Uncover the Hidden Gems: Daphne’s Insider Guide to Unique Things to Do in New York City

New York City, the bustling metropolis that never sleeps, offers an endless array of unique experiences for locals and visitors alike. From quirky museums to offbeat tours, and hidden speakeasies to secret gardens, this vibrant city has something for everyone seeking an adventure beyond the typical tourist traps. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover the best-kept secrets and lesser-known treasures that will make your time in the Big Apple truly unforgettable.

Quirky Museums

New York City is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums, but it’s also a haven for quirky and unconventional ones that cater to niche interests. Prepare to be delighted and intrigued by these unique institutions:

The City Reliquary Museum

This charming museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and culture of New York City. From vintage subway tokens to antique shop signs, this place is a treasure trove of quirky artifacts and memorabilia that will transport you back in time. Don’t miss their offbeat exhibitions and events that showcase the city’s unique character. Visit the City Reliquary Museum website

The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD)

Food lovers, rejoice! MOFAD is a one-of-a-kind museum that explores the fascinating world of food and drink through interactive exhibits, tastings, and educational programs. From the history of chocolate to the science of brewing, this museum offers a delectable experience for your taste buds and intellect. Check out MOFAD’s upcoming exhibits

The Mmuseumm

Tucked away in a former freight elevator shaft in Cortlandt Alley, the Mmuseumm is a quirky gem that houses an eclectic collection of modern-day artifacts and curiosities. From a collection of burned toasters to a display of discarded shoe soles, this tiny museum will leave you both perplexed and entertained. Explore the Mmuseumm’s unique exhibits

Offbeat Tours

Discover the hidden corners and lesser-known stories of New York City by embarking on one of these offbeat tours:

The Madame Morbid Trolley Tours

Step aboard the “Trolley of the Doomed” and let Madame Morbid, a eccentric tour guide, take you on a macabre journey through the city’s dark past. From gruesome murders and haunted sites to tales of the occult, this tour is a must for those who crave a dose of the spooky and bizarre. Book your Madame Morbid Trolley Tour

The Wildly Untrue Walking Tours

If you’re in the mood for a quirky and humorous adventure, join the Wildly Untrue Walking Tours, where you’ll be led by expert storytellers who weave fantastical tales about New York City’s landmarks and neighborhoods. Expect the unexpected as you explore the city through a whimsical lens. Check out the Wildly Untrue Walking Tour schedule

The Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

Venture beneath the city streets and discover the hidden world of the New York City subway system with this unique tour. Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll explore abandoned stations, secret tunnels, and learn about the fascinating history and engineering marvels of one of the world’s oldest public transit systems. Book your Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

Hidden Speakeasies and Secret Bars

Step back in time and experience the thrill of Prohibition-era speakeasies by discovering some of New York City’s hidden watering holes:


This intimate cocktail lounge in the Lower East Side is a true speakeasy, with no sign or menu to guide you. Instead, you’ll need to ring a doorbell and hope for entry into this cozy, dimly-lit space where expert mixologists craft bespoke cocktails based on your preferences. Directions to Attaboy

Employees Only

Behind an unassuming psychic parlor facade in the West Village lies Employees Only, a sophisticated speakeasy-style bar known for its impeccable cocktails and Art Deco decor. Immerse yourself in the glamour of the Roaring Twenties as you sip your expertly crafted libations. Make a reservation at Employees Only

Raines Law Room

Named after the 19th-century Raines Law that led to the rise of New York’s first cocktail lounges, this hidden gem in Chelsea offers a cozy and intimate atmosphere. Step through the unmarked door and be transported to a bygone era of sophisticated drinking dens. Find Raines Law Room’s secret entrance

Secret Gardens and Urban Oases

Escape the concrete jungle and discover the city’s tranquil green spaces that offer respite from the hustle and bustle:

The Elevated Acre

This hidden urban oasis is a true gem, nestled atop a former railroad track on the West Side Highway. With lush greenery, meandering pathways, and stunning views of the Hudson River, the Elevated Acre provides a serene sanctuary in the heart of the city. Visit the Elevated Acre on the High Line

The Conservatory Garden

Located in Central Park, the Conservatory Garden is a stunning formal garden that is often overlooked by visitors. With its meticulously manicured gardens, fountains, and charming winding paths, this hidden gem offers a tranquil escape from the city’s chaos. Explore the Conservatory Garden in Central Park

The Garden at St. Luke in the Fields

This secluded garden tucked away in the heart of the West Village is a true urban oasis. Surrounded by historic church buildings and towering trees, the Garden at St. Luke in the Fields offers a peaceful respite where you can enjoy a picnic or simply bask in the beauty of nature. Find the Garden at St. Luke in the Fields

Comparison Tables

To help you make an informed decision, here are two comparison tables showcasing some of the unique experiences featured in this guide:

Quirky Museums

The City Reliquary MuseumVintage NYC memorabilia, offbeat exhibitionsWilliamsburg, Brooklyn$5 suggested donation
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD)Interactive food exhibits, tastingsWilliamsburg, Brooklyn$16 for adults, $12 for students/seniors
The MmuseummEclectic collection of modern artifactsCortlandt Alley, Manhattan$5 suggested donation

Hidden Speakeasies and Secret Bars

BarVibeLocationSignature Drink
AttaboyIntimate, speakeasy-styleLower East SideCustomized cocktails based on preferences
Employees OnlySophisticated, Art DecoWest VillageGin-Gin Mule
Raines Law RoomCozy, bygone eraChelseaThe Bensonhurst

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Are these unique experiences suitable for families with children?

While some of the experiences, such as the quirky museums and secret gardens, may be enjoyable for families, others like the hidden speakeasies and offbeat tours may not be appropriate for children. It’s always advisable to research and plan accordingly based on your group’s preferences and interests.

Q2: How much time should I allocate for these unique experiences?

The time commitment can vary greatly depending on the activity. Quirky museums and secret gardens may only require an hour or two, while offbeat tours and immersive experiences like speakeasies could take up a significant portion of your day or evening.

For instance, visiting the City Reliquary Museum or the Mmuseumm may only take an hour or two, as these are relatively small museums. However, if you plan to attend any special events or exhibitions, you may want to allocate more time.

The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), on the other hand, is a larger institution with interactive exhibits and tastings. Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours to fully appreciate the experience.

When it comes to offbeat tours, the duration can range from a few hours to a full day. The Madame Morbid Trolley Tours typically last around 2-3 hours, while the Underground Tour of the NYC Subway can take up to 4 hours, depending on the route and stops.

The Wildly Untrue Walking Tours are generally shorter, lasting around 1-2 hours, but you may want to factor in additional time to explore the neighborhoods you’ll be walking through.

Visiting hidden speakeasies and secret bars can be a leisurely experience, especially if you plan to savor their unique cocktails and ambiance. Allocate at least 2-3 hours for each bar, or even make an evening of it by visiting a couple of these hidden gems.

As for the secret gardens and urban oases, they can provide a quick respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, or you may want to spend an hour or two strolling through their tranquil paths and taking in the scenery.

It’s always a good idea to check the specific schedules and plan your visit accordingly, allowing for additional time for transportation and any unforeseen delays or detours.

Ultimately, the time you spend at each unique experience will depend on your interests and pace. Some may be quick pit stops, while others may become the highlight of your day or even a full-day adventure.

To make the most of your time in New York City, it’s recommended to prioritize the experiences that align with your interests and create an itinerary that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the city’s unique offerings without feeling rushed.

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