Hidden gems at the Met in New York City

NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art holds some lesser-known treasures and pieces of pure comedy in its quiet corners

New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art holds a massive collection of art from all of history and from all around the world. From Egyptian mummies to Picasso paintings, you can find it there. Sometimes, though, it pays to look past the museum's famed pieces and discover something new. It might inspire awe or surprise; it might change your mind about a style or frighten you; it might even make you laugh or inspire you to create. Admission to the Met is always by donation (you choose the amount), so it's a perfect place for adventurers of any financial standing or artistic experience to begin searching for something new and exciting. To start, here are some of the Met's best hidden gems.

PixCell-Deer #24

One of the Met's most astonishing and disquieting pieces, PixCell-Deer #24 stands in the Asian Art wing on the second floor. A 2011 sculpture by the Japanese artist Kohei Nawa, it strikes you with surprise and wonder when you walk into its tiny room. It is a taxidermied deer, standing with tall antlers and head turned back to look behind it at the entrance to the room. The artist's strangely beautiful contribution is the addition of hundreds of "PixCells"—glass balls of various sizes entirely covering the deer.

The deer's stance is confident or cautious, depending on your perspective. It's head is raised high and its antlers tower mightily. But the glass balls alienate the animal and their varying sizes change its form and silhouette. The result of the artist's work is uncomfortable while retaining its natural element, especially when standing in the deer's line of vision. That is an eerie experience that should not be missed.

Noguchi's Water Stone

In a quiet corner of the Japanese room, past what is currently a beautiful collection of bamboo sculptures, peacefully sits Isamu Noguchi's Water Stone. Out of boulder that has been hollowed out in the center and flattened on top flows silent, calm, uncaring water. The stone was placed to be as close to perfectly level with the center of the Earth as possible. The effect of that precision means that the water, which is pushed up from the bottom by a pump, flows out of the hole in the center and across the surface of the Stone equally, in all directions.

The water is a mirror on top that reflects the gorgeous wooden fence behind it. Surrounded by clean, smooth river rocks, the Water Stone embodies peace, quiet, patience and natural beauty in what can often be a crowded, bustling museum building.

Wheat Field with Cypresses

On the second floor, in the Annenberg Collection of "Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Masters" (Gallery 822), is a painting of some trees. They are trees standing, under a swirling blue and white sky, amid lush, blowing grasses and they were painted by Van Gogh in 1889. Van Gogh called Wheat Field with Cypresses one of his best landscapes and loved it enough to paint three other versions. This oil-on-canvas piece is the initial study from which the others were created.

It's a gorgeous contrast of dark green cypresses and yellow wheat under Van Gogh's signature swirls. Head to the Annenberg Collection and start with this landscape for an energizing start to your exploration.

Ready for a laugh?

The Luce Center Visible Storage in the American Wing is also called Gallery 774 and is a collection of over ten thousand pieces of American art in every form—paintings, sculptures, furniture and tons more. It, for the adventurer, is one of the great secrets of the museum. After you've passed through the Egyptian rooms and past the Temple of Dendur, or skipped the Medieval Age and most of the main American exhibits, and you've ascended a small staircase near the corner of the museum, you finally uncover the grand closet that is Visible Storage. It's rows and rows and rows of pieces of art in storage behind tall glass. Many pieces' titles and authors are listed but you won't find much more description without some internet research. The mystery makes it all the more fascinating.

Some pieces at the Met are shocking for their grandeur, or their beauty or their precision. But hidden in Visible Storage is a painting that's shocking in a different way. The picture on your screen won't do it justice, but in person it is likely one of the ugliest paintings you'll ever see. This is Boy with Blond Hair.

Boy with Blond HairBoy with Blond Hair. (Photo Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

It is a blonde-haired toddler wearing a patterned red dress and a face that could be that of a miserable adult male, fitted onto the head of a three-year-old. This is an uncredited painting, in a museum, that once again asks the question: why was it so difficult to paint cute babies? This oil painting is from 1840, long after both the ugly medieval babies and the cuter Renaissance kids. The child looks positively disgusted to be holding, what are those—a lemon and a diary with a compass on the front? An onion and an 8-track? Bizarre.

It's a wonder of ugliness that must be witnessed in person.

Also in visible storage is an incredible sculpture, a magnificent bust, not Julius Caesar or Marcus Aurelius or King Blah-Blah-Blah, but of a man screaming.

Cain, J. Stanley ConnorCain by J. Stanley Connor. (Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Upon further research, it turns out that it is a bust of a famous figure. This is Cain, by J. Stanley Connor, a New York City native who briefly made a name for himself in Florence, Italy. This is the artist's only located work but, really, it isn't necessary to see any others to declare this his magnum opus. How often do you see teeth on a sculpture? What other bust looks so much like a hungover man, mid-yawn, head pounding, after waking up and shuffling to his bedroom window to burn his eyes with morning sunlight? I imagined the first murderer looking more furious, or evil, and certainly less confused.

The Met is full of wild, amazing, confusing and purely comical pieces of art from all over the world. Go, search its depths for the strange and the stunning and comment below with your favorites.

