Things To Do In Lower Manhattan
Things To Do In Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan is like a city within New York City. There are so many things to do in lower Manhattan. The vibrant neighborhoods below 14th Street give NYC some of the most colorful character you will find anywhere. This is the part of NYC where the streets have names, not numbers, and the history of the island is deep. Find things to do in lower Manhattan by diving into Greenwich Village, SoHo, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Financial District, and of course The Statue of Liberty. SO much to do, so little time!
This list of things to do in lower Manhattan is not in any specific order, just head to the bottom of the island and do it all!
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Know before you go
When To Go
New York City is best any time of the year! As a huge NYC fan, I recommend a monthly visit, but If that isn’t possible, then consider this info as your guide:
Conventional tourism says that the best time to visit NYC is mid June to early July and mid August through September. The fringes of the summer may be less crowded and a bit more breezy. The middle of the summer can be VERY hot, and cause the concrete jungle to be uncomfortable for some. Fall is ideal with average temps in the 60’s and 70’s. The winter months can be wet, cold and windy, however, that being said, I highly recommend NYC in November and December. The holidays are delightful in the city, the festivities abundant, and the air can be crisp and invigorating. Expect some rain or snow, but don’t let it slow you down.
Where To Stay
A big part of the city experience is the neighborhood culture. This post is about lower Manhattan, so I suggest you look for VRBO or Expedia hotels in Greenwich Village or Soho neighborhoods. From those areas, you can easily walk to the spots on this list and will fall in love with the charm and hip vibe of the lower Manhattan scene.
Where To Eat
Here are some Lower Manhattan Restaurants I have either tried, or were highly recommended to me. They all have Gluten Free options and offer something special, unique, and delicious. Check out the menus!
Il Buco, Italian
Katz Deli, Jewish Deli
Lola Taverna, Greek/Mediterranean
Loring Place, American
Russ & Daughter’s, Jewish Deli
The Waverly Inn, American
Via Carota, Italian
Getting around NYC is pretty easy. I always recommend walking because it is part of what New Yorkers do. You can see and experience so much more, and city walking is great exercise! Taxis and ride apps are always available. The subway and bus systems are very efficient and easily accessible. Please take Covid precautions when using public transportation.
Avoid indoor crowds on the subway/bus and, when using Uber/Lyft, open windows.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Do you have to see it? Yes! You want to see the Statue of Liberty at least once in your life. Not only is she iconic, but the windy boat ride in the New York Harbor is a tradition worth experiencing. Just a short walk from Wall Street on the tip of Manhattan is Battery Park which will give you a view of the lady herself at Liberty Park and Ellis Island.
- The “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” is her official name.
- She was a gift of friendship symbolizing freedom from France to the US in 1886.
- She is made of copper.
- She was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel (yes, of the Tower).
- She holds a torch in her right hand and a tablet with the date of the Declaration of Independence in her left.
- A broken shackle and chain at her feet symbolizes the abolishment of slavery.
- Joseph Pulitzer (yes of the Prize) helped to raise the funds to build the monument park.
- From 1892 to 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island.
How to get there
Option 1: You can take the FREE Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall Ferry Terminal on Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. It runs free 24/7 every 20 minutes and travels between Staten Island and Manhattan. You MUST exit the boat at the Staten Island side and can get immediately back in the queue to return to Manhattan. You will have great views of the statue, Ellis Island and the NY skyline for FREE.
Option 2: You can take a Statue Cruise Ferry from Battery Park to visit the Statue Monument on Liberty Island and visit Ellis Island. For $23.50 you can purchase tickets online from Statue Cruises or, in person, at the Castle Clinton Fort Monument at Battery Park Ferry Terminal. The boats depart from Battery Park very frequently.
Spend the extra time and cash. Buy the Statue Cruise General Admission ticket so you can visit the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Museum on Ellis Island. The Ellis Island museum is really well done and fascinating. And chances are, you might discover some link to your family history. Buy the tickets online to save time waiting in line.
One World Trade Center & 9/11 Memorial & Oculus
There is a lot to take in here and you may want to spend a chunk of time on your first visit.
The 9/11 memorial is a gorgeous plaza designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. It honors the 2977 people killed at the World Trade Center, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon on 9/11 as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on 2/26/1993.
