The Best Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

The birthplace of New York City

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Being the financial hub of New York, Lower Manhattan is typically associated with Wall Street, countless banks, impressive skyscrapers, and corporate prestige. You’ve most likely seen this area in many TV shows and movies. However, Lower Manhattan has so much more to offer than that. This area was the original NYC. This is the birthplace of New York City and the area has a lot of history.

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We will share all our insider tips with you, so you won’t miss out on the best things to do in Lower Manhattan. Whether you are looking for attractions, the best restaurants, bars, or shopping spots in Lower Manhattan – we’ve got you covered!

What is considered Lower Manhattan?

NYC skyline

When you walk through Lower Manhattan, you will find yourself surrounded by high rise buildings. The street names aren’t numbered, and everything kind of feels like a maze. It’s similar to cities like Boston. This is because Lower Manhattan was the original NYC before everything expanded north.

Especially when strolling through Wall Street in the Financial District, you may literally feel as though you’re walking in circles. If you want to escape the bustle of the city, Lower Manhattan also offers many parks along the river that can be a great way to enjoy some tranquility and gorgeous view.

Top 5 Things to Do in Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is a prime location for people visiting New York City. Just like Midtown NYC, Lower Manhattan has some of the main attractions and sights. Below is a list of our top 5 things to do in this neighborhood. There’s a lot to see here so it will definitely take more than one day to experience the area.

Top 5 Sights

    Our Favorite things to do in Lower Manhattan

  1. 01

    One World Trade Center

    Building or Structure in Lower Manhattan
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    In response to the attack on 9/11, New York City came together and decided to build the tallest building in the country, standing at exactly 1776 feet tall. The One World Trade Center, colloquially called ‘Freedom Tower’. With the 1WTC, Lower Manhattan won back its landmark. It represents the strength and willpower of the city. Its observation deck gives you the ultimate view over Manhattan. (Address: 285 Fulton St | Subway 1 to WTC Cortlandt Street Station)

  2. 02

    9/11 Memorial

    Building or Structure in Lower Manhattan
    Ground_Zero_9_11_Memorial_160913105731001
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    September 11th, 2001 – this tragic day is part of Lower Manhattan’s history. The attacks that took place more than 16 years ago destroyed the iconic twin towers that used to be New York’s landmark. Today you will see two large pools where the twin towers used to stand. A few steps away from there, you can visit the moving 9/11 Memorial Museum. The memorial is a very emotional place to visit and a must-do when you are in New York.

  3. 03

    Governors Island

    Other Attraction in Outside of New York City
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    The former military base on Governors Island is worth a visit, especially in the summer. In only 3 minutes and for only $2, the Governor’s Island Ferry will take you across the East River. You’ll find the Governors Island Ferry Terminal right next to the Staten Island Ferry. The island is a nice contrast to Manhattan’s bustle and you don’t have to worry about it being flooded with tourists.

  4. 04

    Battery Park

    Park in Lower Manhattan
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    Battery Park is one of the most popular parks in Manhattan. More than 6 million people, including local residents, students and tourists visit the park and its landmark, the Castle Clinton National Monument, yearly. Why? Because it’s a beautiful park that not only lets you overlook Hudson River but also lets you marvel at the Statue of Liberty.

  5. 05

    South Street Seaport

    Building or Structure in Lower Manhattan
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    New York’s charming South Street Seaport is a lesser-known historic district in Lower Manhattan. The district is home to Downtown Manhattan’s oldest buildings, including historic office buildings from the 19th century. Located by the East River, it was heavily flooded and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Following extensive renovations, in subsequent years everything has returned to normal and South Street Seaport is more popular than ever. Despite its renovations, it is holding on to its historic charm. Today, South Street Seaport is known to be a vibrant place to go and popular for its shopping and dining spots.

What else is there to do in Lower Manhattan?

Just like we mentioned above, Lower Manhattan is a prime spot for tourists. The southern part of the city is filled with many restaurants, sights, and historical locations as well. This area is where New York City started and you’ll already notice that this part of town is completely different from Midtown and up.

  • Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan

Rooftop at Pier 17 in NYCPier 17 is a brand new event venue that recently opened up in Lower Manhattan. During the winter months, there will be a rooftop ice skating rink along with a restaurant to grab a quick bite or drink. Also, numerous shops, restaurants, and events will be held here such as New York Fashion Week.

  • Explore Wall Street

Wall Street

When you think of Wall Street NYC, you think of finance, people in suits, and the aggressive corporate culture that’s depicted in movies. All of this is true but there’s obviously more than that. Wall Street is part of NYC’s DNA. There’s nothing like it elsewhere in the world. There are many restaurants, bars, and the Wall Street Bull (Charging Bull) is in this part of the neighborhood.

  • Ride the Staten Island Ferry for free

Free Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry takes you from Lower Manhattan all the way to Staten Island. What’s great is that the ride itself is free. It’s a great way to enjoy the amazing view from the harbor and it also passes by the Statue of Liberty. Once you arrive on Staten Island, you will be greeted by The Empire Outlets where you can spend your day shopping.

  • Ground Zero in New York

9/11 Memorial Manhattan

Ground Zero is the area where the Twin Towers were once located. The World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, and is now home to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

  • Visit Ellis Island

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

In addition to visiting the Statue of Liberty, the ferry also makes a stop at Ellis Island. There’s a huge museum here and this spot was used as an immigration hub from 1892 to 1954. Millions of immigrants passed through here and people can actually find their relatives’ names in the Ellis Island records.

  • Go see the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Tour

The ferry f0r the Statue of Liberty Tour departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Once there you can stay on the island until the last ferry leaves for Manhattan. On Liberty Island, you can go inside the Statue of Liberty and also check out the Statue of Liberty Museum. You can learn about how the history of the statue itself and what it represents to the US.

  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

One of the best things to do in Lower Manhattan is taking in the sights by walking the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is always busy no matter the weather so we recommend going early in the morning during sunrise. We can guarantee that at this time, it will be almost empty and you’ll be able to enjoy your walk. The Brooklyn Bridge ends in DUMBO.

  • Take Free Tours of City Hall in NYC

New York’s City Hall is one of the oldest functioning halls in the nation. Construction began in 1803 and lasted until 1812. Free tours are held regularly here and is a great way to see some of the finest architecture.

 
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Attractions and Tours in NYC: Lower Manhattan

Cruise around New york harbor

There are a lot of tours in Lower Manhattan. This area is the original birthplace of New York City. Tours range from Hop-on Hop-off bus tours, visiting NYC observation decks to touring historic buildings. You’ll have a bunch of options so picking the right tour or attraction really depends on your time and schedule. Here are our favorite tours for Lower Manhattan.

  • New York City by NightNYC night tours are pretty unique as you’ll get to witness the “City That Never Sleeps “under the lights. This tour will have guided-commentary and will drive around all the best sights and attractions in the area. You’ll drive through the Brooklyn Bridge and many other iconic locations at night. – New York City By Night tour
  • New York One World Observatory: Skip-the-line-ticket – One World Trade was constructed after the 9/11 attacks and replaced after the Twin Towers fell. At the very top is probably the most famous NYC observation deck. Journey to the top of the western hemisphere’s tallest building. This ticket will let you have the flexibility and allow you to skip the long waiting lines. By the way, there are New York Passes where certain attractions are already included. Compare your New York Passes here and see which one would work well with your itinerary. – One World Observatory tickets
  • Harbor Light Night Cruise Skip-the-Box-Office – This 2-hour cruise tour around New York Harbor allows you to view Lower Manhattan and Battery Park. During the cruise, it sails within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty allowing you to capture memorable moments with your camera. What makes this cruise even better is the bar that comes equipped with the yacht. It’s perfect for warm summer nights. – Book the Harbor Light Night Cruise
  • From Manhattan: Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour – Do you want to experience all of NYC but don’t have the time? This Half-Day Tour is perfect for you. The city isn’t just Manhattan. There are a total of 5 boroughs and on this NYC bus tour, you’ll experience 4 out of the 5. This bus tour will take you through the main attractions throughout the city. – Manhattan, Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour

What’s there to eat in Lower Manhattan?

