NYC Day Trips: 13 Off-the-Grid Must-See Sights for Natives and Tourists

This story was originally published in the September 2016 issue of Latina magazine.

Whether first time tourist or frequent guest, these off-the-grid destinations in classic NYC nabes highlight the Big Apple’s diversity and make your travel story worth talking about.   

1. Spanish Harlem

Welcome to Spanish Harlem

A symphony of sensory delights – from tricked-out bikes to fragrant Caribbean street food to bamba beats emanating from open windows – await visitors to this bustling neighborhood, whose rich Puerto Rican roots precede World War II. Click through for a look at the spots in Spanish Harlem that best highlight New York's Latin American history. 

2. Spanish Harlem - Museo del Barrio

Museo del Barrio - Spanish Harlem

Visit the Museo del Barrio, the city's foremost institution dedicated to all things Hispanic heritage. Housed in a former fire station where books were burned by political activists during the Civil Rights Movement, it now boasts acclaimed exhibitions, creative and performing arts series, and cultural celebrations.

3. Spanish Harlem - La Marqueta

La Marqueta - Spanish Harlem

Grab a bite at La Marqueta, the landmark center of Latino economic and cultural life whose new retail venues include a patisserie and an urban garden center. While there, tour the Hot Bread Kitchen, a food business incubator supporting immigrant food entrepreneurs.

4. Spanish Harlem - Modesto "Tin" Flores Garden

Modesto "Tin" Flores Community Garden - Spanish Harlem

Take a stroll through the Modesto "Tin" Flores Community Garden. Its mosaic fountain sculpture, reading garden, and gazebo create an ideal space for quiet reflection. 

5. Red Hook, Brooklyn

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Once one of the country’s largest shipping centers, Red Hook is beloved today for its old-school charms. Among these are Belgian-block and cobblestone streets, colorful graffiti and mural art, and warehouses turned shops, galleries, and gardens. Click through for the best spots to celebrate all things food in Red Hook, Brooklyn.    

6. Cacao Prieto - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Cacao Prieto - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Tour the Cacao Prieto Chocolate and Bourbon Distillery for lessons in cacao and bourbon production and samples of bestselling products. (Founder Daniel Prieto Preston’s family has been farming organic cacao in the Dominican Republic for more than 100 years.)

7. Food Trucks - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Food Trucks at Red Hook Ball Fields

Snack on pupusas, huaraches, tacos, and more at the Red Hook ball fields. The food trucks dotting their perimeter have been going strong since 1974. Proof of their deliciousness is the four Vendy Awards – the Oscars of street food – among them. 

8. Steve's Key Lime Pies - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Indulge your sweet tooth with a Swingle™, a frozen, chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick, from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. One of only two shops in the world that uses fresh-squeezed key lime juice, it’s a treat your taste buds will thank you for. Bonus points: Enjoy your Swingle™ in nearby Louis Valentino, Jr. Park, whose pier overlooks the Statue of Liberty staring straight at you. 

9. Fairway Supermarket - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Fairway Supermarket - Red Hook, Brooklyn

Okay. So a grocery story might not sound like a revelation, particularly for New Yorkers who can visit a Fairway branch elsewhere in the city. But trust, it's like Disneyland for foodies, and the Red Hook outpost of this popular NY grocer is the best of the bunch. Pick up tasty souvenirs or tonight's dinner here.

10. Long Island City, Queens

Long Island City, Queens

Best-known for its iconic Silvercup Studios sign and stunning Gantry Plaza State Park, LIC's evolving identity changes from block to block. New eateries, bars, and art galleries sit beside auto repair shops and classic diners whose owners know every guest's name. Click through for the best places to get a peek at New York's ever-changing urban landscape.

11. Long Island City - MOMA PS1

MOMA PS1 - Long Island City, Queens

Head to Moma PS1, a creative outpost for experimental and emerging artists. Established in 1971 as a means of repurposing abandoned spaces, it's now home to spectacular site-specific installations, historical surveys, and the popular Warm Up music festival.

12. Long Island City - Komnata Quest

Komnata Quest Room Escape Adventures - Long Island City, Queens

Test your problem-solving skills in one of Komnata Quest's Room Escape Adventures, wherein teams of three to five people have one hour to solve mysteries with themes ranging from sci-fi to to kid-friendly.

13. Long Island City - Casa Enrique

Casa Enrique - Long Island City, Queens

Pull up a chair at Casa Enrique, New York's only Michelin-starred Mexican restaurant. The 40-seat eatery specializes in the traditional cuisine of Chiapas and features a garden and decor by local artists.


14. On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront

New Yorkers love their harbors and beaches, so if you're in town during the warmer months, do as the locals do and make for the water. Click through for three spots that strike a perfect balance between sea and sun.

15. On the Waterfront - Coney Island

Coney Island Boardwalk & Luna Park 

Coney Island is hot again thanks to a cleaned up, family-friendly boardwalk whose highlights include classics like Nathan's Hot Dogs and the NY Aquarium, plus revamped rides by Luna Park - the landmark Cyclone is among them - and new food stands serving everything from gelato to ceviche. 

16. On the Waterfront - Governors Island

Governors Island

Concerts, bike-riding, and special events like the newly-launched Pinknic and the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party, are summer staples at Governor's Island, a 172 acre oasis in the heart of NY Harbor. 

17. On the Waterfront - Spirit Cruises

Spirit Cruises

Spirit Cruises sail the Hudson year-round, offering up-close views of the Brooklyn Bridge plus dining, dancing, and a rooftop lounge.