A stroll down Times Square, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and a visit to the Empire State Building are the typical locations people check out when visiting New York City. While there is nothing wrong with playing the role of a tourist in the Big Apple, you might want to take a break from the norm and check out these three unique views of the city that never sleeps.
230 Fifth (230 Fifth Avenue): The Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock might offer some spectacular panoramic views of New York City, but do they offer a delicious brunch, a year-round heated outdoor bar, and a rooftop garden? Well, if your looking to check out Manhattan from the view of a bird (with an adult beverage or two in hand), 230 Fifth is a “must visit” for any visitor. With rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times and NBC New York as the best rooftop view in all of Manhattan, this is by far one of the coolest places to get away from it all down below and get sauced in the process over brunch (a win, win in my opinion). In order to splurge here you might consider staying at the super-affordable Gershwin Hotel nearby.
The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (Atlantic Avenue and Court Street): Did you know that the world’s oldest subway tunnel is not accessible via a train? Instead, you will have to meet up with a group at a corner in Brooklyn for a tour that starts off with a climb down a manhole. The once monthly 90-minute trek through the 166-year-old half-mile long abandoned tunnel is narrated by guide Bob Diamond. You will learn a lot along the way from Diamond about the history and one-time importance of the station that was supposed to link New York and Boston. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes (no high heels ladies) and to bring a flashlight. After wandering around underground, come up for air and and check-in down the road at the Nu Hotel.
Staten Island Ferry: (1 State Street Plaza): Many Big Apple insiders still consider the Staten Island Ferry as one of the best and affordable ways (it’s free!) to get an awesome view of Manhattan’s skyline. The Staten Island Ferry might be used mostly as a means of transportation each weekday morning and evening for thousands of Staten Island residents working in Manhattan, but it is also an enjoyable ride for visitors to the area by way of the Upper New York Bay. The five mile water ride takes about 30 minutes each way, so you can enjoy a fun day with family and friends, get that spectacular snapshot, and still be back in time to enjoy plenty of other attractions around the city. The ferry departs in Manhattan at South Ferry, so for a walkable hotel nearby check out the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park or the Wall Street Inn.
- Andrew Hickey of The Brooklyn Nomad