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15 Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan, NYC

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With all the interesting things to do in Lower Manhattan , it’s not surprising that this is one of the most popular areas of New York City. It has everything: food, culture, museums, parks, historical monuments, and more. You can easily spend a day walking through the different Manhattan neighborhoods here and you’d still have more places to explore.

Just to be clear, Lower Manhattan starts at 14 th Street and covers the area south of that until you get to New York Harbor. That’s 22 mi² to discover!

We’ve visited New York City several times, and it’s true that this part of the city has a distinct atmosphere. The restaurants, landmarks, and attractions in Lower Manhattan create a diverse world, so if you want to experience a variety of cultures and lifestyles, this is the perfect place to go.

Moreover, you’ll find indoor and outdoor activities in Lower Manhattan for all ages, so keep reading for a complete list. After giving you the 15 best things to do in Lower Manhattan , I’ll tell you where to eat and stay in this lively area.

1. Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and Trinity Church

Wall Street is one of the best places to go sightseeing in Lower Manhattan . It’s known as the city’s Financial District, although it has enough history and sights to appeal to all interests.

Here, you can see the headquarters for some of the world’s most prominent banks and New York’s first City Hall. This is also where you can see Federal Hall , a Greek Revival-style building constructed in 1842 to resemble the Pantheon. Inside, there is useful tourist information and several historic exhibits.

Trinity Church lower manhattan nyc

Wall Street is also home to the New York Stock Exchange , the largest stock exchange in the world. Founded over 230 years ago, it’s a National Historic Landmark and is recognized for its opening and closing bells, which ring at 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., respectively.

Just outside the New York Stock Exchange, you’ll find the Fearless Girl statue. A symbol of feminism, she originally stood across from the Charging Bull . You can see both of these sculptures and other Lower Manhattan landmarks on this Wall Street walking tour . In addition to the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall, you’ll visit Trinity Church, House of Morgan, and more.

2. Bowling Green and the Charging Bull , two must-see attractions in Lower Manhattan

While you’re in the Financial District, don’t miss the chance to stop by Bowling Green . This small park was built in 1733, making it the oldest park in NYC. In fact, it’s next to the former site of New Amsterdam, an old Dutch fort from the 17 th century, making it a must-see in Lower Manhattan .

Charging Bull, lower manhattan things to do

This park gets its name from the fact that it once had a bowling green. While it no longer has one, there is a grassy area, outdoor seating, and a fountain. Also, the teardrop-shaped park is surrounded by several historical buildings, including the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House and the International Mercantile Marine Company Building .

Finally, Bowling Green is known for its Charging Bull statue, one of the most famous attractions in Manhattan . This large bronze sculpture is a symbol of prosperity and financial optimism, although many tourists visit it for its obvious portrayal of strength and determination. The Fearless Girl statue once stood across from the 11-foot-tall Charging Bull , but now you’ll find her outside of the New York Stock Exchange.

3. Visit One World Observatory , one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan

Seeing the view from One World Observatory is one of the coolest things to do in Lower Manhattan , and anyone can enjoy this attraction. Also known as the Freedom Tower, this NYC observation deck stands 1,776 feet tall and is one of the best lookout points in the city.

The observatory is on the 100 th floor, and there are other attractions leading up to the viewing deck. First, you’ll see the Global Welcome Center, which documents the geographic origin of visitors; the Horizon Grid, which highlights different landmarks you’ll see from above; and the See Forever Theater, which shows two performances every hour.

One World Observatory, things to see in lower manhattan

3. Visit One World Observatory, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan

Then, you’ll take the SkyPod elevator to the indoor observation deck, which offers 360° views. From up here, you can see all five NYC boroughs , as well as Lower Manhattan landmarks like the Statue of Liberty. Another cool feature is the Sky Portal, a 14-foot-wide translucent disk that transmits real-time footage of the city. There is even a restaurant up here, so you can turn your visit into a family outing or date night.

We have a complete guide to One World Observatory , but if you’re already sold on the idea, you can get your ticket here .

4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum , one of the best museums in Lower Manhattan, NYC

If you’re going to One World Observatory, you need to add the 9/11 Museum to your Lower Manhattan itinerary .

The 9/11 Museum is one of the most poignant museums in the country and a top-rated attraction in New York City . It commemorates the history of the World Trade Center, most notably the attacks of September 11, 2001. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives during the attack, which destroyed the Twin Towers, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.

9/11 Museum, activities in lower manhattan nyc

4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum, one of the best museums in Lower Manhattan, NYC

While buildings are replaceable, people are not, so this Lower Manhattan museum is one way in which the victims can live on. Inside, there are photos, videos, audio recordings, and objects from Ground Zero, including steel remnants from the Towers and a staircase that survived among the wreckage. There is also a portion of the museum dedicated to the six people who perished in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

Outside, a pair of reflecting pools sits at the former site of the Twin Towers along with bronze plaques inscribed with the victims’ names. There are several white oak trees and man-made waterfalls, which create a serene and somber environment where you can reflect and honor the fallen.

You can use your New York Pass to get in the museum or buy a skip-the-line ticket here . There is also this combo ticket that includes the museum and One World Observatory.

5. The Oculus, a unique place to visit in Lower Manhattan, New York

The Oculus is another component of the World Trade Center complex, serving as a multi-functional Lower Manhattan attraction . It’s a transportation hub as well as a shopping and dining venue, and an architectural symbol for the city.

This unique structure was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and is meant to resemble a white dove about to take flight. It’s a symbol of strength and a reminder that the city and people of New York City remain resilient after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Oculus NYC, things to do in Lower Manhattan

Inside, The Oculus is equally impressive, with a carefully designed structure that illuminates the main hall in sunlight at a specific time of day. In addition to its huge skylight, The Oculus has various shops and cafes, and it provides access to several office towers, One World Observatory, and Whitehall Terminal. It also connects to several NYC subway lines and trains to New Jersey.

Throughout the year, The Oculus hosts community events in Lower Manhattan like markets and musical performances, so it’s worth stopping by, even if it’s just to pass through.

6. Take a helicopter ride, an unforgettable thing to do in Lower Manhattan

If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Lower Manhattan , then I recommend taking a helicopter ride . This is one of the best ways to see the city since you can’t get this kind of view anywhere else. Even the tallest observation decks don’t give you this kind of perspective, and the rush of flying over NYC is something you can’t experience any other way.

Aerial view of Manhattan, best things to do in lower manhattan

In addition to being a fun thing to do in Lower Manhattan , this type of New York City tour is a great couples’ activity. Of course, there are a variety of tour packages available, so you’ll find the perfect option whether you’re traveling as a pair, with family, or solo.

For example, this basic tour is a wonderful choice if you want a brief aerial overview of NYC without spending too much. It departs from the heliport next to Battery Park, and you’ll see the full expanse of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, and more. There are other helicopter tours in NYC like the doors-off flight we took, so I recommend checking out our guide for more options. And if you’re on the fence, I say go for it! There’s nothing like getting a birds-eye look at Manhattan and the surrounding areas, so you won’t regret it.

7. The Battery , one of the most popular parks in Lower Manhattan, NYC

The Battery is another place to visit in Lower Manhattan , and the perfect spot where you can rest, take a stroll along the water, or people-watch. As one of the best parks in NYC , The Battery offers something for everyone, and given its large size, it’s not hard to find.

The park borders New York Harbor and is next to Whitehall Terminal, where you can hop on the Staten Island Ferry. Within the park, there are several notable attractions like Monument Walk, the Hope Garden, the Bosque Fountain, and the SeaGlass Carousel.

The Battery, free things to do in lower manhattan nyc

7. The Battery, one of the most popular parks in Lower Manhattan, NYC

If you’re curious, this park is called The Battery (or Battery Park) because the site used to be a series of artillery batteries back in the 17 th century. Later, Castle Clinton was added, and the site processed thousands of immigrants coming into the city. Remnants of these structures still remain, as well as a national monument dedicated to the site.

Another great park in Lower Manhattan is Washington Square Park . It’s in Greenwich Village, along Fifth Avenue, so it’s a nice place to do some sightseeing in Lower Manhattan .

The park’s most iconic feature is its gateway arch, which resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. This area also has some beautiful walking paths and green spaces, as well as playgrounds and dog-friendly sections, so it’s ideal for families. On summer days, you can find kids cooling off in the fountain and musicians performing for passersby.

8. Take a Statue of Liberty tour , a fun thing to do in Lower Manhattan as a family

If you want to plan some activities in Lower Manhattan , consider adding a Statue of Liberty tour to your list. There are several types of tours available, some of which cruise past the monument, and others that stop at Liberty Island.

The choice is yours, but I will say that seeing this Lower Manhattan landmark is a must-do. Lady Liberty was a gift from France to the United States to commemorate the 100 th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Today, she’s still a symbol of freedom and one of the most iconic monuments in the country, and the world.

New York Harbor, fun things to do in lower manhattan

8. Take a Statue of Liberty tour, a fun thing to do in Lower Manhattan as a family

If you want to see the statue up close, I recommend booking a tour that stops on Liberty Island. There, you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum or upgrade your ticket if you want to access the statue’s pedestal or crown.

Then, you can stop at the neighboring Ellis Island, where you can visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. In addition to learning about Lady Liberty’s historical value, you can visit the site that saw nearly 12 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. between 1892 and 1954.

9. Ride the Staten Island Ferry , a free thing to do in Lower Manhattan

Taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best free things to do in NYC , and you can catch the boat from Whitehall Terminal by Battery Park. The ferry generally runs 24/7, so no matter when you visit, you can take advantage of this free attraction in Lower Manhattan .

Statue of Liberty, lower manhattan itinerary

9. Ride the Staten Island Ferry, a free thing to do in Lower Manhattan

The Staten Island Ferry departs every 20 minutes or so, and during the 25-minute ride, you can get different views of the Manhattan skyline and even the Statue of Liberty in the distance. You’ll also spot landmarks like the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and Ellis Island, so you can get lots of Lower Manhattan sightseeing in.

You’ll have to disembark at Staten Island, where you can either wait for the next ferry back to Manhattan or go explore Staten Island’s attractions . For example, you will find here one of the most popular outlets in NYC . That said, riding the ferry is a nice thing to do in Lower Manhattan at night since you can see the twinkling skyline from the water.

10. Admire the Brooklyn Bridge viewpoint , something to do in Lower Manhattan at night

Another cool thing to do in Lower Manhattan at night is to see the Brooklyn Bridge . This famous New York bridge is an undeniable part of the NYC landscape, and depending on where you are in the city, you can get a unique view of it.

Brooklyn Bridge, lower manhattan must see

10. Admire the Brooklyn Bridge viewpoint, something to do in Lower Manhattan at night

If you’re already in Lower Manhattan, the East River Greenway offers lovely views of the bridge. I suggest heading to Pier 35 for a gorgeous perspective of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the World Trade Center and the Manhattan skyline. There is also a point along the East River Greenway where you can see a wide angle of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges standing perfectly parallel to each other.

Of course, if you cross the Brooklyn Bridge, you can enjoy scenic views of Manhattan’s skyscrapers and the piers along the East River. It’s one of the best things to do in NYC at night , although if you go during the day, you can use your time to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park.

11. Have a museum day , something to do in Lower Manhattan when it rains

Visiting a museum is always a good idea, and it can be a fun thing to do in Lower Manhattan if you’re hit with bad weather. Plus, this part of the city has some great museums, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

First, the Tenement Museum is one of the best museums in Manhattan , so I highly recommend it. Here, you can learn all about NYC’s history of immigrants and how they shaped the city. It’s definitely one of the most interesting museums in Lower Manhattan thanks to the interactive exhibits and tour guides dressed in period costumes.

The National Museum of the American Indian is another history museum you’ll like. It focuses on Native American history and culture and has an impressive collection of artifacts from the Americas. It’s also one of the best free museums in NYC .

Tenement Museum, lower manhattan museums

11. Have a museum day, something to do in Lower Manhattan when it rains

If you like art, consider the Whitney Museum of American Art . Its collection of 20 th – and 21 st -century art includes works by Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and other masters.

Finally, if you’re traveling with kids, the South Street Seaport Museum and the Museum of Ice Cream are two fantastic options. The former has ship tours, vintage models, and weekend tugboat cruises, while the latter is an Instagramable attraction full of sweet treats and props.

Most of these museums and several other Lower Manhattan attractions are included in the New York Pass .

12. Stone Street, a historical place to visit in Lower Manhattan, New York

Back in the Financial District, the small but interesting area of Stone Street is worth adding to your travel plans. This is one of the oldest streets in the city, and a nod to the old Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. At the time, this was the first cobbled street in the area, and today, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dubliner on Stone Street, places to see in lower manhattan

Stone Street’s quaint charm makes it one of the most unique places to visit in Lower Manhattan . Its historic scenery is quite intriguing, and you’ll find several landmark structures here, some of them dating back to the 1830s. In addition to the Greek Revival buildings, the houses at 1 Hanover Square, 1 William Street, and 85 Broad Street stand out.

Moreover, Stone Street is a trendy place to dine out or go bar-hopping. Some of the most popular spots include the Dubliner Irish pub, The Cauldron, Stone Street Tavern, and Ulysses’ Folk House. Enjoy a good meal, then finish it off with a French-style pastry at Financier Patisserie.

13. Check out Soho, Chinatown & Little Italy

If you’re not sure what to do in Lower Manhattan , then spend some time checking out the different neighborhoods. This part of the city is full of interesting areas and some of the coolest districts, so you can make a day of it.

First, SoHo is one of the best places to visit in Lower Manhattan thanks to its art galleries, luxury shops, off-Broadway theaters, fine restaurants, and rooftop bars. One of the most popular places to visit in Soho is its historic Cast Iron District where you can admire some of the most magnificent architecture.

Cast Iron District, things to do in lower manhattan nyc

Not far from SoHo, Chinatown offers more fun things to do in downtown Manhattan . You can visit the Museum of Chinese in America, people-watch at Columbus Park, or reflect at the Mahayana Buddhist Temple. Chinatown is also known for the “Bloody Angle” at Doyers Street, which was the site of lots of gang-related crime in the early 1900s. Of course, you can’t come to the Chinatown neighborhood without trying some Chinese food.

Little Italy is another haven for foodies, and it’s right next to Chinatown. This spot is full of authentic Italian food, from fresh cheeses and brick oven pizzas to delicious cannoli. You can experience everything Little Italy has to offer, as well as Chinatown and SoHo on this tour ; it’s one of the best walking tours in NYC .

An honorable mention goes to TriBeCa , a trendy area full of artists’ lofts and boutiques. If you have time, it’s worth exploring its cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes.

14. Greenwich Village, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan

Looking for a Lower Manhattan attraction that’s suitable for all ages and interests? I suggest Greenwich Village , an artsy, well-to-do area with a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. This neighborhood was the pinnacle of the city’s counterculture movement, serving as a hub for alternative artists and hippies. Today, it’s still a great place to converse with intellectuals and creatives or to see an off-Broadway show.

Some of the best art museums in NYC are in Greenwich Village, including the Whitney Museum of Art and the Rubin Museum of Art , which has an impressive collection of objects from Asia. For those who prefer the performing arts, Comedy Cellar and Fat Cat Jazz are two lively places with nightly musicians and comedians.

Washington Square Park, attractions in lower manhattan

You can also do some sightseeing while you’re here, as Greenwich Village has some of the most popular tourist attractions in Lower Manhattan . For example, the buildings featured in Sex and the City and Friends are located here, as is Washington Square Park . You can also see the Stonewall Inn , where the 1969 Stonewall Riots occurred, sparking the modern gay rights movement.

If you can’t decide what to see or you’re short on time, this walking tour is the perfect overview of Greenwich Village. For something different, I like this bakeries and cupcakes tour .

15. See City Hall & the New York State Supreme Court Building

Finally, City Hall and the New York State Supreme Court Building are two more historic landmarks in Lower Manhattan . Located just north of the Financial District, they’re a couple of attractions to add to your itinerary as you make your way through the area.

City Hall is where the office of the New York City Mayor is located, as well as the chambers for the New York City Council. The structure was built in the early 19 th century, making it the oldest city hall in the United States.

NYC Supreme court

It’s also a National Historic Landmark and boasts beautiful architectural elements like a rotunda with Corinthian columns and a grand marble staircase. Abraham Lincoln’s casket was even placed here after his assassination in 1865, as was Ulysses S. Grant. City Hall also has the Governor’s Room, which has been the site of official receptions, including visits from Albert Einstein and Marquis de Lafayette.

Nearby, you can see the New York State Supreme Court Building, which houses the Court’s Civil and Appellate Terms. It’s a Classical Roman building with a Corinthian colonnade, granite bas reliefs, and stained glass windows, giving it a temple-like appearance. Inside, you can see one of the rotunda’s most notable features, a circular mural called The History of the Law .

Where to eat in Lower Manhattan

Now that you know what to do in Lower Manhattan , you’ll need to fuel up, so you have enough energy to see everything. Fortunately, this area has a wealth of cuisines, so you can stay satisfied throughout the day.

First, I recommend starting with a typical New York breakfast at Russ & Daughters . This café has bagels of all varieties, although you can’t go wrong with a bagel and lox. If you prefer sweets, Dominique Ansel Bakery serves delectable pastries and hot coffee along with its signature cronut.

Pastrami sandwich from Katz's Deli, lower manhattan sites

For an afternoon recharge, head to Katz’s Delicatessen for a mouth-watering pastrami sandwich. Known as one of the best foods in NYC , the pastrami here is pickled for three weeks, then rubbed in a secret blend of spices and smoked low and slow for three days.

To round out your day, consider a hearty meal at Dhamaka , one of the best restaurants in NYC where you can savor different kinds of Indian cuisine. For something more casual, I recommend Fraunces Tavern . Known as one of George Washington’s meeting points during the American Revolution, it’s also part of the American Whiskey Trail and serves simple yet delicious pub fare.

It’s also worth noting that the Lower East Side has one of the best foodie scenes in New York City, so if you’d rather try a sampling of its best dishes, do this tasting tour . It’s one of the best food tours in NYC and a great activity in Lower Manhattan for friends.

Where to stay in Lower Manhattan

Lastly, if you have a full Lower Manhattan itinerary and want to stay overnight, I recommend one of these hotels:

  • The Crosby Street Hotel is a boutique Manhattan hotel with cozy rooms, a terrace restaurant, a small theater, and family-friendly amenities.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown has a great location by the World Trade Center Complex, and it’s one of the best pool hotels in NYC .
  • The Beekman has luxury accommodations in the Financial District, a gourmet restaurant, and a state-of-the-art gym, making it one of Manhattan’s best hotels .

Lower Manhattan map

I hope you enjoyed reading about all the things to do in Lower Manhattan , and that you feel better prepared to plan your trip. Here is a map with all the Lower Manhattan attractions , restaurants, and hotels I mentioned that you can download for later:

I have also a full map of New York City that can help you plan your visit to other areas of the city. If you have any questions or you’d like to share your favorite activities in Lower Manhattan , feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Until then, have a wonderful trip!

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lower manhattan tourist attractions

Where Are Those Morgans

20 Best Things To Do In Lower Manhattan (Financial District)

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by Mark and Kristen Morgan

Published: April 12, 2021

Best things to do in lower manhattan new york city skyline and one world trade observatory helicopter tour

Lower Manhattan offers many things to do for the entire family including parks, museums, restaurants, an observation deck, rejuvenated shipping piers and world famous landmarks. Visitors are spoiled for choice because there is far more than trade and business on the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

In this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about visiting Lower Manhattan in New York City including tips for your trip.

Our NYC Experience

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Kristen is a New York State native and we lived in NYC for a few months in 2021 . We chose to move to the city so we could create the best content possible because you can’t just visit New York City for a weekend and claim to be an expert. Read more  about us .

While we no longer live here, we still travel to the city every year because it’s one of the best places to visit in the USA . We’ve visited every Lower Manhattan activity in this guide including some attractions multiple times. The information we share is based on our years of experience and multiple trips.

Where Is Lower Manhattan?

Lower Manhattan is defined as the area between the New York harbor, the East River, the Hudson River and as far as 14th Street . This is the southernmost part of Manhattan also known as downtown New York or downtown Manhattan .

Technically, this is a huge area covering Tribeca, SoHo and even Greenwich Village, but in this guide, we’re focusing on the attraction heavy area below Chambers Street which is commonly known as the Financial District .

Visiting all 20 places on this list is very time consuming so we recommend you give yourself 2 full days to explore Lower Manhattan . But if you don’t have that much time in your New York City itinerary , our three unmissable highlights in this region include the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Travel Tip : Many of the attractions in Lower Manhattan are free to visit so you can save some money if you plan well.

1. Statue Of Liberty

Statue of Liberty on liberty island is one of the best things to do in lower manhattan new york city itinerary green statue and yellows torch in grey clouds

  • Price : $24.50 for standard adult ferry fare
  • Hours : Open 9:30am-5:00pm everyday (changes seasonally)

We started this list of fun things to do in Lower Manhattan with one of the most famous landmarks in the world , the Statue of Liberty . Located right off the shores of the financial district, Lady Liberty is a national icon and instantly recognized as a symbol of freedom .

Designed by Frederic Batholdi and built in part by Gustave Eiffel , the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by the people of France . It was dedicated on October 18th, 1886 by President Cleveland. Liberty Island hosts well over 4 million tourists each year , which is more than popular national parks such as Yellowstone and Zion.

General tickets include round trip ferry service to Liberty Island , the walking section around the pedestal, access to Ellis Island, three interactive galleries and an audio tour. But you’ll need to book a separate ticket if you want to climb up into the crown or pedestal.

Here’s what you need to know :

  • To visit on your own, you should book ferry tickets in advance with Statue Cruises or reserve your spot with a New York CityPASS .
  • If you want a guided tour, book with Viator or Get Your Guide .
  • Separate reservations must be made for pedestal reserve and crown access through Statue Cruises.
  • Ferry departures leave from behind Castle Clinton in the Battery or Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Check the schedule here .
  • Plan to book in advance because tickets sell out very quickly, especially in summer.

Further Reading : How to visit the Statue of Liberty

2. Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Visit the ellis island immigration museum in new york city arrival hall

Ellis Island is a tiny island with a mammoth sized imprint on American history. Around 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. For many Americans, there’s a high likelihood your ancestors were processed through a building that is now the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration .

We love this museum because it’s incredibly interesting and offers a real insight into the conditions as well as experiences of immigrants arriving into the port of New York over a hundred years ago.

Ellis Island is included in the Statue of Liberty ferry ticket with no additional fee . There is no obligation to visit Ellis Island after Liberty Island, but it certainly would be a shame to miss out on such an important piece of American history. All details about ferry prices and times are the same as the Statue of Liberty.

Travel Tip : If you want to visit both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, book an early time slot at 9:00am or 10:00am. It will take several hours to visit both sites and you’ll be very rushed for time if you don’t start early.

3. The Battery Gardens

Statue of Liberty in distance as seen from Battery Park overlooking the hudson river

  • Price : Free
  • Hours : Open 24 hours

The Battery is a gorgeous waterfront park with harbor views stretching a half mile along the southwestern edge of Lower Manhattan. The gardens here feature 240,000 square feet of perennials, the SeaGlass Carousel and unique outdoor programs.

This park offers visitors the perfect place to slow down in Lower Manhattan to enjoy a slow stroll, go for a morning run or take the dog for a walk. An old historic fort known as Castle Clinton is located at the heart of Battery Park and is now home to Statue Cruises.

You can climb a set of stairs to a roof deck viewing platform that looks directly over the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey. The Museum of Jewish Heritage and the National Museum of the American Indian are located either within or on the border with Battery Park.

Travel Tip : This park is open all year and always free to visit. We like the Battery because it’s a welcome break from the towering concrete sky scrappers.

4. Rub The Charging Bull

Charging Bull in Bowling Green Lower Manhattan is one of the best touristy things to do in NYC

Originally conceived in the immediate aftermath of the 1987 New York stock market crash, Italian artist Arturo Di Modica spent 2 years sculpting a 7,100 pound (7,300 kg),11ft tall and 16ft long bronze bull as a symbol of New Yorkers can do attitudes.

The statue was illegally dropped off right outside the New York Stock Exchange building by Di Modica in between police patrols. He’d conducted a reconnaissance the previous night so he knew exactly when to drop the bull.

However, the Charging Bull was removed by the end of that same day, but a week later it was given a new home at Bowling Green. The Bull was an instant hit with tourists and quickly become a must see attraction in Lower Manhattan.

Today, this statue still stands proudly and aggressively on its haunches as though ready to charge. Thousands of tourists take photos at the front of the bull with it’s horns. But it’s also common to see tourists crouched down to rub it’s testicles which is said to bring good luck and fortune .

Travel Tip : This statue can be very busy so it’s best to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.

5. Admire The Oculus

The Oculus from outside looks like a dove flying one of the best things to do and see in lower manhattan new york city

  • Hours : Street level access limited from 1:00am-5:00am, shops open from 11:00am-7:00pm

Oculus is a unique, fascinating and beautiful structure with 12 subway lines connecting the World Trade Center campus to Brookfield Place . Manhattan is filled with impressive buildings and towering skyscrapers, but nothing compares to Oculus . It took 14 years and $4 billion to build.

On the outside, this structure resembles a brilliant white dove soaring through the sky . Inside, a surprisingly cavernous oval shaped hall opens up to reveal a bright and very white symmetrical interior.

The building was designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava to allow as much natural light in as possible . It’s easy to see why Oculus is on our list of favorite NYC photography locations . Photographers visiting the city should not miss both inside and outside this gorgeous structure.

6. 9/11 Memorial And Museum

9/11 memorial and museum pools with buildings in late afternoon sun in lower manhattan new york city

  • Price : $21-33 (active and retired military are free)
  • Hours : Open 6 days a week from 9:00am-7:00pm (closed Tuesdays)

September 11th, 2001 was an appalling and devastating day for America that will never be forgotten . Construction began on this memorial and museum, five years after the twin towers fell in Lower Manhattan.

This museum opened in May 2014 and it commemorates the 2,977 people killed on 9/11 as well as the 6 people who died as a result of the 1993 World trade Center bombing. The memorial was built on the original sites of the twin towers consisting of both a north and south pool with shallow waterfalls.

Personally, we think the 9/11 Museum is one of the best museums we’ve ever visited . It includes remnants of the original twin towers, thousands of images, recordings and a very detailed timelines of events. Visiting this museum is a harrowing experience, but it’s very well done.

You must select a date and time for admission . Here are ways to purchase tickets:

  • Directly online
  • New York CityPASS
  • Get Your Guide

Travel Tip : We’ve visited this museum multiple times and have spent 4-5 hours inside each time. We also spent about 45 minutes visiting the memorial pools. If this is on your NY bucket list, you might want to plan for an entire morning or afternoon.

7. Wall Street

Wall Street Sign against wall backdrop

The main artery running through the world famous New York City Financial District is called Wall Street . This is home to two of the world’s largest stock exchanges, NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange .

Sadly it was once a market place for slave trading and residences, but business boomed and NYC’s entire financial industry landed on this very street. There are two buildings you should visit along the attractive cobble stoned street:

  • 40 Wall Street – Also known as the Trump Building, this was once one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan. It features impressive Neo-Gothic architecture with a green pyramid shaped roof you can see from all over Lower Manhattan.
  • Federal Hall – This is a famous building where George Washington was famously sworn in as the first president of the United States in 1789.

8. New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

New York Stock Exchange from behind Fearless Girl statue wall street financial district new york city

  • Hours : Open 24 hours, but visitors can’t go inside

The NYSE is a national historic landmark and home to the world’s largest stock exchange. Money moves at an alarming rate inside this building.

Outside the building is a small bronze statue of a little girl looking upwards, aptly named the fearless girl . Don’t forget to take home a photo of yourself in the same fearless stance, but you can expect a long line of others doing the same.

Travel Tip : In an ironic turn of events, this statue was originally placed opposite the charging bull on Bowling Green before being moved to its current position in front of the NYSE.

9. Federal Hall

lower manhattan tourist attractions

  • Hours : Open 10:00am-5:00pm Monday to Friday (closed Saturday and Sunday)

We briefly mentioned this memorial in our Wall Street section, but it has a great museum so it’s worth mentioning on it’s own. There is no fee to enter the Federal Hall National Memorial and you can reserve a spot for a 30 minute guided tour with a ranger.

This is were George Washington took oath as the first president of the United States. It was also home to the first branches of Congress, the Supreme Court and Executive Branch office. The building now serves as a museum and you can book free tours here .

Need help planning your visit to NYC?

Our popular New York City travel guidebook will help you with planning every aspect of your trip, including airport links, the subway, top attractions, itinerary ideas, restaurants, hotels and map!

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10. Trinity Church

Trinity Church from Wall Street is one of the most well known things to do in lower manhattan new york city

  • Hours : Open 8:30am-6:00pm everyday

Trinity Church is the historic and stunning parish church at the heart of Lower Manhattan’s financial district. Interestingly, there have been three Trinity Church buildings since 1698:

  • The first was rectangular and burned down in the Great Fire of New York City in 1776.
  • The second was taller, longer and wider but was torn down as a result of a harsh winter in 1839.
  • Today, you will find the third and final Trinity Church which was completed in 1846.

It can be seen from Wall Street and belongs on the national register of historic places. This is also the final resting place of Alexander Hamilton , the first US Secretary of Treasury and founder of the US Mint. You can find his grave in the churchyard.

Travel Tip : If you’ve seen the movie National Treasure, the treasure is located below Trinity Church.

11. One World Observatory

One world observatory at the world trade center towering above 9/11 memorial pool in new york city

  • Price : $39-69
  • Hours : Open everyday from 10:00am-7:00pm (hours change seasonally)

One World Trade Center is the undoubted focal point of the Lower Manhattan skyline . You’ll see it at every turn and attraction unmissable as it soars high into the sky. Also known as Freedom Tower , One World Trade Center is the main building among the rebuilt complex where the twin towers once stood.

It’s the 7th tallest building in the world as of January 2024 and the tallest in the western hemisphere. The observatory was opened in May 2015 and stands taller than all other observation decks in New York City including the Empire State Building.

One World Observatory will naturally be busier in the summer months of June, July and August. Consider planning a trip to NYC in April or another shoulder month to avoid crowds. We think this observation deck offers far greater views over the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge compared to it’s competitors in Midtown and Uptown.

  • Get Your Guide  (usually the cheapest option)

Further Reading : How to visit the One World Observatory

12. South Street Seaport District

lower manhattan tourist attractions

  • Hours : Open 24 hours but store times vary

South Street Seaport played a huge role in the early development of Manhattan. The Dutch West India Company settled and developed streets known as Pearl St, Front St, Water St and South St. We love the attractive cobblestone streets and brick buildings that include shopping malls, independant stores, restaurants and bars.

Trade routes from China and Britain opened up with what become the Port of New York at South Street . Advancements in ship building methods left the port in ruins because the water was too shallow for newer ships to dock.

Today, you can visit the South Street Seaport Museum which consists of 5 ships and maritime exhibits detailing the role of the area as a major world port. You’ll also find Browne & Co Stationers , a letterpress printing shop and New York City’s oldest continually running business.

Photography Tip : Walk beyond the ship yard out onto Pier 17. This is where you can find some of the best views of Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan.

13. Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge as seen from Pier 17 at sunrise in New York City

New York City’s most famous bridge is one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan for free . Right on the northeastern edge of the financial district next to City Hall, you will find the entrance or exit to the famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Depending on your NYC itinerary and where you plan to stay, you can walk across the bridge any time of day when it fits your schedule. You can read more in our guides below:

  • Walking the Brooklyn Bridge for sunrise
  • How to walk the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

We’ve walk across the Brooklyn Bridge several times and our favorite time is at dusk right before sunset because the city will illuminate in front of your eyes. But this is a very busy time on the bridge so if you want to avoid the crowds, visit at sunrise.

