Two of the best things about sailing out of New York City are the incredible views as you head down the Hudson River, and the opportunity to spend a little time in one of the greatest cities on the planet. So it’s not surprising that a lot of folks fly in a few days early (or stick around a few days after disembarking) to hang out in the Big Apple. Many will opt to see the Statue of Liberty or the 9/11 Memorial, but if you want to get a bit off the beaten path, we have a few suggestions for you.
1. The McKittrick Hotel/Sleep No More
Practically defying explanation, Sleep No More is an interactive theatrical experience in which you don a (provided) face-concealing mask and step back in time to the 1930s to explore something like 100 rooms within an “abandoned” hotel. All around you, the tale of Macbeth unfolds, sans dialogue and mostly in the form of gesturing and dance. This involves a fair amount of walking around (including trudging up and down staircases in pursuit of actors) and is not for the easily intimidated. But, as the occupants of the hotel are fond of saying, “Fortune favors the bold.” Those looking to make a whole evening of their visit can opt for dinner and/or drinks at the hotel’s atmospheric restaurant, The Heath, or rooftop venue, Gallow Green.
2. Beer Culture
What better way to prepare for a week of imbibing than visiting this cool little bar right in the heart of midtown? Located on West 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, Beer Culture is – as the name suggests – all about the brewskies. Don’t wander in here expecting an umbrella drink or a martini, because the only beverages on tap here are beer and whiskey. But for lovers of either, this is like a little slice of heaven, with knowledgeable barkeeps ready to help you find the perfect draft beer or, for the more adventurous, rows of fridges stocked with more types of beer than you dreamed existed. It’s a small venue with limited seating, but the vibe is chill, the locals are friendly and you’ll probably pay less here than you will on the ship.
3. The Museum of Sex
The days of pimps and hookers working Times Square may be long gone, but their spirit lives on at what many affectionately call MoSex. Located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 27th Street, this is the kind of place you’re likely to enter giggling and slightly embarrassed, and yet emerge with an uncomfortable combination of titillated and well-informed. With a constantly-rotating line-up of exhibitions, one never knows what to expect. It might be a photo gallery examining how New York City’s discos influenced the sexual culture of the 70s or works of art created by people whose obsessions label them outsiders. And lest you think this is all lust and laughter, no less than Forbes magazine dubbed the latter “one of the 5 most anticipated New York art museum exhibits of winter, 2017.”
4. The Ride
This one’s a tad on the touristy side, but hey… it’s also a blast. Even those who’ve never been to New York City know about the double-decker buses which ferry tourists around from one popular location to another. But The Ride takes that concept and gives it a modern twist. More moving theater than bus, the vehicles feature floor-to-ceiling windows and stadium style seating. During the 75-minute tour hosted by improv artists, passengers are treated to performances that unfold on the streets and sidewalks, even sometimes catching innocent bystanders up in the unfolding show. The “tour” takes place mainly in the midtown area, and it isn’t one of those hop-on/hop-off experiences, but rather a show in and of itself. It’s not for everybody – but it is definitely a unique experience.
5. Dinner in the Dark
Foodies and sensualists will absolutely love the experience offered on select evenings at West Village eatery Camaje. Described as a feast for the senses, guests are blindfolded and, as one reviewer put it, at the mercy of the chef and the wait staff. The $95 per-person charge includes the meal, wine, taxes and gratuity… although not the cleaning bill should you wind up missing your mouth! The menu is kept a secret until after the meal has been served, although those with dietary restrictions can let the restaurant know in advance. This is an amazing experience, but is only offered a few times a month. Check the website to see if it happens to coincide with your pre or post-cruise visit!