Planning a trip to an internationally renowned destination like New York City is both exciting and challenging. We all want to see the landmarks that make NYC famous, but we’re already so familiar with them (from TV shows, movies, etc.) that taking a typical NYC tour can feel a bit anticlimactic. Plus, when you stick to established tourist routes, you don’t really get to experience the heart of the city and its people. That’s why we’ve used our intimate knowledge of New York to create a list of quirky, unique tours in NYC. If you want to take an unconventional look at the Big Apple, you’ve come to the right place.

The Top 4 Unique NYC Tours

1. Boroughs of the Dead

The Boroughs of the Dead walking tour—which focuses on haunted and otherwise dark and macabre locations around the five boroughs of NYC—has won rave reviews for its creative storytelling. Mixing urban legends with New York City’s rich historical past, the Boroughs of the Dead tour will lead you to the forgotten resting place of many of the victims of the Titanic, H.P. Lovecraft’s former home, or even take you to the purported “Gates of Hell,” depending on which borough you choose to tour. The lively style and fascinating information offered by Boroughs of the Dead has gotten the tour service featured in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, the Travel Chanel, and Time Out New York, among other publications.

2. Sea the City Jet Ski Tours

What’s the bane of every sightseer’s existence? Crowds and traffic. Having to wait for hours on the road or in lineups can completely suck the excitement out of seeing NYC’s landmarks. After all, let’s face it—even the most patient among us have their limits.

That’s why here at Sea the City, we’ve made it our mission to put the fun and excitement back in sightseeing. We realized that NYC has something a lot of other cities don’t: An extensive network of waterways that crisscross virtually every borough. These waterways are relatively clear and uncluttered, offering a stunning, unobstructed view of many of the city’s famous sights. Furthermore, most of them are cleaner now than they’ve been in over a century, thanks to the government’s extensive cleanup efforts.

Tour boats are sluggish and don’t provide a very individualized experience, so we decided to kick things up a notch: Our Sea the City tours are conducted on jet skis, allowing tourist groups to zoom around freely while taking in the best that NYC has to offer. Because jet skis are very simple to operate, you don’t need any prior experience with them to take our tours. All you need is a willingness to try something different, get out there, and have fun. For more information, check out our FAQ. You can also contact us to book a tour.

3. NYC Subway Art Tour

For most travelers, NYC’s subways are just a means of getting from one place to another. This is a shame, because they’re actually full of hidden gems of their own. Since 1985, The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Arts & Design program has been commissioning artists to create works of art specifically to decorate NYC’s many subway stations. Often overlooked, these works provide something of an ongoing, living chronicle of the evolution of NYC’s art scene. Fortunately, the NYC Subway Art Tour has been developed with the specific purpose of shedding light on these creative masterpieces.

4. NY Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruises

If there’s one thing most people don’t associate with the big city, it’s whale watching. The NY Whale Watching and Dolphin Adventure Cruises tour endeavors to change all of that, however. This tour, which departs from Queens, is devoted to showing tourists the many wondrous sea mammals that inhabit the waters near NYC. It’s also used to help fund further research into their health and well-being. If you’re interested in how wild creatures can adapt to sharing space with a major urban center, you’ll probably find this tour a fascinating excursion.

And there you have it—there are far better ways to see NYC than just hopping on and off a tour bus. Skip the crowds and traffic jams and take a fresh look at one of America’s favorite cities with the four tours above.