14. The Elevated Acre

Elevated Acre artificial grass on the first level of a building overlooking brooklyn in new york city

  • Hours : 7:00am-10:00pm from May 1st to September 30th and 8:00am-8:00pm October 1st to April 30th 

This is one of the most unique things in Lower Manhattan because it’s an off the beaten path hidden gem that most first time visitors to the city won’t find. This is an urban garden oasis located above street level nestled among the hustle and bustle of the financial district.

A seasonal beer garden with table and chairs plus sprawling gardens with flowers in bloom make this the perfect stop if visiting NYC in the summer and a favorite lunch spot for commuters.

Travel Tip : Look for an elevator along 55 Water Street that is set back from the sidewalk. Or you can access the garden by climbing a set of stairs near the intersections of Water St and Old Slip.

15. Free Ferry To Staten Island

Huge orange ferry to staten island new york

  • Hours : Runs everyday with variable schedule

As you walk around Battery Park and along the waterfront, you’ll notice enormous orange ferries out in the bay. This is the Staten Island Ferry and it’s free to hop on any time of day .

Many first time visitors to New York take the free Staten Island ferry to get close up views over the State of Liberty without having to pay. It’s a great idea if you’re traveling on a frugal budget, but it’s nothing like the tour to Liberty Island.

On Staten Island, you can explore the Staten Island Zoo, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and botanical garden, Fort Wadsworth, the Staten Island Children’s Museum as well as the Franklin D Roosevelt boardwalk.

If you only have a few days in NYC, we wouldn’t recommend visiting Staten Island because there’s just too much to see and do already. The Staten Island Ferry leaves from South Ferry red subway line terminal . You can’t miss the building with enormous letters out front and you can check the schedule here .

16. Governors Island

Governors island in the Hudson River new york city from above

  • Price : $4 for adults
  • Hours : Open daily from 7:00am-6:00pm

A much simpler and less time consuming ferry ride in Lower Manhattan is a trip to Governors Island. This is basically a huge floating green park space perfect for use in the warmer months. Free public arts and cultural events take place throughout the year.

Governors Island was once a military installation dating back to 1776 during the revolutionary war. The US army and coastguard both have used this island for training and it was opened to the public in 2005.

You can walk around the historic building such as Castle Williams and Fort Jay, or just enjoy the relaxing gardens. This ferry leaves Lower Manhattan from Battery Maritime Building Slip 5 next to the Staten Island Ferry.

17. Luxury Helicopter Ride

woman in helicopter over new york city

  • Price : Average of $250-600
  • Hours : Usually 15-30 minutes

If you’re visiting New York City with a healthy budget and want to treat yourself, we recommend you consider a helicopter ride into the skies. We booked a helicopter tour the day before we moved out of the city as an exciting last hurrah and it was completely worth the money !

The iconic Manhattan skyline is extraordinary from above and there is no better way to experience the city. If you’re looking for a romantic thing to do in Lower Manhattan , book a sunset ride to share with your loved one.

There are numerous helicopter companies available and it can be difficult to choose. We booked our experience with HeliNY and they fly out of Pier 6 at Manhattan helicopters. We highly recommend you read about our NYC Helicopter ride to learn about our experience and the different companies available.

18. Pier 15

Pier 15 with open deck terrace and seats for visitors to relax along hurons river

Had enough of walking and sightseeing? Be sure to stop and drop into a seat with a view on the upper deck of Pier 15. This is a two-tiered public terrace overlooking the East River, Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pier 15 has plenty of seats available for those in need of a breather with an indoor seating and observation area. We love the chilled, relaxing pool-side vibe here so be sure to check it out.

19. Take A Sightseeing Cruise

Hornblower cruise from pier 16 in new york city

  • Price : $48-120
  • Hours : Everyday with various sailing times

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan at night is to take a one hour NY Sightseeing Cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and many of New York’s famous landmarks from the water.

There are two main cruise companies offering different perspectives over Lower Manhattan’s skyline with live onboard narration including City Cruises and Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises . If you’re looking for a party, you can choose the New York Alive After Five to watch Manhattan light up from the boozy boat out in the bay.

Travel Tip : Boats leave from different piers depending on the cruise you choose and certain cruises are included on the NY attractions passes so be sure to read the fine print before booking.

20. African Burial Ground National Monument

  • Hours : Open 10:00am-4:00pm Tuesday to Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday)

The African Burial Ground National Monument is consists of both an indoor visitors center with museum and an outdoor memorial. There is no fee to enter and it pays tribute to African heritage.

This is the oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for free and enslaved Africans. It honors African Americans and offers education about the hardship they experienced in early America. For more information and a list of events, you can visit the official NPS website .

Lower Manhattan Interactive Map

Below you’ll find our interactive map for Lower manhattan. We’ve included every fun thing to do in Lower Manhattan we’ve mentioned in this guide including hotel and restaurant recommendations.

Click on the map to activate it so you can zoom in and out. Move around the map to see the locations of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan. You can also access our map via this link here .

Where To Eat In Lower Manhattan

The Financial District might not be the first place you think of in NYC for top places to eat, but it’s full of hidden gems spanning the entire budget range. Here are three delicious recommendations for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Lower Manhattan:

leos bagels and underground pizza breakfast and lunch in lower manhattan new york city

Conveniently located next to one another on the corner of William Street and Beaver St not far from Wall Street, you’ll find the perfect quick breakfast and lunch options.

Leo’s Bagels

Bagels are a New York Speciality and in Leo’s you’ll find the perfect Lower Manhattan bagel breakfast. The line is always long here so arrive early to beat the hungry finance workers. Check out the menu here .

Further Reading : Where to find the best NYC bagels

Underground Pizza

Underground Pizza is a great refueling spot on your Lower Manhattan itinerary. This is where you can get the traditional New York City pizza slice. The staff are always super friendly and we love the hidden gem hole-in-the-wall feel with no frills. You can check out the menu here .

Further Reading : Best pizza places in NYC

Fraunces Tavern is the perfect place to refuel after sightseeing in Lower Manhattan best things to do historic inn where george Washington thanked his men at the end of the revolutionary war

Fraunces Tavern

There are numerous restaurants in Lower Manhattan offering waterfront outdoor seating near Pier 15, but if you’re looking for a unique experience, we always recommend Fraunces Tavern which serves upscale pub food in a historic building .

Fraunces Tavern is one of the oldest buildings still standing in NYC today. This is where George Washington rounded up his officers in 1783 to thank them for their service fighting in the American Revolutionary War.

They offer classic pub grub with a huge selection of craft beers making it the best way to end an action packed day sightseeing in Lower Manhattan. You can see the menu here .

Where To Stay In New York City

Marriott Downtown Hotel is a great place to stay when visiting Lower Manhattan New York City

With so many hotels and neighborhoods to choose between, picking the best place to stay in NYC can be a real challenge. Most visitors to New York tend to stay around Times Square and Midtown Manhattan for central location and better value rooms.

Our extremely popular where to stay in New York City guide covers the six major neighborhoods visitors should consider. We also list the top rated hotels within each area.

Alternatively, you can take a closer look at the top rated cheap, mid range and luxury Downtown NYC hotels in our guide to the 12 best hotels in Lower Manhattan on our sister site.

But in the meantime, here are the hotels we see most visitors to our site booking in NYC:

  • The Archer – One of our personal top picks located near Bryant Park with views over Empire State Building.
  • CitizenM – Centrally located at Times Square, close to Broadway and Rockefeller Center.
  • MOXY NYC – Rooftop bar and good value between Penn Station and Times Square.
  • Cambria Hotel – Affordable highly rated hotel with rooftop terrace located between Midtown and Chelsea.

How To Save Money In NYC

The four popular attraction passes in New York City

If you’re planning to visit the top attractions in New York, we recommend you purchase a New York City attraction pass . The idea is simple with these attractions passes;  the more attractions you visit, the more money you will save .

Having used the NYC attraction passes ourselves when we lived in New York, we recommend the New York Sightseeing Pass because its extremely easy to use while offering both flexibility and big savings.

Many of the paid attractions in Lower manhattan are included on the NY Sightseeing Pass and we have an exclusive 5-10% discount just for our readers. However, the 9/11 Museum is not on the pass so you’ll have to purchase tickets separately (active and retired military can visit for free).

Want To Save Money In NYC?

Use the button below to claim 5-10% off any NY Sightseeing Pass.

You can also read our guides below to help decide what pass you’ll need for your visit to New York:

  • NY Sightseeing Pass Review  – The most popular pass for visitors who want to see as much as possible
  • New York CityPASS Review  – How to visit select attractions in NYC at a competitive price point
  • Comparison of the New York Passes  – Everything you need to know about the best New York Passes after using them ourselves

NYC is a vacation planning beast. It can be extremely overwhelming trying to get every aspect right. After living in the city, we created a comprehensive NYC Guidebook that will answer every question you have about where to stay, what to do, where to eat and how to get around the city.

Click see details below to read more about how we can help you plan your dream trip to NYC!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

More New York Guides

  • Best things to do in New York City
  • How to spend 4 days in New York
  • Visiting New York City in Winter
  • Where to find the best NYC photo spots
  • New York Pass Comparison
  • Best New York City museums

Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.

We hope this guide to the best things to do in Lower Manhattan helps with planning your visit to NYC!

Please let us know if you have any questions about where to visit in Lower Manhattan or things to do in the financial district in the comments below.

Happy Travels ,

Mark and Kristen

Enjoy this Lower Manhattan guide? Pin it for later!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

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lower manhattan tourist attractions

Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.

Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us .

2 thoughts on “20 Best Things To Do In Lower Manhattan (Financial District)”

This is such amazing content and insight into NYC! You guys have accomplished more in 3 months than a New Yorker has living their whole lives in the city. I absolutely love the photos, advice and agree that downtown Manhattan is where it’s all at. The action! I must try some of this things on your list that I have not done yet.

Thank you Mariana – We loved our short and sweet 3 months living in NYC but expect our own photos and blog posts will help to inspire a second stint in the not so far away future!

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Amateur Traveler

23 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan (Below 14th Street)

I’ve been asking friends and fellow bloggers for their best ideas of things to do in New York City and I have been deluged with great ideas. I decided to focus just on what you could do in a day or two in Lower Manhattan. We will start at 14 th street on the West Side, work our way down to the Battery, and then back up the Lower East Side.

Oculus, Lower Manhattan

  • 911 Memorial and Museum  

Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Tenement Museum

Museum of Jewish Heritage

The statue of liberty ferry, ellis island ferry, the staten island ferry, brooklyn bridge walk, manhattan bridge walk.

  • Williamsburg Bridge Walk

The High Line

Wall street.

  • One World Trade
  • The Oculus Brookfield Place

Seaport District

Trinity church, russian and turkish baths.

  • Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel  

Little Italy / Chinatown Food Tour

Chinatown dim sum, katz’s delicatessen, cronuts at dominique ansel, new york pass, where to stay.

While you may think of Museum Mile when you think of New York City museums, there are some well-known ones in Lower Manhattan like the 9/11 Memorial and Museums and a couple of smaller ones you should consider visiting.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

More than one person highly recommended I visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum before my last trip to the city, My friend Mike advises that you should sign up in advance for the guided tour. “You get to crawl around the foundation of the 2 towers, many amazing artifacts. Spoiler alert, you will cry.” 

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I was at the 9/11 site within 4 months of the attack when the site was still covered with memorials and pictures of those who were missing and it was moving and very interesting to return to the site now that it is a memorial. The memorial is at ground level and open to the public. The original shape of the foundations of the towers of the World Trade Center have been turned into a memorial reflecting pool with the names of the victims engraved on the side. 

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 museum is much more about the victims and the heroic response than the act of terrorism. If you don’t take a tour you can still save yourself some time by buying skip the line tickets ahead of time.

  • Admission to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is included in New York Pass .

Whitney Museum of American Art - May 2016

If you are looking for more highbrow than Lowen Brau, also near the southern end of the High Line is the Whitney Museum of American Art . This gallery focuses on 20 th and 21st century American Art. The museum shares much of their collection on their website so you can easily see if it is something you will enjoy. If you like art but not this style of art, how about a street art tour on the Lower East Side instead?

  • Admission to the Whitney Museum is included in New York Pass .

New York - Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Numerous friends have recommended the Lower East Side Tenement Museum which is on my list of things to see. If you want to get a better appreciation for what your immigrant ancestors endured see this museum which shows the realities of tenement life on the Lower East Side.

Moshe Huberman from The Top Ten Traveler recommends another small museum:

The Museum of Jewish Heritage, located next to The Battery, is one of the most interesting and important museums in New York City . It opened to the public in 1997 with a goal to educate people on Jewish life in the 20 th and 21 st centuries – before, during, and after the holocaust. However, the exhibitions focus mostly on the events of the holocaust, and the full name of the museum reflects that: Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

The permanent exhibition contains photographs of holocaust survivors that are NYC residents and the Garden of Stones which was created together with holocaust survivors, but the main attraction of the museum today is the exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” This is a powerful and emotional journey that tells the story of the most significant site of the Holocaust, from its establishment until the liberation of the camps. The Auschwitz exhibition does not just tell the story, it also presents more than 700 real objects and 400 photographs, donated by other museums and institutions from all around the world. The collection includes prisoners’ uniforms, personal items like shoes, glasses, and suitcases, an original freight train car that was used to bring people into the camp, parts of the camp’s fence, and more.

The exhibition is groundbreaking, and as it is not an easy topic to deal with, you need to be mentally prepared for your visit. However, visiting this museum, and learning about that sad part of the history of humanity is a must-do for every person.

The Battery

Džangir Kolar from Dr Jam Travels recommends a stop in The Battery at the tip of Manhattan.

The Battery (formerly Battery Park) is the biggest park in Lower Manhattan at the island’s far southern tip. This 25-acre park is bounded by Battery Pl on the north, State St on the east, New York Harbor to the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Historically it was a strategic defensive point of the harbor, with a canon battery since the 17th century, so hence the name.

Under the park, there are two tunnels, Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel that connects Brooklyn with Manhattan and the Battery Park Underpass that connects east Manhattan (FDR Drive), with the west (West Side Highway). In the district known for finance and government, this is a spot with a slower and more relaxed pace. 

The biggest building in the park is Castle Clinton that soon after it was built in 1812 lost its military role. Since then it served as an immigration depot, exhibition hall, beer garden, concert venue, theater, and aquarium. Today they sell tickets for the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Other things worth visiting would be SeaGlass Carousel and Monument Walk with 20 plus monuments (Sphere, East Coast Memorial, etc). If you have a chance, stop at this place and enjoy this green oasis.

Castle Clinton stopped being an immigration station when the flood of immigrants got too large for the structure. The immigration station was moved to Ellis Island in 1892. Because of when the Christensens came to the U.S. my great-grandfather would have cleared immigration at Castle Clinton… and possibly yours as well although many of the records for immigration in this period were destroyed in a fire in 1897.

At The Battery you can catch one of 3 different boats:

Statue of Liberty

It may the nicest thing France ever gave us (if you consider that we bought the Louisiana purchase and that French Fries came from the Belgians). If you want to actually climb up the statue try and get on the first boat of the day .

  • The Statue of Liberty Ferry is included in New York Pass .

Ellis Island

There is a pretty good chance that you had at least one family member come to the USA through Ellis Island. 12 million immigrants came through its doors from 1892 until 1954. Beverley brought to my attention that you can take a hard hat tour of the unrestored immigrant hospital buildings if you are looking for something more adventurous.

  • Entrance to Ellis Island is included in the New York Pass

The Staten Island Ferry

If you want a good view of the Statue of Liberty but you don’t want to climb it, you can get a good view of the city and the statue on the Staten Island Ferry, which is free. The ferry takes about 25 minutes one way. Avoid rush hour when the ferry is packed.

The Bridges

A surprising number of Manhattan’s bridges are clustered in Lower Manhattan. Each of these offers a different set of walks and views. 

Brooklyn Bridge

At least once, when you are in the city on a beautiful spring day or fall day, you should walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is still the prettiest of all the many bridges in New York City, and the best way to appreciate the beauty of the design is on foot, not fighting the local traffic in a car. The peaceful scene belies the difficulty of its construction. 27 people died building it. The bridge was built by a father and son team John A. Roebling and his son Washington Roebling. The bridge construction took 14 years and John Roebling did not live to see its completion after an accident at the site crushed his foot, and he died from tetanus. Washington Roebling and some workers came down with caisson disease while sicking the bridge’s caissons deep below the surface of the water. We now call caisson disease the bends.

  • Walking tours of the Brooklyn Bridge are included in New York Pass .

Manhattan Bridge

Megan from Your Brooklyn Guide recommends the nearby Manhattan Bridge as an alternative to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Many visitors to the city know about the Brooklyn Bridge walk, but did you know you can walk across the Manhattan Bridge as well and be rewarded with just as stunning views of the city and even the Brooklyn Bridge without the crowds? It’s funny because the construction of the Manhattan Bridge in 1901 was actually because of the crowded neighboring bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge, to help disperse the congestion. While the Manhattan Bridge isn’t as ‘pretty’ as the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s still one of the most iconic structures in NYC and, in our opinion, is beautiful in its own way.

The Manhattan Bridge Plaza, which can be found at the entrance of the bridge on the Manhattan side, has a gorgeous colonnade and arch as part of the ‘grand entrance’ to the bridge, as well as an addition made a few years after the bridge’s completion as a part of a citywide beautification movement.

Something you need to know before attempting this walk is that one side of the bridge is for pedestrians only, and one side of the bridge is for cyclists only, something we actually appreciate if you’ve ever tried to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge on a crowded day. Be sure to enter the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway at the south side of the bridge and be sure not to accidentally get on the bicycle side, or you will be treated with some verbal hostility from New York cyclists .

Williamsburg Bridge NYC

Williamsburg Bridge

Sean Lau from LivingOutLau makes a case for the Williamsburg Bridge as an alternative to both of those bridges:

The Williamsburg Bridge is a suspension bridge across the East River connecting the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Completed in 1903, it was the longest suspension bridge span in the world until 1924. Carrying lanes of roadways, pedestrians, cyclists, and even several lines of the New York City Subway, the Williamsburg Bridge is a stunning architectural feat.

However, the Williamsburg Bridge is often overshadowed by the famous Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge several streets down. It only gets a fraction of the tourists that the Brooklyn Bridge receives. Similar to Brooklyn Bridge, visitors have the option to cross the bridge on foot or bicycle, taking them from Manhattan to Brooklyn or vice versa.

While it is undeniable that the Brooklyn Bridge is more beautiful and majestic than the Williamsburg Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge is often overcrowded with tourists and cyclists. This makes it hard to enjoy the beautiful views from the bridge and the incredible experience of walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Though it might be an unusual thing to do in NYC to walk the Williamsburg Bridge instead of the Brooklyn Bridge, you might receive a better experience. Vibrant red hues on the exposed structural elements of the Williamsburg Bridge can be seen throughout, offering visitors a unique photography opportunity.

The High Line Park

The High Line may not be everyone’s favorite park in New York City, but it is at least in the running for that honor. In what may be the best idea for a park in any urban city, New York City turned an old abandoned elevated railway into an enticing walk above the city streets, a park in the sky. More and more businesses are being built to take advantage of the foot traffic from the park.

View from One World Trade

One World Trade (Freedom Tower)

Ally Gibson from Ally Travels recommends visiting One World Trade:

One of the best views in New York City can be found by visiting the observation deck on top of One World Trade, also known as the Freedom Tower. This is the tall building that stands next to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. You’ll want to book your tickets well ahead of time , as they have timed entry. 

Once you check in, you’ll go through a series of security checkpoints before entering the elevators that will take to to the 100th floor. The elevator is digitally designed to show you the progression of the skyline from the early days of New York until the present day. This is one of the best-designed elevator experiences I’ve ever had, with its quick history lesson and visuals. 

Once everyone is out of the elevator and greeted by one of the tour guides, the walls in front of you will part to show the majestic NYC skyline. It’s one of the most well-done welcomes that I’ve ever experienced at a popular tourist destination. From there, you’ll be guided into the main observation deck, with its 360-degree views, gift shop, and cafe. There’s no time limit, you can linger and take in the views as long as you’d like.

If you’re looking for a romantic dinner, consider making reservations at ONE Dine, the tower’s popular restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you see a proposal or two at this romantic spot.

Wall street bull

While we may think of Wall Street as where you would find the New York Stock exchange, the name of the street comes from the wall that crossed the island from east to west at this spot marking the northern edge of New Amsterdam. The original city was all south of Wall Street.

Stop by Wall Street and see the Wall Street Bull. As a center of international finance, the city has come a long way from its start as a place to trade with the local tribes. The local culture now wears power suits. You can take a walking tour of Lower Manhattan that includes Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial.

The Occulus

The Oculus and Brookfield Place

When you visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, you will see a rather different-looking building called the Oculus. Lyndsay from The Purposely Lost says:

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit the Oculus and Brookfield Place. The Oculus, designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was created to stand as one of New York City’s main transit terminals. Underneath the World Trade Center is a sprawling series of tunnels that connect all of the various New York City subway lines to one another, and every World Trade Center complex building has an underground lobby within one of the Oculus’s tunnels. Spend some time on the atrium level, admiring the stark white steel ribs interlocking above your head to a full skylight, and catch a glimpse of One World Trade Center’s spire from the ground.

If that wasn’t enough, throughout the underground tunnels is a Westfield shopping mall. Different high-end retailers line the tunnel storefronts, extending from the hub’s entrance, underneath the 9/11 Memorial, and connecting underground to Brookfield Place, another luxury mall on the Hudson River harbor. You can spend all day wandering around underground, exploring the different shops, and dining in the different food courts. On a beautiful day, you can also sit outside in the Brookfield Place courtyard by the river and admire the view of Jersey City from across the Hudson.

Seaport District

Mikkel Woodruff from sometimeshome.com  suggests the Seaport District is not just a place to get a bite to eat:

The Seaport District (recently formerly known as South Street Seaport) is an area of NYC in lower Manhattan that’s completely unique to any other area of the city. It’s especially lively during summer – with plenty of activities on its streets and sidewalks, including a lot of eating and day drinking. But it’s an interesting place to visit any time of year.

It’s a harbor where you’ll always see boats off its docks, whether people’s personal vessels or charter boats. You can even take a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty from here, for instance, for a special view of the American icon.

The Seaport District has been around for over 300 years and has gone through many iterations of use and invention. (Don’t miss the South Street Seaport Museum for a detailed historic look into the area.) It’s a bustling area to enjoy some shopping and dining, no matter if you’re looking for an upscale or casual meal. It has absolutely wonderful views of Brooklyn, including of the Brooklyn Bridge and skyline across the East River. It is just next to the Financial District, which is home to Freedom Tower and the 911 Memorial.

If you’d like to reach The Seaport District on public transportation, it’s easy to arrive on the subway. Take the 1 to South Ferry, or J/Z to Broad Street, the R to Whitehall Street/South Ferry, or the 2/3 to Wall Street. It’s a short walk east to the area from any of those stations.

Alexander Hamilton's Grave

At Trinity Church, you can see the cemetery where numerous famous New Yorkers are buried, including, notably for fans of the musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton.

The 10th Street Russian & Turkish Baths

One of the most unusual suggestions I had was from travel writer Joshua Berman ( @tranquilotravel ), who recommended the Russian and Turkish Baths , which has been “making New Yorkers sweat together since 1892 – it’s a full-on experience, well worth the $36 or so daily fee, and there’s food, a bar, and a tiny rooftop when you need a breather.”

I dare you to try and have a conversation with a New Yorker of any length without once bringing up food. The food options in New York City are diverse and numerous, and here are some favorite food options in Lower Manhattan.

Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel

Right along the High Line, my friend Mark Tafoya ( @ChefMark ) recommends a stop at the Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel. Tucked right under the trestles that support the High Line is an open German-style beer garden in summer (glass-enclosed in winter). So after you walk the length of the High Line, earn back those calories you burned with sausages, pretzels, and beer.

Alleva, Little Italy

While Little Italy is not as big as it once was, it is still a great place to find a good pizza or a good cannoli. Remember to look for a cannoli that is freshly filled just before you eat it. Much of what used to be Little Italy is now Chinatown and a great way to explore both is a Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour . 

Chinatown Dim Sum

Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels with Carole suggests eating in Chinatown, which is always a good idea.

Originally populated by Chinese who moved on from the goldfields in California, Manhattan’s Chinatown is now the largest in the United States. Yes, San Francisco is number two. Like other Chinatowns, it is populated with souvenir shops filled with often-inexpensive items imported from China. In fact, just across Canal Street is the world-famous bargain shopping area where knock-offs of expensive designer brand items sell at prices everyone can afford.

But also, as is expected, Chinatown is filled with Chinese and other Asian restaurants. There are very few other places where you can find a dim sum parlor that features delicious vegetarian cuisine that is also kosher and uses no MSG. Here, the menu at tiny Buddha Bodai One Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant, located at #5 on historic Mott Street, also has many vegan menu choices. And it is inexpensive! So you can understand that this place is roaringly popular. Expect a wait and use it to study the menu and decide what to order. Though I’ve discovered everything is delicious, and nothing is ever left over, my hands-down favorite is the barbecue pork. Made with mock meat, it also mocks the fat and–I swear–even the bone! Don’t miss it.

And as long as we are visiting the Lower East Side, we might as well celebrate what is good about it. Fellow travel podcaster David Brodie ( @brodiedavid ) recommended a stop at Katz’s Delicatessen where you can get a great corned beef or pastrami sandwich.

Cronut

If you are looking for calories to fuel your walking around Lower Manhattan, then James Ian at Travel Collecting suggests a stop for cronuts at Dominique Ansel. This Soho bakery is where the cronut was created, so these are not only the originals, but they are also the best, according to James. Cronuts, in case you don’t know what they are, are a cross between a croissant and a donut. They have the flaky texture of a croissant, but are shaped like a donut, are filled with a flavored filling like a donut, and are covered with a frosting like a donut.

The description doesn’t do it justice – they are perfect yummy, gooey bites of utter deliciousness. There is only one flavor, but the flavors (such as strawberries and jam or spiced sweet potato) change each month, so if you have been to New York before, you will most likely get a different one on your return trip. I live a block away and get to try a new one every month! There used to be long lines snaking around the corner, but these days the lines are much shorter. The bakery opens at 8:00 am, and if you want to be there first thing, there are often short lines forming just before that. The staff often gives you a small free hot chocolate sample while you are waiting. You can probably go later in the morning and still get some, but don’t leave it until the afternoon, as they only bake a limited amount every day and almost always sell out.

A great way to save money on any visit to New York is the New York Pass . You can buy a 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 or 10-day pass. The pass will get you free admission to more than 100 attractions, including the ride to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and museums like the 9/11 museum.

Mandarin Oriental hotel lounge and bar facing northeast

Hotels in New York City range from the comfortable to the spectacular. You could stay in the modest Hotel Jane near the southern end of the High Line or celebrate that your family made it out of Ellis Island and the Lower East Side and splurge for the opulent Hotel Mandarin Oriental further north at Columbus overlooking Central Park.

There are numerous small hotels and Airbnbs in Lower Manhattan.

This post is sponsored by hotellook.com , which knows all the best places to stay in Manhattan.

14 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan (Below 14th Street)

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Your Brooklyn Guide

30+ Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan

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Looking for all the best things to do in Lower Manhattan? We got you. Lower Manhattan, sometimes considered downtown NYC, is not only some of the oldest parts of the United States and New York City dating back to when Dutch settlers started colonization here in the 1600s.

But it’s important to note, before colonization and the arrival of European settlers, everywhere including Lower Manhattan in modern-day New York City was inhabited first by the Lenape people.

While this is a buzzing area for business and office workers during the week, there are several Lower Manhattan attractions that attract tourists and New Yorkers to check out. From historic sites, cool bars and restaurants, great views, museums, and more – this guide will cover all the best things to do in Lower Manhattan, an area that definitely should be included on your New York City itinerary !

But first, what is considered Lower Manhattan or Downtown NYC? The easiest delineation is considered anything below 14th Street on the island of Manhattan.

This includes the following popular neighborhoods ( check here for a full list of Lower Manhattan neighborhoods):

  • Financial District aka FiDi or Wall Street
  • East Village 
  • Greenwich Village which includes the West Village
  • Lower East Side
  • Little Italy
  • Civic Center
  • Battery Park City

Best Lower Manhattan Attractions

One world observatory.

silhouttes of people enjoying the view of the empire state building and nyc skyline from the freedom tower observatory at one world trade center

Address: 117 West Street, Financial District

One of the best Lower Manhattan attractions is the One World Observatory , the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at the World Trade Center in the Financial District.

This is without a doubt one of the best observation decks in NYC and offers 360 views of the city, including great views of the city skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and New York Harbor from their indoor observation area – which also makes it friendly to visit for any season in the city! Better yet, this is an entirely indoor observatory so this is great during the winter or a perfect rainy day activity in NYC . (unless it’s too hazy you may want to save it for another day)

Also, you can enjoy a unique dining experience at the 7th tallest building in the world too! Be sure to snag a reservation at ONE Dine at the top of One World Observatory for lunch or dinner on top of the city! You can only visit as guests of One World Observatory, so don’t miss this opportunity!

Booking ahead of time for the  One World Observatory is the best way to secure tickets to this popular attraction.

9/11 Memorial

911 Memorial and One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattans Financial District

Address: 180 Greenwich Street, Financial District

One way to spend time in downtown NYC is to pay respects and visit the 9/11 Memorial. This memorial has a large free area that anyone can visit. This area, which was the former site of the Twin Towers, has the names of those who passed away in the tragedy and the terrorist attack in 2001 including the victims of the World Trade Center site, Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania site.

If you want to learn more about 9/11 and its ongoing significance, you might want to consider getting a ticket to the 9/11 Museum . This way, you’ll be able to explore the indoor museum, and you can even participate in a guided walking tour. 

Statue of Liberty

the original Statue of Liberty torch in the museum on Liberty Island in NYC

One of the most popular things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit the Statue of Liberty , one of the most iconic symbols of New York City and the United States of America. 

The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, to visit you have to purchase tickets in advance. Keep in mind, you’ll want to plan visiting earlier in the day as the ferry that departs from Manhattan is at 3:30 PM and the last entrance to the pedestal is at 3:30 PM. However, the last ferry leaving the Statue of Liberty is 6:30 PM, so if you do catch the last ferry over you have a few hours to enjoy both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Speaking of, when you purchase your ticket it includes entrance to Ellis Island too, the busiest immigrant inspection and processing station in the history of the United States more than 12 million immigrants came through on their journey to the United States. There are also exhibits and a full museum here as well as the ability to look up any of your relatives that may have passed through Ellis Island, if you’re short on time though you can do this using their online database from home too.

We recommend looking into tour options too including the Statue of Liberty with Pedestal Access & Ellis Island Tour  with a professional licensed guide on a 4-hour tour.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time or missed the ferry, you can get a stellar view of the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan too!

Visit Battery Park

A view of the Statue of liberty from Battery Park

Financial District

Battery Park is a 25-acre park on the southern tip of Manhattan. This park is great for riding bikes, having a picnic, or just admiring the view! It’s also great for catching a free view of the Statue of Liberty, especially if you’re not able to visit it on the trip at any other time! 

If you find yourself here, be sure to check out SeaGlass Carousel. This is a whimsical, underwater, and fish-themed carousel that’s one of the best things to do in NYC with kids !

Battery Park also has several memorials, including the East Coast Memorial , which is one of the most famous and noticeable spots in the entire park and serves as a memorial and reminder of the 4,601 missing American servicemen who lost their lives in combat in World War II in the Atlantic Ocean.

New York Stock Exchange & The Fearless Girl Statue

fearless-girl-outside-of-the-new-york-stock-exchange-in-the-financial-district-of-manhattan-nyc

Address: 11 Wall Street, Financial District

No trip to downtown NYC is complete without visiting the New York Stock Exchange. Located on Wall Street, the NYSE is home to the world’s largest stock exchange in the Financial District. 

