CITY GUIDE: Lower Manhattan

Today’s CITY GUIDE is brought to you by Jess of Curating Style of Columbus, Ohio. Enjoy this guide to Lower Manhattan!

When people tell me they’re heading on vacation to New York City, I encourage them to avoid the touristy madness of Midtown behind. Where do I suggest instead? Lower Manhattan. Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, SoHo, Little Italy, the Financial District—all of these areas are full of amazing eats, shops, and sights. Since it’s hard to encapsulate even a little part of Lower Manhattan, in this City Guide I highlight some of my favorite places.

Looking for the New York-style pizza that people are always talking about? You’re in the right place—Greenwich Village has what I consider to be some of the best pizza on the island. Pizza Mezzaluna (pictured) and Arturo’s have delicious, coal-fired pizza and cozy ambiences. They offer those pie-shaped slices that I adore. When they’re fresh out of the oven, the best way to eat them is to fold them!

Chelsea is a neat neighborhood that feels almost home-like to me. If you love food or perusing any kind of market, stop by Chelsea Market—you can find everything from whole steamed lobsters to a new book to amazing cold-brew iced coffee. Afterwards, check out the High Line, my new favorite thing in Manhattan. It’s the perfect way to get off the streets, away from the cars, and out of the subway. The High Line is basically a pedestrian experience above the streets, converted from an old rail line. With foliage, gardens, plenty of benches, the High Line offers a totally different perspective of the city.

Beyond pizza, you can find every imaginable cuisine under the sun in Manhattan. Minetta Tavern, featured on this past season of Mad Men for one of Peggy’s supper dates, offers an incredible, life-changing burger. You can find really great bagels on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, but if you’re in Lower Manhattan, the place to try is Russ & Daughters. (As an added bonus, Russ & Daughters ships around the country, so you can get a fix when you’re back home too.)

While it’s nice to plan ahead in New York—especially if you’ve never been—sometimes you stumble across some perfect finds. Cool off and rest your feet at Morandi in the Village for some pastries and espresso. It’s a great place to recharge before heading back to the streets for shopping or sightseeing. For lunch, grab some piping hot fish and chips at A Salt and Battery.

The thing about Lower Manhattan is that the streets’ grid pattern changes and it becomes less predictable. Part of the fun is walking the streets a bit aimlessly—if you have an iPhone or other type of smartphone, you’ll invariably figure your way back—and taking in the sights and sounds. On weekdays, you’ll see moms and nannies pushing around strollers, bags, and more in Greenwich Village; the playgrounds are packed. Can you imagine trying to navigate New York with a stroller? It sounds so daunting to me!

If you have the time and the desire, go to the 9/11 Memorial. While a bit confusing to get from ticket pick-up to the actual site, it’s worth the trip. It’s a rather emotional trip—certainly if you suffered a loss from September 11th—but powerful and breathtaking. Right now, only the memorial pools are there, but the museum will be opening up soon as well. And just a glance around will show you the growth and construction of the new World Trade Center site just next door.

Thanks again to Jess for curating this post! Be sure to follow her on Twitter and say hi!

Featured image by Markusnl.

July 18, 2012