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. Included are some of the museums I have visited over the last six or so months (however long since I returned 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?

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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. Find out more about what makes the event so popular by clicking here.

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 a href="https://www.excursiopedia.com/en/tours/horse-and-carriage-tour-in-central-park-10507" target="_blank">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

Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, NYC

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

Balthazar restaurant in SoHo, NYC

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

Georgetown Cupcake in SoHo, NYC

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

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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 off, let me leave you all with one final off the beaten path recommendation to get your jollies in 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!

  More Offbeat Travel Guides     Other New York Travel Advice     USA Archives

Have any other offbeat NYC recommendations?

Share your comments below!

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Have you ever stayed in a hostel before? Oh you have? Then I guess its just me. A 29 year old hostel virgin is what I was up until last weekend. I wish I could say that my first hostel experience was somewhere exotic like Thailand but alas it was none other than New York City. A city that is 3hours from my home state of Rhode Island.  Why would I choose to stay in a hostel only 3hrs from where I lived?  Well I'll tell you...

It all started when NaEun Park my buddy from Boston asked me to attend the Nomading Film Festival in New York City on Saturday June 23rd. Now if your loyal fans (which I'm assuming you are) you've already read that post and know all about it. If your just tuning in-go check it out! Anyways so she's like "hey lets go to New York this weekend and did I mention we are gonna stay in a hostel?" Ok so maybe she didn't word it quite like that but I was like HOSTEL???? Have you seen me?!

One of my favorite quotes regarding hostels is "You ain't seen hostel till you put me up in one."

That's pretty much how I was feeling until we arrived.

It's one of those situations that unless you've stayed in one before you have no idea what to expect. Here I was a 29year old "travel blogger" and I had yet to stay in a hostel.  Uh oh this smelled like trouble for me...

I was so WRONG!! Hosteling International is like a freakn' hotel! It's super chic (almost W Hotel vibe).  You are greeted with crazy cold AC which is a nice, loud club music, super friendly staff, and plenty of HOT travelers to go around. The question now is, why on earth haven't I been staying in hostels before!?!

All the places you can stay...

 

So let me break Hosteling International down for you:

Pro's:

  • CLEAN
  • Cheap $44/night
  • Onsite cafe
  • Free WiFi
  • At least 3 lounges
  • Pool table
  • Internet room w/ computers
  • HUGE outside area for reading, sunning yourself, etc
  • Bathroom's are new and VERY clean
  • Huge lockers to store your belongings in
Huge lockers

 

Con's:

  • You could be sleeping in a room with up to 12 people
  • You don't get to pick which bunk you get (but I hear if you ask nicely they can switch you)
  • You have to pay to use the internet but WiFi is free
  • Check in is at 4pm and check out is a 11am (not the most convenient)
Checking in...

 

We stayed in a room with 12 people and HONESTLY it wasn't really that bad. Thankfully we could sleep in pretty late the next morning which made it manageable. The girls in our room were pretty respectful, you can't really help what time you need to get up in the morning. Other than that it was actually pretty quiet in the building--although I am kind of a sound sleeper.

My bed--someone stole those towels!

 

Here are a few tips we picked up:

  • Bring your own lock
  • When arriving grab the towels that are on your bed and put them in your locker (someone took mine, thank god I had bought my own)
  • Keep your pajama's out on your bed--makes it easier when your stumbling in at midnight
  • Headphones or ear plugs are a must if your a light sleeper
Pool table

 

So its safe to say that my hostel experience was an excellent one.  You can't beat the price for New York City--in fact I just might be more inclined to visit the city more knowing I can stay there. I should also note that staying in a hostel seems like a really great way to meet people, so there's that.

So if your still a hostel virgin and a little nervous, look into staying at one that's sorta close to where you live that way if it sucks you are closer to home!

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