Tag Archives: City Secrets

Open House New York Weekend: Exploring NYC’s Best Secrets

Events Up Coming Open House New York Weekend Brooklyn Army Terminal by Nicolas Lemery Nantel

Open House New York Weekend is just a few days away! You’ll be able to explore NYC’s best secrets in a weekend filled with excitement and access to out of bound spots!

Events Up Coming Open House New York Weekend Ford Foundation Center by Garrett Rowland Gensler
Ford Foundation Center – Photo Credit: Garrett Rowland, Gensler

By now, you guys probably have noticed that we are all about uncovering NYC’s best secrets and sharing it with you! So, today we will tell you a bit more about the Open House New York Weekend!

There is just so much history and hidden gems in the city that it’s almost impossible not to suffer from the dreaded FOMO syndrome (Fear of Missing Out).

Some of the secrets we love the most range from exploring the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal Tour, and attending a VIP tour of the famous Woolworth Building, to entering the out of bound areas of the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital or even walking through the grounds of Green-Wood Cemetery.

There is just SO MUCH to see and these secrets are certainly a big part of why New York is seen as one of the best places in the world to live and visit!

The upcoming weekend of October 18th – 20th, Open House New York Weekend opens up 300+ sites for you to explore, tour, photograph, and visit!

“Open House New York provides broad audiences with unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build, and preserve the city.”

During this weekend, you’ll be able to access some of these top city gems!


More about Open House New York:

Open House New York, founded by Scott Lauer in August 2001, engages New Yorkers in the city’s architecture, public space, and the future of urban life.

With the help of a dedicated board and volunteers, OHNY became an important platform for celebrating New York at a critical moment in its history.

Following the events of September 11th, when much of the city was closing itself off through increased security measures, OHNY offered a countervailing force, one that advocated for openness and access as key components of an enlightened and vibrant civic life.

The first Open House New York Weekend in 2003 was part of the city’s first Architecture Week. With the help of three hundred volunteers, that event included 84 sites in all five boroughs.

Events Up Coming Open House New York Weekend Morgan Library Museum by Graham S Haber
Morgan Library Museum – Photo Credit: Graham S. Haber

Since the inaugural year, the event has grown exponentially, increasing its outreach and audience participation; the number of sites, talks and tours; and developing additional thematic and interpretive programming. The 2017 OHNY Weekend had more than 250 participating sites and tours. It’s estimated around 80,000 visitors and more than 1,000 registered volunteers were part of it.

Through its year-round programs and the annual OHNY Weekend, Open House New York celebrates the best examples of design and planning throughout the five boroughs.

From historic to contemporary, it helps foster a more informed conversation about how architecture and urban design sustain New York as a vibrant place to live, work, and learn. Open House New York is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

In addition to OHNY Weekend, Open House New York organizes year-round programs. These extend the conversation that begins during the two days of the Weekend.

Programs include Projects in Planning, an ongoing series of presentations that explore the design and development of major new projects in the early stages of their development.

In addition, Making Place is an annual event that opens a range of architecturally and culturally significant sites in one neighborhood to look at neighborhoods in the midst of change. Lastly, Urban Systems Series, a year-long thematic series, explores important issues in New York City’s built environment, from manufacturing, to food, to waste.

Open House New York’s year-round programs are a significant platform for fostering discussion about how the city might take shape in the years ahead. Plus, it addresses issues including planning, preservation, infrastructure, and contemporary design.


Be sure to book your ticket asap, since many of them sell out in just a few hours! Plus, you can always sign up to their newsletter and stay in the loop of what happens throughout the year!

In addition, if you’d like to support this cause and help them continue their work, see what you can do and how you can be part of their year round events, meet ups, tours and more!

https://ohny.org


Credits: OHNY, Nicolas Lemery Nantel, Garrett Rowland, Gensler and Graham S. Haber

Making The Most Of NYC On A Budget

Curiosities-City-Secrets-NYC-On-A-Budget Coins

Yes, New York is an expensive city, but there are things you can do to try and make the most of NYC on a budget. Let us tell you how!

Curiosities-City-Secrets-NYC-On-A-Budget

It’s no secret that NYC is an expensive city — the average cost of living is 129% more expensive than the national average. But, when it comes to career development, nightlife, culture, shopping, and food, there’s no beating the Big Apple. Regardless of your level of income, it’s possible to budget and minimize your expenses while taking advantage of all the city has to offer.

Let us tell you how!


Cut out unnecessary expenses

Cutting out unnecessary expenses will free up money to spend elsewhere.

For example, if you have a car, consider getting rid of it. Insurance in NYC is expensive and monthly payments, gas, and maintenance adds up fast.

Investing in a monthly MetroCard ($121) is a cost-effective way of commuting every day. You can save on taxi fares by walking as much as possible.

Also, consider eliminating subscription services you may not need, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or the New York Times. Alternatively, look into sharing subscription costs with your friends.


