Underground: 5 Subterranean Destinations in New York You Have to Check Out
The best spots to explore beneath the surface of the city.
You’ve checked out all the city’s street fairs. You’ve visited the top of the Empire State Building. Maybe you’ve even been underwater at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. But have you been underground in NYC?
Check out all the subterranean fun the Big Apple has to offer — we promise it’s cleaner than it sounds.
This subterranean cocktail lounge in Little Italy is possibly “the most unusual bar in all of NYC,” according to Gothamist. It’s easy to see why: its decor is inspired by old-school California liquor stores, one section is entirely self-serve, and cocktails are spiked with tiny liquor bottles upturned into juice cans. They make a concerted effort to feature drinks made with hard-to-find spirits, so this may be the bar where you reunite with a long-lost favorite cocktail. If you like what you see (and taste), Genuine Liquorette offers mixology courses so you can pick up a few new bartending tricks.
Genuine Liquorette is located at 191 Grand Street.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen serves up haute cuisine in a warmly lit, underground space. If gourmet dining and subterranean escapes don’t seem like a perfect match, think again — Mercer Kitchen has been a New York favorite and respected culinary hub since the 90s. Descend into this industrial-modernist restaurant, enjoy a Yuzu Drop cocktail, and dig into the seasonal, upscale meal you came to the Big Apple to enjoy.
The Mercer Kitchen is located at 99 Prince Street.
The entrance to The Ship was once unmarked, but when even in-the-know patrons had trouble finding their way in, a small sign was installed nearby. If you do manage to find this hidden spot, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a fine dining version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. As is true of all the best underground speakeasies, you can enjoy new riffs on classic cocktails, or opt for the “bartender’s choice” if you’re feeling as adventurous as a passenger on the Nautilus. Check out their small plates, too: wagyu carpaccio, slow-cooked octopus, and kalbi sliders are among the standouts.
The Ship is located at 158 Lafayette Street.
A trip beneath New York’s bustling city streets doesn’t have to be a search for hidden nightlife and upscale bistros. It can also be an educational (and lucrative?) experience: at the New York Federal Reserve, wind your way down into an actual gold vault that’s been around since the 1920s, and at its peak held more than 12,000 tons of gold. Just remember to book ahead: you have to register for a tour of the Reserve 30 days in advance.
The New York Federal Reserve Gold Vault is located at 33 Liberty Street.
If you’re short on time and working with a tight budget, this underground adventure comes in at the competitive price of $2.75. That’s right; for the price of a one-way MTA ticket, you can see an abandoned subway station originally built in 1904. Stay on the 6 train as it passes the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge to see an ornate, turn-of-the-century design featuring gorgeous chandeliers, vaulted ceilings, skylights, and glass tiles.
The City Hall Subway Station is located near Chambers Street and Center Street.
Before you go underground, make sure you have a cozy place to come back to when you re-emerge from your subterranean adventures. Affinia’s spacious, residential-sized suites feel just like home — well, a slightly more luxurious version! If you book now, you’ll enjoy Affinia’s very best rates of the year. Rooms start at just $119 a night for January and February, with up to 40% off bookings for every month after.