Right across from the NYSE is The Fearless Girl Statue. This famous bronze sculpture by artist Kristen Visbal is of a girl that was originally made to promote a higher representation of women in the corporate world. 

The Wall Street Charging Bull

The-Charging-Bull-of-Wall-Street-in-Lower-Manhattan-NYC

Address: 75 Wall Street, Financial District

Right next to the NYSE and The Fearless Girl Statue is The Wall Street Charging Bull. Located at Bowling Green, this bronze statue is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. It was originally made to celebrate NYC’s prosperity! Remember that there is usually always a line to get a photo with this sculpture. 

Lombardi’s Pizza

exterior of Lombardi's pizza in nolita and little italy of lower manhattan in nyc

Address: 32 Spring Street, Nolita

If you’re a foodie, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is to go to Lombardi’s Pizza in the downtown NYC neighborhood of NoLita.

Lombardi’s Pizza was the first pizza restaurant in the United States! Now known as the birthplace of American-Italian pizza, this restaurant has been serving coal-fired, thin-crust pizzas since 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi who hailed from Naples making the some of the city’s best pizza to this day topped with only the finest ingredients.

This place is legendary and one of the only few remaining places in Manhattan you can get coal-oven pizza as environmental regulations in the city. As a matter of fact, Lombardi’s has a larger influence on the pizza scene in NYC than one might think, I personally love this article by Grubstreet about the feuding pizza dynasties in the city, which you’ll spot many of the best pizza restaurants in New York City on here and how they are connected to the original Lombardi’s.

Katz Delicatessen

where-harry-met-sally-at-katz-deli-movie-in-new-york-city

Address: 205 East Houston Street, Lower East Side

Another famous restaurant in Lower Manhattan worth checking out is Katz Delicatessen. Located on the Lower East Side, this historic old-school deli has been serving super tall sandwiches since 1888. In fact, they claim to be New York’s first deli ever!

Katz Deli is famous for its classic Jewish deli sandwiches like pastrami and corned beef. It’s also an infamous NYC filming location for When Harry Met Sally ! In fact, you can sit in the booth that was seen in the movie since it’s marked with a special sign. 

Fraunces Tavern

Fraunces Tavern in the Financial District of Manhattan

Address: 54 Pearl Street, Financial District

Fraunces Tavern is one of the oldest bars in NYC , this historic tavern was established in 1762! Today, Fraunces Tavern is still one of the most popular historic bars in the country. If only the walls could talk here, this is where the country’s founding fathers would drink, the last location where Alexander Hamilton was seen alive before his infamous duel with Aaron Burr (who was also spotted that night, and where George Washington gave his farewell address to his continental army. 

Located in the Financial District, this pub serves great food and has live music on the weekends. There is also the upstairs piano bar too.

During the day, you can also visit the Fraunces Tavern Museum which has exhibitions and education around the American Revolution housed in upstairs of the tavern.

Stone Street

stone street igloo restaurant in manhattan

Address: Stone Street between Whitehall Street and Hanover Square

Another great spot in the Financial District is Stone Street. This short, cobblestone street is one of the oldest in NYC! This street was one of the first to be paved with cobblestones in 1794.

Historic Stone Street is now a pedestrian-only street that’s dotted with restaurants and bars, which is a great place to grab a bite or drink and take a break from exploring all the great Lower Manhattan attractions.

Since this is one of the oldest streets in the history of the United States, you can imagine there is a lot of history that took place here. In fact, it’s a designated historic district and we highly encourage those who are inquisitive or interested in the history of the area to join a tour, like the Story of Hamilton Walking Tour which takes a walk down Stone Street as at the site of a parking garage down here was where Hamilton practiced law.

Staten Island Ferry

staten-island-ferry-next-to-statue-of-liberty-in-new-york-harbor-view-from-red-hook-brooklyn

Address: 4 Whitehall Street, Financial District

One of the best free things to do in NYC in Lower Manhattan is taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry! By taking the Staten Island Ferry, you can get one of the best up close and free views of the Statue of Liberty , and you can even BYOB! So be sure to stop at a mart to grab a beer or you can grab one in Whitehall Terminal where the ferry departs in downtown Manhattan.

Another great thing about the Staten Island Ferry is that it runs 24 hours a day and a new trip happens every 15-20 minutes, so if you’re looking for something to do last minute, this is a great option. 

Head outside once you’re on the ferry to catch a beautiful unobstructed view of Lady Liberty, be sure to also admire the Lower Manhattan skyline as you take off for Staten Island too. You’ll arrive to St. George’s Terminal once you’re at Staten Island. You’ll have to quickly disembark and hurry to catch the next ferry that’s leaving.

If you miss it, don’t worry your wait will be no more than 15-20 minutes, plus you can say you hung out in Staten Island. If you’re looking for something to do in Staten Island before heading back to Manhattan, consider walking around 13 minutes to  Postcards , a September 11th Memorial dedicated to the 274 Staten Island residents who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks as well as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Visit Governors Island

view of WTC from The Hill at Governors Island in NYC

Address: Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street, Financial District

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is use this opportunity to catch a ride on the Governors Island Ferry at the Battery Maritime Building in downtown NYC. In recent years, Governors Island opened year-round, which used to be open seasonally and is an awesome place to spend the day! 

This former military base island located in New York Harbor between Brooklyn and Manhattan is now a public park. There are so many amazing things to do at Governors Island from dining with a view of the city, renting bikes to ride around the island, enjoying one of the most epic spa days in New York with skyline views, to glamping on Governors Island  where you can wake up to views of the Statue of Liberty and the One World Trade.

Speaking of the views, you’ll want to adventure around the island as there are several great unobstructed vantage points of the Statue of Liberty, which is the closest you’ll get on land without actually being on Liberty Island as well as the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Many of the former military barracks and living quarters are now artist residencies, which when they’re open you can go inside and see what each artist is working on which is pretty unique! Even one of the chapels that was a part of the military base has been transformed into a permanent art installation known as the May Room by artist Shantell Martin .

What’s awesome is you can spend as little or as much time here as you want and it’s really easy to catch the Governors Island ferry or the NYC ferry to and from the island.

Ghostbusters Firehouse

Hook-and-Ladder-Co-8-in-Tribeca-NYC-where-Ghostbusters-was-filmed

Address: 14 N Moore St, Tribeca

One of the coolest Lower Manhattan attractions is the Ghostbuster’s Firehouse! Located in TriBeCa, you can check out the exterior of this 1903 Beaux-Arts firehouse as it’s one of the greatest NYC filming locations of all time. Hook & Ladder Company 8 is still an operational firehouse, so be sure to not get in the way of any firefighters who might be on the go, not to mention the firefighters at FDNY 8 were some of the first responders on 9/11.

This attraction won’t be hard to miss since they have ghostbusters painted on the sidewalk right outside and a sign in the window fully embracing and paying homage to this cult classic film.

AIRE Ancient Baths

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by AIRE Ancient Baths US (@aireancientbaths_us)

Address: 88 Franklin Street, Tribeca

AIRE Ancient Baths is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a full-on relaxation and wellness experience. If you want a luxury day at the spa, AIRE is the place for you. Here, you can indulge in various holistic treatments like relaxing in a Himalayan salt room or getting a massage.

Located in a former textile factory from 1883, AIRE has a dark, relaxing atmosphere that is perfect for meditating and enjoying yourself. Here, you can find lots of great couples packages, individual treatments, and various thermal baths making it one of the best spas in NYC .

African Burial Ground National Monument

African Burial Ground National Monument National Park in NYC

Address: 290 Broadway, Civic Center

One of the most important Lower Manhattan attractions is the African Burial Ground National Monument. This monument was a part of the African American Freedom Trail. Today, it serves to remind us of the contributions of the free and enslaved Africans in Manhattan in the 17th and 18th centuries.

This monument has an interactive visitor’s center, impactful artwork, and an outdoor memorial to the burial ground. There is no fee to visit.

Be sure to check out more of the stops on the NYC Freedom Trail in Lower Manhattan too.

inside the Oculus at One World Trade Center mall in Lower Manhattan NYC

Address: 185 Greenwich Street, Financial District

Oculus is a shopping mall and transportation hub located at the World Trade Center. Its impressive interior and lively outdoor beer garden are just a few of the reasons why so many people stop here while sightseeing at Lower Manhattan attractions.

Inside, you’ll find tons of shops in this Westfield Shopping mall as well as 12 subway lines and the PATH train to New Jersey.

Outside, you’ll find several larger-than-life colorful murals and Oculus Beer Garden open seasonally (early April through the end of November).

Even though Oculus has great outdoor areas, it’s also the perfect place in downtown NYC to go when the weather is bad, and you want to hang out indoors or catch a break from the cold in winter.

Comedy Cellar

Address: 117 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village

One of the most iconic things to do in Lower Manhattan is visit a comedy club, which some of the best are located in Greenwich Village including Comedy Cellar. Comedy Cellar is one of the most famous comedy clubs in the country! In addition to their multiple nightly shows and lineups, many top comedians do surprise drop-ins. 

Comedy Cellar is centrally located on a lively block that’s great for bar hopping or grabbing a quick bite. However, keep in mind that Comedy Cellar does have a two-item minimum on food or drinks in addition to your ticket cost, but it’s easy to do while you’re enjoying the show.

Because Comedy Cellar is so popular, it’s recommended that you get tickets in advance since many of the shows there sell out. However, you can always try to wait in line and get in on standby, it’s best to head to the entrance an hour before the show and ask the bouncer if you can get on the stand-by list.

Comedy Cellar also has sister locations in Greenwich Village just steps away for more shows too including the Black Fat Pussycat and the Village Underground.

Washington Square Park

People watching at Washington Square Park in Manhattan a man with a snake at the fountain

Address: Washington Square, Greenwich Village

Another awesome spot to visit in Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park. This iconic Downtown NYC park is perfect for people-watching. It’s also great to grab some to-go food and pop on a bench here since it’s surrounded by great restaurants and coffee shops! 

Many NYU students hang out here since the campus surrounds the park. You’ll find all types of performers just about any day of the week, rain or shine here near the infamous arch and fountain. If you plan on visiting during a nice day, you can expect it to be pretty crowded. 

Washington Square Park is also home to the historic landmark of the Washington Square Arch! This marble memorial arch was created in 1895 and had statues of George Washington added in the 1910s. It’s rumored to be one of the most haunted spots in NYC too.

Be sure to check out the vantage point from both sides of the arch too as it perfectly frames the One World Trade from one side and the Empire State Building from the other side.

Famous Filming Locations of Greenwich Village

Little-Owl-Restaurant-and-Friends-apartment-Building-in-NYC

The West Village and Greenwich Village have many famous filming locations that are free to check out! For instance, you can see the exterior shots that were used for the Friends’ apartment at 90 Bedford Street in the West Village.

Just a few blocks away, you can also visit the stairs that lead up to Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment at 66 Perry Street! 

Don Draper, from Mad Men, had his bachelor pad at 104 Waverly Place. 

In general, this is a beautiful neighborhood to just walk around or grab an outdoor table at a cafe or restaurant here. It’s not uncommon to spot celebrities in this neighborhood too.

Trinity Church

Trinity-Church-in-the-Financial-District-in-Lower-Manhattan-NYC

Address: 89 Broadway, Financial District

If you like learning about NYC’s fascinating history, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit Trinity Church. Located in the Financial District, this historic church was one of the first examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the country. It also has a graveyard that has Alexander Hamilton’s tombstone along with his wife, Eliza Schuyler.

The  Story of Hamilton Walking Tour includes a visit to the Trinity Church and other nearby attractions; it’s a great way to learn about the history from a professional guide! 

This Lower Manhattan attraction is also a historic site, you can visit inside the church daily along with the churchyard. Visitors are required to go through the security and safety check to enter.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum of American Art Museum in NYC

Address: 99 Gansevoort Street, Meatpacking District/West Village

The Whitney Museum of American Art is an art museum in the Meatpacking District and one of the best museums in NYC to visit. This museum has many fascinating art and media exhibits. It’s also near the High Line, an elevated greenway where you can walk around and enjoy the views of the Hudson River.

If you’re visiting The Whitney, it’s best to get a ticket ahead of time online to ensure that you have a slot booked. On Fridays, this museum is pay what you wish from 7-9 PM (advance ticket required). 

The Whitney has tons of outdoor exhibits that are great for viewing at sunset. There is also a shop inside that’s perfect for merchandise, souvenirs, and books. 

The Stonewall Inn & National Monument

Stonewall-Inn-and-pride-flags-in-NYC

Address: 53 Christopher Street, Greenwich Village

The Stonewall Inn is a gay bar and National Historic Landmark in Greenwich Village that served as a refuge for the LGBT community in the 1960s. This is where the historic Stonewall uprising took place, including the 1969 riots that was a pivotal and key turning point in the gay rights movement.

Across the street in the small Christopher Park is the Stonewall Inn National Monument which is overseen by the National Parks department.

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum-of-Jewish-Heritage-in-Battery-Park-in-Lower-Manhattan-NYC

Address: 36 Battery Place, Financial District

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is a living memorial to the Holocaust. Located in Battery Park, this museum has tons of educational exhibitions about 20th and 21st-century Jewish life as well as exhibits that will allow you to learn more about the victims of the Holocaust.

This museum constantly has new installations coming out, including immersive exhibits using features like virtual reality. The museum is educational and a harrowing reminder of this terrible time in history. Keep in mind this is more of a somber experience, but still important and a reminder of the consequences of social injustice and discrimination, which is still very relevant today.

This museum also has a cafe on site and views of the Hudson River, New York Harbor, and Statue of Liberty from the upper floors.

National Museum of the American Indian

National-Museum-of-the-American-Indian-Smithsonian-Museum-in-Lower-Manhattan-NYC

Address: 1 Bowling Green, Financial District

Another one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit the National Museum of the American Indian, one of two Smithsonian Museums in New York.

Located in a former Alexander Hamilton Customs House, this free museum has several interactive displays and Native American artifacts that date to 12,000 years as well as exhibits and educational programming around the history and culture of indigenous people in North America.

The museum is also located across from the oldest park in the city, Bowling Green Park as well as near the Charging Bull and many other Lower Manhattan attractions. 

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport District in Lower Manhattan

Address: Where Fulton Street meets the East River

South Street Seaport is a great place where you can stroll through the cobblestone streets and stop by the cafes, shops, museums, and restaurants in this charming historic district that features some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan.

This neighborhood and historic district is definitely a juxtaposition of old and new. The architecture alone is worth visiting as there are several 19th-century storefronts and mercantile that house all the charming businesses here. To learn more about the history of this area, be sure to pay a visit to the South Street Seaport Museum which has permanent and rotating exhibits.

You can also visit Pier 17 and enjoy the views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn skyline from across the East River.

Although South Street was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, it has since undergone intensive restoration and is now a great place to spend the afternoon, especially when it’s nice outside!

Eat Your Way Through Chinatown

meal-spread-at-Deluxe-Green-Bo-in-Chinatown-NYC

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is spending an afternoon in Chinatown, starting by eating here as there are SO many incredible spots to dine here and a foodie hotspot.

Not only is this neighborhood home to one of the largest Asian-American populations in the country, but it’s also one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city. 

Some of the best Chinese food can be found at Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles, Joe’s Shanghai, Xi’an Famous Foods, and Peking Duck House, and Deluxe Green Bo just to name a few. Visit Nam Wah Tea Parlor, the oldest Dim Sum restaurant in the city too. Follow up by visiting the many bakeries and bubble tea shops for a sweet treat.

Keep in mind that many Chinatown restaurants are cash-only, so have some handy. Another awesome thing about eating in Chinatown is that somehow, unlike everywhere else in the city, they have managed to be some of the most affordable meals in New York City  (and delicious).

Also, one of the best things to do in NYC in February is attending the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown, which is not to be missed if you’re visiting in the winter!

Museum of Chinese in America

exterior-of-the-Museum-of-Chinese-America-in-Lower-Manhattan-NYC

Address: 215 Centre Street, Chinatown/Little Italy

Another one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit the Museum of Chinese in America. This Chinese American history museum focuses on telling the untold stories of Chinese immigrants.

This museum has three permanent galleries and many rotating exhibitions. Through these galleries, exhibits, and public programs, guests can learn about Chinese American food, music, history, fashion, and more.

Tenement Museum

The-Tenement-Museum-on-the-Lower-East-Side-of-Manhattan-in-NYC

Address: 97 & 103 Orchard Street, Lower East Side

The Tenement Museum is a National Historic Site on the Lower East Side. By visiting this downtown NYC attraction, you’ll get a glimpse into the history and see the real tenement buildings and what immigrants’ lives were like in NYC in the 19th century.

The Tenement Museum has several options, best booked in advance as this is a popular experience. There are two historic tenement buildings that are a part of the museum, the rooms that are available to visit on tours showcase what living conditions and life were like through the stories of real immigrants.

The two buildings were home to nearly 15,000 people from over 20 countries spanning the 1860s-2011. The goal of the museum is to showcase the stories and historical perspectives of the immigrant experience and promote tolerance, which is still relevant today.

There are two types of tours to take, walking tours of the neighborhood or guided tours through the tenement apartments. There are 6 different apartment tours you can choose from, if you’re having a hard time choosing which to try first, 100 Years Apart features two apartments a century apart and the stories of the two different immigrant women and their lives showcasing the similarities in their struggles, hopes, and survival as new residents to New York City and the United States of America.

The walking tours take you around the Lower East Side neighborhood with a guide and historian. There are currently four different options for the walking tours which feature different narratives and experiences of the people who lived in the neighborhood.

Brookfield Place

the winter light display and luminaries in Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan NYC

Address: 230 Vessey Street, Financial District

Another one of the best Lower Manhattan attractions is Brookfield Place. This high-end and luxury shopping mall is one of the best places to visit to get in the holiday spirit! Here, you can watch their illuminated light show during the holiday season and see some of the best Christmas lights in the city .

The Rink at Brookfield Place is an ice skating rink here along the Hudson River that also makes for another fun winter activity.

It’s worth taking a lap around Brookfield Place even if you’re not in the mood to shop designer labels, there are great restrooms and facilities to use here while exploring all the best things to do in Lower Manhattan and there are also more dining options available here if you’re looking for a quick place to grab a bite to eat.

McSorley’s Old Ale House

McSorley's-Old-Ale-House-historic-bar-in-NYC

Address: 15 East 7th Street, East Village

One of the most famous historic bars in the is McSorely’s Ale House, established in 1854 and the oldest Irish Pub in New York. Known for its great beer, this Lower Manhattan attraction was originally an Irish working man’s saloon located in the East Village.

The entire bar is covered floor to ceiling with old memorabilia that hasn’t been removed since 1910! Many of these items even have stories behind them, like the wishbones hanging above the bar were supposedly hung there by soldiers going off to WWI to be taken back down when they returned, the ones that are left hanging are said to be by those who did not return sadly.

There’s a lot of history tied to this historic establishment, including prohibition-era stories where they served ‘near beer’ which was low enough in alcohol content it was considered legal. This was also one of the last ‘men-only’ establishments that wouldn’t allow women in until they were forced to do so in 1970…

Today, any gender can visit and expect sawdust on the floor and a no-frills feel here. At this ale house, you’ll have a choice between light or dark ale, the only two beers they have. You can also indulge in their chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and french fries. Just keep in mind, it’s cash-only here! 

Speakeasies of LES

The-Backroom-Speakeasy-and-Bar-in-the-Lower-East-Side-NYC

The Lower East Side is loaded with prohibition-era history and speakeasies! If you find yourself in the neighborhood, be sure to check out The Back Room. This speakeasy was running during the prohibition and was a favorite of the gangsters of the roaring 20s, including Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and Meyer Lansky. 

Another place worth visiting is Attaboy, a speakeasy in a trendy industrial space with tons of celebrity sightings!

Another to be sure to check out the famous Beauty & Essex. The entrance of this speakeasy looks like a pawn shop, but as you make your way through the space, you’ll be able to enter the lively restaurant and lounge for great American food and creative cocktails. 

Check out all of our favorite speakeasies in NYC for more ideas!

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

empty-brooklyn-bridge-walk-in-the-winter-in-NYC

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most quintessential things to do in New York City ! Since this is such a popular activity, be prepared for large crowds, especially if it’s a nice sunny day, holidays, or weekends.

The entire Brooklyn Bridge takes about 30-40 minutes to walk depending on how many photo breaks you take or how crowded it is. If you really want the best photo opportunities, it’s best to start on the Brooklyn side so you can see the skyline in the background the entire time. 

You’ll exit (or enter) the Brooklyn Bridge at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

Grand Banks

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by GRAND BANKS ® (@grandbanksnyc)

Address: Pier 25, Hudson River, Tribeca

Grand Banks is a fantastic seasonal oyster bar on the historic ship Sherman Zwicker at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan.

Typically opening for the season in late April or early May (depending on the type of spring we’re having) through the end of fall, you’ll want to snag a reservation on the deck for fresh oysters and drinks accompanied by fantastic views of the skyline and Hudson River.

This is without a doubt one of the best waterfront restaurants in the city and the perfect place to be at sunset.

Candlelight Catacombs Tour

the-church-graveyard-at-the-Basilica-of-Old-St-Patricks-Cathedral-in-Nolita-in-NYC

Address: 263 Mulberry Street, Nolita

One of the best downtown NYC tours is the Catacombs by Candlelight tour at the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Nolita. This is actually the oldest St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the city and is the official held seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until the other. Yep, that’s right the more famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown on 5th Avenue opened in 1879 (64 years after Old St. Patrick’s was built).

The  Catacombs by Candlelight tour  takes you through a 90-minute guided journey through the catacombs, the organ, and the cemetery – all of which are off-limits to the public. Along the journey, you’ll learn about the Gangs of New York (another Scorsese film based on true events) and other secrets of NYC!

You’ll also learn about the cathedral and some of New York City’s most fascinating historical events, and you’ll be able to see where the baptism scene of The Godfather was filmed!

Then at the very end of your tour, you will get a candle to explore the catacombs of the prominent Catholic families of NYC including the Delmonico’s of the famous steakhouse! Book your Catacombs by Candlelight tour here.

Jackie Robinson Museum

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by Jackie Robinson Foundation (@jrfoundation)

Address: 75 Varick Street, Hudson Square

The Jackie Robinson Museum , which took 14 years to complete is a museum that celebrates the legacy of Jackie Robinson, his greatest achievements, and how they all fit into American history.

The Jackie Robinson Museum focuses on the issues that still challenge our society today, including racial, economic, and social equality. If you’re into history, baseball, and/or iconic American figures, visiting this museum is a perfect downtown NYC activity for you!

The New Museum

            View this post on Instagram                         A post shared by New Museum (@newmuseum)

Address: 235 Bowery Street, Lower East Side

Visiting The New Museum is another one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan.. This internationally renowned contemporary art museum is on the Lower East Side, near many great restaurants and bars! (Like Freeman’s, Ray’s, Loreley Beer Garden, Russ & Daughters, and Katz Deli to name a few).

The New Museum has over 6,000 exhibition pieces featuring the work of contemporary artists who haven’t had much exposure. They often have fun events too like book launches, trivia nights, and artist talks too.

The 7th-floor terrace is not to be missed when you visit. 

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Girl With The Passport

24+ Amazing Things to do in Lower Manhattan!

By: Author Girl with the Passport

Posted on Last updated: June 11, 2023

Categories New York City

Looking for amazing things to do in Lower Manhattan? If so then you’ve come to the right place you beautiful, lovely reader you.

Because guess what? SURPRISE! I’ve lived in New York City for well over twenty years and know a ton of secret expert tips that will help you find some of the more unusual things to do in New York City .

But, not to worry my first-time visitors. Because you too will find some iconic New York City landmarks on this list that you could easily add to any 4 days New York City itinerary .

So, whether it’s your first or ten-thousandth time to New York City, you’ll definitely find some wicked awesome things to do in lower Manhattan that will satisfy your curiosity and leave you thinking something along the lines of, “Holy Hannah Batman, I never knew THAT was in NYC”.

And yes, that exact phrase has gone through my head countless times.

That’s why, if you’re ready to be equal parts, stunned, amazed, and excited, then frolic with me into this detailed guide to the 20+ most amazing things to do in lower Manhattan.

Heck, you’ll even get a free interactive map along the way that will help you plan the perfect trip to NYC.

Yup, you’re welcome.

Because here at Girl with the Passport, my only goal is to make your life a whole hell of a lot easier as you plan the ultimate New York bucket list, you intrepid traveler you.

Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

***Booking a flight to NYC and not sure where to stay in NYC? Then check out 414 Hotel (Rooms at this chic, Hell’s Kitchen hotel start at $159 per night and include fridges, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. There’s even a working fireplace in the lobby!), The James New York (Chic, modern rooms at this Soho hotel start at $177 per night and feature high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, plush linens made from natural materials, and more), The Bowery Hotel (Rooms at this 5-star, Nolita hotel start at $300 per night and are cozy, but stylish, with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and more). and Pod 39 (Located in Murray Hill, this pod hotel sits inside a residential home from 1918. Rooms here start at $120 per night and are cozy and outfitted with queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with individual TVs and bedside shelves).***

Wait, Should I Get the New York Pass?

Before I even start this post on all of the insanely awesome things to do in lower Manhattan, let’s talk about the New York Pass .

Because there are a ton of different NYC discount passes out there that can save you a whole bunch of money if you know how to use them.

And while I’m not gonna go into great detail about the New York Pass here, (I wrote an entire post about it with an insanely detailed review of all the NYC discount passes available , including an in-depth price breakdown to help you determine if the pass is right for you), suffice it to say that the New York Pass is worth it if you’re planning on seeing a whole bunch of big-name sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the MET, etc.

Therefore, if it’s your first time in NYC and you want to see ALL the things, that the New York Pass will be perfect for you.

However, if you’ve been to NYC 10,000 different times and are looking to get off the beaten path, then the New York Pass may not save you a whole lot of money.

But, to make a more informed decision, feel free to read my full review here . Seriously, it’s awesome and really does have everything you need to know.

Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan – Landmarks

1. take a ride on the staten island ferry.

A view of the Staten Island Ferry going from Manhattan to Staten Island. It's also one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan!

A view of the Staten Island Ferry going from Manhattan to Staten Island. It’s also one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan!

I cannot in good conscience create a list of the best things to do in lower Manhattan without mentioning the Staten Island Ferry!

“Why?” you may rightly wonder?

Well, for a couple of really good reasons. Firstly, the Staten Island Ferry is totally free to ride and offers killer views of the Statue of Liberty – stunning panoramas that you just won’t get if you book a Statue of Liberty Tour and actually go on Liberty Island itself.

No really, trust me on this. The Statue of Liberty Tour is super over-priced and not really worth your time.

Sure, the views can be nice, but that’s about it since there really isn’t all that much to do on Liberty island once you get there.

It’s also kind of difficult to take really beautiful photos of Lady Liberty when you’re on the island itself.

Therefore, I’d personally skip the Statue of Liberty Tour and just opt for the Staten Island Ferry instead.

And if you’re a sucker for all things history, then I’d also check out Ellis Island since it’s easily one of the best museums in NYC .

But, more on that later.

So, if you wanna do as all the super savvy locals do, then go ahead and board the Staten Island Ferry at the aptly named “Staten Island Ferry Terminal” in Battery Park.

As you walk into the park, the terminal will be on your left. Yeah, it’s huge and has “Staten Island Ferry Terminal” in big a$$ letters on it so you definitely won’t be able to miss it.

It’s also one of the few free things to do in New York City that is actually cheaper now than it was in 1817 when a round trip ticket for the ferry cost $0.25.

FYI, the ride to and from Staten Island will last around twenty-five minutes each way (The best views of the Statue of Liberty will also be on the right-hand side of the ferry, as you make your way from Manhattan to Staten Island. Try to find a window that opens so that you don’t have to take pics through the window though for the best photo ops), so be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

You also won’t be able to just stay on the ferry and will actually have to disembark in Staten Island and then re-board the ferry back to Manhattan.

However, luckily for you, the ferry is actually just like the city that never sleeps and runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with boats departing every 15 to 30 minutes.

That being said though, the ferry can get ridiculously crowded during rush hour. And for those of you not in the know, that is typically on weekdays between 6:00 am and 9:30 am and then again between 3:30 pm and 8:00 pm.

So yeah, do your best to avoid the Staten Island Ferry like the plague during these times of day.

***Really wanna live it up while you’re exploring New York City? Then check out this stellar, 60-minute sunset cruise around New York Harbor. Not only is this cruise reasonably be priced, but you’ll also be able to enjoy sweeping, sunset views of the Manhattan skyline, but you can also admire various New York City icons like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge. and more. So, book now and start planning the New York City itinerary of your dreams!***

Address: Staten Island Ferry Terminal, New York, NY 10004

Hours: Ferries depart every 15 to 20 minutes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How to Get There: Take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green and then walk to the ferry terminal in Battery Park.

Price: FREE!

2. The Seaglass Carousel

This is one of those super cool things to do in lower Manhattan that not everyone knows about.

A fact that is kind of surprising since it’s conveniently located in Battery Park and will make you feel like a total kid again.

Plus, a ride on this one-of-a-kind carousel will also cost you a mere $5 and will have you sitting inside an LED illuminated fish that will exquisitely dance its way around a Nautilus shaped building – a place that is also just a short walk away from the aforementioned Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

So yeah, you could easily see both attractions at the same time.

However, I know what you’re thinking. Why a random fish carousel in Battery Park?

Well, apparently the creators of Battery Park wanted to add something light and bright to the seemingly mundane design of this iconic New York City park.

Accordingly, they created the beyond whimsical Seaglass Carousel – a super cool experience in NYC that is perfect for anyone looking to embrace their inner child.

Also, Battery Park was actually the former home of the very first aquarium in New York City, So yeah, builders definitely wanted to pay homage to this park’s unique past.

So, take a whirl and enjoy all that Battery Park has to offer. Besides, you’re in the area anyway so might as well.

Address: Water St &, State St, New York, NY

Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 10 pm.

Price: Tickets are $5 for everyone.

How to Get There: You can either take the 1 line to South Ferry Station OR the 4/5 to Bowling Green Station.

3. Check out the Used Books at Strand Bookstore

The miles of used books you'll find at Strand used bookstore in Lower Manhattan.

The miles of used books you’ll find at Strand used bookstore in Lower Manhattan.

Known for being one of the best bookstores in NYC , Strand is a straight-up New York institution.

And that makes sense once you realize that this fine purveyor of used books in lower Manhattan is home to 2.5 million books that span a glorious length of 16 miles.

Yeah, I see that skeptical look on your face right now. But no, I’m NOT exaggerating. This place is THAT gigantic.

However, in spite of its massive size, this bookstore is still pretty well-known and is located right next door to Union Square.

Therefore, it can get quite crowded and is best visited on a quiet, weekday morning.

Although, what this place lacks in solitude, it more than makes up for with top-notch customer service since the staff here are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, easily making any book-buying experience here a total joy (They also have a stellar selection of literary-inspired souvenirs on-sale here if you’re not looking for any new books).

Oh, and another super cool fact for you? This place was actually first opened by Benjamin Bass in 1927, an immigrant from Lithuania whose family now owns one of the oldest bookstores in all of NYC.

Yup, true story.

Also, don’t leave without visiting the third floor. It’s brimming over with an awe-inspiring collection of rare books that are all for sale. Which is kind of appealing if you have an extra $300+ lying around to spend on the super rare, antique, leather-bound book of your choice.

Address: 828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (main location, but there is also a pop-up shop and two kiosks)

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with curbside pick available daily from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Price: Free, unless you want to buy a book.

How to Get There: Take the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R, or W trains to 14th Street-Union Square Station and walk to the store from there. Otherwise, you can take the M1, M2, or M3 bus to 4th Avenue/E 13th Street.

4. Explore Washington Square Park

An aerial view of Washington Square Park and the Stanford White Arch.

An aerial view of Washington Square Park and the Stanford White Arch.

Definitely one of the more touristy things to do in Manhattan , Washington Square Park is an iconic New York City greenspace.

