Each time I visit New York City, I feel like I get further and further from the traditional tourist obsessions. That’s not to say I don’t still enjoy them: we had to take a peak at the naked cowboy in Time Square and we couldn’t pass up just a few Broadway shows while we were there. But something about always doing something new in this constantly growing, thriving, pulsing city is exciting to me. And on my most recent trip I found some truly wacky, intellectual and mysterious things to do. Here are my top five.
1. Take a trip to the Evolution Store in Soho. The store is filled to the brim with things out of a C.S. Lewis novel or a Tim Burton movie. Animal and human skeletons fill the shelves alongside all sorts of other natural oddities. Butterflies glimmer from their positions encased in glass and megaladon teeth threaten you even without the massive prehistoric shark to put them in context. Most of the big ticket items are very expensive, but there are cheap souvenirs here more acceptable for a college student’s wallet although I didn’t buy a single thing, I just walked around with my camera trying not to let my jaw drop all the way to the floor.
2. Walk the walk to the New York Public Library. Leading up the New York Public Library (a beautiful sight in and of itself) you can walk a path inspired by literature giants. A quick activity if you happen to stumble across it, take the time to read some of the golden quotes inscribed in the concrete.
3. Go back in time to the Prohibition Era by visiting one of NYC’s speakeasys. I visited one this weekend that was incredible. An effective sleuth will be able to figure out where I went and how to gain entry by visiting the article I wrote about it yesterday and utilizing links I provided there. Since I don’t feel it would be fair to post all of the directions here, I will leave it to you to uncover the mystery for yourself.
4. Browse the stacks of The Strand Bookstore. With over 18 miles of books there’s no way you will be bored and everything is on sale! You can browse the tables of books in the center of each floor or actually begin to tackle the shelves. New books and used books galore will make any book lover’s eyes water.
5. The Disney Store. I had to throw in one old favorite and tourist standard. Although Times Square is not my favorite place in the city–it’s so crowded I often feel overwhelmed and a little claustrophobic–I think every trip to NYC warrants a quick stop there even just to pop into one of your favorite shops (like the Disney store, M and M store or Hershey store).
If you do make it to Times Square stand in the center area of the road, where there is a spot for people to take pictures, and find the subway grate beneath your feet. It’s actually an art installation and emits musical tones if you listen closely.