Great Sights for Your First Visit to New York City, part 1 – Lower Manhattan

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I’m piggybacking onto my last post with today’s list (by neighborhood) of the sights and restaurants I’ve enjoyed in the southern half of Manhattan, below 40th Street. Next week, I’ll post a list of my favorite sights above 40th Street!

**There are hundreds (if not thousands) of sights and museums in NYC, so this will by no means be an exhaustive list, but it will probably cover many of the sights a first time visitor is hoping to see. I’m including links to all the sights and restaurants – please make sure to check each individual website for current hours, prices, other subway stops nearby, etc)**

Starting at the south end of Manhattan, and working our way north, here we go! Again, here’s a handy neighborhood map for reference (we’re exploring south of Midtown and Times Square today)…

nyc-neighborhood-mapphoto source: http://www.nyctourist.com

Financial District Sights

Federal Hall – historic site where George Washington took oath of office as first President. (26 Wall St.)

Trinity Church – Episcopal Church founded in 1697, where Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, their son Phillip and Eliza’s sister Angelica Schuyler Church are buried. (Broadway at Wall St.)

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**Tip – to find Alexander Hamilton’s grave, when standing on Broadway looking at the church, enter the cemetery to the LEFT side of the church, and follow the walkway past the green statue, curving around until you see the large white triangular shaped marker on the far side of the cemetery (the side that borders Rector Street)**

St Paul’s Chapel is also a part of the Trinity Church Parish – built in 1766, it is where George Washington prayed after his inauguration and where First Responders prayed and sought respite during the rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11. (corner of Broadway and Fulton St.)

New York Stock Exchange  – I remember going on a tour back in high school and watching in awe at the organized chaos of the trading floor. Unfortunately, since September 11, 2001, public tours are no longer offered (and most activities are computerized so the chaos of the trading floor doesn’t exist anymore), but if you want to swing by and see the outside of the building, it’s at the corner of Broadway and Wall St.

Charging Bull statue – Famous statue of the bull “charging” Wall Street. Located at North end of Bowling Green, NYC’s oldest public park, where Broadway and Whitehall Streets divide.

9/11 Memorial/Museum  – The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, built in and around the footprint of the original Twin Towers, is a moving testament to the victims, survivors, families and first responders of the attacks both in 1993 and 2001. (180 Greenwich St.)

One World Observatory – the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center Building was built to honor the Twin Towers that were destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.  At a symbolic 1,776 feet tall, you can ascend to an observatory on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors for a multimedia experience and great views of New York Harbor and the city.  (at One World Trade center, 285 Fulton St.)

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A living memorial to the Holocaust, the museum educates visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. Located in Wagner Park., at 36 Battery Place.

Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island – Great day out, with a fantastic Junior Ranger program at Ellis Island for kids 6-12! (catch the ferry in Battery Park at Castle Clinton).

**Tip: if you’re coming from New Jersey or staying on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, catch the Statue Cruise from Liberty State Park (click this link for tickets and choose Liberty State Park as your departure location) – the lines are MUCH shorter and there’s tons of free parking**

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge – One of my favorite things to do in NYC is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge! It’s about a mile in each direction, and there is an elevated path for walkers/cyclists which keeps you away form the car traffic. If you don’t want to walk both ways, I’d recommend taking the subway to Brooklyn and walking back so you get the incredible Manhattan skyline views – especially awesome at night! Here’s a link that gives you all the info you need, including where to access the pedestrian path across the bridge.

If you want an Italian meal in a park setting with a view of the Statue of Liberty, try Gigino’s at Wagner Park – a group of friends and I went to an exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and enjoyed a lovely lunch at Gigino’s after! (20 Battery Place)

financial district sightseeing mapHere’s a screenshot showing the locations of my listed Financial District sights (starred) to help you plan…

Lower East Side/SOHO Sights

I haven’t explored the Lower East Side or SOHO too much, but I’d hate for you to miss the Tenement Museum if you have kids studying immigration history! Staff give guided tours of a historic tenement building where they bring history to life as the new immigrants found it upon arrival into New York. A wonderful complement to an Ellis Island visit for elementary-aged kids, who find it hard to imagine a life without leftovers or refrigerators, and in which you have to put a quarter in a box to get light! The museum has added walking tours of the neighborhood since I was there last – I’ll be in NYC again in June and am definitely going back to check them out! (Tours begin and end at the Visitor Center and Museum Shop, located at 103 Orchard St)