Restaurants in Lower Manhattan

Exploring different Lower Manhattan restaurants is only one of the many great things to do in Manhattan. The area offers a plethora of fantastic food, you just need to know where to look. Places like El Vez and Brookfield Place are great options. We wouldn’t be shocked if you end up spending hours dining in restaurants here. Because of its many cozy restaurants, it was very tough to select the best of the best – but here you are:

Restaurants in Lower Manhattan

Restaurants can be found in Manhattan pretty easily as there are numerous types of establishments in the busy city. Lower Manhattan is no different. Since it’s a tourist spot, there are many food establishments that you can choose from.

 
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Cafes in Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan cafes can be found throughout the area as well. It’s the perfect spot to grab a quick snack or coffee.

 
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Bars and Rooftop Bars in Lower Manhattan

After having a delicious meal, it’s worth checking out the bars and/or rooftop bars in Lower Manhattan.

 
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Shopping in NYC: Lower Manhattan

People often underestimate shopping opportunities in Lower Manhattan. We get it; shopping in New York is associated with SoHo and 5th Avenue and is simply not related to the financial district – but that’s not true at all! There are a variety of great stores in Lower Manhattan if you know where to go. The area is filled with your mainstream department stores as well as boutiques.

Westfield World Trade Center: Oculus

The Oculus in Lower Manhattan

One of the most beautiful destinations for shoppers is the mall, Westfield World Trade Center located inside the Oculus. It’s home to the WTC transportation hub as well. With more than 100 retail stores, ranging from Michael Kors, Fossil to H&M, and many more, it offers the perfect mix for a diversified audience. The architecture and design of the Oculus will make it the most unique place you’ve ever shopped at.

The clean and spacious bathrooms are also a big plus and much needed for a long day of shopping. If you’re starting to feel hungry or just want a place to take a quick break, do not worry – you’ll find yourself surrounded by great choices of food. One of our favorite burger places is located near here – Shake Shack.

Century 21 Store

Century 21 in NYC carries your favorite designer brands but with a budget price tag. On a lucky day, you will find yourself paying only 65% of the retail price. Despite the designer bargains, Century 21 store feels a lot like a rummage table, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the area and if you’re looking for a great deal.

NYC Malls: Brookfield Place

Things to do in Lower Manhattan

You should also try Century 21 Store’s counterpart: Luxury Shopping Mall Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan. In this NYC mall, you’ll find posh shops such as Burberry and Gucci surrounded by a variety of delicious restaurants. If you are on a tighter budget (we all need to keep an eye on our budget when in New York), make sure to at least stroll around the mall and do some window shopping. Alternatively, you can enjoy a nice lunch at the mall’s terrace. That alone is totally worth the visit.

Insider Tip: Shop at South Street Seaport

Northern Grade

Now let’s talk about our true shopping insider tip in Lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport. As mentioned in our top 5 things to do in Lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport is home to some of the oldest buildings in Manhattan.

Now some of those buildings have been filled by restaurants and stores, such as Abercombie & Fitch, Guess and Superdry – just to name a few. On top of the great shopping opportunities in the Southern part of Lower Manhattan, you can also enjoy exceptional views of the city skyline and its famous Brooklyn Bridge.

In summary: If you like shopping, you should absolutely put Lower Manhattan on your ‘things to do in New York’ bucket list.

Museums in Lower Manhattan

Museum in Lower Manhattan

There aren’t many museums in the neighborhood compared to Midtown. In any case, the few NYC museums that are in the area are definitely worth visiting since it pertains to American history as we know it.

    Museums in Lower Manhattan

  1. 01

    9/11 Memorial and Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    On September 11, 2001, The US went through the worst attack in the history of the country. The area that was worst hit was Lower Manhattan. Now there are two memorials where the Twin Towers once stood. Inside the museum, you’ll see artifacts from Ground Zero as well as the original steel beams from the buildings.

  2. 02

    Statue of Liberty Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    Opened in 2019, The Statue of Liberty Museum is the latest addition to Liberty Island. This small museum educates its visitors on the history of The Statue of Liberty and how it was built. This small exhibit is filled with artifacts and more than 500 photographs and graphics from different sources. Artifacts include rare photos and early blueprints of Lady Liberty.

