New York Travel Guide: The Big Apple's Top 5 Hidden Attractions

If ever there was a city that needed little introduction, it’s New York. The Big Apple’s attractions have been widely publicised in books, films and tunes – but while sights like the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge remain timeless, NYC is constantly evolving into something more advanced and thrilling.

All visitors need to do is scratch the surface to discover some better-hidden delights – but to give you a helping hand, here’s our alternative New York travel guide:

1. The High Line

Located on Manhattan’s West Side, The High Line – a relatively new addition in New York guide books – is a beautiful mile-long linear park situated atop a former section of the elevated New York Central Railroad.

Opened in 2009, The High Line – adorned with flowers, plants and landscaped grassland – stretches from the trendy Meatpacking District through Chelsea and up to 30th Street.

Voted New Yorkers’ favourite NYC attraction, The High Line offers an excellent opportunity to get away from the Big Apple’s chaos while enjoying spectacular views of Midtown and the Hudson River.

2. East River Park

Few major international cities can boast 57 acres of waterside park – but despite its size, East River Park remains relatively undiscovered among visitors.

Offering spectacular views towards Brooklyn over the East River, Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, East River Park is a much-valued area of green space boasting bicycle paths, sports pitches and playgrounds.

Central to the park’s appeal is its amphitheatre, which hosts often-free gigs and theatre performances to the public.

3. Williamsburg

Arguably Brooklyn’s most exciting neighbourhood, Williamsburg’s bohemian vibe is reminiscent of east London’s Spitalfields and Shoreditch.

It’s known across the US for its rejection of sterility and commercialisation, and despite its proximity to the gleaming towers of Manhattan across the river, the men in suits are replaced by hipsters, artists and authors.

One of Williamsburg’s most popular attractions is shopping – the neighbourhood is home to thrift shops aplenty, so brace yourself for some of New York’s best vintage shopping. A good place to start is Beacon’s Closet, which has 5,500 sq ft of floor space full of retro outfits to explore.

4. Harlem

Its stigma having been well and truly shaken off, Harlem – the US’s most iconic black neighbourhood – has established itself as the country’s home of soul-food.

New York maps will point you in the direction of the world-famous Sylvia’s Restaurant on Lennox Avenue, which is probably the best place to sample African-American culinary delights. Sylvia, aka the ‘Queen of Soulfood’, established the restaurant way back in 1962, and its outstanding reputation stretches far beyond New York’s borders.

Aside from food, Harlem is famed for music – acts regularly play at the iconic Apollo Theater and Lenox Lounge, while the dulcet tones of a gospel choir are never far away.

5. St Mark’s Place

A renamed section of 8th Street in East Village, St Mark’s Place is arguably the most vibrant section of one of New York’s most revered neighbourhoods.

It’s full of character – home to numerous record stores and bookshops, the street has an inescapable Camden feel with its open-front markets. These are interspersed by superb eateries, prohibition-style bars and tattoo parlours, which makes for a mixed and interesting crowd.

An excellent spot for people watching, St Mark’s Place is one of the few New York roads dominated by pedestrians rather than vehicles. Once you’ve explored, it’s only a short walk to the better-known attractions at Midtown, Chinatown and Little Italy.