I’ve said it before and I’m about to say it again- super cheesy touristy things are really fun, but so are super-under-the radar unknown activities, especially when you’re visiting super touristy big cities. So here are some things to do you won’t find the guidebooks and that aren’t stereotypical New York or D.C. activities.
New York City
1. Any history buffs? You might know that parts of the Berlin Wall are open to tourists in Berlin and at the Smithsonian in D.C., but did you know you can also see pieces of it in New York City. It’s hidden in a small midtown plaza at 520 Madison Avenue that goes unnoticed by many people who walk by it, so keep your eyes open.
2. I’ve always thought bomb shelters were a little ridiculous, and yet, I think it’d be really cool see one. Apparently, there’s one in a hidden chamber under the Brooklyn Bridge under the Lower Manhattan entrance ramp. Supply boxes from the ‘50s and ‘60s remain there.
1. OK, so this isn’t that unknown, but visit downtown historic Alexandria, Va. You can take the metro from D.C. out there and walk the strip leading to the water. There are a lot of chain stores like H&M, but there are also one-of-a-kind boutiques, tiny bakeries and restaurants waiting for you to find the perfect dress and eat the most tasty dinner.
2. While in Georgetown, head down Wisconsin Avenue toward the river (K Street) and on the left hand side of the street, you’ll come across this beautiful church with a gorgeous garden. It won’t take you long to look around, but it’s the kind of thing that can make a big city feel quaint.
1. So, this isn’t an unknown Chicago activity; it’s something you should do while in Chicago if you have the time. Rent a car for a day or two and head north to Wisconsin to a charming lake. I know Chicago is on Lake Michigan, but trust me, Lake Michigan in Chicago is very different from a small lake in the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. There are tons of them, so you can pretty much pick whichever one you want. But I personally recommend Lake Geneva. It’s nestled on the little town of Geneva. If it’s warm, you can rent a boat, but even if it’s not, you’ll really enjoy just being there.
2. Before our time, when Saturday Night Live was just beginning and Tina Fey hadn’t graced the comedy world with her presence, SNL did a skit spoofing the restaurant the “Billy Goat Tavern.” And apparently, one of the owners claimed the Cubs would never win again, and they haven’t won the World Series since the early 1900s. How often do you get to eat at the site of a SNL skit and a supposedly cursed place? Not very, so definitely hit this place up.
1. Visit the Secret Gardens. They’re not top-secret or anything, but many people don’t know about them. A lot of the buildings in the Financial District have rooftop gardens that are free to public, and yet, tourists rarely visit them.
2. Oakland is rarely thought of as a tourist destination, but it has a lot to offer, so don’t ignore it. When you’re in San Francisco, make sure you go there to enjoy its nature.