12 Offbeat and Overlooked NYC Midtown Attractions

New York City might be the most exciting city in the world, and Midtown is where a lot of the action happens!

Many of NYC’s most famous destinations are here, including Broadway, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Station, and the Museum of Modern Art. But you’ll find much more to do in Midtown than just the iconic spots.

Our list of overlooked NYC Midtown attractions includes offbeat museums, cool nightclubs, hidden park areas, and quality restaurants. These are some of the quirky places I’ve visited during my NYC travels.

Consider adding some of these spots to your itinerary for your next visit to Manhattan!

Where is Midtown, New York City?

As its names implies, Midtown is located in the middle of Manhattan. Midtown does not have specifically defined boundaries, so its borders can be a matter of opinion.

Wikipedia considers Midtown the area between 30th Street and the southern border of Central Park at 59th Street. It does not consider the far western side of Manhattan (Hudson Yards, Hell’s Kitchen) to be part of Midtown.

Google, meanwhile, considers Midtown the entire area from 14th Street up to the southern border of Central Park at 59th Street, encompassing all of Manhattan from east to west therein.

midtown nyc attractions map
Map of Midtown, New York City (Google)

For our purposes, we’ll use Google’s expanded definition of Midtown NYC and include overlooked attractions from 14th to 59th Street.

The Midtown area of the city encompasses several NYC neighborhoods, including the Theater District, Garment District, Gramercy Park, and Murray Hill. Chelsea and Union Square also fit within Google’s Midtown boundary.

List of Overlooked Attractions in Midtown NYC

Let’s rundown some of my favorite places to visit in Midtown that are a bit under the radar!

1 Birdland Jazz Club

Address: 315 West 44th Street
Website: Birdland

Named for the legendary Charlie Parker, Birdland opened in 1949 and immediately became a hot spot for live jazz music.

The club has moved locations a few times over the years, but it now packs in patrons at its 44th street location near Times Square.

Hearing jazz music in an old-school candlelight setting is a great way to experience a taste of nostalgia and one of the very cool NYC Midtown attractions.

2 National Museum of Mathematics

Address: 11 East 26th Street
Website: National Museum of Mathematics

Who knew there was a museum dedicated to math? The museum claims its interactive exhibits “stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics.”

The museum sits a few blocks north of the Flatiron Building. Curators specifically point out that the museum is for curious folks of all ages, not just kids.

Even if you’re not a math person, you may be fascinated by exhibits like Coaster Rollers, Synchronized Spin, Harmony of the Spheres, and Hoop Curves, a basketball-shooting exhibit where guests can use math and statistics to have the best chance of sinking a free throw.

3 Rockefeller Center Ice Rink

Address: 600 5th Avenue
Website: Rink at Rockefeller Center

ice skaters - attractions in midtown manhattan
The ice rink is one of the top NYC midtown attractions.

The home of NBC Studios and the Top of the Rock observation deck, Rockefeller Center itself is well-known as a tourist destination.

But not everyone is aware that during the winter, guests can ice skate on an outdoor rink beneath the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

Ticket prices can vary dramatically depending on which date and time of day you book. Adult tickets start at $21 for mid-week mornings, and can go as high as $73 during peak weekend afternoons closer to Christmas.

The rink is open from October to April. It’s limited to 150 skaters at a time, so it won’t get as crowded as some other NYC holiday attractions.

4 The Campbell

Address: 15 Vanderbilt Avenue
Website: Campbell NYC

Don’t let the name fool you. The Campbell is not an apartment building or some random dude’s flat. It’s actually a speakeasy-style bar!

The bar is tucked away behind a nondescript door in Grand Central Station, of all places. The Campbell has a casual dress code but does not permit ball caps and requires guests to wear long pants after 7 pm. It’s a classy joint, you see.

You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time to the 1920s thanks to the bar’s vintage furniture and stained-glass windows. The menu features classic cocktails straight out of the Great Gatsby or Mad Men era, like Dirty Martini, Old Fashioned, and Peachy Keen.

5 Tudor City Greens

Address: 38 Tudor City Place
Website: Tudor City Greens

An overlooked green space in Midtown? How is that possible? Somehow, Tudor City Greens remains a little-known oasis.

Located on the eastern end of Manhattan in a busy area near United Nations Plaza, Tudor City Greens offers relative solitude with gardens and picnic benches.

