8 weird things to do in New York
Forget shows on Broadway and feeding your face, there are far more interesting things to do that are off the beaten track once you're settled into your hotel room.
From discovering a bunny-loving underground beer bar to dancing in a fountain outside a museum in Queens and attending a lecture on taxidermy (yes, really), we reveal NYC’s fun but bizarre side.
1. Experience immersion theatre
There are hundreds of opportunities for theatre in New York, many of them in your face and glimmering around Broadway signs, but for a wonderfully wacky and slightly less mainstream affair, Punchdrunk's Sleep No More is your show. This is immersion theatre at its very best, but to say much more (other than that it's loosely based on Macbeth) would be giving it away. Paying guests are admitted at allocated times and advised to allow up to three hours to be suitably blown away. You won't forget this one in a hurry.
2. Be astounded by a room full of earth
Doesn't come weirder than this, folks. Hidden on the second floor of a seemingly ordinary apartment building in Soho is just under 136,077 kilograms of dirt in a 334 square-metre room. And that's it. Nothing more, nothing less. It's free to see this fascinating filth – a living sculpture by Walter De Maria – and it's been on display since 1980, irritating all who pay a million dollars to live in similar spaces nearby.
3. Have a 'scotchy scotch scotch' Anchorman-style
Somebody went and did it – opened up an Anchorman-themed bar. Manhattan's Lower East Side is now the only place you can order a ‘glass case of emotion’ surrounded by tributes to one of the best-loved movies of the century. Unfortunately, Will Ferrell is only present in the art on the walls at Stay Classy New York, but once you try the cocktails you might just start seeing him everywhere.
Anything's possible in New York, including, it seems, the growth of a tropical rainforest in an office building. Open to the public all year long, this 12-storey-high glass and steel building houses giant magnolias, sparkling water pools, shrubs and enormous trees, all in the middle of the Ford Foundation's open offices. Workers can even wave to each other from opposite sides. Real rainfall from the roof plus the condensation from the inside keeps this man-made greenhouse active – all they need now is the howler monkeys.
Not to be confused with Midtown Manhattan’s MoMA, MoMA PS1 is home is a 100-year-old Romanesque Revival school building in Queens and is known for its progressive approach to exhibitions. Formerly the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, it was founded in the early ’70s by an organisation devoted to setting up exhibitions in abandoned spaces across NYC. MoMA PS1 transforms itself on summer weekends into a giant party, with open bars and live DJs. The exhibitions are everywhere, from the fountains you can dance in to the artwork on the stairs, in the bathrooms and behind all doors. If you're there in winter and the fountain is frozen over, you'll find daily gallery talks and Q&As with contemporary artists, writers and scholars.
6. Stuff your face with dosas
It’s not every day you get to indulge in truly authentic South Indian food while mingling with the local Indian community in a space full of exotic Asian artefacts – all in a Hindu temple in Queens. Don't know what dosas are? Think giant crepes stuffed with yummy spices and other oozing ingredients. The chilli masala dosa and the masala dosa with coconut chutney come highly recommended at the Ganesh Temple Canteen, but what's best about this eatery is that nothing will set you back more than $7.
If you get your kicks from old, used operating instruments and taxidermied animals, or if you're just interested in oddball events and lectures such as 'You Can't Kill Me, I'm Already Dead – Notes from a Gothic Life', you should pencil in a trip to Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum. Founder Joanna Ebenstein opened her doors to the curious in 2014 through funding from a Kickstarter campaign and her collection is well worth a look – if you can stomach it.
124 Old Rabbit Club makes a big thing out of bunnies – you'll spot them everywhere in this underground bar, which at times is so dark you'll have to reach for your friend's face to make sure it's still them you're talking to. The weirdness is all worth it when you get to sample the beers served in this Greenwich Village speak-easy/dungeon, from English to German to Belgian. Count the rabbits, get cosy and pretend it's not still daylight up there in the real world.
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