The Best Things to Do in the Civic Center NYC

The Civic Center neighborhood is part of Downtown Manhattan and is known for four things in particular, all of which often appear in movies and series: it starts right at the Brooklyn Bridge, the mayor is headquartered in this neighborhood, as are the New York City Police Department and the New York County Supreme Court.

Therefore, it is fair to say that the institutional heart of the city beats right here. The district itself is quite small and many of the buildings are not open to visitors. Still, you get the feeling of standing in the middle of a movie scene surrounded by a gorgeous skyline!

Everything you should have seen and done in the Civic Center of New York City, we tell you here in our guide!

By the way: you’ll find many more New York City spots in our Loving New York travel guides!

My TOP 5 in the Civic Center

Best Things to Do in Civic Center NYC

  • Stroll over Brooklyn Bridge
  • Feel like a movie star in front of the Supreme Court
  • Enjoy the scenery at City Hall Park
  • Discover the secret subway station below City Hall
  • Relax at Foley Square

Where is the Civic Center located?

The Civic Center is located in the southern tip of Manhattan and is bounded by four neighborhoods: Financial District, Two Bridges, Chinatown and Tribeca.

Civic Center NYC Map

How to Get to the Civic Center NYC

  • Metro: Subway lines J Z to “Chambers St.”, N R W to “City Hall Station” or 4 5 6 to “Brooklyn Bridge – City Call”
  • Hop on Hop Off Bus: Stop 10 of the downtown loop of BIG BUS or stop 12 of the downtown loop of Gray Line Sightseeing. Here you find more about Hop on Hop off in NYC

My tip: the tickets for the buses are included in many of the New York City passes – which one is the best for you, you can see in my Pass Comparison for New York!

The 11 Best Things to Do in Civic Center NYC

What’s exciting about Civic Center’s location is that each of the adjacent neighborhoods is completely different: Tribeca is classy and stylish, the Financial District offers a brilliant mix of historic sites and new attractions, the Lower East Side has a vibrant food scene, and Chinatown is simply Chinatown.

Our favorite things to see, taste and do are revealed here.

  1. 01

    Sit back and relax at City Hall Park

    Park in Civic Center
    210205165852001_City_Hall_Park
    New York, New York, USA at City Hall Park Fountain.
    Add to myNY added

    The City Hall Park in Manhattan New York is one of those parks that you don’t immediately notice. The names of the other parks are too big. But there is a lot to see and to discover in its area. As the name suggests, it is located at the foot of the New York City Hall. It is the oldest of its kind in the USA (already over 200 years old) and is the seat of government of the mayor of NYC.

  2. 02

    Experience the highlights on a hop on hop off bus tour (really!)

    Bus Tour in Midtown Manhattan
    new_york_city_all_around_town_hop_on_hop_off_tour_in_new_york_city_292892
    Add to myNY added

    The tour in an open double-decker is one of the best and most convenient ways to explore New York! As part of the tour, you will see well-known landmarks such as the famous Empire State Building and the One World Trade Center.

  3. 03

    Visit the Mmuseumm

    Museum in Tribeca
    Museum of New York
    Add to myNY added

    The Mmuseumm is New York’s smallest museum and an absolute insider tip: Here a freight elevator was converted into a museum! The exhibits are treasures from all over the world that present their view of life. In short: Small miracles – more really doesn’t fit in the elevator. A view through the window is possible at any time of the day or night – but this museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 6 pm.

    It is part of our list of the Best Museums in NYC – so don’t miss visiting it!

  4. 04

    The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building

    Building in Civic Center
    Civic_Center_NYC_210811113200004
    Add to myNY added

    The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building is one of the most eye-catching buildings around City Hall Park, along with the Gehry Tower and the Woolworth Building. It is the home of the Manhattan Borough President and although it was built around 1900, it is still one of the tallest government buildings in the US.

    I find it particularly beautiful as a photo motive in the evening, when the golden statue on the top is illuminated. 

  5. 05

    Learn more about Brooklyn Bridge

    Walking Tour in Civic Center
    Our Highlight
    Best_Walking_Tour_NYC_Guided_New_York_City_Walking_Tour_from_Manhattan_to_Brooklyn
    Add to myNY added

    Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and learn about the exciting and dramatic history of this world-famous New York City neighborhood, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. On the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge you will discover DUMBO, a newly popular and up and coming part of Brooklyn. 

    Meeting point is 52 Chambers Street in front of the Tweed Courthouse.

  6. 06

    Head over to the 9/11 Memorial – it is just 2 blocks away

    Building in Financial District
    210810120031001_9_11_Memorial_NYC
    Add to myNY added

    Ground Zero has now become a place for quiet reflection. With two huge pools to commemorate the lives lost during 9/11 the beautiful memorial attracts people from far and wide. NYC will never forget 9/11 and the memorial is the perfect embodyment of this spirit.

