High Line Chelsea NYC

15 Best Things to Do in Chelsea NYC

Looking for things to do in Chelsea NYC? 

You’re in the right place!

This written-by-a-local guide reveals the art, culture, food, & sights you must discover in this beloved NYC neighborhood.

Highline and Hudson Yards in Chelsea NYC
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15 Best Things to Do in Chelsea NYC

Chelsea is a diverse neighborhood from its architecture, art, shopping, food, and people.

The history of the neighborhood can be seen in the townhouse-lined streets, where affluent families of the early 1800s settled, to the large industrial buildings on the far western edge where factories, distilleries and the like sprung up in the mid-1800s.

Add to the mix, today’s luxury high-rise apartment buildings and converted industrial spaces housing everything from art galleries, foodie hot spots, boutiques, and popular tourist attractions, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind, classic NYC neighborhood.

If it’s your first time in New York City, Chelsea will undoubtedly factor into your itinerary.

Where is Chelsea in NYC?

Before you set off to discover NYC’s Chelsea, let’s get oriented to understand where this Manhattan neighborhood is in relation to other parts of the city.

Chelsea is on the west side of Manhattan between 14th Street and 34th Street from the Hudson River to as far east as 6th Avenue. Midtown West is at its northern boundary. Greenwich Village and the West Village are just to the south.

This map of Chelsea NYC shows the popular neighborhood and where it sits on the island of Manhattan compared to other places you might know like Times Square or the Empire State Building.

What to Do in Chelsea NYC

With so many things to do in Chelsea, I’ve put together a list of must-sees and dos, as well as some of the best places to eat, so you can get the most from your time in New York’s Chelsea!

1. Walk the High Line.

The High Line is a popular elevated park that stretches for just over a 1 1/2, connecting Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district and the gateway to Greenwich Village to 34th street on Manhattan’s far west side.

This must-see urban green space combines nature and art with views of the Hudson River in a location that was once used for a very different reason. 

In the late 1800s, freight trains would run down an elevated viaduct delivering things like coal, meat, & produce directly into the warehouses & factories that occupied the area. One of the coolest features in the park are the abandoned tracks that still exist and represent a great reminder of the area’s past. 

If you’re a history-lover like me, you may be interested in walking the High Line with a guide to learn more about the park’s unique history.

The High Line is a great place to stroll above the sidewalk and observe the city from a different perspective. You also can’t miss the art installations and flowers that make the High Line what it is today.

Grab some food from the many places in the area or from vendors along the old tracks. Then, take a seat on one of the park benches with your mini-picnic and do some people-watching. 

You can enter the park at the southern end, at Gansevoort Street, just steps from the Whitney Museum of American Art, and walk north. This is also not far from Chelsea Market and another High Line entrance at 16th Street.

You can also enter at 34th street & 12th avenue which is the northern entrance where the High Line lowers to street level. Another option near the northern end of the park is at 30th street between 10th & 11th avenues, near the Vessel at Hudson Yards.

There are other points along the path where you can enter & exit, as well.

Normally, summer is the most crowded season on the High Line so plan accordingly and expect a good amount of foot traffic. The earlier the better to beat the crowds and get some people-free(ish) photos.  

Traveling to NYC in spring or fall are great times for walking the High Line, too! It’s one of my favorite walks in Manhattan and one of the top things to do in New York City overall.

2. Don’t Miss the Rubin Museum.

Rubing Museum Tibetan Shrine Room NYC
My favorite part of the Rubin Museum!

Located at 150 West 17th street between 6th & 7th Avenues, The Rubin Museum is a cultural hub within Chelsea for the exhibition and display of Himalayan works of art, photography, and ideas.

The museum was founded by Shelley & Donald Rubin who began collecting art in the 1970s and who fell in love with a Himalayan piece of art seen in a gallery window.

As the Rubins’ Himalayan art collection grew, it came time to share it with others.

