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5 Unusual Ways to See NYC From a New Angle

nyc views
See New York City from a different point of view.

From helicopter rides to underground adventures, here are a few ways to get a fresh perspective on the Big Apple.

Whether you’re a first-time tourist or a New York native, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the city’s iconic skyline. But while the view from the Empire State Building or a rooftop bar might be beautiful, there’s certainly more than one way to take in this vibrant city. Here are some unconventional activities that will allow visitors and residents alike to see New York from a whole new angle:

1. Helicopter Rides

What better way to see New York’s skyline than from the sky itself? While the cost of a helicopter ride might seem prohibitive, it’s worth the splurge — these rides are extraordinarily fun and shockingly easy to book. There are plenty of private companies offering guided helicopter tours, giving you a bird's-eye view of NYC’s most famous landmarks. And with “UberCopters” recently introduced in São Paulo, with New York and Tokyo slated to be next, helicopter flights may soon be easier and more affordable than ever. So strap on your seatbelt, and get flying! From views of Lady Liberty’s crown to the top of the Empire State building, you’re sure to gain a once-in-a-lifetime perspective.

2. Ferries

If you’re not a fan of heights, a ride down the river is another way to enjoy a fresh perspective. With ferries running along the Hudson and East Rivers, there are few spaces you can’t explore via ferry. Book a ride online (or buy a ticket at the terminal), and enjoy the vista from the water while traveling towards Staten Island, Governor’s Island, or a number of other prominent landmarks.

3. Top of the Rock Observatory

Located at the top of the Rockefeller Center, the Top of the Rock observation deck boasts one of the most staggering views in all of New York. Day or night, you can take an elevator up to three separate floors of indoor and outdoor decks, each featuring a stunning panorama of the city. No matter how many times you’ve seen New York, you’ve never seen a view quite like this. For a closer look, be sure to glance through the binoculars available on every level.

4. Underground Tours

Once you’ve had your fill of New York’s sweeping panoramas, it’s time to explore the city’s subterranean side. TimeOut lists a few of the secret spots you can explore, from abandoned subway stations to the New York Public Library’s underground vault. From carefully preserved crypts to abandoned bowling alleys, New York’s underground passageways provide an incredible glimpse into the city’s rich, forgotten history.

5. Themed Sails

While ferries can get you from point A to point B, sometimes it’s nice to go on a trip tailored more specifically to your interests. For seeing things up close and personal, a sailboat is a much more reliable vessel — and what better way to see a different side of New York than on a themed boat ride? Whether you’re taking a tour of the fall foliage, sailing off into the sunset, or just enjoying a quick jaunt around Manhattan, a guided sail can be the perfect way to see the city in a different light.