  7. 07

    Go Shopping at the Oculus-Westfield Mall that is close by

    Mall in Financial District
    Oculus_Shopping_Mall2_1600x960
    Add to myNY added

    The list of shops is already a pleasure to read through. Besides an Apple Store, countless shoe shops like Aldo & Co, Kiels, H&M, Forever21, you will also find Dior, Lacoste and Kate Spade. Also concerning the restaurants, one is at first speechless: in summary, one can say that everything that is currently hip in New York and should definitely be tried out can be found here.

  8. 08

    See Lower Manhattan from above

    Building in Financial District
    Our Highlight
    One_World_Observatory_Aussicht_180205093112003
    Add to myNY added

    The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere meaning that is the ultimate place for an observation deck. The One World Observatory offers amazing views over the whole of Manhattan, the Hudson and East Rivers and of course the Statue of Liberty. As one of NYC’s newest attractions the modern building and its observation deck have many amazing features that make this well worth the visit!

  9. 09

    Take photos of the Gehry Tower (we love the architecture!)

    Building in Financial District
    210215145927001_new_york_by_gehry
    Add to myNY added

    The skyscraper “New York by Gehry” can not be missed by you: its facade is definitely unique! If you are at the City Hall Park directly at the Brooklyn Bridge you have the best view of this residential building.

  10. 10

    Start your Brooklyn Bridge Bike Tour at Civic Center

    Bike Tour in Dumbo
    Bike Tours
    Add to myNY added

    Not many bridges have been recognised as a national landmark! The Brooklyn Bridge however is arguably one of the most popular attractions in the city. With amazing views of Downtown Manhattan at any time of day, this bike tour is a great way to explore the bridge.

  11. 11

    Meet your Guide of the NYC Lower East Side Food and Culture Small-Group Tour here

    Walking Tour in Civic Center
    Our Highlight
    Best_Walking_Tour_NYC_NYC_Lower_East_Side_Food_and_Culture_Small_Group_Tour
    Add to myNY added

    This is a really unique walking tour in NYC that will introduce you to the wonderful Lower East Side. The Lower East Side Food and Culture Tour shows you the many lovely little delis, Jewish specialties, bakeries and everything that makes up the soul of the city. 

    You’ll visit places that are an important part of the community, having operated in the same spot for generations. You’ll get a glimpse of authentic life and become part of the real New York. 

    With nearly 500 positive reviews, it’s the most popular walking tour in New York of them all!

Attractions in the Civic Center

The major New York attractions are all within easy reach from here, as you are right in the border of Lower and Downtown Manhattan.

  1. 210205165852001_City_Hall_Park
    New York, New York, USA at City Hall Park Fountain.

    01 City Hall Park

    The City Hall Park in Manhattan New York is one of those parks that you don’t immediately notice. The names of the other parks are too big. But there is a lot to see and to discover in its area. As the name suggests, it is located at the foot of the New York City Hall. It is the oldest of its kind in the USA (already over 200 years old) and is the seat of government of the mayor of NYC.

  2. Things to Do in Civic Center NYC

    02 Foley Square

    Foley Square is quite small, but from here you have a great view of the various beautiful buildings of the Civic Center district. The view of the United States Courthouse and the New York County Supreme Court is unique in NYC and really impressive. 

    Sit on a park bench with a coffee in hand – preferably the one from Think Coffee (350 Broadway) – and watch the action. There is always something interesting to see!

  3. Hall_des_Lumieres_NYC_Loving_New_York_220812215321002

    03 Hall des Lumieres

    Atelier des Lumieres opened his first digital fine art display in Paris in 2018. And since its inception, almost 3 million visitors have viewed digitized works from legendary artists such as Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, and Leonardo da Vinci. 

    Officially the first North American gallery, Hall des Lumieres, is a permanent center that’s custom-designed to provide guests with an immersive digital art experience. This installment opens on September 14, 2022, in New York City’s Civic Center neighborhood (very close to Tribeca) and will follow in the footsteps of other digital art centers that Culturespaces created and produced around the world. 

  4. Civic_Center_NYC_210811113200004

    04 The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building

    The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building is one of the most eye-catching buildings around City Hall Park, along with the Gehry Tower and the Woolworth Building. It is the home of the Manhattan Borough President and although it was built around 1900, it is still one of the tallest government buildings in the US.

    I find it particularly beautiful as a photo motive in the evening, when the golden statue on the top is illuminated. 

Save big on New York attractions and tours

Budget Tip

    Go New York Explorer Pass 

Many of the attractions and tours are included in one of the New York City passes. So you can easily and quickly save up to 70% – how does it work?

You can see that in my ultimate 👉  New York Pass comparison, here you can see my personal 👉  New York Pass Reviews after more than 20 visits to New York and our free New York Pass Advisor answers the question: “Which New York Pass is the best?

