There’s no denying Manhattan has a lot to offer: Broadway, Central Park, The Empire State Building, shopping along Fifth Avenue.
The problem is that visitors to New York are often so enchanted with the famed borough, they forget about all the worthwhile offerings in others, including the Bronx.
Just because the Bronx isn’t as famous as Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring. In fact, you can read on to learn about five experiences in the Bronx absolutely worth leaving Manhattan for.
For years, newspapers and magazines have been shouting that Manhattan’s Little Italy is on the brink of extinction, long-time residents being pushed out by rising rents and dwindling businesses, and neighboring Chinatown swallowing up the blocks.
Wandering Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, however, the Italian culture still reigns supreme, especially when it comes to the food shops. Step into Addeo Bakery — opened over 80 years ago — and order a fresh-baked loaf of bread (the semolina baguettes are so good!).
After loading up on carbs, head over to to Calabria Pork Store — as long as you enjoy wandering beneath delicious dangling cured pork varieties of all kinds, so plentiful they practically cover the entire ceiling.
Finally, Enzo’s of Arthur Ave is not to be missed for a tasty meal — paired with fine Italian wine, of course. Some fan favorites include: the baked polenta with Italian sausage, the creamy “Tortellini Della Nonna” laced with prosciutto, and the pork chops with hot cherry peppers.
Sure, Central Park is gorgeous; but if you’re skipping over Van Cortlandt Park, you’re missing out. Not only is it larger at 1,146 acres, but Van Cortlandt Park has some really rugged trails — over 20 miles of trekking — that make you forget you’re in a big city.
One suggestion: the 1.25-mile John Kieran Trail, which takes you through wetlands, lakes and birdwatching hotspots. Other notable features of the park include playgrounds, patches of woodland, a pool, a stadium, sports courts — including the USA’s first public golf course, opened in 1895 — and more.
Van Cortlandt Park isn’t the only place to explore nature in the Bronx. Another suggestion is to explore Seton Falls Park. Here, you can hike to a beautiful manmade waterfall amidst 30 acres of nature.
Moreover, in the Bronx River Forest you can explore hiking trails — as well as the pristine Bronx River — which is walkable to another local natural attraction: the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden.
If you want to hit the beach, Pelham Bay Park — NYC’s largest park — features 13 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline and Orchard Beach. The latter is a 1.1-mile beach and promenade sometimes referred to as “The Riviera of the Bronx.”
The Bronx Museum of the Arts — located within the Grand Concourse Historic District — is one of the best free activities in the entire city. This begins with the space itself, which is a converted synagogue outfitted with a gorgeous glass atrium lobby.
Inside, more than 800 pieces pay homage to the ethnically diverse population of the Bronx. In fact, you’ll find paintings, sculptures and other mediums crafted by local and American artists, as well as from Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Their rotating exhibitions are also interesting, focused on everything from Walt Whitman’s poetry to social issues to rarely seen pieces by individual artists. And if you’re in need of a unique souvenir, their gift shop showcases numerous items helping you show your Bronx love.
Pro tip: the museum is near to Yankee Stadium, so try to pair a visit to this museum with a few hours enjoying America’s most popular pastime.
City Island is a small fishing village and island that’s technically part of the Bronx. Historically — back in the 1800s when oysters were plentiful in the area — it was home to many oyster harvesters and shipbuilders.
What’s incredible about this place is that it truly feels like a getaway — far away from NYC’s hustle. Here, you can savor NYC’s freshest seafood from the Long Island Sound. If you’re a lobster fan, there really is no better place to get it, whether you want a more upscale restaurant or crab shack.
One recommendation: Lobster House, where the helpings are generous, the staff is friendly and you can snag deals like a full lobster tail meal with all the fixings for less than $30.From City Island you can also go on a fishing trip with Jack’s Bait & Tackle to catch your meal!
End your day with a cone from Lickety Split Ice Cream. It’s family friendly, too, with kids activities like hula hoops! Or, for something more adult, the Starving Artist hosts $10 jazz performances.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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