New York City Sightseeing For Pros: Lesser-Known Sights That Can Be Seen From Circle Line Tours

Tue, Jan 06, 2015

Must-See Hidden Gems Of NYC

While many tourists visit New York City to see the most famous sights, museums, and monuments, many don’t realize how many secret wonders can be found around almost every corner. Even lifelong New Yorkers miss some of these hidden gems! This concrete jungle may be loud and bright, but there are tons of secrets waiting to be found, all in plain sight.

While many visitors take the bus tours or travel on foot, seeing NYC by water offers a completely unique view of the city. Be adventurous and hop aboard one of our tours to see all the below sights, and then some! 

nyc sightseeing by water

Secret Sightseeing In Manhattan

Little Red Lighthouse

After multiple hurricanes, plenty of natural erosion and weathering, the Little Red Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park is one of the few surviving lighthouses in NYC. Long ago, it used a 1,000-pound fog signal and flashing red light to guide ships through a treacherous section of the Hudson River. Whether traveling during the day or at night, this lighthouse is a historical sight to behold.

The High Line

high line park nycIn 1934, the city of New York built a high-line railway to cut back on the exorbitant number of accidents pedestrians were having with the street-level trains. Soon after though, the new technology of the underground rail system diminished the high-line’s railway traffic, and later it was decommissioned. Today, the mile-long track is an extremely popular urban park and greenway with spectacular views of New York City all around. From the water, this park can be viewed in Manhattan’s Chelsea/West Side, and looks like an overgrown suspended track. We recommend walking it too, but seeing it from the water offers a different perspective on the relatively new park’s splendor.

Titanic Memorial

When the RMS Carpathia delivered the survivors of the world’s most infamous ship disaster, the Titanic, to Pier 54, the Unsinkable Molly Brown insisted that a lighthouse memorial be erected in honor of those who perished at sea. The lighthouse was originally on Manhattan’s West Side, but in 1967 it was moved and now resides on Manhattan’s East Side at the South Street Seaport. This eerie sight takes special meaning when viewed from the water.

The Elevated Acre Park

Similar to the West Side’s High Line, this elevated park in the Financial District offers some amazing views. Visitors to the park can see the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, and of course, the Statue of Liberty. This one-acre space offers an area for folks to walk, lay out in the sun, or even mini golf. From the water, you can view the small park in in all of its obscure glory as passage of grassy field caught between two skyscrapers.

Roosevelt Island History

Renwick Smallpox Hospital

Renwick Smallpox Hospital is located between Manhattan and Long Island, on the small strip of land known as Roosevelt Island. The vast immigration from Europe in the 19th to 20th century brought along sickness, and in return a need for this isolated hospital. After closing, the building was left in ruins, but was made a landmark in 1972. The old hospital is currently under reconstruction. The beautiful Neo-Gothic styled building is prominent on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, and should not be missed when sailing by on a sightseeing tour.

Famous Sights In Long Island City

Pepsi Cola Sign

landmark pepsi sign long island cityThe newly trending neighborhood of Long Island City is home to the beloved Pepsi Cola Sign. Originally on top of the Pepsi Cola Bottling Plant, its new location in Gantry Plaza overlooks Manhattan and the East River, and is a can’t-miss view from the water. For an optimal sightseeing experience, check out the sign during sunset or at night.

Iconic Brooklyn Landmarks

The Domino Sugar Factory

The now abandoned Domino Sugar Factory remains as one of New York City’s architectural icons. It dominates the waterfront of the hipster-centric neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With rumors of renovation to the area and removal of the factory, this iconic building is potentially a limited-time gem and therefore an absolute must-see before it disappears into the abyss left behind by so many other early New York industrial buildings. Don’t worry, hop on one of our tours and you’re sure not to miss it!

Jersey City View

The Colgate Clock

Facing the Hudson River, this iconic clock can be found just 100 meters from New Jersey’s tallest skyscraper, the Goldman Sachs Tower. The 90-year-old clock survived even after the factory it once decorated was demolished in 1988. While you can see it from the water during any time of day, we recommend checking it out at dusk, or later, so you can see the newly refurbished LED lights that adorn it.


Ready to see these amazing hidden gems? Our cruises will not only take you by these landmarks (and many others), but our amazing tour guides will share some incredible stories of New York’s rich history with you!

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Tags: Things To Do In NYC, New York History