The space features twin reflecting pools, each with cascading waterfalls which are surrounded by the names of 9/11 victims etched in bronze. White Oak trees grow around the pools. You will see roses tucked into the names of some because the foundation places the flowers on each of the victims’ birthdays. I find the experience very powerful each time I have been.
Then wander to One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, which is the rebuilt World Trade Center complex.
You won’t be able to miss The Oculus, which is the remarkable white architectural wonder. It is a transportation hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, meant to resemble a dove leaving a child’s hands. The Oculus replaced the train station which was destroyed in 9/11 and hosts shops, restaurants, and a view of the Freedom Tower.
What to know
There is no fee to enter the memorial site.
It is open to the public between 10 AM and 5 PM.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is open Thursday – Monday 10AM – 5PM.
Little Island at Pier 55 is a remarkable, artificial island in the Hudson River designed to bring vitality and green space to lower Manhattan and to support an area that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It is open from 6AM to 9PM daily. The island provides arts activities and education for the community and is just a delightful spot to roam, relax, and take in some views.
From Little Island you can easily walk to the Whitney, one of my personal favorite museums of NY. The Whitney is dedicated to American Art and has an amazing permanent collection of twentieth century and contemporary American art and always offers great exhibits of works of living artists. Wander the neighborhood in the Whitney’s Meat Packing District for some hip shops and trendy restaurants and galleries.
Climb the steps from the Whitney up onto the High Line. This is a MUST DO any time of the year. The High Line is a 1.45 mile walk from Gansevoort St. to 34th St. It is a public park built on the historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. The neighborhood residents saved the old rail line from demolition in 2009 and made it one of the best loved sustainable nature, art, and design filled spaces in NY. The High Line is open from 7AM to 7PM in the winter and until 10PM in the summer months.
The NY Stock Exchange & The Charging Bull & The Fearless Girl
Find your way to the corner of Broad and Wall St. and visit the one and only New York Stock Exchange Building. If you are there at 9:30 AM on weekdays, you can hear the opening bell! While you are no longer allowed inside, you can take photos with The Fearless Girl statue and in front of the famous facade of the exchange building.
The Fearless Girl statue was made in 2017 in honor of International Women’s Day and she is a 4 foot inspirational powerhouse! She was originally placed staring down the Charging Bull. Of course, that was controversial for the Bull artist, so she was eventually moved to the stock exchange building.
A few blocks away at the north tip of Bowling Green Park, at the intersection of Morris St. is the infamous Charging Bull. Long lines form for photos and rubbing its head for good luck. I think you can pass up the line and not worry about having bad luck!
The Bull of Wall St. was sculpted by Arturo Di Modica in 1989 to symbolize the recovery from the 1987 stock market crash. One day, he just dropped the 7000 pound bronze sculpture off in front of the Stock Exchange building by the Christmas tree as a gift to New York. But members of the stock exchange demanded it be taken away and it was impounded. Enough people complained, and eventually, the city found it a new home.
Trinity Church is the historic Episcopal Church at the intersection of Broadway and Wall St. in the financial district. It is a National Historic Monument and was built in 1839. Many famous people are buried in the churchyard. Among them, are the stars of that famous Broadway musical, Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler!
Get yourself to Mott Street between Bleecker and Chatham Square or Canal Street to find the heart of Chinatown. Start wandering and let yourself get lost. You will find the best noodles, tea, boutiques, and souvenir shops. Keep an eye out for lots of history and stories.
Little Italy, historic home to New York’s large Italian population, amazing restaurants and bakeries, is just north of Chinatown. You will find the heart of Little Italy on Mulberry Street. Mulberry Street is famous for its San Genarro Festival in September and as the setting of many movies. Arrive hungry and eat your way through the neighborhoods.
Washington Square Park
Be sure to head to Greenwich Village, and stroll through the iconic Washington Square Park. The almost 10 acre park is not just famous for its fountain and arch but is the historic spot of many a protest, many a movie set, and all kinds of art and culture. Surrounded by NYU campus buildings, the park and Village atmosphere is unique only to New York.
Get your New York walking shoes on, head downtown, and have a great time! See you there!