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Insiders Guide to Downtown Manhattan

Insider's Guide to Downtown Manhattan

Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus

Hop-On, Hop-Off Downtown Bus Loop

Spend a day exploring all that the Downtown Manhattan has to offer! Using the Downtown Hop-on Hop-off bus loop as a guide, this insider’s itinerary will help you make the best decisions about where to go and what to see in this part of the city.

You’ll want to wear good walking shoes, as one stop on the tour often has multiple places to visit - and those 5 1 10 minute walks add up throughout the day!

Start early and head to Times Square to catch the Downtown double-decker tour bus. Definitely sit on the upper deck! You’ll want unobstructed views as you pass the most iconic landmarks of New York City -- the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, and One World Observatory - the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

But first, get your day started with one of New York’s best pastimes - shopping!

Macy’s Herald Square

Hop off at: The Macy’s Stop

Macy’s on 34th Street-- also known as Macy’s Herald Square -- is undoubtedly one of the largest department stores in the world. This iconic New York City landmark first opened its doors back in 1902.

As you walk through the revolving doors, you’ll be transported to a different universe all together. With over ten floors filled with merchandise – apparel, handbags, ties, shoes, cosmetics and fragrance, and much more – If you’re in the mood to shop, you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re looking for!

Insider Tip: Don’t forget to ride the best-preserved piece of history that lies right underneath shoppers’ feet - the old fashioned wooden escalators!

Next, walk over one avenue to the The Empire State Building (350 5th Ave).

Empire State Building

View of the Empire State Building

Everyone knows the Empire State Building offers an unforgettable view of the Big Apple -- but did you know that on a clear day, you can also see up to 5 states from the open-air promenade or from the climate-controlled viewing galleries?

With a newly installed art deco lobby and murals, the Dare to Dream exhibit and the Sustainability exhibit, the Empire State Building is sure to inspire you while you make your way up to the iconic 360-degree- open air observation deck on the 86th floor! Get the details about the view from every vantage point with the free self-guided multimedia tour.

If you rather the iconic Empire State Building be in your pictures, then hang tight - we’ll be heading to One World Observatory a little later in the day.

The High Line

The High Line

Hop off at: The Flat Iron District Stop

A quick 15-minute walk to 10th Avenue will get you to one of NYC’s hidden gems – The High Line Park. This 1.45-mile-long outdoor park is built on an old elevated rail line located on the west side of Manhattan. It runs from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. As you walk through the park, you will get breathtaking views of the city and the Hudson River. You will also pass through the neighborhood of Chelsea. Get off at one of several dismount points to explore the neighborhood and stop for a quick bite snack at Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market, an indoor food market, is located in a 120-year-old historic landmark building. Discover the history of Chelsea Market, taste your way through the eateries, view original artwork and granite sculptures, and experience the ultimate indoor foodie paradise.

When you’ve had your fill, walk 15 minutes to the Union Square stop (14th Street & 5th Avenue) to hop back on the Downtown bus.


Hop off at: SoHo Stop

For a shopping experience you can’t find anywhere else, a visit to Downtown Manhattan’s SoHo district is a must! SoHo’s wide range of indie boutiques, upscale retailers and specialty stores are every shoppers dream come true.

You can find almost anything in Soho -- from cheap street fashion to upscale designer garb and stylish home-decor. Shop brands such as Acne, Alexander Wang, Céline, Housing Works Bookstore Café, The Laundress, Matter, Miu Miu, Opening Ceremony (one of the most popular stores in the neighborhood), Prada, Rag & Bone, Saint Laurent, Second Time Around, and TAI Jewelry.

Insider Tip: Stop for a coffee break at Ca fé Integral located inside American Two Shot. Sip on that delicious cup of cappuccino as you browse the latest offerings from this indie fashion boutique.

All this shopping will leave you famished, so hop back on the bus and head on over to Chinatown for lunch.


Hop off at: Chinatown & Little Italy stop Chinatown is one of Manhattan’s most fascinating neighborhoods to explore. Its busy and narrow streets reveal a surprise at every corner – it’s like you’ve been transported to a different country. Home to a heavy population of Asian immigrants, Chinatown’s streets are filled with unique and exquisite stores.

Street vendors sell exotic foods such as rice noodles, barbeque skewers, live eels, cut fruits and rambutans, and even mini cakes. On Canal Street you can find some of the best jewelry stores and gift shops in the area. Chatham Square has a statue of Lin Zexu, a Qing dynasty official who led the fight against illegal opium import also known as the First Opium War.

The traditional Chinese pagoda-style roof and Buddhist temple, synonymous with Chinatowns across the country, make for some great pictures. With the many dim sum places, dumpling dens and inexpensive noodle joints, Chinatown is the perfect stop for lunch. Here’s our favorite spots:

Joe’s Shanghai – For out-of-this-world dumplings and dim sum, visit Joe’s Shanghai. Their juicy, hot Xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are bestsellers. Other items worth trying include spring rolls, fried rice cakes, scallion pancakes, sliced braised beef noodle soup and the eggplant with garlic sauce.

