Explore New York City

New York City's Off-Beat Attractions

Under-the-radar spots to visit in NYC.

Trips to NYC frequently include a Broadway show, a trip to Times Square, and an excursion to Central Park. However, "The City That Never Sleeps" has far more to offer for those willing to stray from the typical tourist destinations. Here are a few hidden gems to seek out on your next visit.

Renwick Ruins

Take the Roosevelt Island Tram over the East River to Roosevelt Island and then walk to the island's southern tip. There you'll find the massive ruins of the Renwick Smallpox Hospital (also known as the Renwick Ruins). The hospital initially opened in the 1850s and was closed a hundred years later. The buildings fell into disrepair, and eventually, a $4.5 million stabilization project got underway to make the ruins safe to visit. The eerie ruins of what used to be a 100-bed hospital are especially haunting at dusk. You may notice lots of feline friends around. That's because the Roosevelt Island Cat Sanctuary is just north of the ruins.

Renwick Ruins (©Paul Lehman) New York City | WhereTraveler
Renwick Ruins (©Paul Lehman) 

Berlin Wall

After the Berlin Wall fell, the pieces were divided up and sold. Several of those pieces ended up in Manhattan, and you can go visit a slice of history. The pieces are scattered throughout the city. One is outside the entrance to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum on the western edge of Midtown. Another stands in the garden outside the U.N. One sits in Kowsky Plaza down near Battery Park. Visit the lobby of 520 Madison Avenue, and you'll find another slab of history being preserved inside away from the ravages of New York City weather.

The Elevated Acre

The Elevated Acre is precisely what it sounds like, a one-acre meadow hidden away above the hustle and bustle of the Financial District. Bookended by gardens and plantings, this secluded space is a mini oasis from the chaos below. Pedestrians often overlook the escalator at 55 Water Street, but the curious few who take the ride end up in this little piece of heaven. 

Elevated Acre (©Kevin F./Yelp) New York City | WhereTraveler
Elevated Acre (©Kevin F./Yelp)

Greenacre Park

Did you ever think you'd see a waterfall right in the middle of Manhattan? Visit the tiny oasis that is Greenacre Park on East 51st Street, and you can relax at a table and listen to the tumbling water. The 25-foot cataract is the feature in the park, but there are also mature honey locust trees, trellis-covered seating areas and russet brick paths that meander through the landscaped gardens.

Whispering Gallery

Grand Central Station is one of the busiest train stations in the U.S., and most busy travelers don't know there's a secret hidden in plain sight. The whispering gallery is located off the main concourse on the lower level near the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. If two people stand on opposite corners of the gallery diagonally, one can whisper into the tile and the other will hear the secret message clear as day over the noise of Grand Central Station. The perfectly constructed tile arches are the cause of this acoustic phenomenon. 

Grand Central Station New York City | WhereTraveler