NYC Neighborhood #7: Downtown Manhattan

Downtown Manhattan is more than just the city’s main business center and financial district. In and around this concrete jungle of bank towers and office buildings, there are some really important and beloved pieces of New York City’s history. Unlike any other areas of New York City, our picturesque Downtown (also known as Lower Manhattan), provides a spectacular backdrop for nearly any types of situation.

This neighborhood still radiates the old New York charm and it still has some sites dating back to when NYC was known as New Amsterdam. Downtown also hosts a number of iconic landmarks and attractions, museums, public artworks and performing arts centers. All can be best seen on our New York, NY tour, which really shows the many facets of Manhattan and the contrast between its various neighborhoods. But, if you want to see Downtown Manhattan when it comes alive at night, take the New York by Night with One World Observation Center (priority admission). On this NYC night tour, beside taking in sweeping views of Manhattan Skyline from different angles, you will also stop by the Meatpacking District, New York hottest and trendiest neighborhoods these days. You’ll also drive through many neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan such as SoHo, Nolita, West Village, and Chinatown. And there’s just so much more to do in this area that you can continue exploring Downtown on your own. This post can be used as your one-stop guide for everything to see and do in Lower Manhattan.

1- Art 
Whitney Museum

(Photo by Shinya S. – Flick)

With its art-centric communities like Chelsea, Lower East Side, Soho and the West Village, Downtown Manhattan boasts quite a few galleries. Starting with Milk Studios and Gallery, a place where the world of fashion, art and nightlife all mingle together. At the Manhattan Art & Antiques Center, and the Ivy Brown Gallery things vary in nature, with exhibitions encompassing photography, paintings and sculptures from both well-known and up-and-coming artists. Then, there is the White Columns, which claims to be the New York City’s oldest alternative non-profit space and was established in 1970. The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art both curates modern American art and are definitely must-sees when you are in the area. Additionally, there is a Children’s Museum of the Arts, which is a fantastic establishment for parents who want to introduce their kids to art early on.

2- History

1200px-Nyc_city_hall_july2006b(Photo By Aude – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5)

So much of New York’s history still lives Downtown. It was here on Wall Street that President George Washington took his inaugural oath of office (more specifically at the Federal Hall). Lower Manhattan hosts lots of significant sites such as City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Woolworth Building, One World Trade Center, and the National September 11th Museum; which – by the way – you can explore at night on our New York by Night with One World Observation Center tour that includes a ticket and express entrance to the One World Observatory. Beside the historical spots, there are several other important NYC landmarks that can be found in this area including: Battery Park, Castle Clinton, the Charging Bull, the Museum of Chinese in America (located in Chinatown), the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the African Burial Ground, and the South Street Seaport that encompass a maritime museum where visitors can stroll past eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings located alongside its cobblestone streets. There are even art galleries related to Manhattan’s importance as an island and a port city. Downtown also has many religious institutions with really beautiful architectural details like the Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel.

3- Food

South_street_seaport_(Photo By Jan Ainali)

Describing Downtown Manhattan as a fun “hot spot” is still an understatement. If anything, Downtown Manhattan’s abundance of restaurants, boutiques, lounges and bars is the most concentrated in the entire city. With practically countless possibilities for late night dining, drinking, and socializing. In terms of eateries, there is a diverse mix of restaurants in Downtown among them you can count Mediterranean, Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Indian and traditional American cuisine. Some of the most popular restaurants choices are: Cipriani, Beauty & Essex, STK Downtown, Nobu, Morimoto, Toro NYC, Catch, Dos Caminos, and TAO Downtown. Other Downtown food destinations that are worthy of a visit include the Spice Market and the Chelsea Market. South Street Seaport, known as the place that used to be America’s busiest port, also provides some great places for shopping and dining. For sugary treats, you can wander into the nearby shops or go straight to the areas’ most famous joints like Duane Park Patisserie, Magnolia Bakery, or to Dominique Ansel Bakery for their famous Cronuts! For those looking to enjoy a little casual meal and drinks with spectacular views, you are already in the fun zone 🙂

4- Entertainment 

Downtown Manhattan(Photo by Gigi NYC)

While Downtown is known for its energy and its reputation as the New York City’s “playground”, there are few places more enjoyable than this portion of the Big Apple especially at night, regardless of the season. Our New York by Night with One World Observation Center tour is especially a great place to start uncovering Downtown. This area has practically endless options of restaurants, nightclubs, lounges and bars, many of them with accessible rooftops offering amazing views of the Hudson River, downtown Manhattan and its surroundings. There are also plenty of choices if you are looking for concerts, live shows including Off-Broadway productions, standup comedy and more! Le Poisson Rouge, Pianos, the Highline Ballroom, and the Comedy Cellar are all great entertainment destinations in Downtown Manhattan. Metrograph, a newly opened indie movie theater, offers a unique experience accompanied by drinks & food. If you’re in the mood for some shopping instead, there’s the remarkable Brookfield Place, a mall where designer labels can be found under one roof alongside with glorious Hudson River and skyline views. Although this neighborhood seem too small to have gardens, you can still embrace nature in places like Zuccotti Park, Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park and the Downtown portion of the High Line Park. Already been on the Staten Island Ferry? Get an overview of Manhattan Island by cruising the harbor aboard one of these NYC cruises. Some of the best choices, we recommend the Clipper City Twilight Sailing Cruise, the Shearwater Champagne Brunch Sailing Cruise, and the Dinner Cruise with Live Jazz Music.

 

Downtown Manhattan, for anyone who isn’t familiar, is a world of exploration and adventure that is waiting for you to enjoy endless shopping, dining and entertainment. Plus, our New York by night and New York NY tour are both perfect for wandering the streets of Downtown after exploring the in-and-out of this area with a local expert. Where would you rather be, Downtown, Midtown or Uptown Manhattan?