The result is The Rubin Museum’s 70,000 square feet spread over 6 floors of an open, airy designed space. Some areas display the works of art as you might expect. Other areas are rooms that are meant to be an immersive cultural experience transporting you away from the noisy NYC streets just outside.

If you’re someone who’s overwhelmed by huge museums, The Rubin will be a refreshing change and a deep dive into the culture and art of a part of the world you might not know a lot about.

3. Eat at Chelsea Market.

New York. Manhattan. The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market is the heart and soul of the Chelsea food scene. It’s a culinary center that has just about anything you’re looking to eat and, honestly, it’s easy to get lost here for hours. Get anything from juicy lobster to a great cup of coffee. 

Chelsea Market is also included in popular Chelsea Walking Tours. So, it can be a great way to maximize your time by combining this iconic market with other Chelsea sights like the High Line.

I personally love strolling into Chelsea Market on a cold winter day to grab a cup of coffee and visit one of the bakeries (like Sarabeth’s). You can have lunch or take dinner to go.

It’s a great building too. The exposed brick seems to be everywhere you look and feels like you’re walking through a building that’s stayed true to its original design.  

Just imagine one giant brick oven with all the amazing wafts of food surrounding you. Even the popular cable network, the Food Network, has its studios based here in Chelsea Market making it a true Food mecca.  

One fun fact about the market…it was once home to the National Biscuit Company, better known as Nabisco. This is the location where the oreo cookie was invented!

Arguably, NYC’s best taco place has a space here. Los Tacos No. 1 is delicious and a must-visit for taco-lovers. Other popular stops include The Lobster Place, Corkbuzz, and Tings.  

Chelsea Market’s location is in southern Chelsea so it’s a perfect stop on the way to Lower Manhattan.

4. Don’t Miss the Art Galleries in Chelsea NYC!

Art gallery Chelsea NYC

If you’re an art lover, Chelsea is your neighborhood! It has the largest cluster of art galleries in New York City. 

There are about 1500 art galleries in New York City and several hundred of these galleries are in Chelsea between W. 18th St to W. 26th Streets between 10th & 11th Avenues.

However, you don’t need to be an art connoisseur to appreciate the work that’s on display here.

Most of the work is contemporary but there are plenty of pieces that cover an array of genres, cultures, and styles over periods of time. 

Not to mention this is one of the best free things to do in New York City. You can spend an hour or a whole day looking at unique and interesting pieces of art and it won’t cost you a dime. It costs nothing to visit Chelsea’s art galleries.

If you need a good starting point, check out the galleries of David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian and then explore from there.

5. Enjoy the Gallow Green Rooftop Garden Bar.

cocktail outside rooftop nyc

As a local, I’ve spent many a night going out in Manhattan. NYC nightlife is not-to-be-missed if that’s your thing. And, part of that experience is having drinks at a New York City rooftop bar.

Whether you have an open view of the skyline or a close-up look at the towering Empire State Building, the atmosphere of a rooftop bar is second to none.

Over the last several years, rooftop bars have sprouted up all around the city as locals and visitors yearn for some outdoor space to enjoy the city vibe.

One of the best rooftop bars in NYC is the Gallow Green Rooftop Garden Bar, located on the roof of the McKittrick Hotel at 542 West 27th Street in between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Green is the operative word because you’re surrounded by greenery everywhere! It feels like you’re walking through an eloquent garden that sports a tasty menu of salads, sandwiches, & pizza, too!

The bar is open all year round with the green ambiance converting into a look that resembles a very cool winter’s lodge during the colder weather. 

6. Learn about Fashion at the Museum at FIT.

Mannequin with corset

The Museum at FIT is a wonderland for fashion lovers. Even for people who don’t consider themselves fashionistas, the exhibits are interesting and inspiring. And I’m someone who admits to not really understanding the art that goes into fashion. I’m guilty of seeing models on a fashion show runway and wondering how what they’re wearing translates into what regular people wear!

