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Are you curious about the best things to do in Chelsea NYC? I’m happy that you’re interested in this part of Manhattan. Chelsea is one of my favorite neighborhoods to explore either with friends or on my own.
Last May, I decided to wander around Chelsea for the first time after a (pretty lame) experience with a guy and ever since then, I’ve made a few return visits to Chelsea, and always discover something new and quirky that brings a smile to my face.
These new and quirky things are mostly related to art. Without a doubt, Chelsea is all about the arts. If you’re a budding artist, then don’t you dare skip over Chelsea on your next visit to New York City.
So, in this neighborhood guide, I will break down my favorite things to do in Chelsea, as well as throw in a couple suggestions regarding directions and accommodation for your visit.
As always, take your personal interests into consideration on your adventure to Chelsea. What interests me might not tickle your fancy (and that’s fine).
Let’s do this!
Where is Chelsea Located in Manhattan?
Chelsea is located on the west side of Manhattan. Chelsea extends from 14th street to around 34th street, although opinions vary on the subject.
As for specific directions, if you’re coming from Penn Station, which is at 34th smack near Midtown, then you can walk to the heart of Chelsea in about fifteen minutes.
Personally, I’d recommend walking if it’s a glorious day with a refreshing breeze and lots of sunshine. After all, there’s nothing quite like strolling through the hustle and bustle of Manhattan on a sunny day! I love it.
But, of course, the subway and Ubers are also options for visiting Chelsea. I mean, if it’s pouring rain, you don’t want to do that walk. No way.
On the other hand, if you’re arriving at Grand Central Station, then you definitely want to use some form of transportation to get to Chelsea. For example, I’d probably take the ACE trains headed downtown and get off at 14th Street Station, which is right in the middle of Chelsea.
A word of warning, though. Keep in mind that the New York City subway isn’t the most reliable on weekends due to fewer trains and track maintenance. Always stay aware of changes.
What to Do in Chelsea NYC?
Oh man, oh man. Chelsea has a lot to offer visitors to New York. I’m not even sure where to begin.
Personally, I’d recommend Chelsea for solo travel in New York, because of the incredible variety of museums and parks at your fingertips.
For example, I like taking my time on the High Line, gazing at the public art, and reading about the diverse flowers, without anyone nagging me to hurry. The urban oasis provides the perfect chance for quiet reflection.
Furthermore, Chelsea is a great place to sample cuisine around the world thanks to Chelsea Market. Come to Chelsea with an empty stomach. You’ll need to space.
All in all, I’d summarize Chelsea in these three words: art, parks, and food.
My Favorite Things to Do in Chelsea NYC
Now what you’ve all been waiting for! It’s time to break down all my personal favorite things to do in Chelsea NYC!
As a disclaimer, remember that Chelsea is a pretty big neighborhood, and it actually took me two separate visits to see and do all the things included in this post. Prioritize what you wanna see, and don’t burn yourself out. Less is always more.
1. Stroll Along the High Line
The High Line is an urban park that is absolutely iconic to visit while you’re in Chelsea. You’ll see outdoor art and gardens, as well as wonderful views of the Chelsea Neighborhood. I love peering down at the streets.
To make matters even better, there are multiple entrances to the High Line. You can walk the entire length of the High Line starting near the Vessel or the Whitney Museum of American Art. Or you can go in and out of the park.
It is one hundred percent free to enter the High Line. Don’t worry about buying tickets in advance or anything. With that said, though, I personally recommend coming to the High Line early, because it gets very crowded on sunny days, especially Saturday and Sunday. Avoiding the crowds is always a good idea.
Last but not least, if you want to see it all, then it might be a fun idea to go on a small group tour specializing in Chelsea, including the High Line’s best attractions.
2. Go to Chelsea’s Art Galleries
Without a doubt, Chelsea is known for its many contemporary art galleries.
Plan ahead of time if you want to go to the galleries. For example, some galleries close to prepare for future exhibits, while other galleries close on Sundays or Mondays. Furthermore, there are a few establishments that require appointments ahead of time.
Now, if you’re an anxious person, you might feel overwhelmed or nervous just strolling into the galleries without knowing anything about art. However, you can eliminate some of this unease by booking a Gallery and Studios Tour to take you inside Chelsea’s best galleries.
Most of the artwork is either a fortune or not for sale at the galleries. Don’t visit them expecting to redecorate your apartment, haha, but go to appreciate the artists’ visions and messages.
3. Climb the Vessel at Hudson Yards (Near Chelsea)
NOTE: The Vessel is indefinitely closed to the public. I will leave this information up in case this changes, but as of now, you can no longer climb the structure.
Okay, I get that the Vessel is technically located in Hudson Yards, but it’s so close to Chelsea that I had to include it in this guide. This structure is so cool. Not to mention, after going to the Vessel, you’re able to wander to the very beginning of the High Line, too.
The Vessel very much feels like a “staircase to nowhere,” and you feel as if you could wander through it forever. I will say that the view from the top is so lovely. The breeze and water feel so refreshing after a walk around the city. I could’ve stayed there for hours watching the boats. Just wear comfortable shoes.
