Best off-the-beaten-path things to do in NYC

Sculpt blindfolded, learn how to blacksmith, and take a cruise in a self-driving car among other unique things to do in New York City. (Courtesy Unarthodox)

Sometimes New York City can feel a bit monotonous — drinks with friends, brunch on Saturdays, trivia nights … rinse and repeat.

Every once in awhile we need to freshen up our cosmopolitan lives with something a little more unique — things you’ll only find in New York City, for sure.

To help, we’ve gathered what we believe are some of the best ways to spend your time a little differently.

Schtick A Pole In It

There are a lot of combinations that work but comedy and pole dancing isn’t one that you’d expect to. That’s what you’ll find at Schtick A Pole In It, a monthly show where both comedians and pole dancers take the stage to show off their talents. The pole dancers don’t strip and they aren’t telling the jokes — they leave the funny stuff to comedians they share the stage with between their routines. Co-founder JoAnna Ross told us last year that Schtick A Pole In It provides you “with something you’ve never seen before,” she said. “There are definitely times when I look at what’s going on at the show and think ‘this is so beautiful.’” 

Schtick A Pole In It combines pole dancing and comedy on one stage. (Courtesy Schtick A Pole In It)

The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Self-driving Cars

Optimus Ride a Boston-based tech company, has introduced a fleet of autonomous cars in hopes of transforming how New Yorkers get around the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The service is free to anyone within the controlled environment (the Yard) is ideal for the vehicles, whose high-tech laser and camera technology consume gobs of data on every trip. It only goes 15 mph but it’s a fun way to get a glimpse into the future in your own backyard.

Boston-based tech company Optimus Ride deployed six autonomous vehicles in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as part of a two-year deal with the site. (Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner)


Blacksmithing in Brooklyn

Now you can make your own sword at Industry City. Bladesmith Theo Nazz opened Nazz Forge over the summer, which allows customers to order a custom-designed blade and just learn how to do some blacksmithing like it’s 1534 again. Each project you do is taught over the course of several sessions at about four hours long. You’d certainly be doing something no one else is doing. Nazz even offers an apprenticeship program if you really get into it.

“I teach my students the same skills and techniques that I use to forge my own competitive knives and swords,” Theo Nazz says.”In every class we host, the goal is always to produce the highest quality of work that we’re capable of.”

Learn how to blacksmith at Industry City. (Courtesy Industry City)

Blindfolded sculpting at Unarthodox

Unarthodox‘s “Sculpt Without Sight” is no ordinary pottery class — sculptors (who don’t need any experience) are literally blindfolded and asked to sculpt a face out of clay while staffers invade your senses with music, wine and essential oils they waft in front of your face. If it sounds like a crazy time, it is — but it’s also a relaxing way to get creative and try something new. 

“Most of the experiences we have are things we loved to do as children that we can’t do anymore,” founder Al Montagna told us. “[Participants] can use their creativity, which never goes away.”

Unarthodox is offers immersive art experiences, including sculpting blindfolded. (Photo Credit: Unarthodox)

The Spyscape museum

SPYSCAPE is an interactive espionage museum in midtown that was developed with the help of a literal “spymaster” and hackers, including the illusive online group Anonymous. It puts you in situations that actual secret agents have gone through and digitally tracks your actions with a wristband, including making you go through a room of green tripwire lasers like something out of “Mission Impossible.” It’s an exhilarating experience that puts your quick New York City pace to the test. The rest of the museum is worthwhile, too — you’ll see one of the original Enigma machines that Alan Turing used to decode messages during World War II (and a pretty amazing costume Benedict Cumberbatch wore during “The Imitation Game”) and much more.

Climb your way through a hall of green lasers at SPYSCAPE. (Courtesy SPYSCAPE)


Break Bar NYC

Sometimes you just need to smash — that is, break something in a dramatic way to let out your pent-up anger. Break Bar NYC lets you do just that with an assortment of computer screens, bulky printers, dishes and glasses all there for your smashing pleasure. The “rage room,” as it calls itself, asks visitors to don a helmet and goggles before taking their first swing with a baseball bat, sledgehammer or crow bar. Once you’ve let it all go, head to its bar for a refreshing drink and then smash that glass before you leave. It’s loud, sweaty and a little dangerous, but oh, so worth it.

Inside the rage room just before this reporter took a baseball bat to a second printer. (Photo by Shaye Weaver)