Things to Do in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District in One Day
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Chelsea and the Meatpacking District are two of the trendiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. If you are wondering what to do in Chelsea and the nearby Meatpacking District, there are endless attractions and restaurants to try. However, this neighborhood guide is all about how to plan the perfect itinerary to discover the best things to do in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District in one day.
When people visit New York for the first time, they are usually eager to see the Lady of Liberty or Times Square. However, wherever we go, may it be New York or Madrid, we are always looking forward to checking out the trendiest neighborhoods in the area. To get a feel of a city, any city, not to mention the famous New York City, you have to walk down the streets, visit the coffee shops and local boutiques, check out the local street art or do some people watching in a place where at least 50% of the dwellers are not tourists.
Out of all of New York’s neighborhoods, Chelsea and the Meatpacking district are probably our favorite ones. Whenever we visit Manhattan, we try to spend at least one day in Chelsea, revisiting some of our favorite places and discovering some new favorites. If you love artistic neighborhoods, admire innovative urban planning and appreciate lively food and night scenes, you really do need to spend a day in Chelsea and the Meatpacking district to discover their charms.
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About Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
Though nowadays, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District are two of the hippest areas in West Manhattan, they didn’t start out that way. Both of these neighborhoods knew good and bad times.
Chelsea and the Meatpacking District had started out as residential areas, which later became industrialized thanks to the proximity of the Hudson River piers. Warehouses and factories took over the residential houses in Chelsea, followed by gambling dens and brothels. The neighboring Meatpacking District was home to many factories but was mainly known for its slaughterhouses and packing plants. During the late 20th century, when the supermarket industry took over, many of these plants closed down and the neighborhood gained a seedy reputation as being infested with drugs and crime.
During the 1980s and 1990s artists and gallery owners flocked to Chelsea in search of cheaper rent. The nearby Meatpacking District started to attract hip designers and suddenly, more and more trendy fashion boutiques popped up every month. Ever since then, these West Manhattan neighborhoods have become two of the liveliest areas in NYC, known for their food and art scenes as well as urban design.
How to Get to Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.
Roughly speaking, Chelsea stretches from the 14th street to 34th street and between the 6th Avenue and the Hudson River. The Meatpacking District stretches from 14th street to Gansevoort Street and from Hudson Street to the Hudson River. It’s easy to get to Chelsea and the Meatpacking District by public transportation, and there are numerous subway stations in the adjacent streets.
By Subway: lines 1, B, E
By bus: M11, M20, M8, SIM1, X28
By Ferry: The Midtown ferry terminal is at West 39th Street and the West Side Highway.
For more information about getting to Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
What to Do in One Day in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
Chelsea and the Meatpacking District are a pleasure to discover. Strolling through the streets, you’ll find museums and art galleries, colorful murals, leafy parks, food markets, trendy restaurants and bars, hip boutiques and so many more attractions. These neighborhoods keep changing and evolving so no matter if this is your first visit to New York or the second or the tenth one, you’ll find many attractions and exciting things to do in Chelsea and the nearby Meatpacking District.
Walk Along the High Line to Discover West Manhattan
About the High Line
The High Line is one of the highlights of the area. This elevated walkway is a public park that was built over old railways which had gone out of use in 1980. Although it was intended for demolition, thanks to a vast community effort it was saved. Starting from 1999, the Friends of the High Line, a non-profit conservancy, was advocating for turning the old elevated railways into a picturesque public park. In 2009 when the High Line was finally opened to the public, it turned into one of New York’s most successful projects and since then, it has inspired many cities around the world to ‘recycle’ previous industrialized and unused spaces and transform them into a beautiful public space.
The High Line Attractions
The High Line is not just your ordinary park. Walking along the High Line, you can see NYC from different angles, walk through gardens, admire artistic installations, stop for a bite to eat or see a performance. A team of architects and landscape designers made sure to include as many elements as they could of the old train rails and incorporate them into the design of the park. The High Line is one of the most beautiful places in New York City, so you must visit it during your one day in Chelsea.
There are many viewpoints, benches, gardens and resting spots along the High Line. Some of the High Line’s key points include the Tiffany & Co. Foundations Overlook, Diller – Von Furstenberg Sundeck & Water Feature, the Northern Spur Preserve, the 10th Avenue Square & Overlook and many more on which you can read about here. This artistic and innovative park is always busy, and it’s one of our favorite places in NYC to hang out, take pictures and watch the world goes by.