Use credit

Make your purchases with a credit card, so you can take advantage of the rewards.

Most banks offer great deals on cash back at restaurants and stores, as well as travel points. Just make sure to track your spending and be in the habit of paying your card off every month.

If you have a debit card, belong to a bank with low ATM fees.

Moreover, if you have a larger purchase to make, consider using a personal loan. Personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards. There’s also the opportunity for flexible repayment plans.


Free attractions

NYC has no shortage of free activities if you know where to go. Take a free yoga class at Bryant Park — free classes are held on Tuesday mornings at 10am, or Thursday evenings at 6pm.

Visit a free art gallery — there’s plenty in Chelsea (typically between West 14th Street and West 29th Street), such as, Milk Gallery, Gagosian, and David Zwirner. We can also help you to organize a Private Art Tour during your stay!

When you need some peace and quiet, escape to Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Prospect Park. Admission is free on Tuesdays and you can check out the zoo, the LeFrak Center, and Lefferts Historic House. Or, try exploring the New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx! Such a beautiful place!

Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, NYC is brimming with things to do and see.

Try a cheaper restaurant you wouldn’t normally eat at or seek out a new store with bargain prices. With a little thought and planning, you can enjoy a fulfilling life in NYC without breaking the bank.

You might also want to check out our 4 part Series about “Things No One EVER Tells You About New York” or our 2 part “Cheap NYC Guide”.


Photo Credit: Courtesy

Louis Mendes: Renowned NYC Street Photographer

City Secrets Louis Mendes NYC Street Photographer Fernanda Paronetto Thumnbnail

If you’ve walked attentively through New York, you’ve probably crossed paths with Louis Mendes, one of the most renowned NYC street photographer. I have a cool story to tell you about the day I wrote about him for the first time.

City Secrets Louis Mendes NYC Street Photographer Fernanda Paronetto
Fernanda Paronetto with Louis Mendes, a renowned NYC Street Photographer. Clicked by Bruce Byers.

A little over 5 years ago, when I started Behind the Scenes NYC (BTSNYC) from my room, in my mom’s house in São Paulo, Brazil my idea (which still remains strong!) was to write about and help spread the love for small, independently owned businesses around New York that have some of the best products and services, far away from the touristy scene!

I also wanted to share the story of New Yorkers that have been leaving their mark around town!

My love for New York has always been something inexplicable that I myself can’t really describe.

Hence my decision of leaving a great job, a 3 year long relationship, my home and move to New York City alone, unemployed but super happy to start a new fase!

Before moving I worked 1 year on BTSNYC from (shocker!!!!) my room in Brazil late hours at night, that was the only time I had free.

With, of course, the help of a bunch on NY-based friends that were my “eyes” – until I was actually able to move!

The Queens-born, Harlem-based photographer, Louis Mendes always called my attention not only because of his flawless style and amazingly cool vintage camera. But, because of his passion to register people in public places and freeze a special moment in time!

I NEVER ask to take pictures with famous people, and New Yorkers know what I’m talking about, hahaha, but I really could not NOT take a picture with him, 5 years after writing about him on my Instagram, when I was still in Brazil!

Louis, it was SO NICE to officially meet you!! Such an honor and I love your work!

And, thank you Bruce Byers, another fantastic photographer, for taking the shot!! It was great to meet you and I’m looking forward to see more of your work!

If you guys are ever in New York, be sure to keep your eyes open! Maybe, you’ll be lucky enough to cross paths with Louis Mendes!


Photo Credit: ©Behind the Scenes NYC, clicked by Bruce Byers

16 Things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC [PART 4/4]

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4 Rats

I compiled the 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC! New York City is super friendly city and pretty easy to find you way around. But, there are a few things you should know before visiting!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4
©Behind the Scenes NYC

New York City is super friendly city and pretty easy to find you way around. But, it also has a few particularities you should know before visiting!

So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE ever tells you about NYC, for the 1st timers in NYC. There are a few rules and tips to make your NY experience seamless and memorable.

We split this topic into 4 different posts, so see below the final, Part 4! And check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, if you haven’t already!


#13 Don’t yell if you see a rat or a cockroach!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4 Rats
Photo Credit: Courtesy

This had to be #13! Hahaha! This will certainly identify you as a “tourist”.

Why? Well, let’s start from the basics! Did you know that there are more rats in New York, than there are people?

Ok, let’s do the math! It’s estimated that within the 5 boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island), there are around 8.5 million residents. The number of rats is around 5:1, adding up to over 42 million rats below our very own feet!

Now, let me tell you something about cockroaches. They are smart little bastards! I was LITERALLY chased by a human-eater-roach back in 2014 when I came to visit New York before moving, in the middle of a subway station. I was running away from it in circles (no lie!) and the roach was running after me in circles too!