Even with this, the Museum at FIT is worth a quick stop if you’re in Chelsea. Entry is free and features nearly 50,000 fashion pieces and accessories in their permanent collection.

The Museum at FIT is located at 227 W. 27th Street between 7th & 8th Avenues, just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden. 

7. Step into the Future at Hudson Yards.

Hudson Yards and the Vessel New York City

There was a time not that long ago when there was absolutely no reason to be strolling around the far west side of Manhattan from around 28th street to 58th street.

Yes, it had the sketchy urban look you might be imagining but it was also just mostly undeveloped.

Today, I can hardly believe my eyes when I’m in this very same area. This part of the city is exploding with developments like new high-rise apartments, office buildings, shops, and restaurants.

The Hudson Yards expansion has been a centerpiece of this area’s transformation and now what was a barren part of the city is seeing people flock here on a daily basis.

Hudson Yards looks like a perfect rectangle on a city map. It runs 10 blocks north and south from W. 28th Street to W. 38th Street and one block east to west between 11th & 12th Avenues.

When standing at the center of Hudson Yards, though, a rectangle isn’t what comes to mind. The area looks like a collective display of urban modern art and development…dare I say from the future.

To see this modern cityscape from above, take a 60-second interactive elevator ride to the 100th floor of 30 Hudson Yards. There you will find the Western Hemisphere’s highest outdoor skydeck, Edge.

While suspended at over 1100 feet in mid-air with a glass floor, you’ll enjoy unrivaled 360-degree views of New York City while feeling like you’re floating in the sky.

Head inside, though, and you’ll find familiar comforts.

Looking to shop? No problem, there are dozens of shops to visit.

Looking for some good eats? Then you’ve hit the jackpot!

Head to Mercado Little Spain and transport yourself to Madrid or Barcelona. 

8. Climb the Vessel.

Hudson Yards and the Vessel New York City

Update: Unfortunately, the Vessel is indefinitely closed for climbing. However, you can still admire it and take photos from ground level on your visit to Hudson Yards.

One of NYC’s newest landmarks is already one of its most popular ones.

It’s the artistic focal point of Hudson Yards, and at first glance, you might not be sure what you’re looking at. Nonetheless, you’ll find it fascinating to look at.

The Vessel opened to the public on March 15th, 2019, and was met with both praise and criticism. But, in just a short amount of time, most people have warmed up to it. 

The Vessel rises above a large public square filled with plants and trees for a park-like feel. The structure itself is 16 stories high, with 154 flights of stairs that interconnect and 2500 steps. All this adds up to unique views including a wonderful look-out onto the Hudson River.

The artistic levels and vantage points are also a photographer and Instagrammer’s dream come true! 

Same-day tickets are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. They’re issued for a specific time so you don’t need to spend time in line and visit other parts of Hudson Yards before you make the climb to the top.

If you need more flexibility, there are a limited number of tickets available for future dates. You can secure these tickets for a cost of up to 6 months in advance.

9. Shop at Macy’s Department Store.

Macy's NYC

This iconic department store has origins dating back to the mid-1800s. A man by the name of Rowland Hussey Macy opened a few stores selling dry goods in Massachusetts which ultimately did not succeed.

Mr. Macy was not to be deterred, though. He took his idea to New York City and opened a store on 6th Avenue and 14th street.

On his first day of business, he brought in just over $11, which when calculated today, is almost $350!

Today, Macy’s is the highest-selling retail department store in the country and forever linked with the fabulous, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

The original Manhattan store would ultimately move to its can’t miss flagship location at 34th Street & Broadway, also known as Herald Square.

A visit to Macy’s Department Store is a classic thing to do, but a can’t miss if you visit New York City for Christmas and the overall holiday season.

10. Feast at Excellent Dumpling House.

New York City Chinatown

The name of this restaurant is completely appropriate. Yes, the dumplings are excellent…and so is everything else on the menu!

