Lower Manhattan: A Guide for Travelers

No longer solely the domain of financial traders and government staffers, today the Financial District is a bustling destination in its own right.

Once dominated by Wall Street traders, financial services firms and government buildings, Lower Manhattan has become the new go-to destination for travelers and natives alike. One World Observatory, Brookfield Place, the SeaGlass Carousel, Pier A: All these new attractions and businesses have turned this part of the city into a vibrant neighborhood you must see before leaving town. Here’s a road map to the highlights.

One World Trade Center

The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is a shimmering 1,776-foot office tower that, at the top, houses One World Observatory. As soon as you enter, you are greeted with a huge electronic map, displaying the hometowns of visitors in real time, as they come through security clearance.

My first visit here, I watched as London, San Francisco and Tokyo lit up in geo-positional data, a thrilling reminder of the global interest in the observatory.

Next, a wall of 144 individual monitors show a continuous video loop of interviews with people who worked on the creation of the center. Finally, Sky Pod elevators—there are five of them—whisk you to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds, while a time-lapse video recreates the development of Manhattan Island from the 1500s to the present day. The Main Observatory, with floor-to-ceiling windows, affords uninterrupted views in every direction. 285 Fulton St., 844.696.1776

Brookfield Place and Seaglass Carousel

Brookfield Place

Housed in the former World Financial Center, Brookfield Place is a complex of buildings that incorporate businesses, retail, dining and Arts Brookfield, which offers free arts and cultural experiences.

Within the complex is Le District, a collection of French prepared-food and grocery vendors. You can peruse the markets, then, to sample the fare, choose one of the sit-down restaurants which include Le Bar, offering small plates, craft cocktails and an extensive wine list, and Beaubourg, serving classic French dishes.

For more casual eating, head over to Hudson Eats, also in Brookfield Place, a spacious, modern food court featuring eateries such as Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque and Umami Burger, all with open seating and water views. Afterward, you can work off your meal in the newly renovated retail space here that includes such luxury retailers as Burberry, Lululemon and Paul Smith. 200 Vesey St., 212.417.7000

Pier A Harbor House restaurant in New York City

Pier A Harbor House

You can mix history, harbor views and a variety of dining experiences at Pier A Harbor House. The complex is housed in the building that served as a station for the Harbor Police, then the main port for immigration while Ellis Island was under construction. The clock tower, added in 1919, was built to honor the 116,000 U. S. servicemen who died in World War l.

Now, for the first time in 127 years, anyone can visit the beautifully restored building. Stop in on the first floor for a casual meal at the stunningly spacious Oyster Bar, with views of Lady Liberty so clear you‘ll be tempted to reach out and touch her.

The rooms on the second floor offer several more dining options including a more formal, Hudson Valley-inspired space with an open galley kitchen and a chef’s table. 22 Battery Place, 212.785.0153

Seaglass Carousel

The Battery, a 25-acre public park at the southern tip of Manhattan, is where you will find the shimmering SeaGlass Carousel, a cultural attraction that features a monumental nautilus shell containing 30 luminescent fish. The carousel is distinctive because its motors lie under the floor, allowing full visibility around the shell, with no center post. We can guarantee you‘ve never had a carousel ride quite like this one. State St., at Pearl St., 212.344.3491

Seaport Culture District/Seaport Studios

This new cultural district offers events, presentations, screenings, walking tours and more from partners including the Guggenheim Museum and HarperCollins publishers. Seaport Studios showcases a rotating mix of designers and artists in a curated pop-up shop.

Map: Manhattan Guide for Travelers

Lois Anzelowitz Levine
About the author

As a born-and-bred New Yorker, Lois has been a magazine journalist for more than 15 years and “a traveler as pa...