Top 10 Amazing things to do in Downtown, New York City (Complete Guide)

Things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan)

Home to myriad fashion boutiques, flea markets, booksellers, record stores, antique shops, gourmet grocers and many more – New York City is quite simply one of the best shopping destinations in the world. Downtown (Lower Manhattan) is amazingly diverse, with a multitude of neighborhoods and regions with distinct character. Because there is so much to see and do in the entire city, it could often be useful when traveling to New York City to narrow down your choices by neighborhood.

Downtown’s coolest Shopping areas are in NoLita ( just east of SoHo), the East Village as well as the Lower East Side. SoHo has more expensive and also equally fashionable stores, while Broadway from Union Sq to Canal St is lined with big retailers like H&M and Urban Outfitters, as well as dozens of jeans and shoe stores.

The Town contains many historical buildings and sites, such as Castle Garden, originally the fort Castle Clinton, Bowling Green, the old United States Customs House, now the National Museum of the American Indian, Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the very first U.S. President, Fraunces Tavern, Ellis Island,renovated original mercantile buildings of the South Street Seaport (and a modern tourist building), the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City Hall, the New York Stock Exchange, South Ferry, embarkation point for the Staten Island Ferry and ferries to Liberty Island and Trinity Church.

Downtown (Lower Manhattan)

Lower Manhattan is home to some of New York City’s most incredible skyscrapers, such as the Woolworth Building, 40 Wall Street (also referred to as the Trump Building), the Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway, as well as the American International Building.

If you’re looking for best things to do in Downtown ( Lower Manhattan ) during your visit to New York, check out our list of the best things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

Stunning Things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan) New York City-

1. Brooklyn Bridge

  • 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, J to Chambers St

Motivation to artists as well as writers throughout the years, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York’s most-loved monuments. Walking across it really is a rite of passage for New Yorkers and visitors alike – with this in mind, walk no further than 2 abreast or you will be vulnerable to colliding with runners and speeding cyclists.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

With a span of 1596ft, it remains a compelling symbol of US achievement and a wonderfully elegant structure, even though its construction was affected by budget over-runs and the loss of 20 workers. One of the casualties was designer John Roebling, who was knocked off a pier in 1869 while scouting a site for the western bridge tower and soon after died of tetanus poisoning. The bridge as well as the smooth pedestrian/cyclist path, beginning just east of City Hall, affords wonderful views of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. On the Brooklyn side, the ever-expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park is an excellent spot to continue your stroll. Editor’s Choice in things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

2. Statue of Liberty

  • Official Website-www.nps.gov/stli
  • Liberty Island
  • adult/child incl ellis Island $18/9, incl crown $21/12
  • Opening Hours-8:30am-5:30pm, check out the website for seasonal changes
  • 1 to South Ferry, 4/5 to Bowling green

In a city full of American icons, the Statue of Liberty is the absolute most popular. Conceived as early as 1865 by French intellectual Edouard Laboulaye as a monument to the republican principles shared by France as well as the United States Of America, it is still generally recognized as a symbol for the ideals of opportunity as well as freedom to many. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi traveled to New York in 1871 to choose the location, then spent more than a decade in Paris designing as well as making the 151ft-tall figure of Liberty Enlightening the entire world.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

It was then shipped to New York, erected on a tiny island in the harbor and unveiled in 1886. Access to the crown is restricted, so reservations are needed: book as far ahead of time as you possibly can. Pedestal access is also limited, so reserve in advance. Keep in mind there is no elevator and also the climb from the base is equivalent to a 22-story building.

Or else, a visit means you can wander the grounds, take in the small museum and relish the view from the 16-story observation deck in the pedestal. Make the most out of your visit by picking up a free audio guide when you reach the island (there is even a kid’s version).The day at Liberty island, via ferry, is usually made in conjunction with nearby Ellis Island. Ferries leave from Battery Park and tickets include admission to both sights. Reserve ahead of time to cut down on long wait times.Editor’s Choice in things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

3. Ellis Island

  • Official Website- www.nps.gov/elis
  • admission free
  • ferry incl Statue of Liberty adult/child $18/9
  • Opening Hours- 8:30am-5:30pm, check website for seasonal changes
  • 1 to South Ferry, 4/5 to Bowling green

An symbol of legendary proportions for the descendants of those who passed through here, this island as well as its hulking building served as New York’s main immigration station from 1892 until 1954, processing a fantastic 12 million arrivals – who came from far-flung corners of the world.

