especially those who get a kick out of controversy or anyone fascinated by sex.

The Museum Of Sex in New York City, one of the cool offbeat things to do in NYC
I recommend being drunk when you visit. Seriously.

Like what you're reading?     More Offbeat Travel Guides!

Chinatown

You've Seen It In Countless Movies...Now See It In Real Life!

Yes, in one word Chinatown is AWESOME! From the unmistakable sights and smells pervading the area to the downright impressive "people-watching" that the region offers, there is nothing disappointing about a trek thru Chinatown -- especially if you are a fan of people watching. Come hungry and definitely indulge in some authentic Chinese food.


Yes, it really is just that great. Like all Chinatowns, "same same but different"

The Abandoned City Hall Subway Stop

Dating back to 1904, the now forgotten City Hall station has always been an amazing site -- perhaps ever more so since it was officially closed down in 1945. However the glass skylights and impressive tile-work are still visible to this very day.

Because this station is at the "end of the line," it is characterized by its curve. Unfortunately it was this iconic curve that eventually led to the station's demise, as it proved to be an issue for the newer and longer trains running these lines.

Abandoned city hall subway station in New York City, one of the obscure and off the beaten things to do in NYC
This spectacular photo is not mine -- it was taken by John-Paul Palescandolo and Eric Kazmirek.

Until a couple years ago the only way for the public to observe this long forgotten subway station was by riding the 6 train to its final stop, the Brooklyn Bridge, and then hiding when they cleared the train to turn it around and send it back along its course in the opposite direction.

Thanks to the sheer spectacle of this urban underside combined with the power of social media, the "train 6 turnaround" secret eventually got out. Due to the subsequent increase in people attempting to see this historic sight, the MTA now allows the public to ride the turnaround, instead of clearing everyone off at the last stop.

Yes, whether you love New York City or hate it, the fact remains that NYC is an amazing city which offers up something spectacular around nearly every corner -- you just have to know where to look!

Speaking of, let me leave you all with one final off the beaten path recommendation to get your jollies on while visiting NYC: connect with a local and try some "urban exploring" -- New York City has a hidden underbelly to it that most never even see!

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SoHo is hot and one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC. Please let me share some of mine favorite 'places to be'. I am curious if you have any nice suggestions yourself. Please let me know if you do. Together we can make the most marvelous SoHo list!

SoHo (abbreviation of South Houston) is located between Houston Street (north), Lafayette Street (east), Canal Street (south) and Sixth Avenue (west). SoHo is known as one of New York's most trendy neighborhoods, leading in fashion and architecture.

  Where to shop?

Everywhere in SoHo you can find amazing shops and therefore SoHo is a must for shopaholics like me :)

On Broadway you find the large(r) shops. In the smaller side streets between Prince Street and Spring Street you find small, unique boutiques with lesser-known labels, but also the well-known designers are located here (Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors etc).

  Where to lunch?

For some relaxation during shopping, you can stop at one of the many restaurants. Some restaurants have a small terrace or garden. Quite unique in NYC, but at the same time very welcome since the summer temperatures easily rise up to 30 degrees. Very nice to sit outside in the shades sipping a margerita or large glass of lemonade...

Best lunch addresses in SoHo are:

Ruby’s cafe (219 Mulberry St.), Vesuvio Bakery (160 Prince St.), Balthazar especially for Sunday brunch (80 Spring St.) and Cafe Gitane (242 Mott Street). For a quick cake, go to Magnolia Bakery, known from Sex And The City (401 Bleecker St.)

  Where to wine?

Besides shopping there is plenty to do in SoHo. On several locations you can get a good and descent drink.

The best addresses for wining in Soho are:

Felix (340 West Broadway) especially on Sundays, Antique garage (41 Mercer St.) in MercBar (151 Mercer Street).

  Where to dine?

Walking through Soho you will find many nice restaurants. If you can not choose, I think these are real hot spots:

Mercer Kitchen (99 Prince St.), Giorgione (307 Spring Street), Black Coffee (32 Grand St.), Kittichai in the Thompson Hotel (60 Thompson St.), Elizabeth (265 Elizabeth St) with outside garden and Delicatessen (54 Prince St.)

It is advisable to book in advance via opentable.com.

  Where to club?

The best addresses for a cocktail and a little dance after dinner are:

Diva (341 West Broadway) and Soho Grand Bar (310 West Broadway) in Submercer. (Submercer is a secret bar under the Mercer Hotel Mercer and kitchen. You knock at a red door hoping the door will be opened for you...)

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