Off Broadway: New York's lesser known must-see attractions

1.   Hamilton Grange:

This is not a bad replacement for when tickets to a Broadway show will set you back a small fortune. Hamilton Grange is the relocated house of US Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who lived there from 1802-1804.

Hamilton Grange.
Hamilton Grange as it was. Photo credit: Supplied/Hamilton Grange.

You can't help but be intrigued by the story of Hamilton, who was orphaned at the age of 13 and died in 1804 when Vice President Aaron Burr challenged him to a duel and fatally shot him. It's located up in Harlem, which in itself is worth having a wander round before or after. 

Happy Bones Coffee Shop.
Happy bones makes for happy coffee. Photo credit: Supplied.

2.   Happy Bones:

My favourite coffee shop in New York just happens to also be owned by Kiwis. While Starbucks is synonymous with America, Happy Bones is where you'll find genuinely good coffee. The cafe itself is very small so seating space is very limited, and apart from light snacks there's no food to offer. It's also usually busy so make sure to pack your keep cup and just get a takeaway. 

Happy Bones is located in a busy part of town near Little Italy and Nolita. Both are vibrant areas and great to take a stroll around with coffee in hand, be sure to check out another Kiwi brand, the All Birds shoe shop two a minute walk up on Prince Street. 

Looking back at Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry.
Looking back at Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry. Photo credit: Getty Images.

3.   Staten Island Yankees:

The Staten Island Yankees are one of the minor league clubs compared to the more well-known New York Yankees. And while they may lack the glitz and glamour of their parent club, they more than make up for it with boutique charm. Start your experience by taking in beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty on the free Staten Island ferry from lower Manhattan. The ballpark itself is right next door to the ferry terminal, and you'll sit looking back across New York harbour toward the Manhattan skyline.  

Minor League Baseball offers many perks that a Major league game can't such as cheap hot dogs, cheap drinks and cheap tickets. You'll get a great view of the game and the city, and as these players are all youngsters hoping to one day become superstars, chances are you'll be seated next to a Major League scout keeping an eye on the next generation. A trip to a Staten Island Yankees game is a perfect summer evening activity, and unlike a lot of New York, it's easy on the wallet too.

Roosevelt Island Tram.
Roosevelt Island Tram - which isn't really a tram. Photo credit: Getty Images.

4.   Roosevelt Island Tram:

Roosevelt Island itself is one of New York City's brilliant gems. Historically, the island was home to hospitals and asylums, but it's since developed as a residential haven away from the hustle of Manhattan. Four Freedoms Park at the southern end offers sprawling views of the Manhattan skyline and Long Island City, but the real attraction of the island is how you get there. 

The Roosevelt Island tram is actually a gondola, and is one of only two commuter trams still operating in the USA. It runs from Second Avenue parallel to the Queensboro Bridge up and over the East River and onto the Island, offering beautiful views up and down the East River and high above each avenue it passes over. Everyone I take here is pleasantly surprised by the beautiful views it offers of Manhattan's skyline, and it's never overly crowded. 

The Campbell Bar.
A very New York looking location. Photo credit: Supplied.

6.   Campbell Apartment:

Do I need to say any more than a beautiful 1920's bar right in the middle of the famous Grand Central Station? Settle in here for a cocktail after a long day ticking off the other things on this list. You may well feel like you've just stepped back into the 1920s when visiting this venue. In 1923, American financier John W. Campbell converted the spot into his private office. As well as his name, the bar maintains his taste for interior design. 

In what could be a nod to Campbell's wealthy lifestyle, but more just likely the reality of Manhattan, drinks here aren't cheap but you're in New York at this point, so treat yourself to the cocktail list and the cheese board and settle in in the beautiful surrounds. My favourite is the Vieux Carre, but there's a few to choose from.

Burger Joint New York.
This joint keeps things simple. Photo credit: Google Street View.

7.   Burger Joint:

This joint actually makes a point of being hidden, so let's start with getting there. Make your way to the Le Parker Meridian Hotel. It's hidden inside behind a red velvet curtain. Then, if you had fun getting there, you'll have even more fun eating it. Less is more works to a tee here with a pretty simple menu, but isn't decision making the worst part of eating out? The burgers are traditional, think beef and double beef, and while you can add the standard extras like fries, a pickle and a beer there's not a lot of complication or fanfare to the menu - which is just perfect for indecisive eaters like me. It's no coincidence Burger Joint is a perennial contender for best burger in NYC. Just remember to bring cash.

Simon Hampton is a freelance reporter working across the United States and Europe.