Lan Zhou Handmade Noodles – If you’re in the mood for noodles, then this is the place for you! Lan Zhou offers a wide range of noodle dishes including beef brisket stir fried noodles, fried porkchop noodles, seafood noodle soup, vegetable noodle soup, and even pork dumpling soup. For the more adventurous eater, the oxtail noodle soup and pig feet soup are definitely worth trying!

Insider Tip: Most of the restaurants in Chinatown are cash only, so make sure you stop by an ATMs before sitting down to eat.

Hop back on the Downtown Tour bus to get to our next recommended stops: One World Observatory and 9/11 Tribute Center.

One World Observatory

Overview of the One World Observatory

Hop off at: City Hall/World Trade Center/Brooklyn Bridge/911 Tribute Center stop on the Downtown Tour Park Row btw. Beekman & Broadway

For a sightseeing experience unlike any other, visit the One World Observatory. It is the newest and the tallest observatory to join the New York City skyline. Upon arrival, you will enter the Welcome Center and make your way through to the “Voices” exhibit. Ascend to the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere in less than sixty seconds, then look toward the horizon as you feel the city’s invincible spirit.

The elevator ride up shows Manhattan’s transformation from the 1600s till date. Take in mesmerizing views of iconic sites and landmarks, surrounding waters and panoramic views of the skyline and beyond. Explore three levels filled with innovation and inspiration. Immerse yourself in the bustling crossroads of the world at the See Forever Theater. Step onto the expansive Sky Portal and take a walk high above the streets of New York – there may be no better place on earth for a selfie!

Once you’ve done your share of exploring the One World Observatory, walk on over to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is the “official” memorial built on the site of the Twin Towers. Visit the museum and pay tribute to the victims, all the while feeling the tremendous spirit of resilience.

We highly recommend taking a self-guided audio tour at the museum. The story of 9/11 is told through interactive technology, archives, narratives and a collection of artifacts. Hear stories from first responders, see panoramic timelapse footage from Ground Zero and learn about the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in this 110,000 square foot space.

Step outside this poignant museum and explore the 9/11 Memorial – which is free to visit. The Memorial hosts the largest manmade waterfalls in North America which cascade into reflecting pools in the footprints of the towers. The name of each victim is etched in bronze around the two memorial pools.

Insider Tip: Free Museum admission is available every Tuesday evenings from 5 pm to close, but it can get very busy then. These tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis every Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.

Hop back on the Downtown bus and head to Battery Park.

The Battery (Park)

Hop off at: Battery Park/Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty Ferry stop State & Bridge St. (Battery Park across from 17 State St.)
The Battery, also known as Battery Park, is a 25-acre public park located at the southern tip of Manhattan, facing New York Harbor. Be prepared to spend some time here as there is so much to do!

Wall Street (Financial District) – Some of the famous attractions and landmarks you will find here are Trinity Church, the New York Stock Exchange and the Charging Bull sculpture. Here, you will also find Federal Hall - the first capital of the United States of America. Did you know that this is also where George Washington took his oath as the nation's first president?

Statue of Liberty – Battery Park is the perfect spot for getting some breathtaking views of the Harbor and the Statue of Liberty! Head on over to the Statue Cruises terminal to take the cruise to explore the Statue and Ellis Island. Lady Liberty is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. You can even visit the pedestal and even the crown - but you’ll need advanced reservations! Learn about the immigrant experience on Ellis Island.

Insider tip: Take the Staten Island Ferry (free to ride) for a closer look at the Statue of Liberty. Although, the ferry doesn’t take you to the Statue of Liberty island, it gives you a great water view; perfect for the budget traveler!

SeaGlass Carousel – The SeaGlass Carousel is a carousel like none other that you have seen! This 2,575 square foot pavilion spirals and shines on The Battery’s southern side. There are 30 massive fiberglass fish that internally illuminate with color-changing LED light fixtures, all designed to emulate the bioluminescence found deep in the ocean. The SeaGlass Carousel pays homage to the first New York Aquarium which was originally located in the Battery.

Jump back on the Downtown tour bus to continue with the rest of your tour as you make your way back to Midtown Manhattan.

The Rockefeller Center

Hop off at: Rockefeller Center/Radio City/Top of the Rock 49th St. btw. 5th & 6th Ave. (30 W. 49th St)

The Rockefeller Center stop is good point to get off and explore some more. The collection of Art Deco buildings that span between Fifth and Sixth Avenues make up the Center.

Here you’ll find famous New York City landmarks such as Radio City, rooftop gardens, artwork and famous statues distributed along the buildings including the Prometheus. You’ll also find the Nintendo Store and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

We suggest finishing up your day here with dinner at one of our favorite spots: Trattoria Trecolori for Italian, Ipanema Restaurant for Brazilian, and Los Tacos No. 1 for scrumptious Mexican fare!

Tip: Want to see more than just Downtown? Try an All-Around Town, Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour Ticket instead! You'll get the Uptown, Downtown & Brooklyn Tour Loops ...PLUS amazing Bonus inclusions! Try the 48-hour Tour or the 72-hour Tour.