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7. Low Prices (vs. other Airbnb lodging options and flexible cancellation policy)

Before I found out about Getaway, I thought, gosh. Travel can be expensive, even with everything that is going on. Cabin rentals on Airbnb are so pricey, not to mention their no exceptions cancellation policy—which is totally a turn-off. Even the discounted all-inclusive lodging vacation I've been daydreaming about was out of the picture with my work schedule, sigh.

I was almost at my wits end, then, my friend Kiara brought up this cool new Getaway experience she recently got back from at a beautiful tiny cabin outpost nestled nearby in Hill Country, Wimberley, Texas for $99 a night! I immediately told my boyfriend, and we decided why not go ahead and try it for the weekend!

6. Facilities and Amenities (What's included)

So we went online to Getaway's website and chose the Cabin for Two, which actually had everything we wanted for a weekend escape in nature—giant windows with beautiful views and great amenities including: a comfy queen bed that sleeps two, warm shower, bath products, AC and heat, plus a mini-kitchen stocked with cooking supplies and light meal provisions available for less than $10 each. And, with self-check-in and check-out, booking was as simple and easy! That next weekend we set off into the auburn sunset, next stop—Getaway Hill County!

When we got to our tiny hand-crafted hideaway we instantly fell in love.

5. The Blue Hole Experience

The next morning after my boyfriend cooked us breakfast (yes, he's house-trained), our first stop was the Blue Hole Park Trail Loop with one of the most beautiful natural swimming holes in Texas. We made sure to make a reservation in advanced, and boy can I still smell the oak, cypress and cedar trees surrounding the crystal blue water and canopied trails, I didn't hesitate for a second and jumped in body-first. After a dip, we spent the rest of the afternoon in leisure completing the 1.6-mile hike around the Blue Hole Trail, can you say unplug and unwind, I couldn't recommend visiting this magical place enough.

4. The Wimberley Valley Driftwood Estates Winery Experience

Later in the evening, we headed to the Driftwood Estates Winery which had a great wine varietal, and the winery hostesses were very friendly and helpful in explaining the various wines. The building garden areas and facilities were set perfectly on lush rolling acres of surrounding vineyards with the cutest donkeys and little ponies—and the passing burros, longhorns, double decker English buses which added to the atmosphere, just perfect. Plan your to make a reservation in advanced and soak up the experience of tasting and exploring, a must-go winery!

3. The Wimberly Zipline Adventures Experience

After a sound sleep under the moon and stars, we woke up the next morning with one thing on our mind, the last and final stop on our Getaway weekend-adventure (and arguably most favorite) which included soaring over 10-miles of breathtaking views of Wimberley Valley creeks and canyons, absolutely a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Another must-go, you'll learn about the local ecosystem of plants and wildlife, local history, and other interesting Wimberley area facts. By the end of our tour, I was bursting with adrenaline and excitement. We had so much fun, and I must say I can't wait for our next weekend escape!

2. Disconnect to Reconnect

We got back home late after a late dinner following the ziplining, we were so exhausted but honestly I would not trade a great experience for anything else in the world. It's nice to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with nature. I was so happy with my stay and how clean and cozy the cabins were. If you haven't had the chance to Getaway, then what are you waiting for!

1. Experience Your First Getaway

If you're looking for a safe, clean, and rejuvenating place to both relax and have an adventure, whether with your partner or friends, I'd highly recommend Getaway.

Plan Your Escape With Getaway! Book One Month In Advance And Take $20 Off Your Fall Adventure With The Code FALL20!

It's no secret that the restaurant scene in New York City is one of the most impressive in the world.

Whatever you could want to eat, you can find it in New York—meaning that even if you have a slightly restrictive diet, like veganism, there's plenty of options for you. Local fast-casual chains like By Chloe and Superiority Burger are making New York one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, but the deliciousness doesn't stop there.

Between Manhattan and Brooklyn, there's been a boom of vegan restaurants that'll satisfy any craving. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Blossom(Upper West Side + Greenwich Village)

vegan restaurant

With two locations serving both Uptown and Downtown, Blossom is a go-to for local and tourist vegans alike. They offer an elevated dining experience (and a wide-spanning takeout radius) that puts a cruelty-free spin on classic main dishes like chicken piccata, rigatoni, and grilled salmon. Complete your dinner with a fresh, fruity cocktail and tiramisu—but reservations are strongly recommended beforehand.

Jajaja (West Village + Lower East Side)

vegan Jajaja

Jajaja is the ultimate heaven for Mexican food addicts. Get your fix of south of the border staples like burritos, street tacos, and enchiladas that'll make you second guess whether or not it's actually vegan (pro tip: The nacho portion is large enough to be a meal for one person). They also have a small but mighty menu of tequila and mezcal cocktails to kick off a night of LES bar-hopping. It gets crowded here quickly, though, so try to schedule your dinner early.

Urban Vegan Kitchen(West Village)

Urban Vegan Kitchen

We get it—eating vegan can get kind of bland sometimes. But that's not an issue at Urban Vegan Kitchen, the type of restaurant that'll have you wanting to order one of everything on the menu (but we recommend the "chicken" and waffles). Co-owned by the founder of Blossom, they boast a menu that's just as edgy and exciting as their decor. Their space is large too, making it a crowd-pleasing option for a slightly larger group.