  3. 03

    Ellis Island Immigration Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
    national_museum_of_immigration_Statue_of_Liberty_and_Ellis_Island_Tour_180315142610014
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    Ellis Island is synonymous with United States immigration. Throughout the first half of the 1900s more than half of the immigrants that came to the US passed through Ellis Island which is also known as the “Golden Door”. For millions of immigrants, Ellis Island was their first taste of the country. It operated between 1892-1954. The island is now home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Here, you’ll learn about stories from many immigrants, see the belongings they brought with them and visitors can also look up to see if their relatives came through the port of entry.

  4. 04

    Skyscraper Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
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    Founded in 1996, The Skyscraper Museum is an architecture museum that showcases the various high-rise buildings within the city. It showcases buildings as “products of technology, objects of design, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence.” The museum offers two exhibition spaces that show permanent and temporary exhibitions.

  5. 05

    South Street Seaport Museum

    Museum in Lower Manhattan
    south_street_seaport_museum_170510105930015
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    For fans of sailing and ships, the South Street Seaport Museum is a must. The museum houses a working 19th-century printing press, an archaeology museum, a library, a craftsmen’s center, the Marine Life Conservation Lab, and the largest fleet of privately owned historic ships in the United States.

Lower Manhattan Hotels

With all these amazing things to do in Lower Manhattan, you may want to consider looking into staying in the area. After an exhausting day of shopping or spending the night out in one of Lower Manhattan’s best bars, a short walk “home” can be super convenient. Aloft Hotel in Downtown Manhattan and Andaz Wall Street are two of the best hotels in the area that we recommend.

 
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Our Perfect Day in Lower Manhattan

Southern Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is huge and filled with numerous NYC attractions and sites. It’s impossible to see all of Lower Manhattan in one day.  You’ll most likely need multiple days to experience this very busy area. If you’re pressed on time, we have provided a one-day itinerary on how we think you should spend your day in Lower Manhattan.

Our recommended itinerary

  • Breakfast at Hole in the Wall Cafe – This Australian food establishment offers up really delicious dishes the country is known for. Their avocado toast is one of their highlights. There’s a decent amount of seats as well. We recommend getting here before 7 AM to beat the rush-hour crowd. (15 Cliff Street, New York, NY 10038)
  • Visit One World Observatory – One World Trade Center is home to arguably the best NYC observatory. You get 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline on top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. (285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007)
  • Shop at Brookfield Place or at the Oculus – Your New York City trip isn’t complete without a little bit of shopping. Brookfield Place is filled with luxury stores such as Gucci and mainstream stores like Zara and J. Crew. There’s also the option of walking for about five minutes to the Oculus where you can shop at Westfield World Trade Center. (230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281)
  • Lunch at El Vez – El Vez is one of our favorite restaurants in the city. It’s near Brookfield Place and the Mexican food here is some of the best in the city. The portion of the food here is exceptional and tastes amazing so you’ll definitely be satisfied. We usually get their burrito bowls here. (259 Vesey St, New York, NY 10282)
  • Visit the National 9/11 Museum – Learn more about the events that took place on September 11, 2001, at the memorial and museum. Discover some of the artifacts that were left in the buildings and from the victims. Listen to the stories from the victim’s families and see some of the original steel beams from the Twin Towers. (180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007)
  • Coffee and pastries at Brookfield Place – After visiting the attractions around One World Trade and the 9/11 Museum, walk across the street and head back to Brookfield Place for a quick break. You’ll have many food options here. Coffee and pastries are also available from the many vendors on the premises. (230 Vesey St, New York, NY 10281)
  • Enjoy drinks South Street Seaport – Make your way to the southern point of Manhattan to enjoy the atmosphere of South Street Seaport. Cobblestone streets set the mood as it’s a reminder that you’re in a historical part of the city. There are shops lined up, and numerous bars you can visit. Enjoy the rest of your day in this area and experience the city transition to the night. A bar we recommend is the Watermark Bar (78 South St Pier 15, New York, NY 10038)

Nearby Neighborhoods around Lower Manhattan

There’s so much more to NYC than Lower Manhattan. It’s an eclectic and lively city. Visiting other areas is definitely recommended if you’re looking to get the full experience of NYC.  You’ll see the huge differences between the neighborhoods. The diversity is what makes NYC so great.

