The Crowded Apple: The Most Unique (& Cheapest) NYC Vacation Ever
As the most populous city in America, New York City is home to over eight million people. And that doesn’t include the tourists that flock to the city in the summer months. Packed with rushing commuters, taxis, out-of-towners, buildings, and people yelling “I’m walking here!,” the city can give off a rather intimidating vibe. But that’s all part of the New York charm.
It’s also a surprisingly accessible city. With transportation options at your fingertips, you can get from Harlem to Brooklyn with relative ease. Heck, there are even ferries and boats that allows you to explore the rivers that surround the world’s most famous island.
All of this makes the Big Apple an ideal place for an adventure.
New York City is full of the odd, unknown, bizarre, and obscure. You just have to know where to look. So, ignore Times Square, don’t go to the top of the Empire State Building, and pay no mind to Rockefeller Center. Here are a list of just a few places that will make you feel like you are “king of the hill, top of the heap” while in NYC:
Cortlandt Alley b/t Franklin St & White St
New York City, NY 10013
Hours – Weekends 12 pm to 6 pm, though can be viewed 24/7 through a peephole
Admission – FREE! (Donations Welcome)
Located in a tiny freight elevator shaft in Tribeca that only fits three visitors at a time, the MMuseumm specializes in artifacts that have been “overlooked, dismissed, or ignored.” Hailed as the smallest museum in New York, the collection was first put on display three years ago by three filmmakers that decided New York City needed a place that could house “strange artifacts and objects removed from their narratives.”
There are both permanent and temporary exhibits, so there’s always something totally new (and totally bizarre) in the elevator. Current items include censored Saudi Arabian pool toys, 200 mosquitoes killed mid-bite from New Delhi, and an assortment of peep show coins from the 70s.
Among their permanent collections sits what is purportedly one of the two shoes that was thrown by an Iraqi journalist at the US President George W. Bush in December 2008. Various sources say, though, that shoe was in fact destroyed. The questionable authenticity of the artifact doesn’t bother the museum founders. When asked about it, they responded, “We doubt everything’s authenticity.”
834 Surf Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Hours – Depends on season and weather, but summer months usually are at least 12 pm to 11 pm
Admission – $9
The Coney Island Cyclone is one of the world’s oldest roller coasters still in operation. Officially opened on June 26th, 1927, this wooden thrill machine has been bringing excitement to people’s lives for nearly ninety years. Situated on the historic Coney Island, this attraction is often forgotten when pilgrimages are made to New York City.
Despite undergoing several renovations and repairs over the years (you know, to make it safer), it still transports you back to a time when great grandfathers and great grandmothers were teenagers, perhaps smooching in the last car.
For historians and thrill-seekers alike, this is the perfect stop on your NYC travels.
While you are there, take a lunch break (probably best to do AFTER riding) at famed Nathan’s Hot Dogs. This is where gluttony got competitive at the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest, first held on July 4th, 1916.
The Intersection of Riverside Dr & W. 122nd Street
New York, New York 10027
Hours – Visitor Center open Wednesday through Monday, 9 am to 5 pm. The mausoleum opens for visitors every other hour.
Admission – FREE!
Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? The answer is, of course, no one. Grant isn’t buried. His tomb is above ground and, therefore, he’s interred.
All nerdy jokes aside, this mammoth monument located on the shores of the Hudson is a testament to how much the country revered General Ulysses S. Grant upon his passing in 1885. He was first housed in a temporary wooden structure for twelve years while fundraising and construction occurred on what was to be the largest mausoleum in North America. Money poured in from across the country, six hundred thousand dollars to be exact. At the time, it was the largest amount of money ever publicly fundraised.
Finally on April 27th, 1897, the eighteenth President of the United States and General of the Union Army was laid to permanent rest in the completed giant mausoleum. Over a million people attended the dedication and parade to honor the man who was widely credited for keeping the Union together. At the time, Ulysses S. Grant was even more popular and beloved than Lincoln.
Down the hill from the mausoleum is the visitor’s center, housed in a building originally constructed as a massive bathroom for the thousands of visitors who came by every day in the site’s early years. Above each door, carved in the stone, it still signifies which door was for men and which was for women.
372 5th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Hours – 11:30 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week
Admission – FREE!
Trying to upgrade your superhero cape? In the market for a new vapor blaster? Want to impress your crime fighting friends with a time portal? Well, if you are in need of any of these things and so much more, just make a visit to Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company!
This truly unique store sells everything the superhero (or evil villain) in your life could possibly want. But what makes this shop truly heroic is that behind a false bookcase is actually a “secret lair” that doubles as an after-school creative writing center that has helped kids imagine their own super tales since September 2004.
Run by 826, a national non-profit creative writing organization co-founded by the author Dave Eggers, every purchase at the store benefits the center and programming done there. So, go ahead and buy the DinoBot for $35,000. Not only will he protect your home from evil doers, but the money will go to a great cause.
For more information on all of these, please visit Atlas Obscura, the online guidebook to the world’s most wondrous places!
Matt Blitz is the person you want to take on a road trip with you. He knows every obscure, odd, and downright awesome stop to make while traveling America. Based out of Los Angeles, he’s written for CNN, Atlas Obscura, Nickelodeon, The Smart Set, and Today I Found Out. He will also insist on stopping at every diner and waffle house on said road trip.