Champs Diner (Williamsburg)

Champs Diner vegan

Located near the border of hip neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick, Champs is a favorite of many young Brooklynites. Their menu is full of vegan alternatives to classic diner fare like breakfast plates, cheeseburgers, and even milkshakes that taste mysteriously like the real deal, while the decor puts a quintessential Brooklyn edge on '50s digs. Who said going plant-based had to be healthy all the time, anyway?

Peacefood (Greenwich Village)

vegan Peacefood

Conveniently located just a stone's throw from Union Square—near both NYU and the New School—Peacefood is a hotspot for college students, but vegans of any age are guaranteed to enjoy their menu. They specialize in comfort food items like quiche, chicken parmesan, and chili with corn bread—all plant-based, of course. While their "chicken" tender basket is to die for, make sure to save room for dessert here, too; Peacefood's lengthy pastry menu is a dream come true.

Buddha Bodai (Chinatown)

Buddha Bodai vegan

Dim sum restaurants in Chinatown are a dime a dozen, but Buddha Bodai takes the cake for the best veggie-friendly experience in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods. Bring your family or friends along with you to enjoy this massive menu of buns and dumplings stuffed with any type of mock meat you could want. This is also a great option for gluten-free vegans, too, as much of their menu accommodates a gluten-free diet.

Greedi Kitchen (Crown Heights)

Greedi Kitchen vegan

Crown Heights might not be the first neighborhood people think of when it comes to dining in Brooklyn, but Greedi Kitchen is making the case for delicious restaurants in the area. Inspired by its founder's many years of travel, Greedi Kitchen combines the comforting flavors of southern soul food with the added pizazz of global influences. Try one of their po'boys or the crab cake sliders. Trust us.

Screamer’s Pizzeria (Greenpoint + Crown Heights)

Screamer's Pizza vegan

We know what you're thinking: Pizza without real cheese? Call us crazy, but Screamer's does vegan pizza to perfection. If you're into classic pies like a simple margherita or pepperoni, or you want to branch out with unexpected topping combinations, Screamer's is delicious enough to impress carnivores, too (pro tip: the Greenpoint location is small and serves most pies by the slice, while the Crown Heights location is larger for sitting down).

Learning a second language is one of the coolest and most rewarding things you can do in your spare time.

However, if hopping on a one-way ticket to your country of choice isn't an option for you, it can be difficult to find an immersive experience to learn, especially past high school or college.

The next best thing is language-learning apps.

We wanted to look at the top two: DuoLingo and Rosetta Stone. Duolingo is the new kid on the block; one of the top downloaded, this free app is a favorite. Then, there's the legacy option: Rosetta Stone. For over 20 years, they've been developing their language-learning software, and their app is the most recent innovation.

They're both great options, but keep reading to figure out which one is the best for you.

Key Similarities

  • Both claim you'll expand your vocabulary
  • Both are available as an app for iOS and Android users
  • Both have a clean user interface with appealing graphics
  • Both have offline capabilities (if you pay)

Key Differences

  • DuoLingo has a popular free version along with its paid version, whereas Rosetta Stone only has a paid version
  • DuoLingo offers 35+ languages, and Rosetta Stone offers 24 languages
  • Rosetta Stone has an advanced TruAccent feature to detect and correct your accent
  • DuoLingo offers a breadth of similar vocab-recognizing features, and Rosetta Stone offers a wider variety of learning methods, like Stories

DuoLingo Overview

DuoLingo's app and its iconic owl have definitely found a place in pop culture. One of the most popular free language-learning apps, it offers 35 different languages, including Klingon, that can be learned through a series of vocabulary-matching games.

DuoLingo offers a free version and a version for $9.99 a month without ads and with offline access.

Rosetta Stone Overview

The Rosetta Stone app is a beast. There are 24 different languages to choose from, but more importantly, you get a huge variety of methods for learning. Not only are there simple games, but there are stories where you get to listen, the Seek and Speak feature, where you go on a treasure hunt to photograph images and get the translations, and the TruAccent feature, which will help you refine your accent. Whenever you speak into the app, you'll get a red/yellow/green rating on your pronunciation, so you can fine-tune it to really sound like you have a firm grasp of the language.

Rosetta Stone costs just $5.99 a month for a 24-month subscription, which gives you access to all of their 24 languages!

Final Notes

Overall, these are both excellent apps for increasing your proficiency in a new language! They both feel quite modern and have a fun experience.

When it comes to really committing words to memory and understanding them, Rosetta Stone is king.

DuoLingo definitely will help you learn new words, and the app can be addicting, but users report it as more of a game than a means to an end.

With Rosetta Stone's variety of features, you'll never get bored; there are more passive elements and more active elements to help you activate different parts of your brain, so you're learning in a more dynamic and efficient way.

The folks at Rosetta Stone are extending a special offer to our readers only: Up To 45% Off Rosetta Stone + Unlimited Languages & Free Tutoring Sessions!