In search of the “new” in New York City? In dynamic Gotham, there is always something fresh and exciting just around the bend. So mark your 2018 calendars and be among the first to take in these 8 new headline-grabbing things to do in New York City this year.
Go Glamping on Governors Island
AddressGovernors Island, New York, NY 11231, USA
If the prospect of camping in the urban jungle has you intrigued, check out the new seasonal camping experience debuting on just-a-ferry-ride-away green-space getaway Governors Island come May 1 (and running through October 31). Run by Collective Retreats, the site of posh glamping tents (featuring three styles of tents, ranging from standard to suites; rates start at $75/night) can accommodate up to 100 overnight guests on the western side of the landmark isle. Sleep under the stars with the backdrop of the Lower Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty just across New York Harbor.
Even if you’re not spending the night, the Collective Governors Island initiative — which has a three-year operational license — will also bring a new public landscaped lawn to the island, the setting for free programming like live music and yoga, as well as dining options, including food trucks.
Tip: While on the island, check out the second season of the family-friendly Adventures at Governors Island, featuring opportunities to zip-line (with a run that's been elongated to 300 feet for the 2018 season), rock-climb, and navigate an adventure maze. Refuel at Island Oyster, a waterfront pop-up bar and beer garden that debuted last summer, or at the new-for-2018 pop-up café from Governors Beer Company, with a menu touting tacos along with tequila and mezcal cocktails.
Explore Pier 17 at the Seaport District
The ongoing revitalization of Lower Manhattan’s rebranded Seaport District (formerly known as the South Street Seaport) is moving full steam ahead in 2018, with a pivotal point of the project slated to be unveiled this summer at Pier 17. Fronting the East River — with views out over the Brooklyn Bridge — the revamped pier-top complex will serve as a sleek dining, entertainment, and cultural hub, complete with a 1.5-acre public rooftop space boasting an eatery, outdoor bars, and a concert/events venue. Pier 17 is also shaping up as a culinary hub, with big names like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the Momofuku Group leading the charge. Expect tons of retail space, too, promising a presence of to-be-announced premier fashion brands; the pier will also serve as the new studio space for ESPN.
Shop the Empire Outlets on Staten Island
A 25-minute ride aboard the free Staten Island Ferry — connecting Lower Manhattan to Staten Island — has long loomed large on city visitors’ to-do lists, thanks to the sweeping New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan, and Statue of Liberty views offered up gratis en route. However, upon arrival in Staten Island, there was little lure to encourage ferry riders to linger. Come fall 2018, all of that changes when not only tourists but New Yorkers will be coming by the literal boatloads for one of the city’s most exciting new opportunities for retail therapy: the Empire Outlets, the city’s first and only outlet mall.
Set along the Staten Island waterfront in the St. George neighborhood, just at the base of the ferry terminal, the Empire Outlets will open the doors of approximately 100 outlet shops, including Banana Republic Factory, Gap Factory, Guess Factory, H&M, and Nordstrom Rack. A 190-room boutique hotel and artisanal food hall will round out the offerings, though there's no word yet on when the much-buzzed-about yet chronically delayed 630-foot-tall New York Wheel — set to debut adjacent to the Empire Outlets as the world’s tallest observation wheel — will finally reach completion.
Get Instagram Inspo at the Museum of Candy in Chelsea
Summer in the city just got a whole lot sweeter, thanks to the upcoming Museum of Candy set to debut in Chelsea. An offshoot of celebrity-favorite sweets-shop/eatery chain Sugar Factory, the 30,000-square-foot space will serve to reimagine the former Limelight nightclub as a Willy Wonka-ish wonderland devoted to all things candy. An Instagrammer’s paradise with 15 “experiential rooms” touting candy themes (like the Gumdrop Room), look out for lip-smacking exhibits like the world’s largest gummy bears and a candy-adorned unicorn, along with edible candy murals and live art installations. There are also plans for a dedicated dessert marketplace (representing over 20 worldwide sweets vendors and confectioners), candy-tasting areas, and an outpost of the Sugar Factory (with an outdoor area).
The NYC museum will mark the first of three such planned museums; a second Museum of Candy is poised to debut in LA in 2019 (the third location has yet to be announced).