It was comic not to say, ridiculous! I was screaming and laughing desperately – as were all my friends – instead of helping me out. So, don’t do as I did. Try to chill and act as if nothing is wrong! That is…if you can!


#14 Shoot! I need to “pee” and can’t find a bathroom!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4 Bathroom
©Behind the Scenes NYC

The story of our lives! Manhattan is definitely not a bathroom-friendly place and you might get into some trouble if you don’t know where to run to in an emergency.

I do recommend going to every bathroom you pass by, just in case you don’t at some point! Also, I’ll give you a tip, there is a great APP called SitOrSquat that shares all the public bathrooms in New York. Might be good to downloaded to your phone, right?

Hint, hint! Some places that you’ll find bathrooms: Starbucks, Barnes & Nobel and department stores!


#15 New York is NOT synonymous to Manhattan!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4 Brooklyn
©Behind the Scenes NYC

And I’m tired of telling people this! I mean, most tourist are stuck between Central Park South and SoHo – which I call “the comfort zone”. But, all the other boroughs in New York are growing and you have just so much to see! It’s just great when you free yourself from Manhattan, and dive into exploring other corners of NYC!

We all know that Brooklyn is now the new “hot spot” with so much going on. So, you might want to start from there. The trendy neighborhood now, is Williamsburg and I love Greenpoint that is close to it. Queens is a paradise for foodies and each borough has its own charm.

And still, there are countless amazing places to visit upstate, as well and breathtaking destinations in Long Island, from wineries to beaches.

Ok, so let’s start slowly just by crossing the bridge into Williamsburg or DUMBO? I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find!


#16 Last by not least: When in doubt, just walk in!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 4 Secret Restaurant
Secret Japanese restaurant hidden behind these doors. ©Behind the Scenes NYC

What I mean is, if you pass by a weird looking door, but apparently people are discretely walking in and out…you might just want to walk in too. I know…the first thought that comes to mind is: “This is part of a horror movie, and if I walk in, I’ll never walk out…” Hahaha!

You never know what you can expect and 99% of the time, you’re not crashing into anyone’s home. On the other side of that door, there might be something extraordinary happening for you to check out or a delicious secret restaurant.

What I mean? Well, secret speakeasy bars are spread all over town, like Patent Pending – that I always love going to, or high-end hidden restaurants with a hidden door tucked behind a hanging art work in a gallery, like Frevo. Regardless, these spots will create some of the most memorable moments of your New York experience!

Be brave…and walk in!


And that’s a wrap for our list of the 16 things NO ONE ever tells you about NYC, for the 1st timers in NYC! There are so many other tips, but I guess that starting through these 16, you’ll be fine!

There are just a few things that we remembered along the way, that we just have to share, and that are FREE:

  • Water in NYC is FREE! Yes, NYC’s tap water is known for being some of the best in the country, and there is even the rumor that our bagel is one of the best, because of the water! So, when you arrive at a bar or restaurant you might automatically receive cups with water that will be refilled all the time, or you can ask for still or sparking water, that comes in a bottle – and these are paid for!
  • Condoms in NYC are FREE! Yup, that’s what you heard! They are Free, so check out where to find them here.
  • Fitness classes for FREE! The City of New York created the “Shape Up NYC Classes“, where you can find everything from Yoga in the Park and Hip Hop Fitness, to Zumba and Aerobics classes!

If you want a post about all the FREE things to do in NYC, leave your comment below and we’ll get right on it for you!

I hope we were able to help a bit more on your understanding of how the city functions!

Also, as mentioned, feel free to use the information we gave that makes more sense for YOUR trip! When we talk about tipping for example, we know that many people are traveling on a budget, so lets just be reasonable, right? The idea was just to share a bit how things work!

And, if you’re looking for assistance for a corporate group coming to New York, don’t hesitate to contact our experts! We organize everything from dinners, cocktails to corporate events and unique experiences.


Photo Credit: ©Behind the Scenes NYC

Resorts World Casino NYC & City Casinos

Curiosity City Secrets Resort World Casino NYC City Casinos

Resorts World Casino NYC if a high-end casino venue, in Queens, with countless hospitality and entertainment options. So, if you enjoy this nightlife style, be sure to visit!

Curiosity City Secrets Resort World Casino NYC City Casinos

Ask the average New Yorker if there are any casinos in town, and the response will probably be a no. New York as a whole isn’t known for legal casino gaming, save for in a few select places well outside the city. One would imagine that if the city did have a venue of this sort, it would be heavily publicized (not to mention visibly noticeable).

The truth, though, is that New York City actually does have a high-end casino venue – even if it’s out on Rockaway Blvd. in Queens. It’s called Resorts World Casino New York City, and it offers up to 6,000 games and a variety of hospitality and entertainment options.

Resorts World Casino New York may not be as easy or accessible as more traditional nightlife options when you’re just looking to walk a few blocks or take a quick subway ride to meet friends. With that said though, it offers a completely different type of evening entertainment, for those interested – not to mention it’s still more convenient, for most, than a jaunt to Atlantic City.