Insider tip: Free public tours take place on Saturdays at 12pm, between November and March. For more details about the tours and the calendar event, check the High Line Website. There are also very affordable guided tours of the High Line all year long.
How to Get to the High Line
The High Line stretches from Gansevoort St. in the South to Hudson Yards in the north. There are many entrances along its 2.33 km route, many of them are wheelchair accessible. Check all of the park’s entrances from Gansevoort St. to 34th street.
When to Visit the High Line
The High Line is pretty busy every hour of the day, but during the weekends and in the afternoon, it’s busier than usual. When the sun is out, you might have to fight to find a spot on one of the benches, but honestly, any time you come, you’ll have a great time.
Opening Hours: Daily from 7:00 am – 10:00/11:00 pm (depending on the season) For more info about the High Line’s opening hours
Check Out the Food Markets in Chelsea and Meatpacking District
Eat and Shop at Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is one of the trendiest indoor food markets in New York City. Six million visitors visit this famous market every year. What started as a neighborhood market, became a very popular tourist attraction with the usual pros and cons.
The Market was built in what used to be biscuit factory of the National Biscuit Company (the ones who hooked you up on Oreos), and it’s the architecture’s vision who has chosen to embrace some of the old design elements that gives Chelsea Market its remarkable character. The brick walls, the old factory-like floors combined with the darkish but warm lighting create a welcoming, almost intimate atmosphere. Inside the market, you’ll find specialty food stores, coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and other eateries as well as a few unique shops like Anthropologie. Although Chelsea Market has become a bit touristy, it is still a must-see attraction and one of the best things to do in Chelsea.
Chelsea Market Foodie Guide
We’ve been to Chelsea Market many times before, so we’ve had a chance to try out some of its many eateries. If you love doughnuts, you must try Doughnuttery’s mini doughnuts. If you’re craving some Mexican food, try the tacos at Los Tacos No. 1. The noodle soups of Very Fresh Noodles are little bowls of happiness and you can watch the employees prepare the noodles on the spot. They also have a great vegan option. As long as we are talking about vegan food, another option for vegans is Beyond Sushi that gets excellent reviews. If you are craving a sweet or savory crepe, visit Bar Suzette. Seafood lovers would love Lobster Place and Cull & Pistol. Finally, for some Mediterranean flavors, try one of Miznon’s delicious pitas. For more information about Chelsea Market, the shops and eateries or events, check Chelsea Market’s website.
Getting to Chelsea Market
The Market occupies an entire block between 15th and 16th Streets and 9th and 10th Avenues. Address: 75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th & 16th St.)
When to Visit Chelsea Market
As we’ve mentioned before, Chelsea Market is a very popular attraction and it has become overly crowded in recent years thanks to group tours. Currently, the group tours are allowed to visit the market only between 8:30 am to 11 am and after 4 pm. Therefore, try to schedule your visit between 11 am – 4 pm.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00 am – 2:00 am, Sunday 8:00 am- 10:00 pm
Visit the Trendy Gansevoort Market in the Meatpacking District
Not far from Chelsea Market, you’ll find the smaller and quieter Gansevoort Market. The original Genservoort Market which was opened in 1884, used to be one of the biggest farmers markets in NYC. In its new incarnation, the Gansevoort Market, or “Little Chelsea Market”, is another trendy food hall in the heart of the Meatpacking District. The market has the same industrial yet cozy atmosphere, just like its bigger brother. It’s located at a brick-wall warehouse and inside you’ll find food stalls that offer various cuisines, from Asian and Mexican to classic American. The atmosphere is less hectic and much more intimate and relaxed than Chelsea Market and some of the little food stalls have a funky and unique design. If it gets too busy in Chelsea Market, you will probably find a spot here.
Getting to Gansevoort Market
Gansevoort Market is located at 353 W 14th St.
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:00 am – 9:30 pm, Friday – Sunday 11:00 am – 10:30 pm
Exploring the Trendy Hudson Yards – The Vessel & the Edge
Who knew New York could have room for yet another neighborhood, but somehow, almost out of thin air, Hudson Yards has joined the club. The new kid on the block, Hudson Yards, has been getting all the attention in the last months. This grandiose complex is located just north of Chelsea and has claimed its spot in the limelight as the newest and trendiest neighborhood in NYC. This ambitious compound was built above the West Side Yard, a storage yard for trains. Everything was built on artificial foundations above an active train yard. This extravagant project is being built in two phases and includes exclusive residential buildings, office buildings, a hotel, a mall and cultural and entertainment spaces. There are many attractions to explore in Hudson Yards, including the latest Instagram obsession, the Vessel.