A place where all the cool NYU students go to relax, hang out, and live the proverbial NYC dream when they’re not studying

That’s why, as you enter the park, you’ll see tons of uber-trendy, Greenwich Village residents captivated by street performers, skateboarding along the park’s many walkways, and playing a rousing game of speed chess amidst the area’s many beautiful Greek Revival style townhouses.

However, no trip to Washington Square Park would ever be complete without stopping to admire the Stanford White Arch, a 73-foot tall structure that is made of nothing but white Tuckahoe marble.

And if you think this icon looks a whole lot like the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, you’d be 100% correct since this edifice was actually modeled after that immortal Parisian attraction.

Yup, you’ll find it quietly sitting along the Northside of the park, just waiting for you to snap a photo since this is easily one of the most Instagrammable places in NYC .

Just stand facing the Stanford White Arch (straight on) while looking down Fifth Avenue and you’ll easily be able to frame this amazing Washington Square Park landmark around the Empire State Building in the background.

Just be sure to get here early if you want to avoid having tons of mildly angsty teens and college students constantly walking in and out of your shots.

Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012

Hours: Open 6:00 am to 12:00 am daily.

Price: Free!

How to Get There: Just take the A/C/E train or the B/D/F/M train to stops at Washington Square Park and walk from there.

5. Visit the Flatiron Building

The flatiron building in lower Manhattan. One of the best things to do in lower Manhattan.

The flatiron building in lower Manhattan. One of the best things to do in lower Manhattan.

Perhaps one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of architecture in all of Lower Manhattan is the Flatiron Building in Gramercy.

It’s got that iconic, well, flatiron-like shape that was the brainchild of Daniel Burnham, who first built the structure way back in ye olde 1902, when it was still known as the Fuller Building.

Since then though, the narrow, triangular shape of this 20-story, traditional beaux-arts limestone building (with a terracotta facade) has become somewhat legendary and is now easily one of the top things to do in lower Manhattan.

For the best photo ops though, capture it from the traffic island that sits on 23rd street, right in between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

Whatever you do though, do NOT photograph it straight on since you’ll totally lose the beautiful shape of the building.

Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day since you’ll just be admiring it from the outside.

Price: Free (You’ll just be looking at the otuside ). 

How to Get There: T ake the R or W train from Times Square to 23rd street station and walk to the building from there.

6. Chelsea Market

A red with a cow advertising for Chelsea Market.

A red with a cow advertising for Chelsea Market.

Want to eat every single one of your feelings while in Lower Manhattan? Or, are you just a diehard foodie looking for super-cool things to do in Lower Manhattan?

Well, if you answered yes to either of the above questions then run, don’t walk, to Chelsea Market. It’s located in the ever-vibrant Chelsea neighborhood and was once an industrial factory that is now overflowing with a variety of different food stalls and quaint little shops that are sure to satisfy visitors with a variety of different tastes (both gastronomically and aesthetically speaking).

It’s also pretty dang popular so don’t expect to have the place all to yourself, even if you visit during the week since a lot of people stop by for a quick to-go lunch.

And on the weekends? Well, this epic market is packed with people, people, and, oh yeah, more people. So much so that you’ll probably feel more like a Sardine than an actual person.

That’s okay though since Chelsea Market is home to some of the best eateries (and shops) in the entire city.

Also, here’s a shortlist of some of my personal favie faves for your pure, unadulterated, gastronomic, and non-gastronomic pleasure.

  • Artists and Fleas – Quirky little flea market style shop that has a ton of trendy souvenirs and knick-knacks for sale that are made by a variety of different local artists.
  • Bar Suzette Creperie – You go here for, DUH, freshly made crepes.
  • Doughnuttery – Great selection of freshly made mini-doughnuts.
  • Mok Bar – Serves delicious Korean-style Ramen.
  • Takumi – It’s an odd but delightfully delicious combo since they perfectly fuse Japanese and Mexican style ingredients.
  • Very Fresh Noodles – Really good hand-pulled noodle dishes from Northern China
  • Ninth Street Espresso – Honestly, their lattes are amazing and this is easily one of the best coffee shops in NYC.
  • Num Pang – Killer Cambodian style sammies,
  • Fat Witch Bakery – For the love of God and all that is holy, do not leave without getting a brownie.
  • Posman Books – A fun bookstore DEFO worth checking out if you’re a book lover like me.
  • Heatonist – For anyone who is obsessed with hot sauce almost as much as I am.

Address: 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 2:00 am and on Sundays from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Price: It’s free to walk around but you’ll obviously have to pay if you want to buy anything.

How to Get There: Take the A/C/E from Port Authority, get off at 14th Street, and walk to Chelsea Market from there.

7. Stroll Along The Highline

Some of the stunning views you'll see along the Highline.

Some of the stunning views you’ll see along the Highline.

Holy Hannah batman!

The Highline actually made it onto this list of awesome things to do in Lower Manhattan.

And that is shocking…to exactly no one since this is easily one of the most famous parks/walkways on this list – a now immortal attraction that also doubles as one of the most romantic things to do in New York City .

However, just in case you’re not quite in the know, the Highline is a 1.5-mile-long walkway that runs along the west side of Manhattan (it starts at the Javits Center and runs all the way down to the Whitney Museum of American Art).

It was also first opened in 2009 when it was built atop an old railway track. A beautiful piece of NYC’s architectural past that now provides exceptionally lucky visitors with some of the best views in the entire city.

You’ll also discover various modern art displays along the way when you’re not, you know, totally captivated by the views, enjoying a quick bite to eat at nearby Chelsea Market, or taking in the botanical beauty all around you.

FYI, while you’re in the area, you could also stop by the Whitney Museum of American Art or explore nearby Hudson Yards (this is where you’ll find the Vessel) since both are literally right here.

Address: Since the Highline spans 1.5 miles, check here (under accessibility) for an entry point near you.

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 am to 8:00 pm

Price : Free

How to get there: Check here (under transportation) for transportation information since it will depend on your starting point.

8 Charging Bull Statue

The iconic Charging Bull statue near New York City's stock exchange.

The iconic Charging Bull statue near New York City’s stock exchange.

Honestly? This is probably one of my LEAST favorite things to do in lower Manhattan.

Because truthfully, all there really is to do here is take a photo with this sculpture designed by Maestro Arturo Di Modica and then leave.

Plus, this place is a total mecca for tourists and is forever brimming over with crowds of selfie stick-wielding photo mongers who want to take a quick snapshot with this immortal New York City statue.

So, if you desperately want to procure a photo op with this bronze statue of the Wall Street Bull (aka the Bowling Green Bull) then get here super early (like right at the crack of dawn).

Yeah, this is probably the only time of day when there won’t be anyone here. You know, like photo mad hordes of visitors desperately seeking selfies on Broadway, just north of Bowling Green in NYC’s iconic Financial District.

***Since you’re in the area anyway, you can also see the Fearless Girl statue and visit the New York Stock Exchange since both are less than a 5-minute walk away. ***

Address: Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004 (just type “Charging Bull Statue” into Google maps and you’ll be able to find it no problem.

Hours: Open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 train to Bowling Green station and walk to the statue from there.

9. Trinity Church

Trinity Church interior in New York.

Trinity Church interior in New York

Sadly, the original Trinity Church was actually destroyed by fire in ye olde 1776.

Womp, womp, womp.

However, the church was then later rebuilt…and then totally demolished in 1839.

I know, this building clearly doesn’t have a whole lot of luck of the good variety.

Thankfully though, the current neo-Gothic structure, which was designed by Richard Upjohn, still stands today and was actually New York City’s tallest building in 1846, when it first was constructed.

And although it has long since lost that alluring title, it’s still an iconic NYC landmark that features a 280-foot tall bell tower and a stunning glass window display that sits above the church’s central altar.

It also has a beautiful adjacent cemetery that is a great place to take a walk and marvel at the final resting place of none other than famous New York City resident, Alexander Hamilton.

So yeah, clearly one of the best things to do in lower Manhattan for all my fellow history lovers out there.

If you want, you can even swing by at 1:00 pm on Fridays for the church’s ongoing organ-recital series, which is locally known as Pipes at One, or for an assortment of lovely evening choral performances that are held throughout the year.

***PSST…just so you know, the church is currently closed for a renovation project that should be completed sometime in early 2021. As a result, you probably won’t be allowed to go inside the church or the associated churchyard where you’ll find Alexander Hamilton’s grave.***

Address:  89 Broadway, New York, NY 10006

Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take either the 2/3 train or the 4/5/6 train to Wall Street station and walk to the church from here.

10. The Oculus

The beautiful modern architecture of the Oculus.

The beautiful modern architecture of the Oculus.

Oh, hello, you icon of modern architecture you. I think you’re looking mighty fine today! A fact that is very much UN-surprising since this is easily one of the best photography spots in NYC .

A fact that makes total sense since this transportation hub sits at the center of the new World Trade Center and was designed by the famous architect, Santiago Calatrava.

Completed in March of 2016. the bright white, symmetrical design of this uber-modern building was actually created to mimic the outstretched wings of a dove that is about to take flight.

Yeah, not gonna lie, I totally missed out on all  that symbolism when I first laid eyes on this beautiful, white steel and glass structure.

However. now that I know what the building is supposed to represent, I can kind of see the resemblance.

For the best photos though. try and go in the evening when the white of the building sits in sharp contrast to the darkness of the sky.

You can also try shooting the building’s unique exterior or head inside and capture the Oculus’ stunning interior from the center of the viewing platforms that sit on either side of the building (just below the street level entrance).

For another impressive panoramic view, try standing in the center of the ground floor of the building. This way, you’ll get a fantastic perspective of the massive size and symmetry of the edifice.

And if you’re not really into photo ops, you could always go on a shopping spree at one of the Westfield World Trade Center Mall’s more than 100 shops, catch a train to nearby Brookfield Place (another stunning mall/restaurant area right along the water). or eat all your feelings away at the on-site Market Lane food court.

Personally, though, I usually just grab some authentic Italian cuisine from nearby Eataly since they have a delicious market where you can shop for authentic Italian food, grab a to-go latte, enjoy a scoop of fresh gelato, or dine at their amazing sit-in restaurant.

Yeah, it’s basically like a thin slice of Italy right here in Lower Manhattan.

Address: The Oculus, New York, NY 10007

Hours: Open 24/7. It will be least crowded though between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm and then again after 7:00 pm on weekdays. You can also try to stop by in the evening when it is all lit up.

Price: Free! Unless you buy something and one of the many stores here.

How to Get There: Take either the E train from Port Authority to the World Trade Center or the 2/3 train from Times Square to Chambers Street.

11. Take in the Views from Atop the One World Observatory

The views from atop the One World Observatory in Lower Manhattan.

The views from atop the One World Observatory in Lower Manhattan.

It’s not really all that surprising that the One World Observatory made it on this list of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan.

Especially since well, I mean, hello! This is easily one of the best observation decks in the entire city (#TrueStory).

So, although the price for a single ticket may seem more than a little high (they start at a hefty $38 per person), the panoramic views that you get from the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center really are bananas level awesome.

Plus, if you look super closely, you’ll be able to see other immortal New York City landmarks like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River, the Top of the Rock, and more.

Whatever you though:

  • Book Your Tickets in Advance – Trust me on this. This is an insanely popular New York City attraction and you do NOT want to spend your entire day waiting in line for tickets. Yeah, ain;t nobody got time for that kind of madness.
  • Check the Weather Forecast Before You Book Your Tickets – The worst is when you pay $38 per person for a ticket and get to the top, only to discover that it’s totally overcast and that you can’t see a damn thing. Yup, I 100% have been there done that. So, moral of the story? Check the weather BEFORE purchasing your tickets and make sure you’re going on a bright and sunshiney day. And if this is difficult because you’re booking your tickets months in advance, then upon arrival, check with employees to see if you can exchange your tickets for a clearer day and time (I’ve done this at the Empire State Building so it’s worth a shot).
  • Try to time your Visit for Sunset – Do I need to say anything else? Because sunset views here of the Empire State Building are magnificent, end of story.

Address: 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10006, United States

Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm with the last admission at 8:15 pm (hours may change so check their website for more details).

Price: Tickets start at $38 per person, Again, PLEASE book your tickets in advance (like right now) to avoid spending the entire day waiting in line.

How to Get There: Take the 1,2, or 3 train to Chambers Street and walk to One World Observatory from there.

Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan at Night

12. stop for a drink at please don’t tell.

Four people holding their cocktails together at a bar.

Grab a drink at a local New York City speakeasy.

Come with me my friends and travel back in time, to a prohibition era-inspired speakeasy in St. Mark’s Place where the drinks are cold and the atmosphere is somewhat mysterious.

That’s because Please Don’t Tell is a fun, somewhat secret bar in lower Manhattan that is hidden behind a random, vintage-style phone booth near Crif Dogs (an after-hours hot dog joint that serves some of the best hot dogs in the city).

And to get inside, you’ll first need to find the aforementioned phone booth of awesome and then dial in a super-secret telephone code.

However, once you finally do cross over the threshold and step inside this glorious speakeasy, you’ll be delighted to find a relaxed feeling bar that is fully outfitted with stylish leather booths and a series of rather quirky animal heads that line the establishment’s walls.

Although, let’s be real. You’re not really here for the decor, are you?

Nope, you’re here for the wealth of fresh and oh-so-delicious cocktails that are served up to you by uber-talented, former Pegu mixologist, Jim Meehan.

And while I’m keeping the deets behind their incredibly fabulous drink menu a total secret, I will reveal that you really can’t go wrong with anything you order here.

That’s why, if you’re looking for a fun and funky place to grab a decadent, late-night drink, then this is easily one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan for you.

 ***PSST. Don’t just stop by unannounced! Be sure to make a reservation, by phone, since this bar can get quite crowded, with wait times that regularly exceed an hour.***

Address: 113 St Mark’s Place, New York, New York, 10009

Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am and Friday/Saturday from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am.

Price: UN-CHEAP.

How to Get There: Take either the 4 o6 6 train to Astor Place and walk to the bar from there.

13. Sleep No More

Some of the masks you wear for the Sleep No More Performance.

Some of the masks you wear for the Sleep No More Performance.

Looking for a unique theatrical experience in Lower Manhattan? If so then Sleep No More is where it’s at. Because this show is a truly, one-of-a-kind reproduction of the Shakespearean classic, Macbeth .

Yeah, it’s one of those uber-cool things to do in lower Manhattan that was almost single-handily responsible for starting the immersive theater movement way back in 2011 (Seriously, how can that be ten years ago already?).

It’s also tucked away inside the McKittrick Hotel at west 27th street and sits right next door to the Chelsea art galleries. So yeah, feel free to stop by and check out some wicked awesome art while you’re here.

Now, upon entering Sleep No More, you’ll receive a plain white mask that you’ll wear to help distinguish you from the performers. So, if you wear glasses, be sure to rock a nice pair of contacts before you go see this show.

Next, once the show actually starts, it will be like one of those choose-your-own-adventure type performances since you can wander throughout the hotel and observe various scenes that are happening simultaneously.

However, to truly enjoy this performance, I suggest choosing a single cast member and then following them around wherever they go.

This way, you’ll always be at the center of all the action and will never really miss a thing.

Also, fair warning. When I say “immersive” here, I mean totally, 110% interactive.

So, do expect all of the actors to come right up to you, whisper in your ear, give you kisses on the hand, and basically treat you like you’re just another member of the cast.

And if being approached by total strangers makes you want to vomit? Well, then just stay in the middle of the audience and avoid standing at the front.

But, honestly, it really shouldn’t be a problem since these actors are trained NOT to freak you out and will actively check to see how comfortable you are before actually doing anything.

Okay, phew, Glad we got all that out of the way. Now, onto the insanity that is buying tickets.

So, as you might have already guessed, purchasing tickets for this performance isn’t quite as straightforward as you might think. That’s because the first available tickets for an 8:00 pm show actually start at 7:00 pm.

And from 7:00 pm onwards, you can then get tickets that start at subsequent, 15-minute time intervals (so 7:15 pm, 7:30 pm, etc…) until the show actually begins.

Personally, though, I’d try to snag an earlier ticket so that you can hang out with the cast and spend some time at the Manderlay Bar, Gallow Green (the hotel’s rooftop bar and easily one of the best rooftop bars in NYC ), or the uber-cool, pop-up restaurant, the Illusionist’s Table.

Yup, there really is so much to do and so little time when it comes to NYC.

Address: 530 W 27th St, New York, NY

Hours: The show begins at 8 pm, but tickets can be purchased for time slots that start at 7:00 pm. Performances then typically last for a solid 3 hours and conclude at 11 pm.

Price: Tickets are $159.50 per person or $220 for a priority access seat with a guaranteed table reservation.

How to Get There: You can either take the 7 train to Hudson Yards or take the C train to the 23rd street station

14. The Comedy Cellar

The exterior of NYC's famous comedy cellar, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan at night.

The exterior of NYC’s famous comedy cellar, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan at night.

Comedy and New York City go together like peanut butter and jelly. So yeah, a total match made in heaven.

But, is that really a surprise? I mean, SNL is filmed here, so obviously there are some wicked awesome comedians and comedy shows scattered throughout the city that never sleeps.

And one of the best just happens to be The Comedy Cellar.

No, legit. This is NOT a drill since this place in the Village regularly hosts shows where some of the top comedians in the world perform.

So, if you’re imagining comedic legends like Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Robin Williams, then you’d be 100% correct because THOSE are the type of people that perform here.

However, if you really wanna check out one of the best things to do in lower Manhattan, then DEFO make a reservation since this place is, not surprisingly, pretty darn popular.

But if you do this and play it safe, then you’ll be guaranteed a seat. Which is something that this neurotic AF New Yorker is all about.

Even if this aforementioned seat happens to be in a cramped basement with like 10,000 other people (not an exact number, OBVI).

That being said, it’s obviously worth it since the performers here are top-notch and will probably leave you laughing so loud that your abs will burn and be begging for mercy by the end of the night.

Just a little FYI though. When you purchase a ticket for a show here, there is a two beer minimum and three beer maximum.

Something that will absolutely NOT be cheap since this is NYC. So yeah, come prepared to spend some cold, hard, $$$.

Although, I have heard through the grapevine that if you’re a polite and pleasant human (and I know you are dear reader), then your server may let the three beer maximum fall by the wayside and help you get your drinkie drank on.

Also, if you really want to live large and go where all the uber-cool celebs go, then hit up The Olive Tree (the restaurant above the Comedy Cellar) after the show since this is where most of the performers will hang out.

***PSST… you can also walk down the street and get some of the BEST falafel in the city at Mamoun’s Falafel or try a slice of artichoke pizza from Artichoke Basille (it’s basically like spinach artichoke dip on a piece of pizza. Sooo good). ***

Address: 117 Macdougal St #1267, New York, NY 10012

Hours: Open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 3 am.

Price: Tickets are $17 apiece, plus the cost of your 2 beer minimum.

How to Get There: Just take either the A, C, E train or the B, D, F train to the West 4th Street station.

15. The Empire State Building

An aerial view of the empire state building lit up at sunset.

An aerial view of the empire state building lit up at sunset.

Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in all of New York City, the Empire State is forever and always one of the best things to do in lower Manhattan.

It was also built in just 410 days during the Great Depression – an NYC fact that I found supremely interesting during my amazing private tour of the facility (The building also has its own zip code. Seriously, who knew).

I also love that the viewing area was completely redesigned in 2019, transforming the Empire State Building into a multi-faceted, wonderfully fascinating, interactive experience.

So, even though the views from its 86th-floor outdoor deck and the 102nd-floor indoor observatory are next-level sublime (time your visit for sunset to get the best and most impressive panoramic views of NYC ), they are not the only thing that you can look forward to during your visit.

Not surprisingly though, the Empire State Building is easily one of the most popular attractions in New York City. Therefore, lines will be long – even though the recent redesign of the main entrance has helped with the flow of traffic.

However, currently, your must pre-book your tickets online in advance  since the Empire State Building now has timed admissions to help protect visitors during the global pandemic.

Other than that, just relax and enjoy the wealth of exciting multimedia exhibits on display here, like the Story of an Icon Museum on the second floor. They provide historical context for your visit and help you appreciate the unique architectural features of this amazing, art-deco style structure.

Trust me, you’ll find yourself in total awe as amazing displays demonstrate exactly how the Empire State Building was constructed and seamlessly built atop the site of the former Waldorf Astoria.

You’ll also see super snazzy exhibits about opening day,  enjoy a full-scale replica of the original elevator, understand exactly how the Empire State Building is striving to become more sustainable, see movie clips in which this famous building has made a special guest appearance, laugh at a special nod to King Kong,  and even see a wall of photographs that are filled with A-list celebrities who have visited this iconic structure throughout the years.

A mesmerizing journey that concludes with a stop at the building’s main elevators, which will take you all the way up to the observation decks, the topmost of which features 360 degrees panels of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer visitors views that will quite literally take your breath away.

Yup, just an all-around amazing experience that is only enhanced by incredibly helpful and friendly staff members.  Amazing people who are full of knowledge and only too happy to answer any questions that you might have,

***For an extra special experience, plan your visit for Thursday evenings when your 86th-floor views are accompanied by live saxophone music. Also, try and visit on a clear day since clouds can easily obstruct the gorgeous view at the top.***

Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Price: Tickets are typically $45.73 per person.

Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take the N, R, or W train to 34th street and Herald Square and walk to the Empire State Building from there.

Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan Monuments and Museums

16. the tenement museum.

The red brick exterior of New York City's awesome Tenement Museum.

The red brick exterior of New York City’s awesome Tenement Museum.

Why do I love the Tenement Museum oh so much? Welp, for a couple of really good reasons.

Not only is it an incredible museum that expertly recreates the terrible living conditions that immigrants were forced to endure at 97 Orchard Street in 1863, but it’s also just a kick-ass museum in general and easily one of the coolest museums in NYC .

Plus, it’s pretty underrated so it won’t be nearly as crowded as big-name museums like the MET, MOMA, and the Guggenheim.

It’s also kind of small so yeah, you really couldn’t fit that many people inside anyway. You also will have to take an organized tour of the museum if you want to visit.

So, choose between a variety of different themed tours that will introduce you to the very cramped living conditions that residents endured.

Homes in which disease quickly spread and where people had limited access to nifty little things like plumbing and freshwater.

However, the really awesome thing about the Tenement Museum is that it doesn’t just present you with artifacts from the past.

Nope. Instead, it allows you to live out a unique period in history by putting you in the same exact situations that residents themselves faced.

That’s why, if you’re a total history nerd like me, then mosey on over to  their website and pre-book one of their awesome 90-minute tours (do this well in advance since tickets sell out quickly).

You’ll also have a buttload (Yup, I really did just type that) of themed tours to choose from like under one roof, shop life, sweatshop workers, hard times,  building on the lower east side, Irish outsiders (They also have neat food of the Lower East Side tour for $45 per person), etc.

So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets today and enjoy one of the top things to do in Lower Manhattan!

Address: Located at 97 and 103 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side.

Price: Tickets are between $27 and $29 per person.

Hours: Open every day from 10 am to 6:30 pm.

How to Get There: You can either take the F or the J to Delancey Street Station.

17. Visit the African Burial Ground National Monument

Established in February 2006, after local construction workers found more than 400 different coffins in the area, the African Burial Ground National Monument is one of those cool things to do in lower Manhattan that not a lot of people know about.

It’s also pretty easy to find since it sits on the corner of Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way and pays homage to all those African Americans who were buried inside one of the oldest (and largest) African cemeteries in the United States.

Dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, the people inside these caskets are now honored with a moving memorial site and an associated visitors center, complete with four different rooms that help educate the public about the 15,000 different people that were buried here.

Also, just a little FYI. Because the visitor center actually sits inside a federal government building (they share a space with the IRS), you will need to go through a security checkpoint before stepping inside.

It’s totally worth it though since this is easily one of the most unusual (and fascinating) things to do in New York City.

Address: 290 Broadway, New York, NY 10007

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Price: Free

How to Get There: Take the 1/2/3 train to Chambers Street or the 4/5/6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall and walk to the memorial from there.

18. The National Museum of the American Indian

The exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian which sits inside the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House.

The exterior of the National Museum of the American Indian which sits inside the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House.

Associated with the Smithsonian Museum of the same name in Washington DC, NYC’s version of the National Museum of the American Indian sits inside New York’s beautiful, beaux-arts style custom house from 1907.

It’s a truly one of a kind museum with a variety of different exhibits that celebrate all things Native American culture

Also, be one the lookout for four massive female sculptures that sit just outside the building. They were created by artist Daniel Chester French at the start of the 20th century and represent (from left to right) the continents of Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa,

Therefore, if you’re a history lover of even the smallest measure, then step inside the vast rotunda of this museum (with a ridiculous, 140-ton skylight on top) and enjoy a series of fascinating, modern galleries that host a series of rotating exhibits on Native American culture, art, lifestyles, and traditions.

What, still not convinced this place is beyond awesome and one of the top things to do in lower Manhattan?

Then check out their vast permanent collection, which showcases various Native American technologies in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center and details the diverse nature of Native American culture through a dizzying array of decorative arts, textiles and ceremonial objects that are on display here.

If you want, you can also watch various dance and musical performances that are routinely held here, in addition to sitting in on children’s book readings, craft seminars, film showings, educational workshops, and more.

Plus, if you have a bit of money to burn, then stop by the museum gift shop, which is overflowing with all sorts of Native American-inspired music, jewelry, crafts, apparel, etc.

Address: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004

Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Thursdays until 8:00 pm.

How to Get Ther e: Take the R/W train to Whitehall Street station or the 4/5/6 train to Bowling Green and walk to the museum from there.

19. Ellis Island

Exterior View of historic Ellis Island Immigrant Museum

Exterior View of historic Ellis Island Immigrant Museum

Omg, no joke? I seriously ADORE Ellis Island and easily think it’s one of the absolute BEST things to do in lower manhattan.

Because unlike the Statue of Liberty tour, a trip to Ellis Island (and its associated museum) is super fascinating and well worth your time.

And if it’s your first time in New York City, you could always get a pretty reasonably priced combination ticket to Ellis Island AND the Statue of Liberty (it’s only like $20 and a trip to both landmarks is included).

I would just plan to spend the majority of your time on Ellis Island since, well, it’s basically the single most famous immigrant entry point into the United States.

Seriously, when you imagine people immigrating into the United States, I DARE you not to think of Ellis Island.

Although what you may not know is that only steerage class passengers (a grand total of 12 million of them between 1892 and 1924) actually entered the country through this iconic island.

So yeah, if you were high faluting, son of a gun, then Ellis Island was not for you.

Anyway, even though Ellis Island is no longer in active use, you can still take a ferry to the island and visit the three-level Immigration Museum that currently stands here.

It features a wealth of fascinating artifacts (think personal objects, photographs, and official documents) and intriguing narratives, from both historians and immigrants, that tell the incredible true story of these amazingly brave people.

Also, when you arrive (via the ferry to the Statue of Liberty) on the island, be sure to stop by the museum lobby and pick up a free audio guide since it will offer valuable commentary on everything that you’ll see here.

You know, super cool things like the Through America’s Gate exhibit (it explains the rigorous, step by step intake process that immigrants went through upon arrival), the Peak Immigration Years section (it looks at why people came to this country and what their life was like once they arrived), and the third floor, where you can find remnants from when the building fell into disrepair (think trashed chairs, desks, etc.).

Just do yourself a favor and be sure to purchase a ticket BEFORE you visit, make sure you arrive.

Otherwise, you’ll either never get a ticket, or have to wait in line forever. A situation that is fun for exactly no one.

Address: 17 Battery Place #210

Hours: The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm but check their website for any seasonal time changes.

Price: Tickets are $19.25 for adults, $14 for seniors 62+, $9 for children between 4 and 12, and free for kids 3 and under.

20. The Whitney Museum of American Art

The panoramic views from atop the Whitey Museum of American Art.

The panoramic views from atop the Whitey Museum of American Art.

Nestled along New York City’s iconic Highline, the Whitney Museum of American Art recently opened in 2015 and is one of those fantastic things to do in lower Manhattan if you’re a big fan of art.

Heck, even if you’re not all that into art, you should still visit since this massive, 63,000 square foot museum space is home to a diverse collection of 20th and 21st contemporary American art (this is what makes up the majority of the work on display) that everyone will love.

I mean, no joke, this place is brimming over with exquisite pieces done by iconic artists like Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, and Georgia O’Keefe, just to name a few.

What, still not convinced you should go? Then beeline it on up to the rooftop for some next-level, stunning panoramic views of the nearby Hudson River.

Or, simply stop by and admire one of the many rotating exhibits that the museum hosts on an almost monthly basis.

And if you find yourself eternally broke like a joke (like this chick right here), then definitely visit on a Friday evening, between 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm, when you’re allowed to pay-what-you-wish for tickets (PSST…definitely book your tickets in advance to avoid long lines).

However, not surprisingly, this offer is eternally popular among locals and toruists alike. So, if you want to avoid long lines and intense crowds, then try to visit on Thursday evenings between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm, when the museum is very much, un-crowded.

Yeah, I just made that word up and we’re totally just gonna go with it.

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

Hours: Open 11:30 am to 6:00 pm Mondays and Thursdays, 1:30 pm to 9:00 pm Fridays, and 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm Saturdays and Sundays (Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Price: Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for students/seniors/disabled visitors, and free for anyone 18 and under.

How to Get There: Take the A/C/E train from Times Square to 14th Street/8th Avenue and walk to the museum from there.

21. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum

A beautiful blue watercolor mural that sits inside the museum and that honors all of the 9/11 victims.

A beautiful blue watercolor mural that sits inside the museum and that honors all of the 9/11 victims.

Umm, could you really have a list of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan without mentioning the World Trade Center Museum and Memorial ?

And just in case you were wondering, the correct answer to that question is an emphatic no.

Because if you only visit one attraction in lower Manhattan, let this be it.

Also, technically speaking, these are actually two sites in one. So, if you really don’t want to visit the National September 11th Museum, you could always just swing by the September 11th Memorial instead.

It’s free to visit and features the aptly named, “Reflecting Absence”, two enormous, black, reflective pools that sit exactly where the Twin Towers once stood.

Stand along the perimeter and you’ll see thirty feet of water cascade down into a central void that is framed by a series of bronze panels – pieces that have the names of the more than 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks inscribed on them.

Honestly, it’s a really moving tribute that still chokes me up every time I visit since I’m a local New Yorker who was there in the city on that fateful day.

However, to get a full understanding of these tragic events, I highly recommend a visit to the September 11 Memorial Museum .

Yes, tickets are a little expensive, but they are totally worth it since the museum is extremely well-done (it actually houses what little remains of the original towers) and serves as a beautiful tribute to all those rescue personnel and innocent victims who died in those horrific attacks.

So, I dare you not to be moved (I definitely shed more than a few tears) as you make your way through a heartbreaking collection of artifacts, videos, and photos that tell the story of that terrible day in US history.

You’ll start by walking in through the museum’s glass entranceway and pavilion, which is designed to look like a broken tower (Yeah, definitely missed the symbolism but I’m also an incredibly oblivious human).

Next, an escalator (you’ll see a series of 70-foot tall steel beams that once made up the base of the North tower along the way) will ascend into the museum’s basement level galleries, where you’ll see the Survivors Staircase (used by survivors to hide and flee the building), the Foundation Hall (there’s a WTC retaining wall here as well as a column encrusted with messages of hope, missing person posters, memorials to victims, etc.), a destroyed Engine Company 21 Fire Truck, and more.

There’s also a devastatingly sad portion of the museum called, “In Memoriam”, which is made up of a series of walls that are lined with the names and accompanying photos of everyone who died in the attacks.

And while they weren’t in operation during my visit, there are also various touch screens scattered throughout this part of the museum that you can use to learn more about each of the victims, including a reflective area where friends and relatives talk in greater detail about anyone who died in the attacks.

Additionally, there are various temporary exhibits scattered throughout the museum that routinely rotate in and out of the building, like a display I saw that paid tribute to all of the rescue dogs that were used to locate victims directly after the attacks.