Compare New York Passes

The Best Guided Tours

There are quite a few tours where New York guides show you the neighborhoods. These are our personal recommendations – even if their main focus are other neighborhoods. They all start here at Civic Center and you will get a brief introduction of this part of the city.

  1. Best_Walking_Tour_NYC_Guided_New_York_City_Walking_Tour_from_Manhattan_to_Brooklyn

    01 Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO Walking Tour

    Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and learn about the exciting and dramatic history of this world-famous New York City neighborhood, all while enjoying breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. On the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge you will discover DUMBO, a newly popular and up and coming part of Brooklyn. 

    Meeting point is 52 Chambers Street in front of the Tweed Courthouse.

  2. Best_Walking_Tour_NYC_NYC_Lower_East_Side_Food_and_Culture_Small_Group_Tour

    02 NYC Lower East Side Food and Culture Small-Group Tour

    This is a really unique walking tour in NYC that will introduce you to the wonderful Lower East Side. The Lower East Side Food and Culture Tour shows you the many lovely little delis, Jewish specialties, bakeries and everything that makes up the soul of the city. 

    You’ll visit places that are an important part of the community, having operated in the same spot for generations. You’ll get a glimpse of authentic life and become part of the real New York. 

    With nearly 500 positive reviews, it’s the most popular walking tour in New York of them all!

If you want to learn more about the history and the most important places and sites of the Financial District check out our recommendation in this article or the Best Walking Tours NYC.

Civic Center NYC Hotels

There are not many good hotels in the district itself (sorry!), but you have a wide choice of accommodations in the adjacent neighborhoods of the Financial District NYC, Tribeca and Chinatown. Below are our favorite places to stay:

  1. Andaz_Wall_Street_Hotel__by_Booking

    01 Andaz Wall Street Hotel

    4 Stars | The Andaz Wall Street belongs to the Hyatt Group and was completely renovated in 2012. The rooms are very clean, modernly furnished, have a rain shower and a very comfortable bed. It’s just a few minutes’ walk to the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge.

  2. Courtyard_by_Marriott_New_York_Downtown_Manhattan_by_Booking

    02 Courtyard by Marriott New York Downtown Manhattan

    3 Sterne | Eine weitere Empfehlung der besten Hotels am One World Observatory ist das Courtyard by Marriott Hotel. Das sehr chice Courtyard by Marriott New York hat ein Restaurant, eine Bar und auch kostenfreies WLAN in allen Bereichen. Nur genau 322 m vom World Trade Center entfernt, könnte man kaum näher am höchsten Gebäude der Stadt übernachten, oder? Jedes Zimmer in diesem Hotel ist klimatisiert und mit einem Flachbild-Kabel-TV ausgestattet.

    Das Frühstück könnt ihr sogar mit Aussicht auf das One World Trade Center genießen. Ebenfalls hat dieses Hotel am One World Trade Center ein Fitnessstudio, welches ihr auf eurer Reise nutzen könnt.

  3. eurostar_wall_street_hotel_nyc_29607154

    03 Eurostar Wall Street

    4 stars | This boutique hotel is located in New York’s financial district, in the heart of Wall Street, just a few meters from One World Observatory, the 9/11 Memorial and the Brooklyn Bridge. 

    The Eurostars Wall Street offers spacious rooms equipped with every comfort, including cable TV, microwave and refrigerator. In our opinion this hotel is, thanks to all these services and its rooms of different sizes and capacities, an ideal hotel for families.

  4. Fairfield_Inn___Suites_by_Marriott_New_York_Downtown_Manhattan_by_Booking

    04 Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Downtown Manhattan

    3 Stars | Fab location: Just two blocks from One World Trade Center you’ll find this popular 3-star hotel. The rooms are relatively large by New York standards and the value for money is pretty excellent.

  5. Four_Seasons_Hotel_New_York_Downtown_by_Booking

    05 Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

    5 Stars | Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is one of the 5-star hotels in this area, offering luxury on all levels: a great bar, swimming pool, spa and a restaurant by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. So if you are looking for a very special hotel, you should check this one out.

Neighborhoods Nearby

The Civic Center is bordered by The Battery NYC to the south, the Hudson River to the west – and the Financial District to the east. The Tribeca neighborhood begins at the northeast corner of Battery Park City.

Neighborhoods that are Similar to the Civic Center NYC

If you enjoyed Civic Center, then here are neighborhoods that have a similar feel:

About the author
Steffen

I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!

Did you like this article?

Comments

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Log in Register

myNY – your own New York travel planner

Log into myNY and start planning your New York trip. Don’t have an account? Register now - it’s free!

5 reasons why myNY will make creating your itinerary easy!

Reset your password

Please enter your email address to reset your password.

myNY – your own New York travel planner

Register for myNY now and start planning the perfect trip to New York City!