Experience a Times Square Entertainment Reboot
As if ogling the bright lights, costumed characters, and bumper-to-bumper car-and-pedestrian traffic in pulsating Times Square isn't diversion enough, a slate of new attractions has cropped up in late 2017 that promise NYC's epicenter will be even more magnetic come 2018.
Among the newcomers is the experiential sports-themed NFL Experience Times Square, which, presented in partnership between the NFL and Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, opened in December. Expect a high-tech interactive football experience which combines hands-on-activities (including physical challenges) and tech features like a 4D stadium theater to allow visitors to “… enter as a fan, become a player, and leave as a Super Bowl champion.”
Also new since December is Opry City Stage, “a little bit of Nashville in NYC”: The 27,000-square-foot entertainment complex showcases country music and the culture of the Southern U.S. Find four floors brimming with live country music; Southern-styled cuisine; and photos, artifacts, and artwork tied into Nashville’s famed country-music stage Grand Ole Opry.
It joins National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey, which debuted in October 2017 to bring visitors on a digital underwater journey to the depths of the Pacific Ocean via state-of-the-art technology (like video mapping and mega-projection screens), accompanied by Nat Geo's signature storytelling.
Picnic in a New Park
In the continuing greening trend of NYC, New Yorkers are readying to enjoy several new and renovated parks in 2018. Leading the pack is the six-acre Domino Sugar Factory Waterfront, a quarter-of-a-mile long waterfront park that’s serving to revitalize the grounds of the old Domino Sugar Factory site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is currently in the midst of a massive redevelopment project. Projected to open by summer, anticipated park features include a five-block-long “Artifact Walk” that will incorporate the site’s historic relics, like its original gantry cranes, syrup tanks, and more.
Also debuting in Brooklyn this summer, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s waterfront Pier 3 will open with a large central lawn fringed by groves of trees and shrubs; it will also feature a labyrinth garden formed by hedges, as well as picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. It will join the park’s new boathouse, opening up on Pier 5 in spring, which features storage and workshop/class space for boating organizations that launch from the park, as well as public restrooms.
In Manhattan, late 2018 is set to welcome a new addition to the High Line, the High Line Plinth, which will serve as the focal point of the Spur, the elevated park's newest section. The High Line Plinth will be dedicated to showcasing public contemporary art commissions and rotating exhibits from worldwide artists, while the Spur, the largest open space on the High Line, will tout impressive horticulture, seating areas, free public programming, and expansive views of NYC.
Meanwhile, over in Long Island City, Queens, look for the second phase of Hunter’s Point Park South to be unveiled this summer, featuring even more sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline along with habitat for migrating birds, art installations, a community boat launch, a playground, an extend bike path, and a walking path to Newtown Creek.
Treat Your Senses at Spyscape in Midtown
Opened in February 2018, Spyscape has brought a new, modern, multi-sensory museum space to Midtown, dedicated to the intriguing world of espionage. James Bond types can look out for multimedia and artifact exhibits dedicated to code-breakers, spy pilots, traitors, hackers, and more, within the realm of the FBI, CIA, and beyond. The museum exhibits are joined by interactive experiences (test out your agility while running through special ops laser tunnels, for instance), as well as a “journey of personal discovery” as realized by “question stations” and “spy challenges” to help guests gauge their own level of spy readiness. Special techie features include a visitor identity band utilizing RFID technology to help personalize the visit, as well as a high-tech theater; there’s also a book and gift shop, café and bar, and special event spaces.
Go Under at Aquariums Galore
Something fishy is going on in NYC this year, indeed. Apart from the above-mentioned National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey attraction, there’s an “Unseen Oceans” exhibition running at the American Museum of Natural History (from March 12, 2018, through January 6, 2019), focused on the latest discoveries and technologies in ocean science as well as exploration of marine ecosystems.
More permanently, find the new “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” display at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium in Coney Island, Brooklyn, which is scheduled to be finished in summer 2018. Upon completion, the 57,000-square-foot building will exhibit more than a hundred type of marine wildlife in 500,000 gallons of water, with sharks, rays, and sea turtles commanding serious wow factor.
Across the harbor, the Staten Island Zoo in the West Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island is readying to roll out a new $8 million aquarium this spring to replace its former facilities. Look out for floor-to-ceiling “walls of water” featuring four large tanks showcasing marine life from spots like the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Ocean.