In addition to the aforementioned 6,000 games, which include both slots and table games, Resorts World Casino New York City has multiple dining venues. RW Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar is a must if you’re heading out for dinner before games.

There are shops that are open late, adding to the resort-like feel of the place. And, maybe best of all for a long night out, there’s also Bar 360. It’s a massive cocktail bar that can showcase sporting events on big screens one hour and morph into a live DJ-driven club the next. Plus, it’s a great place to spend an hour or two in between gaming sessions.

All in all, a trip to Resorts World Casino New York City can expose you to something of a hidden gem on the outskirts of the city. But, it will also make you wonder why, exactly, there aren’t more venues like it in the city, and perhaps closer to popular neighborhoods in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

We can’t answer that definitively, but if Resorts World NYC piques your interest, we should note that recent trends might in fact be hinting at expanding casino activity.

Curiosity City Secrets Resort World Casino NYC City Casinos Inside

For the most part this is because of how things are going just south and west of the city, in New Jersey. Recently, the state has made a major push to augment its somewhat-stagnant casino culture with the introduction of online games.

New Jersey now has its own casino platforms online, and some of the best mobile casinos operating internationally are, as a result, being enjoyed by American players. These online and mobile casinos have reportedly generated a great deal of revenue. And, some argue, have also helped to bring attention back to live casino tourism in the state (and primarily Atlantic City).

The thinking here is that this at least creates an incentive for New York legislators to explore their options.

The state is already in the process of following New Jersey’s lead on legalized sports betting, which – in a roundabout sort of way – could open the door to online casino activity. In addition, if significant revenue in this area becomes apparent, it’s conceivable that New York would look to capitalize on more in-person gaming venues as well.

Five or 10 years from now, that could mean more casino-related nightlife options in the city. For now though, Resorts World Casino is worth a look!

Location: 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, Jamaica, NY

www.rwnewyork.com


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Resorts World Casino NYC

Seeing The Best Of New York City By Motorcycle

Curiosities City Secrets Seeing the Best of New York City By Motorcycle Sandra Frey

Have you ever thought of seeing the best of New York City by motorcycle? Let us give you a few pointers on how this could be an amazing experience!

Curiosities City Secrets Seeing the Best of New York City By Motorcycle Sandra Frey Cropped

New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, attracting more than 60 million guests each year. This, thanks to its world-famous landmarks, eclectic cuisine, and unique culture.

If you’re looking for something other than the typical take on the NYC experience, ditch the buses and walking tours! They are quite touristy anyway… Instead experience the best of New York City by motorcycle.

Exploring by bike makes it easy to see parts of the city that other tourists rarely get to enjoy, and it also makes it easy to snap pictures, grab some street food, or simply take in the view.


Exploring Landmarks Downtown

Downtown, you can find many of the major landmarks of Manhattan, including the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and Freedom Tower. You can also explore more hole-in-the-wall places, including small restaurants and specialty shops in Chinatown, Little Italy and the up and coming, South Seaport.

You can also see the filming locations of certain famous movies, including the Ghostbuster Firehouse, the Tiffany & Co. flagship store from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and many more. For a thrilling ride, you can cruise through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the longest continuous underwater road in the U.S.


Experience Uptown Scenery

Uptown is known for its stadiums, like the famous Yankee Stadium, and museums through out the artsy Museum Mile. But, primarily tourists head up to see the scenery.

From the perspective of an automatic motorcycle, you can get some of the best possible views driving up the West Side Highway along the Hudson River. You might also see the palisades that rise over five hundred feet above, cross the George Washington Bridge, head up to the Medieval inspired MET Cloisters and wander through the less well known northern areas of Central Park.


Tour Midtown Monuments

Midtown Manhattan is home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and other impressive bastions of culture and architecture.

Are you looking for something a little bit more out of the ordinary? You can visit sites such as the mysterious Rose Hill Historic House, the historic C.O. Bigelow Apothecary, or the quirky Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library.

You’re looking to avoid the crowds and experience New York City from a unique angle? So, simply tour the city by motorcycle. Traveling by bike makes it easy to get around. You’ll be able to find all of the hidden gems that NYC has to offer.

Whether you’re riding through the streets of downtown New York, enjoying the sights of midtown, or exploring the refined uptown area, touring New York City by motorbike gives you a unique and exhilarating look at the city.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sandra Frey

16 Things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC [PART 3/4]

16-Things-No-One-Ever-Tells-You-About-NYC-Part-3 Cover

Ahh! New York City, I love you! But, there are a few secrets you must know before coming here. So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC.

16-Things-No-One-Ever-Tells-You-About-NYC-Part-3
©Behind the Scenes NYC

There are a few rules and tips to make your NY experience seamless and memorable, and we decided to share a bunch of them with you!

