NYC Travel Guide: Cool attractions, diners and hotels

New York City is a fantastic place to visit! It is a hive of activity, buzzing with life, world-class dining, culture, and entertainment options, and an enormous year-round list of things for visitors to do. You might be surprised to learn that, in addition to its iconic skyscrapers and monuments, New York has many cool attractions that don't always make best-of lists but are well worth checking out.

If you're looking for ideas and inspiration that take you away from the most popular attractions while experiencing the best of what NYC has to offer, we've compiled a list of some unique places to see, eat, and stay that you shouldn't miss during your trip.

  1. Catacombs of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
  2. For the brave of heart, the catacombs tours offer the opportunity to explore parts of the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral that were previously off-limits to visitors. While exploring the catacombs and other areas that most visitors miss, you will also learn about the landmark's history and the final resting place of past famous New Yorkers. The Catacombs by Candlelight Tours can be booked through the Tommy’s New York website.

  3. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
  4. The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, which opened in 1982, takes visitors of all ages on a guided interactive journey through history to learn about American innovation and bravery. The legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the Concorde jet, numerous restored planes, and a guided missile submarine are among the highlights at this museum. Admission tickets must be purchased in advance on the museum’s website.

  5. Swingers NoMad
  6. If you enjoy mini-putt, this crazy and outrageous golf venue will transport you to a rural English country golf club in the early 1900s. The impressive 23,000 square-foot location offers three crazy nine-hole courses. Situated beneath the Virgin Hotel on Broadway, the space feels like a fun underground city, complete with a DJ booth and more bars than you can imagine. There is also a food court featuring different vendors where you can refuel. The goal of Swingers is to create the most ridiculously fun experience possible for the adult audience. Although you can purchase tickets at the Virgin Hotel’s reception desk, it’s advised to book your crazy golf experience in advance at the venue’s website.

  7. Little Island
  8. One of NYC's new outlandish urban parks, Little Island is an architectural marvel located on the former site of Pier 54 on the banks of the Hudson River. Featuring an opulent, seasonal landscape with spectacular views, rolling hills and winding pathways, Little Island is an urban oasis that lets travellers experience art and nature in a way that’s truly unique. The stunning design and perfectly conceived green space, which contrasts with the concrete jungle that surrounds it, is home to several concerts, performances, and events throughout the year. No reservation is required to access the park. Although admission is subject to park capacity for comfort and safety. For all events held in the Amphitheater, a ticket is required and can be purchased at the Little Island website.

  9. Summit at One Vanderbilt
  10. High enough to look down on many of Manhattan's tallest skyscrapers and with a sweeping 360º view of the city, this new observation deck on the 91st through 93rd floors of the One Vanderbilt building is one of NYC's most immersive, multi-sensory experiences with art installations. This observatory will make you feel like you are standing on a nest in the clouds, thanks to digital installations and reflective glass surfaces. Among the attractions of the Summit are the Ascent, a glass elevator that travels on the side of the building, giving you additional viewpoints of the city, and the Levitation, sky boxes with glass floors that suspend you above Madison Avenue to get a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area below. Tickets to the main observation deck and other attractions can be purchase directly on the Summit One Vanderbilt Website.

  11. American Dream Mega Mall
  12. Located about 30 minutes away by car or one hour away by public transit from NYC’s midtown, this massive facility is one of the country's largest malls and offers a mix of 55% entertainment and 45% retail stores. Visitors can move from activity to activity without having to worry about transportation or the weather, which is a huge advantage. Included among its top-notch entertainment attractions for the entire family are a theme park, an indoor water park, an ice rink, a pod-style Ferris wheel, mini-golf venues, a sea-life aquarium, and an indoor ski and snowboard park. In addition, the mall offers a plethora of shopping and dining options. Ticket for the attractions can be purchased in advance at the American Dream website.

  1. Ellen’s Stardust Diner
  2. If you're planning a quick trip to New York City, this is the one restaurant you must visit. This 50s-themed eatery will transport you back in time. Enjoy a variety of diner classics while being serenaded by world-famous singing wait staff. Check out the restaurant’s dessert menu for unique options ranging from a bright rainbow-coloured cake to a health-conscious "Jimmy Fallon Shake." Ellen’s Stardust Diner Website.

