Top 10 New York City activities you won't find in a guidebook


We all know that there's plenty to eat and drink in New York, but sometimes you need to stop and digest while you break away from your guidebook. Fear not, adventurous traveler, this city is full of ways for you to try new things and venture out of your comfort zone, from practicing your Katniss Everdeen to getting your jazz on in a West Village basement. What are you waiting for? Get going.



1. Gotham Archery
The expert instructors at Gotham Archery will show you the ropes in an introductory class, and once you learn to shoot you get the stamp of approval to rent lane time and practice on the range as often as your trigger-happy heart desires. Once you're more experienced, join a competitive league or let the Gotham team help custom fit you to a brand new bow.

2. Brooklyn Boulders
Introductory packages will "show you the ropes" of the climbing world, or take a belay or lead test if you're already experienced and want to get your climb on right away. The Gowanus location boasts a huge range of constantly redesigned climbing and bouldering walls, and there are even fitness classes and a gym area if you're looking to pump iron.

3. Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
Reclaiming the game from the geriatric cruise ship crowd, Royal Palms put ten shiny shuffleboard lanes in the middle of the bar's sunken gaming floor. For when you've worked up an appetite, the Florida-sunshine-inspired cocktails are served in mason jars and there's even a docking bay for food trucks to pull up and serve the trendiest of snacks to your team of shuffleboard contenders.

4. Russian & Turkish Baths
Russian And Turkish Bath House Hosts Valentine's Day PartyGetty Images

Buy a day pass and gather your courage before dipping in the ice baths or steaming up in a true 200 degree shvitz — Yiddish for sweat and the more traditional New York name for a bathhouse. If you're not already detoxifying in the steam, you can BYO liquor while you hang out by the hot tubs. This shvitz has been around since 1892 so you're in good hands.

5. Fat Cat Jazz
It's not your ordinary pool hall, but Fat Cat is a basement worth visiting. The unpretentious bar boasts a full level of billiards, ping pong, and shuffleboard tables, and an lounge area where you'll find neighborhood locals and college kids alike throwing down in board games like chess and checkers. Time your visit right and you'll hear a live jazz set across the room by some of the best tried-and-true and up-and-coming musical acts in town.

6. Escape The Room
Inspired by the old school point-and-click escape games of our nerdiest internet past, Escape The Room brings the terror to life. Literally locked in a room, you and your friends have 60 minutes to escape. Each room has a different theme, and every object around you — no matter how unassuming — could hold the key to your freedom. Put your problem-solving skills to the test, and achieve eternal glory if you manage to make it out in under an hour.

7. Uncommons Board Game Café
Beer and wine, coffee and tea, and snacks and pastries will grease your gears for a rousing game of, well, anything. Board games, card games, word games, dice games, strategy games, and even prototypes of games scheduled for future release can all be found at the Uncommons. Hardcore gamers should check out the events schedule for tournaments and talks, and newbies or solo gamers can meet new comrades on popular open play nights.

8. Trapeze School New York
Women Of 'Married At First Sight' Visit The Trapeze SchoolWireImage/Getty

In a city as packed in as New York, it's no wonder there's a way to take to the skies. At Trapeze School New York, you can start as a total beginner and learn the basics, or work your way up the skill ranks to more advanced classes where you'll be flipping and catching in death-dying stunts before you know it.

9. Alamo Drafthouse
The Austin-based cinema chain made a splash in NYC by bringing their focus on luxury and movie-going etiquette to this very noisy town. To watch a film in these plushest of reserved seats, you'll have to keep your phone in your pocket and refrain from chatting with your neighbor. But you can also order a gourmet meal to your seat, and waiters will deliver your grub at the least interruptive points in the movie for a (mostly) uninterrupted viewing experience.

10. New York Earth Room
Artist Walter De Maria originally created this installation in 1977, when he apparently decided a room full of dirt was a good way to create a sanctuary from this already dirty city. The Dia Art Foundation maintains the exhibit, which mostly means watering the 280,000 pounds of Manhattan soil tucked away above SoHo. You guys, it's really a room full of soil. You'll have to smell it to believe it.

Chloe Olewitz is a born and raised New Yorker. Her work has been published in Format Magazine, Digital Trends, The Coffeelicious, and more.