We split this topic into 4 different posts, so see below Part 3 of 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC! And check out Part 1 and Part 2, if you haven’t already!


#9 Yes, yes, we are “behind the scenes”, but certain attractions are must-sees!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 3 The Pond
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Guys, I’m all about exploring the off-the-beaten-path spots and staying away from the touristy scene, BUT this is New York City. What this means is that there are countless attractions that you HAVE TO go see at least once in your life, after all it’s culture, right?

So, yes, you have to walk through once (or twice) the crazy streets of Times Square to see the infinite sea of lights, bump into the Naked Cowboy and Cowgirl, hear the never ending symphony of cars honking their loud, annoying horns, be in the middle of crazy people walking up and down and pushing you to the side, etc! Phiuf! I got stressed just talking about it!

But, after that, if you’re not actually going to a Broadway show or going to our Behind the Scenes Dining with the Broadway Stars Experience, then I wouldn’t recommend going back there too often.

To see which are the touristy locations we recommend in NY, take a look at our lists: 1st Cheap NYC Guide: 40+ Top Attractions and the 2nd Cheap NYC Guide: 30 Top Attractions.


#10 NEVER IN YOUR LIFE hop on a Central Park carriage ride!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 3 Horse Carriages
Photo Credit: Courtesy

And I’ll tell you why! It can seem like a nice activity to do, right? But, the reality is that most of these horses are super badly treated of over-worked during the day.

They barely rest, don’t eat enough, and many don’t have good hoof pads protecting their hoofs from the concrete streets. It’s not unusual to suddenly see a horse collapsing in the middle of the streets from exhaustion.

We need help from the tourists to stop with these silly horse carriage rides and spare these animals of being mistreated.

In addition, there is just SO much to do in Central Park, that you can surely skip this carriage ride. We can help you book bike rides around the main spots, or even explore the Secrets Of Central Park Walking Tour.

P.S. – I have talked to a company that does horseback riding inside Central Park. These guys told me that their horse have a max limit of hours or rides per day. They are securely transported in and out of the city and have a specific treatment. You can read more here. Aside of them, I don’t know any other company that has this type of careful approach with the animals.


#11 Never make eye contact! LOL!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 3 No Eye Contact
Photo Credit: Nirosha Methananda

Do you know these guys that are mostly around touristy locations like Times Square, Central Park, etc…calling you? They are trying to sell you on a tour or an activity! Unless it’s your life’s last craving going on top of that crowded 2-story touristy bus that roams around town, I’d just walk away.

If you do look, be sure they WILL approach you to try and sell something!

Also, if anyone is just randomly standing in the street, looking at people with an iPad in their hand…they are also going to ask for 2 minutes, that actually add up to 10minutes, to try and sell something else. In addition to getting your email and spamming you with promo emails.

The real New Yorker flies by these folks as if they were in the middle of that Olympic Speed Walking modality! Hahaha!

But, on the other hand, it’s an amazing feeling to walk around town – in non touristy areas – and just make eye contact with people! You’ll be surprise in how many will literally smile back!


#12 Holding the door can be polite, but….

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 3 Times Square
Photo Credit: Courtesy

Sure! I do super recommend you being polite and helping out someone by opening the door but, be smart about it. You might be holding the door all-day-long with an endless river of people flowing in and out, if you’re not smart, specially in places like Times Square!

I always encourage you to help moms with strollers, elderly folks, kids, someone carrying something super heavy with no spare hands or anyone that apparently needs help. Otherwise, be mindful and kind with anyone walking in and out, but just go with the flow.

Ah! And in the winter, don’t think about holding the door open for too long. The people inside will surely start starting at you with fierce eyes!


So, this was our Part 3 of the 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC.

But wait!

There is still a few last tips: Part 4! If you haven’t seen Part 1 and Part 2, you might want to check them out before heading to the last post.

There is just so much to know when coming to New York for the 1st time, that you might as well get ready to have the best time of your life!!!

And finally, if you need any type of assistance for big parties and specially for corporate groups, contact our team.


Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC and Courtesy of Nirosha Methananda

16 Things NO ONE EVER Tells You About NYC [PART 2/4]

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2 Photo Sam Truong Dan

New York is a great city to visit and there is so much you can do! But, if you’ve never been, it can be a bit overwhelming. So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC.

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andre Benz

Yes, believe it or not, there are a few rules and tips to make your NYC experience seamless and memorable. This fast paced city certainly has its particularities. But, I can guarantee, that it’s what make this city so unique! You just need to learn a few tips and tricks, to survive in NYC!

We split this topic into 4 different posts, so see below Part 2!

And if you haven’t seen Part 1, go check it out!


#5 Why don’t yellow cabs just STOP when you signal!? And what are these green cabs?

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2 Taxi
Photo Credit: Courtesy

Many tourists don’t know that the light on top of the cab helps identify if they are free or with a passenger. When the light is ON, they are free for you to try and stop them. So, when the light is off, they are in the middle of a trip and will pass straight by.