  3. Trailer Park Lounge
  4. Fans of everything that is kitschy will relish The Trailer Park Lounge & Grill, one of NYC's most unique restaurants. This diner has been a Manhattan favourite for the last two decades. It has a relaxed, roadhouse vibe featuring walls covered in every piece of quirky Americana and paraphernalia you could imagine. It serves classic American fare like wings, burgers, tater tots, and more. There's also a tiki bar on-site – yes, you read that right – so if you’ve always wanted to try a Paradise Hawaiian Style cocktail, you can do that here.

  5. The Sugar Factory
  6. Visitors with a sweet tooth may find their way to The Sugar Factory in New York. This American brasserie and retail treat store is known worldwide for its fun and celebratory atmosphere. Among the menu's highlights are whimsical candy, opulent fondues, tasty diner food, and legendary desserts inspired by your most sinful food fantasies. The Sugar Factory also offers adult beverages laced with high-quality spirits, such as the alcohol-infused smoking candy goblets. Non-alcoholic versions of each drink are also available for minors. Advanced reservation is required to dine at this location. Tables can be booked directly at The Sugar Factory website.

  7. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  8. Located at the lower concourse of the magnificent Grand Central Terminal, the Grand Central Oyster Bar with its century-old Guastavino tiled vaulted ceilings is certainly one of NYC’s most iconic dining venues. This establishment has a solid reputation, with over 15 varieties of oysters and fresh seafood sourced from local suppliers throughout the Northeast. Along with the raw bar, this place offers a variety of mouthwatering appetizers like clams casino, caviar sandwiches, jumbo lump crabmeat cocktails, and oysters Rockefeller. In addition, you could pair your oysters with more than 90 options of red or white wines by the glass or bottle. Grand Central Oyster Bar is open only from Monday to Friday and booking a table online in advance is highly recommend.

  9. Rolf’s
  10. If you are planning to visit NYC around Christmas time, then you won’t find a better place to get into the Christmas spirit than at Rolf’s. From November to May this Gramercy restaurant is basically Christmas on steroids. This enchanted fairy tale of a restaurant is known for its splendid festive decoration comprised of twinkling lights, ornaments, green garlands, Germanic dolls, and Black Forest boughs that adorn the front bar. Throughout the holiday season, special Christmas-themed cocktails such as spiced eggnog and mulled wine are offered. The menu features German cuisine such as Sauerkraut, Weisswurst Sausage and Schnitzel. Many people start making reservations as soon as the fall season starts. Unfortunately, Rolf's has no online booking system, so you must contact them by phone. Therefore, it is strongly advised that visitors make reservations far in advance. Rolf's accepts walk-ins, but you may have a long wait before being seated.

  11. The Cauldron NYC
  12. If you are a Harry Potter or magic fan, this is undoubtedly one of NYC's best and most unique restaurants. The Cauldron NYC is a fantasy-inspired pop-up located inside the Bavaria Birhaus. It will transport you to a world of wizards, witches, and warlocks with imaginative decor, potion-making classes, and a mythical menu. The main floor of this two-story venue houses a walk-in bar (The Apothecary) with a huge tree – called the tree of life – growing out of the middle of it and the ticketed potion-making cocktail experience upstairs. You must book a table online to experience this immersive magical pub/diner. A separate reservation is also required for the potion-making classes and the afternoon tea with the Wizard, where you use working magic wands to brew interactive tea and taste fantastical treats.

  1. YOTEL New York
  2. If you're looking for a budget hotel with a great central location in NYC and a fun, funky, futuristic, and instagrammable Japanese-inspired decor, YOTEL is the place to stay, especially if you are a fan of technology and design. This place boasts its own luggage-storing robot, unparalleled modern vibes, incredible city views, and one of the best brunches in the area. Because of its proximity to Times Square, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and Bryant Park, YOTEL is ideal for families, couples, and solo travellers. YOTEL also has one of the largest hotel rooftop bars, where crafty cocktails and delectable meals are served.

