6 Low-Key Ways to Spend a Day in NYC

As the weather grows cooler, and the streets of New York fill with crunchy leaves, many of our ideal weekends would include snuggling in bed all day with lots of coffee and TV, and perhaps venturing out the door at night for a comforting meal and a few too many glasses of wine. But the worst spent autumn in Manhattan is one where you stay in your own neighborhood! There are hidden parts of New York City that make the bundling up for the subway ride completely worth it, and worst case scenario you see something that none of your NYC-frequenting friends have before.

1. Conservatory Garden at Central Park. Behind the massive iron Vanderbilt Gates, is a sprawling Wonderland-like garden. The first time I was up here was for a photo-shoot and it was no surprise that I wasn’t on the only shoot going on there. Winding paths and tall trees create the perfect setting for a picnic, or a party, or a quiet place to spend a weekend Saturday. Bonus: if the weather is warm enough, the shaved ice from Spanish Harlem is the best to grab before you go on the subway back downtown.

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2. Ferry ride to Ikea from the South Street Seaport. Just hear me out on this. First of all if you’ve never been to the South Street Seaport, it’s the best before and after the heat of summer. One of the more up and coming neighborhoods of Manhattan, it holds a tremendous amount of history and classic architecture. There are also great restaurants. But one of the best things you can do on a day that you have nothing to do is take a free ferry from Pier 11 to Ikea in Red Hook. It’s free, you get a full view of the city and the Statue of Liberty, and you can get $1 soft serve cones and hotdogs at the Swedish furniture store at the other side of the East River.

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3. Chelsea Art Galleries. We all know and love the beautiful and over-crowded Highline, but beneath is something ever changing, and a fascinating part of New York culture. The galleries in Chelsea from 20th-27th Street contain some of the most unique and diverse art pieces from around the world. If you start your weekend on Thursday nights, head over there for free wine and beer. Admission is free, and you’re bound to snap an envy-bearing Instagram after a trip to a few galleries.

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4. Driving Range at Chelsea Piers. Whether you want a new date spot that isn’t the movies or another trendy restaurant, or need to sell an idea to a potential work partner, you’re bound to get what you want after an evening at this driving range. The Chelsea Sports Center is home to some awesome activities like rock climbing and basketball courts, but the driving range at sunset is one of the more unique spots in the city. It’s right on the water, so you feel like your swinging balls straight into the Hudson. Grab tacos at Los Tacos N.1 in Chelsea Market afterwards, and consider the deal sealed.

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5. Jacques Torres Chocolate Factory. Head over to Brooklyn to Torres’s new massive chocolate shop. You’ll feel like you’re in Wonka’s New York location. Grab a big chocolate chip cookie, a hot chocolate, and whatever else he tells you to get (he’s often riding around the factory on his scooter!)

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6. Film Photobooth in the Ace Hotel. Forget the high-tech, instant booths that have been popping up at restaurants and events everywhere these days. The Ace Hotel in NoMad has an old school one that takes a few minutes to develop the film, but the result is a sepia-toned strip of photos that smells vaguely of photo developer. Before jumping in, grab a coffee and homemade poptart from Stumptown in front of the hotel. What else would you expect from a hotel that is rooted in Portland?

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Editor’s Note: If you feel we’re only scratching the surface, feel free to shoot us some more of you favorite hidden spots/activities in NYC at hello@whalebonemag.com. We promise not to post them to Instagram. And for more hidden city recommendations from Emily, check out her piece on hidden restaurants in NYC.