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

categories: USA Travel

I am heading back to New York City this September to see Hamilton on Broadway. 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 14th street on the West Side, work our way down to Battery Park and then back up the Lower East Side.

The High Line Park

1 – The High Line

The High Line may not be everyones favorite park in new York city, but it 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.

2 – 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 callories you burned with sausages, pretzels, and beer.

Whitney Museum of American Art - May 2016

3 – Whitney Museum of American Art

If you are looking for more highbrow than lowenbrau, also near the southern end of the High Line is the Whitney Museum of American Art. This gallery focuses on 20th 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?

9/11 Memorial & Museum

4 – 9/11 Memorial and Museum

More than one person highly recommended I visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, 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.” This is definitely on my list. 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.

Alexander Hamilton's Grave

5 – Trinity Church

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

Battery Park

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

Statue of Liberty

5 – The Statue of Liberty Ferry

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.

Ellis Island

6 – Ellis Island Ferry

There is a pretty good chance that you had at least one family member come to he USA through Ellis Island. 12 Million immigrants came through it’s 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.

The Staten Island Ferry

7 – 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.

8 – 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.

Brooklyn Bridge

9 – 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.

10 – 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.

New York - Tenement Museum

12 – 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.

13 – Katz’s Delicatessen

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.

The 10th Street Russian & Turkish Baths

14 – Russian and 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.”

Where to stay

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.

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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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

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