So, be sure to bring a hankie and definitely visit this museum ASAP ( you must book your tickets online, in advance  since the museum currently has mandatory timed admission to help protect visitors during the global pandemic).

Trust me on this.

I mean, I was definitely a bit nervous prior to my visit since I didn’t know if I could handle it or if the museum would adequately memorialize anyone who lost his or her life on that tragic day.

However, I am pleased to say that It’s a seriously amazing place that not only helps you better understand the events of that fateful day but that also beautifully and respectively honors anyone who died as a result of those horrific attacks.

Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007

Hours: The 9/11 Memorial is currently open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm while the museum is open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Price: Museum tickets are $26 for adults, $20 for young adults (13-17)/seniors (65+)/college students, and $18 for US veterans. Be sure to skip the line and book your tickets now !

How to Get there: Take the 1 to Rector Street, the 2/3 train to Park Place, or the 4/5 to Wall Street station and walk from there.

22. Federal Hall

The Greek Revival Facade of New York City's Federal Hall.

The Greek Revival Facade of New York City’s Federal Hall.

Tucked away inside of NYC’s iconic Financial District, Federal Hall is pretty dang recognizable with its Greek Revival-style architecture.

I mean really. Those columns look like something that was plucked right out of Athens. Although, I suppose the massive statue of good old George Washington right out front kind of gives this building away as a New York City icon.

And, another fun little factoid for you. This structure actually served as NYC’s second City Hall but was later renamed Federal Hall after it was completed in 1788 by engineer Pierre L’Enfant.

Believe it or not, no less than George Washington himself actually took his presidential oath of office on this very balcony in 1789.

However, the structure’s current design didn’t really come into being until 1812, after the original building was destroyed and replaced with the design you see today, an edifice that served as the home of the US Customs House until 1862.

Anyway, the real magic of this place only happens once you step inside and discover a pretty impressive museum all about post-colonial life in New York, as well as the stunning Washington Inaugural Gallery.

So yeah, expect to learn all about things like George Washington’s inauguration, Alexander Hamilton’s relationship to NYC, and the various setbacks that John Peter Zenger faced as a printer in 1734 (he was basically arrested for exposing government corruption).

If you want, you can even take advantage of a nifty little visitor city where you can speak with a park ranger and find various city maps and brochures that are free for the taking.

Free thirty-minute tours of the facility are also available daily at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm respectively, making this a great way to expand your understanding of this building’s beautiful historical significance.

Address: 26 Wall St, New York, NY 10005

Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

How to Get There: Take either the 2/3 train or the 4/5/6 train to Wall Street station and walk to Federal Hall from here.

23. The Museum of Jewish Heritage

 An aerial view of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.

 An aerial view of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan.

Overlooking the beautiful Hudson in lower Manhattan is this awesome museum right here.

It’s equal parts fascinating and equal parts heartbreaking since many of the permanent and temporary exhibits here deal with sometimes difficult topics that relate to modern Jewish identity and culture.

Plus, interesting factoid for you. The building itself actually has size sides that are meant to represent the Star of David and the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust.

That’s why you should expect to find a wealth of displays here that are brimming over with art pieces and fantastic information about Jewish religious traditions.

Additionally, the central area of the museum actually takes up a whopping three floors and contains three aptly named sections entitled, “Jewish Life a Century Ago”, “Jewish Renewal”, and “The War Against the Jews” – an examination of the tragedy of the Holocaust through a series of photographs, documentary films, survivor testimonies, and personal items.

Also be sure to visit the museum’s outdoor installation, “Garden of Stones”. It’s a beautiful narrow corridor that is lined with 18 large stones that appear to be holding up living trees.

Yeah, I’m not really doing a good job describing it because it’s infinitely more exquisite than it actually sounds. It also stands as a moving tribute to all those who lost their lives during the Holocaust and is well worth a visit.

FYI, LOX in Café Bergson serves some pretty decent food like Lox (aka smoked salmon) in fascinating flavors like pastrami spice, gin, and grapefruit. So yeah, feel free to get your foodie swerve on while you’re here.

Address: 36 Battery Pl, New York, NY 10280

Hours: Open Thursday, Sunday, and Wednesday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The museum also closes for major Jewish holidays so check their website for more information.

Price : Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors and the disabled, and $10 for students and veterans (Some special exhibitions may require an extra ticket since a ton of films, concerts, lectures, workshops, and special holiday events are held here throghout the year).

How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 to Bowling Green and walk to the museum from there.

24. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

New York's iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Looking forward to walking the Brooklyn Bridge? Yeah, I don’t blame you.

It was first built in 1869, the Brooklyn Bridge is a stunning suspension bridge that has quickly become an integral part of the NYC skyline.

It’s also open twenty-four hours a day and offers visitors stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.

So, grab the 4/5/6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station, follow the signs, and make the iconic walk from Manhattan into Brooklyn.

And once in Brooklyn, definitely check out the DUMBO (down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area and experience all of the amazing things to do there.

Cough…go early…cough…there will be tons of people…cough this is easily one of the most touristy things to do in Lower Manhattan. Yup, you have been warned.

Other Cool Things to do in Lower Manhattan

An aerial view of Lower Manhattan.

An aerial view of Lower Manhattan.

  • Visit St. Paul’s Chapel – Sitting just across the street from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is this tiny little chapel. Funnily enough, it actually survived the fall of the Twin Towers and contains a beautiful tribute to all of the rescue personnel who came here to help the victims.
  • Explore South Street Seaport – Home to two blocks of cobblestone streets, South Street Seaport is the perfect place to go for exquisite views of the East River, Brooklyn Promenade, and Brooklyn Bridge. There are also a ton of different restaurants, museums, shops, bars, and historic ships here that are just waiting to be explored.
  • Visit Wall Street – Wall Street is easily one of the most famous streets in all of New York City. And that makes sense since it is home to the New York Stock Exchange. So, take a look and visit one of the most iconic financial centers in the world.
  • Woolworth Building – This is a stunning, neo-gothic style skyscraper that sits in lower Manhattan. If you want, you can get an up-close and personal look at this building when you take a tour of the facility (they’re actually really good and well worth your time) and learn all about the structure’s unique history.
  • Skyscraper Museum – As you might have already guessed, this museum details the evolution and history of the skyscraper through a series of well-done displays and miniature replicas. It’s also pretty cheap since tickets cost a reasonable $5 per adult.
  • Visit the abandoned City Hall Subway Station – Honestly, it’s a really beautiful abandoned subway station that was actually the first of its kind in New York City.  It was also open from 1904 to 1945, and can actually be visited as part of a formal tour with the Transit Museum. You can also learn how to visit for free by reading this article right here .
  • Take a Free Tour of the Federal Reserve Bank – Yeah, I’m not really all that into banking and finance. That’s why a tour like this really isn’t my thing. But, it’s totally free and will introduce you to one of twelve banks in the Federal Reserve System that stockpile gold in the good old US of A.
  • Canyon of Heroes – A section of Broadway that runs from City Hall to Battery Park. Yeah, this is basically where NYC’s famous ticker-tape parades were born.  And if you look down,you’ll see granite strips on the sidewalk that bare the names of various historical figures.
  • Castle Clinton – Located in Battery Park, this is where you can go to get tickets for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It’s also an attraction in its own right since it is a round fort that was actually built to protect NYC during the war of 1812. However, it was never used and is now a small outdoor museum where you can see replica cannons and an exhibit room filled with documents, maps, photographs, and more.
  • Visitors Center at the Municipal Archives – Although not a typical tourist hotspot, this museum is free to visit and filled with a wealth of artifacts that chronicle the history of New York. The building itself is also beautiful to behold since it features lovely, Beaux-Arts style architecture.
  • Fraunces Tavern Museum – Although it’s small, this is actually the only museum in Manhattan that is completely dedicated to Revolutionary War history. It’s also the place where George Washinton said a fond farewell to all of his military officers at the end of the war in 1783. And yes, just in case you were wondering, this is still a fully functional tavern where you can relax and enjoy a bit of pub grub.

Where to Eat in Lower Manhattan

Although I do mention a ton of great places to eat in lower Manhattan throughout this article, I wanted to give you a nice little list so that you know exactly where to eat while in this part of the city.

Also, FYI, this list is in no way exhaustive since I could 100% write an entire article about some of the best places to eat in lower Manhattan.

And who knows, I just might do that.

  • Dominique Ansel Bakery – Home to the now infamous cronut (half donut, half croissant), this amazing  SOHO bakery serves up delicious baked goods of every variety and actually creates a different and unique flavor of cronut every single month. So swing by and try one of everything today. And just in case you were wondering, yes, cronuts (aka flakey carb bombs of delight) really do live up to all the hype.
  • Artichoke Basille – This place serves amazing pizza and is home to the iconic artichoke slice. It’s basically like spinach artichoke dip on top of a slice of pizza and is SOO good. Only get one though since their slices are MASSIVE and exceptionally filling.
  • Chelsea Market – See below. I talk about Chelsea Market in greater detail in this article.
  • Eataly – Half grocery store half amazing authentic Italian restaurant, Eataly is a food market founded by Mario Batali that has anything and everything you might want, including fresh pasta, espresso, gelato, pizza, and more. So whether you want to grab something to go or are craving a nice sit-down dinner, this is the place for you. No really, it’s insanely good. I beeline it here every time I’m in lower Manhattan.
  • Mamoun’s Falafel – This place is super informal and serves up some of the best falafel in the entire city. So, if you get the late-night munchies, THIS is the place to be.
  • Katz’s Delicatessen – This New York institution is located on the Lower East Side and serves up some iconic, insanely huge, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches.
  • Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel – Open all year round (it’s enclosed in glass throughout the winter), this is a traditional German-style beer hall that is the perfect place to go after walking along the Highline (think beer, bratwurst, sausages, pretzels, and more).
  • Chinatown – The food is cheap and next-level delicious in this part of New York City. So, if you want beyond delicious Chinese food, bring cash and check out Green Garden Village (try the beef Chow Fun), Yi Ji Shi Mo, Harper’s Bread House (great Cantonese style bakery with delicious egg tarts), Friendship BBQ, Wah Fung Fast Food (cash only and get the roasted pork over rice), etc.
  • Little Italy – AVOID it like the plague. I mean, it’s a nice area to walk around and take in all of the amazing street art, but that’s about it. That being said though, Lombardi’s does serve some pretty good pizza. However, most of the eateries here are just insanely expensive and really not that good. So, if you really want delicious Italian food, then try going to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx instead.

Where to Stay in Lower Manhattan

The modern, ground-floor coffee and lounge area of the Selina Chelsea Hotel.

The modern, ground-floor coffee and lounge area of the Selina Chelsea Hotel.

There are a ton of amazing hotels in Lower Manhattan. And although I did mention several epic accommodations at the start of this article (just beneath the intro), here are two more that I absolutely love.

They’re well-appointed, offer a ton of great amenities, feature stellar customer service, are reasonably priced, and are centrally located so that you can quickly and easily see all of the amazing things mentioned in this article.

And they are, drum roll please, the following:

Club Quarters Hotel at the World Trade Center   (mid-range) – Located right down the street from the World Trade Center, well-appointed rooms at this modern 4-star hotel start at just $100 per night. They’re also exceptionally spacious (at least for New York) and include free WIFI, Keruig coffee making facilities, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, comfy beds, expansive desks, marble bathrooms with premium toiletries, and more. There are also nightly wine hours held here, as well as free snacks and drinks available in the communal lounge area. There’s even a Morton’s steakhouse on-site, in addition to a gym, meeting rooms, and a 20th-floor restaurant/terrace with exceptional views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Selina Chelsea (mid-range) – Tucked away in the ever-trendy Chelsea neighborhood, this gorgeous, well-located, uber-modern hotel has rooms that start at just $90 per night. Step inside the well-decorated, communal ground-level lounge for check-in and grab a complimentary cup of coffee while using the incredibly fast, free WIFI. Once the hotel’s friendly staff members have confirmed your reservation, grab an elevator to your room. Open the door with an easy-to-use touch keycard and enjoy a flat-screen TV, a modern-style bed, free toiletries, a spacious work desk, and a luxurious modern bathroom with stainless steel fixtures and stunning marble walls. The perfect place to relax and rejuvenate when you’re not walking along the Highline or exploring nearby Chelsea Market.

And there you have it dear readers who are infinitely cooler than me!

Because that’s all she wrote when it comes to this insanely long post on the 24+ best things to do in lower manhattan, but, if you found this post even a little bit helpful, then definitely pin this now so that you can read it again later, come on…you know you want to.

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What to Do This Summer: Lower Manhattan

Three neighborhoods offer art, great food (and drinks), river breezes and lush green space — not to mention amazing views. And, for now, there’s still plenty of elbow room.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

By Julie Besonen

The big toe of Lower Manhattan dips into the water where the East River meets the Hudson, outlining a harbor rich with attractions. Three inviting neighborhoods in the area — Battery Park City, TriBeCa and the South Street Seaport — are easily reached by public transportation and offer breezy marinas, ample green space, destination restaurants and a multitude of art galleries. These days, out-of-towners are in scant evidence along the waterfront and Wall Streeters just a mere trickle, apparently in no rush to return to office buildings.

This is not the first time Lower Manhattan has been down. The 20th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11 is looming, but budget cuts mean the 9/11 Memorial & Museum can’t mount a commemorative exhibit. Hurricane Sandy further ravaged streets and businesses in 2012. Damage to lives and livelihoods from the coronavirus will take a while to heal. Yet a visit to any one of these neighborhoods — with time allotted for their riverfront promenades and piers — is bound to be restorative.

Battery Park City

Battery Park City, a planned community built on landfill along the Hudson River, looks like a sterile canyon of mostly residential buildings. But nearer to the water’s edge, winding pathways lined with lush greenery give way to the full spectrum of New York Harbor — and it’s breathtaking.

The sweeping panorama frames the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, passing sailboats and the Staten Island Ferry. The air is briny and feels a few degrees cooler than uptown. Picnic tables and benches are freely provided throughout the neighborhood. Green space — Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Park; Nelson A. Rockefeller Park; Teardrop Park — is abundant.

The Battery Park City Authority runs and maintains the area, which includes an outdoor public art collection and Poetry Path , an installation featuring fragments from more than 40 poets reproduced on bench slats, pavers and signs.

Wagner Park is the setting for a series of free outdoor concerts, River & Blues , on Thursdays through July. The last, July 29, features Rev. Sekou & The Freedom Fighters at 6 p.m. Bring your own blankets and snacks. From Aug. 15 to 20, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the park will host the 40th annual Battery Dance Festival , with free performances by dancers from around the globe. The festival will also be livestreamed.

The talents of PUBLIQuartet ’s contemporary interpretation of chamber music will be on display at Belvedere Plaza, just north of the North Cove Marina, on Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. (free). This pretty marina is often bejeweled with yachts, and flanks Brookfield Place, an upscale shopping mall. Le District , a French-themed marketplace on its ground floor, and Hudson Eats , a food court up an escalator, were shadows of their former selves on a recent visit, feeling listless without the normal work force.

Business was overflowing, however, at Merchants River House (375 South End Avenue), nestled on Battery Park City Esplanade. The casual American bistro has two outdoor terraces and spectacular views. Spinach-artichoke dip with pita chips is fun to share ($17 at lunch and dinner; $12 during happy hour, Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Linger, if you can, until sunset.

This former manufacturing district is supposedly New York City’s richest ZIP code (10007), but dropping a fortune here isn’t necessary.

Pier 25 at Hudson River Park has an 18-hole miniature golf course ($10 for adults; $5 for children) and sandy volleyball courts. If you’re feeling flush, a seafood-focused menu at Grand Banks is served aboard a docked wooden schooner, the Sherman Zwicker, with expertly shucked oysters ($19.50 to $25 for a half-dozen).

Parallel to it is Pier 26 , which opened last year and is more meditative, a habitat of local plants and wooden walkways. Lounge chairs, swings big enough to accommodate adults, and river-facing counters for setting down your coffee are designed to promote relaxation.

Several art galleries with free admission are along Walker Street ( Bortolami , at No. 39; James Cohan , at No. 48; Lomex , at No. 86; and WINDOW by Anton Kern Gallery, at No. 91). Cortlandt Alley is worth a foray for Andrew Kreps Gallery, at No. 22. On Lispenard Street look for Denny Dimin Gallery , at No. 39; and Canada , at No. 60. Nicelle Beauchene , at 7 Franklin Place, and Postmasters , at 54 Franklin Street, whose current group show features mind-bending digital works, are other well-respected gallerists.

While a number of the galleries are newcomers , TriBeCa lost more than 60 storefronts because of the pandemic, according to Pam Frederick, the publisher of the local news website Tribeca Citizen . The shutdowns of longtime favorite restaurants like Sole di Capri, Tokyo Bay and Mariachi’s, plus the beloved Reade Street Pub , which had been home to a series of saloons since the 1800s, hit hard, she said.

“Tribeca is a low-rise village within a city,” Ms. Frederick said, “with a lot of good eating and drinking options that are owner-operated, making it very community-oriented.”

For instance, Lynn Wagenknecht and her son Harry McNally are usually on the premises at The Odeon (145 West Broadway), a legendary canteen since 1980. It’s hard to go wrong with a crock of creamy, tangy, breadcrumb-blanketed macaroni and cheese ($18) or the soothing three-egg omelet ($21).

Mudville 9 has been around for even longer, a classic watering hole since 1977 (126 Chambers Street). Rotating craft beers flow from taps, sold two-for-one during happy hour, Tuesday to Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Beef burgers and plant-based Impossible Burgers ($19 to $20) provide good ballast.

Since 2018, Frenchette (241 West Broadway) has been a talk-of-the-town bistro. It’s not hard to get a table these days and the sidewalk seating is lovely; to eat inside, proof of vaccination is required. The menu from co-chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson frequently changes but golden, crunchy fries are a constant, arguably the best in the city. On a recent visit they were piled next to a tender bavette steak bathed in shallot bone-marrow sauce ($45). It is worth paying for the bread ($8), a dense half-baguette served with radishes and a slab of custard-like Ploughgate Creamery butter.

That baguette is also sold at Frenchette Bakery , tucked away in an office lobby nearby (220 Church Street). If the buttery, salty, cheesy gougères (three for $5) are in stock, don’t hesitate. And, oh, the savory egg pastries! A recent one starred a jammy egg plugged into a round, multilayered croissant embellished with Comté cheese and pistachio-studded slices of mortadella fanning out like petals ($8).

Even if you’re not an overnight guest at TriBeCa’s Roxy Hotel (2 Sixth Avenue), step inside for live jazz performances in the bar or at The Django , a subterranean club. A sweet, red-hued cinema is also on the premises.

South Street Seaport

The paving stones in the South Street Seaport Historic District can be treacherous for heels and bicycles, but add character to this transporting maritime idyll on the East River. Fulton Street is lined with restaurants and shops, including a branch of the independent bookseller McNally Jackson, in small-scale brick buildings dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.

Head east on Fulton Street, crossing South Street, toward vintage vessels moored next to Pier 17. The redeveloped pier looks soulless and corporate, yet it has interior and exterior pizzazz. Roam to the far end where sturdy chairs and benches look out on the water, then to the north side, offering a fisheye lens perspective of the Brooklyn Bridge. There are long picnic tables for the public’s enjoyment.

The Greens , on Pier 17’s rooftop, hosts outdoor movie nights every Monday through August. Check the calendar for D.J. sets and upcoming live music shows.

A fleet of restaurants spans Pier 17, including the new Carne Mare , a bi-level Italian chophouse spearheaded by the chef Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch, Locanda Verde). David Chang’s resurrected Ssäm Bar and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s The Fulton , a seafood venue, are other headliners. The Fulton’s outdoor tables at the end of the pier are the most appealing, but the location comes with a price, like a margarita that unexpectedly cost $26.

Fresh-baked, pull-apart rolls sweetened with milk and crusted with cheese come gratis at Carne Mare. The menu is pricey, but snacks like king crab lettuce cups spiked with Italian chili crisp ($22) and mozzarella sticks gilded with caviar ($24) were deliciously worth every dollar. A sidecar made with Dudognon Reserve Cognac was $16, more in line with bar prices elsewhere in the city. Go now — advice in general for Lower Manhattan — before post-Labor Day crowds descend.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook . And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places list for 2021 .

Art and Museums in New York City

A guide to the shows, exhibitions and artists shaping the city’s cultural landscape..

Jenny Holzer signboards predated by a decade the news “crawl.” At the Guggenheim she is still bending the curve: Just read the art, is the message .

The artist-turned-film director Steve McQueen finds new depths in “Bass,”  an immersive environment of light and sound  in Dia Beacon keyed to Black history and “where we can go from here.”

A powerful and overdue exhibition at El Museo del Barrio links Amalia Mesa-Bains’s genre-defying installations  for the first time.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, the immersive “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” exhibition features fragile dresses inside airtight vitrines, overcoats growing grass and pat-’n-sniff walls. But does it work ?

Looking for more art in the city? Here are the gallery shows not to miss in May .

The Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

The Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

The birthplace of new york city.

Image of author Selwyn

Being the financial hub of New York, Lower Manhattan is typically associated with Wall Street, countless banks, impressive skyscrapers, and corporate prestige. You’ve most likely seen this area in many TV shows and movies. However, Lower Manhattan has so much more to offer than that. This area was the original NYC. This is the birthplace of New York City and the area has a lot of history.

You may also like:

Things to do in manhattan, the oculus in nyc, 9/11 memorial and museum.

We will share all our insider tips with you, so you won’t miss out on the best things to do in Lower Manhattan. Whether you are looking for attractions, the best restaurants, bars, or shopping spots in Lower Manhattan – we’ve got you covered!

Table of Contents

What is considered Lower Manhattan?

NYC skyline

When you walk through Lower Manhattan , you will find yourself surrounded by high rise buildings. The street names aren’t numbered, and everything kind of feels like a maze. It’s similar to cities like Boston. This is because Lower Manhattan was the original NYC before everything expanded north.

Especially when strolling through Wall Street in the Financial District , you may literally feel as though you’re walking in circles. If you want to escape the bustle of the city, Lower Manhattan also offers many parks along the river that can be a great way to enjoy some tranquility and gorgeous view.

Top 5 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is a prime location for people visiting New York City. Just like Midtown NYC , Lower Manhattan has some of the main attractions and sights. Below is a list of our top 5 things to do in this neighborhood. There’s a lot to see here so it will definitely take more than one day to experience the area.

Our Favorite things to do in Lower Manhattan

One world trade center.

180611163459012_one_world_trade_center_skyline_observatory

In response to the attack on 9/11, New York City came together and decided to build the tallest building in the country, standing at exactly 1776 feet tall. The One World Trade Center, colloquially called ‘Freedom Tower’. With the 1WTC, Lower Manhattan won back its landmark. It represents the strength and willpower of the city. Its observation deck gives you the ultimate view over Manhattan. (Address: 285 Fulton St | Subway 1 to WTC Cortlandt Street Station)

9/11 Memorial

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September 11th, 2001 – this tragic day is part of Lower Manhattan’s history. The attacks that took place more than 16 years ago destroyed the iconic twin towers that used to be New York’s landmark. Today you will see two large pools where the twin towers used to stand. A few steps away from there, you can visit the moving 9/11 Memorial Museum. The memorial is a very emotional place to visit and a must-do when you are in New York.

Governors Island

Governors_Island_NYC_220928121206067

The former military base on Governors Island is worth a visit, especially in the summer. In only 3 minutes and for only $2, the Governor’s Island Ferry will take you across the East River. You’ll find the Governors Island Ferry Terminal right next to the Staten Island Ferry. The island is a nice contrast to Manhattan’s bustle and you don’t have to worry about it being flooded with tourists.

Battery Park

battery_park_180207144722001

Battery Park is one of the most popular parks in Manhattan. More than 6 million people, including local residents, students and tourists visit the park and its landmark, the Castle Clinton National Monument, yearly. Why? Because it’s a beautiful park that not only lets you overlook Hudson River but also lets you marvel at the Statue of Liberty.

South Street Seaport

South_Street_Seaport_180808090839004

New York’s charming South Street Seaport is a lesser-known historic district in Lower Manhattan. The district is home to Downtown Manhattan’s oldest buildings, including historic office buildings from the 19th century. Located by the East River, it was heavily flooded and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Following extensive renovations, in subsequent years everything has returned to normal and South Street Seaport is more popular than ever. Despite its renovations, it is holding on to its historic charm. Today, South Street Seaport is known to be a vibrant place to go and popular for its shopping and dining spots.

What else is there to do in Lower Manhattan?

Just like we mentioned above, Lower Manhattan is a prime spot for tourists. The southern part of the city is filled with many restaurants, sights, and historical locations as well. This area is where New York City started and you’ll already notice that this part of town is completely different from Midtown and up.

Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan

Rooftop at Pier 17 in NYC

Explore Wall Street

Wall Street

When you think of Wall Street NYC , you think of finance, people in suits, and the aggressive corporate culture that’s depicted in movies. All of this is true but there’s obviously more than that. Wall Street is part of NYC’s DNA. There’s nothing like it elsewhere in the world. There are many restaurants, bars, and the Wall Street Bull (Charging Bull) is in this part of the neighborhood.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry for free

Free Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry takes you from Lower Manhattan all the way to Staten Island. What’s great is that the ride itself is free. It’s a great way to enjoy the amazing view from the harbor and it also passes by the Statue of Liberty . Once you arrive on Staten Island , you will be greeted by The Empire Outlets where you can spend your day shopping.

Ground Zero in New York

9/11 Memorial Manhattan

Ground Zero is the area where the Twin Towers were once located. The World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, and is now home to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum .

Visit Ellis Island

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

In addition to visiting the Statue of Liberty, the ferry also makes a stop at Ellis Island. There’s a huge museum here and this spot was used as an immigration hub from 1892 to 1954. Millions of immigrants passed through here and people can actually find their relatives’ names in the Ellis Island records.

Go see the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Tour

The ferry f0r the Statue of Liberty Tour departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Once there you can stay on the island until the last ferry leaves for Manhattan. On Liberty Island, you can go inside the Statue of Liberty and also check out the Statue of Liberty Museum. You can learn about how the history of the statue itself and what it represents to the US.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

The Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is taking in the sights by walking the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is always busy no matter the weather so we recommend going early in the morning during sunrise. We can guarantee that at this time, it will be almost empty and you’ll be able to enjoy your walk. The Brooklyn Bridge ends in DUMBO .

Take Free Tours of City Hall in NYC

New York’s City Hall is one of the oldest functioning halls in the nation. Construction began in 1803 and lasted until 1812. Free tours are held regularly here and is a great way to see some of the finest architecture.

Attractions and Tours in NYC: Lower Manhattan

Cruise around New york harbor

There are a lot of tours in Lower Manhattan. This area is the original birthplace of New York City. Tours range from Hop-on Hop-off bus tours , visiting NYC observation decks to touring historic buildings. You’ll have a bunch of options so picking the right tour or attraction really depends on your time and schedule. Here are our favorite tours for Lower Manhattan.

  • New York City by Night – NYC night tours are pretty unique as you’ll get to witness the “City That Never Sleeps “under the lights. This tour will have guided-commentary and will drive around all the best sights and attractions in the area. You’ll drive through the Brooklyn Bridge and many other iconic locations at night. – New York City By Night tour
  • New York One World Observatory : Skip-the-line-ticket – One World Trade was constructed after the 9/11 attacks and replaced after the Twin Towers fell. At the very top is probably the most famous NYC observation deck . Journey to the top of the western hemisphere’s tallest building. This ticket will let you have the flexibility and allow you to skip the long waiting lines. By the way, there are New York Passes where certain attractions are already included. Compare your New York Passes here and see which one would work well with your itinerary. – One World Observatory tickets
  • Harbor Light Night Cruise Skip-the-Box-Office – This 2-hour cruise tour around New York Harbor allows you to view Lower Manhattan and Battery Park . During the cruise, it sails within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty allowing you to capture memorable moments with your camera. What makes this cruise even better is the bar that comes equipped with the yacht. It’s perfect for warm summer nights. – Book the Harbor Light Night Cruise
  • From Manhattan: Bronx , Queens, and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour – Do you want to experience all of NYC but don’t have the time? This Half-Day Tour is perfect for you. The city isn’t just Manhattan. There are a total of 5 boroughs and on this NYC bus tour , you’ll experience 4 out of the 5. This bus tour will take you through the main attractions throughout the city. – Manhattan, Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour

What’s there to eat in Lower Manhattan?

Restaurants in Lower Manhattan

Exploring different Lower Manhattan restaurants is only one of the many great things to do in Manhattan. The area offers a plethora of fantastic food, you just need to know where to look. Places like El Vez and Brookfield Place are great options. We wouldn’t be shocked if you end up spending hours dining in restaurants here. Because of its many cozy restaurants, it was very tough to select the best of the best – but here you are:

Restaurants in Lower Manhattan

Restaurants can be found in Manhattan pretty easily as there are numerous types of establishments in the busy city. Lower Manhattan is no different. Since it’s a tourist spot, there are many food establishments that you can choose from.

Cafes in Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan cafes can be found throughout the area as well. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick snack or coffee.

Bars and Rooftop Bars in Lower Manhattan

After having a delicious meal, it’s worth checking out the bars and/or rooftop bars in Lower Manhattan.

Shopping in NYC: Lower Manhattan

People often underestimate shopping opportunities in Lower Manhattan. We get it; shopping in New York is associated with SoHo and 5th Avenue and is simply not related to the financial district – but that’s not true at all! There are a variety of great stores in Lower Manhattan if you know where to go. The area is filled with your mainstream department stores as well as boutiques.

Westfield World Trade Center: Oculus

The Oculus in Lower Manhattan

One of the most beautiful destinations for shoppers is the mall, Westfield World Trade Center located inside the Oculus . It’s home to the  WTC transportation hub as well. With more than 100 retail stores, ranging from Michael Kors, Fossil to H&M, and many more, it offers the perfect mix for a diversified audience. The architecture and design of the Oculus will make it the most unique place you’ve ever shopped at.

The clean and spacious bathrooms are also a big plus and much needed for a long day of shopping. If you’re starting to feel hungry or just want a place to take a quick break, do not worry – you’ll find yourself surrounded by great choices of food. One of our favorite burger places is located near here – Shake Shack .

Century 21 Store

Century 21 in NYC carries your favorite designer brands but with a budget price tag. On a lucky day, you will find yourself paying only 65% of the retail price. Despite the designer bargains, Century 21 store feels a lot like a rummage table, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the area and if you’re looking for a great deal.

NYC Malls: Brookfield Place

Things to do in Lower Manhattan

You should also try Century 21 Store’s counterpart: Luxury Shopping Mall Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan. In this NYC mall , you’ll find posh shops such as Burberry and Gucci surrounded by a variety of delicious restaurants. If you are on a tighter budget (we all need to keep an eye on our budget when in New York), make sure to at least stroll around the mall and do some window shopping. Alternatively, you can enjoy a nice lunch at the mall’s terrace. That alone is totally worth the visit.

Insider Tip: Shop at South Street Seaport

Northern Grade

Now let’s talk about our true shopping insider tip in Lower Manhattan,  South S treet Seaport . As mentioned in our top 5 things to do in Lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport is home to some of the oldest buildings in Manhattan.

Now some of those buildings have been filled by restaurants and stores, such as Abercombie & Fitch, Guess and Superdry – just to name a few. On top of the great shopping opportunities in the Southern part of Lower Manhattan, you can also enjoy exceptional views of the city skyline and its famous Brooklyn Bridge.

In summary: If you like shopping, you should absolutely put Lower Manhattan on your ‘things to do in New York’ bucket list.

Museums in Lower Manhattan

Museum in Lower Manhattan

There aren’t many museums in the neighborhood compared to Midtown. In any case, the few NYC museums that are in the area are definitely worth visiting since it pertains to American history as we know it.