How to Get to Lower Manhattan

There are a lot of great things to do in Lower Manhattan, so make sure you know how to get to the area. There are many options in getting there, but the easiest way is by subway. Take lines 1 2or 3 to Christopher Street or lines AC or E  to Chambers Street. If you’re looking to start at the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, hop on line 1 and get off at South Ferry. Additionally, lines RW will take you directly to the Oculus at Cortlandt Street.

Neighborhoods That are Similar to Lower Manhattan

If you loved the feel and vibe of Lower Manhattan, then we suggest visiting these other neighborhoods below.

FAQ: Lower Manhattan

What’s considered Lower Manhattan?

Lower Manhattan used to be called New Amsterdam when it was first discovered. Technically, anything below Chambers Street is considered Lower Manhattan.

Is Lower Manhattan safe?

The short answer: Yes. Lower Manhattan is very safe. However, just like in any other city, especially one you’re not familiar with, it’s always good to be aware of your surroundings and belongings. As long as you’re alert you should be fine.

Is Lower Manhattan expensive?

New York City is generally a bit more expensive than the rest of the country since it’s a tourist hotspot. Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan is definitely one of the pricier neighborhoods. You just need to know where to look to find food or activities that are reasonably priced. You have to keep in mind that these two areas of the city are where the majority of tourists flock to.

Which NYC Neighborhood Do You Belong In?

Are you a Brooklyn Boy or maybe a Queens Queen? Find out now!

Hip & Trendy

You’re walking through the streets as you spot bearded men in flannel shirts in the distance. They are wearing sunglasses with thick black frames. The women next to them are wearing small, black hats that cover their autumn color hair, falling onto their leather jackets and ponchos. The group is drinking from Mason jars and eating sweet potato fries topped with truffle mayo served on wooden boards. What do you do?

  • You are using the front camera of your smartphone to ensure your mustache is twisted properly - or - your pastel colored clutch that you just snagged from a fancy pop-up store is hanging off your shoulder. You're happily walking toward the crowd.

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  • You're curious about these people. You decide to observe them from a closer distance, as you wanted to head that way anyway.

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  • You're not really in the mood for a circus, so you decide to turn around and go somewhere else.

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Food & Drink

You’re enjoying your day in New York. When your stomach starts rumbling, you decide to…

  • ... get a quick snack to satisfy your hunger

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  • ... look for a top restaurant nearby to sit down and eat, because what could possibly make the day better than a great meal?

    Next
  • ... ignore it! Time is too precious to spend at restaurants.

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Family

You’re strolling through a park and observe a family having a picnic. Immediately, the sight makes you..

  • ... smile, because spending quality family time is the best thing in the world!

    Next
  • ... think that you could really use a cold beer and a hot dog right now.

    Next
  • ... laugh, because (thank God)- you're by yourself and don't need to take care of anybody. Instead you're free to do whatever you want!

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Tourists

For you, meeting fellow tourists in the most amazing places in the world is like…

  • ... a bonfire at camp: the perfect opportunity to learn incredible stories.

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  • ... a night at a wild party followed by a nasty hangover. You can't have one without the other.

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  • ... a large glas of expired milk: simply the worst!

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Shopping

We say shopping, you say…

  • ... Michael Kors meets Sex and the City

    Next
  • ... drop a new item into the online cart and click "Order Now".

    Next
  • ... *facepalm*

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Nightlife

You and nightlife, that’s like…

  • ... the cast of the Jersey Shore out first pumping.

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  • ... Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in the Golden Havana Bar.

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  • ... two bears hibernating in their cave for the winter

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Art & Culture

Back in 2015, one of Picasso’s art pieces was auctioned for a record breaking $200 million. What’s your first thought?

  • A masterpiece like this belongs into a museum, so everybody can enjoy it.

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  • I would sell my last shirt to own one of Picasso's works.

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  • Who would have thought that Pokemon could paint!

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About the author
Selwyn

Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.

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