crazy things to do in new york main

New York in the summer… tourists, Times Square, Central Park, Fifth Avenue. Although these are all great ways to follow Hollywood’s trail of most famous landmarks and spots – I know it well, my local friend, bless her, took me to the very spot in Central Park where one of the characters of Gossip Girl used to go to feed the ducks, I can’t remember the name of the actress or the place, that is how much it mattered to me.

New York is the center of creativity, innovation and crazy ideas. Let the city swallow you into a world of history, fascinating stories, great parks and examples of out-of-the-box thinking in these few fabulous, alternative and crazy things to do in New York.

Nobody does living life to the fullest like New York City.

Hipster, alternative and crazy things to do in New York

1. Daybreaker pre-work parties

It may sound crazy but New Yorkers know it best when it comes to working hard and playing hard. A new trend as started to let yourself lose before going to work. Daybreaker organizes early morning parties, from 6am to 9am, where parti-goers let some steam off before heading to work in a healthy and pure environment. Put on your fancy gym clothes, your trainers, grab your coconut water and head to one of their venues for an early morning dance party to burn some calories in style.

Sunrise parties with Daybreaker

Sunrise parties with Daybreaker

2. High Line

New York high line

New York high line

Although no longer a novelty but more of a well-established destination, the High Line always has something to keep one coming back.

An elevated park built along the old train tracks it offers regular music performances, shopping, food, drinks and evenings out in the summer. Walk along it entirety for the full experience and make sure to chill with a book on one of the sun beds along 14th street. There are cooling water fountains to deep your feet into. Check the various seasonal activities like Tai Chi, Meditation or Star Gazing.

3. Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum

Located by the Williamsburg Bridge, the Tenement Museum provides an insight into the lives of the immigrants who arrived in the US in the 19th Century. A variety of tours are in offer including tours of the shops in the area.

4. Apollo Theatre

New York Apollo

New York Apollo

famous Harlem landmark, the Apollo Theater is steeped in history. First opened in 1914 as an all-white theater, it then closed and reopened in 1934 as a place to showcase African American talent. It was billed as the place where “Stars are born and legends are made”.

Although not unknown to tourists, the Apollo Theater receives 1,3 million visitors a year, it is a worthy visit to understand African American history and struggles. The theater offers tours once or twice daily, depending on the day of the week.

5. A day in Williamsburg

Street Art in Williamsburg

Street Art in Williamsburg

An area dating back to the 17th Century Williamsburg, today, is the center of the New York hipster community in New York City. Expect funky cafes, pop-up food markets, alternative New York designer shops and a melting pot of cultures as the previous residents of the area blend in with the new wave of gentrification. Spend the day at the flea market (on the weekend) and then wander around the main streets for second hand finds, great coffee, brunch, sex shops, record stores, parks (there is even a tiny stretch of beach facing Manhattan), visit the Brooklyn Brewery for a tour, and all-round hipster New York life. You may want to catch an independent movie at Nitehawk Cinema

6. Union Square Greenmarket

Union Square greenmarket

Union Square greenmarket

A pretty market in one of the busiest parts of Mid-Town. Union Square is nice on its own but even better on the four days a week when the local farmer’s market, Greenmarket, is on. Expect to buy organic and local food and, even if you are not in for grocery shopping, there are food stalls and the general people-watching opportunities.

7. Tea at The Plaza

Tea at The Plaza

Tea at The Plaza

The renovated Courtyard, a New York institution, is the best place for a decadent tea and a dose of opulence. Have a cocktail, a premium luxury Grand Cuve tea and their fabulous scones, lemon curd and pastries. You can read my review here. And if you are looking for more affordable places to eat in the city, head out to Tales from a Fork.

Scroll down for more ideas of things to do in NYC

Click the image below for my full review of brunch at the Plaza

Find out what an afternoon of sweet indulgence at The Plaza Courtyard in New York City is like. Click here or on the image above to read more.

8. Boating in Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

If you want a romantic take on the park an afternoon paddling along the lakes on Central Park is a regular of the city’s rom-com movie scenes. Pass time in the lush, green surroundings. Enter through the Upper West Side and look for the lake.

Not keen on a boat but more on touring all of the park’s famous spots (bar the Gossip Girl duck feeding spot trust me), you could feel like Carrie in Sex and the City and ride a horse drawn carriage, or you could join a Central Park pedicab tour and avoid the horse smell, the poop and get a side of humour and history thrown in for good measure. You can book one for as long or as short as you want and ask to be taken to the spots you want to visit and make stops for photo ops.

9. Times Square at sunrise

New York time square

New York time square

New York only goes to sleep when the sun comes up. If you wander around at 6am, just before summer sunrise, the city looks like it has not gone to bed yet but as soon as the first sun rays come up the night life disappears and vampires return to their coffins. It is the only time of the day when Times Square will be empty and you can have it all to yourself, well worth the early start (or late finishing).

10. Tango lessons

New York central park

New York central park

Every Saturday at 7,30pm there are tango lessons on Central Park. Tango aficionados gather from 6-9pm every Saturday looking for a partner to practice. Arrive, look for a partner and dance for four songs before swapping partner. Tango music plays in the background. If you are not brave enough to join in, watching is mesmerizing.

