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Snug Harbor
Photograph: Dan Q. Dao

Where to go to avoid the tourists in NYC

Locals might want to avoid Central Park and the High Line and frequent these crowd-free places instead

By Annalise Mantz

When the tourists descend on the Big Apple, locals should avoid the top landmarks at all costs and instead hightail it to these under-the-radar spots. Trust us: You don’t want to try to walk the High Line or visit Times Square during the busiest travel months. It’s so worth going off the beaten path to discover local gems like craft breweries, quirky museums and other lesser-known NYC attractions. But don’t tell everyone you know, or soon your favorite neighborhood burger joint will be crawling with out-of-towners and vacationers snapping photos. Let’s keep it our little secret, New York.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best New York attractions

Where to go to avoid the tourists in NYC

Crack pie from Momofuku Milk Bar
Photograph: Jessica Lin

Learn to bake Momofuku Milk Bar’s famous crack pie

Restaurants Bakeries Williamsburg

Instead of joining the always-long queue for a cronut, try your hand at making an equally Instagrammable dessert: the birthday cake truffles, crack pie or compost cookies at Momofuku Milk Bar. The cult favorite bakery offers hands-on baking classes at its Williamsburg location. You get to indulge your sweet tooth and master a new skill—talk about a win-win.

Photograph: Courtesy of 92nd Street Y

Check out the 92nd Street Y events calendar

Things to do Cultural centers Upper East Side

This isn’t your average community center. In addition to a full slate of classes on everything from pottery to cinema’s femme fatales, the 92nd Street Y also hosts lectures with the likes of Roxane Gay and Seth Meyers. There’s always something going on, and you likely won’t find any out-of-towners in the crowd.

In Mind III, Anish Kapoor, Lisson Gallery
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Scope out the newest works at Chelsea art galleries

Yes, the High Line, Chelsea Market and the Whitney Museum of American Art can all become unbearably crowded during the peak of tourist season. But there’s more to the neighborhood than just those three banner attractions. Instead, spend an afternoon gallery-hopping: Chelsea must be home to at least a few hundred. Most are free and open to the public, but if you’re concerned about going on your own, you can always join a walking tour of the area led by a local critic.

midcentury buildings in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

Take yourself to the opera

Theater Performing arts space Upper West Side

It doesn’t get much more elegant than spending an evening at the opera. You won’t find any crass behavior or selfie sticks here: New Yorkers don their Sunday best to see the company perform classics like Aida, La Boheme and Don Giovanni. The fun doesn’t stop in the opera’s off-season, either. During the spring, the American Ballet Theater takes up residence in the Metropolitan Opera House and the New York City Ballet is just a few steps away at David H. Koch Theater.

Need to get out of the city for a few days?


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