  3. Hotel on Rivington
  4. The Hotel on Rivington, located near trendy SoHo (Lower East Side) and within walking distance of Little Italy and East Village, was once voted the sexiest hotel in New York. This 21-story glass building features sleekly-designed and spacious rooms with Tempur-Pedic beds and floor-to-ceiling windows that afford guests spectacular views of the city skyline. If you want to upgrade your stay, you can choose one of the rooms with balconies, lavish Japanese-style soaking tubs, and exterior-facing steam showers.

  5. The Bowery Hotel
  6. If you are a retrophile or a fan of the past, you will appreciate your stay at The Bowery Hotel. With antique furnishings and a quirky feel, this hotel is a place where the chance to see a celebrity while relaxing with a cocktail in the lobby bar is more common than you might think. This boutique hotel is situated where the Lower East Side and the trendy East Village meet. Nearby is transport links make for easy visits to the rest of New York. Within walking distance, guests will be able to enjoy several music venues such as the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.

  7. Beekman Hotel
  8. The Beekman Hotel building is a hidden gem located in the heart of the Lower East Side. It has been around since the late 1800s and was one of the first skyscrapers in NYC. Following a renovation, the building was transformed into one of the most unique hotels in New York, full of history and charm. The Beekman is distinguished architecturally by its 9-story atrium, which is surrounded by balconies and has a pyramidal glass ceiling at the top, that lends a certain blend of retro-modern style to the hotel. The Beekman also provides outstanding culinary experiences to its guests across three restaurants.

  9. The Jane
  10. Staying at The Jane, one of the most popular Greenwich Village hotels, is an experience in itself. This hotel's interiors will make you feel like you’ve walked straight into a Wes Anderson film. If you’re not familiar with his work, look up The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Royal Tenenbaums From the moment you walk through the doors of this quirky vintage-style hotel, you will be transported back in time. This one-of-a-kind hotel features bellhops, housekeepers in black and white uniforms, and room décor inspired by an old-fashioned ship cabin. There's also an onsite restaurant that serves a brunch that is popular among locals as well as an opulent Victorian-style lobby bar. One interesting fact about this place is that it housed Titanic survivors in 1912.

  11. M Social Hotel
  12. There is no better place to experience the electricity of Times Square than the M Social Hotel, located a short walk from some of New York's most popular attractions and sights, including 5th Avenue and Central Park. This hotel has a colourful and upbeat décor, which appeals to partying Millennials and Gen Zs. As the name implies, there is an undeniable emphasis on socializing, so you might find that make some new friends during your stay. The sleek and ample lobby features many games, a bar, and plenty of lounge space. Large outdoor terraces overlooking the Midtown skyline provide unparalleled views of Time Square.

  1. New York is the most expensive city in the United States - The average cost of a hotel room is approximately $300USD per night. Travel insurance with Trip Cancellation benefits may reimburse you for non-refundable trip costs (including pre-paid admission fees to attractions) if you have to cancel for a covered reason.
  2. Travel disruptions are common - Due to inclement weather and staff shortages, New York's airports may experience flight delays or cancellations. Trip delay and interruption benefits may reimburse you for eligible expenses incurred during a covered delay or cancellation (up to a maximum dollar limit). In addition, the TripWise app can assist you in tracking the status of your flight so that you are not caught off guard (just remember to enter your flight details before your trip begins).
  3. The US has one of the world's most expensive health care systems - Not having travel insurance means risking having to pay costly medical bills should something go wrong during your trip. Travel insurance with emergency medical coverage may provide reimbursement for medical expenses, including medical evacuations, while travelling to New York.
  4. Anything can happen in the Big Apple - For example, your passport could go missing. You could need emergency medical care. You baggage could be lost or stolen. If something does happen, simply dial our 24-Hour Hotline Assistance number, and our experts will do their best to help you.

Get a travel insurance quote today for a stress-free trip to NYC. 

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc

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