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On September 11, 2001, The US went through the worst attack in the history of the country. The area that was worst hit was Lower Manhattan. Now there are two memorials where the Twin Towers once stood. Inside the museum, you’ll see artifacts from Ground Zero as well as the original steel beams from the buildings.

Statue of Liberty Museum

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Opened in 2019, The Statue of Liberty Museum is the latest addition to Liberty Island. This small museum educates its visitors on the history of The Statue of Liberty and how it was built. This small exhibit is filled with artifacts and more than 500 photographs and graphics from different sources. Artifacts include rare photos and early blueprints of Lady Liberty.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

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Ellis Island is synonymous with United States immigration. Throughout the first half of the 1900s more than half of the immigrants that came to the US passed through Ellis Island which is also known as the “Golden Door”. For millions of immigrants, Ellis Island was their first taste of the country. It operated between 1892-1954. The island is now home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Here, you’ll learn about stories from many immigrants, see the belongings they brought with them and visitors can also look up to see if their relatives came through the port of entry.

Skyscraper Museum

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Founded in 1996, The Skyscraper Museum is an architecture museum that showcases the various high-rise buildings within the city. It showcases buildings as “products of technology, objects of design, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence.” The museum offers two exhibition spaces that show permanent and temporary exhibitions.

South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum

For fans of sailing and ships, the South Street Seaport Museum is a must. The museum houses a working 19th-century printing press, an archaeology museum, a library, a craftsmen’s center, the Marine Life Conservation Lab, and the largest fleet of privately owned historic ships in the United States.

Lower Manhattan Hotels

With all these amazing things to do in Lower Manhattan, you may want to consider looking into staying in the area. After an exhausting day of shopping or spending the night out in one of Lower Manhattan’s best bars, a short walk “home” can be super convenient. Aloft Hotel in Downtown Manhattan and Andaz Wall Street are two of the best hotels in the area that we recommend.

Our Perfect Day in Lower Manhattan

Southern Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is huge and filled with numerous NYC attractions and sites. It’s impossible to see all of Lower Manhattan in one day.  You’ll most likely need multiple days to experience this very busy area. If you’re pressed on time, we have provided a one-day itinerary on how we think you should spend your day in Lower Manhattan.

Our recommended itinerary

  • Breakfast at Hole in the Wall Cafe – This Australian food establishment offers up really delicious dishes the country is known for. Their avocado toast is one of their highlights. There’s a decent amount of seats as well. We recommend getting here before 7 AM to beat the rush-hour crowd. (15 Cliff Street, New York, NY 10038)
  • Visit One World Observatory – One World Trade Center is home to arguably the best NYC observatory. You get 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline on top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. (285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007)
  • Shop at Brookfield Place or at the Oculus – Your New York City trip isn’t complete without a little bit of shopping. Brookfield Place is filled with luxury stores such as Gucci and mainstream stores like Zara and J. Crew. There’s also the option of walking for about five minutes to the Oculus where you can shop at Westfield World Trade Center. (230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281)
  • Lunch at El Vez – El Vez is one of our favorite restaurants in the city. It’s near Brookfield Place and the Mexican food here is some of the best in the city. The portion of the food here is exceptional and tastes amazing so you’ll definitely be satisfied. We usually get their burrito bowls here. (259 Vesey St, New York, NY 10282)
  • Visit the National 9/11 Museum – Learn more about the events that took place on September 11, 2001, at the memorial and museum. Discover some of the artifacts that were left in the buildings and from the victims. Listen to the stories from the victim’s families and see some of the original steel beams from the Twin Towers. (180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007)
  • Coffee and pastries at Brookfield Place – After visiting the attractions around One World Trade and the 9/11 Museum, walk across the street and head back to Brookfield Place for a quick break. You’ll have many food options here. Coffee and pastries are also available from the many vendors on the premises. (230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281)
  • Enjoy drinks South Street Seaport – Make your way to the southern point of Manhattan to enjoy the atmosphere of South Street Seaport. Cobblestone streets set the mood as it’s a reminder that you’re in a historical part of the city. There are shops lined up, and numerous bars you can visit. Enjoy the rest of your day in this area and experience the city transition to the night. A bar we recommend is the Watermark Bar (78 South St Pier 15, New York, NY 10038)

Nearby Neighborhoods around Lower Manhattan

There’s so much more to NYC than Lower Manhattan. It’s an eclectic and lively city. Visiting other areas is definitely recommended if you’re looking to get the full experience of NYC.  You’ll see the huge differences between the neighborhoods. The diversity is what makes NYC so great.

Meatpacking District NYC Guide

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Chinatown NYC Guide

The 13 Best Things to Do in Chinatown NYC

SoHo NYC

The 15 Best Things to Do in SoHo NYC – The Complete Guide 2024

How to get to lower manhattan.

There are a lot of great things to do in Lower Manhattan, so make sure you know how to get to the area. There are many options in getting there, but the easiest way is by subway. Take lines 1   2 or 3 to Christopher Street or lines A C or E   to Chambers Street. If you’re looking to start at the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, hop on line 1 and get off at South Ferry. Additionally, lines R W will take you directly to the Oculus at Cortlandt Street.

Neighborhoods That are Similar to Lower Manhattan

If you loved the feel and vibe of Lower Manhattan, then we suggest visiting these other neighborhoods below.

Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan

The 29 Best Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan

Best Things To Do in Gramercy NYC

Things To Do in Gramercy NYC

Things to do in dumbo, faq: lower manhattan, what’s considered lower manhattan.

Lower Manhattan used to be called New Amsterdam when it was first discovered. Technically, anything below Chambers Street is considered Lower Manhattan.

Is Lower Manhattan safe?

The short answer: Yes . Lower Manhattan is very safe. However, just like in any other city, especially one you’re not familiar with, it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and belongings. As long as you’re alert you should be fine.

Is Lower Manhattan expensive?

New York City is generally a bit more expensive than the rest of the country since it’s a tourist hotspot. Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan is definitely one of the pricier neighborhoods. You just need to know where to look to find food or activities that are reasonably priced. You have to keep in mind that these two areas of the city are where the majority of tourists flock to.

Which NYC Neighborhood Do You Belong In?

What I love about New York? The city is a melting pot of cultures and people and has just the right neighborhood for everyone! Which neighborhood suits you best? Find out with our “neighborhood advisor”!

Are you a Brooklyn Boy or maybe a Queens Queen? Find out now!

Hip & Trendy

You’re walking through the streets as you spot bearded men in flannel shirts in the distance. They are wearing sunglasses with thick black frames. The women next to them are wearing small, black hats that cover their autumn color hair, falling onto their leather jackets and ponchos. The group is drinking from Mason jars and eating sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo served on wooden boards. What do you do?

You are using the front camera of your smartphone to ensure your mustache is twisted properly - or - your pastel colored clutch that you just snagged from a fancy pop-up store is hanging off your shoulder. You're happily walking toward the crowd.

You're curious about these people. You decide to observe them from a closer distance, as you wanted to head that way anyway.

You're not really in the mood for a circus, so you decide to turn around and go somewhere else.

Food & Drink

You’re enjoying your day in New York. When your stomach starts rumbling, you decide to…

... get a quick snack to satisfy your hunger

... look for a top restaurant nearby to sit down and eat, because what could possibly make the day better than a great meal?

... ignore it! Time is too precious to spend at restaurants.

You’re strolling through a park and observe a family having a picnic. Immediately, the sight makes you..

... smile, because spending quality family time is the best thing in the world!

... think that you could really use a cold beer and a hot dog right now.

... laugh, because (thank God)- you're by yourself and don't need to take care of anybody. Instead you're free to do whatever you want!

For you, meeting fellow tourists in the most amazing places in the world is like…

... a bonfire at camp: the perfect opportunity to learn incredible stories.

... a night at a wild party followed by a nasty hangover. You can't have one without the other.

... a large glas of expired milk: simply the worst!

We say shopping, you say…

... Michael Kors meets Sex and the City

... drop a new item into the online cart and click "Order Now".

... *facepalm*

You and nightlife, that’s like…

... the cast of the Jersey Shore out first pumping.

... Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the Golden Havana Bar.

... two bears hibernating in their cave for the winter

Art & Culture

Back in 2015, one of Picasso’s art pieces was auctioned for a record breaking $200 million.  What’s your first thought?

A masterpiece like this belongs into a museum, so everybody can enjoy it.

I would sell my last shirt to own one of Picasso's works.

Who would have thought that Pokemon could paint!

Things to do in Manhattan

9/11 Memorial Museum in New York

Profilbild Selwyn

Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.

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Top 17 Amazing Things To Do in Lower Manhattan, New York (2024)

Saleena

There are tons of things to do in New York for first Timers and even more reasons why you would come back to New York again and again! And as one speaks about New York, the amazing restaurants in Brooklyn and lots of other adventurous things to do In NYC , it is hard to sideline the luxurious and attention-grabbing life of Manhattan. Manhattan has a plethora of activities to enjoy, including some of the unique things to do in New York. Upon your arrival in New York, you will probably be overwhelmed by the amount of activity and sights scattered around the neighborhoods since it's your first trip.

With many things to do in Lower Manhattan, the city is dominated by some of the world-renowned skyscrapers, and globally recognized attractions like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and Empire State Building, all of which have historic value for TV shows fanatics and real NY lovers. Some of New York Manhattan&rsquo's top restaurants are located here. And because Broadway is located in Manhattan, all of the largest and finest Broadway productions are present here. These Manhattan attractions are must-visit places for any traveler, whether they are spending a weekend in the Big Apple or are native fresh Yorkers seeking something fresh to do.

Either way, the things to do in Manhattan can easily surpass the number 100 and we are here to make sure you see the most of them possible. In this article we will cover the best things to do in Midtown Manhattan and the best things to eat for a traveler so you do not go back regretful about missing out on the top affordable restaurants in Manhattan .

1. One World Observatory

One World Observatory

Levels 100, 101, and 102 of the One World Observatory at World Trade Center, the nation's highest structure now standing, provide tourists with expansive vistas of New York City. The tour starts with an exhilarating ride in among of the fastest Sky Pod lifts in the world, which leads to a floor 102 two-minute movie display with breathtaking city views. Visit City Pulse, located on the 100th floor, to view high-definition films of famous New York City neighborhoods and landmarks. Next, venture to the Sky Portal, where a round disc of 14 feet in diameter allows you to see live, high-definition video of the streets below.

2. Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Definitely a place you must have known Manhattan for! One of the best things to do in New York , the Empire State Building, Completed during the worst of the Great Depression in 1931, this 1,454-foot Art Deco skyscraper stood as the world's tallest structure for over forty years and has long been associated with American ingenuity and aspiration. The Empire State Building, which is currently the seventh-tallest structure in New York City, is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. It's best to arrive early, between 8am and noon, to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking panoramic vistas, as there are a lot of people vying for a chance to ride the lift to the 86th floor open-air observation deck.

3. Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

In a city where nearly everything is iconic, Lady Liberty may well be the icon of icons, at least among visitors (New Yorkers are known to shun it like the plague). Our advice is to get a combined boat and tour ticket in advance and stay away from the crowds wearing foam crowns. Climbing to the crown, which is understandable given the opportunity to observe the actual workings of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's invention that the French people gifted to the American people in 1886, offers a bird's-eye perspective over New York Harbour.

4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Art it is, and indeed one of those that you shouldn’t miss! After all it is something people al around the world come to New York for. The Met operating since 1880 is one of the popular tourist sites of all times. With over two million items boasted proudly the museum covers classic to modern American collections from different yet renowned artists worldwide. While it is hard to score a spot for entry to this museum, coming early on a weekday can provide a chance that you might avoid crowd.

5. The High Line

The High Line

Built on an abandoned railway track in footage-starved Manhattan, this magnificent aerial walk has inspired numerous copies, yet it has a certain something that is distinctly New York. The nicest part of the route is how it climbs above the city while maintaining your sense of being in the city—where else can you stroll through a field of wildflowers while taxis pass by below you?

6. Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Seen and praised only in movies until now, the Rockefeller center is one of the world’s famous constructed placed of all times. It is said that over 40,000 workers were involved in this project and to give tribute to those 40K hard workers nearly 350 thousands visitors come to praise the beauty of this place annually. Though popular and known globally, taking pictures in front of it is indeed one of the unique things to do in NYC .

7. The Top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock

Another thing to do if you plan on visiting the Rockefeller Center. Also, as we know Manhattan is all about views so you must go extra lengths to savor every inch of the beautiful Manhattan as possible. and for such purpose, one of the finest things to do in Lower Manhattan is to visit Top Of The Rock, which is perched above the Rockefeller Centre.

There are many other vistas in the city, but this one is considered a classic. Yo also get a great view of the Empire State Building.

Now, if you're planning to travel, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance, particularly if you want to come here and watch the sunset. Make your reservation in advance because popular periods (such as the sunset slots) tend to sell out sooner. And while you are there, don’t forget to snap a picture at the top of the building.

8. Times Square

Times Square

Known for its controversial history and past, now recognized as tightly packed shopping mall, Times Square is a place with no match of its worldwide. The place is packed jam with tourists and locals likewise because the beauty, the rush and the charisma makes it harder even for locals to get enough of it. Actually, it's not one of our top recommendations if you dislike crowds and prefer quiet locations (whatever is quiet in New York?). However, if you must go—and let's face it, it's difficult to completely avoid it—then improvements like the stairs above the TKTS booth and a pedestrian plaza along Broadway have somewhat improved the sightseeing experience.

Explore New York like Never Before with the best Things to do in NYC at Night !

9. The Vessel

The Vessel

Okay, definitely a structure which is too good to be true but in NY it indeed happens to be true. One of the Newest Art installation hence might not be in the historic books of New York Travels, the vessel is a must thing to do in NYC with kids . Despite being an amazing piece of art and architecture, the place is free to enter and all you need is to book a relevant timeslot to enter. Due to its popularity, we recommend booking up for your spot weeks before so you don’t go broken hearted when someone asks about your experience with the vessel!

10. The Morgan Library

The Morgan Library

The Morgan Library, located next to the Empire State Building, used to be JP Morgan's private library. You are able to explore it over a century after he passed away because he included a will stating that he intended it to be made available to the public for enjoyment.

Although there is a (very) tiny admission cost, it is still worthwhile to take a look at the reading room and library.

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest things to do in Manhattan if you need a small getaway from the bustle of the streets; a visit here can take you approximately fifty minutes. It's extremely magnificent and well worth a visit.

11. Just a Walk

Just a Walk

Because we don’t know that a walk in the streets of Manhattan isn’t just a walk! It is truly a wondrous experience on its own. After discovering the best queens park and queens night market , Manhattan is no less when it comes to taking late night strolls. It is safe, luxurious and has shedload of views. And the best way to soak them all in is on your feet when you can stop and capture the beauty as per your pace. Though we recommend taking a box of the delish New York Pizza along so you don’t get hungry during your long walk!

12. The Grand Central Station

The Grand Central Station

You may be asking yourself why, among the top things to do in Manhattan, we would suggest visiting a train station. This is a really beautiful station to behold, at least to us.

When you're in the neighbourhood, it's definitely worth checking out the main concourse, which is practically palatial. Furthermore, it's close to the Chrysler Building, which is still one of my favourite Manhattan skyscrapers. Though, we forgot to mention that after visiting the Morgan Library, you can just stroll across from here.

13. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Well isn’t exactly something in Manhattan, but taking a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge deserves a reminder here and there! One of the fun things to do in Brooklyn , this is an important vibe to catch whether you are a regular New York visitor or a first timer. Enjoy some breathtaking views of Manhattan and the entire city by taking a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge. It will probably take you forty minutes or so to complete the trek, but the time is definitely worth it.

14. The 9/11 Memorial Site

The 9/11 Memorial Site

Definitely a place that is worth your visit and respect! You must visit the 9/11 Memorial Site to offer your respects in the wake of the terrible events of 9/11. Take a moment to think about this location, which was previously home to the Twin Towers. Although it's a fairly sombre neighbourhood, you can't really miss it in Manhattan.

15. Madam Tussauds Museum

Madam Tussauds Museum

A cornerstone of the tourist scene since its opening in 2000, Madame Tussauds New York is an undeniable classic when it comes to things to do in Lower Manhattan. This A-list attraction, tucked away in Times Square in the centre of the action, gives guests a taste of Hollywood on the East Coast. More than 200 remarkably lifelike figurines are dispersed throughout many themed zones, including ones honouring music stars, sports personalities, superheroes, historical figures, US politicians, Oscar winners, and a tonne more.

Find the Best Thrift Stores in Brooklyn !

16. The Manhattan Helicopter View

The Manhattan Helicopter View

There is no better place to take the view from the sky than the Manhattan! Take to the skies instead of the endless foot traffic and bid adieu to the tourists brandishing selfie sticks! The sights, the excitement, and the opulent atmosphere are unparalleled as you swing about the Downtown skyscrapers, whether you're riding shotgun or taking a private flying lesson yourself. There is a trip that suits any budget, lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. If you want to go all out in luxury, you may include VIP limo transportation to and from the well-known Downtown Manhattan Heliport at Pier 6 on the East River. There are several aeroplane excursions available, including hang-gliding flights, flight lessons and trips featuring aerial photography, if that doesn't slake your need for heights.

17 A Coffee in the Park

A Coffee in the Park

Sometimes simplest things bring the most joy! And that includes taking a stroll in the park with your favorite coffee in hand! One of the best things to do in New York is buying from the best coffee shops in Brooklyn and then taking a walk in the park nearest to you. This can set you for a great day of fun filled adventures and also help you soar in the local culture like never before. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is manhattan famous for, should i visit manhattan on my new york trip, what is the most popular attraction in new york, where do people visit the most in manhattan.

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8 Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan By a Local

By: Author Amanda OBrien

Posted on Last updated: 17/02/2024

By Ava Andrews

Looking for some great things to do in Lower Manhattan? As someone who has lived in downtown NYC all my life, I will proudly admit that I have never been to the Statue of Liberty. New York has so much more to offer than the numerous places heavily advertised on every other blog.

On your way to the same attraction everyone else sees, you might zoom right past one of these undetected, authentic, and often cheaper destinations.

For those tired of crowded tourist hubs and wishing to see New York through a native’s eyes, here are 8 lesser-known things to do in Lower Manhattan.

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1. Things to do in Lower Manhattan – Drink Matcha & Bubble Tea

Matcha, a green tea extract drink with minimal caffeine originating from japan, is known for its vivid green color. Vendors claim it offers hours of clean, clear-headed energy and a high concentration of L-theanine that’s more antioxidant-rich than green tea.

You can order hot matcha and enjoy it on your favorite park bench in Central Park during a chilly winter afternoon, or take it iced with you on a walking adventure down Mulberry Street on a sunny summer morning.

new_york_lower_manhattan_bar-pa-tea-entranc

Drink one and you’ll instantly feel like a New Yorker. Many coffee shops now offer matcha lattes, but my favorite place to go is Cha Cha Matcha (1158 Broadway, 327 Lafayette Street, and 373 Broome Street). Cha Cha Matcha specializes in matcha drinks and has three locations in Manhattan, all downtown.

new_york_lower_manhattan_matcha-cup-plant

While on the pricier side (one drink ranges from $4 – $9), it’s definitely worth a try for the earthy, tart flavor of this unique drink quickly gaining popularity. Cha Cha Matcha Lower Manhattan offers drinks with added Chai (a cinnamony-sweet flavor, more of a concentrated version of chai tea), collagen, honey, a range of vegan kinds of milk (hemp, coconut, oat, almond), vitamins, and many more special additions outlined on the menu. 

If health isn’t high up on your priority list, try bubble tea. Chains like Vivi’s , Boba Guys , and Yaya Tea all present an array of flavors like mango, milk, strawberry, green apple, passion fruit, coconut, and more.

The Taiwanese drink’s popularity doesn’t stem solely from the tea, but also from the crave-worthy chewy bubbles that enhance the beverage by adding texture and flavor.

new_york_lower_manhattan_matcha-cup-plant

The transparent, blueberry-sized, black balls, often called “boba,” are made from cassava root and adorn the drink. Their gummy-bear texture enhances the beverage and makes the flavor and experience unlike anything you have tried before.

Black tea is the most common flavor, but you can also select fruit-flavored bubbles. In my opinion, Bar Pa Tea (85 Kenmare Street) serves the most delicious bubble tea. They offer original drinks such as oreo milkshakes and delicious green tea soft serve ice creams that allow you to turn your tea into a float.

Exemplifying New York’s ability to fold different cultures into city life, bubble tea is part of what makes NYC so enticing and diverse. Different cultures have even joined together to form entire sub-cities within the towering skyscrapers.

new_york_lower_manhattan_matcha

2. Explore Manhattan Neighbourhoods Little Italy & Chinatown

Happy statues of pot-bellied, mustachioed men advertise their extensive menus in the culture hub Little Italy (or NoLita). Inhabited by Italian-Americans whose ancestors dreamed of owning an American business, some restaurants in Little Italy New York are over a hundred years old.

Streets close down on select days during the summer and families can walk leisurely down the road and enjoy gelato, cannolis, and pizza.

new_york_lower_manhattan_welcome-to-little-italy

If you’re looking for souvenirs to gift your friends and family back home, stores chock-full of mini taxi-cabs, statues of liberty, postcards, and “I Heart NY” shirts line the streets. Boutiques with dainty necklaces and trendy canvas totes can aid in disguising your tourist hat and camera so that you blend into the buzzing boulevards of the NYC lifestyle.

Home to famous brunch spots, Little Italy nurtures Australian Two Hands (74 Bleecker Street, 251 Church, and 164 Mott) and Seamore’s (390 Broome) where their healthy bowls and benedicts make the wait for a table worth it. 

Hop on a Citi Bike and pedal only a few blocks away to encounter the lively streets of Chinatown . Negotiations and exotic fruits beckon pedestrians.

The clamor and excitement make great deals on fresh produce even more exciting. Chinatown New York houses delicious dim sum eateries that represent a Chinese style of enjoying steamy food around a circular table with the ones you love.

new_york_lower_manhattan_lombardi-pizza-sign

Dim sum dishes are bite-sized delicacies like shumai and dumplings served in ornate baskets or small plates. Amongst the best dim sum restaurants are Golden Unicorn (18 E Broadway), Tim Ho Wan (85 4th Ave), and my personal favorite, Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers Street).

Make sure to book in advance as the wait can be up to an hour. These Chinatown restaurants manage to stay close to their roots and resemble the feeling of enjoying a home-cooked meal at someone’s house while being widely successful restaurants and that will provide a delicious and memorable meal.

Besides the food, Chinatown hides intricate flower shops down its alleyways and fabulous hairdressers for as cheap as $25 for a women’s haircut (SUPER cheap for Manhattan).

new_york_lower_manhattan_chinatown-dried-goods

Chinatown captures the chaotic essence of New York and Manhattan while also offering cheaper ways to spend your days in the city. The food, produce, and self-care deals are amongst the many reasons New Yorkers flock there daily and why you should make sure to stop by when you’re visiting lower Manhattan attractions .

3. Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave) skirts the boundary of downtown and Midtown but should not be omitted from this list. The building appears boring and office-like on the outside, but this couldn’t be further from the truth when you realize the treasures inside.

Stepping down the concrete steps and being unsure of where to look remains my favorite memory of Chelsea Market New York.

new_york_lower_manhattan_chelsea-market-fruit

The flickering neon signs for sale, funky jewelry, and authentic American eateries caught my eye immediately as I wondered how I had never heard of this place before.

I suggest visiting Chelsea Market just before lunch to allocate time for shopping and then enjoy the cafés and fancier eateries sprinkled amongst the shops.

After, you can enjoy some fresh macaroons by La Maison du Macaron or watch your doughnut holes turn to a golden brown and iced with whatever you desire at the Doughnuttery . 

new_york_lower_manhattan_chelsea-market-flowers

4. Hudson Eats & The Oculus 

Built to commemorate 9/11 and to replace the PATH trains destroyed by the attack, the Oculus symbolizes the light that shines through after the darkness of tragedy. The Oculus’ ceiling opens and allows light to fill the massive space as a memorial to the attacks on the twin towers.

The structure looks like a gorgeous ivory dinosaur emerging out of the ground, a welcome sight amongst the seemingly endless skyscrapers in the Financial District.

new_york_lower_manhattan_oculus-inside

Inside the structure, one can find high-end stores such as Gucci and Chanel. Pedestrians can travel up one level to encounter an entire food court, called Hudson Eats .

Not your average food court, at Hudson Eats customers can bite into hot pockets of meat and veggies at Northern Tiger and indulge in fast food without the guilt at Skinny Pizza .

new_york_lower_manhattan_oculus-upclose

Afterward, you can enjoy a world-famous Sprinkles cupcake in flavors like banana and chocolate marshmallows. Step outside to hear the echoes of laughing children on the ice rink in early winter as they clutch onto ice penguins for balance.

Seafood restaurants surround the scene and look out into the water and an immaculate garden updated with gorgeous flowers every month. No one can deny that hot dogs and pretzels are NYC delicacies, but as you sit at one of these waterfront restaurants with your family, you’ll see the other side of New York illuminated by the sun disappearing behind the East River. 

new_york_lower_manhattan_oculus

5. Go Thrifting 

Everyone knows about shopping on Broadway, but not many know about the sustainable and urban culture of thrifting in NYC. If you’re up for a bit of a dig around, you can find some unique items that sell for a fraction of the price.

Cure Thrift Shop (111 E 12th St) and Vintage Thrift Shop (286 3rd Ave) offer New Yorker approved goods that also donate their profits towards a good cause.

new_york_lower_manhattan_thrift-store-t-shirts

Cure donates their proceeds to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and Vintage Thrift Shop donates their profits to hot meals for the homeless.

Looking to avoid stores teeming with mainstream clothing in favor of something more environmentally friendly? Add these thrift stores to your must-visit list of things to do in downtown Manhattan.

6. Do some reading in a Classic Lower Manhattan Book Shop

new_york_lower_manhattan_mcnally-jackson-bookstore

If you’re someone who loves to read, pop into McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince Street). After being enveloped in that new-book-smell you encounter a table of carefully curated new and notable novels that finds your new favorite book for you, without the hassle.

Go downstairs and you’ll find thrillers and children’s books as well as a long, inviting, oak table where you can dive into the manilla pages while snacking on a fluffy croissant. A downtown treasure, McNally’s honors great literature that people of all ages can appreciate. 

new_york_lower_manhattan_mcnally-jackson-bookstore-downstairs

7. Exercise your Creative Side

Into visual arts? Look no further for a store to satiate your creative needs! Blick ’s intimidating array of professional materials shines against the polished hardwood floors.

Blick also sells crafts that everyone at any age can enjoy, like labyrinth games with a ball and a maze, or a small puzzle that makes a New York slice of pizza. Blick beautifully balances serious art supplies and fun activities that anyone can use to create. 

new_york_lower_manhattan_brick_store

8. Showfields 

Showfields (11 Bond Street), branded as “the most interesting store in the world,” provides a space where the most innovative companies come together to create an interactive and modern space where products are able to be tried and tested by consumers.

The store features companies such as Swell water bottles, Quip toothbrushes, Tap (a contraption you put on your fingers that enables you to type without a keyboard), the therapeutic candle company Skura, the sports bed Eight Sleep, and so much more.

This store reminds me of the hustle constantly present in NYC and makes me appreciate how much the city evolves over time as new ideas can be brought to life every day.  Showfields is one of the less common, weird nyc attractions.

new_york_lower_manhattan_showfields-artworks

Maybe you’re scouring the internet looking for places to go and tired of touring the quintessential NYC destinations and museums. Or maybe you’re a local like me and for something unique to do in the city.

Either way, don’t let the lure of traditional tourist destinations distract you from an authentic and unforgettable downtown Manhattan experience. 

new_york_lower_manhattan_showfields

How to Get to Lower Manhattan

The closest of the New York City airports to downtown New York is Newark. JFK and LaGuardia are also good options, just a little farther away.

⇒ Flights to Newark

There are no direct trains from Newark Airport to Lower Manhattan. However, there are several options to get to Lower Manhattan from Newark Airport.   There are train services from Terminal B which will take you to Broadway-Lafayette station. The journey takes about one hour.

Newark has a bus that takes 30 minutes to get to the Port Authority Bus Station. From there connect on the subway. Or a taxi will take about 20 minutes in good traffic.

new_york_lower_manhattan_street-art

The best way to get around Lower Manhattan is to walk! Or take the subway if you’re getting weary. New York City is best explored on foot.

Where to Stay in Lower Manhattan

There is a myriad of gorgeous downtown hotels to call a home away from home during your visit to Manhattan. These hotels are the perfect places to return to after a long day of walking (the main form of exercise in NYC), where one can collapse into a luxurious bed and wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next day’s itinerary. 

CitizenM is a Dutch chain is renowned for its art installations and swanky furniture. This brand has two locations in Manhattan. The midtown location is smack dab in the middle of bustling Times Square, while the downtown location on 189 Bowery encapsulates the urban, relaxed feeling that downtown NYC oozes out of its avenues and alleyways.

CitizenM’s features include a canteen open 24/7. During the day, it serves all three meals as well as a coffee and then morphs into a hub for cocktails and dancing in the evening.

If you prefer to enjoy your dinner with a side of that famous NYC skyline, then you will devour CitizenM’s rooftop bar that features floor-to-ceiling windows atop the tallest building in the neighborhood. 

⇒ Read Reviews on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now

new_york_lower_manhattan_fire-escape-stairs

For those looking for a pampered experience, The Crosby Street Hotel is known for its “fresh contemporary style.” The Crosby Street Hotel sits right in the heart of SoHo, arguably the most desirable location to live in all of Manhattan.

This hotel has an even cozier atmosphere than CitizenM. The Crosby Street Hotel offers a guest drawing room, a sandstone fireplace, and deep, sumptuous sofas that look out onto a leafy garden sanctuary that is rare for New York.

The Crosby hosts afternoon tea with delicate bites in the sculpture garden. It is easy to imagine yourself taking a drawing class while munching on some frosted tea cake and then curling up in front of the fireplace with a new book.

Stay in other high-end hotels for a home away from home, but The Crosby Hotel creates a sanctuary away from home. 

new_york_lower_manhattan_mcnally-jackson-bookstore-inside

Lower Manhattan Tours

If you’re short on time and looking for unique things to do in downtown NYC it is often a good idea to take a guided tour to get a feel for an area. Here are some of the most popular options for tours in Lower Manhattan:

⇒ Explore Lower Manhattan by Bike as well as the Brooklyn Bridge

⇒ Guided Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan downtown as well as the Brooklyn Bridge

⇒ Secrets of Downtown Walking Tour

⇒ A range of Lower Manhattan Tour options from a local company

⇒ Or take a self-guided tour as written by one of my favourite travel bloggers and an ex-New Yorker, Practical Wanderlust

new_york_lower_manhattan_breakfast

Who Paid for What in this Post

As Ava lives in NYC she covered all of her own costs associated with creating this things to do in downtown nyc post. However, this post does contain affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and end up making a purchase we will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you knew!

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Ava Andrews has lived in New York City all her life.. She loves anything to do with writing, reading, and volleyball. She has published numerous articles for her school’s paper and continues to explore different mediums of writing in her free time.

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Ava-Andrews

Amanda O’Brien is the creator and editor of The Boutique Adventurer. She has visited 80 countries and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers as well as the IFTWTA. She is passionate about wine had has just completed Level 3 of the WSET. Born in Australia, she lives in London.

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Jeff Campbell

Tuesday 10th of March 2020

Yes! My family and I got to visit NYC a little over a year ago (first time with our kids) and we had so much fun! I think we ate in Chinatown almost every day!

But your article has so much we didn't go (and my oldest loves bubble tea)! so I guess we'll just have to go back. And this time stay in lower Manhattan (we stayed on the other side of a tunnel to save $$).

Thanks for sharing!

The Boutique Adventurer

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Thanks Jeff! Chinatown has some great places to eat - there is always so much to do in Manhattan!