Ah! Have you ever seen the green cabs in Manhattan before!?

Well, these cabs will never stop to pick you up in Manhattan, even if they are free. They are only allowed to get passengers in the other boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island), but they can commute anywhere, of course. So, you’ll only be able to grab a yellow cab, while in Manhattan.


#6 This is for the art lovers!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2 Free Museums
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Even though the city is known for being a very expensive one, there are several ways to save money.

Some museums can have pretty high fees, but most have free entrances a few specific days a week, or a few free hours. And still, others might be “pay what you wish”.

NYC residents: If you have that City ID or another document proving you live in NYC, be sure to tell them. Many paid museums are free for us! WUHU!

The NYC Arts website has a detailed list of all of them to help you out!

And the art galleries? They are all free to enter and see the current art works!

New York also offers countless free events, by the way. You just need to stay tuned to our IG Page or other pretty great accounts too like FomoFeed! Love them!


#7 Always have money on you!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2 Have Money Photo Jack Harner
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jack Harner

Why? Well, believe it or not there are countless places around New York that are “cash only” spots and will not accept any other payment method. For example, one of my all time favorite spots in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Beco, is a cash only bar/restaurant. Well, they JUST recently added Amex credit card machine, but many others, have no other option.

Regardless, having a bit of money in your pocket, is always advisable during a trip. You never know what might happen, so you might as well be prepared. But, if you do forget, most of the “cash only” spots or have an ATM inside or they are close to one that you can run to.

Now, don’t come with a $100 bill. You’ll have a pretty hard time exchanging them or getting change if you’re purchasing something cheap. Plus, banks aren’t allowed to give you change for them. Bummer! I guess everyone is just skeptic it might be a fake.


#8 Tipping is CRUCIAL!!!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 2 Photo Sam Truong Dan
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sam Truong Dan

This is something not all visitors agree with or feel comfortable, but it’s a reality! New York is a city where you tip for absolutely everything! You need to breathe? Tip! Just joking….but not joking.

So, let me give you the basics on how this goes. And of course, just be reasonable guys!!! I know many people are traveling on a budget, and that’s totally fine too, so just be mindful when you are at different places.

In general, restaurants vary with tips from 18% – 22%. I always end up tipping 20%, but you can feel free and pick what suits you best. For bigger groups, some restaurants will automatically include 25% in the bill, so be sure to see that.

At bars, I also just usually tip 20% to make it easier, but you can just consider at least $1 a drink, and for the pricier cocktails, at least $2. Guys, the tireless barmen and bar-women are working their asses off all-night-long to be sure you have a great time, so help them out too!

By the way, when the bar is super full, nicer tips might give you an extra attention when getting future drinks at the bar.

Now, as I mentioned, tipping is not limited to only restaurants and bars. If you’re getting an Uber/Lyft/Via/Juno, you can always tip the driver at the end of the ride through the APP, but yellow cabs also expect tips. Yes, even the lousy, dirty, smelly ones… You can tip 15% – 20% and if you’re paying with a card, you just pick the tipping amount on the screen.

Tipping at the hotel is also important. It’s always nice to tip the bellboy that helps bringing your luggage into the hotel and up to your room. Generally, it’s $1 per bag, but if you’re at a nicer hotel, be nicer too! Lol! When your leaving the hotel, and a staff grabs a taxi for you, yes, tip him like $1-$2. Oh, and most people most often forget: the cleaning lady! She was the one that kept your room super neat and clean during all these unforgettable days in New York. You might want to leave around $2/day for her at the end for your stay. I always also customize the tip with a smiley note!

So, as you can see….tipping is crucial and this is also one of the reasons you have to have cash on you!!! But, as I said, be mindful and reasonable within the budget you have too!


If you enjoyed our Part 2 of the 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, be sure to check our Part 3 coming up next! There is still so much more to learn!

For any questions regarding travel or event planning for Corporate Groups, contact our experts to help you out!


Photo Credit: ©Behind the Scenes NYC, Courtesy of Jack Harner, Sam Truong Dan and Andre Benz

16 Things NO ONE EVER Tells You About NYC [PART 1/4]

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Subway

You’ve never been to New York but now you’re days from arriving and started feeling a bit anxious about it? Well, that’s super normal, especially when we’re talking about a city like New York. So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, for the 1st timers.

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1
©Behind the Scenes NYC

There are a few rules and tips to make your NY experience seamless and memorable. We split this topic into 4 different posts, so check out Part 1 with the first 4 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC!

Let’s start?!


#1 Yes! New York is safe!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Safety
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Ok. Let’s start from the basics. We all know how dangerous New York was back in the 80’s and 90’s when the city was hit with a huge crack epidemic and we had the famous mobs roaming around.

