15 Things to Do in Downtown Manhattan (New York)

New York City has many nicknames, including The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, and The Capital of the World. One of these nicknames speaks to New York’s famous downtown region, Manhattan.  Downtown holds a wealth of history for visitors to explore, from towering skyscrapers to high-end shopping and restaurants to dainty little street shops.  Here are some reasons to enjoy and fall in love with Downtown Manhattan.

The High Line

High Line promenade at twilight with city lights and illuminated skyscrapers. Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City

The High Line is one of New York City’s most iconic places, having transformed a defunct railroad track into an expansive walking path.  Artists carefully added lush horticulture and striking artwork designs to add to the park-like feeling from above.

Tucked between skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan, it offers breathtaking views and plenty of space for lounging and taking photos—perfect for tourists and locals. 

Many events and community programs happen here and are blended with seasonal food vendors to make the walk exciting and enjoyable. 

Address:

The Diller – von Furstenberg Building
820 Washington Street
New York, NY 10014

One World Observatory

Observatory of One World Trade Center Building

One World Observatory offers a breathtaking view of New York City and lets you explore New York City’s history through interactive media displays, 3D films, and more. The circular floor plan lets you see 360 degrees of Downtown Manhattan without turning your head.  

The Tower’s total height from the base to the tip of the building is 1776 ft which represents the year that the declaration of Independence was signed, but also making it the tallest building in Manhattan.

The museum has won several awards, including an award from the American Institute of Architects.  The views are breathtaking day or night; if you have the chance, visit both times to have a complete experience. 

There are restaurants and plenty of shops on-site if you’re feeling hungry or thirsty after you’ve had your fill of sightseeing.

Address: One World Trade Center at 117 West St, New York, NY 10006

The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum

NEW YORK OCT 12: 911 memorial museum outlook in New York on 12 October 2016. it commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 victims,

The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who died on September 11, 2001, and it stands as a monument for the victims of that terrible day. The museum features two waterfalls cascading down the former footprints of the Twin Towers, and it’s one of New York City’s most visited sites.

The railroad hub attached to the museum was rebuilt to resemble a dove flying up, with the openings of the wings giving views of the Tower. It was appropriately named Oculus by its artist Santiago Calatrava

When visiting Downtown Manhattan, this is a great way to pay tribute and appreciate the strength and support of the community and country.

Address:180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007

Staten Island Ferry

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 21: Staten Island Ferry passes the Statue of Liberty on its way from New York to Staten Island on October 21, 2011 in New York, NY. Passengers can ride the ferry for free.

The ferry is a popular tourist attraction and offers some of NYC’s best views. The Staten Island Ferry has been around since 1905 and is not only one of New York City’s most-used modes of transportation but also one of its most scenic. 

With breathtaking views of both Manhattan and Staten Island, you might even be able to spot Lady Liberty herself. It’s so good you will want to do it twice, day and night. 

It is free to ride on the ferry, making it great for large families to enjoy the ride and take in the beautiful views; try to avoid rush hour so you will have ample room for taking that perfect picture.

Address: 4 South Street, New York, NY 10004

Pier 17

view of South Street Seaport and Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan

One of the happening places to venture in Downtown Manhattan is Pier 17.  It’s a lively place where locals and tourists alike can eat, drink, and have fun together.  

There are floors of restaurants and shopping with a popular rooftop bar where concerts, events, and movies are offered, be sure to check the website for upcoming performances. 

On the base of the pier are always seasonal displays of large arts and sculptures that are so popular that the lines get pretty long for pictures.  

The view from the rooftop as well as the base shows magnificent views of the skyline with ships and tourist attractions gliding by.  This is one of the most romantic places to visit!

Address: 89 South St, New York, NY 10038

Soho (South of Hudson)

New York City, USA, May 2018, facade of the building of the Mexican restaurant “La Esquina” in Soho with a billboard above.

The SoHo (South of Houston Street) area of Downtown NYC offers a world of art, culture, and entertainment. Close to the waterfront district, Soho invites visitors to venture down winding streets and explore secret passages, a true gem. 

As you stroll along the cobbled streets and take in the beautiful architectural buildings, you will notice beautiful local and brand-name shopping where you can find unique items, along with lovely restaurants serving specialty drinks and fantastic foods. 

If you only need a little pick-me-up, they have lots of cozy shops serving up gourmet desserts and delicious coffee a great place to take a leisurely walk and enjoy the arts.

Greenwich Village

View of Washington Square Park in New York City

Greenwich Village, fondly called The Village, is well known for its diverse architecture and culture. The district’s street grid is broken up by triangular and rectangular blocks overhung trees, giving it a unique and distinct feel from New York’s other neighborhoods. 