This restaurant in Chelsea NYC is one of my favs in the whole city for delicious Chinese food.

Once a Chinatown staple, this local dim sum & dumpling institution moved to Chelsea in 2017. (This place could move to the moon and I’m finding my way there!)   

Located at 165 West 23rd Street between 6th & 7th avenues, just near the “1” Train.

If you’re looking for a local favorite, you’ve found it. The noodle soups with dumplings are fantastic anytime, but especially if you want to warm up after walking around NYC on a chilly day.

11. See an Event at Madison Square Garden.

New York Madison Square Garden

The most famous arena in Chelsea is also the most famous arena in the world. ‘The Garden” as it’s fondly and commonly referred to is located between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st Street to 33rd Street. 

Madison Square Garden is home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers. It’s also played host to countless concerts and many notable events. John Lennon played his last show here & The Concert for New York City (after 9/11) was held at the Garden. Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Madonna, The Who, & The Grateful Dead have all played here dozens of times. 

If you’re in town, look up the MSG schedule and get tickets to an event!

12. Search for Chelsea Street Art.

New York City High Line

In Chelsea, the art in the hundreds of galleries isn’t the only art on display. As you explore the neighborhood, you can’t help but notice the spectacular works of street art.

NYC’s street art scene exploded during the 1970s, with the New York City Subway system becoming the first canvas for artists and taggers, alike. 

Today, though, you won’t see so much as a smudge on the subway cars. Instead, street artists have commissioned works on buildings throughout neighborhoods like Chelsea in Manhattan or Bushwick in Brooklyn.

You’ll spot street art by walking the High Line. Or look for favorites like the Gandhi and Mother Teresa mural on W. 18th Street and 10th Avenue.

13. Just Try to Eat at All of the Restaurants in Chelsea!

NYC Brunch

The food scene in Chelsea is eclectic, to say the least. The best restaurants in Chelsea NYC will depend on what your taste buds are in the mood for. No matter what, from bagels to tacos to sushi, you’re not going to be disappointed with your choice of good eats in Chelsea. 

Looking for the best brunch in Chelsea NYC? Try Cookshop or visit the rooftop at Gallow Green to start the day instead of later in the evening.

Have I mentioned Los Tacos # 1 in Chelsea Market is one of my favorite places in the city? 

Are you a sushi lover? You can splurge at Sushi Seka. Momoya is also very good and not as expensive. 

Looking for the best Italian restaurants in Chelsea?

Del Posto for dinner is as good as it gets. If you’re in New York City and looking for a special evening, Del Posto will deliver an Italian meal you’ll be talking about for quite some time.  

Looking for a fun place to have drinks? Bathtub Gin is a great speakeasy located at the back of a coffee shop.

I’m a sucker for a great diner and my favorite in Chelsea is the Empire Diner. You’ll also see some great street art on the building above the diner. 

14. Go Shopping in Chelsea NYC.

Pair of winter shoes in a shop showcase

The shopping in Chelsea is just as diverse as the food. You can purchase high-end items like contemporary art from a favorite gallery or fine vintage clothing & antiques from New York Vintage.

Skip the Manhattan Mall, but do pop into Macy’s Department Store a block away

I’d also recommend seeking out one-of-a-kind Chelsea shops like Maison 140. This boutique situated in a historic Chelsea townhouse sells home decor accessories you won’t find in a big box store.

Artists and Fleas brings together creators, artists, and designers selling all types of artisan goods in their Chelsea Market location.

The Chelsea Flea market re-opened under new management in early 2020 selling antiques, vintage goods, and architectural salvage.

15. Get Sporty at Chelsea Piers!

Driving Range Golf Club and Ball

How local am I? I got married here!  So, this is personally a special place for me. But banquet rooms are just the start.

Chelsea Piers is a series of docks that stretch out into the Hudson River on the far west side of Manhattan. The overall area covers 28 acres from W. 17th St to W. 18th St.