Most of you have probably heard of the Zero Tolerance Policy, led by Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he was elected back in 1994. There is a lot to this topic and controversial statements, but let’s keep it simple. Bottom line, crime rates were drastically reduced.

It was published in The Economist, back in 2015, that New York was the 10th safest city in the world. Then, in 2017 it showed that we had fallen 11 places, today ranking 21st. But still, it continues a pretty safe place.

That said, like every other big city, there are pickpockets, you should be careful not to roam into some neighborhoods and be careful at night. If you’re in doubt, just ask a friend or talk to your hotel’s concierge.

In addition, most of the crimes in NY, happen in late night hours, so just stay alert, but enjoy the freedom that the city can offer us today!


#2 Use the Subway!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Subway
©Behind the Scenes NYC

I’m from São Paulo, a city with over 20 million people, hence many time bigger than New York, but our subway system is very limited (even though it’s starting to super slowly improve).

But, when you have a “small” city like New York, where you can commute almost anywhere, it’s an indescribable joy! Hahaha!

It’s also a great way to feel like a true New Yorker and experience our crazy lifestyle!

The subway maps are pretty easy: most lines travel North – South and only a few East – West. You can download one of the APPs like NYC Subway or City Mapper to help you out! I’ve been here for 4 years, and still like to check on them, depending on where I’m commuting to!

Now, this is very, very, VERY important! When train arrives, always wait for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e to come out, before you try to walk in. If you’re just randomly daydreaming and standing in front of the door when it opens, you’ll most likely be run over or called upon. Yikes! (I talk more about this on the topic below!)

Inside a crowded train try and put your backpack in front of you to make space for more people (even if you feel like a sardine in a can). If you’re sitting down, sit in a way that more people fit beside you. For the Manspreaders (men that sit with their legs widely spread out, occupying more that 1 seat), please be mindful! And please, don’t eat on the subway – it’s not a restaurant!

Another tip! Some people get so happy when all the other subway cars are full, and they walk “miraculously” into an empty one! It’s like feeling you’re the smartest one around, right? Well, New Yorkers are not stupid or blind, my dears, that’s for sure…so there’s likely something very wrong with that car. Be sure to check it out!

Oh! And girls, be sure to leave you heels at the hotel. You can use them to go out at night, when you might prefer just getting an Uber.


#3 Walk! But don’t EVER block the passage way!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Walking
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brendan Church

YOU might be on vacation, but many people around you are probably running to work!

Sidewalks are like freeways, in New York City! No joke…! So, when you’re walking down the streets and you feel it’s THAT time, where you want to take a selfie or an Instagram picture, be sure to step aside, out of the main passage. Otherwise you might hear a very loud “EXCUUUUSEE ME!”

People say that New Yorkers are rude and I strongly disagree! They are very solicitous if you’re lost and need help but, like every other busy human late for work, they won’t enjoy daydreamers blocking the streets. You can take a look at this post we did about “31 Curious Facts About New Yorkers We Just Love“, this way, you’ll get the hang of it!

Oh! This is also true for the subway escalators and stairs! If you’re walk up or down any stairs, but especially in the subway, be sure to follow the flow on the correct side, usually, your right side. On an escalator, if you don’t want to rush up, stay to your right side too, letting people that do.

And I forgot to mention. While walking on the streets, on the busiest ones especially, don’t just suddenly turn or stop. You have to look, and “kinda signal” your next move to avoid collision.

Lastly, if you’re waiting for the light to cross the street, but there’s absolutely no cars coming, even though it’s NOT the correct thing to do, many people just cross it. I mean, just be very careful if you do that or simply step aside for anyone that wants to go head!


#4 Understanding New York’s Map

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Grid
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Ok, let’s start with first things first. Number one is maybe noticing that most streets are named through numbers, making it pretty easy to locate yourself or how to get to your destination.

The street numbers officially start at 1st Street on the East Side and 3rd Street on the West Side of Manhattan. From there, numbers go up, up, up to 220th, but that’s all the way up in Inwood, on the very North tip of Manhattan. That’s where The MET Cloisers museum is located!

From North to South, street blocks are shorter to walk through, while East to West, the blocks are significantly longer. Also East to West are only the Avenues – starting from York Avenue, through 11th Avenue (a.k.a. West End Avenue). On the very extremes, you’ll find the highways: 12th Avenue and the FRD Drive.

In between the numbered Avenues, you have some of the famous ones like Madison Avenue, Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Broadway also crosses the city diagonally, starting on the Upper West Side, all the way down to Battery Park.

Lastly, just for your reference, Central Park starts at 59th Street (a.k.a. Central Park South), up through 110th Street (a.k.a Central Park North), in Harlem. “The Secrets Of Central Park Walking Tour” will give you some more insights and secrets about the park!

Don’t freak out…it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just grab a map or check Google Maps along the way, and you’ll be fine!


If you enjoyed these first 4 tips about things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, be sure to check our Part 2!