Ellis Island

The process involved getting the once-over by doctors, being assigned new names if their own were deemed too difficult to spell or pronounce, and basically getting the green light to start brand new lives in America. Now anybody who visits the island will get an understanding of the experience, thanks to an interactive Immigration Museum which is housed in the red-brick structure. You can peruse exciting exhibits and watch a film that delves into the immigrant experience, explaining and exactly how the influx changed the United States. Editor’s Choice in things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

4. National September 11 Memorial

  • Official Website- www.911memorial.org
  • 180 greenwich St
  • Opening Hours- 7:30am-9pm
  • E to World Trade Center, N/rto Cortlandt St, 2/3 to Park Pl

Certainly one of New York’s most solemn spaces is the National September 11 Memorial. Titled ‘Reflecting Absence’, the memorial’s 2 massive reflecting pools are just as much a symbol of hope as well as renewal as they are a tribute to the 1000s who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Editor’s Choice in Things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

National September 11 Memorial
National September 11 Memorial

5. National September 11 Memorial Museum

  • Offical Website- www.911memorial.org/museum
  • 180 greenwich St, near Fulton St
  • adult/child $24/15
  • Opening Hours- 9am-8pm Sun-Thu, to 9pm Fri & Sat
  • E to World Trade Center, N/r to Cortlandt St, 2/3 to Park Pl

Just beyond the reflecting pools of the September 11 Memorial, you will see an entrance pavilion that subtly, yet eerily, evokes a toppled tower. Within, a gently sloping ramp guides to the subterranean exhibition galleries that recall that horrifying summer day on 2001.

National September 11 Memorial Museum
National September 11 Memorial Museum

6. One World Observatory

  • Official Website- www.oneworldobservatory.com
  • cnr West & Vesey Sts
  • adult/child $32/26
  • Opening Hours- 9am-8pm
  • E to World Trade Center, N/r to Cortlandt St, 2/3 to Park Pl

On top of the highest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Observatory, which opened in 2015, offers spectacular views from its 102-story perch. Hardly any other building in town rivals the jaw-dropping panorama of New York’s urban landscape and its surrounding geography spread before you.

One World Observatory
One World Observatory

Apart from the sky-high spectacle, the experience also includes a video called ‘Voices’ about those who built the One World Trade Center; there is also a virtual time-lapse that shows the evolution of the city sky-line from the 1600s to the current. Visitors are whisked up to the top in under 60 seconds in so-called ‘skypods’ – a interestingly smooth ride, considering these are among the quickest elevators on the earth. Not unexpectedly, this is a massively popular site. Purchase tickets online: you will need to select the time and date of the visit.

7. Governors Island

  • Official Website- www.govisland.com
  • Opening Hours- 10am-6pm Mon-Fri, to 7pm Sat & Sun from late May-late September
  • 1 to South Ferry, then ferry from Battery Marine Terminal

Off-limits to the public for 200 years, former military outpost Governors Island is now one of the New York’s most well-known summer playgrounds. Starting from late May through September, ferries make the 7-minute trip from Downtown (Lower Manhattan) (or Brooklyn Bridge Park’s pier 6) to the 172-acre oasis. Spotlights include 19th-century fortifications, open lawns, massive shade trees, a hammock grove as well as unsurpassed city views. There are art installations, concerts and also food trucks during the summer. You can hire bikes once you arrive.

Governors Island
Governors Island

The ferry(www.govisland.com; one-way $2; Opening Hours- 10am-4pm Mon-Fri, 10am-5:30pm Sat & Sun;1 to South Ferry) leaves every 30 to 60 minutes from the Battery Marine Terminal next to the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan.

8. South Street Seaport

  • A/C, J/Z, 2/3, 4/5 to Fulton St

The 11-block enclave of shops, piers and sights combines the greatest and worst in historic preservation. It is not in the radar for the majority of New Yorkers, but tourists are drawn to the sea air, the nautical feel, the frequent street performers as well as the mobbed restaurants.The pedestrian malls, historic tall ships and riverside locale of this neighborhood create a pleasant backdrop if you happen to be standing in line for discounted Broadway tickets at the downtown TKTS booth.

South Street Seaport
South Street Seaport

9. Bowling Green Park

  • cnr State & Whitehall Sts
  • 4/5 to Bowling green

At Bowling Green Park, British residents relaxed with quiet games in the late 17th century. The big Bronze Bull here is a tourist photo stop. Bowling Green Is Surrounded By the Oldest Fence in New York City.

