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Ditch the Crowds With These Summer Alternatives to Busy New York Spots

By Mathew Katz | July 15, 2013 7:37am
  It's easy to find the same New York fun without the gigantic crowds.
Less-Crowded Alternatives to Popular Summer Spots
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NEW YORK CITY — New York in the summertime can be a wonder of things to do, see and eat — but it's also crowded with huge groups of tourists and even locals trying to experience it all.

However, loving the city doesn't mean you have to live life in a queue. There are plenty of alternatives to even the most popular of New York spots that offer the same experience with less of a crowd.

DNAinfo New York has some great alternatives to popular summer spots for you to enjoy:


Chances are if you have friends or family come into town, they'll want to try a few slices of this famous pizzeria's pie. Sure, the pizza is good, but the two-hour line at Grimaldi's original location under the Brooklyn Bridge can be trying in the summer heat.

Instead, go to the Grimaldi's locations in Chelsea (656 Sixth Ave.), Queens (242-02 61st Ave.) or Coney Island (1215 Surf Ave.). All three have the same coal-fired ovens, dough and fresh ingredients as the original spot, but they rarely have a wait to get in the door. 

TKTS Booth

If you're looking for discount tickets to Broadway shows and plays around the city, the huge red TKTS Booth in Times Square can get you in for up to 50 percent off. But getting there means walking through hordes of tourists in Midtown, something no self-respecting New Yorker ever wants to do.

Instead, head to one of the other two TKTS booths. There's one at the South Street Seaport (corner of Fulton and South streets) that sells tickets to evening performances on the day of a show and matinee tickets the day before a show. The Downtown Brooklyn booth (1 MetroTech Center) also sells the same, as well as tickets to Brooklyn performing arts events.


While you're down at the South Street Seaport, be sure to check out the newly opened Smorgabar. Taking a dozen vendors from Williamsburg's ever-popular (and ever-crowded) Smorgasburg weekly food fest, this new location has a full bar inside of a shipping container and tons of food to satisfy even the pickiest eater, including treats from Asian Dog, the Milk Truck and Pizza Moto.

Elisabeth Cummings, 33, a Williamsburg resident, was enjoying a huge slab of bacon from Landhaus, which she managed to snag without a wait, on a recent day.

"Sometimes you have to wait 10, 15 minutes in a line at the one in Williamsburg," she said. 


Manhattan's Chinatown is a sight to be seen, but it can also be overwhelming, with crowds filling dim sum restaurants and tourists wandering Canal Street in hopes of finding knock-off bags. You can get a much calmer experience — with the same quality food — at Brooklyn's Chinatown in Sunset Park

There are still crowds in Brooklyn's Chinatown, but you'll find a more authentic experience. The area is one of the fastest-growing ethnic Chinese communities outside of Asia. More importantly, it's a great place to get some Sunday morning dim sum and go for a mid-summer stroll.

The High Line

The High Line is a unique experience in New York — there's nowhere else that gives you the ability to walk on an old elevated rail track, sweeping views of the Hudson and great food stands. Unfortunately, the park's surging popularity often makes it more crowded than a Midtown sidewalk.

That said, staffers at the park say it's quietest — and at its most serene — early in the morning, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., especially on Mondays and Tuesdays.

"Everybody has their own special place to spend the morning hours, but I like to head to the park’s amphitheater with the newspaper and a cup of coffee from Blue Bottle’s stand on the High Line," said Kate Lindquist, a spokeswoman for Friends of the High Line.

"There is something very soothing about sitting in the amphitheater and watching the taxis and delivery trucks drive north along 10th Avenue."

Adult Lap Swimming at City Pools

In the summertime, public pools are a low-cost hit with families, who crowd it with kids swimming on hot afternoons. But for grownups who want their own pool time, the city offers adults-only lap swimming in the early mornings, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to dusk. It's a more quiet, peaceful New York City pool experience.

The adult lap swim program is free, but you need to sign up in advance — which you can do on the Parks Department's website.