For any questions regarding travel or event planning for Corporate Groups, contact our experts to help you out!


Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC and courtesy of Brendan Church

4 Unexpected Places You Can Visit In New York [NYC Secrets]

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC FDR Track 61 Waldorf Astoria Fernanda Paronetto

Although NYC is one of the busiest cities in the world, it’s also the home of countless secrets. Take a look below to see 4 unexpected places you can visit in New York!

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC FDR Track 61 Waldorf Astoria
Track 61, underneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – ©BehindTheScenesNYC

New York City, or the “Big Apple” as it is well known, is one of the busiest cities in the world. It is home to millions of people, as well as thousands of tourists who come to see the wonders and marvels of its huge economy and millions of businesses.

There’s a lot to plan when you visit New York, from deciding which attractions are absolute must-sees to getting all your tickets and travel insurance in order. (Oh! Did you know that one week in a US hospital can cost $30,000, for example? It’s definitely not something you want to forget!).

Most tourists flock to the famous sites such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. But, the experience in these places might not be as expected because of the huge crowds taking photos, walking around or just standing there idle.

There are, however, other lesser-known places where you can go and have a better, less tourist-centric experience.

Here are 4 unexpected places you can visit in New York:


Track 61

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC FDR Track 61 Waldorf Astoria Fernanda Paronetto
Fernanda Paronetto on FRD’s subway cart, at Track 61, underneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – ©BehindTheScenesNYC

You may well not have known, but there was a secret presidential train platform deep under the Grand Central Terminal, called Track 61.

It was mostly used by the heads of state to secretly commute to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, first in the late 1930’s by the then-president General John J. Pershing, and second by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the early 1940’s.

President Roosevelt hid from the public due to his physical condition, after he contracted polio at the age of 39 and was confined to a wheelchair.

The track has since stopped being used and is mostly abandoned. As of now, it’s currently completely closed to the public and the MTA doesn’t allow anyone to visit the location. But, there is an amazing tour of the Grand Central Terminal secrets that we love and you can explore too!

Location: Underneath the Waldorf Astoria Hotel


Brooklyn Heights’ Hidden Subway Ventilator

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC Brooklyn Heights Joralemon Street Fake Subway Ventilator Credit: UntappedCities by Michelle Young
Fake Subway Ventilator at Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights – ©UntappedCities by Michelle Young

Joralemon Street; number 58, the faux facade, is in the middle. – ©UntappedCities by Michelle Young

A walk through Joralemon Street, in Brooklyn Heights, might seem like nothing out of the ordinary, from the beautiful brownstones to the relaxing environment and being steps from the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

However, what is unknown to many is that 58 Joralemon Street looks exactly like the rest of the houses, but is actually a subway ventilator used as an emergency exit. (OBS: In the picture above, the fake house is the one in the middle.)

It was a residential home before being converted in the 1800’s during the subway extension from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The house is heavily guarded by the NYPD, so getting close to it might be a problem. Yikes

Location: 58 Joralemon Street


The Blockhouse

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC The Blockhouse. Credit: Central Park Conservancy
The Blockhouse in Central Park – ©Central Park Conservancy

Located in the northern part of the Central Park, right by lower Harlem, is The Blockhouse. It is said to be the second oldest thing in the park and dates back to the early 1800’s during the war with the British.

The Blockhouse was supposed to help the Americans defend themselves, but was never used, because the British never reached the city. The building is always locked, in time lost it’s wooden roof and is totally abandoned.

While visiting it, take your time to walk to the East side of the park and take a peek at other spots like: Fort Fish, Fort Clinton, Nutteere’s Battery and Charles A. Dana Discovery Center…all located around the Harlem Meer. Oh! Meer means “Lake” in Dutch!

Location: West Side at 109th Street and Central Park West.


Tribeca’s Dream House

4 Unexpected places to visit in NYC Dream House. Credit: IDK Tonight
Dream House – ©IDK Tonight

Established in the early 1990’s by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, the house is secretly located in Tribeca, just off Church Street. It acts a quiet peaceful space where anybody can go, sit, take a deep breath and just relax.

The incense, sound art and light installation in the room are therapeutic and will leave you calm and fresh. The mellow looped music changes depending on your position in the room, whether you are upright or relaxing on your back.

The place is currently under La Monte Young’s foundation known as MELA and is financed by the Dia Art Foundation.

Location: 275 Church Street

www.melafoundation.org/dream02.htm


If you want to explore other unique and unexpected places you can visit in New York, be sure to go to Industry City to see what this Brooklyn neighborhood is all about or plan to visit these 5 offbeat museums in NYC.

And,  of course, continue searching out website, since NYC secret spots away from the touristy scene, are totally up ou alley!


Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC, Central Park Conservancy, ©UntappedCities by Michelle Young and IDK Tonight

All the images used on this website are the property of BTSNYC or used with proper credit.
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