15 NYC Hidden Gems Most New Yorkers Don’t Know About
From (reputedly) haunted former hospitals to glorious green spaces, these are the best-kept secrets in the Big Apple.
Escape to a world of green at this park in the sky between two skyscrapers. The Elevated Acre is down in the Financial District on Water Street. The park offers views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hudson River. The park recently added a beer garden with a few different beers on tap, making it a perfect place to relax with friends after a hectic city day.
620 Loft and Gallery
Many tourists add Rockefeller Center to their NYC to-do list, but not many people know about the secret garden hidden above the busy streets. 620 Loft and Gallery is a roof garden originally designed by English landscaper Ralph Hancock. The gardens have been closed to the public since 1938 but people can spot it from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. If you like staying away from the crowds, look at the world’s most underrated travel destinations.
Grand Central Whispering Gallery
Grand Central Station certainly isn’t a hidden gem of New York City, but not many people know about the secret architectural feature that lets you whisper to someone across the room. Right in front of the Oyster Bar and Restaurant is an archway, if you and a friend stand in opposite corners and whisper into the wall the sound will be transmitted over the arch no matter how loud Grand Central is around you.
Get stunning views of the Meatpacking District from this year-round rooftop bar in New York City. STK is a mix between a modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. It’s glass enclosures allow you to enjoy views of the Hudson River and High Line in the summer heat and the cold winters. This NYC hidden gem transforms with the seasons and is an outdoor rooftop in the summer and a lodge in the winter.
New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
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
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.
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.
The Met Cloisters
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.
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.
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 Woolworth Building, a towering Gothic skyscraper in the Financial District, is as glamorous today as it 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.
Renwick Smallpox Hospital
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.
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.
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.
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.