NYC’s Lesser-Known Attractions

NYC's lesser known attractions by Ari KellenNew York’s got plenty of iconic and exciting attractions.  The Met, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the 9/11 Memorial, the list could go on and on.  Yet for all of these famous, iconic attractions, there are those that aren’t as well-known.  Here are some of the quirkier attractions in New York that you should be sure to not miss, taken from an article in Timeout:  

BLDG 92: This small museum, located in what was once a military residence at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, pays homage to the historical significance to the area.  It features exhibits for the history buff in all of us such as Civil War ironclads, Pearl Harbor casualties and the stories of those who worked on these various ships in Brooklyn.  

Panorama of the City of New York: It could take a lifetime to explore all of New York City, so luckily the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum makes it easier for you.  It’s a 9,335-square-foot model of the city, where each inch represents about 100 real feet.  

The Met Breuer: The brand-new Met Breuer (it’s less than a year old!) is designed to make the Met a major player in 20th and 21st-century art.  There have already been some unique exhibits; one notable example is an exhibit of unfinished works by artists ranging from da Vinci to Warhol.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum: Located in Pelham Bay Park (itself named after the family who built it), the Bartow-Pell mansion is built on the estate of the Pell family, who settled in the region in the 17th century.  The mansion itself, which was built in the early 19th century, offers a unique look at life in 19th-century New York.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center: Most New Yorkers seldom visit Staten Island, but if you do, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, spread across 83 acres, is a must-see.  In addition to an enormous botanical garden, it’s surrounded by cobblestone streets and tiny paths of Victorian and Tudor-style homes.  There’s also a “Chinese Scholar’s Garden”, designed to resemble the landscape of ancient China.  

City Reliquary: Located in the heart of Williamsburg, and looking like a small and nondescript storefront from the outside, the City Reliquary is able to pack an amazing amount of stuff, all tied to New York’s history, into a pretty tiny space.  In addition to being a Williamsburg institution, it serves as an active presence in the Brooklyn community by organizing special events and fundraisers.  

Green-Wood Cemetery: While most graveyards don’t scream “tourist destination”, most graveyards aren’t the Green-Wood Cemetery.  Filled with Victorian mausoleums and stone statues, it’s the resting place of a half million New Yorkers who range from Leonard Bernstein to Boss Tweed.  It also features Battle Hill, one of the highest points in Brooklyn and a major site in the Battle of Brooklyn during the American Revolution.

Woolworth building: When it was finished in 1913, the Woolworth was the tallest building in the world, and to this day remains one of New York’s 20 tallest buildings (a coveted position to say the least).  The building has passed hands regularly, but you can still tour the lobby, decked out in glass and marble interiors.  

Socrates Sculpture Park: In 1986, a group of artists and activists came together to create this 4.5 acre city park over an Astoria landfill.  Designated specifically for artists to create outdoor works, it hosts large-scale sculptures year-round, in addition to a Greenmarket, free yoga and tai chi classes.  

Ghostly Day Trips From NYC

ghostly day trips from NYC by Ari KellenNew Yorkers love their weekend getaways: the Poconos, the Jersey Shore, the Catskills, etc.  Yet New Yorkers might not think this is a great time to take a weekend trip; most of the leaves upstate have fallen, apple picking season is over, it’s starting to get cold, but there isn’t any snow for skiing yet.  But with Halloween just around the corner, a weekend ghost tour could be fun!  Here are some haunted places outside of New York that could make for a great day or weekend trip:

Amityville Horror House (Amityville, NY): Whether or not the events described in the “Amityville Horror” book or the 17 films it spawned actually occurred, this Dutch Colonial-style home does hold some dark secrets inside its walls.  In the early 70s, before the events of the book occurred, a young man murdered his parents and four siblings in the house.  The next family to purchase the house fled after 28 days, claiming that they were harassed by evil spirits, although no subsequent owners have reported anything unusual.  You can’t enter the house, but you can drive by, or maybe buy it (it was recently put on the market).  

Letchworth Village (Thiels, NY): The little hamlet of Thiels is home to Letchworth Village, which previously served as an insane asylum.  Like many historic insane asylums, Letchworth gained a reputation for mistreatment, and the ghosts of patients are said to still haunt the grounds.  Although the buildings are off-limits to the public, trespassers have reported such phenomena as weird sounds and moving objects.  