Climb the Vessel for Views of Chelsea and NYC
The Vessel is the artistic centerpiece of Hudson Yards. It was designed by the architect Thomas Heatherwick who wanted to create a public space where people could gain a new vantage point to admire NYC. However, this enormous copper-colored landmark has been getting polarizing reviews. Some say it’s a magnificent artistic achievement while others question its aesthetic value and complain it was a waste of 200 million dollars and was just another way to raise the value of the property.
There’s one thing for sure, the Vessel is hard to ignore and you should definitely visit it during your day at Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. It’s such an unusual sight in the urban landscape of New York you really can’t take your eyes off this bizarre-looking structure. The 46-meter-tall structure is compromised from 154 interconnected staircases, almost 2,500 steps, and 80 landings. Climbing up and down this copper-colored structure which resembles a beehive, or a humongous pineapple is going to raise your heart rate, and not just because of the exercise but because the view is unbelievable.
You can climb the Vessel for free since there are no entry fees; however you’d better reserve your ticket in advance. There are time slots so you must arrive during your reserved time-slot. There are also flexible tickets that cost $ 10 which are not limited to a specific time. For more information and booking your ticket, check out the Vessel’s website.
Opening Hours: Summer: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-9:00pm, Winter (January 6 – February 29): 10:00am – 7:00pm
Address: The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001, United States
Admire Manhattan from the Edge
The Edge is going to open in March 2020 and it’s going to be the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere (over 335 meters). Did someone say megalomania? Yep, this is another grandiose project that is going to attract even more visitors to the area.
The Edge is located on the 100th floor of the tallest building at Hudson Yards. The observation deck has a glass floor, incredible panoramic views and a unique design. It’s actually a triangular deck that seems to hover in mid-air. After walking on air and testing your nerves, you’ll be able to relax with a drink at the bar or the 10,000 square-foot restaurant. Tickets are already for sale and just like the other NYC observation decks, it’s one of New York’s expensive attractions, at $ 36 a ticket (and $ 56 for a flexible date/time).
Opening Hours: 8 am to midnight Address: 30 Hudson Yards
Explore the Art Scene in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
Chelsea neighborhood is known for its art scene since so many galleries and artists moved to the area in the 1980s and 1990s. You can not spend a day in Chelsea without visiting one of its many galleries or museums. You can’t see a lot in just one day but here are some of the recommended places to check out the trendy art scene in Chelsea and the Meatpacking neighborhoods.
Gallery Hopping in Chelsea
In a small area between 10th and 11th avenues and 18th and 26th streets, you’ll find Chelsea’s best art galleries, each with its own style. Just start walking and pop in till you see something that catches your eye. To get you started, here are some recommended galleries in the area:
Gagosian Gallery – One of the most well-known galleries with several branches all over the world (including a few in Manhattan and two in Chelsea). The Gagosian Gallery is known for its modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
Address: 555 W 24th St | 522 W 21st St | Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, closed on Sunday.
David Zwirner – The original gallery was opened in Soho in 1993 but later moved to its current location. The David Zwirner gallery focuses on modern American art
Address: 525 W 19th St | Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, closed on Sunday and Saturday.
Pace Gallery – A well-known and leading contemporary art gallery that showcases the works of many of the most significant artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. The new flagship gallery was opened in 2019 and it’s very impressive.
Address: 540 W 25th St | Opening Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, closed on Sunday and Saturday.
There are so many options for art lovers in Chelsea we can’t list them all. Check all the latest exhibitions in Chelsea
Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District
The Whitney Museum of American Art was founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney after the Metropolitan Museum of Art had refused to accept her private art collection. She opened the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931 with the intention of supporting American artists who during that time, had a hard time showing and selling their art. During the years, the Whitney Museum has had a few different homes, until in 2015 it found its current home at the Meatpacking District.