Monday 10th of February 2020

Oh I love little Italy!! So much yummy food

Natural Beauty And Makeup

Sunday 9th of February 2020

I haven't yet visited NYC but absolutely loved this detailed post! I have bookmarked it for future reference ☺

As a born and raised New Yorker, I definitely agree that NYC is best explored by foot. I’m so happy you highlighted bookstores. They’re one of my fave parts of the city.

Elizabeth O

Sure, the city that never sleeps has a ton to offer both tourists and locals. I never tire of rediscovering old and seeing new favorites. Yet, just like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the many must-see spots around the globe, the Statue of Liberty has her charm too. :)

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THE 10 BEST Things to Do Near Lower Manhattan

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Things to Do near Lower Manhattan

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Lower Manhattan skyline

We invite you to explore a new side of Lower Manhattan.

Our Guide to the Best of Lower Manhattan

While incredible landmarks like the Empire State Building and Central Park reside above 14th street, downtown New York City is it. From the stunning architecture of the Oculus , to the world-class galleries  in Chelsea, to the unmatched views of Lady Liberty , Lower Manhattan is a bustling revelation of sights, fine dining, cosy cafés, art and nightlife. When you step out of  Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown , these are just a few of the city’s coolest spots waiting for you, some just a short stroll away.

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

lower manhattan tourist attractions

“It is necessary that public space prevail,” world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava told The New York Times as his Oculus , the luminous transportation hub at the World Trade Center, was set to open. Today, it is filled with singular shopping experiences, and yet Calatrava’s vision for returning the blighted site of tragedy to the people of New York has not been sullied. The space isn’t bad for your Instagram, either.

Statue of Liberty

The best way to see the colossal statue is by sea, and downtowners have no shortage of options for doing so. We recommend the complimentary classic: the Staten Island Ferry . Or pay a $7 fare and take the  Liberty Landing Ferry from the World Financial Center on the west side – it gets you closer to the copper giant, but you can’t imbibe on board.

Le District

The brand-new Brookfield Place – known for its array of upscale shops, like Louis Vuitton and Hermès – isn’t just a shopping destination; there’s great food here too. At lunchtime, you’ll find editors from magazines like Vanity Fair , Vogue and Bon Appétit (they work across the street in the Freedom Tower) prowling les halles of Le District , a distinctly French market experience. There are fluffy, flaky croissants at the patisserie, heart- and belly-warming boeuf bourguignon at the lunch counter, crêpes and salads, and the best mustard selection this side of the Seine.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

While this trendy little spot offers healthy edibles, like a black bean power bowl with pumpkin seeds and grilled salmon with turmeric yogurt, it’s just as much about the view. The restaurant – Dimes also has a deli and a grocery market just across the street – is a touchstone for the beyond-cool crowd that works, lives and plays here. All the fashion inspiration you’ll ever need is sitting at the next table or skateboarding by.

2 Bridges Music and Arts

Part gallery, part music shop, part bookstore, this singularly funky collection can be found upstairs in a nondescript, predominantly Chinese mall on East Broadway. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: The owners have filled the shop with art books and records that appeal to them personally. Last time we visited, they were displaying a book of secretly taken photographs in North Korea and playing the latest LP from Playboi Carti. No matter where you’re coming from, this shop is a must.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

What surprises many diners about Wolfgang Puck’s CUT , the star chef’s sophisticated steakhouse that joined  Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown earlier this year, is how many patrons stop in besides Hotel guests. It’s become a local hotspot. For Puck, part of the attraction was being able to source his food locally, whether beets from nearby farms or scallops from Nantucket.

When it comes to steak, Puck goes with the 8-ounce New York American Wagyu Striploin. “You have the best of both worlds,” he says, “the richness of the Wagyu beef and the flavour of the American Black Angus.” Diners can do more than look into the open kitchen, where their steaks and fish are grilled over open fire; they’re welcome to venture in and witness the food preparation. “It’s really exciting, and the chefs love it,” he says.

The Mailroom

Don’t let the name fool you – there’s nothing quotidian happening at this subterranean lounge. Instead, you can party like The Wolf of Wall Street (within reason), with mixologist-made cocktails, vintage pinball, plenty of room to dance and even a bocce-ball court. Since it opened in the fall of 2017, the room has played host to countless New York Fashion Week events, as well as performances by Patti Smith and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Consider it the perfect place to continue the fun after dinner.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Chefs and partners Jody Williams ( Buvette ) and Rita Sodi ( I Sodi ) joined forces to produce Via Carota , a loving testament to rustic Italian cooking and market-fresh fare. While reservations are not an option, the temptations that emerge into the woodsy, hopping dining room are worth every minute of the wait. A fall menu might see grilled lemony artichokes, whole bean soup and a bone-in pork chop, while the summer could cast a spotlight on pan-fried peaches and a heavenly Dover sole. Every meal here is an event, even if it’s just a bite and a glass of Super Tuscan while window-shopping.

Walk This Way

When it comes to footwear, the West Village refuses to disappoint. Ladies should seek out Pierre Hardy ; the venerable and always chic French designer has a small shop on Jane Street filled with playful pumps and killer boots. Meanwhile, men can meander over to Leffot , a posh, airy space on Christopher Street where classics from Alden and Saint Crispin’s are displayed like museum exhibits, but with touching encouraged.

Not Quite Coffeehouses

A well-kept local secret, Té Company is where some of the city’s most prominent foodies flock. With nods to traditional Hong Kong tea services, it’s a go-to for matcha lovers, as well as fans of immaculately well-made and -presented small bites. Around the corner on Greenwich Avenue you’ll find Mah Ze Dahr Bakery , a minimalist retreat whose pastries are spoken of in nearly religious terms.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Cheim and Read

Up there with the biggest names in the Chelsea Gallery scene, like Gagosian and David Zwirner , Cheim and Read boasts a roster of American and international artists – and a single location – that all but guarantees an impressive viewing experience. Take in contemporary art stars like Jenny Holzer and Jack Pierson, as well as modern masters like Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe and Alice Neel.

Barneys Downtown

Some called it overdue, others a homecoming, but in 2016, Barneys , New York’s ultimate fashion destination, reopened a location on Seventh Avenue near 17th Street where the legendary department store first opened in 1923. More important than when was how , as Barneys revealed a rejuvenated, optimistic, dare we say “cool” edit at the new/old location, with choices from the likes of Vetements.

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Explore Lower Manhattan: A Weekend Guide for the Curious Traveler

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Note: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. More details are  here .

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Whether you’re planning a weekend in New York City or have more time to spend exploring, the challenge is never finding enough things to do to fill your day.

It’s sifting through the never-ending options in the city that never sleeps.

That’s why I’ve narrowed things down to give you a curated list of memorable things to do in Lower Manhattan, all of which are activities that contribute positively to the local community or limit the negative impacts of over-tourism.

If you’re a curious traveler who wants to learn some fascinating history and go beyond all the NYC tourist traps, keep reading for a quick weekend guide to Lower Manhattan.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Arlo SoHo and Kind Traveler for two nights during a recent trip to NYC. While I was there, I decided to book a third night through the Kind Traveler platform. This post is produced in connection with my hosted stay. I only work with brands and destinations I’m passionate about, and I work hard to ensure I bring you the best information and share genuine reflections of my travel experiences.

Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

Eat your way through immigrant history.

In Lower Manhattan or any other part of NYC, there’s no shortage of food tours, walking tours, history tours—you name it, there’s probably a tour for it. But if you want to get past the flyer-pushing, big bus sightseeing tours to really explore a neighborhood, dig into history, and learn from a local, you’ll want to check out NYC Urban Adventures.

The Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour explores what life was like in what is now known as Lower Manhattan for those on the outer reaches of society: enslaved Africans, as well as Irish, Chinese, and Eastern European immigrants. 

On this Lower Manhattan walking food tour , you get the chance to taste various cuisines as you learn the history of the neighborhoods and how they’ve morphed over the centuries.

The colorful 27 Club mural on a wall in New York City

ⓘ Use the promo code ROAMING for 10% off any New York City Urban Adventures tour .

Get inspired at The House on Henry Street public exhibit

In the new public exhibit at the Henry Street Settlement, learn the story of a passionate nurse who moved into a tenement when she saw the squalid conditions and lack of basic services there.

This 125-year-strong organization started in 1893 with one little girl pleading for someone to help her mother who lay dying in a tenement.

The House on Henry Street exhibit takes a deep dive into the history of the Lower East Side—from the struggles immigrants faced at the turn of the century to the people who took action to help them, to the legacy of community development that continues today at the Henry Street Settlement.

Want even more than the exhibit? Take a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood to learn more about its history and Henry Street’s impact.

Bike along the Hudson River

Exploring on two wheels is the perfect way to get a different perspective of city sights. And as a bonus, this human-powered activity is kinder on the environment (and your health!).

If you’re intimidated by the idea of city biking, the Hudson River Greenway Bike Path is blissfully car-free, and it’s a great way to spend an hour or two in Lower Manhattan.

If you want to go beyond downtown, the waterfront bike path extends all the way to the northern tip of Manhattan, making it a great day-long adventure.

Citibike station in New York City on a bike path with the World Trade Center in the background

Want a great spot to view the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn ? I recommend heading over the bridge to Brooklyn Bridge Park for awesome viewpoints!

Positive Impact Travel: Where to Stay in Lower Manhattan

Arlo Hotel SoHo makes a great home base for your adventures around Lower Manhattan and the rest of NYC. This micro hotel offers comfortable guest rooms with efficient storage space (a must in New York), top-quality customer service, and lots of additional touches like water bottle filling stations, complimentary bikes, and beautiful gathering spaces. They also have a well-oiled process for baggage drop if you’re arriving in the city before check-in, which is an amenity I can’t do without when I take an early morning bus into New York.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Arlo Hotel SoHo is also connected with the local community in a unique way : they’re part of the first socially conscious give + get hotel booking platform, Kind Traveler. When you book through Kind Traveler and give a $10/night donation to Henry Street Settlement, you get an exclusive Kind Traveler discount on the hotel’s website.

As curious, socially conscious travelers, one of the things we can do to ensure our visits help a destination remain a great place to visit and live is to support local non-profits and social good businesses.

But it’s not the easiest thing to find and vet local organizations ourselves.

And to be honest, there’s already so much involved in planning a vacation or weekend trip that it’s not something most of us think of. That’s where the Kind Traveler platform makes things super simple: they take something you’re already doing (booking a hotel) and allow you to give back to an established, well-respected community organization.

The inspiring story behind Henry Street Settlement

Henry Street Settlement has been impacting the lives of Lower East Side residents for more than 125 years through social services, arts, and health care programs.

The organization was born out of the dire conditions found in tenement housing in the late 1800s. Even in those early days—amidst extreme poverty as well as pressure for newly arrived citizens to assimilate—the trailblazing founder saw value in cultural diversity and chose to celebrate students’ backgrounds through the arts.

Long after those overcrowded tenements were boarded up or demolished, Henry Street Settlement has evolved to meet the ongoing needs of the community.

Today the organization serves more than 50,000 people per year in a variety of areas—from English classes to mental health services to transitional housing, to name just a few.

Why is Henry Street Settlement’s work so vital?

According to Barbara Kancelbaum, VP for Marketing and Communications, the Lower East Side has a poverty rate of 26%, the third highest population density in New York City, and the second highest income disparity. “Income disparity is a critically important indicator, because it means that housing, groceries, and many services in the neighborhood are increasingly geared toward the higher earners ,” she told me in an email.

In 2018, the organization helped:

  • 4,600+ people acquire job skills
  • 3,600+ people obtain health insurance
  • 349 homeless people find permanent homes

Here are the inspiring stories of just a few New Yorkers whose lives have been impacted by the work of Henry Street. (I dare you to read them and not cry in the middle of a coffee shop. A totally hypothetical example, of course.)

Images © David Grossman courtesy of Henry Street Settlement, used with permission.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Impact of your donation through Kind Traveler

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering: what difference does a donation of less than $50 make?

And it’s true that Henry Street Settlement has an annual budget of $43 million, so a small donation may feel like a drop in the bucket. But Ms. Kancelbaum told me that while their budget “may sound like a lot, when you have 50 programs across 18 locations, in addition to after-school and mental health programs within more than 20 schools, we put every cent to work!

“Individual donations fuel important programs that are not entirely funded with grants, such as our homeless aftercare program, our youth citizenship-education program, and our ability to bring our kids from our local community centers to shows at our arts center.”

Resources for the Curious Traveler

Want to dig deeper into the history and culture of Lower Manhattan?

Beyond donating while you book your hotel, the new House on Henry Street permanent exhibit mentioned above is an excellent way to connect with the community on a deeper level.

“Lower East Siders form an incredibly diverse, tight-knit community and are proud of the historical significance of our neighborhood to the beginnings of our country.” — Barbara Kancelbaum

A top resource for learning all things New York City history, The Bowery Boys podcast offers many episodes focused on Lower Manhattan:

  • Orchard Street: Life in the Lower East Side
  • The Lower East Side: A Culinary History
  • The Tombs: Five Points’ Notorious House of Detention

Details + Links for Planning Your NYC Weekend Getaway

Arlo Hotel SoHo: 231 Hudson Street, New York, NY // Check availability here.

The House on Henry Street: 265 Henry Street, New York, NY // Hours: Monday – Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM, Weekends by appointment only // Get details here .

NYC Urban Adventures: Find tours offered throughout the city here . // Read about my experience on the Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour here .

Hudson River Greenway: Check out my greenway biking guide here .

Kind Traveler: Browse the Kind Traveler hotel listings all over the world here .

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Travel Photographer | FAA Certified Drone Pilot

Naomi is the coffee-loving, crazy-about-Latin-America writer and photographer behind everything here. She's guided by curiosity and a belief that every place has a story to tell–whether it’s through the intricate details of nature, history that has shaped a culture, or the people who call a place home. Learn More

The Globetrotting Teacher

How to Explore Lower Manhattan Like a Local

In the city that never sleeps, it’s easy to be captivated and even overwhelmed by NYC’s endless opportunities to explore, sightsee, get lost, and be entertained.

Truthfully, most New York City visitors only scratch the surface by visiting popular spots like Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park. But, this leaves out all of the many amazing things to do in Lower Manhattan!

As a local New Yorker, I’d like to highlight a Lower Manhattan itinerary that includes some well-known spots, as well as some under-the-radar gems, you may not realize are right under your nose.

This guide lists out the many things to do in Lower Manhattan in the hope you can really get to know Lower Manhattan.

Let’s head south, shall we?

How to Explore Lower Manhattan Like a Local

How to Explore Lower Manhattan like a Local

I hear from many first-time NYC visitors trying to plan out a New York itinerary who feel confused about what to do in Lower Manhattan, especially.

There are so many Lower Manhattan neighborhoods and it’s hard to know what to see and how to map it all out.

The sections below are broken up by days, assuming you’re trying to make the most of 2 days in Lower Manhattan. However, keep in mind, the area can keep you busy for many more days!

I’ve highlighted some Lower Manhattan musts and then leave the rest up to you to decide how to plan your time.

Day 1 – Financial District, Battery Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge

Let’s start at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum , one of the many things to do in NYC’s financial district. Luckily, several subway trains stop nearby.

Assuming you’re staying further uptown in Midtown near Times Square, take the subway in the downtown direction to Lower Manhattan.

The 1, R, and W trains stop at Cortlandt Street. The 2 and 3 trains stop at Park Place. And, the 4 and 5 trains make a stop at Fulton Street. All of these stops are for the World Trade Center area.

Once out of the subway, head toward the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which opened to the public in the spring of 2014.

You’ll immediately notice the Memorial area with the North and South Reflecting Pools which are the original footprints of the Twin Towers. Names of the victims are inscribed into the surrounding ledges. The Freedom Tower is in view and there are trees and other plantings designed to make the area a solemn but welcoming place.

The 9/11 Museum entrance is located between the 2 reflecting pools and is important to see while you visit Lower Manhattan. The museum is incredibly well-done, serving both as a tribute to those lives lost and as an educational center about the events of that day.

There are firsthand accounts and countless artifacts teaching about the events of that infamous day.

9/11 Museum

As you’d probably expect, it’s an emotional visit. Because of this, the museum does have early exits if you wish to leave specific rooms or areas.

Avoid waiting in line to enter the museum by purchasing a timed-entry ticket online before your visit. Depending on what other New York City sights you plan to visit, it might make sense to purchase a New York CityPASS . It’s a bundled ticket sold at a discount with entry to 6 NYC sights including the 9/11 Museum.

Keep in mind, the 9/11 Museum suggests the subject matter may not be suitable for children under 10 years old. And, depending on your pace, the museum visit could take between 2-3 hours.

I started by saying Lower Manhattan has a lot to see and do! You can easily spend a few days right here in these few blocks around the World Trade Center. Choose from these ideas as you plan your time.

One World Observatory , otherwise known as the Freedom Tower , is the tallest skyscraper in New York City and the Western Hemisphere. You can ride the elevators up 102 floors for sweeping birds-eye views over New York City and the Hudson River.

If you go, get a skip-the-line ticket in advance . This will also give you a timed entry so you know exactly when to visit.

The Oculus is the World Trade Center transportation hub. You can’t miss its white, bird-like shape just across from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Inside, you’ll find shops and connections to several subway lines.

Whether you want to shop or not, it’s worth it to take a quick peek inside. There’s a great photo-op from the top of the stairs overlooking the space.

ProTip: Public bathrooms are hard to find in NYC, but the Oculus has them if you need it.

Continuing with the itinerary from the World Trade Center, walk a block up to Church Street and then south a couple of blocks to historic Trinity Church.

On 9/11, many people ran inside this church to get away from falling debris. But, Trinity Church has a notable history in Lower Manhattan. The current church is the 3rd one to stand on this site. The others were destroyed by fire or damaged by severe weather.

Throughout the Parish history, it’s been occupied by the British during the American Revolution. Later, it was where George Washington and early members of the government attended church.

Today, though, visitors are drawn to the adjoining colonial cemetery to see the graves of Alexander Hamilton , his wife, son, and sister-in-law. However, take a moment to walk around because there are delegates of the Continental Congress and signers of the Declaration of Independence all buried here.

Contex Travel NYC

For fans of the Broadway musical Hamilton, see if you can find the gravestone for Hercules Mulligan , the American Revolutionary spy who gathered key intelligence for George Washington and the Revolutionary Army.

From Trinity Church, you’re just across from Wall Street. Follow it to see the outside of the New York Stock Exchange and the Fearless Girl Statue .

You’ll also see Federal Hall with its larger-than-life statue of George Washington. New York City was the nation’s first Capital and Federal Hall was where our first President was inaugurated.

Contex Travel NYC

Today, Federal Hall is managed by the National Park Service and is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. It’s free to go inside and a place to learn more about the Revolutionary War and George Washington’s inauguration. Sometimes, old George makes an appearance in uniform, too!

ProTip: On Wall Street just in front of Federal Hall, look down for square markers in the road. This is where the original posts were for the actual wall that early settlers built to protect their colony at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Again, there are a lot of things to do in Downtown Manhattan. You could choose to stay right here for the day and enjoy the many Battery Park attractions in the area. Here are a few ideas.

The Charging Bull Statue sits at the top of Bowling Green. Originally, outside the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, the bull stands strength and going after your own financial prosperity.

Bowling Green may look just like a small green space but it’s chock full of history! The earliest settlers and Native Americans held markets here. During colonial times, a statue of King George III stood in the square. When news that the Declaration of Independence had been signed reached New York City, revolutionaries tore down the statue and melted it down for Revolutionary War ammunition.

ProTip: Look at the fence around Bowling Green. You see uneven hack marks on the tops of some of the fence posts. There were crowns on top of those posts and they were sawed off when the King’s statue was torn down.

The National Museum of the American Indian is unmissable in front of Bowling Green. It houses thousands of artifacts showing Native people in North America and how they lived. The museum building was the original home of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the site where the original Fort Amsterdam stood back when the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (York came later…) was growing.

Castle Clinton , a rounded fort in Battery Park, was built in the early 1800s to defend against British attacks. It became an immigration arrival center before there was one on Ellis Island. Today, the National Parks Service has restored the site to its original appearance.

This is where boats leave for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island trips here. There’s also a historical exhibition about the fort and the history of New York City.

ProTip: If you’re ok with simply seeing the Statue of Liberty from a slight distance, go to the southern tip of Manhattan and catch the Staten Island Ferry for FREE. It’s one of the most popular things to do near Battery Park. You’ll pass by Lady Liberty and get a spectacular from-the-water view of Lower Manhattan. When you arrive on Staten Island, simply take the ferry back.

Historic Fraunces Tavern and Museum on Pearl Street serves lunch, dinner, as well as brunch on weekends. The history of this place goes back 300 years. Notably, after the Revolutionary War, George Washington held a dinner on the 2nd floor to celebrate victory and thank his army officers. The museum upstairs retells and recreates some of this history.

Nearby Stone Street is also historic in its own right. (It was the first paved street of the young colony all thanks to a Doctor’s wife who continually protested the dust from the road constantly flying up onto her porch!) Today, restaurants with outdoor seating line the street and can be a fun place to rest tired feet and refuel.

ProTip: Lower Manhattan is the oldest part of the city and the street names are clues to what may have gone on there in the past. Wall Street had a wall. Pearl Street was the site of a huge oyster shell heap, which was later used to pave the road.

If you’re sticking to a schedule because you’ve got limited time in Lower Manhattan, walk along Wall Street from Federal Hall towards the East River and go north (a left) on Front St.

You’ll come to South Street Seaport with the Brooklyn Bridge just beyond. The seaport is a historic, cobblestoned area now full of shops and restaurants. There are ships to tour, as well.

Depending on how much time you have, take some time to explore, but the priority here is the Brooklyn Bridge.

Of all the things to see in Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge still takes my breath away. It’s my all-time favorite NYC landmark.

No visit to Lower Manhattan, or to NYC for that matter, is complete without walking on the Brooklyn Bridge’s elevated pedestrian promenade to admire the East River, the city skyline, and, of course, the bridge itself.

The history of how the Brooklyn Bridge was built is an incredible story and I could elaborate at length on the bridge’s engineering and the dramatic plot twists that took place during its construction. But I get it. You’re planning your trip, not in my Social Studies class. 😉

The entrance to the Pedestrian Promenade is just across from the side of City Hall. As you walk onto the bridge, just take a moment to think about the epic task it was to build such a bridge…before electricity and power tools.

Yes, the Brooklyn Bridge was built totally by hand.

The stone towers with their pointed Gothic arches and the geometric designs of the cables make for great photo opportunities, so snap away, just beware of the cyclists!

You’ll undoubtedly be hungry after walking on the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting the 9/11 Museum, so let’s go to Chinatown !

Turn right off the Brooklyn Bridge once you’re back to the street level. You want to walk along Centre Street before turning right on Worth Street. Once you get to Mulberry Street or the next street, Mott, you’re in Chinatown and what is left of Little Italy .

ProTip: If you’re too tired to walk, head back towards Broadway and City Hall Park to catch either the “R” or “6” Train uptown to Canal Street, a.k.a Chinatown.

Chinese store in New York City

Wander through the neighborhood’s little streets. Use Mott Street to find off-the-beaten-path streets, Pell and Doyers. Film and TV crews have used these quiet streets for numerous scenes in TV shows and movies.

The famous Nom Wah Tea Parlor is on Doyers and is still serving food after nearly 90 years. Tings Gift Shop is another classic, selling trinkets you can only find in Chinatown.

Don’t be fooled by the calm, though. Doyers Street used to be infamous in the 1930s for its Chinese gang murders and its secret alleys to help gang members escape.

When you’re blissfully stuffed from authentic Chinese food and have purchased some souvenirs and maybe even some exotic Asian fruit, pat yourself on the back for a day well-spent exploring Lower Manhattan.

ProTip: There are many NYC Dos and Don’ts . Little Italy is a don’t. Controversial, I know. But, opt instead for some authentic Italian bites in the next part of my Lower Manhattan itinerary. Keep reading!

Day 2 – The High Line, Greenwich Village, and the Lower East Side

No exploration of Lower Manhattan is complete without a visit to Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side.

Starting again in Midtown because it’s the most popular area to stay , go the entrance of the High Line at W. 34th Street in between 11th and 12th Avenues.

You can do the 20-minute walk from the Times Square area or take the 7 train from Times Square to the last stop, Hudson Yards. From there, it’s just a couple of minutes to the High Line entrance.

The High Line is an elevated, urban park built on old freight railway tracks. It runs from 34th Street to its southernmost point at Gansevoort and Washington Streets all along Manhattan’s far west side.

New York City High Line

There are plantings and gardens along the old rail tracks, as well as art installations, exhibitions, events, and food and drink carts along the way. Save your appetite, though! Good eats are not far away.

Anytime is great for strolling but New York in the fall brings pleasant blue-sky days perfect for enjoying urban green spaces.

Be sure to take in the views and the city life below you. The iconic NYC skyline will be to your left with plenty of chances to spot the Empire State Building.

The walk is about a mile and a half but it feels quicker than that because there are no streets to cross. The time it takes all depends on how many stops you make along the way.

Depending on your interests, there are a couple of spots you might consider as you exit the High Line.

The High Line finishes at the Whitney Museum of American Art , which highlights work by American artists of today. Exhibitions change so it’s best to see what’s on display at the time of your visit.

Chelsea Market is also just off this southern end of the High Line. You can exit before the last exit at 16th Street if you’d like to visit. The shops are trendy. The food stalls and eateries cater to small bites and counter seating. Beware, though, of touristy prices. 

Having exited the High Line, go left on Gansevoort Street (away from the river) and then turn right onto Hudson Street. From there, you’ll want to bear to the left onto Bleecker Street because we are heading into the cozy, yet glamorous Greenwich Village.

Sex and the City fans will want to turn left onto Perry Street. Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone is number 66.

Either way, continue back on Bleecker Street before turning right onto Grove Street. Notice the narrow streets and how they’re lined with houses and quieter than busy midtown. Among these streets are countless not-to-miss places! Here are a few.

New York Greenwich Village

One block away at the corner of Grove and Bedford Streets, you’ll find the apartment building used for exterior shots of the popular sitcom, Friends .

Before turning left down Bedford Street, take a look at one of the oldest houses in NYC, made with a wooden frame, which today is not permitted by modern-day building codes. It was built in 1822.

Next, look for 75.5 Bedford Street, a.k.a the narrowest house in NYC, at just 9 feet wide! It was once the home to several celebrities, including Cary Grant.

Turn right for 1 block on Commerce Street and bear to the left onto 7th Avenue. Cross 7th Avenue because the next stop is a delicious section of Bleecker Street.

I hope you’re feeling hungry!

Bleecker Street is its own Little Italy! You could do your own foodie tour on Bleecker Street alone. And if you ask me, the pizza in Lower Manhattan is among the city’s best!

Stop at Bleecker Street Pizza for a margarita slice named the “best pizza in New York City” by the Food Network.

As you continue down Bleecker Street, there are several notable Lower Manhattan restaurants here including Murray’s Cheese Bar and Keste. I prefer to walk and sample bites instead of sitting down.

New York City Greenwich Village

Taste the rice balls at Faiccos’s Italian Specialties.

Don’t miss the cannolis and other sweets at Pasticceria Rocco.

Then, pass the old Italian church on the corner of Bleecker Street and turn left onto Carmine Street. Stop at Joe’s Pizza for a classic New York City cheese slice. You’ll see the difference from the last slice.

Then, cross 6th Avenue to Minetta Lane, on your way to Macdougal Street.

At 111 Macdougal Street, taste an artichoke slice at the aptly named Artichoke Pizza . You simply cannot leave Greenwich Village without tasting it!

The artichokes are chopped up super fine or pureed and mixed with a creamy, cheesy concoction of pizza heaven. The crust is doubled for extra crunchiness.

Now that you’re utterly stuffed, walk along Macdougal in the opposite direction of Artichoke Pizza.

While you’re here, take stock of how historic Macdougal Street is!

Cafe Wha is where Bob Dylan played in his early days.

Mamoun’s Falafel was featured in the “1,000 Things to Do Before You Die” book. Go ahead and taste some falafel if you have space.

Cafe Reggio was used for several Godfather II scenes.

And across the street in one of the houses, Louisa May Alcott wrote part of her classic novel, Little Women.

Washington Square Park NYC

In less than 2 blocks, you’ll come to Washington Square Park . The park is one of the most well-known in New York City and its signature arch is a popular spot for photos.

The history of this park is a blog post until itself. The land was once a Native and African settlement, as well as a (former) public burial ground. Today, the park is great for a stroll and some classic New York City people-watching.

When you’ve had your fill of the park, go back to 6th Avenue and West 4th Street to the subway station. Take the F train to the Delancey Street and Essex Street station. To orient yourself, the F train will be going in the direction of Coney Island and Stillwell Avenue.

This will leave you in between the East Village and NYC’s Lower East Side.

From Greenwich Village and its homey, tree-lined blocks, this area has a more bohemian, less polished feel. It’s also home to one of the most fascinating museums in Lower Manhattan, the Tenement Museum .

New York City Tenement

From the 1860s to the 1930s, mass waves of immigrants sailed into New York Harbor in search of a better life. Many of them ended up living in cramped tenement houses on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This museum is housed in one of those tenement buildings with artifacts and exhibitions on display from people who lived there.

If you’re someone who had ancestors immigrate to the United States like I did during this time, the Tenement Museum shows what life was like and what these newcomers needed to do in order to make a new life.

The museum offers a variety of guided tours (lasting around an hour) through the museum and neighborhood ranging from the Irish Outsiders tour to more about life as a sweatshop worker.

Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a history buff, the Tenement Museum often ends up being many people’s surprise highlight of what to do in Lower Manhattan.

ProTip: For a contrast of how the upper class was living just 15 minutes away (on foot), visit the little-known gem, the Merchant House Museum .

merchant-house-museum NYC

When you’re done at the museum, walk back towards the subway at Delancey and Essex but turn left onto Ludlow Street first.

Walk up 3 blocks to Katz’s Deli for a legendary New York City sandwich, whether you go with pastrami or corned beef.

ProTip: If you’re not interested in a deli sandwich, the Lower East Side has a great restaurant scene. Take advantage while you’re in the neighborhood!

When you’re done, you can use the F train to return to midtown. It stops at 34th St- Herald Square, 42nd St- Bryant Park, and at Rockefeller Center.

Have I covered all of what to see in Lower Manhattan?

Of course not! That would be nearly impossible in the city that never sleeps.

Hopefully, though, this Lower Manhattan itinerary helps you explore like a local and get the most from your time in Downtown Manhattan.

Which things would you like to do in Lower Manhattan?

Like this post? Please share it on social media using the share buttons below.

How to See Lower Manhattan Like a Local

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48 thoughts on “how to explore lower manhattan like a local”.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I still haven’t been to NYC, but it’s been on my bucket-list for a really long time. I prefer to avoid the tourist crowds as well and discover a place like a local. It’s much trickier, but so worth it! I’ve just booked marked your post for when I do come to NYC. Please, never get bored of blogging! I love following your adventures.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Such kind words, Mia! Thank you! I’m loving the time I put into the blog, so I hope you’ll continue to follow along. 😉 It’s so great when you can explore a new place without doing what every other tourist does. Hope you find some of these places enjoyable when you make it to NYC.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

It’s best to explore a new place like how a local does, it gives you a better feel of the place. Thanks for pointing out cool spots to visit. the ideas. Manhattan sure does have a lot to offer and I am really thrilled to see some of these places here in your blog.

It’s so true, Karla. Finding local spots helps you get such a better sense of a place and in Manhattan there are so many places to explore!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I’ve been to New York for 10 days and still felt like I only scratched the surface! What a great city it is! Would love to come back to walk the High line!

NYC has so much to offer, Els! The High Line is great in the spring and fall and there are events and activities listed on their website, Friends of the Highline. Hope you are able to make it back.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I love NYC! You summed it up perfectly & I loved your photos 🙂 Simone x

Thanks, Simone! NYC is such a special place!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Great guide Jackie! I visited NYC only once with my family when I was a kid and to be honest it was all a blur. I can’t wait to go back one day and give this awesome city the attention it deserves. I’ll definitely be referring to this post before I head back.

