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Top 10 Best Unique Things To Do in NYC - CourseHorse

By Jenny Tobin | Published 7/24/2012

There are millions of things to do in New York, but the best leave you with the valuable experience of having learned something new.

New York City

Our audience may be a bit biased, but we’ve heard time and time again that educational experiences are the best ways to explore the city around you. Having taken hundreds of classes & tours ourselves, we’re inclined to agree. Though NYC is filled with incredible restaurants, unique sights, and experiences that range from delightful to downright frightening, there’s something about learning from the city’s experts that brings you one step closer to the heart of what makes New York... well, New York. These 10 educational yet fully fun-ready activities are some of the best we know of, based on a collective of thousands of years of NYC living.

Wine & Tapas

Vino & Tapas Crawl With A Sommelier

Gastro Tours / NYC Wine & Food Trails
SoHo, Manhattan

One of our favorite things about NYC is how much of a melting pot it truly is. In the Vino & Tapas Crawl you’ll get an in-depth look at New York’s best versions of Spain via three locations specializing in Spanish cuisine and wine. Learn some history, take the edge off, and get inspiration for your next vacation (Spain, obviously!) all while spending time with an unbelievably knowledgeable, professional Sommelier. If that’s not enough, you’ll spend time walking through SoHo, Nolita & Little Italy, some of the most culturally rich neighborhoods NYC has to offer.

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Pizza Tour

Brooklyn Pizza Walk

Scott's Pizza Tours
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

Over the last ten to twenty years, Brooklyn has really taken the spotlight in terms of some of NYC’s hippest neighborhoods and locales. Combine two prime Brooklyn locations (Williamsburg & Downtown Brooklyn) with New York’s primary source of sustenance (pizza), and you’re in for a world of enjoyment. You’ll hit up three of the best pizza joints in all of New York while getting a taste for the legendary Brooklynite culture as you traverse through some of its best hoods and spend time conversing and learning from the pizzeria owners and chefs. Just make sure you bring your appetite for an unforgettable experience, and of course, pizza.

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Indigo Dyeing

After Workshop: Indigo Dyeing

Textile Arts Center
Greenwich Village, Manhattan

The Textile Arts Center offers some of the best hands on textiles and crafts workshops in the city and typically at a very wallet friendly cost. If you’re the crafty or creative type, you could probably spend an entire year taking classes there without running out of things to let your imagination loose on, but this three hour evening Indigo Dyeing workshop is consistently rated at the top of the heap. You’ll get to learn the basics of creating your own organic indigo dye and then use the dye to make a beautiful fabric keepsake, all in an intimate and inviting atmosphere. Materials, personalized attention, and wine are all included. The only thing that’s missing? You!

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Sunset Sailing

Sunset Sail

Hudson River Community Sailing
Chelsea, Manhattan

It might not be your first instinct to consider sailing on the Hudson as a NYC resident or visitor, but it absolutely should be. Though Hudson River Community Sailing has a range of sailing classes, our personal pick is the Sunset Sail for its flexibility and of course, beautiful sunset views. Want to learn to sail? You’ll get your chance on one of their J/24 keelboats, perfect for smaller groups of 2-4. Or, of course, the HRCS team is happy to just let you lay back and enjoy the sights as they take the ropes, and we wouldn’t judge you if you chose the latter. Whatever your pleasure, we promise you’ll never see NYC the same way again after you’ve spent some time navigating the Hudson and learning the rules of the river.

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Woman with Camera

Digital Photography I: An Introduction

Art of Intuitive Photography
Midtown East, Manhattan

Whether you’re a photo buff or not, there’s no denying New York is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. If you’re just visiting, no doubt you’d like to snap a few good shots on your trip, so this may be one of the best places for you to start. If you’re a tried and true, through and through New Yorker, sitting behind a camera for a bit may be just what you need to get some new perspective. Regardless of your reasons, this class will help you get your basics down and put into practice the fundamentals you’ll need to further explore the city with your camera. Art of Intuitive Photography also has some great location-specific walking photography classes, so if you’re beyond a beginner there’s still plenty of great opportunities in frame for you.

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Ball of Clay

Sculpture Without Sight

Chelsea, Manhattan

If you’re at all uncomfortable with the idea of being in a room full of strangers blindfolded, this may not be your thing, but if you love the idea of a truly unique and creative experience, you don’t want to miss this one. Spend an hour and a half with a large mound of clay, inspirational music, and a pretty much endless supply of wine exploring your sense of touch and memory to create a sculpted masterpiece. Or more likely, a very hilarious yet interesting rendition of what you imagined your masterpiece to be. Though you won’t get to keep your sculpture, you’ll never lose the memories of one of the best sensory experiences in New York.

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Wine & Cheese

Wine & Cheese

Beecher's Handmade Cheese
Flatiron, Manhattan

Wine & Cheese? We don’t need to know anything else, but in case you do it may help to know that Beecher’s, originally of Seattle origin, is home to some of the most proficient cheesemongers in the nation. In this two hour class you’ll taste and pair artisan cheeses with a variety of fine wines, using both classic and less traditional pairings. After class you can explore the shop and even chow down on some of our favorite cheesy dishes in the city (their mac & cheese is heavenly). Students love the wealth of knowledge the instructors bring, and of course getting to indulge in a very pro-cheese atmosphere.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art: Un-Highlights Tour

Museum Hack
Upper East Side, Manhattan

There are few places in the world with museums comparable to New York, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the city’s finest. In this less-than-typical tour, Museum Hack provides a fun, energetic, and fresh look at the museum and some of its most interesting pieces. You’ll learn some truly zany facts about a variety of works and leave with art knowledge you probably never even knew you really wanted, but definitely were missing out on. You’re of course welcome to explore the rest of the museum after your tour, and Museum Hack’s helpful guides are more than happy to give you some additional recommendations for how best to use your time in the museums of NYC.

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Fish Market

Shop & Cook: Chinatown for Fish

The Brooklyn Kitchen
Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Chinatown offers some of the most interesting food -- and specifically fish -- shopping in the city, so much that just walking through on your own is likely to leave you with a lasting impression. However, for those that truly enjoy a memorable experience, this shop & cook combo tour/class will not guide you through the chaos that is the Chinatown fish markets. Not only that, but afterwards you’ll head to a local restaurant where you’ll prepare and enjoy a meal with fresh fish bought during your tour. You’ll walk away with a bounty of knowledge about navigating Chinatown and fish, and a pleasantly full belly.

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Tango Fundamentals Crash Course

Strictly Tango NYC
Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan

Though you’re not likely to find what you’re not looking for in NYC, it won’t take much searching to find some of the best dancing spots in the world. From tango to salsa, from hip hop to swing, there’s a place for it, and if you try it you will have fun. In this Tango Fundamentals class you’ll get the basics for tango down and get yourself ready for some wild weekends dancing the night away at some of the city’s best Milongas (you know, the social tango parties that happen all the time that you never knew about). This class is perfect for beginners and if you’re flying solo don’t worry -- there’s no partner needed for this course (though you’re welcome to bring one).

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