This is a must-see attraction in the Meatpacking District, so make sure to include in your one-day itinerary. The new building of the Whitney Museum was designed by architect Renzo Piano who wanted to capture the industrial character of the neighborhood in his design. The impressive and modern asymmetrical building is located between the High Line and the Hudson River and it’s one of our favorite museums in Manhattan. The museum has indoor galleries, outdoor exhibition space, an education center and many terraces from which you can catch beautiful views of the surrounding area. There are permanent collections as well as seasonal ones, all of which focus on 20th century and contemporary American art, with a particular focus on works by living artists. To learn more about the museum and its current exhibitions, check out the museum’s website.
Location & Opening Hours
Location: The museum is situated at 99 Gansevoort Street. The museum is quite popular, so try to get there early and consider buying the tickets in advance. Through the museum’s website, you can get senior/student discount but you must pick a specific time in advance. If you can’t use any of these discounts, this ticket is valid for one day with no time-slot and has great refund policy.
Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Thursday, Saturday – Sunday: 10:30 am – 6:00 pm. Friday 10:30 am – 10:00 pm, closed on Tuesdays and certain holidays.
Insider tip: There are free daily tours of some of the exhibitions and collections. Learn more about the free tours.
Coffee Break at the Innovative Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Yes, there are many Starbucks all over New York; however, this is not your ordinary Starbucks branch. This immersive, theatrical café or Coffee Theme Park, as called by some, is actually a coffee-lovers amusement park. You don’t come here for the coffee but for the experience.
For us, the main reason to visit Starbucks Reserve Roastery is the magnificent design. Strolling around this three-level concept space, you feel you’ve entered a futuristic coffee plant combined with a stylish nightclub: concrete floors, wood with copper highlights, a maze of pipes and lighting design. The design is definitely part of what makes this branch a popular place and the reason we’ve included it in the list of things to do in one day in Chelsea and the Meatpacking neighborhoods. On the ground floor, you’ll find the roastery where the beans are roasted in-house. The main coffee bar offers different brewing methods and various coffee drinks. Other than multiple coffee bars and a large sitting area and a workspace, there’s an Italian bakery that offers fresh bread, pizza, focaccias and other baked goods. On the upper level you’ll find Arriviamo Bar where you can order coffee and tea-infused alcohol drinks. In the cellar level where the green coffee beans are stored, there’s also a terrarium featuring a collection of coffee plants, ferns and philodendrons common to Costa Rica. There is plenty of expensive merchandise everywhere you go and the coffee is pricey as well, but this is a truly unique space so even if you don’t fancy a cup of coffee, have a glimpse of this uniquely designed coffee shrine.
Address: 61 9th Ave Opening Hours: Mond – Thu 7:00 am – 11:00 pm, Fri 7:00 am – 12:00 am, Sat/Sun 8:00 am – 12:00 am/10:00 pm
Visit Samsung 837
Just like Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Samsung’s flagship is not another retail store. According to Samsung, it’s a “technology playground and cultural destination”. You won’t be able to buy a mobile in this three-level building; you will be able to try out and admire many of Samsung’s new products at Samsung 837. There’s a huge screen on which shows, events and product announcements are screened and also a VR Tunnel where you could try any of Samsung VR products. You can also catch a technology-based art exhibition or visit the studio which hosts live podcasts, interviews and DJ performances. Families with kids would love the Playroom where you’ll find the Galaxy View and other family-focused gadgets and foodies can have a taste of Brooklyn’s famous Smorgasburg market at the coffee shop which serves breakfast, lunch and pastries.
Address: 837 Washington St. Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11:00 am – 11:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sunday 11:30 am – 8:00 pm.
Shopping in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
If you only have one day in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, you probably won’t have enough time to go shopping. But if you have more time, you’ll find many boutique and designer stores around Gansevoort St., Washington St., W 13th St. and W 14 St., including the likes of Alice + Olivia, the cool British chain store AllSaints, Rag & Bones, Theory, Helmut Lang, Vince and many more. Check out all the shops in the Meatpacking neighborhood. You can also check out the mall at Hudson Yards.
Where to Eat in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District
Other than the food markets we’ve already mentioned, the food choices are endless. There are so many eateries all around Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, from upscale restaurants and trendy coffee shops to more budget-friendly eateries. We’ll write a food guide about the area soon, but in the meantime, here are some excellent options for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Mercado Little Spain – For a taste of Spain, visit Mercado Little Spain, which is located at Hudson Yards. In the main food hall, you can find little Kiosks that sell different kinds of Spanish delicacies from cured meats and sausages to empanadas, Spanish omelet and sweets. You can also visit the coffee shop and the two Spanish restaurants, Leña and Mar.
