New York is one of the greatest cities on earth — but with so much to see and do, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you don’t have a plan in mind, you may end up visiting places filled with hundreds of tourists. So, if you’d prefer a more unique (and less-crowded) experience, head to these lesser-known New York City haunts.

Photo by Andrew Griffiths

If you like parks

you may be tempted to visit Manhattan’s legendary Central Park. While the hype isn’t misplaced — the green expanses and winding paths are beautiful — on a warm day, the park is likely to be mobbed. Instead, try these two alternatives!

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens is a fantastic option for family fun, with six playgrounds, a zoo, a science museum, and fields for cricket, tennis, and soccer. But Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is another, no-less-exciting, option. With opportunities for activities that range from fishing and football, and boating to birdwatching, Prospect Park is a sweeping expanse that will give you a taste of the great outdoors without the crush of the crowds.

If you like museums

then you may have heard that the city’s most famous — The Metropolitan Museum of Art — is adopting a mandatory $25 entrance fee for non-New Yorkers. If you want to avoid the hefty cost, and the hordes of tourists, there are plenty of other fantastic museums to explore for just a fraction of the cost. For example, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the city’s third-largest and plays host to collections that include rare Egyptian antiquities and American art from beloved artists such as Winslow Homer, Edgar Degas, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Norman Rockwell. It’s suggested that adults pay $16 for entry, and students $10.

Photo by Michael Henein

If you like Italian food…

you probably have Manhattan’s Little Italy on your itinerary. But, despite its name, this scenic stretch of streets isn’t the most authentic or budget-friendly locale for Italian cuisine. For homestyle pasta, authentic Italian butchers, and European-style indoor markets, head to the city’s northernmost borough — the Bronx — via the Metro North train or the B, D, 4, or 6 subway lines. Arthur Avenue, the city’s “true” Little Italy, is home to a host of family-run restaurants and markets that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Pasta’s on the menu tonight, so eat up!

If you like photographing sweeping city views…

then you most likely have your eye on a ticket to the top of the Empire State Building. New York’s famed skyscraper is considered a must-visit for those making the pilgrimage to the Big Apple, but the lines and high cost of admission can turn this iconic building into a tourist trap. For stunning views of the city for the price of a cocktail (or maybe two), visit the Mandarin Oriental or the Press Lounge, both of which are located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Watch as the panoramic vistas unfold before you, all while enjoying a drink and a bite to eat.

Photo by Andre Benz

If you like bridges…

you’re sure to have your sights set on the Brooklyn Bridge. We get it — it’s photogenic and its views of the city are spectacular. But unless you’re visiting at 6 a.m. on a Saturday in January, it’s going to be packed. If you’d like a more peaceful alternative, regardless of season, consider the Williamsburg Bridge. A mecca for walkers and bikers (because navigating the Brooklyn Bridge on two wheels is treacherous at best), the bridge offers some striking views of the city, the East River, and the heavily graffitied pink walkways on this industrial structure.

If you like urban greenery…

Photo by Nicolás Prieto

you’re probably imagining yourself strolling the city’s High Line, an initiative that converted miles of overground train tracks into a beautiful, elevated walkable route. The line covers nearly 20 city blocks and stretches almost a mile and a half. Admittedly, the High Line is breathtaking, but it’s also one of the city’s most crowded green spaces during the spring and summer months. If you’d prefer to stroll in peace, consider an alternative experience in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Grange is the United States’ leading rooftop farming initiative, and just so happens to offer tours of its facilities from May through October. Wander through rows upon rows of produce and enjoy the calm atmosphere on the rooftop — you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of the city beyond and an entirely unique green experience.   

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Camille Danielich
Camille is a writer, traveler, and visual storyteller from New Jersey. She has lived in the Czech Republic, Thailand and in New York. She's always looking forward to her next adventure and probably won't stop instagramming her food anytime soon. Follow along on instagram