11. Piano in Washington Square

Pianist at Washington Square

Pianist at Washington Square

On Saturday mornings, wander around Washington Square for lie performances and piano music, live. Bring a book and a coffee and enjoy the beautiful music and show.

12. The Rubin Museum

The Rubin Museum

The Rubin Museum

A hidden gem and the largest collection of Tibetan Art in the world. Come here for a guided tour or a self-guided one. On Friday night, there is live music in the Museum and free entry after 6pm. Art from Tibet, China, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bhutan find a home under this Museum, but the focus is on the art element of Tibetan culture. Volunteer guides can be found around ready to provide details on the beautiful works on display. Here is my complete guide to Tibet if this exhibition ignites your interest.

13. Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

Wander around this refurbished warehouse filled with alternative New York designer shop, clothes stores and lots of bars and restaurants for a drink. Come in the evening.

14. Night Courts

Just like in the movies, all the people you see sitting at the backbenches in the Courts as cases are dealt are regular people. Anybody can go to the Night Courts and hear the judges pass decisions. A truly fascinating evening out.

15. Go to the airport in style

New York time helicopter

New York time helicopter

What more fashionable way to go to the airport than on an helicopter? Gotham Services is the Uber of heli trips. Start your trip and once the helicopter fills your trip is guaranteed. The best part, no traffic in the skies so the one hour trip is cut down to just six minutes to Gotham’s helipad. The seats go for $220 each when full. Bring carry on only.

16. Food tour of Harlem

Sylvia's in New York

Sylvia’s in New York

New York is a foodies’ paradise. Almost every single cuisine is represented in one of the many neighborhoods. For a tour with a dash of history and soul, join one of the walking Soul Food tours of Harlem. Expect buttery biscuits, waffles with bacon, prawns, eggs and fried chicken. Yum!

Remember to Pin this post to your #NYC board.

crazy things to do in New York crazy things to do in New York

  • contented traveller

    These are all things that we will do when we visit NYC later this year. I love the idea of the Harlem Food tour and will be at Times Square at 6am. I will instagram it for you. Tango? Why yes please. A piano player, too cool. I am going to adore this city.

    • Ha I bet you will for sure! I had only been to NYC 13 years prior, as a poor student, so this time I ditched the touristy things (although they are also quite good) and wanted to do more of the different things that make the city so unique. I had a lot of fun. Certainly 6am is the only time to see it without a selfie stick threatening in the background

  • I’ve been to NYC a few times and the High Line still is one my favourite places amongst so many things to see and do there. Also quite like the Zoo, in the Bronx.

    • There is something about the High Line right? Hard to put your finger on it but it is like a breath of fresh air in a busy city.

  • Jen Miner

    Maybe it’s because I used to live in NYC, but I’ve done all of these except the Night Courts one (which sounds pretty depressing) and taking a helicopter to the airport. But you’ve got me thinking about helicopter rides over Manhattan — I don’t remember seeing them flying around much except for during Sept 11 2001 and the weeks after. Are there helicopters flying tourists around now?

    • Hello Jen! Yes there are still helicopter tours above the city that are still pretty popular. You get to see Manhattan from the air, the river and so on. I looked into it but didn’t get around to booking

  • Ok seriously, I will need to check out some of those early morning dance parties. Classic NYC, for sure! The Highline and Union Square’s Greenmarket are great ways to stroll and get a vibe for the city. I’d also add going to the Lower East Side in search of the mixology bar scene or heading to the open air Standard Biergarten in the Meatpacking.

  • Melody Pittman

    Great suggestions! I just met some ladies from Wiliamsburg and I cannot wait to check it out for myself. Also, i’ve been reading about these day breaker parties in many cities, fun. Wish I knew about where to find one in Florida, not that I am getting up to go to work. lol

  • Great list! I love the street art and the idea of a pre-work dance party. What a fantastic way to start the day.

  • Antonette Spaan

    Great list – unfortunately I won’t be returning to NYC anytime soon but then again – never say never!

  • Karla Ramos

    Such a great list. A little bit of everything and a good mix!

  • Himanshu Barsainya

    Awesome list. Appreciate your efforts.

  • Travel with Mia

    These are all great things to do! New York is incredible and you offered something for everyone! I would love to go to the High Line, Chelsea Market and take Tango Lessons. I’m off to New York in the next month or so and I’ll be taking this list with me.

  • Laura Lynch

    Yay. I’ve done a bunch of those things. My favorite has to be boating in Central Park, even though that’s probably also the most touristy thing on the list. It’s still awesome.

    • Yes! I thought so, even if everybody does it and it may feel a bit tacky, it is such a cool and fun thing to do 🙂

  • New York is one of not many cities I would like to visit. Thank you for this post, I looked at this city from the other side 🙂

  • Marissa Tejada

    Nice hipster rundown of my hometown! 😉 Nice blog, enjoying it.

  • greg493

    We are there in Sept and will work our way through this list. Thanks for the great info

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