The Spy House (Port Monmouth, NJ): As one of the oldest houses in New Jersey (built around 1663), the “Spy House”, named after a previous owner who served as an American spy in the American Revolution, has had plenty of time to accrue ghosts.  Hailed “the most haunted house in America”, it once boasted 22 active ghosts, including a woman dressed in white, a bearded sea captain and a small boy.  It was previously open to the public for tours, but those have since stopped, fueling the suspicion that officials were trying to cover up the paranormal presence within the house’s walls.  

Union Cemetery (Easton, CT): This ancient cemetery, featuring graves from as far back as the 17th century, is said to be one of the most haunted places in Connecticut.  According to legend, a ghostly figure with long black hair wearing a white gown, known as “the White Lady”, haunts the grounds, floating among the gravestones and scaring drivers by appearing in the middle of Route 59.  

Shades of Death Road (Allamuchy, NJ): Nobody knows how Shades of Death Road got its grisly name, but whatever happened, it’s known as the site for all sorts of paranormal activity.  The road has hosted all sorts of grisly events over the years, such as an outbreak of malaria, car accidents, gruesome murders and brutal highway robberies.  Ghosts and other supernatural phenomena have been reported at various points along the road.  

Warrens’ Occult Museum (Monroe, CT): Ed and Lorraine Warren were a couple who worked as a team of paranormal investigators for over 50 years.  They claimed to have investigated over 10,000 cases during their career, including Amityville, and their work has inspired such films as “The Conjuring” franchise, “Annabelle” and “The Haunting in Connecticut”.  Their home in Monroe serves as the “Occult Museum”, where they keep various haunted objects that they’ve confiscated over the years, including the infamous Annabelle doll.  It boasts the “largest array of haunted artifacts and items that have been used in occult practices throughout the world”.   

Forest Park Cemetery (Brunswick, NY): Not for the faint of heart, this cemetery features inexplicable “cold spots”, where the temperature drops dramatically.  Apart from a general feeling of creepiness, visitors to the Forest Park Cemetery have reported glowing orbs and headless statues that bleed from the neck.  

7 Great Parks in Manhattan

7 great parks in Manhattan by Ari KellenCentral Park is probably one of the most iconic parks in the world, and not without good reason.  People travel to New York specifically to visit it, and it’s one of those touristy spots that’s worth a visit.  But that’s not to take away from some of the other fantastic parks across the city.  In Manhattan alone, there are dozens; catch some jazz musicians playing at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, or maybe take a stroll on the water at Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side.  Maybe pack a picnic lunch and find a quiet spot when it’s warm, catch the fall foliage in October or build a snowman in the winter.  You can find just about anything in New York City, including serenity (hard to believe, I know!).  Here are seven must-see parks in Manhattan, excluding Central Park, taken from an article by New York blogger Tracy Kaler:

Madison Square Park: Easily accessible to residents of Chelsea, Flatiron, Kips Bay and NoMad all have easy access to this park.  It not only provides a spot to relax and recoup, but also features a Shake Shack outpost.  Across the street on the eastern side of the park is the Michelin star-rated Eleven Madison Park.  

Tompkins Square Park: Alphabet City, once a no-zone in Manhattan, has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and its main park, Tompkins Square, has plenty to offer, particularly for dog lovers.  The oversized dog run here has three dog swimming pools, a tree deck and bathing areas.  In Halloween there’s a dog parade, and every summer the park hosts both the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival and a French film festival.

City Hall Park: This park in the financial district makes for terrific people watching, in addition to a great escape from the surrounding area’s hustle and bustle.  In many ways, it feels more like a public garden than a city park, with monuments and fountains gracing the well-manicured space.

Bryant Park: Conveniently located within walking distance from the Theater District, the New York Public Library and Grand Central, Bryant park hosts such events as group yoga classes, Broadway performances, free summer movies and more.  It also happens to have some of the cleanest public restrooms in the city.  

Ruppert Park: If you’re ever passing through the East 90s, this is absolutely worth a visit.  Although it belongs to the high-rise development Rupper Towers, it’s free for all who want some peace and quiet.  

Hudson River Park: This 550-acre waterside park connects Hell’s Kitchen to Battery Park City, starting at 59th street and extending all the way to Manhattan’s ede on the West Side.  It offers everything from dog parks to on-the-water activities, making it a favorite among New Yorkers.

FDR Four Freedoms Park: Not many New Yorkers visit Roosevelt Island, but if you do, the park at the southern tip of the island, FDR Four Freedoms, is absolutely worth the visit.  Dedicated to the legacy of FDR, it was designed by famed architect Louis I Kahn and offers sweeping views of Manhattan and the East River.