The Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Rockefeller Centre and Central Park—you know it, you've been there, you've seen the crowds and you tire of the holiday photos that feature more jostling tourists and protruding selfie-sticks than an actual scenic attraction. Interested in a much more intimate, far less crowded experience of what New York City really is like? Give these a go—we guarantee that the Big Apple has more to offer than the usual media darlings.
1. Jet ski down the Hudson River
If there’s one activity that everyone who watched the movie Hitch decided that they simply have to try in New York, it’s this—powering down the Hudson River on a snazzy jet ski with the wind in your hair, fresh river water in your face and unbeatable views of the magnificent Manhattan skyline on the side.
It’s hard to find a more exhilarating way to spend a warm sunny day in the city. Put on your wetsuit, grab your sunglasses and hop on a powerful jet ski to have your way with the water. Remember to pack your phone in a waterproof case so you can carry it with you, because you’d definitely want to have this insta-worthy experience recorded so your friends and followers have more reason to be jealous of your time in New York.
2. Have dinner on a historic boat
Imagine relaxing out in the open with the golden glow of the setting sun, the sound of a river gently lapping on the sides of the beautiful boat you’re in and being served incredibly fresh, delicious seafood—have you a better definition of bliss?
Grand Banks restaurant offers just that—a unique dinner experience aboard a docked historic vessel. The Sherman Zwicker is a wooden fishing schooner that was constructed in 1942 to fish in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Today the Zwicker doesn’t cruise the Nova Scotia waters for dory anymore, but bobs calmly at Pier 25 of the Hudson River Park. Guests are welcome to step aboard for a taste of wild-caught oysters from the oyster bar, as well as a bite of the "Absolute Best Lobster Roll in NYC” (as proclaimed by New York Magazine). Make a reservation here.
3. Drink in the Manhattan skyline from New Jersey
There’s a catch when it comes to enjoying the best views of the Manhattan skyline—you can’t be in Manhattan to see it. A short trip across the Lincoln Tunnel can get you to neighbouring New Jersey quickly, however, so you can fully appreciate the beauty of Manhattan island from the other side of the Hudson River.
Ride the tram over from midtown Manhattan to Hamilton Park, a gorgeous little scenic region perched atop a cliff in New Jersey overlooking the river and Manhattan. The ride shouldn’t take you much longer than 30 minutes, and the views and privacy are well worth the little effort!
4. Skip the Empire State Building observatory for a super-luxe rooftop lounge
Everybody and their aunt knows about the Empire State Building, but there are plenty of other skyscrapers which—whilst not boasting that same degree of fame—can possibly offer a better experience when it comes to enjoying views of New York City from high above. The Moxy NYC Chelsea hotel, for example, is home to one of the highest rooftop bars of all time—The Fleur Room, a posh ode to the high-society lifestyle. The entire lounge is encased in glass so you can bask in 360-degree views of the glory of Manhattan skyscrapers, with a flute of champagne in your hand. To add a touch of tech to luxury, the glass walls are retractable so the lounge becomes an alfresco-style veranda in the summer. Make a reservation here.
5. Ride on a giant swing facing the East River
Whether you admit it or not, nobody ever outgrows the fun of a great swing set, and these gigantic swings were made for adults (though little people can most certainly fit as well!). Located on the new Pier 35 eco-park that opened in 2019, the swings sit on a raised porch overlooking the East River so you have a great view of the water as well as both Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Besides these super-fun swings, the park also features an ‘urban beach’ of landscaped sand dunes as well as a nice green manicured lawn perfect for lounging.