**The museum is ONLY available by guided tour – you definitely need to book ahead as the apartments are tiny and group sizes are limited. The “Meet Victoria Confino” tour under Meet the Residents is the tour we did with our 1st, 3rd and 6th grade kids**

If you want a bite to eat before or after your visit to the Tenement Museum, Katz’s Delicatessen (205 E. Houston St. – famous deli from the movie When Harry Met Sally with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan; the sandwiches are expensive but two people can easily share one) and Doughnut Plant (379 Grand St., but they have multiple locations including one in Chelsea; AMAZING doughnuts – try the Tres Leches!) are both fairly close.

If you adore used book stores, block out some time to spend at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, a beautiful space in SOHO (126 Crosby St.) where you can grab coffee while you browse. There’s no telling what treasures you might find…my daughter once found a 1910 leather bound edition of Jane Eyre for $1.00!

screen shot 2019-01-13 at 5.03.44 pmScreenshot of my Lower East Side/ SOHO sights

Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Murray Hill

The Chelsea area is one of my favorites in which to stay…it’s away from the hustle and bustle of Midtown and Times Square, but has great subway connections and is still close enough to walk on a lovely day. Here are some of the sights in Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Murray Hill…

The Empire State Building – the iconic 1931 building – click here for info and to buy tickets; see this post for a comparison of the three buildings with top floor observatories. (corner of W. 34th St. and Fifth Ave)

Macy’s Herald Square – I LOVE this Macy’s – I love the history (Macy’s was started in 1858; tragically, the co-owners died on the Titanic), the eleven floors of merchandise, the coffee shops and restaurants inside so you can take a much-needed break, the sales, and riding the original wooden escalators (Built in 1902, the Herald Square store, which takes up an entire city block, was the first building in the world to use modern-day escalators, and some of them are still in use – find them in the very center of the store). Located at W. 34th St. and Broadway.

**They have special savings coupons for out of state visitors, so make sure to stop by the (sometimes long) line at the Visitors Center on the Mezzanine level (ask any employee and they will point the way) to pick up your savings pass**

The High Line – another great place to walk or run on a sunny day, the High Line is a elevated green space created from a converted rail line. The best place to enter is the set of stairs on the north side of W 23rd street, near the intersection with 10th Avenue. Time Out NYC has a full guide to the High Line here, if you want more info.

If you’re a fan of the TV shows Friends or Sex and the City, you can see the Friends Apartment building (90 Bedford St; Corner of Bedford and Grove St) and Carrie Bradshaw’s front stoop (66 Perry St, near the intersection with 4th Ave) in Greenwich Village.

Before or after your photo stop, have a meal at Buvette, a delightful little French place on Grove St, just down the block. It’s tiny, as are most NYC restaurants, and there’s always a wait for weekend brunch, but the food is so yummy! (42 Grove St.)

Two other restaurants I’ve enjoyed on past visits are Momoya in Chelsea (great Japanese food with a focus on sushi – corner of 7th Ave. and W. 21st St.) and S’MAC in the East Village (at the corner of 1st Ave. and E. 12th St.) – an entire restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese!

I’ve also starred, on the map below, the Flatiron Building (corner of 5th Ave. and E. 23rd St.), which is an iconic Instagram photo stop, and Eataly, a huge Italian market on the opposite corner which has several places to eat and is fun to wander!

chelsea3avillagescreenshotScreenshot of some of my favorite Chelsea/Greenwich Village/Murray Hill sights

I hope this list gives you some great sights to explore while you’re in NYC! Let me know your top sights in the comments – I’ll be heading back to New York in June so am excited to find some new faves!

**As always, thanks so much for reading, I really hope this information can be helpful to you!**

1 thought on “Great Sights for Your First Visit to New York City, part 1 – Lower Manhattan

  1. Pingback: Great Sights for Your First Visit to New York City, part 2 – Midtown East/West and Times Square | Detours Through Life

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