Bowling Green Park
Bowling Green Park

The history of Bowling Green Park dates back into the 1630’s, when the Dutch declared it the site of a yearly cattle and grain market. In 1733, 3 colonists leased it from the English crown for the nominal fee of just one peppercorn per year, and it became New York’s first park. The British setup a statue of King George III in 1770 and built the fence to safeguard the statue right after. The statue was torn-down on July 9, 1776 by an furious mob following George Washington’s order of the Declaration of Independence. The fence remains intact, and today the park is home to yet another famous sculptural resident.

10. National Museum of the American Indian

  • Official Website- www.nmai.si.edu
  • 1 Bowling green
  • Opening Hours- 10am-5pm Fri-Wed, to 8pm Thu
  • 4/5 to Bowling green, R to Whitehall St

Set in Cass Gilbert’s spectacular 1907 Custom House, this Smithsonian affiliate has exhibitions documenting Native American art, textiles, culture, life as well as beliefs.

National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of the American Indian

Activities To Do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan)-

Cycling

New York has 100s of kilometers of designated bike lanes, making the town a surprisingly bicycle-friendly destination. For quick jaunts across town (under half an hour), hop on a Citi Bike (www.citibikenyc.com; 24hr/7 days $11/27), the Big Apple’s bike-sharing program. Hundreds of kiosks in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn house the bright blue bicycles and checking one out is as easy as swiping your credit card. Nonetheless, unless you are an experienced urban cyclist, pedaling through the streets can be a risky activity, as bike lanes are often blocked by trucks, taxis as well as double-parked cars.

More than 28-miles, mostly riverfront, have been integrated into the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a patchwork of park pathways, overpasses and some city streets that circle the entire island of Manhattan. The largely uninterrupted 10-mile stretch Starting from the GW Bridge to Battery Park, including Hudson River Park, is perhaps the most amazing. Of course Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park have fabulous cycling paths. For bike rentals (apart from Citi Bike), visit one of several locations of Bike and Roll (bikes from $10/30 per hour/half day). It has a quick-rent branch outside Central Park on 59th St and Central Park West.

Water Sports

This really is an island, after all, and as such there are plenty of opportunities for boating as well as kayaking. The Downtown Boathouse (Officia Website- www.downtownboathouse.org ;Pier 26 near N Moore St; Opening Hours- 9am-5:30pm Sat & Sun mid-May–mid-oct, & 5-6:30pm Mon-Fri Jul & Aug; 1 to Houston St) offers free 20-minute kayaking (including equipment) in the protected embayment of the Hudson River. Other locations include 56th St, 72nd St and Governors Island.

In Central Park, Loeb Boathouse(Phone No.- 212-517-2233; Official Website- www.thecentralparkboathouse.com; btwn 74th & 75th Sts; boating per hour $12, bike rental per hour $9-15;h10am-6pm Apr-Nov; B, C to 72nd St, 6 to 77th St) rents rowboats for romantic trysts, and also fills Venice-style gondolas during the summer. For a sailing adventure, hop aboard the Schooner Adirondack (www.sail-nyc.com; Chelsea Piers, Pier 62 at W 22th St; tours $48-78; C, E to 23rd St) at Chelsea Piers. Surfers can be surprised to find a decent number of wave worshippers within city limits, at Queens’ Rockaway Beach at 90th St, where you can hang ten after only a 75-minute ride from the A train from Midtown. Editor’s Choice in things to do in Downtown (Lower Manhattan).

A Brief History Of Downtown (Lower Manhattan)

Lower Manhattan, also referred to as Downtown Manhattan, is the southernmost area of the island of Manhattan, the primary island and center of business and government of the the New York City, which itself originated at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1624.

The region that would eventually encompass present day New York City was inhabited by the Lenape people. These groups of culturally as well as linguistically identical Native Americans traditionally spoke an Algonquian language now known as Unami.

European settlement began with the founding of a Dutch fur trading post in Lower Manhattan, later called New Amsterdam in 1626. The very first fort was built at the Battery to protect New Netherland.

In 1664, the English conquered the region and renamed it “New York” after the Duke of York. During those times, African slaves comprised 40% of the small population of the city. Some had achieved freedom under the Dutch and owned 130 acres of farms in the region of present-day Washington Square. The Dutch briefly regained the city in 1673, renaming the city “New Orange”, before permanently ceding the colony of New Netherland to the English for what is now Suriname in November 1674.The new English rulers of the formerly Dutch New Amsterdam and New Netherland renamed the settlement New York.

Liberty Oaks
Liberty Oaks

In 1754, Columbia University was established under charter by George II of Great Britain as King’s College in Lower Manhattan.