Tudor City Greens are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are a part of the Tudor City Historic District. The gardens are open to the public from 7 am to 10 pm daily.

6 Little Collins

Address: 708 3rd Avenue
Website: Little Collins

Why aren’t there more Australian restaurants? We see all kinds of ethnic and foreign cuisine, yet Aussie restaurants are rare.

Fortunately, some former Aussies who moved to NYC decide to change that by creating Little Collins. It’s a small place serving coffee, small meals, and a taste of Melbourne cafe culture.

Lunch and dinner offerings include dishes like toasted banana bread with walnuts and berries; marinated olives with pita; and battered salt & pepper shrimp with scallions and serrano chilis.

7 The Onassis Cultural Center

Address: 645 5th Avenue
Website: Onassis Cultural Center

Based on the name, I initially assumed the Onassis Cultural Center was a museum dedicated to the life of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, similar to a presidential library.

But the Onassis Cultural Center is actually a museum and cultural center that showcases contemporary Greek art and culture. It was created by the Onassis Foundation, a group established in 1975 by Aristotle Onassis, Jackie’s second husband.

The center features award-winning exhibits and events that highlight the rich history and traditions of Greece. Visiting the center is a great way to learn something new about Greek culture and history and have an off-the-beaten path experience in Midtown NYC.

8 The High Line

Address: Above 10th Avenue between 8th & 34th Streets
Website: High Line

Ok, the High Line Rail Trail is very well-known, so it’s not exactly overlooked. But the elevated walking trail on the western side of Manhattan features a number of hidden and overlooked spots that are worth exploring.

street art high line midtown

Walk the High Line early in the morning, and you’ll find it much less crowded than normal.

And you’ll have time to take in all the street art, plant installations, art sculptures, and other quirky parts of the High Line that many folks miss when they’re quickly walking by on a busy day.

Be sure to see the “Chelsea Thicket,” a section with lots of trees and shrubbery between 21st & 22nd Streets.

9 Museum of Arts and Design

Address: 2 Columbus Circle
Website: Museum of Arts and Design

Located near the corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle on 59th Street, the Museum of Arts and Design doesn’t get as much attention as the Museum of Modern Art.

But the Design Museum is worth checking out because of its specific focus on design and craft elements.

Current attractions include “The Art of the Mannequin” and a “Pathmakers” exhibit that highlights the contributions made by women to the worlds of arts and design from the 1950s through today.

10 Paley Park

Address: 5 East 53rd Street
Website: Paley Park

There aren’t a lot of public parks within Midtown proper, and the biggest (Bryant Park) can get loud and crowded. While much smaller, Paley Park is worth visiting.

It has a falling water display with locust trees and flowers that help create a brief break in the nonstop chaos of NYC. Visitors can sit at the tables to eat or socialize at this peaceful park on E. 53rd Street.

11 Kinokuniya Bookstore

Address: 1073 Avenue of the Americas
Website: Kinokuniya

Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore that carries a wide selection of books, manga, and magazines. Not a reader? The store also carries Japanese toys, gifts, and snacks, so it’s like a brief trip to another world.

The brand has been expanding across America and now has stores in a handful of states. If you’ve never visited one, stop in to this location near Bryant Park and West 40th Street to see what all the fuss is about.

12 Beer Culture

Address: 328 W 45th Street
Website: Beer Culture

Ready to get your drink on after a long day of walking around NYC? Find an underrated spot for craft beer at Beer Culture in Hell’s Kitchen.

The bar has a rotating selection of more than a dozen beers on tap. Recent favorites have included Black Gold Stout, Belgian Karmeliet, and Mango Sour.

Beer Culture has indulgent bar food too, like cheese curds, bratwurst, flatbread pizzas, and giant pretzels with two dipping cups in the holes.

More New York City Recommendations

For another fascinating overlooked attraction, head to Lower Manhattan for the Irish Hunger Memorial, an unusual monument to the famines in Irish history.

See also my list of the Best Music Venues in NYC, featuring large arenas and smaller clubs. And finally, check out my guide to seeing the Statue of Liberty cheaply, by taking the Staten Island Ferry.

Do you have any other suggestions for overlooked quirky and offbeat Midtown NYC attractions to add to this list?

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