Chelsea is a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan. While people disagree on its exact boundaries most people believe it extends from 14th Street in the south to the upper 20s in the north. Its eastern boundary is Sixth Avenue. On the west, it stretches to the Hudson River.
Historically the neighborhood was known for its lively LGBQ scene. While there are still many gay bars and residents the neighborhood is now also known for its upscale food and bars, the High Line, and its over 200 art galleries.
A perfect day in Chelsea consists of a hearty brunch followed by strolling around the neighborhood, stopping in the parks, shops, and galleries. Here is what not to miss on your visit to New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.
Walk the High Line
The High Line is one of the top attractions not just in Chelsea but all of New York City. It's a 1.45-mile elevated linear park built on top of a former railroad. The best way to see the park is just to wander through it. Along the way you will see over 500 species of plants. There are public art projects like the 14th Street passage where videos are streamed after dusk. Another amphitheater is designed for gazing at the pedestrians below on the street. You'll also pass artists selling crafts, gourmet food trucks, and public performers.
Don't forget to look at the architecture around you. The High Line even passes through some buildings, giving exceptional views into New York City's architecture and design.
View Ancient Masterpieces at the Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art is unlike any other art institution in New York City because it's dedicated to exploring the ideas, cultures, and art of the Himalayan regions. It houses over 3,800 objects that span a 1,500 year old period, and each one is more magical than the next. In one room you might see an ancient prayer wheel. In the next, elaborate jewelry worn by female spiritual leaders. Those seeking in-depth information should go to the museum in the afternoon; complimentary exhibition tours are offered at 1 and 3 p.m. every day.
The Rubin Museum of Art also holds special events and evening receptions regularly where you can try the food and drink from the Himalayan regions. Check the schedule on the website.
Buy Contemporary Art at the David Zwirner Gallery
David Zwirner is one of the world's leading contemporary art galleries. It represents over sixty artists and estates. It's been around for 25 years, and it's the place where the best, most innovative creators want to show off their work.
There are two David Zwirner galleries in Chelsea, one at 525 West 19th Street and one at 537 West 20th Street. The exhibits change regularly so it's a place you can come back to again and again. You never know what you'll see from lit up rooms to swirling mobiles above your head. The galleries are open to everyone whether or not you are looking to buy.
Sample Local Foods at The Gansevoort Market
If you're hungry look no further than The Gansevoort Market. Here you can buy a variety of New York City food and produce under one roof. You can taste local vegetables from Heermance Farm, magical Thai noodles from Thaimee, or sweet treats from Milk & Cream cereal bar. All the vendors are located in one industrial space, and many have interesting designs and setups. It also has a rich history. The market started here in the late 1880s (although the current iteration is much more modern!)
There are pods of tables set up in beautiful spaces where you can lounge and enjoy. You'll see groups of friends staying for hours, eating their way through the day. It's open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and It's located at 353 W. 14th Street.
Get Lost in Chelsea Market
The Chelsea Market is a city within a city. It has 1.2 million square feet of commercial space and takes over an entire city block. While most of that is rented out to huge companies like Google (there is also a television production facility based there) the rest is dedicated to the fun stuff, mainly food and shopping.
This covered urban market with an industrial design and feel is full of surprises. Try the brownies at Fat Witch Bakery, the seafood at The Lobster Place, the wine at Corkbuzz. You can buy furniture, kitchen goods, books, antiques, jewelry. If you want a buzzy place for a drink head underneath the market to The Tippler.
It is open Monday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The main entrance is on 9th Avenue in between 15th and 16 Streets (although you can also enter from 10th Avenue.)
Hit Golf Balls at Chelsea Piers
In New York City there isn't much room for sports fields or arenas. But Chelsea Piers, a complex on the Hudson River, offers 25 sports under one roof. You can rock climb, practice gymnastics, hit balls in a batting cage, and bowl without even making a reservation. Adults and children can play soccer, ice hockey, and baseball in leagues of varying levels of competitiveness.
One of the most fun activities at Chelsea Piers is the driving range. It has four-levels and a 200-yard fitting fairway (you hit the balls in the direction of the river where they are caught with a net.) There are also swing simulators and a bar for an after workout drink.
Spend All Day at a Boozy Brunch in Chelsea
A great New York City tradition is the boozy brunch. It's where groups head to brunch together for unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys. Day often turns into nights at these establishments, and people mingle and have a great time. Chelsea is a neighborhood famous for boozy brunches. With a large group head to Sotto 13 where the Italian food is served family style. Smaller groups or couples may like Motel Morris or classier establishments.
Chelsea is known for its cocktail bars, many of which are speakeasies. They are housed in beautiful establishments not seen from the street. They all have a different personality and aesthetic. Bathtub Gin, for example, is hidden behind a coffee shop (you go through a secret door.) It has a bathtub in the center of the room where New Yorkers made gin during prohibition. Raines Law Room requires ringing a doorbell for entry. Inside are velvet couches and dark spaces perfect for having an intimate conversation.