We all have our favorite New York City haunts, whether it’s a go-to neighborhood bar, restaurant or a designated corner of the park. While it’s great to know what you like, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and forget that one of the best things about living in a city like New York is that there’s always something new to discover.
Enter Obscura Day, the annual event that gives participants inside access to people and places well outside of their day-to-day routine.
Organized by Atlas Obscura, a publication dedicated to unearthing hidden wonders, the event, now in its sixth year, takes place on Saturday, May 6 in 36 cities nationwide and 25 countries.
“We sometimes forget that there's always something around the corner that could surprise you or amaze you,” says David Plotz, CEO of Atlas Obscura. “This is our day where we want to make explorers out of everyone.”
In New York City, there are 18 events to choose from. While a few are already sold out — you can get on the waitlist for a Tasting Tour at Brooklyn Brewery’s experimental beer bunker or a tour of the Burns Archive of medical oddities (that's Dr. Stanley Burns, who served as an advisor on "The Knick") — there are still plenty of corners of the city to uncover. That being said, sign up soon before the rest sell out too!
Here are five events, all taking place on Saturday, May 6, that pique our curiosity:
The name alone has always called to me. The folks from Underwater New York, a journal inspired by New York City’s waterways, will lead an exploration of the island while providing insight on its 19th century history as the site of a horse rendering plant, where the animal carcasses were used to make glue and fertilizer (woof, or rather, neigh). Wear good shoes, as the shores are still littered with horse bones — spooky! — along with bottle shards and other decades-worth of washed up trash and treasures. 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., $25, tickets here.
This had me at “moonshine bunker.” If you’ve got a day trip in you, head upstate to Dutch’s Spirits at Harvest Homestead Farm, a 400-acre farm, market and tasting room on the former site of a Prohibition-era bootlegging operation. Learn about mobster Dutch Schultz, the mastermind of the operation, via a screening of his biopic, while tasting spirits from 75 New York state distilleries and exploring the tunnels, and yes, bunkers, where he ran his underground booze business. Must be 21+ for tastings. 12:30- 4:30 p.m., $10, tickets here.
If you’ve been to Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Brooklyn, hopefully you got a chance to check out the bar, House of Wax, which is filled with creepy 19th century wax figures and grotesque anatomical models. Now, instead of nervously giggling at that Victorian era vagina casting or taking a selfie with Napoleon's death mask before heading into the latest action flick, you can get a little background info on the oddities you're ogling (or are they ogling you?). Curator Ryan Matthew Cohn will provide insight on the collection, while you sip a complimentary Moscow Mule or Old Fashioned. 1:30-3 p.m., $40, tickets here.
Now that the weather’s getting nicer, it’s time for a stroll through Brooklyn’s historic cemetery, where notable New York City residents from William Tweed to Jean-Michel Basquiat lay out the rest of their days. On this tour, expert guide LJ Lindhurst will decode engravings and inscriptions on headstones across the grounds and give you a peek inside mausoleums of some of Green-Wood’s most famed dead. 2:00- 4:00 p.m., $33, tickets here.
The borough of Queens is a hotbed of international eats, and Indonesian is one. At Elmhurst’s St. James Episcopal Church every month, 20 vendors from New York’s Indonesian community provide authentic dishes from the country’s cuisine. You’ll be guided through the bazaar by Taste of Surabaya, a catering company that organizes the event, so you can learn more about the market and put a name and cultural context to the flavors you're tasting. 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., tours on the hours, $7.50, tickets here.