Townhouses line many streets, creating an intimate feel throughout much of Greenwich Village. While there, check out the many buildings that make up New York University.  

Enjoy a picnic in Washington Square Park, where you can find many artists expressing themselves through the arts and music at any given hour or day.  And as in any area of Manhattan, take your pick of restaurants to enjoy a cozy meal and enjoy the evening.

Tenement Museum

New York, New York, USA – March 29, 2012: The Tenement Museum located on the lower east side of Manhattan.

The Tenement Museum offers a window into life in early 20th-century New York City. Visitors can tour a tenement apartment, see how people lived during different periods in New York’s history, and hear stories about how the different cultures achieved the American dream.

A museum shop is available for purchasing souvenirs. The Tenement Museum is housed in two brick buildings on Orchard Street. 

Address: 103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Whitney Museum of American Art

NEW YORK CITY – Aug 30: The Whitney museum of American art in New York on August 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York City.

This museum is home to a plethora of contemporary and modern art and has been open since 1929. There’s always something new and exciting on display, so it’s always a treat to visit.

Current and past favorites include Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Alexander Calder, and many others. Be sure to book your tickets in advance to experience these amazing pieces of art.

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014

Hudson River Park

Lower Manhattan at sunset as viewed from Hudson River Park, in Tribeca, New York – with space for text on the right

In 2009, an $85 million renovation of Hudson River Park was completed in Downtown Manhattan. The park runs from 59th Street to Battery Park and features a multitude of activities and attractions—like bike rentals, cultural events, food trucks, kayaking, skateboarding, and more.

What’s great about Hudson River Park is that it seamlessly blends nature with urban living; visitors will feel like they’re in their own backyard while hanging out with friends or relaxing on a boat ride.

Hudson River Park is located alongside the North River (Hudson River) that extends from 59th Street south to Battery Park.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge in New York City at dawn.

The Brooklyn Bridge is a cable-stayed suspension bridge and is recognized as New York City’s most recognized landmark. It stretches 5,989 feet over a 13-arch span and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River. 

Completed in 1883, it is considered an engineering marvel and stands as the oldest working bridge.  On a clear day, you can see up to 15 miles from its center when crossing. 

In your free time, walk across and admire its structure while taking in amazing views of downtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers on either side of you.

Ghost Busters Fire Station

New York, USA – June 21, 2019: A billboard with the Ghostbusters logo in the Hook and Ladder 8 fire station.

Ladder 8 Fire Station is a must-visit for all movie fans.  The original Ghost Busters was filmed here, and if you’re lucky and the doors are open, you get to see the Ghostbusters sign still hung up and purchase memorabilia from their gift shop.  

It makes for a great photo opportunity.  Even if the doors are closed, and you don’t get to see inside, the building itself is recognizable and Instagram-worthy.

Address: 14 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

Museum of Ice Cream

Banana split sundae ice cream in a bowl with strawberry and raspberry vanilla icecream scoops

Rediscover the kid in you again at the Museum of Ice Cream. Featuring a three-story building in Lower Manhattan, of all things, made to resemble delicious treats.

Have a go at the city’s largest indoor slide and enjoy a nice dip in the famous sprinkle pool, complete with cherries on top. While you are there, of course, you get to learn all about ice cream and sample many flavors to your heart’s content.

They are open Wednesday to Monday, closed on Tuesday, and pricing is very reasonable for an enjoyable time with desert.

Address: 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

SeaGlass Carousel

New York, USA – May 9, 2018 : SeaGlass Carousel at The Battery Park in Lower Manhattan

Battery park was once home to The New York Aquarium; when that closed in 1941, The design team conjured up a unique attraction to pay tribute to the Aquarium and bring in lots of enjoyment from locals and visitors alike.

Sea Glass offers a mystical underwater experience without the water by using iridescent fish that glide around using the sights and sounds of a 360 degree of aquatic adventure and water effect machines.

Visitors can enjoy a nice picnic by the water as a nice treat for the little ones.

Address: Water St &, State St, New York, 10004

Charging Bull (Wall Street Bull)

NEW YORK CITY – AUG 3: The landmark Charging Bull in Lower Manhattan represents aggressive financial optimism and prosperity August 3, 2012 in New York, NY.

While walking around downtown Manhattan, and if you happen to come across this statue of the famous Charging Bull, it’s worth stopping by for a photo op. While the sculpture is just a giant bronze monster, it symbolizes the life of the financial district of Wall Street.

Address: Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004

Because of its sheer size and scale, it’s easy to take New York City for granted. No matter how many times you visit—or how long you live here—there’s always something new to discover about downtown Manhattan. The arts are ever-changing on the streets and in buildings, and the night atmosphere offers one of the best experiences you can imagine in the Western Hemisphere.