Time for a quick word of warning. You need to reserve a specific time slot in order to go inside the Vessel. Reserve your spot online at the Vessel’s main website. Luckily, this ticket is free!
4. Find Peace at the Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art is another one of the great things to do in Chelsea NYC. This small art museums celebrates works from India, the Himalayas, and other neighboring regions.
If you’ve a strong interest in Buddhism, you should also add the Rubin Museum to list of things to see in Chelsea NYC. You’ll learn a lot about this major world religion.
Unlike the Whitney, the Rubin is a rather small museum, meaning you’re able to see the entire exhibit in under two hours, which is helpful for travelers under a time crunch.
You’ll find the Rubin on W 17th Street in Chelsea.
5. Drink Gin in a Bathtub
Are you ready for some gin now that you’ve had time for meditation? Haha, of course you are!
Therefore you need to check out Bathtub Gin, reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy, and enjoy the jazzy atmosphere. You enter Bathtub Gin through a hidden entrance and feel a rush like you’re up to something naughty, haha. It’s a fun experience.
And, okay, maybe you won’t sip your gin literally inside a bathtub, but regardless of that detail, if you’re a fan of gin, then you still need to stop at Bathtub Gin for a drink and small plates.
You can find Bathtub Gin on 132 9th Avenue.
6. Say “Yes” to the Dress at Kleinfeld Bridal
Are you familiar with TLC’s cheesy reality show Say “Yes” to the Dress? Then you’ll be excited to know that Kleinfeld Bridal is located in Chelsea!
Kleinfeld has been helping brides find their dream dresses for over 70 years. And the television show has only increased this place’s popularity.
As a visitor, don’t go inside Kleinfeld’s. After all, shopping for a dress is done by appointment only, and you don’t want to get in the staff’s way. Rude tourists aren’t on their agenda.
Instead take pictures of the beautiful window displays at Kleinfeld. Even if you don’t like weddings (guilty as charged), the displays are absolutely gorgeous and fun to see.
7. Ogle at Great Street Art
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis already knows that I’m a huge fan of street art. And Chelsea has a never ending supply of it.
Simply take a stroll throughout the small streets and see the public art. In parts of Chelsea, you’ll feel as if you’re in an open air gallery.
Don’t rush from place to place without taking a moment to savor the works around you.
8. Eat til Your Stomach Explodes at Chelsea Market
Oh man. I could seriously live inside Chelsea Market, folks. The food options feel endless.
Chelsea Market is open seven days a week so you never feel as if you’re going to go hungry. For recommendations, I loved spoiling myself with small sugary treats from Doughnuttery. The lavender donuts were to die for. Another meal I adored was a Vietnamese pork sandwich at Num Pang. Not the lightest food ever, but so, so, so delicious.
And Chelsea Market’s shops aren’t limited to food. You can still “shop until you drop” here. I mean, there’s a book store inside.
However, I want to stay truthful on this blog and have to admit that I have a bit of a quibble with Chelsea Market. You ready?
The only problem I had with Chelsea Market is that it gets way too crowded for my tastes. It’s not really a place you want to go for sitting down to a quiet lunch. You’ll have to wait in lines, and you might also be stuck eating your food standing up, which I kinda sorta hate.
Try to come during “off periods” to sample the food.
9. Devour Sushi at Asuka
Don’t want to have lunch at Chelsea market? Not a problem!
Luckily, Chelsea has tons of restaurant options to choose from even excluding its incredible market. As for me, I visited a local neighborhood sushi bar called Asuka.
Even if you don’t like fish, Asuka had the world’s best sweet potato rolls that I have ever eaten in my life! You should go just to have them. Asuka is also nice and quiet, so it’s a good place to take a break if you’re tired.
Bonus: Visit the Whitney Museum of American Art
Thought you were done reading? Nope! Time for a bonus suggestion: The Whitney.
Now, the Whitney Museum of American Art is technically located in the nearby Meatpacking District, but it’s still close enough to Chelsea to count for this post, in my humble opinion.
This wonderful museum is incredibly popular for a reason. Firstly, since moving to this new location, you’re able to see works of art outside of the roof and enjoy a sweeping glorious view of Manhattan for the cost of a museum ticket.
Not to mention, the Whitney Biennial is always a treat and shows the latest developments in American art. I personally loved the photography.
Should I Stay in Chelsea?
Last but not least I want to address whether or not you ought to stay in Chelsea on your visit to New York City.
And yes, Chelsea is a fantastic option if you’re spending the night in New York City.
However, keep in mind that due to it’s popularity, staying in Chelsea will cost a pretty penny, especially if you’re staying on Friday and Saturday nights. With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Chelsea for travelers who are on a super strict budget.
On the other hand, Chelsea is a great neighborhood to stay in for those you not worried about costs.
Research accommodation ahead of time. Read reviews.
I hope you enjoyed these awesome things to do in Chelsea NYC! Have you ever been to Chelsea? What do you like seeing and doing in this neighborhood? Share all your thoughts in the comments.