Explore New York City

Fun Unique Experiences in New York City

Fun New York experiences you won't find anywhere else!

You may have heard the phrase "Unique New York" now and then as a fun tongue twister. While it may be hard to say five times fast, it's a phrase that rings true. New York City is one of the most unique cities in the country, as it holds several attractions that you can only see in the Big Apple.

Every block of the city contains something new for visitors, and each one is waiting to be discovered and seen for yourself. Check out some of the more offbeat experiences you'll find hiding in plain sight when you visit NYC.

Uniquely New York

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

If you want to add some Broadway magic to your next city meal, take a trip to Ellen's Stardust Diner. This restaurant is located in Midtown West, placing it close to the Broadway theaters surrounding it. When you step inside, you'll find yourself having a blast from the past, thanks to the 1950s-themed decor. You can treat yourself to a bite of their classic burgers and entrees like a hearty beef stew or traditional chicken parmesan, each with a catchy name and a side of waffle fries.

What makes Ellen's stand out is the singing waiters who travel around the restaurant singing anything from Broadway classics to today's top hits. You can request a song they should sing, and you might even see them onstage after you leave! Ellen's Stardust Diner brings the best of Broadway to your table for an experience you won't forget. 

Ellen's Stardust Diner Exterior New York | WhereTraveler
Ellen's Stardust Diner Exterior (Courtesy Dr. Jason B.)

Rooftop Reds

You may not think of vineyards when you think of New York City, but Rooftop Reds wants to make that dream come true. This vineyard is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but what makes it stand out from other vineyards is that you won't find it on the ground. Since 2016, they've treated visitors to the city's first-ever rooftop vineyard, allowing you to sip some wine while also viewing the city from high above.

The specialty is red and white wines that you can get on tap or by glass and sip in the open air. If you're looking for other flavors, they also serve beer, cider and sparkling wines like riesling and rosé. Snack on some "voodoo chips" or butter popcorn with your drink, and you can have a perfect afternoon in the vineyards without ever leaving the city. 

Rooftop Reds View New York | WhereTraveler
Rooftop Reds View (Courtesy Rooftop Reds)

“Panorama of the City of New York”

It’s almost impossible to see all of New York City in one day, but an exhibit at the Queens Museum can help make that dream come true. Since 1964, “Panorama of the City of New York” has been an exhibit you can visit during your trip. It’s a miniature model of every borough in the city created with perfect detail. From the tallest skyscrapers to the smallest houses, you’ll find all of your favorite city spots standing no bigger than your hand right before your eyes.

While you can see classic landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, they’ve also updated it over the years to include new buildings such as Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn Bridge Park. “Panorama of the City of New York” packs every inch of the city into one room, so you can definitely say you’ve seen it all after your visit! 

“Panorama of the City of New York” | WhereTraveler
“Panorama of the City of New York” (©Max Touhey/Courtesy Queens Museum)

Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital Ruins

If you’ve ever wanted to see the ruins of a building from the past, you’re in luck! The Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital Ruins is the place for you. The property began as a hospital back in the 1800s for smallpox, making it a site for quarantine from the disease. It later became a nursing school that ran for almost 100 years before closing down and falling to ruin. In recent years, efforts have been made to clean up the property while keeping its original structure intact.

It may seem spooky on the outside, thanks to its lack of roofs and doors and surrounding plants, but it's a great piece of city history that deserves to be seen up close. Plans are underway to host tours of the ruins so you can explore the grounds yourself, so be on the lookout for any news about this classic city landmark. 

Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island New York | WhereTraveler
Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island (Courtesy Paul L.)

“Life Underground”

If you want to visit a place that will make you feel like a kid again, head underground to the subway station at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue. You'll find a sculpture series hidden throughout the station called “Life Underground.” The sculptures were created by Tom Otterness back in 2001, and there are over 130 of them you can find while you wait for a train.

Each one resembles a tiny person in action, from sitting on a bench to climbing on top of the posts in the station. With their round bodies, simple faces and unique poses, they have a charm that almost makes them seem real. You’ll feel like you have a friend by your side before your train arrives when you see what “Life Underground” is all about. 

"Life Underground" Sculptures New York | WhereTraveler
"Life Underground" Sculptures (Courtesy Bruce K.)

DŌ Cookie Dough Confections

Everyone’s been told at least once that they can’t eat raw cookie dough, but they do it anyway. But what if there was a place where eating cookie dough was allowed? Luckily, there’s a shop in Greenwich Village that grants your wish. DŌ Cookie Dough Confections is a shop that resembles an ice cream parlor but instead sells edible cookie dough.

DŌ Cookie Dough Confections has every flavor you can think of, from classic chocolate chip and sugar cookie to more unique flavors like "Gimme Smore" and "Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle." You can eat them out of a cup with a spoon or in a cone, so you get the experience of an ice cream parlor too! They also have gluten-free and vegan options, allowing everyone to join in on the experience. After one bite, DŌ is sure to be your new favorite sweet shop in the city. 

DŌ Cookie Dough Confectionary Cones New York | WhereTraveler
Cones (Courtesy DŌ Cookie Dough Confections)