Thanks, Amanda! I’m sure you’ll be able to enjoy it more as an adult, too. There are plenty of things to do and places to see to capture your attention. 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Terrific post – it’s made me want to go to back to New York so much! I haven’t been for years and there’s lots that’s new and I need to see….

Thank you, Sarah! So glad it inspired you to return. There’s always something new happening in the Big Apple!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Love, love, love! Great tips. Love the fact that these are all locally recommended. Makes all the difference!

Thank you, Anna! You are so right! Local tips and advice are always great.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Great guide with plenty of detail and photos.

Thank you, Beverly. Glad it’s useful.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I love Lower Manhattan! when I lived on the Upper West Side years ago I never wandered down there. It did seem all grimy and urban. Now, it’s one of our favourite parts of Manhattan when I bring the kids back to visit.

Isn’t it so easy to get stuck in just 1 or 2 neighborhoods when you live in NYC, Shobha? Lower Manhattan is much cleaned-up from years ago and a favorite of mine too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Now that we live on the west coast, we don’t visit NY as much but this is a great guide for our trip in 2016.

Fantastic, Lesley! Happy to answer any questions you have or offer any tips to make your trip great!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

When I lived in DC, I’d go up to NYC one weekend a month and stay in Lower Manhattan. I learned a lot about it then, and I found it to be really cool. It has a spark of its own.

That’s great you were able to make it up to NYC so often, Laura. You are so right. Lower Manhattan does have a spark of its own. It’s chic, but with a relaxed and free feeling.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

We are going to NYC in a few weeks for the first time, so this is such a great post for me to add to our ever growing list of things to see and do.

Perfect timing for you, Paula! I’m sure you’ll love exploring Lower Manhattan. I’m happy to answer any questions or give some tips on your list of things to see and do. 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Thank you for linking this post up with #TheWeeklyPostcard . This is high on my bucket list so I’ll be sure to use as a reference. Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building and so much more on my list, but to explore as a local is premium. Hopefully in 2017 we get to US and Canada.

Thanks for the invite, Lyn, and for stopping by to read and comment! I’m with you. Local tips and advice can’t be beat. Hope you can make it for a visit in 2017!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Such an amazing roundup guide! NY just has so many things to offer!

Thanks, Erica! Yes, NYC is such an exciting place to visit.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

That’s a very informative post. Thanks for sharing. New York is on the top of my list so this 2 day itinerary is ideal for a trip there.

Thank you. Glad it will be useful for your NYC trip!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

New York! I would love to go some day. I’ve only been to Las Vegas and Hawaii, I have so much more to see in the US. New York is definitely on top of my list next time I visit. I love your tips! The best way to see a city is always in the eyes of a local .

Thanks, Gia! Local tips are always the way to go. I haven’t been to Hawaii yet, but I’d love to go! Hope you make it to NYC soon.

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Never been to NY yet and i think i’ll print your post for a dream travel!! The Friends building is absolutely a bucket list!!

Fantastic, Ale. NYC has so many “bucket list” sights! Hope you can cross them off your list soon! 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I was a dancer growing up and spent countless summers in New York, but I never really got to do much exploring. I would love to get back there and see what it’s like outside of the studio, especially all that yummy food I was never allowed to eat! 😉

Ha! Yes, Mags, I guess there weren’t too many dancers gobbling up slices of artichoke pizza and rice balls! NYC is such fun! Hope you can make it back soon!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

For the last five days of our last trip to NYC we moved from a mid-town hotel down to the Conrad near Ground Zero. It was so great to get a totally different perspective on the city and one of our favourite days of the trip was when we walked from the hotel right around the bottom tip of the island, finishing up at the Brooklyn Bridge before walking back across to the hotel. Great post! (Came via #TheWeeklyPostcard)

Such a great idea, Fairlie! Changing hotels is such a perfect way to get a feel for different parts of the city. Isn’t the Brooklyn Bridge incredible? Thanks so much for sharing your experience! 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

first time I visited NYC I was there for 5,5 days. Needless to say with good planning (it’s the one itinerary I’m SO proud about) I not only did the tourist stuff, but explored Greenwich Village/SoHo and Chinatown! I didn’t walk on Brooklyn Bridge, but eventually managed to on my second visit to the city! I’ll agree about Little Italy…I was not impressed. The best Italian restaurant I’ve visited in NYC (twice) is il Buco in NoHo.

Awesome, Anna! It sounds like you had great trips to NYC and really got a feel for it! I’ll have to give il Buco a try! Next time, try out either Morandi or Lupa (both in the Greenwich Village area) for excellent Italian food!

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Great list – I tried as many slices as I could in the city and Bleeker was still the best around. I’ll be back to NY for a quick visit in a few weeks, actually, and that’s one of the things I’m very much looking forward to!

Excellent, Stephen! Be sure and head over the Artichoke Pizza if you haven’t tried it yet. It’s like eating pure joy and happiness. 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

We are heading to NYC in November and this is absolutely PERFECT!!!! I love itineraries like this that are so detailed and do the planning for me! Thanks so much Jackie!

So happy to hear you’ll put the itinerary to good use! Enjoy your trip! 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I’m visiting NYC in a few weeks and will stay in lower Manhattan this time. I bullet-pointed all the places you recommended and can’t wait to follow your itinerary!

Thanks for reading, Emily! Hope you have a great time in NYC! One small change to be updated in this post…the Chinese restaurant I mention, Excellent Dumpling House, moved to 23rd St. between 6th and 7th avenues. It’s still just as yummy and I highly recommend! 🙂

lower manhattan tourist attractions

I really enjoyed this blog post. We’ve visited NYC 3 times and still feel like we haven’t scratched the surface. We hope to head back in 2023 (covid permitting) and want to stay more around the Greenwich area rather than in midtown as with previous trips. Let’s cross fingers we can afford to stay in that area – any quirky hotel suggestions?

We visited the Tenement Museum last time we were in NYC and as you mentioned – it was an unexpected highlight. Absolutely loved it!

Thanks for reading, Lisa! So glad to hear you’ve had great trips to NYC. There’s so much to do here and the Tenement Museum is great. If you haven’t yet, check out the Merchant House Museum next time. It’s tiny but during the same time period as the history of the Tenement Museum, and shows how NYC’s wealthy were living at the time. Check out The Marlton Hotel . The rooms aren’t super big but it’s a historic building, dripping with charm. Fingers crossed you can make it back to NYC again soon!

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Maps of Lower Manhattan

lower manhattan tourist attractions

This post contains a compilation of several maps of Lower Manhattan, specifically the Financial District, to help you navigate and find out what there is to see and do in NYC's Financial District.

  • Tourist Map
  • Map of Wall Street
  • Map of Battery Park
  • Map of the World Trade Center
  • Maps of NYC Neighborhoods
  • Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

TOURIST MAP OF THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT

This map is our self-guided tour map of the Financial District. Lower Manhattan is actually made up of several additional neighborhoods (we have maps for all of them here).

The map below is interactive. You can enlarge it. You can use it on a smartphone. Each lettered pin contains images and text explaining each location.

Lower Manhattan Attraction Map

Below are maps highlighting smaller areas of Downtown Manhattan.

Why not take our GPS-enabled audio tour of the area? It's just $1.99  and includes a map.

We also offer a free, downloadable, printable,  PDF version of the self-guided tour.

The MTA (Mass Transit Authority) also has a subway and bus map of Lower Manhattan.

If you are unfamiliar with public transport in NYC, then be sure to read our posts on how to use the NYC subway and which MetroCard to buy .

Of course, many of the hop-on-hop-off tourist buses make stops throughout this area.

If you are considering using these tourist buses while in NYC, then be sure to read our bus tour comparison post .

New York Bus Tours

Read more about the things to do in the Financial District .

Below, we get more granular with both the Wall Street and Battery Park areas.

Some of the other major tourist attractions in this area include:

  • 9/11 Memorial
  • Freedom Tower
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Staten Island Ferry

Many of the attractions found in Lower Manhattan are included for free or at a concession with the purchase of all NYC tourist concession passes.

New York Tourist Discount Passes

Read our post on whether or not a tourist pass is for you .

MAP OF WALL STREET

Use this map for an in-depth look at what there is to see and do on Wall Street.

Like the above map, you can click on the lettered points for images and more details about each stop and you can also view this on your smartphone.  

Or you could take a look at our self-guided tour of Wall Street .

MAP OF BATTERY PARK

Many visitors to NYC, as well as locals, will spend a lot of time in and around Battery Park.

It's the area where the ferries depart for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island , but also for the Staten Island Ferry .  

Map of Battery Park

Click here to be taken to the larger interactive map to get more details and images on each listed stop, or visit our page on things to do in Battery Park .  

MAP OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER

Below is an interactive map of our self-guided tour of the World Trade Center . 

You could also download a more extensive version of this tour as a GPS-enabled audio tour .

Click on the map for a larger interactive version

911 Memorial Map

Related Posts

  • Guided Tours of Lower Manhattan
  • Things to Do in NYC

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About The Author

lower manhattan tourist attractions

Stephen Pickhardt

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The Empire State Building lit up with the skyline in the background.

The 21 best attractions in Manhattan

From the Statue of Liberty to the High Line, these are the best Manhattan attractions in NYC

Shaye Weaver

If you’re planning on making a visit to New York City, it would be ridiculous not to start with Manhattan and its attractions. Though in point of fact neither the biggest borough (that’s Queens !) nor the most densely-populated (that’s  Brooklyn! ), it is the center of the city: historically, geographically, and culturally.

Dominated by some of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, here you’ll find globally famous attractions like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Central Park. You’ve got some of the best restaurants in New York . And all the biggest and best  Broadway shows  are here because Broadway is literally in Manhattan. Whether you’re just visiting the Big Apple for the weekend or you’re a lifelong New Yorker looking for something new to do, these attractions in Manhattan are essential additions to your bucket list.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best New York attractions   RECOMMENDED: The best non-touristy things to do in NYC

This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click  here .

An email you’ll actually love

Best Manhattan attractions

One World Observatory

1.  One World Observatory

  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Financial District

The current tallest building in the United State, the One World Observatory at World Trade Center lets visitors experience panoramic views of NYC on levels 100, 101, and 102. The tour begins with a thrilling trip in the Sky Pod elevators (some of the fastest in the world) which lead to a two-minute video presentation of gorgeous city images on floor 102. Check out City Pulse on the 100th floor, which shows HD videos featuring notable NYC landmarks and neighborhoods. Then it’s time to brave the Sky Portal, where a 14-foot wide circular disc gives you a view of real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below.

Empire State Building

2.  Empire State Building

  • Monuments and memorials
  • Midtown West

Finished in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression, this 1,454-foot Art Deco skyscraper was the tallest building in the world for almost four decades and has long stood as a symbol of American innovation and ambition. Still looming large as ever in New York’s skyline (where it’s still the seventh-tallest building), the Empire State remains one of the most visited attractions in the city. Taking in those awe-inspiring panoramic views from the open-air observation deck on the 86th floor remains a huge draw (reservations are required), but a recent $165m upgrade has added even more appeal. Make sure you also check out the newly revitalized galleries on the second and 80th floors; the sight of King Kong’s clutches coming through the walls really is something. 

The Statue of Liberty

3.  The Statue of Liberty

  • Liberty Island

In a city where almost everything is iconic, Lady Liberty could just edge it as the icon of icons – certainly where tourists are concerned (New Yorkers famously avoid it like the plague). Our tip is to avoid the foam-crown-sporting masses and pre-book a combo cruise-and-tour ticket . A climb to the crown – and why wouldn’t you? – affords a panoramic view of New York Harbor and the chance to see the literal nuts and bolts of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s creation, which was given to the people of America by the people of France in 1886. We thoroughly recommend stopping in the museum on Liberty Island, if only to marvel at the initial ambivalence of 19th-century New Yorkers when they were asked to fund the construction of the pedestal. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

4.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Occupying 13 acres of Central Park, the Met, which opened in 1880, is impressive in terms both of quality and scale: there are some two million items in its permanent collection, from classical antiquity to modern American design. Added in 1895 by McKim, Mead, and White, the neoclassical facade is daunting. But despite its grandeur and vastness, the museum is surprisingly easy to negotiate, particularly if you come early on a weekday and avoid the crowds.

Central Park

5.  Central Park

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Surely the world’s most famous public park, the still startlingly enormous Central Park is one of the most beloved attractions in New York City, and an iconic fixture of numerous films, TV shows, and songs. It’s surprisingly easy to forget you’re in Manhattan once you penetrate the idyllic, 843-acre plot, which was first brought to life in the mid-nineteenth century by urban visionaries Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. Their thoughtful design reflects a harmonious balance of scenic elements that live on today: pastoral (the open, picnic-ready lawn of the Sheep Meadow), formal (the liner, tree-lined Mall), and picturesque (the densely wooded paths of the Ramble).

Rent a bike in Central Park.

Chrysler Building

6.  Chrysler Building

  • Civic buildings
  • Midtown East

If you want to call this magnificent pinnacle of Art Deco architecture NYC’s most eye-popping skyscraper then we’re not going to argue with you. Triangle-shaped windows in its crown are lined with lights, creating a beautiful effect come nighttime. Oozing a moneyed sophistication oft identified with old New York, you can’t actually go up it as a tourist – it’s still in use as offices – but the go-ahead has been given for a new observation deck, and in the meantime, the magnificent art deco lobby is open to the public.

The High Line

7.  The High Line

Though it’s spawned many imitators, t here’s something uniquely New York about this wonderful aerial walk, built on an abandoned railway track, an ultra-smart move-in footage-starved Manhattan. What we like best is how the pathway rises above the city while keeping you rooted in urban life: where else can you walk through a field of wildflowers as cabs zip along the street beneath you?

Theater District

8.  Theater District

When it’s running at full capacity – understandably, things have been pretty patchy since March 2020 – then more than 13 million locals and tourists take in Broadway shows every year. Most of NYC’s 41 Broadway venues – that is to say, professional theaters with a capacity of over 500 – are located in the Theater District. Roughly speaking, that’s 41st Street to 52nd Street between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue. Each season brings a new wave of mega-musicals, plays, and star-driven revivals. Tickets don’t tend to be cheap – although discounts are often available – but you would be crazy to leave New York City without taking in one of the season's best shows.

Get spooked on a haunted Broadway theater tour.

Harbor helicopter tour

9.  Harbor helicopter tour

For generations, the architects who have worked in Manhattan have known one thing: the only way is up. Take their lead and view the area’s iconic buildings, bridges, parks and statues from the air. Ideal for when your feet need time off from earth-bound site-seeing, a helicopter tour will sweep you up and around the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and so forth, including giving you a view of Central Park normally reserved for the birds. Head to Pier Six on the East River and, well, prepare for lift off.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

10.  National September 11 Memorial & Museum

On the former site of the Twin Towers, stand North America’s largest man-made waterfalls. Designed by Michael Arad, its twin reflecting pools bear the names of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks and serve as a solemn reminder of all that was lost on both September 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. For those who wish to learn more about the events, the museum offers first-hand accounts of survivors, picture and video footage of the attacks, and recovered objects such as a wrecked recovery vehicle and the 30-foot National 9/11 Flag.

Rockefeller Center

11.  Rockefeller Center

Built by the fabulously wealthy businessmen John D Rockefeller, the construction of this enormous complex employed over 40,000 workers over nine years. Nowadays, more than 350,000 visitors make their way to the historic landmark every year, starting early in the morning with folks hoping to spot celebrities or appear in the background of the Today Show. Always in demand is the NBC studio tour, which covers the network’s history and sites in 30 Rock. The busiest time to visit, of course, is December when the enormous, 70-foot Christmas Tree stands proudly above the plaza ice rink. 

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Grand Central Terminal

12.  Grand Central Terminal

  • Historic buildings and sites

This iconic transit hub, which opened in 1913, is used by thousands upon thousands of commuters each day. And it’s also a destination in its own right: its majestic Beaux-Arts architecture is an awesome marriage of form and function. Famous features include the vaulted, constellation-adorned ceiling and the four-faced opal clock topping the main information booth. They’re both located in the Grand Concourse. Meanwhile, ornamentation above the 42nd Street entrance includes a likeness of Mercury, the god of travel (naturally), and an ornate Tiffany-glass timepiece.

Whitney Museum of American Art

13.  Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Art and design
  • Meatpacking District
  • price 2 of 4

In 2015 the Whitney Museum said bye-bye to its Marcel-Breur-designed home of nearly 50 years on Madison Avenue and decamped to a brand new building in the Meatpacking District, conceived by international starchitect Renzo Piano. Right at the foot of the High Line, the all-new Whitney has some 63,000 square feet of both indoor and outdoor exhibition space. Its collection – which is based around American artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – holds about 15,000 pieces by nearly 2,000 artists, including Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, and the entire estate of Edward Hopper.

Save on the best NYC attractions.

New-York Historical Society

14.  New-York Historical Society

  • Upper West Side

One of America’s first cultural and educational institutions, the New-York Historical Society was founded way back in 1804. Instead of the niche view of NYC’s past that some other attractions offer, it offers a comprehensive look at the New York of yesteryear. Exhibits here are wide-ranging, covering all aspects of city life, and the museum’s permanent holdings—you can see a lot of them in the open-storage galleries on the fourth floor—offer a glimpse into daily city life in NYC past, with items such as vintage clothing, toys, and furniture on display.

The Guggenheim Museum

15.  The Guggenheim Museum

Built in 1959 by Frank Lloyd Wright to house the eponymous philanthropist’s collection, nowadays the iconic concrete spiral is considered as much a work of art as the paintings within it. Alongside great works by European masters such as Manet, Picasso, and Chagall, the institution holds the most Kandinskys in the US, as well as one of the largest collections of Mapplethorpe's in the world. And yes, there really is a correct way to see the exhibits: Wright’s intent was for you to begin at the bottom and work your way around to the top.

Times Square

16.  Times Square

The heart of Manhattan was once a global byword for seediness and sin, packed to the gills with sex shops and drug dealers. In recent decades, however, its notorious reputation has almost totally evaporated: nowadays the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall. If you must go – and frankly, it’s pretty hard to totally avoid it – then changes such as the stairs above the TKTS booth and a pedestrian plaza along Broadway have improved the sightseeing experience…somewhat. 

See Times Square on a walking tour.

Chelsea Market

17.  Chelsea Market

  • Markets and fairs

More than six million people a year visit this former biscuit factory turned food hall: a fact that’s unlikely to surprise anyone who has ever braved the epic line for Los Tacos No. 1. In addition to 35-plus eateries, Chelsea Market is home to the rotating boutique selection of Artists & Fleas, plus a selection of other local boutiques. The fact Google snapped the space up for a cool $2.4 billion a few years back only goes to show how iconic it really is.

Explore Chelsea Market and The Highline.

Flatiron Building

18.  Flatiron Building

When it debuted in 1902, critics thought the Flatiron Building wouldn’t last: they worried that a strong wind might topple the long, thin, pyramidal structure. Fortunately, architect Daniel Burnham’s smart solution to the problem of a triangular lot has proven nothing if not enduring, and the unique architecture is still very much in place. Following the departure of its main tenant Macmillian, the building is empty while a lavish extensive renovation is carried out, due for completion no earlier than 2022.

American Museum of Natural History

19.  American Museum of Natural History

  • Science and technology

If the American Museum of Natural History only contained the 94-foot blue whale model in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life and the 122-foot cast of the Titanosaur fossil in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center, then it would be worth visiting on those grounds alone. What’s that, you want more ? Fair enough: you can also consider the vast collection of taxidermied animals, check out the dazzling Hall of Gems and explore the heavens in the awe-inspiring Hayden Planetarium during your visit.

Macy’s Herald Square

20.  Macy’s Herald Square

  • Department stores

Though it’s no longer the biggest department store in the world, the original Macy’s location is no slouch, covering a prodigious 2.2 million square feet. You could spend days shopping in this 11-floor building, but buying stuff isn’t the only draw. Visit in the spring to peep the extravagant Macy’s Flower Show, or wait until after Thanksgiving to take in the festive holiday windows and drop off your Christmas list to Old Saint Nick himself.

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

21.  New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

  • Libraries, archives and foundations

Catch a glimpse of this monumental library’s Beaux-Arts facade and you’ll see why it took nine years and $9 million to construct (when $9 million was a lot of money). The grand columns, Tennessee marble lions dubbed Patience and Fortitude and spectacular Rose Main Reading Room make the library one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. The contents aren’t too bad either: bibliophiles shouldn’t pass up the chance to look through the vast collection of books and literary ephemera, including the original Winnie-the-Pooh bear and first folio editions of William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies .

Looking for more things to do?

The best bike tours in NYC

The best bike tours in NYC

For those looking to experience the city like a locals, hop on two wheels and join of the best bike tours NYC has to offer

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Tampa Bay preps for Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclave

TAMPA, Fla. — On June 26, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., will be holding its 84th Grand Conclave in Tampa.

It will be the first time the group has hosted the event in Tampa, and more than 50,000 of its members from around the world are expected to attend.

What You Need To Know

Omega psi phi fraternity, inc. will host members from across the world at its 84th grand conclave in tampa sherri brown, president of multicultural sales and development at visit tampa bay , says the conventions of the divine nine/black greek letter organizations in tampa will significantly boost the economy. grand marshal anthony perkins says the fraternity plans to make a lasting impact on the city, not only through its financial contributions, but also through its youth leadership symposium and stem program. the convention starts on june 26, and the full agenda is available on  the grand conclave website ..

In February, the Hillsborough County School District announced plans to rebuild and re-open Ernest Everest Just and Garland V. Stewart elementary schools in West Tampa by 2027. 

Both of the school’s namesakes were members of  Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc . G.V. Stewart is also one of the founding members of the  Tampa Chapter, Pi Iota .

Just Elementary is a STEM academy that was shut down more than a year ago — it was a controversial decision that faced pushback from the local community.

“Ernest Everest Just was the first valedictorian at Dartmouth of color, but wasn't allowed to walk those stages as valedictorian, class president,” said Pi Iota Chapter Basileus Al Sheriff.  "So, the historical context of that, NAACP’s first Spingarn Medal winner, he was a biologist.

"As you think through that, Garland V. Stewart was an educator and first deputy superintendent in Hillsborough County. As you think about those things, those buildings have significant impact, not just to Omega, but to the Tampa community."

@OfficialOPPF will be hosting members from across the world at its 84th grand conclave in #Tampa . Leadership met with local businesses to plan for its conclave & youth symposium. The fraternity played a vital role in saving 2 schools named after members Just & Stewart. @bn9 pic.twitter.com/aDaoZRMezY — Fadia Mayté Patterson, M.S. (@FadiaTVNews) May 20, 2024

Members of the fraternity said they hope the even will have a far-reaching impact.

Sherri Brown, the president of Multicultural Sales and Development at Visit Tampa Bay, said the conventions of the Divine Nine/Black Greek Letter Organizations in Tampa will significantly boost tourism, economic development, and help small businesses — especially minority-owned businesses.

“Every hotel is sold out in the downtown area, in the Ybor area," Brown said. "We're looking at hotels in the West Shore area now. We're looking at an economic impact of probably about $30 million."

The executive leadership and Supreme Council Grand Marshal Anthony Perkins say they are meeting with local businesses and making plans.

“This event will be something that Tampa has never seen before," Perkins said.

"We want to make sure that we work with the city of Tampa, that it’s going to be a huge success,” he added. “You’re going to see a lot of purple and gold, a lot of educated men all over the city, and we want to provide them with excellent customer service.” 

“This is big for us," said restaurant owner Khalila McDuffie. "This is our take on a Super Bowl."

Perkins said the fraternity plans to make a lasting impact on the city not only through its financial contributions but also through its youth leadership symposium and STEM program.

“We're going to offer financial literacy,” said Perkins. “We're going to hand out books. We're going to do symposiums. We're going to have a silent march. We're going to do all kinds of things, and we're going to infuse the city in those activities as well.”

The fraternity will have a long-awaited “family reunion” during the upcoming conclave, which was missed in 2020. Organizers say they are determined to make the event memorable.

The convention starts on June 26, and the full agenda is available on the Grand Conclave website .

IMAGES

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  2. Tourist Map Of Lower Manhattan

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  3. 6 Hot Lower Manhattan Tourist Attractions, Downtown, New York

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COMMENTS

  1. 15 Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan, NYC

    3. Visit One World Observatory, one of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan. Seeing the view from One World Observatory is one of the coolest things to do in Lower Manhattan, and anyone can enjoy this attraction. Also known as the Freedom Tower, this NYC observation deck stands 1,776 feet tall and is one of the best lookout points in the city.

  2. 50 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

    To explore at your own pace we have a GPS-enabled audio tour and a downloadable self-guided tour of Lower Manhattan. For in-depth themed tours, look into the Alexander Hamilton Tour and Revolutionary Era Tour run by some other excellent tour companies. 5. Visit The Beautiful 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

  3. 15 Things To Do in Lower Manhattan

    What it is now It was remade as South Street Seaport Museum in the early 1990s, with a museum and spaces for events. Fast fact Sweet's Restaurant, at 2 and 4 Fulton, was the oldest seafood spot in the City until it closed in 1992, having been established by Abraham Sweet in 1842. Photo: Will Steacy.

  4. 20 Best Things To Do In Lower Manhattan (Financial District)

    1. Statue Of Liberty. Lady Liberty up close from our ferry ride. Price: $24.50 for standard adult ferry fare. Hours: Open 9:30am-5:00pm everyday (changes seasonally) We started this list of fun things to do in Lower Manhattan with one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Statue of Liberty.

  5. 23 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan (Below 14th Street)

    We will start at 14 th street on the West Side, work our way down to the Battery, and then back up the Lower East Side. Table of contents: ( Hide ) Museums. 911 Memorial and Museum. Whitney Museum of American Art. Tenement Museum. Museum of Jewish Heritage. The Battery. The Statue of Liberty Ferry.

  6. 68 Terrific Things to Do in Lower Manhattan: A Local's Guide

    1. One World Observatory. This is easily one of my favorite touristy things to do in NYC. It's the 8th tallest building in the world and the view from One World Observatory is a must-see for locals and tourists alike. On a clear day you can see five states from the observation deck.

  7. 30+ Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan

    Address: 117 West Street, Financial District. One of the best Lower Manhattan attractions is the One World Observatory, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at the World Trade Center in the Financial District.. This is without a doubt one of the best observation decks in NYC and offers 360 views of the city, including great views of the city skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of ...

  8. Lower Manhattan

    Lower Manhattan. Battery Park. Photo: Molly Flores. This is where the City started in the 1600s—and where skyscrapers, financial powerhouses, cultural landmarks and gleaming new developments keep things humming in the 21st century. Its skyline is instantly recognizable and its emotional resonance undeniable. Article.

  9. 24+ Amazing Things to do in Lower Manhattan!

    20. The Whitney Museum of American Art. The panoramic views from atop the Whitey Museum of American Art. Nestled along New York City's iconic Highline, the Whitney Museum of American Art recently opened in 2015 and is one of those fantastic things to do in lower Manhattan if you're a big fan of art.

  10. What to Do This Summer: Lower Manhattan

    July 23, 2021. The big toe of Lower Manhattan dips into the water where the East River meets the Hudson, outlining a harbor rich with attractions. Three inviting neighborhoods in the area ...

  11. 16 best things to do in Lower Manhattan

    Price: From $17.20. Location: 180 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007. Details: The museum is a must to truly put the memorial in context. Exploring the 9/11 Memorial is a must-do for anyone who visits Lower Manhattan — and is an essential activity for anyone visiting New York. The grounds mark the location of Ground Zero, where the Twin ...

  12. Things to do in Lower Manhattan NYC

    February 2024. 1135 ratings. Being the financial hub of New York, Lower Manhattan is typically associated with Wall Street, countless banks, impressive skyscrapers, and corporate prestige. You've most likely seen this area in many TV shows and movies. However, Lower Manhattan has so much more to offer than that. This area was the original NYC.

  13. Best 17 Things To Do in Lower Manhattan, New York

    A cornerstone of the tourist scene since its opening in 2000, Madame Tussauds New York is an undeniable classic when it comes to things to do in Lower Manhattan. This A-list attraction, tucked away in Times Square in the centre of the action, gives guests a taste of Hollywood on the East Coast.

  14. 8 Best Things to do in Lower Manhattan By a Local

    1. Things to do in Lower Manhattan - Drink Matcha & Bubble Tea. Matcha, a green tea extract drink with minimal caffeine originating from japan, is known for its vivid green color. Vendors claim it offers hours of clean, clear-headed energy and a high concentration of L-theanine that's more antioxidant-rich than green tea.

  15. THE 10 BEST Things to Do Near Lower Manhattan

    88 Reviews. 687 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012. Brandy Melville. 2 Reviews. 519 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012-4422. Skin Spa New York. Be the first to review this attraction. 495 Broadway Lower Level, New York City, NY 10012-4457. WeVenture New York City.

  16. Guide to Lower Manhattan, NYC

    While incredible landmarks like the Empire State Building and Central Park reside above 14th street, downtown New York City is it. From the stunning architecture of the Oculus, to the world-class galleries in Chelsea, to the unmatched views of Lady Liberty, Lower Manhattan is a bustling revelation of sights, fine dining, cosy cafés, art and nightlife.

  17. 10+ Things to Do in Lower Manhattan (#5 is my favorite)

    If you're looking for things to do in Lower Manhattan and nearby areas during your trip to New York, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions, including... Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Circle Line Cruises.

  18. The Ultimate Self-Guided Walking Tour of Lower Manhattan: Local's Guide

    Two Hands | Address: 251 Church St, New York, NY. Discover New York City with this self-guided walking tour of Lower Manhattan including Tribeca, the Hudson River park, the 9/11 Memorial, Battery Park, and the Bloody Angle. Original photo credit: " New York City - Lower Manhattan " ( CC BY-SA 2.0 ) by James Willamor.

  19. Explore Lower Manhattan: A Weekend Guide for the Curious Traveler

    Details + Links for Planning Your NYC Weekend Getaway. Arlo Hotel SoHo: 231 Hudson Street, New York, NY // Check availability here. The House on Henry Street: 265 Henry Street, New York, NY // Hours: Monday - Friday from 10 AM - 5 PM, Weekends by appointment only // Get details here.

  20. How to Explore Lower Manhattan Like a Local

    Luckily, several subway trains stop nearby. Assuming you're staying further uptown in Midtown near Times Square, take the subway in the downtown direction to Lower Manhattan. The 1, R, and W trains stop at Cortlandt Street. The 2 and 3 trains stop at Park Place. And, the 4 and 5 trains make a stop at Fulton Street.

  21. 7 Things To Do in Midtown and Lower Manhattan

    From serene walks through historic districts to breathtaking views from towering heights, here are the top seven things to do in these two famous parts of Manhattan. 1. Take a Walk Down the Financial District. The Financial District's towering skyscrapers and bustling streets offer more than a glimpse into the world of finance.

  22. Maps of Lower Manhattan

    Some of the other major tourist attractions in this area include: 9/11 Memorial; Freedom Tower; Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; Brooklyn Bridge; Staten Island Ferry; Many of the attractions found in Lower Manhattan are included for free or at a concession with the purchase of all NYC tourist concession passes.

  23. The 21 best attractions in Manhattan

    Best Manhattan attractions. 1. One World Observatory. The current tallest building in the United State, the One World Observatory at World Trade Center lets visitors experience panoramic views of ...

  24. Kansas awards $80,000 to missile silo tourist attraction

    ELLSWORTH CONTY (KSNT) - The owner of a renovated Kansas missile silo is sharing his plans for the unique tourist destination after getting a boost in funding from the state. 293406215027182 A ...

  25. Tampa Bay preps for Omega Psi Phi Grand Conclave

    TAMPA, Fla. — On June 26, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., will be holding its 84th Grand Conclave in Tampa. It will be the first time the group has hosted the event in Tampa, and more than ...