Years ago, these were the docks the RMS Carpathia brought Titanic survivors.

Today, though, Chelsea Piers is a Sports & Entertainment hub that has whatever activity you can think of! 

Think bowling, ice skating, rock climbing, batting cages, and a state-of-the-art golf driving range that has multiple levels to name a few. If you’re visiting New York City with kids, Chelsea Piers is a great place for everyone to play and get some energy out in between regular sightseeing activities.

Hotels in Chelsea NYC

Hotel Room

There’s a lot of upside to staying in Chelsea for your New York City trip. The neighborhood is conveniently located, has plenty of things to see and do, and has no shortage of great food. 

And as discussed below, Chelsea has subway access that can take you nearly any place you’d like to go across the city. If you’re overwhelmed about which neighborhood to stay, check out my where to stay in New York guide for a break down of locations, their pros and cons, and hotel suggestions.

Here are a few of the best hotels in Chelsea NYC.

Kimpton Hotels are boutique, dog-friendly hotels in the IHG network of hotel properties. This hotel is on the northeastern side of Chelsea, just steps away from Herald Square and Byrant Park. Corner rooms have great views of the Empire State Building which is also a few blocks away.

Cambria is an upscale hotel brand in the Choice Hotels family. This hotel in Chelsea has larger rooms compared to some other New York City hotels. It’s on the northern side of Chelsea, which is closer to Midtown and its attractions like Broadway and Times Square. But, it’s also tucked away just enough to have quieter rooms and a relaxing rooftop lounge.

Hyatt has an excellent reputation as a mid to upscale hotel brand. This Hyatt property is in a great location near 2 subway lines and within walking distance to Herald Square and many other top city sights. The higher floor rooms and the rooftop terrace have incredible views.

This familiar Hilton brand is in a great Chelsea location, with no shortage of places to eat in the area. Combined with the free breakfast, this hotel is a solid value in an otherwise pricey city. The rooms are on the small side but that’s to be expected in many NYC hotels. The subway and PATH trains are nearby and you can walk to attractions in Chelsea like the High Line and Chelsea Market.

This Marriott brand hotel is also located in the northeastern corner of the Chelsea neighborhood. Breakfast is included to get the day started and the subway is just down the block. From this prime location, you can walk to Madison Square Garden, the Museum at FIT, Herald Square, Broadway, and more. 

How to Get to Chelsea

JFK to Manhattan by Train

Chelsea is well-connected via the New York City Subway. The A, C, E, 1, 2, & 3, trains make several stops through the neighborhood. If you’re taking the train from Newark Airport, you’ll arrive at New York’s Penn Station on the northern boundary of Chelsea.

If you were to walk to the heart of Chelsea from Times Square, it would be just over a mile and 20ish minutes depending on your pacing and final destination.

If you’re staying in Midtown Manhattan, you could also take the 7 Subway Train over to Hudson Yards. After seeing the Vessel, shops, and restaurants in that area, enter the High Line from W. 34th Street between 11th and 12 Avenues to walk along the elevated park into Chelsea.

What would you like to do in Chelsea in New York City?

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2 thoughts on “15 Best Things to Do in Chelsea NYC”

  1. Christina Cascadilla

    Some of the places listed here are not really in Chelsea. I always consider Chelsea ending at 28th St., and I believe that’s universally considered it’s northern end. I lived in both Chelsea and by Macy’s. I did think it was odd that the area around Macy’s was considered Midtown. But I had to accept what people said. So Macy’s, MSG, would both be midtown instead of Chelsea. And Hudson Yards lines up with the northern end of MSG, so I think that also falls outside of Chelsea.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Christina. Yes, some people and maps show the upper 20s as the end of Chelsea and others 34th St. I decided to go with 34th street because it would include all the highlights no matter which boundary was accepted by the reader. 🙂

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