This is a guest post from Christina Loiacono.
New York City is one of the most traveled-to and written-about cities in the world. Visitors come to see the tall buildings, gaze at the bright lights, and walk down Broadway. After being a resident for nearly five years, I can confirm that New York really is everything all the tourist guides say it is. It’s colorful, energetic, charming, and the amount of things to do is never-ending! There are so many great activities, in fact, that many great ones end up getting buried in the books. Here are a few sites that are worth bringing to the surface:
Explore Jazz History
When you think of jazz in New York City, what neighborhoods come to mind? Harlem, home to the legendary Apollo Theater and the National Jazz Museum? Perhaps the Village (a.k.a. Greenwich Village), where you can find landmark music venues of the past and present lining every street? Maybe Lincoln Square, where the three venues of the Lincoln Center hold year-round jazz performances?
Corona, Queens is probably not one that comes to mind. It should be, however, because the neighborhood was once home to Louis Armstrong, one of the most well-known jazz musicians of all time. Though his roots were in New Orleans, he chose to settle here for the final years of his life with his wife, Lucille. Their home is now preserved and open for guided tours six day of the week (excluding Mondays). Though this is a bit off the beaten path, it’s remarkably easy to get to via public transportation. The 7 train out of Times Square will get you within four blocks.
The whole experience will only take an hour, but it includes videos, voice recordings, and time to browse the basement museum and outdoor garden. The amount of information provided on the tour is quite remarkable, and whether you are a music lover or not, you will leave thinking it was worth the trek.
Walk in an Expertly Designed Greenspace: Riverside Park
When you look in your tourist guide for New York, you’ll find Central Park right there among the main attractions. According to the park’s Conservancy, it attracts roughly 40 million visitors each year. If you dig a little deeper in your guide, the next park your eyes will likely land on will be the relatively new and extremely trendy High Line in Chelsea. Between these two, most other city parks fall in the shadows.
This does not have to be the case, because there are many other notable parks in the city worthy of visiting. One of these is Riverside Park, a linear park located along the banks of the Hudson River in the Upper West Side. Not only is it beautifully designed and full of historic value, but it’s also generally not as crowded as many of the other NYC attractions.
Riverside Park is much more than a greenspace lined with pathways. You will also find many monuments and other sites of interest scattered throughout the park. These include Grant’s Tomb just north of 122nd Street, Riverside Church just south of 122nd Street, the Joan of Arc Monument between 92nd and 95th Streets, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th Street, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument at 72nd Street. An added bonus of the park is a pair of fantastic waterfront dining establishments: Pier I Cafe at 70th Street and the 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe. Both spots have ample outdoor seating, which make for a great place to relax and refuel as you watch the boats go down the river.
Don’t Just Take the Staten Island Ferry, See Staten Island
The Staten Island Ferry is arguably one of New York’s biggest attractions. It’s notable among boat tours because of the great views that you get of the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline (and because it’s free). It’s also convenient, with service running at least every half hour, round the clock!
Even though the ferry is such a huge attraction, many visitors end up simply going to take in the views and ride the boat round trip. Why not get off the vessel in Staten Island? After all, it is one of the five boroughs of New York City, containing almost 20% of the city’s land! There’s more to do there than you think!
Something as simple as going to a museum can be out of the ordinary. Many of the top travel guides don’t highlight Staten Island Museums in their top results. The top 100 search results for “new york city museums” on Google does not even bring up one museum in Staten Island, yet the borough contains several. The Staten Island Museum is conveniently located just two blocks from the ferry terminal. For those who would like to venture a bit further out on the island, the Alice Austen House is a remarkably unique collection of exhibitions dedicated to celebrating the pioneering American photographer Alice Austen.
One More Out-of-the-Box Idea
New York is a beautiful city to photograph. There are hundreds of sites to shoot and memories to capture. Why not take a photography-themed tour and learn a little about the city as you sightsee?
Some provide instruction from a photography expert so that you can take your own professional-grade pics of the city, while others feature a photographer guide who will lead you to the best spots where they can photograph you! Either way, you will see the city from a different perspective, you will learn a little history, and you will have some really unique memories to take home.
About the author
Christina Loiacono is a true New Yorker. Originally from Upstate New York, she settled in Manhattan as a young professional. Today, she loves exploring all her home country has to offer, and keeps a continually evolving list of places she would like to see and things she would like to do. She has several years experience working in the travel at Zerve and now contributes to their blog at http://blog.zerve.com