As if New York isn’t already expansive enough to take a lifetime (and then some) to explore, your limited stay makes the choice all the more difficult.
Your two-day journey to this iconic metropolis should be a summary of the best, the brightest, and the coolest spots NYC has to offer!
While its famous hotspots are always worth a drop-in, and there are so many free activities to enjoy while there, consider creating an itinerary that is based on the less-known locations and experiences.
For those two days, you’ll become one with its residents, mingle with the true local crowd, and make memories unlike any other touristy trip to the city.
Without further ado, the following suggestions are some of the most incredible you can include in your trip, so brace yourself and get ready to take some travel notes for your next NYC visit!
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A stroll back in time
When you think of New York, of course, that your mind instantly conjures up images of bustling streets, cars honking, taxis rushing, and swarms of people mingling in the midst of concrete buildings.
Sure, this is one part of the NYC story, but for those who truly want to dig deeper, the city offers more secluded, timeless spots that will give you a feeling that you’ve come across a time machine and suddenly stepped into a long-forgotten era, such as the Georgian Period.
Situated on West End Avenue, between 94th and 95th Street, Pomander Walk is a secluded slice of history that has managed to survive all sorts and levels of urbanization imaginable.
Little patches of green and flowers provide a perfect addition to the brick-wall houses stacked closely next to one another, and the architecture alone is enough to leave you in awe. This is the other side of New York you’ll rarely see in the newspaper and tour guides.
Eden on 97th Street
If your trip to NYC includes a Sunday, make sure to put this little stop in your itinerary right after Pomander Walk. From 1 to 4 in the afternoon, you can visit the Lotus Garden, an isolated roof oasis that contains a little fish pond, and ample vegetation to give you an instant escape from the urban jungle.
Maintained by volunteers as well as the community residing in the neighborhood, it’s a true personification of the city’s spirit.
A scary little adventure
The hipster within you will go berserk over this uniquely quirky place, since it’s unlike any other museum or a gallery, and New York has plenty of both.
Brooklyn College is now home to the not so famous, but certainly beloved Puppet Museum, a collection of over a hundred puppets that were used in many a performance and festivity.
Some are over 20 feet tall, and all of them, from the smallest to the largest, have a story to tell.
The wildlife of Brooklyn
“Say what now?” is most likely your reaction to this particular suggestion, and yet, you can actually take a free tour of Brooklyn lead by Steven Baldwin, and learn about the parrots who inhabit the city.
These chatty little creatures have been considered New Yorkers for over four decades, ever since they were exported from their homeland, Argentina.
However, the Brooklyn bird gang was no intentional experiment, but the parrots escaped from the ships that transported them and ended up choosing Brooklyn as their new home.
It’s not one of the most advertised of tours, as the guides tend to keep the locations as secret as possible, to lower poaching rates and spread awareness among those who truly love and appreciate these incredible beings.
The finest sips of the city
Some of the most incredible stories are shared over a glass of a unique Manhattan cocktail, deservedly named by one of the most well-known parts of NYC.
However, just like with all other New York-worthy adventures, you should do your best to find a less touristy, more private gathering where the finest mixology of NYC comes to life through the skilled hands of the experts present.
Of course, you can always order a classic Martini in a jazz bar and still be served joy in a glass, but one-of-a-kind, private events come with a unique level of authentic cocktail ingenuity.
Cocktails are an indelible part of NYC culture and history, so once you’re there, treat yourself to an evening among native New Yorkers (other than the birds, of course) and blend with this crowd for a truly palatable experience.
Smooth music in the evening
The only place in this huge city that hosts live music of soul, funk, and R&B during the entire week is the Groove, in Greenwich Village, near Washington Square Park.
On most nights, the entrance is free of charge, and you don’t even have to make reservations during weekdays, but simply drop by and lose yourself in some of the finest voices and tunes of this historic region.
Their Happy Hour menu is exceptionally affordable considering the pricey reputation of the city, while the regular dining offers are equally reasonable, and incredibly delicious. Since you have two evenings available, save one for private cocktails, while this bar deserves the other precious evening.
Another great idea for your 2-day trip is taking a food tour around Greenwich Village.
Visit Europe in the US
Whether you decide to go to a single commemorative spot, or go on a hunt for all five, you should definitely visit at least one of the remains of the Berlin Wall that reside on the territory of New York.
Some purchased when the Wall went down, others gifted as a symbol of friendship, the slabs of the Wall are now in several different locations, carrying the art of various painters who have done their best to give the Wall a new, restored purpose.
While they used to be outside and in plain sight, now they are hidden indoors to prevent any further environmental damage, but they are still available to be seen by the general public.
Also, check out my guide to Berlin to see the real wall
Despite the fact that you won’t have that much time on your hands, and that you will inevitably want to visit some of the most famous sights, including the Central Park, and Chinatown, consider infusing your brief stay with more unusual experiences.
They are the ones that provide the genuine image and true essence of New York, as well as its inhabitants, and the ones that will turn just another trip into a true adventure laden with discoveries.
Don’t hesitate and book your flights to the Big Apple!
Learn more about the most popular attractions in NYC from this 3-day guide