Go Underground! 6 Secret Subterranean Spots in NYC

The subway may make the thought of going beneath the streets unpleasant these days, but these shadowy corners of the city will change all that.

Photo by Patrick Cashin/Courtesy of MTA New York Transit

We love New York for the lights, the sound, the buzz—but sometimes all that sensory overload can have us craving a cool underground hideaway. Luckily, there are plenty of secluded subterranean spots if you’re looking for an escape to NYC’s own version of the Upside Down. Here are a few favorites:

Old City Hall Subway Station

Did you know that New York’s most elegant subway station was abandoned in 1945? The old City Hall station is a must-see for anyone who loves NYC history, transportation, or turn-of-the-20th-century architecture. The elegant Gustavino tiles on the vaulted ceilings and the leaded glass skylights are a far cry from the utilitarian style of the more modern stations. You can get a peek at the historic site if you stay on the 6 train when it turns around after its last stop at Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall (though if a train conductor spots you, they might kick you off). Or better yet, get on the list for one of the special walking tours of the station offered by the New York Transit Museum ($50 per person).

Photo by Marc Hermann/Courtesy of MTA New York Transit
Special Club

This hot new retro nightclub is located in a secret underground hideaway, in the style of old-fashioned speakeasies (you’ll find it underneath Niche Niche, owner Ariel Arce’s successful wine-and-dinner club). Listen to a revolving roster of jazz, blues, and soul artists while sipping Japanese-inspired cocktails and snacking on spiced nuts, shrimp rolls, or—if you’re feeling like a Jazz Age fat cat—a scoop of Siberian caviar. 43 MacDougal Street (off King Street), SoHo

Photo by Gary He/Courtesy of Special Club
The Gold Vaults at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Speaking of the high life, head deep under the Financial District to see where more than 6,000 tons of gold bars (mostly owned by foreign governments and banks) are piled up in ultrasecure vaults at the Federal Reserve. You can only tour this real-life version of Harry Potter’s Gringott’s by making an advance reservation through the Fed and enduring a major security check. And while the gold may be worth billions, the tour is free. Enter at 44 Maiden Lane (between William and Nassau Streets), Financial District

Crown Finish Caves

If looking at thousands of gold bars isn’t your thing, how about thousands of pounds of cheese? Located 30 feet below street level in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Crown Finish Caves were originally created in the 1850s as a cool, dark spot to ferment beer. Today, you’ll find caves full of aging Cheddars, Taleggios, goat cheeses, and other delectable dairy products from local artisanal cheesemakers. Though the caves are usually off-limits (food safety, you know), every couple of months, they host underground concerts featuring local musicians and pop-up cheese shops. 925 Bergen Street, Crown Heights

Photo courtesy of Crown Finish Caves/Facebook
The Ship

If you’re looking for a quiet hideaway for a secret tryst (or just a beer with a side of mini lobster rolls and salmon pâté), head to this nautical-themed bar, located down a flight of stairs in SoHo. In keeping with the marine vibe, all the craft cocktails have names like Watership Down and the Privateer. Take to the high seas without actually having to leave the island. 158 Lafayette Street (between Howard and Grand Streets), SoHo

Photo courtesy of the Ship Cocktail Bar, Lounge, Private Events/Facebook
The Catacombs Under Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Though the idea of subterranean tunnels filled with dead bodies sounds like something you would only find in Paris or Rome, New York has its very own catacombs. Located under the majestic arches of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral downtown, the catacombs house the crypts of noted New York Catholics, including bishops, politicians, and restaurateurs. They were opened to the public in 2017; reserve a spot on a candlelight tour for maximum eeriness. Check in at 32 Prince Street (off Mott Street), SoHo

Photo courtesy of Tommy’s New York/Facebook

Find more exciting things to do in NYC—above and below ground.