Those willing to stray off the tourist trail will
be rewarded with a deeper look into the
history, culture and culinary offerings.
Most tourists who make it to the Bronx are
bound for the zoo, but The New York Botanical
though situated just
next also well worth a trip. Founded in
1891, the garden serves as a serene 250-acre living museum, home to more than a million plants.
Perhaps counterintuitively, winter is one of the
best times to visit: November 19 kicks
off the 25th annual holiday train show,
featuring dozens of tiny locomotives
that chug through a lush minicity with
150 hand-built New York landmarks.
Weekend nights add music,
ice sculpting and holiday-themed adult
beverages to the mix. Afterward, resist
the urge to head back to Manhattan.
Instead, grab a cab bound for Neerob,
an unassuming nearby restaurant that
ser ves some of the most authentic
Bangladeshi food in the city. Your best
bet is to ask the friendly staff to put an
assortment of dishes together so you can sample
the full range of unbeatable curries, tandooris, bhartas, biryanis and more.
Ellis Island is a no-brainer destination for history buffs, but what if you also could go behind the
scenes to visit the century-old ruins of a hospital
that has hardly been touched since the 1950s? If
appealing, consider the
Ellis Island Hard Hat Tour,
an intimate, informative walk
through the crumbling complex
that once served as the
largest public health service
hospital. Seamlessly integrated
by the French artist JR further
bring the experiences of some
of the 1.2 million immigrants
who were treated there to life.
Tickets sell out well in advance,
so book early. Once back on
the mainland, snag a pint at
The Dead Rabbit Grocery and
Grog in the Financial District.
The Irish-owned sawdust
floors and rich wooden interiors are meant to conjure up the
for reflecting on
the ghosts of Ellis Island past.
If old hospitals whet your
appetite for historic exploration with a touch of the
macabre, then Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn
should be your next stop. Established in 1838, this
478-acre National Historic Landmark boasts 570,000
permanent residents, including the artist Jean-Michel
Basquiat and the composer Leonard Bernstein. Stroll
the meandering, tree-covered trails on your own using
the self-guided map or app, or join a historic
trolley tour led by expert guides. If you visit earlier in
the day, order a breakfast sandwich at Southside hailed as the best in the city. For dinner,
try Butterfunk Kitchen for a soul food supper of fried
chicken, catfish and brisket with grits.
Immersive and participatory theater has gripped
New York in recent years, and this movement is perhaps best exemplified by the meticulously
detailed, haunting works of Third Rail
Projects. The latest creation,
The Grand Paradise, transports visitors to
a 1970s tropical resort for an evening of
beauty, buffoonery, nostalgia and existential longing. Located on a graffiti-covered
street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the former
warehouse now includes a mermaid pool,
sandy beaches and chintzy motel rooms.
The on-site Shipwreck Lounge serves
tiki drinks throughout the performance
and into the night, though those looking
for something more substantial might
try nearby a pizzeria that
bakes its Neapolitan-style pies in a wood-burning oven
salvaged from a bankrupt restaurant in Italy. Take to
sprawling backyard for the inevitable wait for
a table or head across the street to Syndicated, a barcum-movie theater that, as of late, is giving yet another
old manufacturing warehouse new life.