New York grew as an economic center, first as a consequence of Alexander Hamilton’s policies and practices as the first Secretary of the Treasury and, later, with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, which connected the Atlantic port with the vast agricultural markets of the North American interior.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the city became a global center for industry, commerce, and communication.
On September 11, 2001, two of four hijacked planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the former World Trade Center, therefore the towers collapsed. The 7 World Trade Center had not been struck by an airplane, but collapsed due to heavy debris falling from the impacts of planes as well as the collapse of the Twin Towers. Since September 11, Lower Manhattan lost a lot of its economy and work place, but most of Lower Manhattan happens to be restored.

Places to Eat in Downtown (Lower Manhattan)

In a city of endless restaurants, and brand new ones opening each day, where are you supposed to begin? From Little Albania to Little Uzbekistan, your choice of ethnic eats is only a brief subway ride away. A hot-bed of buzz-worthy culinary invention and trends like artisanal doughnuts, farm-to-table pork sandwiches and haute cuisine reinterpretations of fried chicken, pizza and also good ol’ burgers and fries, NYC’s restaurant scene, just like the city, is continually reinventing itself.Along with the best things to do in Downtown here is a list of Best Places to Eat in Downtown (Lower Manhanttan)-

1. Financier Patisserie

  • Contact No.- 212-334-5600
  • Official Website- www.financierpastries.com
  • 62 Stone St at Mill Lane
  • pastries $3-4, sandwiches $8-10
  • Opening Hours- 7am-7pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat & Sun
  • 2/3, 4/5 to Wall St, J/Z to Broad St
Financier Patisserie

There are now 3 Patisserie outposts in Downtown (Lower Manhattan) because nobody can get an adequate amount of the buttery croissants, berry tarts or chocolate éclairs. Savory items include homemade soups, flavorful sandwiches as well as creamy quiches.

2. Shake Shack

  • Contact No.- 646-545-4600
  • Official Website- www.shakeshack.com
  • 215 Murray St btwn West St & North end Ave
  • burgers $5-10
  • Opening Hours- 11am-11pm
  • A/C, 1/2/3 to Chambers St

Danny Meyer’s cult burger chain is fast food at its best, cotton-soft burgers made with prime, freshly ground mince. Chicago-style hot dogs in poppy-seed potato buns; and seriously good cheesy fries. Drink local with a beer from Brooklyn brewery Sixpoint.

3. Fraunces Tavern Restaurant

  • Contact No.- 212-968-1776
  • Official Website- www.frauncestavern.com
  • 54 Pearl St
  • mains lunch $15-26, dinner $20-38
  • Opening Hours- 11am-10pm
  • N/r to Whitehall

Can you really pass up a chance to eat where George Washington supped in 1762? Expect heaped portions of beer-battered fish and chips, slow-roasted chicken pot pie and braised short ribs. Fraunces Tavern has amazing atmosphere – particularly on Sundays when there’s traditional Irish music (3:30pm to 6:30pm). “The most splendid dinner I ever saw, a profusion of rich dishes.”,John Adams – First Continental Congress 1774 at Fraunces Tavern.

4. Locanda Verde

  • Contact No.- 212-925-3797
  • Official Website- www.locandaverdenyc.com
  • 377 greenwich St at Moore St
  • lunch $19-29, mains dinner $22-37
  • Opening Hours- 7am-11pm Mon-Fri, from 8am Sat & Sun
  • A/C/Eto Canal St, 1 to Franklin St

Step through the velvet curtains into a scene of loosened button-downs, black dresses and slick bartenders behind a long, populated bar. This renowned brasserie highlights modern Italian fare like pappardelle with lamb bolognese as well as steamed black bass with green garlic puree. Weekend brunch features no less creative fare: try scampi and grits or lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberries.

5. Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs

  • Contact No.- 212-374-1135
  • Official Website- www.tinysnyc.com
  • 135 W Broadway btwn Duane & Thomas Sts
  • mains lunch $16-20, dinner $22-30
  • Opening Hours- 8am-midnight Mon-Fri, from 9am Sat & Sun
  • A/C, 1/2/3 to Chambers St
Tiny's & The Bar Upstairs
Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs

Comfy and delightful (book in advance!), Tiny’s comes with a crackling fire in the back room as well as an romantic bar upstairs. Served on classic porcelain, dishes are soulful, subtly retweaked delights; think kale salad with maple mustard and shredded Gouda, marinated shrimp with squid ink cavatelli or grilled skirt steak with pickled ramps.

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