From great bars and restaurants to museums and cultural attractions, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Lower Manhattan. No trip to New York is complete without checking out this exciting part of the island.
Here’s our guide to things to do in Lower Manhattan.
Lower Manhattan: The Basics
Lower Manhattan is the area of Manhattan island south of the east-west 14th Street. The street separates the top part of Lower Manhattan — which includes Greenwich Village and the East Village — from Chelsea and Gramercy Park. The area of Lower Manhattan consists of the entire lower half of Manhattan. The Hudson and East rivers are on both sides of Lower Manhattan. Brooklyn and Queens are to the east and southeast, and Jersey City is across the Hudson River. Most of the major New York City subway and bus lines run through lower Manhattan, so mass transit is an easy way to get to this part of New York.
What to See in Lower Manhattan
> National September 11 Memorial
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is in the heart of lower Manhattan at the former World Trade Center location. This solemn location commemorates the victims of the September 11 attacks, and features two waterfalls and reflecting pools at the spots where the Twin Towers once stood. The museum includes artifacts, collections, and exhibitions related to the attacks and its aftermath. Near the 9/11 Memorial is One World Trade Center. Built after the 9/11 attacks, this skyscraper is the tallest building in the United States, with a height of 1,776 feet. Visitors can take an elevator up 102 stories to the One World Observatory for an unforgettable glimpse of New York City. The Observatory requires tickets. There is also a restaurant called ONE Dine on the Observatory level.
> Heye Center
Inside the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green is the George Gustav Heye Center. This is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. This two-floor museum is a partner facility of the Washington, D.C. institution. The center contains an enormous array of native objects and artifacts, many from the collection of its namesake. The museum also offers a wide variety of events and exhibitions throughout the year.
> Skyscraper Museum
One of New York City’s hidden cultural gems is the Skyscraper Museum. Located in Battery Park City, this intriguing museum spotlights the history and future of New York’s tallest buildings. Be sure to check out the impressive “Manhattan Mini Models” display. This recreates Manhattan’s tall buildings in smaller detail.
> Wall Street
As the home of Wall Street, Lower Manhattan is also the epicenter of American finance. Visitors can explore one of the area’s top institutions with a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York off of Liberty Street. The tour also brings visitors down to see the famous gold reserve vault. You may recognize it as the one robbed in the third Die Hard movie.
What to Eat and Drink in Lower Manhattan
Grabbing a bite to eat or a drink at one of the area’s great restaurants and bars is one of the best things to do in lower Manhattan. Topping the list of hip destinations is the super-cool Antique Garage in Tribeca. This lush and opulent restaurant has a Victorian-era flair in its design and a selection of creative Mediterranean meals. Dishes include hand-chopped and skewered grilled lamb on flatbread and yellowfin tuna with artichoke bottoms and bell pepper coulis. Diners can eat to the accompaniment of smooth jazz selections from the Garage’s live musical performances.
Attaboy on Eldridge Street is a speakeasy-style hot spot that is the place to go for a classic cocktail or a new kind of concoction. It doesn’t look like much from the outside — you’ll have to search high and low to find it. Inside, the atmosphere is mellow and relaxed, and the drinks are fascinating. Give your drink preferences to the bartenders and they’ll whip you up a drink that suits your tastes. Take a trek to the area near Chinatown on Essex Street to find the old favorite called Clockwork Bar. This is a lively punk-rock joint with a graffiti vibe and a menu of cold and cheap beers. It’s become a go-to hip spot for a wide selection of New Yorkers. Stop in for a few cheap drinks and some people-watching.
> Dirt Candy
A slogan on the website of the restaurant Dirt Candy proclaims “Anyone can cook a hamburger, leave the vegetables to the professionals.” This vegetarian restaurant from chef Amanda Cohen offers a creative menu of vegetarian dishes. Meals come from a choice of two tasting menus; favorites include Korean fried broccoli and Brussels sprout tacos.
> Sweet Chick
Chicken is the specialty at the Ludlow Street location of the New York City favorite called Sweet Chick. Go for the famous Sweet Chick fried chicken or spice it up with the Nashville fried chicken. The Sweet Chick fried chicken and waffles dish comes with a wide array of waffle options, from classic to bacon-cheddar. There is also an extensive menu of comfort food side dishes, including buttermilk biscuits and cheddar cheese grits.
> Welcome to The Johnsons
For a very retro bar option, head into Welcome to The Johnsons on Rivington Street. This bar resembles a 1970s-era suburban basement, with wood paneling and kitschy decorations. There’s also a pool table, old-school televisions, and a stock of beers in a fridge for patrons to enjoy.
A Visit to Lower Manhattan
There’s a wide selection of exciting things to do in Lower Manhattan. Be sure to include this fun section of the city on your itinerary when you visit the Big Apple. Enjoy your trip!