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What will you find in NYC? | © Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay
What will you find in NYC? | © Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

11 Things You’ll Only Find in New York City

Picture of Julia Goicochea
Updated: 6 January 2018

Anyone who’s spent time here can vouch for New York City’s “unique” character. The good, the bad, and the ugly, there are plenty of things you’ll only find in NYC. From Katz’s pastrami egg rolls and matzo ball ramen to an Indiana Jones experience, here they are.

A “showtime” that may be a show ender

Second only to “train traffic,” “it’s showtime” is the local commuter’s least favorite phrase. When a boombox-carrying commuter announces it to a cart of riders, everyone knows to expect loud music, shouting, and pole stunts. While tourists may be entertained, NYPD takes dangerous subway dancing, which is prohibited, seriously. Still, if you don’t get a foot in the face, you may find the display to be the boldest busker routine in any city.

More speakeasies than during Prohibition

They say everything comes back around, a memo New York City’s bar scene has certainly received. Ironically, speakeasies are so abundant here that they’re actually mainstream, with so-called “secret” spots like Raines Law Room and Please Don’t Tell appearing front and center in tourist guidebooks. Still, passing through a laundromat to reach your Long Island iced tea, traveling back in time at a still-operating Prohibition-era speakeasy, and even staying in style with an in-unit speakeasy will never get old.

The first sex museum in the country

Not many museum gift shops carry X-rated coffee table books or lingerie; however, that’s just the tip of the iceberg at the Museum of Sex. At the United States’ first sex museum, a “bouncy castle of breasts” and exhibits educating on “The Sex Lives of Animals” and the history of sex toys are the new norm.

New York City bodegas

Attempting to explain New York City bodegas to a non-local will take more than a New York minute. Part grocery store, part convenience store, and part deli, these ubiquitous corner businesses fit a lot into a small space, much like the Big Apple itself. Only at a New York City bodega can you enjoy a freshly made egg-and-cheese sandwich, pick up some laundry soap and granola, and bond with a “bodega cat” all in one go.

Jewish-Japanese fusion food

Fusion fare has made it just about everywhere, but few places can hold a candle to New York City’s Jewish-Japanese food scene. Think crispy egg rolls filled with Katz’s pastrami courtesy of RedFarm, matzoh ball ramen and sake kasu challah at Shalom Japan, and more unexpected combos you never knew you needed.

Bold “wildlife”

Only in New York City do even the smallest residents have big egos. Here, pigeons and rats don’t think twice about standing in walkers’ ways, stealing your food, and walking all over you—literally.

The least expensive meal you’ll ever have…

“Cheap” and “New York City” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but when they do, they’re likely referring to Chinatown dumplings. Head to New York’s other (and many say superior) Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, where you’ll find the meal that invented the phrase “the most bang for your buck,” 12 homemade dumplings for $4 at foodie favorite The Golden Shopping Mall. If that deal can’t even get you on the 7 train, Manhattan’s Chinatown serves plenty of four dumplings for $1.

…And the most expensive

A balanced diet is key. That’s why, in addition to the least expensive meal you’ll find, New York City also serves the most expensive. While many diners at Serendipity 3 opt for its Instagram-friendly frozen hot chocolate, those craving something richer can choose the “Golden Opulence Sundae,” a $1,000 dessert featuring 23-karat gold leaf, caviar, imported chocolate, candy, and vanilla beans, a $350 Baccarat crystal goblet, and an 18-karat gold spoon.

An Indiana Jones experience

You’ve conquered the urban jungle, but how about the real thing? At the 113-year-old Explorer’s Club, you’ll observe artifacts from world explorers, such as famous members Theodore Roosevelt and Neil Armstrong. Any appetite for adventure is sure to be satisfied at the club’s annual dinner, where menu items may include preserved wooly mammoth steaks or fried tarantulas.

A different cultural event every day

You can’t claim boredom in New York City. With 700 art galleries, 380 nonprofit theater companies, 131 museums, 40 Broadway theaters, 15 major concert halls, and five botanical gardens—just to name a few—the city allows you to experience a different cultural event every day.

Every type of pizza

No New York City list is complete without pizza, which people can enjoy from thousands of local pizza joints in nearly as many varieties. Classic New York slices, thick Sicilian styles, Neapolitan, wood-fired, and coal oven are just a sampling of the available options. Some out-of-the-box pies include the St. Louis-style slice at Speedy Romeo, Paulie Gee’s “Greenpoint Benedict,” and the “Pizza Inception” at  Vinnie’s Pizzeria.