New York Hidden Gems

My previous blog about New York talks about the most famous landmarks there, but I loved the New York hidden gems even more.

Here are my top 5 New York hidden gems, some secret spots that not many people know about!

New York hidden gem #1 – Hush Hip Hop Tours

When I visited New York for the first time it was with my sister who was a fan of hip hop in the 80s.  She stumbled across Hush Hip Hop tours online and we decided to give it a go.  It turned out to be the highlight of our trip and was a most entertaining, interesting and informative day.

You are guided by real hip hop artists; the guys who were there when it first evolved and who contributed to some of the biggest hip hop hits including Rappers Delight by the Sugarhill Gang (and hear the real story behind this classic track).

Grandmaster Caz was one of the pioneers of hip hop, contributing to the classic Rappers Delight by the Sugarhill Gang

You get to visit iconic landmarks of hip hop history including the building where it all began, at a party in August 1973.

1520 Sedgewick Avenue, New York which is where hip hop began in 1973

The Bronx Hall of Fame, which features the tour guide, Grandmaster Caz!

Grandmaster Caz in front of a Bronx hall of fame sign

Bronx Hall of Fame sign featuring Grandmaster Caz

You learn about the origins of graffiti and visit a school which is designated for artists to decorate with their amazing street art.

Hush Hip Hop tours includes a history of graffiti and visit to a school where street art is allowed

You meet a b-boy, who demonstrates his amazing breaking and encourages audience participation, teaching us a few moves!

B-boy dancer featured on the Hush Hip Hop tour

B-boy breaking on the Hush Hip Hop tour

And finally you visit a proper authentic soul food restaurant, which is amazing value and absolutely delicious.

Jacob restaurant in New York which provides authentic and delicious soul food

Even if you’re not the biggest hip hop fan I would highly recommend this New York hidden gem as it’s a trip down memory lane which documents a historic music genre from the artists who were there.  You can find out about the tours and book one using TripAdvisor here.

New York hidden gem #2 – Cover Story harmony group in Central Park

When we visited New York in the summer of 2017 it was absolutely scorching so we were constantly seeking out cooler spaces to take refuge from the sun.  On one of these breaks we happened upon one of the highlights of the trip under the arches near the Bethseda Fountain in Central Park.

Cover Story define themselves as a doo wop group and they sing soul classics with incredible harmonies.  Accompanied by just a double bass, they take it in turns to supply lead vocals to an enthusiastic crowd.

Cover Story doo wop group performing in the arches next to the Bethseda fountain in Central Park, New York

I’m guessing that as much as the arches are a welcome relief from the sun, they also provide shelter from the rain in other seasons.

I’m would highly recommend checking them out as I could have listened to them for hours!

The group appear every day from Tuesday to Friday and also on Sundays.  They appear elsewhere in the city on other days too – check out their website for details.

New York hidden gems #3 – Coney Island Cyclone rollercoaster

If you’re a thrillseeker then a visit to Coney Island is a must!  Not only is it an iconic beach location with amazing street art, boardwalks and funfair, it is also home to the 90 year old Cyclone rollercoaster.

Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster

The Cyclone is one of America’s oldest wooden rollercoasters and is located in the Luna Park funfair.  It has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is not for the fainthearted.

Coney Island historic rollercoaster was built in 1927

Anyone who thinks that an elderly rollercoaster is an easy ride can think again as this one gives its modern counterparts a run for their money.  My husband and I, both seasoned riders, screamed and laughed all the way round as much as we would do in a modern theme park.

You can get the subway to Coney Island from Manhatten and I’d recommend one of the local delis for lunch as they are much cheaper than the main touristy areas.  Read more Luna Park reviews on TripAdvisor.

New York hidden gems #4 – Washington Square Park

Another free hidden gem are the street performers in Washington Square Park, which you can find in Greenwich Village.  We stumbled upon this area and it’s a great place to pass a couple of hours.

Street performer playing the piano in Washington Square Park

The square is dominated by the Washington Square arch and also includes a children’s play area, fountain, picnic tables and a chess playing section.

Washington Square arch in Greenwich Village

In the square itself you can buy refreshments, sit back and relax watching dancers and musicians perform.  The crowd will often join in!

For more information see TripAdvisor here.

New York hidden gems #5 – revolving lounge and restaurant at Times Square

If you need a rest after a busy day sightseeing then head to the Marriott hotel which overlooks Times Square.  Depending on the time of day you can get a nice view from the lounge bar, which is on the 8th floor.  Buy a coke, or a coffee, and watch the world go by.

View of Times Square from New York Marriott hotel 8th floor bar

Alternatively, after 5pm you can head to the 48th floor and have a drink, cocktail or meal in the revolving The View restaurant which takes half an hour to completely rotate and get an amazing view of the surrounding buildings.  It’s pretty spectacular at night, with fab views of the Times Square lights and nearby skyscrapers.

View of Chrysler Building from revolving restaurant on the 48th floor of the New York Marriott hotel

You can see the Top Of The Rock poking up through the other buildings.

View of the Top Of The Rock from the New York Marriott hotel in Times Square, one of the best value New York hidden gems

There’s a cover charge after 8pm, but check TripAdvisor for tips on how to make the most of this relatively cheap experience.

I hope you enjoyed these New York hidden gems and get the chance to try them out for yourself.  Please leave a comment below to let me know how you get on!   If you subscribe to my mailing list then you’ll hear about new blogs and get access to exclusive discounts and offers.

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  1. April 9, 2018 / 3:51 pm

    What a great list, especially when people talk about New York, it’s mostly about the food and bakery. The hip hop event sounds awesome and right up my alley, saving for later!!

    • AliRichards
      April 9, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! The hip top tour is absolutely brilliant, even for non-hiphop lovers – it’s so authentic and takes you away from the tourist trails into the ‘real’ parts of the city.

  2. April 9, 2018 / 6:02 pm

    I’m going to New York in a couple of months. I need to check some of these out.

    • AliRichards
      April 9, 2018 / 7:57 pm

      Please do, they are fab! My other New York blog covers the main tourist sights too 😊

    • AliRichards
      April 9, 2018 / 7:56 pm

      Not really, except dancers/acrobats at Pier 39. I’m sure we will see a few at Venice Beach!

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