Hidden Gems in New York: Enjoy the Big Apple like a Local

New York City has been a secret love of mine since I was a teenager. My stepdad was a truck driver who would make deliveries to New York City on a fairly regular basis. I would go with him, and traveling through Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and seeing the sites from a tractor-trailer was enough to whet my appetite for more.

NYC at night

New York is known for its tall iconic buildings and famous museums. This city also harbors many uncelebrated treasures that only locals know of. These hidden gems can offer you an endless amount of mystery, beauty, and surprise. Here are a few exceptional places that you won’t find on tourist guides.

However, before you visit any of the places on this list, you should think about leaving your luggage at a safe place since you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and commuting. Going everywhere with your bag can make you tired fast. You’ll be too tired to continue exploring after visiting a few places. Use online search to store your luggage in New York You’ll find plenty of companies that offer good and affordable deals.

I had the (somewhat) lovely pleasure of spending 3 hours in New York City’s Times Square during a bus trip layover with my then 10-year-old daughter and almost 1-year-old son. Unfortunately, I did not know that you could store your luggage somewhere and explore the city unhindered. So imagine me, with two suitcases, a purse, a diaper bag, an infant in one arm and a child whose hand I had a death grip on – trying to navigate the people in that area with all that baggage and two children. Needless to say – we did NOT enjoy ourselves as much as I wanted!

I digress though! Let’s continue with the list.

The Elevated Acre

The Elevated Acre 55 Water Street NYC

This beautiful grassy space that is situated between two skyscrapers is the perfect getaway for you. This place exudes a serene aura that will pacify the chaos that comes with living in the big city. This small park is situated on Water Street and features amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, and 50-foot light sculpture. Recently, this breathtaking space opened a beer garden that is open to everyone. It is fitted with several beer taps that you can sample as you enjoy this peaceful environment.

Pomander Walk

Pomander Walk NYC

Pomander Walk is the most astonishing secret beauty that New York holds. The walk comprises of old houses built in classic Tudor style. Amid the giant skyscrapers that define New York City, these houses have been nestled on the Upper West Side since 1921. These cottages were initially meant to be temporary housing, but have lived through 90 years of development. To date, the houses are still occupied and the neighborhood has been named a National Landmark.

The Whispering Gallery

Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Station

Within Grand Central lays one of the most amazing phenomena in New York City. The walls near the terminal’s dining lobby allow low sounds to travel across them. It is said that two people standing at diagonal arches in the gallery can hear each other’s whispers. Experts explain that the whispers trail the curve of the domed ceiling hence allowing this occurrence. This is considered one of the most popular hidden gems.

Prospect Park South

Prospect Park South NYC

Ancient rural home designs have never been as beautiful as they are at Prospect Park South. In the late 19th century, a developer bought 50 acres of land and constructed 206 Victorian homes. He did this to showcase how Victorian designs could be tweaked to create beautiful urban homes.

Pieces of the Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall at 520 Madison Avenue

Many people often mistake this historic art piece for just any other New York City street mural. The German artists, Thierry Noir and Kiddy Citny, put together five concrete slabs of the original Berlin Wall in Midtown Plaza at 520 Madison Avenue. This historic 12 x 20-foot dazzling masterpiece was later donated by the city of Berlin to Manhattan’s Battery Park City.

World’s Fair Buildings

NYC World's Fair Buildings

New York City hosted the world fair twice in the 20th century. The first one was held between 1939 and 1940 while the second happened between 1964 and 1965. At the time, there were 2 buildings created to showcase the culture and social progress of America. Those buildings remain standing to this day. You can visit them at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

Renwick Hospital on Roosevelt Island

We might be dealing with COVID-19 today, but there was a time when smallpox was a menace. Hence the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital was built. It was the main treatment and isolation center for smallpox patients. Ruins of the old building remain. You can visit the island to see the gothic walls of the original building.

Want some help finding all of these great spots? Use our map below to assist you with your travel plans!

What are some of your favorite hidden spots in New York City? Leave your comments below!

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