Spend a Day along NYC’s High Line: The Whitney, Chelsea Market & Hudson Yards

New York City is packed with world class tourist attractions, most of them centralized in Midtown and around Central Park, but if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten path and a way to explore some of NYC’s trendiest neighborhoods, then I’ve got the perfect day for you. 

If you’re anything like me, maybe you like your exploration to have a little structure to it…well here you go! Follow one of NYC’s premier urban greenspace parks along a trail that takes you past some of the city’s best under the radar (well, compared to some) spots and locales. 

Just so you have a general idea of what we’re talking about: If you look on a map, the High Line and these spots along it stretch from roughly 12th St to 34th St along the western edge of Manhattan through the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, and Hudson Yards.

Things to Do Near the High Line in NYC

So without further adieu, if you’re looking for a fun day in NYC, here’s how I spent the day around the High Line on my last trip:

Breakfast at Chelsea Market

One of the most famous food halls in the world, the Chelsea Market is a favorite with tourists and locals alike. 

Since I was heading to the Whitney Museum first thing and then out to the US Open later in the day, I decided to stop by Chelsea Market for breakfast instead of lunch. And I was also hoping it would be less crowded than last time I was there. Well it was! While the market opens its doors at 8AM (sometimes as early as 7AM), the vendors are pretty sparse until about 9AM. 

We had breakfast at Friedmans, and it was really good (although I would skip the banana bread next time).

A word of warning, Chelsea Market gets CROWDED during peak meal times and on the weekends. And there are so many options that I think it’s pretty overwhelming. I’d recommend going in with a plan. 

Unlike a lot of newer food halls where most of the food stands are, well stands, and there’s a ton of open seating, it isn’t so much like that here. There are some food stands, but the market also has a ton of little restaurants and vignettes inside it and most of those have at least some seating, but there isn’t a ton of communal seating. So if you’re planning to go with a group and everyone is going to fan out and get what they want and meet up at a table, it might not be super easy. 

The Whitney Museum of American Art

As part of my quest to visit the best art museums in NYC, I kept coming across the Whitney in my research. The Whitney focuses on American Art and so much of what I read about it kept mentioning its location. It’s definitely a huge plus. There aren’t as many “attractions” in this part of the city as around midtown so it’s nice to have a museum of this caliber to kind of “anchor” a day spent exploring the neighborhood. I mean, there are only so many eating related activities you can do in a day ; ) 

The Whitney Museum of American Art opens most weekday mornings (closed on Tuesdays) at 10:30AM (11AM on the weekends), and when we arrived about 10:15 there was already a pretty big line to get in. I bought tickets online on my phone and I was able to get an entry time right when they opened, though.

Well to sum it up, I’m glad I went, but probably wouldn’t go back. The upper floor had some interesting art (some Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper, etc) but compared to the iconic art museums like the MET and MoMA, I didn’t feel like I “recognized” a lot of the art or artists so I just didn’t appreciate it as much. I know that says more about me than the museum, but I think I probably have an average to slightly above average art appreciation background so take it for what it’s worth. 

Also, I was visiting during the Whitney’s Biennial which I guess is a big deal. Maybe kind of like Vogue’s September issue? A curation of up and coming ideas, movement, artists, etc. And I’ll be totally honest, it was almost completely over my head. But I’m always mildly interested when I discover that there’s a whole “world” out there that I know nothing about. 

So overall, I think the Whitney has a much more niche audience and the type of museum goer who is going to appreciate this probably isn’t the same as the more mainstream MET and MoMA, but I really loved the building itself and the neighborhood. The upper outdoor decks have GREAT views of the city and overall I’m glad I got to see it. 

So if you have a general appreciation for art and can be interested/amused/entertained by things that you don’t necessarily get and you have the time and budget, I think it’s a really great activity to pair with exploring the neighborhood.

High Line

The High Line is one of my favorite ways to feel like you’re “getting away” while still enjoying pretty amazing views of NYC. 

The 1.5 mile, elevated park/walkway along Manhattan’s west side is one of the city’s great “greenspaces” reclaimed from an old New York Central Railroad line. There are various staircase entrances (including four elevators) along the route, but the southernmost entrance is at Gansevoort St & Washington St right outside the Whitney. 

Walk the whole thing to discover plenty of gardens, water features, city views, food stands, public art installations, and hidden nooks. 

It’s one of my favorite unstructured activities in NYC. 

Little Island at Hudson Park

This is a new to me park! I saw it from a distance from the upper floor of the Whitney and made a detour from the Highline to check it out. Built out over the Hudson River at Pier 55, this “urban oasis” is exactly the kind of thing I love about big cities. 

There’s a playground and different little interactive play exhibits, an “Art Cart” that hosts free art making workshops, a food kiosk, and an amphitheater for events, but mostly it’s just a great place to wander around, explore, and take in the views. 

Hudson Yards

The northern end of the High Line kind of runs into Hudson Yards which is a great place for shopping, dining, and just hanging out in general. 

You’re not going to want to miss the Vessel (more commonly called the Hive). This web of 154 staircases is really something to see. They used to distribute free (timed) tickets to climb to the top, but they closed it down during the height of COVID and it’s still not reopened. But you can access the ground level with no ticket required. 

There’s plenty of shopping and dining in a shopping center/mall like area, but I think the don’t miss spot is Mercado Little Spain. It’s a pretty large Spanish food market with individual stalls set up like a food hall. Whether you want a full meal, a little snack, a drink, or something sweet, it’s the place to go. 

If you finish up at Hudson Yards on the north end of the High Line, you’re going to be in the general vicinity of Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Javitz Center and even Pier 83 where you can catch the Circle Line. 

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