Address: 10 Hudson Yards Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday 7:00 am – 11:00 pm, Friday – Saturday 7:00 am – 12:00 am
Santina – The colorful design of this Italian restaurant and the Italian ceramic dishes will transport you straight to the Italian Riviera. The restaurant offers a modern take on classic Italian cuisine and serves colorful and delicious dishes such as lobster fettuccine or spicy tuna tartar. They also have a wonderful brunch on the weekends.
Address: 820 Washington St. Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11:45 am – 10:00 pm, Sat 10:00 am – 11:00 pm, Sun 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Pastis – The beloved French bistro that was a very well-known establishment in the Meatpacking District, was reopened in 2019. It has a similar design and atmosphere as the old Pastis, and it serves classic bistro fare. It’s a nice place to eat breakfast or brunch.
Address: 52 Gansevoort St Hours: Mon – Wed 7:30 am – 11:00 pm, Thu – Fri 7:30 am – 12:00 am, Sat/Sun 9:00 am – 12:00 am/11:00 pm
Buddakan – This restaurant/bar’s design is all about the wow factor with its long wooden tables, enormous chandeliers, dark atmosphere and warm lights. Buddakan serves pan-Asian fare inspired by multiple traditions and it’s one of our favorite places for dinner.
Address: 75 9th Avenue Hours: Mon – Tue 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm, Wed – Thu 5:30 pm – 12:00 pm, Fri – Sat/Sun 5:00 pm – 1:00 am/ 11:00 pm
Things to Do in Chelsea at Night - Bar Hopping
Chelsea and the Meatpacking District is all about the nightclubs and bar scene. During the weekends, the area is filled with New York’s hippest crowds and the streets are filled with party-goers until the wee hours of the night. Here is a shortlist of the best bars and clubs in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.
Brass Monkey – This rooftop bar has been a neighborhood favorite for many years. It has a few levels and a lovely rooftop terrace, and it offers a classic bar menu for dinner or lunch. During the weekends you can come here for brunch as well.
Address: 55 Little West 12th St. Opening Hours: 11:00 am – 4:00 am
The Top of the Standard – This luxurious rooftop bar belongs to the Standard hotel. The sky-high complex consists of a restaurant, a lounge area and an open-air rooftop bar. It’s one of the most popular places to be at 5:00 pm and along with your signature cocktail, you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Hudson River.
Address: The Standard, High Line, 848 Washington St. Opening Hours: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am.
The Tippler – This classic New York cocktail lounge is located at the cellar space below the famous Chelsea Market. The design is inspired by the history of the area, meaning repurposed antique fixtures and vintage décor, combined with warm lighting and brick walls that give this bar its old-time speakeasy atmosphere.
Address: 425 W 15th St Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday 4:00 pm – 1:00 am, Friday – Saturday 4:00 pm – 3:00 am
PHD Rooftop Lounge at Dream Downtown – This bar/lounge/club is located on the 12th floor of the Dream Downtown hotel and it offers delicious cocktails, a party atmosphere and stunning views of the area.
Address: 355 W 16th St. Opening Hours: Mon, Wed – Fri 9:00 pm – 4:00 am, Sat 6:00 pm – 4:00 am. Closed on Tuesdays and Sundays.
La Bain – La Bain is a penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar on the top floor of The Standard hotel. It is one of the trendiest nightclubs in the area with famous DJs, plenty of alcohol and hip crowd.
Address: The Standard, High Line, 848 Washington St Opening Hours: Wednesday – Thursday 10:00 pm – 4:00 am, Friday 4:00 pm – 4:00 am, Saturday – Sunday 2:00 pm – 4:00/3:00 am, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
No matter if it’s your first time or fifth time in New York City, you must check out the latest attractions in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. There are so many fun things to do in the area and from gallery hopping to climbing the Vessel or walking the High Line. We tried to include our favorite attractions in this Chelsea guide, but let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything!
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4 thoughts on “What to Do in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District in One Day – From the High Line to the Bar Scene”
Really cool article! I’m American but never been to NYC, so it was cool to learn some new things!
New York is fabulous! You should visit it at least once in your life! There are so many things to do and see there! Glad you enjoyed our neighborhood guide!
I love New York and go there so much but I’ve never explored Chelsea! I’ll have to save this post for when I go back.
I can’t believe you’ve never spent time in Chelsea! You’d better check it off your bucket list sooner rather than later!